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Annika's Locket
Helen, Age 10, Calgary, AB

“But Oma, Opa, it can’t be! Where will we go without our cottage?” 12-year-old Annika cried out to her elderly foster parents.

“Dear, we don’t know. Maybe…” Oma was interrupted by Annika.

“But the locket is valuable. Couldn’t we sell it?”

“No. The locket is the only reminder of your true family,” Opa told Annika firmly.

Annika silently thought that if she could find her true parents, then they could help her dear Oma and Opa pay the rent for the small cottage that they lived in.

Annika’s foster parents had found her on their doorstep when Annika was a baby, and had decided to take her in as an act of kindness. A locket and a note were attached to Annika saying:

Please take care of my daughter. She is in great danger.

Annika and her foster parents were residents in the Black Kingdom. The King and Queen were an old couple; the king usually relied on his advisors’ or his adopted son’s advice. The cruel heir to the throne, Wilhelm, was quite unpopular throughout the country. No-one wanted an unkind king.

Despite her foster parents’ protest, Annika was determined to sell her locket. The next morning, Annika slipped out of the cottage, hoping to sell the locket for as much money as possible.

Andrea, the 25-year-old apprentice jeweler, was someone who Annika was familiar with, but not quite friends with. Annika stated that she wanted to sell her locket.

Andrea glanced up and motioned for Annika to show her the jewelry. As Andrea slowly examined the locket, she noticed a tiny flower, gloriously carved into the gold surface.

“How did you come across such a valuable piece of jewelry?” questioned Andrea.

Annika told her that it was a gift from her unknown parents.

As Andrea turned over the locket, something about the flower made Andrea remember a mysterious stranger who had told her long ago, ‘Andrea, someday you will come across a young girl possessed with a very powerful locket, engraved with a flower. This locket will help only three times. If the girl does not find her true family by the summer solstice of her twelfth, she will disintegrate into nothingness.’

Andrea wondered if Annika was the same girl the stranger had spoken about.

“I refuse to buy your locket. I think that you must search for its origin. I would be willing to accompany you, for guidance.” Andrea offered.

Annika took this into consideration, thinking that this journey would solve her never-ending curiosity about her real family. Annika felt she had no proposed choice, but to accept. They immediately ventured into the Black Forest.

Annika and Andrea had only the clothes on their backs, bread and water. Despite their pitiful provisions, Annika felt enthusiasm explode with every step she took into the foreboding Black Forest. Beautiful rays of mid-June sunshine shone brilliantly through the dark trees, casting glimmers of hope in the gloomy forest.

“Oh!” Annika exclaimed as she stumbled across a large, gray rock, almost falling into a shallow stream. Annika observed that suddenly it was so foggy that she could not even see what was right in front of her. As they proceeded, a thick fog descended.

“I wish this mist would leave!” Andrea cried out in exasperation. Annika glanced at her surroundings. The already angry trees were morphing into griffins, dragons, and other horrible beasts. Annika shuddered. She felt like she was balanced on top of a giant pin, afraid to look down or move, for fear of falling into nothing, forever. Annika shook her head, and her fantasies vanished.

Annika began to fiddle with her locket, wondering what would happen to them. She heard a faint CLICK and the locket burst open with a blinding beam of light, shining from the opening in the locket. The light flashed and the heavy fog cracked open, revealing a clear pathway, leading to Neuschwanstein Castle. There was another CLICK and the locket closed. There was no trace of fog left.

Annika’s shoulders started to shake when she realized the power the locket possessed. She could hear Andrea whispering “. . . once the mist clears, a path will appear. Neuschwanstein Castle is where your destiny shall be revealed.”

Together they realized that an important peice of information had appeared, and that the locket was a magical guide.

The two continued down the winding path in silence.

As they exited the forest, the great Neuschwanstein Castle loomed in the distance, seemingly taller than the sky. Even with Annika and Andrea far off, the castle already had authority.

As they approached Neuschwanstein Castle, Annika noticed a formidable obstacle. There, guarding the castle was a dragon, clothed in fiery red and orange scales.

“How will we manage to get past that horrible beast?” Annika asked no-one in particular.

“We will find out when we face it.” Andrea replied.

The twosome neared the dragon, which was already beginning to snort and grumble, picking up the scent of foreign humans approaching. Suddenly, it leapt up and roared, as flames violently flickered from its mouth, frightening Annika and her companion. It swooped down, swiping at Andrea. Luckily, Andrea jumped to the side. Annika, mortified, nervously began to hum a soft melody. The dragon, now prepared to strike again, caught sound if Annika’s song and was lulled by it. The dragon swayed gently, like a child in a cradle, and finally fell into a deep sleep, snoring.

“The summer solstice always was my lucky day.” Annika murmured.

Andrea’s eyes widened. The stranger’s prophesy! “Annika,” she cried out desperately. “You must find your true family today, or you will vanish!”

Annika panicked, and ran inside the extravagant castle. Not knowing where to go, she dashed up huge stairs, through giant hallways and down long passageways. Soon Annika was completely lost. She scampered to an over-hanging, extremely high balcony. Annika’s eyes enlarged when she saw how high up she was. She froze with fear.

“I knew that you would find your way up here somehow.” A voice sneered. Annika could recognize that voice anywhere. Wilhelm.

“The king and queen – I mean your mother and father – would have kept you as heir to the throne, but they were persuaded that a girl could not rule. Then I would be king after your father and mother died. So, I poisoned their food. The king died and the queen lived. Now I want every single person in your family dead!” screeched Wilhelm.

Annika was hit by this sudden wave of information. The king and queen were her parents? Wilhelm wanted her dead?

Wilhelm lashed out at Annika, hoping to push her off the balcony. But Annika side-stepped and Wilhelm tripped and was sent flying off the balcony into a thicket of prickly trees. Just then the dragon woke from its slumber and noticed Wilhelm on the ground beside it. The dragon lifted Wilhelm off the ground.

“Stop, you horrible beast!” screamed Wilhelm. “You’re supposed to be my servant! Now put me down!”

The dragon, oblivious to what Wilhelm had just said, carried him to its lair and kept him forever imprisoned.

Annika, seeing that Wilhelm was obviously defeated, ran down the steps of the castle, outside to where Andrea waited.

On the way down, Annika came across an elaborately dressed woman. At first Annika ignored her. But the woman stared at her and exclaimed:

“Annika! Is that you? I am the queen.”

Annika gazed back at this…old person. So this was her mother.

“Oh, I’m so glad to see you. I have always regretted leaving you with those horrible country people.” The Queen rattled on. “When I was journeying back to the castle after abandoning you, I met a girl about 13 years and I left a prophesy about you. Oh, forgive me, Annika.”

Annika knew that the girl that the queen gave the prophesy to must be Andrea.

“Those ‘horrible country people’ are my foster parents!” Annika defended. “They are the only family I know. They treat me so well.”

Annika’s mother reflected and said, “Your foster parents are welcome to stay at the palace with us.”

Annika agreed to this proposition. A message was immediately sent to Annika’s foster parents.

When the queen died, Annika became a very successful queen and was vastly popular throughout the kingdom. Annika’s parents (real and foster) would have been very proud of Annika.

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