The devastation brought by the wave could be seen easily from the castle, which had been built in a peninsula that shoot straight into the ocean with a very high elevation. The waves that attacked the city did not really affect the castle or the people inside it, although they did feel the arrive of the killing water and saw how it engulfed the whole fishing town that was located very close to the castle. Every little boat and those small and weak houses were rapidly destroyed by the wave. The people didn’t even have time to pray or to scream. The wave was just too fast and too destructive, it didn’t leave a thing standing. The people in the castle, including Princes Ariana, were all horrified. She sent some soldiers after it happened but, as they were about to go out, another wave, even taller than the last one, hit the beach.
No one could have survived that. And the thing now was that, because of the second wave, the access to the castle had been flooded. Until the waters receded, they were all trapped there, without any communication with the rest of the world. Ariana’s father, the King, had left the day before to attend a very traditional ceremony in an inland town and her mother the Queen had also left to visit her brother who was a duke in some region south of the castle. Ariana was alone and needed desperately to talk to someone, as she was very perturbed by the images of water hitting the fishing town with such vile and strength. She remained in the chapel for a whole day, praying and asking God for the souls that had been lost. She asked “why”.
But, of course, she never got an answer. After that time, the princess tried to help the people that were inside the castle and organize everything for every single person to have a ration of food. She had no idea how much time that could last but she would at least try to help them as only she could do it. At the end of the day, the castle was hers, her domain, and everyone inside it had to hear her until the King or the Queen came back. The day after the waves hot the coast, the castle started to receive various letters sent by aerial means (pigeons, mostly). Many were soldiers informing of the situation on their towns and others were people, asking for help as the situation was very dire. It was a surprise to see letters from far inland and the Ariana’s heart stopped for a moment.
She asked her helpers to look for letter from a specific location. There was only one letter and it was from a farmer. He said the wave had flooded his field and now his crops had been destroyed, so he had no means to sustain his family or to trade with others. He also mentioned, although briefly, that the nearby town had been flooded too and festivities had been cancelled. Ariana breathed out. Her father was probably okay but she needed to be sure. She asked her servants to answer the letter she had just read and do what they could to locate his father and help that poor man with his crops. She owed him, or at least she felt so.
Ariana did the same thing to know if her mother was okay but there were no letters from that region in the big pile that had arrived during the day. More pigeons entered the castle during the day, but almost all came from very nearby, were apparently the stench of death was already hard to ignore. People said that there were no victims, as the people who sent the pigeons were merchants that traveled from town to town and saw what happened all around them. Apparently the fishing town couldn’t be saved and the most awful part of it all was that everyone could easily see the ruins of the town from the castle. It was so close but at the same time it had such a different faith than the people hidden in the castle.
They received a letter from the King the day after that. He informed the people that he had been injured by the flooding, that had taking everyone by surprise. He was in bed with a very swollen ankle, product of a fall as he escaped the water towards higher ground. The doctor said that it was easy to cure but that he had to stay there for some day, at least a week, to make his leg better. Ariana read the letter in front of everyone and even shared with the people the nice adjectives he had for her. He said that the castle was in hands of the princess and that everyone had to respond to her orders and listen to her lead, as she was the only person with authority to be there with them.
These words from her father made Ariana feel very happy and also very important. She had never done much in the castle or even in her life, only being a nice girl that sits correctly whenever an important visitor comes and that leaves for her room to do nothing at all there, except if you consider combing your hair or looking at your dresses some sort of job. The truth was that Ariana was thrilled to finally have some responsibility and taste, however short it may last, the sweetness and pleasure to share her kindness with her people and with everyone that wrote the letters that kept coming into the castle. On the fifth day, the waters finally receded and soldiers were sent to every single nearby that to assess the situation.
The small fishing port had not been the only one to be destroyed completely. A very large portion of the coast had been devastated by that same wave, ten meter tall or more, so many towns had suffered the same faith. Even some soldiers that decided to check on the state of the castle came with urgency to see the princess and asked her to put some men to work. Apparently, the bases of the castle had been shaken very seriously and repairs had to be made in order for it not to fall into the ocean. A small army of men was hired to do those works and the proper army was tasked with burning every corpse they saw and help survivors, if any. There were not to many.
The first week was difficult for Ariana, specially when a merchant that sold fur came into town and old everyone how the wave had destroyed the region south of the castle. He swore the smell was too overwhelming and bodies piled up on both sides of the roads. Ariana felt awful and sent some soldiers right then but it was useless. The man was right; there was nothing but destruction, especially because in the south there were no hills or mountain. It was a big plain and now it was something like a swamp, with flies flying all over it and over the bodies of hundred of people. One of those was the Queen, who had died with her brother as they were outside the duke’s house when tragedy came. Being inside, wouldn’t have changed a thing, though.
The princess tried not to cry when she received a pigeon telling her of her mother’s death. She only asked for the soldiers to bring her body and that of the duke, if they found him. Some days later the dead body of the Queen arrived into town and a rapidly organized funeral was arranged. Ariana would have loved to have her father there to comfort her but was now having a very dangerous fever and his doctor recommended for him to stay were he was, as any trip might be too dangerous for him. So she had to bury her mother alone, in the family mausoleum. Many people attended the funeral and she wasn’t surprised, as her mother had always being loved by her people.
Ariana, in the inside, was devastated. Now she didn’t want any responsibility or to grow up, she didn’t want to be the woman who ruled over the kingdom. And even if she was the last royal, she would have to marry to be able to exercise her role as Queen. It hurt her to be thinking of such things, as if her father was dead too but he wasn’t, he was just injured and she wanted to be with him but then no one would stay behind to help the people that needed the family. Some of her father’s helpers wanted her to leave to have a free reign over everything but she refused to go and even jailed some of those who pretended for her to leave the city and stay away from the corruption.
Only two weeks after the waves hit the coast, the King came back to town. But Ariana suffered once more because he wasn’t doing as well as the doctor had said. Unsurprisingly, the doctor had left the party that accompanied her father. She ordered soldiers to execute him if they ever saw him. But the most important thing for her was to see her father, which whom she talked privately and summoned a religious authority and a lawmaker. After some days, the King was too weak to keep talking and he eventually died from his wounds and mistreatment. His funeral was attended by all and he was buried in the crypt next to his wife.
Everyone was more surprised, however, with the fact that a new law had been enacted the day before the king’s death. It liberated his daughter of marriage and gave her the power to rule the kingdom as Queen. People didn’t know whether to celebrate or not. But eventually, they would know the answer to that question.