(As told by Damien Daeior)
The one closest to my mother, Gatekeeper of The Garden - Orchidna.
The story begins on the Daeior Plateau. Cold and desolate, the diminished sun had a sharp, harsh glow there.
Their lord was called the "King of Fir". There were no spirits, riches, or enough people to claim him a king, but no one said that his name did not fit. Indeed, he was only a small prince who had sworn his allegiance to the Northern Mare Kingdom. But at the same time, he was the leader of the elite Daeior Spearman. When the King of Fir, Jaeim Daeior, was killed and his wife Rosia became ruler, the family had three sons, but they all disappeared one way or the other. For many years old Rosia was left with only one grandson and one granddaughter: Jaeim Daeior, who carried the same name as his grandfather, and Kyprosa Daeior, named after the "white snow cypress" (the winter fir).
The tree is a symbol of grave, death, and eternal torment. She felt that it was a weird thing that she could love because when she was a named after this tree. But Kyprosa's life was worse than the name... Her mad father left her behind when exiled and her mother abandoned her newborn daughter as well and returned to her home. The grandmother, Rosia, hated her so she grew up in the kitchen among the maids. A few years after her father had left the castle, he sent her baby sister, Orchidna, born out of wedlock. A bastard child. Rosia was angry and told servants to leave the baby in the woods. Kyprosa snuck out of her room and tried to find the baby, but soon she was lost. It was bitterly cold. She walked and walked, but none of the hunter's cabins was to be found for shelter. Instead, the starlight faded away, and over her loomed a high cliff. This was the wrong way. Rather than saving a baby, Kyprosa would freeze first.
Kyprosa walked along the cliff halfway out of her mind. Then she saw a crack, barely large enough for an adult. Whatever was inside, it would be better than out here where the icy wind blew. The entrance was narrow, but as she moved her hands to the left and right inside there was a wide open space. Suddenly there were lights everywhere and Kyprosa doubted her eyes.
"Is this a dream because I'm dying of cold and fatigue?" She didn't know if it was, but she was in a huge cave made from green marble. Lamps along the walls illuminated it. Kyprosa walked around and found an arched exit. She walked through it and to her surprise found ... her bedroom. It looked different though. There was a bed with a soft goose down blanket and the fireplace was lit. On the quilt was a new blue velvet dress.
She touched it hesitantly when she heard a knock on the door. Her body stiffened as if she had been caught stealing. At first, she asked herself who that person was that came in. He was not surprised to see her, and he sat down next to her and shook his head.
"Eleven years have passed since I left Rosia... If you go out alone in this cold, and you get lost, you're in big trouble."
Who was this man? Who would speak so kindly to her?
Kyprosa looked closely at the man's face. Then she remembered a portrait hanging in the castle. It was the portrait of her grandfather just before his death. She blinked, out of words as she suddenly understood. It was Raeven, her father, who looked like her grandfather.
"The sewing room was in a hurry, and you are out of clothes. Do you want to try it on?"
Kyprosa quickly shook her head. It seemed that these fine clothes would not suit her, and it was awkward that a sewing room would make her clothes, and most of all, she felt that doing so would end this dream. She didn't want to damage the dress, even if it was just a dream. So they left the room and went downstairs. He held Kyprosa's hand all the way. The warmth of his hands was strange and made her tearful, and Kyprosa was clinging to it.
Downstairs waited another surprise. And it made her tremble. There was a dining room. Her grandmother sat in a chair, got up - and hugged her and quickly tied her hair back. There were three other family members as well, uncle Cedric, uncle Dan, and even grandfather - all who had died before she was born. Her grandmother sat down by Kyprosa, touched her clothes, and smiled. "How can my granddaughter go like this?".
The dinning room in the Fir Castle had never been so boisterous. Her father was planning to go hunting tomorrow with Cedric and uncle Dan had been joking about something. Kyprosa did not know what he had said, but her grandfather burst into laughter. Kyprosa wondered if there was a day when she had laughed so much. Then when she remembered the Fir Castle, wrapped in its cold stillness and she realized where she was. This was the Shadow Castle.
It had been described in her father's journal. Somewhere in the deep forest, Shadow Castle stood where everything happens opposite to Fir Castle. So grandfather did not die, grandmother did not become queen, father did not leave, and Cedric did not die. And all of them loved Kyprosa. She could never have imagined anything so good. It was so good that she almost decided to live here. Then someone opened the door and entered the room. This time it was an acquaintance. Elma her aunt. But there was a baby in her arms. As Cedric got up quickly, Elma handed him the baby and said: "I can't even eat 11 pounds. I think he missed you." It was not at all strange that Elma had another baby, because Cedric was not dead. But watching the baby she wondered at which price this came. What might it be?
Because she remembered. Kyprosa looked at her father. "Father, what about Orchidna?" Raeven tilted his head and said "Orchidna? Who's that? "
Understanding dawned on her. Kyprosa rose while the warm noise filled the dinner hall again. Slowly she pushed the chair away from the table. It seemed as if she barely moved but she found herself at the door. In the journal that Kyprosa had read, her father had tried to find the Shadow Castle. He had studied hard to find this magical place. Perhaps she had found it because her father called out to her. But where did he go when he didn't come here?
Orchidna would never be born in Shadow Castle. Her father would never leave the castle and meet another woman. But if Kyprosa did not leave, Orchidna, abandoned in the forest in the real world would die and disappear. Kyprosa decided to risk her life and leave the castle. To find Orchidna. She couldn't leave her alone.
It was easy to get out of the Shadow Castle. It was the same as Fir Castle, so you just walked out of the gate the same as always. Kyprosa went out into the woods alone, and thought of a bed of fluffy down and a blue velvet dress on top of it in that bedroom. Would the clothes stay in that place forever? Or would a shadow girl who found they suited her have fun wearing them?
It had just snowed and the forest shone white. She heard the baby crying, as if someone was been guiding her so she would not be get lost. At the same time, she could hear the sound of melting in the distance. She wasn't afraid. As she retraced her steps she saw a basket with the baby. Kyprosa ran. When her cloak grazed the fir branches, the frozen snow fell off. I did not freeze and die. Please stay alive.