What Maia did not know, but that Rouark might have guessed, was that she and the prince were being watched.

Up in a turret of the ruinous castle stood a woman ~ the woman from the shop.

Indeed, she was also still in her shop, for once one entered that establishment ~ which appeared to be in the human realm ~ one also entered the strange magic castle.

The woman's name was Esmerelda ~ and she was a cousin of the usurping king. She thought that was helping him to hold on to his stolen power because she loved him, but, in truth, it was because she was under his spell. She was also Rouark's aunt ~ Rouark was the usurping king's son.

It was Esmerelda's job to ensure that the Rouark and Esmerelda did not become close, for, if they did, then the 'king's' position would be weakened. If the king felt that she had let him down ~ then her life would be in great danger.

Furthermore, Esmerelda was also cousin to Maia's mother. She knew that Maia's parents were the real monarchs of the land, and that Maia was the heiress to the kingdom, so, because of her magically misplaced loyalty, she felt that she had to keep power away from the girl ~ and the girl away from Rouark. She didn't want the boy to lead a rebellion against his father.


"The secret of success is constancy to purpose" - Benjamin Disraeli.