Nisreen fell to her knees. "But...why, Mother?" She asked, pleading for an answer. Queen Hallerna gazed down upon her daughter, seeing the sorrow in the young girl's eyes. Hallerna didn't understand why marrying Zanagard, a respected nobleman amongst the Arnkatta people, would cause such distress.
"Because, my dear child, it is time that you wed. You are well beyond the usual age for marriage, and Zanagard will be able to provide for you and our beloved planet."
Violet tears fell down Nisreen's cheeks, staining her light blue skin. "No! I will not marry Zanagard!"
Nisreen stood up and ran out of the palace, into the gardens. She didn't stop running until she reached the darkest corner of the garden, a place dominated by plants from the plains areas of the planet.
Nisreen lifted her eyes to the sky, tears welling up in her eyes, and gazed upon the two moons of Kannarah, her home planet. Nisreen was a beautiful Arnkattan, by any standard, the green spots on her blue skin were like gems, placed there by the Goddess, herself, her lips a deep shade of purple, and her claws shone like they were silver. Her head was completely smooth, and she looked nearly human, except that she had only 2 fingers and a thumb, and her shins curved backwards, leading down to stubby feet. On this night, she wore casual clothing, a violet sleeveless top, rimmed in black, a green skirt that was pleated too many times to count and shredded at the bottom, and a collar around her neck that matched her clothing, and held a purple gem. She loved getting dressed in different clothes, but tonight, she would take no solace in hoping that the man she loved would find her beautiful. Now, he would never find out how she felt, she was to marry another man, and Bragi would never know how Nisreen felt about him.
She began to wander amongst the piles of stones and tufts of grass, her arms crossed over her chest as if she was cold on the unusually warm night. She bit her bottom lip, stifling cries, praying that no one would hear her anguish.
'I can't marry someone I don't love.' She thought. 'I wish there was some way out of this.'
Just then, something caught her eye. She turned her head, and saw something that she had never seen before. It was rectangular, and the front, back, and one side was covered in what looked like some sort of animal hide. Nisreen picked the strange item up, and examined it.
She found that the animal hide was protecting thin sheets of
inside. She looked at the foreign symbols, and right before her eyes, they shifted to her language.
"The Book of Stories
" She read aloud. "So this is a 'book'. Well, let's see what it has to say."
She was curious. Nisreen had never seen a book before. Little did she know that this book was special. It contained all the stories ever told. She started reading, and realized that she was reading one of the stories that she loved hearing during her childhood. She was delighted, until suddenly, the story started to disappear from the pages.
Nisreen panicked. She flipped through the pages. "Oh no! Oh no! What did I do wrong?" She became very frightened, and didn't understand that this was not an ordinary book. Her hand got stuck to one of the pages, and she tried to pull it away. She couldn't, and started to scream as she was pulled into the book. A vast tunnel of light appeared, and Nisreen was flung through it. She screamed as the tunnel gave way and she landed with a thud on foreign ground.
Nisreen was dazed from the fall. When she came to, she saw a world unlike she had ever seen. The alien stood up, gaping at the scenery around her. There was so much green, so much noise. She wondered if it was Paradise. It was then that she realized she was holding something. She unfolded it, and saw a page from the book that she had found. But this page wasn't entirely blank; instead, it had a grid on it of twelve squares. Nisreen didn't understand what it was for, but she imagined that it was probably important, so she folded it up once again, and put it away in a pocket on her skirt.
She decided that she wanted to explore this new world. It was so beautiful, more so than the gardens in the palace at home, and she was curious. She didn't know what was ahead of her, the adventures that awaited, the people she would meet, or the important role she would play in the events ahead.