Inside of the royal suite of the Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, Princess Amelia of Querencia sees all the protestors outside of the window in the front garden. Their picket signs and fists are waving in the air, saying these horrible things about them. They are calling them, “Blood spillers” and “Treacherous Tyrants.” It brings tears to her eyes. She turns to face her husband, Prince James of Querencia who is adjusting his light blue tie.
He looks at his wife and feels his heart break as he looks at her sorrowful face. He calmly says, “My darling. Don’t take what the people are saying to heart. We will get through this.”
“How?” She asks with a voice full of doubt. “Our country is in upheaval. Your parents are trapped in the palace, riots are breaking out everywhere, and our citizens have completely lost faith in us.”
“Listen. We both know that it’s the president that did this.” He says as he sits next to his wife and puts a hand on hers that are resting on her lap. “He is the one that passed those taxes that lead to nowhere, he made those classist, racist…”
“Misogynist,” Princess Amelia adds.
“Yes. He’s the one that created this civil war from the taxes and holding back healthcare.” Prince James says.
“Not to mention ignoring the Corona Virus.” She speaks. “And now he’s framing us. We can’t deny that we are in trouble James.”
“No, we can’t.” He sighs. “I just hope that the legend of this hotel is true and we find the solutions to our problems.”
Princess Amelia leans forwards and presses her forehead to Prince James’ cheek, hoping that he is right about the hotel.
Legend has it that those who stay at the Empress Hotel always find the answers to their prayers. No one knows why this is. It could be the ghosts that reside here or its just the good vibes but eventually problems big and small miraculously vanish.
WildPlay park is their next stop. After all, an adventurous road trip for college students isn’t complete without some daring detours. Jake Goldman and his girlfriend Kylie Tannis could not help but stop the van for a little spontaneous fun. All seven of them jump out of the van and rush towards the giant wooden sign that calls to them. “WildPlay.”
“Come on Lacy!” Yells Jake as he waves his arm in excitement. “Get the photo! We’re ready to make memories!”
“Chill out Jake!” She returns as she kneels down and checks her camera. “It’s gotta be perfect!”
Kylie snuggles in with Jake as he puts his arm around her and gives her a kiss while Norman, Skeeter, Mark, and Alba kneel in front of them smiling. With a click of a camera, Lacy smiles, stands up and they rush inside the ticket office. The ticket handler looks at the group and gives them a friendly smile.
“What can I do for you guys today?” She flicks her ponytail from her shoulder to her back.
“BUNGEE! BUNGEE! BUNGEE!” All seven of them chant.
With a laugh from the ticket person, she promptly gets all of their wristbands ready while each of them fill out the safety form. After they have finished, the worker puts the paper bracelets around each member’s wrist. After they all pay, the group rushes out of the building and look up at the bungee platform stairway. With a big whoop from Jake, the six of them rush up the stairs while Lacy walks to the viewing deck. Although she is as adventuresome as her friends, Lacy has a problem with heights but that won’t stop her from taking amazing pictures. Photography is her passion which is why she studies it at college.
Up on the bungee platform, the group hears the safety protocols while they get their bungee cords wrapped around their ankles. As soon as the lecture is over, Jake and Kylie are the first ones who are ready to jump. With their bungee guides leading them to the ledge Kylie and Jake smile excitedly at each other.
“Me first.” She mouths to him as she raises her eyebrows.
“No way.” He mouths back with a big grin on his face.
As soon as the guide shouts “GO!” Both Kylie and Jake jump together. They feel the rush of their blood flow through their bodies with wind brushing against their skin. The speed, the bounce, and then the peace the comes with dangling in that one spot brings Kylie as close to nirvana as she will get. The worker on the floatation boat pulls her hand and gets her down, following with Jake. As soon as Jake is completely released, Kylie grabs a hold of him and he hugs her. They look at each other and laugh with a sense of delight.
“I love you Baby.” Jake says plainly.
“I love you too!” Kylie says as she presses her lips to his.
Back at the van, the group happily cheer their latest adventure and are in a positive state on mind. Which will be perfect since they are heading to the Empress hotel for the protest. It is Kylie’s idea since the politics going on in the small country of Querencia, is absolutely atrocious. Those poor people are being robbed of their health care, these governmental thugs slandering, and harassing anyone who is not Caucasian or a man. It’s just disgusting and as a political science student, it is her destiny to be apart of a change for the better. Luckily her journalism studying boyfriend and their group of friends agree to go to the protest.
“Hey guys, sodas up! It’s time for a toast.” Jake yells to the people in the back who raise their pop bottles, “To being apart of history and making the world a better place!”
A loud cheer sounds but Norman has to add. “And the adventures along the way with more to come.”
“Yeah!” Skeeter agrees enthusiastically.
A loud cheer from everyone sounds through out the van as they make their way to Victoria. They got their picket signs in the back ready to go and it’ll be a matter of time before they can be apart of a revolution.
By the time they make it, the Empress hotel has all kinds of people protesting and picketing their signs across the grounds. Television crews and journalists are surrounding the area, trying to get everything that’s happening around them. Everyone in the group jumps out of the van and Jake hands out the picket signs to all of them.
“Are we ready to do this?” Jake raises his picket sign and the gang replies. “YES!”
They all clap their hands together and walk off. Jake and Kylie stay behind as she takes it all in. She is finally here and going to make a difference. A small one but a difference none-the-less. If nothing else, it’ll make a good thesis for her Masters. Jake comes up behind her and puts his arm around her shoulders. She smiles and looks up at him as he kisses her on her forehead.
“Ready for this?” He asks.
“Absolutely.” She declares but a mild discomfort hits her. “First, I better visit the port-a-potties. I gotta go.”
“No worries.” Jake says, “We’ll keep your spot open.”
“Right.” She gives him a kiss on the mouth and walks towards the hotel itself hoping to find a bathroom.
Without meaning to, Kylie finds herself in the middle of the Empress lobby. She can’t get over how opulent it is. The whole room is round with big white columns and gold trimmings. In multiple directions there are long dark wooden halls. The round arches with golden trimming and stone walls practically say “castle.” It’s like being in a fairy-tale. Still nowhere to be found is a bathroom. The need to relieve herself is beginning to drive her out of her mind. And so, the search continues as she turns her heel and walks in every direction to find a bathroom which she finally finds after rushing up three flights of stairs.
A relieved sigh escapes her lips as Kylie walks out of the ladies’ washroom, finally rid of the need to pee. She walks towards the stairs only to be blocked by an older woman with snow white hair done up in a bun and a sour look on her face. Kylie notices that her outfit looks like an old Victorian maid’s uniform from the long black skirt covering her feet to the high-necked ruffled collar of her blouse. This woman says nothing but her foreboding stare makes Kylie’s knees tremble.
“Should I not be here?” Kylie manages to inquire to the woman despite her sense of dismay.
The woman responds by lifting her nose in the air, sniffing, and walking off in a haughty manner. Kylie watches her leave until she hears a big. “HEY!” that has her turning to face two big, built men in suits standing in front of her. Uh oh, Kylie thinks to herself. Before they try to grab her, she dashes down the corridors of the hotel with the two men hot on her heels. She doesn’t look back until one of them trips on an ottoman while the other trips on the other bodyguard. Kylie swears the ottoman wasn’t out before but never-the-less she picks up her speed and sees an open door. Quickly, she runs through the door and closes it before the men could catch her.
Kylie turns around to see a sophisticated young couple sitting on the couch. Her eyes go wide open as she sees them looking at her in shock. She immediately puts an awkward smile on her lips.
“Oops. Sorry I’m lost from looking for the bathroom and these big guys are chasing me. I just ended up here.” Kylie explains.
“It’s quite alright.” The man says as he approaches her with his arms out trying to lead her out of the room. “You’re just in the wrong room that’s all.”
“Wait! Aren’t you the…” Katie trails off and the woman finishes her question. “The Royal family of Querencia? Yes.”
“Amelia! You know that we aren’t supposed to…” Prince James expresses flabbergasted at his wife.
“Why not!” Princess Amelia shouts as she slams her fists on her lap in a manner that is not usual for her. “She can already tell that it is us and I am so sick of hiding.”
“I’m not an assassin or anything.” Kylie puts her hands up showing that she is hiding nothing. “I come in peace. I swear I’m lost.”
“It’s alright.” Prince James says. “I do apologize we are under great strain.”
“I can tell.” Kylie declares. “I have heard what’s been going on in your country and its horrible.”
“We know.” Princess Amelia explains calming herself down. “It’s our President Dick Boone. These are his crimes and he has completely turned our people against us.”
“Well maybe I can help.” Kylie says brushing past the Prince and sits in the chair across from the Princess. They both look at her with skepticism but with a cheerful voice she speaks. “Yeah. I’m a political science student. I might have some insights.”
Prince James and Princess Amelia look at each other. She subtly widens her eyes and nods to her husband while he returns the gesture. They both agree that it couldn’t hurt to hear what this unusual young woman has to say.
“Would you like some tea?” Princess Amelia politely says as she waves her hand.
“Yes please.” Kylie says as she gets comfortable in her chair. “So, tell me, what is going on?”
The royal couple start from the beginning of their troubles. It all started with small things like a rumor being passed around here and there or a small idea that got misinterpreted. President Dick Boone approached the King and Queen of Querencia. He made all of these outlandish proposals including charging the people for health care whether they had insurance or not. That to the royals was outrageous. People need their healthcare now more than ever. That’s not all, he wanted to raise taxes on tourists. Not a little bit but by 25%. That too they refused but then came his idea to keep “certain” people separate from each other. He wanted to build a wall between these certain classes and races to “keep things organized.” They royal family was livid! They couldn’t believe that this man had the gall to do these things to their citizens. The King and Queen angrily threw him out via the guards but before he was completely expelled, he threatened the Royal Family, that he has followers and will come after them. Soon threats came to the castle and President Dick Boone made fabricated photos and witness statements against them. Now people start riots, vandalism runs rampant, and so many people are getting hurt or even killed. Their country is being destroyed from the inside out because of this president and his framing the royal family.
“We want nothing more than the President to be imprisoned for his crimes but thanks to no tangible proof, just our own word. We are in trouble.” Princess Amelia finishes.
“So then what is this press release all about then?” Kylie inquires.
“It is our last hope.” Prince James says. “We want to show the world that we are not the villains of this. The problem is without proof, how can we save our country?”
“I might be able to help with that.” Kylie brightens. “Do you have copies of these photos or these statements?”
“Not originals but copies.” Princess Amelia tells.
“Can I see them?”
“Yes indeed.” Prince James expresses as he stands up and goes to the next room. While Princess Amelia looks pleasantly at Kylie. “Will you join us for High Tea? It’s the least we can do for the woman who is helping us.”
“I’d love to.” Kylie says as Prince James comes beside her and gives her the stack of papers he has. “I’ve never had High Tea before. Am I appropriately dressed?”
The royal couple look her up and down from her tank shirt to yoga pants. Although they are honest people, they say, “Your perfect.”
Kylie nods as she looks over the stack that they gave her. They are a series of photographs and statements that are incriminating to the royal family. When one looks at these photographs, they would instantly think that they are a guilty party. Kylie would think this too except she sees something in the corner of one of the pictures. It is the picture that looks like the Prince and Princess taking bribe money but in the top right corner there is a mirror. That mirror although slightly blurred is showing not two people but a man with a completely different body build, hair color, and suit color than Prince James. Prince James is very fit and wearing what could be a grey suit as opposed to the mirror image that is wearing a black suit and is heftier than the prince. The hair looks paler and like it’s a combover as opposed to Prince James’ short black hair.
“Did you both notice this image in the picture?” Kylie says turning the picture to face the couple and points to the mirror.
Princess Amelia delicately takes it as both she and the prince look at it. “No but this proves that we aren’t the culprits.”
“That’s true but there is more.” Kylie says as she looks at the news statements in front of her. “No respectable reporter would publish this.”
“What do you mean?” Prince James asks.
“Look at how this is written. The syntax is wrong, the grammar is spotty at best, and when you read this more than once you can tell that this is nothing but hearsay.” Kylie says as she passes it to the prince. “Is there any evidence at all to back up the fact that the wall of classes was your idea?”
“No one has ever looked this deep into our case before.” Prince James looks astonishingly at Kylie. “How did you know to spot this?”
“My boyfriend is studying journalism. He has me proofread his pieces for him. He taught me about what evidence will work and what wont. This is a big wont!” Kylie states. “How does your country not evaluate these things?”
“Sadly, productive journalism is not our strongest subject as opposed to apple production, gardens, tourism…”
Princess Amelia interrupts her husband. “My darling. She doesn’t need the brochure version of our country.”
Prince James nods at her and speaks to Kylie. “Terribly sorry. I tend to get a little passionate.”
“Nothing wrong with that.” Kylie smiles at him and gets comfortable again in the chair.
A knock on the door sounds as Prince James walks to open it. The maître d’ rolls in a trolly with the most beautiful platter that Kylie has ever seen. Her eyes go large as she sees the three tiers displaying sandwiches, scones, and desserts. Each piece looks so delicate and lovely that it would be such a shame to eat it. That is until the fresh blueberries and cream are placed in front of her.
“This looks amazing!” Kylie exclaims. “Are you sure you still want me here?”
“Of course. You might have just saved us!” Princess Amelia says.
“Maybe but there is still more to do. You have to get more evidence of this.” Kylie tells.
“Never-the-less.” Prince James expresses giving her a genuine smile. “You gave us a place to start.”
“Perhaps my friends and I can help further too.” Kylie suggests as she takes the tea cup from the server and gives it a sniff. Without meaning to, she finds herself feeling like she is in the most luxurious of gardens and her heart lights up from it. “They are out there protesting but if I explain the situation to them. I know they will want to help you.”
“In that case, my wife and I would love it if you join us in Querencia. We will fly you all by private jet and be guests in our palace.” Prince James invites.
Kylie couldn’t help but smile. This would be the chance of a lifetime. She could not help but say, “Yes! Wow! I can’t wait to tell the group! They’ll be thrilled.”
They royal couple chuckle at Kylie’s excitement, then the princess speaks up. “Well, the pleasure is ours, after all we didn’t think that we would find a budding private investigator here.”
Kylie smiles at the idea, “private investigator.” Yes, she likes the sound of that very much. Knowing that the deal is good as done, the three of them dive into the food. Kylie starts with the dish of blueberries. The sweet richness of the whipped cream blends well with the tartness of the berries. Kylie reaches for the scone and takes a small bite to reveal the warm, buttery taste that reminds her of the comfort food that she ate as a small child. Then there are the savory little sandwiches that are sure to make a person happy, and the sweet flavorful desserts that bring it all home.
Kylie walks out of the hotel in good spirits. She feels like her life has just turned an amazing corner. Not only is she going to take down an evil president and save a royal family, but she might have finally found her life path. “Kylie Tannis: Private Investigator.” That does have a nice ring to it. First thing is first though. She must find Jake and the group to explain to them what is going on. She scans the crowd and sees Jake jumping up and down, trying to get her attention. With a big grin on her face, she mimics his jumping and rushes to his side.
She greets him with a hug and a peck before she speaks, “We gotta get the group together. There is something you all need to know.”
At the platform, the Prince and Princess of Querencia shake the hand of the press organizer before they step up to the podium. They look out to the audience and see all these angry faces, waving these angry signs, and shouting angry words. A sigh escapes the Prince, but Princess Amelia grabs his hand comfortingly.
“Remember what Kylie found and speak from your heart.” She reassures him.
With a smile and a light squeeze of her hand, Prince James looks to the audience and speaks. “Good day to you, the Canadian citizens. I’m more than certain that you have heard what has been going on in your neighboring country of Querencia. You are our neighbors and that is our home. We love our home more than anything and the citizens that also call the country their home. The royal family wants you all to know that what is happening in our country from the wall, the heavy taxes, and the separation of races and classes has nothing to do with the Royal family.”
“Boo!” Screams the crowd.
“Liars!” Yells a single person.
“I know you all have no reason to believe us with all this evidence floating around everywhere. There is something you all need to know about that evidence. It is all fabricated. We have received evidence of this, and it will be all over the news in less than an hour.” Prince James pauses as he takes the picture from Princess Amelia. “One thing I will let out right now is this picture of my wife and myself apparently accepting money from a criminal source. If you look in the corner of this picture you see a mirror of a man, Although I have my suspicions, but I will not say who, is wearing a black suit instead of grey, is more generous in the middle area of his body and has fairer color hair than I do. That is just one example of the recent evidence we found.”
As her husband speaks to the crowd, Princess Amelia looks around to see if she can find Kylie. She does in the back talking to at least six other people. She is guessing that Kylie is explaining what she has found out and the offer presented to them. By the look of shock on all their faces, its obvious that they know what’s going on. She looks back to her husband as he continues his speech.
“I promise all of you that there will be an investigation and the guilty party will face justice. All these atrocities against the citizens of Querencia will not come to pass and all citizens will be compensated for this. This is my promise to you and to my people. Justice will be done.”
Ten seconds pass as the protesters take in what they have just heard. It is Kylie and her group that put down their picket signs and start cheering for the royal couple. All protestors put down their signs and start to rejoice as well. The Prince and Princess start smiling too when they realize that not only did the speech work, but the people believe in them again. That is a huge first step. Now comes the investigation with the help of Kylie Tannis and her group. All of them together will stop the President Boone‘s evil plans and put the country back into it’s wonderful state.
At the window on the third floor, stands that same sour maid in the old-fashioned uniform. She has watched everything unfold. The crowd is cheering, the royal family is now able to fight back, and it’s only a matter of time before Querencia can be what it was only stronger. The maid turns away from the window and walks down the hallway of the Empress hotel. A proud smile slowly crosses her face as she disappears into the air.
Special Thanks to:
Wildplay: For fabulous fun with bungee and more. 35 Nanaimo River Rd, Nanaimo, BC V9X 1S5. https://www.wildplay.com/nanaimo/
The Empress Hotel: For its timeless beauty and wonderful afternoon tea. 721 Government St, Victoria, BC V8W 1W5 https://www.fairmont.com/empress-victoria/