Princess Dia was the daughter of King Siam and Queen Laina of Dacior. She had a brother, Darius, who was 10 years older than she. Queen Laina passed away when she was 3 and Darius was 13. Both her father and brother doted on her and never made her feel the loss of her mother. Dia was a feisty little thing with flaming red hair and bronze skin that only deepened as she spent more and more time in the sun.
King Siam was a just ruler. But he also had very rigid thoughts about what skills he wanted his children to learn and the role they would each play in the running of the kingdom when they came of age. He wanted Darius to learn the art of war and be trained in all forms of combat while he wanted his daughter to learn fine arts and architecture.
When Dia was just 5 years old, she found herself being drawn to archery. She would sneak down to the arena to watch Darius practice. There was something about the way the arrow was locked onto the bowstring, the swooshing sound as the arrow left the bow, and the inevitable thwhack of the arrow hitting its target which made time stop. She would stare, enraptured, for hours at a time. While she didn’t mind learning to draw, paint, and create sculptures, she found archery much more fascinating. So when she was 6, as they were all having dinner together one evening, she eagerly asked her father, Kind Siam, “Father, may I learn archery please? I would really like to”. King Siam was taken aback with this sudden ask. “Whatever for, child?”, he asked. “I just think it’s wonderful!”, she said. “I’ve seen Darius practice and I love how neatly he’s able to hit the target”, she added.
King Siam smiled, mistaking her craze for a fleeting fascination for the art. “No, child. I don’t think little girls should learn archery. Put all your heart into learning the fine arts. That will serve you well”, he said. “You may watch Darius as much as you please!”, he added hastily seeing that Dia was tearing up.
Dia wasn’t a child who threw tantrums. She was way more mature and intelligent for her age. She merely said, “Thank you, father” and nothing more was said about the topic.
That night, as Darius entered his room, he was startled to find Dia sitting at his table, waiting for him. “Di!”, he said. “What are you doing here? You gave me a fright!”
Dia giggled. “You’re so easy!”, she said.
“Well, why are you here, you little brat”, he said, kneeling down in front of her and gazing into her eyes. He was sure she was up to something and it was important to her. Why else would she come to him at night rather than waiting to speak until the morning?
Her dark brown eyes looked steadily into his. “You’ve got to teach me archery”, she said in an even tone. “I’ve got to learn it. Father doesn’t understand how important it is to me and I can’t explain it. When I see you shooting arrows at the arena, I just know that that’s where I belong too. With a bow and an arrow in my hand.”
Darius didn’t smile. The seriousness and firmness in his little Di’s voice caught him by surprise. But there was a depth to her sincerity which made him believe her instinctively.
He looked at her thoughtfully. “Hmm. Father disapproves, Di. So we will need to be very careful about how we are going to train.”
Dia threw her arms around Darius’s neck. “Oh thank you, Darius. You’re the best!”, she said. Darius smiled as he hugged her back. “Now run along, you little brat, and let me think how we’re going to pull this off. I’ll tell you the plan tomorrow. We’ll start your training soon!”
Dia gave her brother a kiss on his cheek and rushed out, feeling elated. She had the best brother in the world!
After her painting class the next afternoon she found, Arthur, Darius’s personal aide waiting outside her classroom door.
“Good afternoon, Princess Dia. Your brother Prince Darius has requested that I escort you to him now, if it suits you”, he said.
Dia was thrilled. “Yes of course, Arthur!”, she said. “I can come along right now!”
Arthur escorted her around the castle into the woods right behind the castle. At last, they came to a secluded clearing where Darius stood, grinning. “Hey little brat!”, he said, throwing her up, catching her quickly, and putting her down. “Arthur is in on our secret! He’s going to be helping me train you.” Arthur smiled and bowed to Dia.
“Here’s your bow, Princess, said Arthur, handing her a smooth ebony bow made to her size. We had it made this morning for you. Do you like it?”, he asked.
Dia looked at the bow as if it were the most beautiful thing in the world. “Thank you”, she said to Arthur.
“And now…let’s begin”, said Daius.
And thus began little Dia’s training. Every day, she’d practice. The hour of the day was moved around so that it was unpredictable to anyone who was watching them. She did have some natural talent for it, but what’s talent without practice and hard work? The princess, though, was a master pupil and hungry to learn. She was also up for doing all the hard work even when things got difficult. Every morning before the sun was up, she’d sneak out to the clearing to practice on her own. Sometimes she’d do that for hours forgetting the passage of time until Arthur, guessing where she was, would come to fetch her. When asked in the castle where she’d been, she’d fabricate a new story to explain her disappearance.
Month after month, year after year, Dia grew into a more confident archer. Darius became prouder and prouder of his little sister! After 9 years of vigorous practice, she was, without doubt, one of the fastest archers with the deadliest aim in the entire kingdom.