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The Poisoned Princess: Three months earlier

Dorogoi Prince Yevgenich,

Are the trees blooming near your castle? The gardens here are absolutely gorgeous, and the apple trees are carrying the blooms now. I can’t wait to harvest the summer apples, but for now, I’m enjoying the lovely aroma the flowers bring to the courtyard.

I’ve been studying the maps again, and try as I may, I can’t find much information about your kingdom. It’s almost as if the cartographer only visited briefly and could provide a general outline and nothing else. The areas west of our kingdom are not as well documented as I would like them to be. I’m curious, of course. It would be wonderful to travel. Maybe even with a friend. I don’t have many of those, to be honest. Although, I suppose that’s what you are.

Do you have a favorite part of the castle? Are there gardens on every level of the castle grounds or just one big one at the base? I heard Queen Calista has gardens on every level of the castle. I would love to visit them myself! Skazka seems to love her in ways I will never understand but am amazed by.

Please do tell me how you are. It feels strange knowing that in mere months we will be meeting each other in person. But maybe less strange since we started our correspondence two years ago. Take care of yourself in the meantime.

Spasibo bolshoye for always writing back.

S uvazheniyem,

Princessa Sergeivna

Dorogaya Princessa Sergeivna,

As always, your letter reaches me at exactly the right time. It is nearing my brother’s birthday, and there have been far too many preparations for the party. Not that I don’t love a good party—I’m all about having a good time—but I’m required to behave at this affair, and that is a very burdensome request.

To answer your question, we have a large garden in the courtyard near the castle entrance and a garden to rival any other at the back of the castle grounds. There is also a small orchard with fruit trees in the garden near the back wall. The blossoms are gone now, and the fruits are taking their place.

I have nothing else of consequence to report. I’m sure you’d rather not hear me talking about yet another brawl in the bazaar streets. I promise, it was not my fault this time. Well, only slightly. Okay, maybe, more than slightly. But I need excitement to survive, and I’m sad to say picking out which proper fabric will suit my shirt for the celebration is not my idea of excitement. There is a longing in me to see the world, to experience it for myself.

But I suppose you know something about that. We’re kindred spirits, you and I. It always makes me think that we’ll suit each other well. I, too, can use a friend, and I find you to be a good one to me. I hope I can be a good one to you as well.

Maybe one day, we will visit Queen Calista’s castle together.

S uvazheniyem,

Prince Yevgenich


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