“Adira Keita!” I remember the petite blond woman calling from the large stage in the district atrium, announcing my spot in the competition for a chance to be made the princess of the Shifter District.
That was six years ago when I was just 19 years old. That was the day my life changed drastically and I (mostly) gave up my life as a troublesome party girl and committed myself to The Royal Tasks.
The Tasks are a series of tasks, hence the name, that requires ten contestants from each District to compete to become the prince and princess. Teenagers from all over the District will volunteer for a spot in the competition, and of those, five boys and five girls are chosen randomly to participate. Out of ten contestants, there are two winners at the end, one prince and one princess. The tasks are not to the death, but they do get violent sometimes. In the year that I was a contestant, we had hand-to-hand combat, debates, social events, written exams, healing, and my favorite, sword-fighting. All things that prove whether or not you would be a good leader.
I obviously eventually ended up winning The Tasks, along with the insufferable, but handsome, Liam Bastien, my prince. Thankfully, Bastien and I weren’t forced to be lovers, like The Tasks winners were hundreds of years ago. We were just… acquaintances who didn’t like each other at all. Sarcastic, loud, arrogant, thinks he’s the smartest, the best, the funniest… more about him later.
Then there are The Royal Trials. The Trials occur when the king and queen of Diralia either die or become unable to rule our continent anymore. All the princes and princesses compete once again for the role of king or queen. Of the 14 competitors, only one is chosen. The one winner can then later marry a person of their choice, but not until their partner is put to the test, which is similar to The Royal Trials. Or, the winner may choose their king or queen from their other competitors, who have already proven their strength. Our ancestors centuries ago wanted to make sure that whoever was leading the country was able to prove themselves worthy.
Each of the seven districts have a prince and a princess that were selected from The Tasks. The Tasks from each district are all held at the same time, so all the princes and princesses are around the same age. After the princes and princesses reach a certain age, they are retired, for lack of a better word, and then the competitions are held.
There is also The Council, that oversees The Tasks and The Trials. The Council also regularly helps the King, Queen, and the Princes and Princesses of the various districts.
The seven districts are The Shifter District, home of shapeshifters and my home district, The Fae District, The Angelic District, home of angels, The Mage District, The Were District, home of werewolves, The Mer District, home of sirens and selkies, and finally, The Nymph District. The districts each have their own rules and regulations set in place by the prince and princess, with help from the king and queen of Diralia.
Recently, Queen Candida, the winner from the Fae District, died, leaving King Adrian, from the Mer District, to grieve. He was so overwrought, that he decided he was unable to lead our country. Which means, it’s time for the next Royal Trials. And that’s where I come in.