Overview: Three teenage sisters with magical powers go on a quest to rescue their fourth sister and to save the spring that is the source of their powers. Together they are the princesses of day, night, life and death. Unknown to them, their mother and her sisters also have magical powers which become central to the conflict. With help from other family members, a dashing young prince, and a wise but dead king and his magical wolf, they encounter treacherous underwater peril, a supernatural storm, and a group of shape-shifters.

 

The Wand of Imperium by Anna E Rowell Book Chapter One

 

Sitting around their long, wooden dining table, the four teenage sisters bickered over whose turn it was to visit the island and collect more water from the magical spring.

“I did it last week,” Millicent stated bluntly, picking up a knife and touching her thumb to the sharp edge. She felt underneath the table and traced the carved patterns she had secretly made previously, before darting a quick glance at her sisters with her amber eyes. Her hair was a dirty brown color, and it fell just below her burly shoulders. Her arms and legs were finely toned and lean muscles rippled under her tan skin.

“There is no need to be so menacing, Milly,” Vivienne said, smoothing over her pink dress. Millicent furrowed her brow. Vivienne added, “If you keep scrunching up your face like that, you’ll look like a grandmother in no time.”

“That’s it!” Millicent twirled the knife around in her hands with a hint of menace. Vivienne, a lean girl with creamy skin and chestnut hair, wouldn’t stand a chance against her tall and brooding sister. Delicate and fragile like a doll, Vivienne had thin, manicured fingers; smooth, dewy soft skin; and bright hazel eyes. However, she knew Millicent wouldn’t harm her or their two other sisters.

“Can you kill each other more quietly?” Aurora asked, lifting her head up from a book. Her light blue eyes darted between Millicent and Vivienne, analyzing the situation. Aurora was the least athletic-looking of the sisters, due to all the time she spent inside reading.

“Yeah,” Loralie added, her long platinum blonde hair obscuring her face. Her stormy blue-grey eyes were barely visible. Loralie sat with her arms crossed and back slouched against the chair, her vampire pale skin blending with the white tablecloth. She was an extremely bony girl, and almost looked like a living skeleton.

Vivienne exhaled sharply and retorted, “No one asked for your opinion, Loralie.”

From the kitchen stove across the room, their mother, Althea, stirred a pot of stew. The aroma of the rich stew wafted over to where the girls were, making them hungry and irritable. Althea was tall like her daughters, her beautiful dark blond hair falling in light waves just above her hips. “Now now, Vivienne. There is no need to get so snappy. You girls know what happens if you start fighting.” She turned down the flame underneath the pot and let it simmer, the metal lid rattling quietly. She sat down at the table with the girls and waited for them to respond.

“We’re just joking! Not another time-out please,” Vivienne pleaded, twirling her chestnut hair with a perfectly polished fingernail.

“A time-out is not nearly as bad as losing our powers,” Aurora piped up, looking at them from her book. “Remember, we always need fresh water from the magical spring, because once we take the water away from the spring, its magic slowly fades away.”

“It’s just as well Loralie can’t use her powers to do her strange voodoo death magic and cause the spring to dry up,” Millicent smirked, playfully jabbing at her sister.

“Don’t think I haven’t tried that to teach you three pompous pigeons a lesson, but the magic of the spring is too powerful for me to change.” Loralie curled her fist into a tight ball, and a plant next to her withered and shriveled.

“Stop killing all of my plants!” Vivienne shrieked and leaped up from her seat to attend to the dying plant. She caressed it gently, nursing it back to health.

“That is what I am talking about, girls,” their mother chided. “You don’t seem to be able to maintain a steady balance among yourselves. You are all sixteen years old. You should be young ladies, not school children.”

Vivienne crossed her arms and rolled her eyes.

“Can’t we go less often to the spring?” Millicent grumbled.

“We’ve done all we can to keep the magic in the water as long as possible, and I don’t think we can do much more,” Aurora announced.

Her sisters all let out exasperated sighs, tired of listening to their sister harp on and on about the spring.

“Think of the magical water as if it were a soda drink. The fizz in the soda drink is the same as the magic in our water,” Aurora continued on, oblivious to her sisters’ lack of interest. “With all sodas, once you open them, the fizz will eventually disappear after a while. With our magical water, we keep it in these special bottles to keep the magic in the water as long as possible,” she lifted a large, metal bottle. “But after a week or so, just like the fizz goes out of soda, the magic will have left the spring water.”

Althea clapped, proud of her bookish daughter for having paid attention when she explained this to her daughters previously. Millicent let out a long sigh and began to figure out ways to leave the room unnoticed. She took a small sip from a bottle of magical water and slowly sank into her chair, blending into the shadows until her shape was no longer clearly discernable. Almost indistinguishable from the shadows, Millicent then tried to sneak out of the room.

However, observant Vivienne saw her. “Mom! Someone is trying to sneak away!” she announced loudly. There was no need to say who; Millicent was known to sneak away whenever she wanted to avoid doing chores. With an exasperated sigh, Millicent appeared out of the shadows and flopped in her chair.

“While I admire your skills of blending into the shadows,” Althea began. “You need to remember it is rude to leave a room without excusing yourself.”

Millicent nodded with a frown on her face.

Vivienne took this as an opportunity to gloat. "Blending into shadows?" she scoffed. "That's really useful. Not! Now, for me, I am the Princess of the Living, not Princess of the boring, brooding dark or whatever you call yourself.

Vivienne jumped from her chair and gulped some of the magical water. “I can do this!” she crowed, then lifted her hands into the air, causing all of the plants in the room to quickly grow to the ceiling and snake their way towards Vivienne. They stopped a few inches away from her and made a tight circle of vines, leaves, and flowers, haloing her in plants.

Loralie rolled her eyes. Millicent sneered. “You know I can do a lot more than that! You pretend to forget that I can make it nighttime whenever I like,” Millicent proudly declared. She was about to take a drink of magical water, but her mother quickly intervened.

“I’m sorry, dear, but I can’t have you bringing night whenever you want to impress people,” Althea told her daughter, who slumped in her chair with a sigh.

“Well, just remember if anyone is suffering from nightmares or has trouble sleeping, you can always count on me, Princess of the Night, to bring you fluffy dreams,” Millicent said.

“You can’t bring night to the entire world, just a small area!” Vivienne pointed out. Aurora let out an exasperated sigh, irritated that her concentration was being interrupted by a silly squabble.

“Sure, you can sigh, but at least I can talk to animals! And what can you do? Sigh,” Vivienne commented sarcastically, grinning while she talked.

“I can do much more than sigh, thank you very much,” Aurora replied. She took a swig of water before snapping her fingers. An earsplitting thunderclap pierced the air outside the house. A few seconds later, a heavy downpour of rain came pounding on the ground, giving the plants outside a nice drink of water. With another snap, she made all of the rain disappear, and sunshine came bursting through the rapidly disappearing clouds, casting their lush front yard in a heavenly glow.

Loralie, who had been wistfully watching Vivienne show off her powers, said half-heartedly, “And I am the formidable Princess of the Dead. I can kill plants and animals if I wish. Fear me.”

Vivienne shot Loralie a nasty look and she sniped, “No you can’t! You can only make them sick. And you can’t even do that all of the time!”

Althea admonished her daughter, “Stop it, Vivienne! There is no need to be so rude to your sister. As I’ve been telling you girls over and over, each one of you has a gift and you all balance each other: Life and Death, Day and Night. You need to learn how to cooperate with one another.”

Vivienne looked down guiltily. Loralie picked at her nails absentmindedly, apparently so used to all her sisters’ mean comments that they didn’t have any effect on her anymore. Althea gave a concerned look to Loralie, who she saw being shut down and insulted too many times.

“When I discovered I was having quadruplets, as per the prophecy, I was very happy,” Althea said, reminiscing. “They say triplets will always have two siblings ganging up on the third, but quadruplets are more peaceful. I just don’t understand why you three girls pick on Loralie all the time!” The girls hung their heads low.

“We still haven’t resolved the problem,” Millicent reminded everyone. “It’s Vivienne’s turn to go collect water from the spring, and that is that.”

“Last time I went, I tore my dress!” Vivienne whined.

“I’ll just go,” Aurora volunteered while reading her book. “I don’t see why we’re making such a big deal out of this. The boat rows itself, and it only takes five minutes to get to the island, then another ten minutes to walk to the spring.”

“There! Now that’s more like it! Thank you, Aurora,” their mother cheered, casting her other daughters a look that said, “Thank your sister.”

“Thank you, Aurora,” they replied in forced unison.