The Alcázar Treasures
By Veronica Varicçi
El Alcázar looms on the edge of the seashore, you can see this castle for miles
and miles, some have even said it hides treasures within its walls. El Alcázar created in
the Middle Ages, by an evil king with a horrible scar on his neck; legend says that one of
the prisoners that the king held gave that to him.
!paniards also tell of the legend of a black cat with a star"shaped white speck on
her chest that would roam the castle every night looking for the evil king. #onsuela my
friend and $%a !ophia&s house cleaner has a cat named Estrella; she looks 'ust like the
cat told about in the legend.
$he story goes that the evil king(s cat was last seen licking its wounds after it
attacked the king(s mistress; she scratched the star"marked cat right back) !ometimes
you can hear a cat(s yowl coming from inside the walls of the scary castle.
$%a !ophia the caretaker of this Alcázar says that it(s 'ust my imagination and
that * need to stay away from the castle&s dungeon, but * would soon get to know it all too
+ne day, * overheard #onsuela talking about the dungeon to Estrella as if the cat
knew what she was saying, silly #onsuela. * really didn&t want to be caught
eavesdropping, so * acted 'ust as * was minding my own business, but minding my own
business doesn(t make the curiosity go away, all that does is make my curiosity stronger,
'ust like a cat)
* think one day *(ll have to go see what all the whispers are about, but *(ll make
sure that no one not even Estella, the curious cat knows what *(m doing.
* lay awake at night sometimes and wonder if there are any scary things down in
El Alcázar&s dungeon. ,onestly, the only way * could believe these scary stories is if *
see them for myself.
*(m tucked here in my warm, cozy bed, * do get goose bumps all over 'ust
wondering what mysteries are hidden here and there; who knows, and maybe my room
has some mysteries in itself. !ometimes * wish Estrella would talk to me, because * bet
she(d have some stories about what she and #onsuela talked about, or even where
they(ve gone throughout the years.
My name is -inda de la .arca and * am on a mission to find out 'ust how true the
ghost stories really are with or without that cat(s help)
A princess owns this scary old castle her name is -inda, 'ust like me.
$he really weird thing is that she(s related to that evil king. * sure hope she(s nothing like
him or we(re all in big trouble)
$oday is dark and stormy and the lighting is hitting the Alcázar tower window, it looks
'ust like a set of demon(s eyes. $his scary place has three large pointed towers, and four smaller
ones. $he smaller one is where * sleep; it(s like having my very own castle it(s nice/but
frightening sometimes, like tonight) * 'ust love to be scared, not sure about anyone else.
0hen * look outside the window, * feel like nothing could go wrong. 1ou know that feeling
when you(re an2iously waiting to open your #hristmas presents3 $hat(s the feeling * have when
* think about all the secrets and treasures in this castle, 'ust waiting for me to find them.
!ure, things have gone wrong for me, here. -ike the first week * was here, *
accidentally lifted the drawbridge while #arlos, our groundskeeper, was trying to get
back in. *t looked like he was having a heart attack, but he was fine after * left. After
that, he(d give me dirty looks and when he wasn(t scowling at me, he pretty much
ignored me when *(d go out to the stables to play with 4ep5 the dog.
Another time this was after the drawbridge accident * pushed against the
portcullis/well, * caused it to go up and down making it slam hard on the floor each
time. * got dirty looks from #arlos then, too.
!omething else * learned during those days6 cats do have more than nine lives,
because Estrella barely nicked her furry tail as the portcullis came crashing down. *
know * shouldn(t have laughed so hard, but seeing her big bugged eyed was funny.
1eah, *(m a little clumsy; and *(m teased about that a lot at school. +h well *
figure the kids there are 'ust 'ealous because * live here in the big, spooky castle...at least
that(s what *(d like to think.
$he lighting outside was still horrible and * could see those eyes again. * felt a
chill, grabbed my blanket, and held it up to my chin. .ut, * had to see what all the
yowling coming from the dark corridors was.
* grabbed my glasses and slipping into my favorite fluffy sweater and bunny
slippers, left my room.
There is a flashlight in Tía’s office that I knew I could use, but I have to be fast. I
wouldn’t want anyone to see me.
7Meow)8 Estrella 'umped at me out of nowhere, as usual.
7+h, good it(s only you kitty cat you(re coming with,8 * picked up Estrella and
began my 'ourney...oops * mean our 'ourney. $eam work)
* tiptoed passed a 9othic painting and it seemed the Madonna(s eyes followed my every
step. * kept one eye on her and one eye on the hallway * don(t have enough eyes)
Estrella pounced at my ankles playfully. :e2t thing * knew * was on the floor and
so were my glasses. * glared at the cat, but soon remembered she was only here to help
and make sure the 'ourney we were on went as planned what plan3 I had no plan,
maybe she had one, boy, sure wished she talked right about now.
El Alcázar is amazing; around every corner, you see beautiful paintings. #andle
sconces were everywhere along the castle(s corridors, 'ust like in the scary movies...they
were lit up and it sure looked as if the lights danced around e2citedly. *(d trust the
flashlight more, because no one could blow that out.
$he dungeon was toward the front of the castle. #onsuela pointed that out to me
on my first day here.
*n her broken English said, 7#hild, you stay away from the dungeon. 1ou(ll get
hurt in there, you hear me38 !he scolded me with her chubby finger.
71es, * heard you,8 * answered. * had often wondered what she and #arlos had
looked like when they were younger. * saw a photo of her once; boy was she different
back then. !he didn(t have a mustache like she does now. * feel sorry for #arlos, her
husband; besides me getting in his way, he has to listen to her yell. And her cooking isn(t
that great, either. * can skip her cooked meals, but not her chocolate, no way. -ock me
away and throw away the key, but let me have my chocolate)
* slowly opened the office door, and a little mouse scampered out. Estrella 'ust
sat there, ignoring the racing snack.
71ou missed a great snack you crazy cat,8 * rolled my eyes, but she didn(t care.
Estrella sat there waiting for my ne2t move. !he(s fast. !he had the mouse right
under her paw and * hadn(t even seen her catch it.
* walked around to the desk, pulled out the top drawer, and found it was unlocked.
* found the tiny flashlight and put it in my pocket for later. * couldn(t see much because
most of the castle(s lighting is candles. *f the flashlight didn(t work, it would be a very
7,ere kitty, kitty here puss, puss, * know you(re here someplace.8 *t was
#onsuela roaming the halls again looking for her cat.
* grabbed Estrella to keep her ;uiet. * looked like a cat"napper) * tucked her
under my sweater, and felt her claws working their way around my stomach.
* tried my best not to giggle, but it was so hard with soft paws all over my body.
* ran to the door to make sure #onsuela was gone. All * could see was her skirt as
it whisked around the corner. <lashlight held tightly in one hand, * started slowly down
the steps that led to the great hall. * passed the library, but then noticed the statue of the
gargoyle it was not against the wall like it should be. *t would take a lot to move it it
was so huge so who had moved it, Consuela3 * tiptoed in and went straight over to it. *
rubbed its wings and they almost felt real/
* never bother anything in here. *(m always afraid that * will break something, but
* remember touching this giant before and it never felt as though it was alive.
* held my breath for what happened ne2t. +ne wing bent slightly, then the other,
and then the whole body turned towards me. * looked down at its foot, it was tapping the
floor) * took the hint and ran.
Meanwhile, the wall behind the gargoyle was opening 'ust enough for me to
s;ueeze through. After * s;ueezed into the opening it closed ;uickly but not fast enough,
because my faithful companion, the cat, made it through. Estrella meowed her way
through, her tail swishing e2citedly every which way.
7,ush,8 * whispered, 7or someone will hear you.8
Estrella 'ust licked her paw.
* started down the dark, musty pathway. 1ou could hear my bunny slippers
scrapping across the concrete floor. $he tiny flashlight provided 'ust enough light to see
two steps in front of me, but * kept creeping into the terrors that waited in the dark castle.
* ran into a giant spider web, and saw the owner come after her meal/me)
<rantically * fought my way out of it and spun around, falling down on an old
7* guess whoever owns this shoe is lost, or worst dead)8 * started to push up
against the wall * 'ust wanted to get out of there. * hope * wasn(t far from the dungeon,
not that * was in any hurry, 'ust an2ious * guess.
$he passageway was so narrow * 'ust held my breath a little longer.
* pushed and pushed, and the portcullis opened. * went rear end first and landed
in the keep. * didn(t see Estrella anywhere, in a way * wish she was here with me.
7*(m in deep trouble now. *(m all alone in the keep) * had never been this lost.8 *
'ust started to chew on my nails when * heard a scratch on the door, 7oh there you are.
$hank goodness you(re all right.8
Estrella was 'ust as happy to see me. !he licked my cheek with her rough, pink
tongue. !he was a welcomed ball of fur for sure.
* was relieved to find her and that she was all right, * didn(t feel as lonely and
scared with her there; the hugs and kisses didn(t last long Estrella decided enough was
enough and she brat that she was bit me. !he then decided her place was on the
windowsill in the corner of the keep.
* walked around to find a place to sit or sleep, and to my surprise, * saw an old
blanket on the floor. *t looked nice enough to take a nap on for something so old. * lifted
the blanket to lay it out to take my nap and wait out the storm, and out of the blanket, a
diary fell out. $here was no key to open it with, and it didn(t look like any diary *(ve
ever seen. Even though * felt weird about the only two things in the keep, * was not that
scared to be alone in this dark dungeon, * couldn(t help but pick up the diary and look it
$he diary was so pretty. *t was heavier and larger than the ones you can get now
at the bookstores. *t was made of cardboard not plastic, and looked very e2pensive with
its velvet cover. *t had an emblem of a falcon on the cover.
70hat a cool bird)8 * thought.
*nscribed on the front was the initial =*( printed in gold and when * tried to pry it
open all that did was hurt my fingers.
Estrella was bathing again, and her pink tongue was hanging halfway out when
she looked up at me.
7#an * borrow your small claws so * can open this thing38 * asked. !he
continued to lick, 7* guess not.8 * was sleepy and hungry. * put the diary down and tried
to get comfortable on the old blanket, but something kept poking me, * flipped it over
again, maybe something was wrapped up in it, not only the diary yep, sure was a
!nickers bar. 0ow) * couldn(t believe my eyes.
* took a dive for that candy * love chocolate And ate it in three bites. * guess *
should have worried about how long the candy was up here, but * was starving.
#onsuela(s paella wasn(t very good today. * was tired and now my tummy was ;uieter so
* decided *(d better get some sleep, even though * still had an eerie feeling/
$he ne2t morning, * felt a tickle on my nose, 71ou couldn(t let me sleep, huh38 *
grumbled at Estrella. !he was dancing around the window. * could see she was stalking
a bird that was teasing her.
7,ow are we going to get out of here, and what am * going to tell $%a !ophia3
.oy * am in big trouble.8
0e both sat on the windowsill sulking. $he sun was shining and bright and as *
peered out the opposite window, * could see #arlos out in the field beyond the Alcázar. *t
must be passed > o(clock in the morning because he was always up and working early. *
looked for the dungeon. * located it and tried to calculate how far it was from where
Estrella and * had spent the night.
* was at the very back of the castle and it was toward the front. * wanted to find
my way back into the main part of the castle before anyone noticed * was gone. * left the
wrapper hey, who would check the trash around here anyway3 * started to push on the
walls watching for any movement.
* gave a hard push on one odd looking brick and tumbled right into the kitchen.
-ucky for me no one was in there. * smelled the coffee in the air coffee and chocolate,
* was in heaven)
7*t(ll stunt your growth, -inda,8 $%a would tell me. *(ve been drinking it since *
got here. * needed something to calm me down, so one day #onsuela placed a coffee
mug in front of me and as she added real cream, * knew * was in love.
As * looked out the window, *(ve always been a little nervous over how the wind
howls and the trees shake back in forth. *t always looked as if a giant were crushing them
as he marched closer to the tower * slept in. $his was way too scary for me)
* e2amined the diary again since * was still alone in the kitchen.
70hose name begins with an I3 :obody * knew or no one was telling me about
someone else living here before $%a came. All * knew about was the princess, because
she owns the castle.
* was no Einstein, but who would have left !nickers, blanket, and a diary up there
all this time3 As * thought more about it, * didn(t even feel sick from eating that
!nickers, it was actually yummy.
* would keep all of this to myself. * don(t want any problems around here. *t(s
bad enough that everyone looks at me like *(m walking around with a dunce cap perched
on top of my head.
Maybe my cousin ?uana knows something. !he lives in the nearby village with
As * reached in for my second piece of chocolate"dipped churros, * felt a hand
7+h, uh, good morning #onsuela,8 * chirped to the grouchy maid.
,er nostrils flared; 71our aunt will be down soon she will wonder why you are
still in the nightgown, you hear me38
71es, * heard you.8
70hy you have your bunny shoes on, are you cold38 she asked.
7:o, * 'ust think they are comfy that(s all, don(t you like them38 * strutted around
the kitchen pretending to be a super model ... she was not impressed with me mouth
covered in chocolate.
!he shook her chubby finger at me, 7no, no we do not wear shoes like that, they
are ugly)8 !he bulldozed the kitchen in search of her apron, and sang an +ld !panish
71ou eat everything in here, go, go)8 she yelled at me.
!o much for my breakfast, * grabbed one last cup of chocolate coffee and gulped
it down before she had the chance to take it away. * turned and fled. * headed up to the
tower and stopped right in front of the library. *t used to be my favorite room until last
* crept in slowly. *t was still cold in the room since there were no fires burning in
the fireplaces, but the gargoyle was now right up against the wall like it should be. * went
over to it and touched it. *t felt warm to the touch. ,ow could that be every other piece
of furniture was frozen3
* had a sick feeling in my stomach. $here were some really scary things going on
in this old haunted castle.
* felt a whisk of wind go through the library. * looked down at my fingers they
were purple. $hey felt frozen) * panicked and ran out of the room.
* hadn(t seen my $%a !ophia for a while, since yesterday, to be e2act, but she
knew of my comings and goingsB*(m sure of it. $hat woman had eyes and ears in the
back of her head.
!he is tall and beautiful; she looks great in high heels. * could never wear them.
*(d fall and break something, or break some body part * needed. !he was a sweet $%a, so
young and she never married. * have often wondered why, but know it is not my
0hen *(m a little older, *(m sure she(ll tell me all about that. 0ithout her, *(d be
alone. !he(s my mom(s only sister and my only familia. * know *(m not the prettiest
girl, but she always makes me feel like * am.
* guess her stretching the truth a little is her 'ob as an aunt.
7Always improve yourself -inda, and never lack self"respect,8 she always says to
me when we have our talks while we watch scary movies. 0e sip coffee and eat
chocolates given to her by visitors that have come to tour El Alcázar.
* know *(m lucky. * get to live in a castle that resembles the one where Aracula
lived, * have an aunt that is as much fun as any girlfriend what more could a girl from
* figure today * can go into the village, find ?uana, and make plans for tonight
since it was !aturday night. I know they’ll send me to get some things from the market,
they always do.
* went up to the main bedroom, to ask $%a about going to the market. ,er room is
right above the great hall and it has an awesome wardrobe area " it(s a neat place.
!ometimes, * think she is really the princess, and then * really wonder. 0hen * got there,
* was out of breath; it(s a long way up.
As * got to the door ... 7come in -inda.8
7,ey, how did you know it was me, $%a38 * 'oked.
7* heard your bunny slippers across the floor.8 !he smiled, and that smile could
brighten up any dark castle.
7+h, yeah, * forgot * still had them on.8
7-inda where were you early this morning38 * didn(t want to answer because it
would be a huge lie.
70ell, uh, see me and the cat played hide and seek. * chased her out of my room
7Ceally38 she asked as she turned and walked away.
7Ceally,8 * answered and followed her to her dresser. $hat(s when * heard a purr
from behind her draped bed.
+ops, * was caught.
7Estrella has been here all morning with me,8 she glared at me. 7!he smelled of
dust and firewood, do you know why38
7:o, * don(t; uh, maybe #arlos had her run an errand for him, and she got dirty38
* giggled knowing that was impossible. Estrella looked up at me and blinked as if she
knew $%a ;uestioned my whereabouts.
7Aon(t be silly, -inda, cats cannot do such things. Ceally, you watch too many
movies. #ome, sit, *(ll let you brush my hair.8 !he knew that * liked to do that. *t was
so long, not like mine6 thick and curly like a clown(s wig.
7* wanted to ask you, $%a, had anyone lived here whose first or last name started
with the letter =*(3
!he turned her head ;uickly it looked as if it would snap off)
70hy do you ask such a thing38 !he stared at me with icy eyes.
7* was 'ust wondering is all, and * saw something in the library/8
70hat did you see there38
* s;uirmed, 7hard to say, uh, a book of some kind.8
$%a rela2ed a bit.
70ell, there was a folktale told a long time ago that(s passed through generations
that might have something to do with that book you saw.8 As she continued, * was
7After the castle was built by that king it went ne2t in line to his daughter, a girl.
!he was a beautiful princess, but born with a limp.8
7*n those days you had to be flawless, especially 4rincesses.8
71ou mean 4rincess -inda38 * was hopeful.
7:o, no child let me finish.8
$%a went on to tell the story of how the king set out to fi2 this problem. 7,e
ordered doctors to operate on her with their strange tools, but those tools could not do
surgery like that. $he surgical items they used back then were not what we know today
and they practiced on people 'ust to see if it would work.
$he king was present when the horrible tragedy happened to his daughter. $he
surgeon dug deep into her leg making a terrible mess of things, and in horror, the king
watched his daughter scream in pain. *t was clear that the doctor didn(t know what he
was doing; no doctor really did back then. $he princess did not come out of that very
well; now she only had 'ust with one leg that was useful to her, and would have been
much better off without the procedure.
-inda, that king sent the princess to her final days in this very keep.8
!he noticed * was a bit green. 7Are you okay, -inda38 !he softly patted my
hand. 70e are lucky we live now in this day and age, s%38
!he winked at me as my normal color pink color cam rushing back. * swallowed
hard, 7!o * guess she was there until she died, right38
7$hey say she died at the hands of someone who could not bear to see her suffer
any longer, whether that was a servant close to her, or her own father, no one will ever
* felt gross inside as if someone punched me in my stomach and made me eat
7*s there any truth to that story, $%a38 * stood with my hands on my hip, very
skeptical that this all really happened.
70ell, you believe in what you want to believe in, okay. :o one said you have to
believe everything you hear.8 !he continued brushing her own hair.
70hat do you believe38 * asked.
!he looked at me and patted my hand, 71ou found the book, didn(t you38
* nodded my head.
* decided to go up to my room and change clothes. .efore * left, * turned around
and asked her, 7Am * still going to the market, it(s !aturday, remember38
71es, good idea,8 !ophia got up and walked into her wardrobe area. 71ou want
to take the dog with you38
71es, he loves the sausages at the market,8 * answered.
* walked toward the door of $%a(s room feeling sick that she had told me such an
awful story and because * had lied about the diary. * stopped at the door, 7#an ?uana
spend the night38 * didn(t hear an answer6 'ust the tune she was humming softly.
* got to my room and it stunk " like cat. * knew she was in here, * 'ust can never
figure out how she gets from one place to another.
!he is forever pulling a Houdini on me.
* changed clothes, and grabbing a piece of chocolate from under the bed Dfor
emergencies, you knowE * left, but not before grabbing the diary and tucking it inside my
'acket. * want to get to the village fast and show Mrs. -opez too, since she(s my friend.
!he made the best sesos, with round warm bread / yummy)
* was e2cited, not only do * get to e2plore again, but to eat; * was hungry. *
hurried down past the inner walls and out the portcullis onto the drawbridge.
* turned to see where the dungeon was it was off this area and before you get
to the well, it lurked right beneath the guardroom.
:one of these rooms is used now of course, but long ago, they used all the areas of the
castle for battles and things like that.
As * got closer to the stables, * could hear the dog barking and #arlos waving at
me to leave him alone, but * headed toward the stables anyway. $hat(s where 4ep5 slept.
#arlos ran up to me.
79ood morning Mr. #arlos, how are you38
71ou think you are taking 4ep538 he asked, acting as if * should not.
7Ao you mind3 ,e really loves the walk and the sausages from the village market
make him happy like they do #onsuela.8
,e shot me a look and agreed. 71ou be safe, young child. And bring him back in
one piece for your friend #arlos, no38 ,e pleaded.
7+kay,8 * waved at him and off we went.
$he village was less than a mile away.
$he open"air market, filled with townsfolk purchasing their meals for the day.
$he roads filled with tourists; you could tell us from them with their straw hats and
cameras strapped around their necks.
4ep5 was going nuts over all the meats displayed for sale " especially the
sausages. 0e passed Coberto(s stand and 4ep5 knew what was about to happen.
7,ola, seForita -inda, come here, 4ep5,8 he called as we neared his meat"stand.
,e loved animals and they loved him too; must be the sausage perfume he wore.
Coberto reached up, yanked the biggest, plumpest sausage he could find for 4ep5
and tossed it to him. As the sausage flew toward us, it slapped me in the head before
4ep5 could get to it. * heard a slight ringing in my ear.
7*(m all right,8 * said as * wiped the 'uices off with my face and Coberto made
sounds of concern over hitting me in the head.
7!eForita, you must be more careful,8 Coberto, warned me as he turned and
petted 4ep5 and cooed to him lovingly. 79ood doggie.8
7#ome 4ep5; we must be going,8 * called to the sausage"eating dog. ,e ignored
me as usual.
7,e will be fine here with me,G Coberto chuckled. 79o and see Mrs. -opez. *
hear the sesos, are great today.8
* bent down to pet 4ep5, but all he did was growl; he thought * was going to take
his sausage away from him. hat that silly dog didn!t know was that I wouldn’t dare try
to do that to any dog that would be like taking chocolate from me.
* left them happily keeping each other company. ,e couldn(t be bothered with
me * was no competition for the sausage hanging above his head, so * left.
* walked down a narrow pathway and smelled Mrs. -opez cooking her famous
sesos; * 'ust couldn(t wait. * started running toward the door and didn(t notice as it began
to swing open. +ne smack sent me to the ground flat on my rearBboy, did that hurt. *
rubbed my bottom and continued toward the aromas.
74erdHn, didn(t mean to hit you, child,8 a young businessman with plates wrapped
in foil said to me. ,e was a handsome, but most !panish men were around here.
* got up and walked in; lucky for me Mrs. -opez had no other customers. *
noticed a small pastry left on a plate as a sample, so * picked it up and ate it ;uickly, at
the same time worried whether *(d have room for her delicious meal. *(d make room if *
had to stand on my head to do it.
7,ola, mi amor,8 Mrs. -opez pinched my round cheeks.
7,i,8 * said with my mouth full of pastries.
7#ome, sit,8 she stared at me.
!he asked, 7IJue pensar ustedes3 * know something is wrong, you haven(t asked
for a plate yet.8
* 'ust smiled since * was still hurting from the sausage and door attacks earlier.
7*(m okay, really, 'ust a little dizzy.8
7!o, sit here and tell me all about your day.8 !he pointed to a chair near the table
she had reserved 'ust for me. !he placed a plate with some fresh round bread in front of
me and motioned to me to eat.
* wolfed down the meal and after the last wonderful bite, * pulled out the diary
and placed it on the table.
!he looked puzzled.
70here did you get this, -inda38 * noticed her voice had changed. $hat worried
7* found it,8 * e2plained.
70here did you find this38 she looked over the diary and then placed it down.
7@h / in my room,8 * lied.
7Ceally38 she narrowed her eyebrows, clearly not believing me.
* usually trust her, but something told me not to this time. * think it was the look
in her eyes; * especially wouldn(t tell her about my plans for another adventure through
the castle later.
!he mumbled something in !panish at a speed * couldn(t understand.
70hat(s wrong38 * asked her, 7,ave you seen this before38
!he looked up 7no, no child of course not,8 she lied. !he sat down beside me and
looked straight into my eyes. 7Aoes your aunt know about this diary38
71es, she and * talked about it 'ust today before * came here.8
!he got up, poured me some thick chocolate, and * snagged a cookie.
79o on -inda, as you were saying.8
7-ike * said * found this diary last night in my room, but * cannot figure out whom
it belongs to so * kept it and brought it here 'ust so we could try and open it.8
!he didn(t look happy, not one bit.
7!uppose it(s very private and you should not be reading it38 she wondered out
7!o, you are telling me not to try and open it3 *(m not afraid of what(s in it,8 *
!he 'ust looked at me as if * should be; and boy, she was so right /
7-inda, you must not open it)8 !he practically barked at me.
:ow, * was upset. !he was supposed to be my friend
70hy not38 * demanded to know.
,er voice rose, 7because there are some things you do not need to know about)8
* was confused; * had no idea why she was acting so weird. My feelings told me to leave
and leave now. * had hoped for a second helping of chocolate, but the need to get out of
there was greater.
7* won(t open it. ,ey, * can(t find the key anyway, and it(s much prettier as it is,
isn(t it38 * rushed on breathlessly hoping she wouldn(t see the confused terror in my
!he sighed, 7!% mi amor. :ow go ... * must be getting back to my customers.
,ere, give this to 4ep5.8 !he handed me a grilled pig(s ear and a pickled egg.
* freaked out; * shot out of that shop like a bullet from a gun. +ne of the nicest
people *(ve ever met 'ust turned into a 7Ms. ,yde8 without so much as a warning.
* gathered 4ep5 up after * found him bathing in meats behind Coberto(s stand.
7,ere boy, got something for you,8 * called.
,e trotted up to me and snatched the morsels from my hand nearly taking a finger
with the pig(s ear.
0e walked for a few minutes and it began to grow dark; guess we must have
stayed longer than usual at the food stands. * was tired and confused about this whole
thing. * rubbed my head, and smelled sausage and chocolate. *t turned windy as we
walked and a chill filled the air; the closer we got to uncle Aemitri and ?uana(s house, the
weather turned windier. 4ep5 was acting so weird " pacing back and forth and running
around my ankles.
70hat is it with you, dog3 <irst you growl and now you want me to play with
you38 * asked the restless dog.
,e stopped dead in his tracks and bared his sharp lethal teeth. "ep# had never
done that before.
70hat(s out there3 !ure, like you can answer me,8 * twittered nervously. My
voice sounded strange even to my own ears.
* started to walk faster, and then a hard push sent me flying into the bushes.
7,ey, watch it)8 * ordered. All * heard were 4ep5(s fierce growls and those sounded so
far away. * struggled to get up and run toward uncle(s house, but * couldn(t.
* froze in terror. !omething or someone large and ghostly was dragging off 4ep5;
* couldn(t move at all.
* felt around the inside of my sweater; * still had the diary. * heard someone
coming. * 'umped out, waved my arms in the air, and yelled, 7,elp help)8
!omeone grabbed my arms.
70ill you stop it, silly3 1ou(ll wake up the dead shouting like that.8 ?uana&s
laughing face shined out at me from the darkness.
* glared at her. 7$hat(s not funny, * think something dead 'ust pushed me.8
!he laughed again and rolled her eyes; she never believed me, even when * was
7Cight and * am a monster,8 she waved her hands up in the air to try to scare me.
* looked her up and down and mocked her. 70ell, sometimes you do scare me.8
!he punched me hard on the arm.
7#ousin, what are you doing here at my house this late38
I didn’t know whom to trust anymore...
7Aon(t talk like that, 'ust talk normal,8 * begged.
!he started to pick on me again. !he looked at me and pretended to be a creature.
7*(m going to get you -inda; you&d better run,8 she laughed again.
7!top it now)8 * screamed. 7* have something tell you.8
!he put her arm around me. 7+kay, get in the house; it(s cold out here. ,ey,
where(s 4ep5, * thought * heard him out here with you38
7$hat(s what *(ve been trying to tell you, * don(t know where he is. +ne minute,
he was here and the ne2t he was gone with something /8
70hat38 !he thought * was losing my mind. 7-inda, what(s going on with you38
7-et(s go in your room. *s uncle home too38 * asked.
71eah, but he(s snoring away. #ome on.8
0e entered the gates to the small house and went up to her room. 7Ao you want
something to drink, cousin, maybe some coffee with chocolate38 !he knew * loved her
coffee with chocolate.
7:o, *(m okay. *(m 'ust a little scared. 1ou promise you didn(t see anything out
there. 4lease don(t laugh at me, ?uana,8 * begged her before she got the chance to say a
0e sat on her bed facing each other with our legs crossed.
70hat is it with you3 1ou(re acting even funnier than usual since * found you in
the bushes. :ow confess.8 !he waited for me to answer.
* pulled out the diary, 7* found this in the keep at the castle along with a !nickers
candy bar and an old blanket, weird huh38
70hat, the candy bar or this38 !he e2amined it carefully. 71ou know, it looks
like something old and priceless; should you be carrying this around38
* looked at her and glared, 7* can(t find something like this because *(m clumsy
and always doing the wrong thing, is that it38 * had tears in my eyes; * was so frustrated
with this whole day.
7Aon(t be upset, -inda, it(s 'ust that you aren(t as lucky as some.8 +kay, she had
70ell, it(s mine; * found it)8 * pouted. 70ill you help me open it38
7* don(t know; it looks really old. 0hat if it belongs to the princess38 * took it
from her, 'umped off the bed, and headed toward the window.
* could tell the clouds were about to break into another awful thunderstorm. *
stared out the window and to my shock saw 4ep5 sitting there, licking his tail. * shook
my head and whispered, 7* must be going loca.8 ?uana ignored me as usual.
7Ao you want me to stay over tonight or not38 she asked.
7* thought uncle was asleep38 * came back to the bed, sat down again.
7* made the plans before you came, dummy. 1ou know * always spend !aturday
nights at the Alcázar.8
0e both laughed. *t felt so good to laugh with my friend and my only cousin,
especially after a scary day * had 'ust survived.
7+ne thing before we leave.8
70hat38 she asked.
7#an we go any way e2cept the way * came into the village3 * mean, what if that
=thing( is still out there waiting38
!he ;uickly packed up her overnight bag. 70ho would want to wait for you,
-inda / the boogie man38 !oon ?uana would be unable to walk; she was holding her
stomach and laughing so hard at me.
0e gathered the sausage"eating dog and we were on our way back to the castle.
All * could think of was that she would believe me once she saw the things * saw
in the castle6 like that cat Estrella showing up everywhere.
As we walked back to the castle, * e2plained to her what * wanted to do once
everyone went to sleep. !he acted tough and like nothing frightened her, but when *
mentioned going down to the dungeon something we had never done she panicked
and made e2cuses.
* knew 7let(s wait =till morning when we can see well8 was 'ust her e2cuse and
way of hiding how afraid she really was.
7:o) * insisted. 70e go tonight.8
At that moment, * wasn&t sure who was the most frightened her or me.
* would found out soon enough/
* gave ?uana a smelly old sweater. 74ut this on and hurry up.8
7:o, it stinks)8 * shoved the sweater in her face, and crinkling her nose, she
slowly put it on.
7*t smells like moth balls.8
7!hhhh, be still.8 0e heard something moving very slowly toward us as we
walked down the stairs. 0e pressed up against the cold stonewall. * felt a finger poke
my back, 7ouch.8
70hy did you do that for3 Aid you bring your flashlight38 * whispered.
?uana stood still as a statue.
?uana started fumbling through her smelly sweater, 7@h, no/was * supposed to38
7#ousin, * swear, you(re supposed to be the smart one, remember38
?uana fought back. 7* don(t want to go, and * say we go back in your room where
7:o, shhhh/* hear it again.8
+ur hearts were pounding so loudly we knew whoever it was would find us in the
darkness 'ust by the sound.
7*(m going to creep forward and you stay here.8 * took one"step and a horrific
yowl came from Estrella.
?uana was laughing so hard she had to hold on to her stomach.
7!tupid cat,8 * huffed.
Estrella ran down the hall, now sporting a crooked tail thanks to me.
71ou can stop laughing now, come on.8 ?uana didn(t let go of me; she kept one
hand on my back, and the other against every wall.
7,onestly, -inda, * don(t see why we have to go tonight. Ao you know what(s on
tonight, of all nights38
70hat38 * asked as we walked down the steps toward the library.
7* heard $%a say they were having a =fright fest( on some channel, and she was
going to make us popcorn and brownies. And, Aracula(s on too you know how dreamy
he is, now come on.8
* ignored her re;uest, 70hat, no chocolate coffee, what(s with her38
?uana(s frustrated 7fine8 was said a bit too loudly for my comfort. 7*f * die out
here, you(ll be sorry.8
7+kay, okay so *(ll be sorry. :ow 'ust do what * say and you won(t get hurt down
here,8 * instructed her.
70hat do you mean hurt, who(s getting hurt38 ?uana(s fingers were digging
deeper in my flesh, and * was getting tired of babysitting her.
7+h, did you see where that crazy cat went38 * asked, and looked over my
shoulder to make sure Estrella wasn(t sneaking up behind us; lately she was spooking me
out with her appearing here and there.
7+h, she headed to $%a(s room. 0hy are you so worried about that cat * thought
you and she were best pals38 ?uana snorted, finding that hilarious.
70ait / stop someone(s coming.8
$hey watched #onsuela dance around with a piece of sandwich in her mouth, and
the headed toward her room. 70hat a weird woman.8 0e both giggled.
7!he is weird,8 ?uana said as she stuck her tongue out making fun of #onsuela.
7* know, but she(s gone now.8
0e passed the kitchen and entered the library. +ne candle was burning. * didn(t
panic because * had my flashlight. ?ust then, * pushed ?uana against the wall, 7Aon(t
freak out okay3 $here(s something in there that(s scary, but 'ust stay close to me.8
70hat38 she asked, already petrified.
71ou know, you ask a lot of ;uestions. ?ust stay close behind me.8
70hy do * have to stay behind youB38
* scratched my head, 7boy, you are acting like a big baby.8
?uana pouted, and as * shined the flashlight on the gargoyle, she gasped.
7+h, no you don(t. *(m not going near that thing.8
7*t(s fine, really.8 * crept closer; it looked the same as it did the other day.
7* wish * knew how * turned it last time38 * reached out and felt its cold body and
* rubbed its wings. * could feel it getting warmer under my fingers. * stood back as it
7+h, * guess that(s how * did it.8
?uana whispered nervously, 7* think it(s alive.8
7*t(s not alive it 'ust came alive when * touched it.8 $he dark creepy hallway
e2posed itself when the statue moved aside.
?uana started biting her nails, chewing them, and spitting them out.
79ross, stop that, come on.8
7+h, its eyes moved)8 ?uana had her hands on her face.
* turned back around to see if it was true.
7:o, they didn(t, but the foot moves, see38
?uana ran before * could stop her, right into the dark spooky hallway.
70ait, wait for me)8 * shouted as * ran into the dark hallway. $he door closed
behind us; it was clear that there was no turning back now.
* finally caught up to my cousin, who freaked out.
7!low down,8 * said, trying to catch my breath.
!he got behind me and held on tight.
7Are we there yet38 !he had the smelly sweater in a knot now.
7:early,8 * lied. 0e walked slowly down the spiral staircase that led to the
storeroom, 7!hould we grab a snack, you know, 'ust in case38
?uana stared at me, 7,ow can you eat right now38
7<ine, we(ll eat later.8 Knowing * could eat anytime and was always hungry *
grabbed a package of crackers while she wasn(t looking and put it in my pocket.
As we walked outside, * could see the well and pointed to it. 7!ee, there(s the
well. * know there(s a passageway in there, because *(ve seen #arlos use it.8
*t was so dark and the fog was swirling around. $his reminded me of my favorite
scary movies like the ones we were missing on $L right now. * sure didn(t know my
own scary movie was about to start. $he wind was stinging and it was chilly. 0hen we
got to the well, it stood ten feet off the ground. *t was monstrous) ?ust then, an eerie
voice whispered, 7-inddaaa /8
!wallowing hard, we stared at each other.
7Aid you hear that38 * whispered.
7@h, no, well, yes/what was it38 ?uana was now frantically running in place.
7!topBget down.8 * pulled on her smelly sweater.
70ho or what was that, -inda3 1ou better tell me)8
As if, * knew.
!he began to cry.
7!top crying, it was 'ust the wind.8
!he shook her head. 70ind doesn(t do that, -inda.8 ,er eyes were bulging out
of her face.
7-ook, we can stay here and wait, or go in there and see what is making that
sound.8 * pointed at the narrow door, and all the time wondering who would whisper my
name like that. ,onestly, * was sure it was 'ust the wind. 0ell, at least * hoped * was
sure it was 'ust the wind.
$o, why was my stomach doing flip%flops3
* opened the narrow door.
7Ahhh)8 ?uana screamed. A family of big rats scampered across the stone floor.
* rolled my eyes.
70hat3 1ou like rats now38 ?uana asked shivering.
7:o, but Estrella does; she loves them,8 * continued through.
?uana stuck her tongue out at me. 0hen she turned around, she ran right into a
giant spider web. #learly, this was not her night. ,er hands flew in all directions and
she ran into another door, smelly sweater and all.
?uana stopped her panicky scramble, 7*(m scared.8
7Me too, but we have to keep going.8
70hat, you(re scared, Miss"*(m"brave"today38 ?uana sassed about.
7Maybe you should go first; you are older than me,8 * said and prayed she would.
7+h no you don(t, you go.8
0e both played the 7you"go"first game8 for about five minutes. 0e sat down,
tired and frightened, right in front of the ugly door. * noticed how it had claw marks all
over it, but only at the top of the door. * shivered at the thought of someone or some
thing trying to get out.
* got up and pushed on the door. *t yawned open. $he room filled with fog that
smelled like rotten eggs.
7#ome on,8 * coa2ed.
0e tiptoed up the steps to the ne2t set of doors, which were held together with a
chain. * 'iggled it until they were free. * gave ?uana the heavy chain; she held it close to
use on the ghost she feared would come after her. +pening the door, we saw a small set
of stone steps. * looked down and saw blood stains everywhere. * wanted to vomit, but *
couldn(t, because * hadn(t eaten all night.
70hat(s that38 ?uana asked, her finger shaking at the sight of the blood.
7+h gross, *t looks like blood.8
7*t is, stupid,8 * retorted, Miss"brave"it"all.
0e heard that voice again, this time it was louder and no one could doubt that it
was my name. * nearly peed in my pants)
70ho(s there38 * asked, now scared to death. :o answer, 'ust then a strong gush
of wind knocked us down.
?uana panicked, got up, and ran further down the dungeon. 7-inda, come here)8
79et it off of me, hurry,8 someone(s hand rested on her shoulder. 7!omeone died
in here)8 ?uana gasped.
79uess so if we found the bones.8 * stood there staring at all the blood. * was
feeling a little terrified, but didn(t want my cousin to see that. *(d continue to be brave
for her and me both.
70ho do you think they belonged to38 ?uana wanted to know.
70ell it can(t be #arlos or #onsuela we 'ust saw her, and if #arlos was dead she
wouldn(t be dancing around like that.8 0e both had ;uestionable looks on our faces.
7+h cousin, what if they belonged to that mean king $%a told you about38
70ant to take it back to the castle with us to show everyone38 * asked her feeling
an2ious to continue with my adventure.
?uana didn(t like that idea. 7Aon(t be crazy; we(d both be in trouble if we did
0e started to look around and * put the bones in one corner of the dungeon for
$he moon was the only light in the spooky dungeon and definitely making it
scarier. $his all sent shivers down my already frightened body.
$he dungeon had five cells and * wanted to look in each one. ?uana stayed in the
corner of the dungeon like a scared mouse. * set out to check out every cell. After *
checked out all but one, * headed to the last one; it was at the end of the dungeon.
* wasn(t so sure if * should, because the closer * got to the back of the dungeon the
more frightening. My heart and mind were screaming at me to run away, run away)
?uana seemed so far away all * could see were her dirty slippers. !he hollered to
me, 7,ave you seen any ghosts yet38
My stomach assured me that * soon would. * turned my head to answer her, 7no,
$he closer * got, the thicker the fog formed around me, and only in that one cell.
7,ello38 * asked, and hoped nothing would answer me, * peeped in to get a better
look. $here, in the corner, were the eyes *(ve seen beforeBred demonic eyes. * held my
breath and felt my feet leaving the ground.
70hat(s happening38 * looked down and could see my bunny slippers a few
inches off the ground, * was floating)
A soft voice said, 7-inda, come to me.8
7@n, * really can(t right now,8 * shivered.
$he eyes grew larger, and the fog rolled away ;uickly. * landed on the ground;
face first. * couldn(t believe what * saw ne2t.
Estrella was sitting still as a statue in the corner of the dirty cell.
7,ere kitty, kitty.8
!he hissed claws out ready to scratch. !he had something gold dangling from her
mouth. * got as close as she would let me. ,er ears were back, her tail puffed out.
79atita let me have it)8 $ugging at the chain, * fell backwards, and in one fast
pounce, she landed on my chest.
* grabbed the gold chain from her and ran out of the cell. ?uana was half"asleep
when * got back to her.
70ake up)8 * shook my cousin hard.
70hat did you find38 she yawned.
#learly, her fear levels had dropped ;uite a bit since * had been off floating in thin
7$his.8 * held up a gold chain with a locket.
70ow, that(s pretty, where did you find it38 she yawned and rubbed her eyes.
7* found it in the last cell, over there.8 * pointed e2citedly.
7+h, * believe you.8
7?uana, *(m really freaked out.8
!he looked at me, 70hat(s wrong38
71ou didn(t hear or see anything38 * asked, and she shook her head no.
!he had been asleep while * was facing all the danger.
71ou didn(t see the cat38 * asked.
?ust then, Estrella ran past us and up the stairs. !he looked invisible, coated with
all the dust from the dirty cell.
70hat cat38 ?uana answered.
7Estrella, silly, she(s down here or at least she was.8
?uana didn(t believe me at all. 71ou were telling me about that cat and you,
what(s up38 ?uana asked confused.
7?uana, did you lose your marbles while * was back there38 * guess she really
hadn(t seen Estrella, but * sure did.
7*(m okay, really,8 she assured me.
7!o, you(re saying this is Estrella(s chain,8 seriously asking a stupid ;uestion.
7:o, dummy, its wellB* don(t know.8
7+pen it.8 ?uana demanded.
* wanted to, but * didn(t know if * should.
7Maybe we should take it up to your room first, *(ve had enough for one night.8
7:o, * want to see it now,8 she stomped on the ground like a toddler.
!o, we sat down on the dirty floor and tried to pry it open. *t was larger than a
normal locket that holds two pictures. +n the front of it was a picture of a large bird of
some kind. ?ust like the diary. *t looked as old as El Alcázar did itself. 0e noticed that
the large bird held the initial =*( in its claws, again 'ust like the diary.
* was enchanted)
As we opened it, a little dirt fell out; then a 'ewel lit up the dungeon.
7,ow pretty,8 we said in harmony.
7*(ve never seen anything like that.8
+nly one photo we could make out; it was a beautiful smiling girl.
70ho is she38 ?uana asked.
7,ow should * know38 * was confused and remembered * was starving.
7,ey, do you think that you have found her diary, well since it has the =*( on it
too38 ?uana started messing with the picture again.
7,ey, there(s something behind it.8
7Aon(t mess it up)8 * panicked.
70ait, * think it(s another photo.8 !he lifted the girls( picture and another hidden
right behind it. $he woman in that picture wasn(t smiling. !he had a mean look in her
eyes, and held a baby in her arms. $he two women looked alike, but the mean one was
0e heard a yowl in the distance, and looking around, realized we had forgotten
we were still in the dungeon in all the e2citement about the locket. 0e looked at each
other, screamed, bumped into each other, and ran away.
0e finally reached the outside of the dungeon and headed passed the drawbridge
toward where the dog slept.
7*f we wake 4ep5, we(ll be in big fat trouble, -inda.8
7+h, we won(t; trust me.8
$he feeling inside me was very close to something not of this world. *t made me
feel magical like * could do anything, anything at all)
$he ne2t morning we headed off to church, #onsuela and $%a !ophia acted very
strange. $hey had this weird look on their faces, as if taken over by aliens or something.
As we were crossing the drawbridge and onto the gatehouse, * stepped on ?uana(s
skirt. *t ended up around her ankles and all you saw was her slip underneath. !he was so
mad and by the way her eyes pierced my body * thought she was going to kill me. 0e
got to the church and !unday mass ended up a disaster.
* ended up slipping into the pool of holy water and * could tell * was in big trouble
by the way the nun looked at me, forbidden to have ?uana over to the castle until * could
=act right,( whatever that meant.
.efore church started, * hid the locket; no one seemed to notice the gold chain *
was wearing, no one asked me any ;uestions. * did wonder why no one was paying
attention to me, either yesterday or today; only Estrella she was more playful now
that was weird.
After church, ?uana went home and $%a !ophia, #onsuela and * walked back to El
Alcázar in silence. * knew * would be in trouble for the rest of the day. $he castle had a
haunting feeling around it, and it felt colder than usual, especially in the library.
* decided that Deven if * were spooked to deathE * would spend the rest of !unday
afternoon in the library. * wanted to find anything that would e2plain the diary and
#onsuela came in with a fireplace lighter. 7#hild, you want fire in here, tell me
now, * have no time to play games,8 she hissed.
!he was in a bad mood. * was freezing, but thought *(d re;uest 'ust a small
chocolate coffee, 7#hocolate coffee, please38 * smiled innocently.
!he shot me an evil look. 7Aoes your aunt know you drink so much coffee38 she
stomped off before * could answer.
* got comfortable, and found a very large book on the top shelf, which promised
to tell me what * was looking for, but only after all the books, fell on me.
Most of the stories were in !panish, but * did find one line that * could read.
$he writing scribbled and it read6
The one who finds the treasures will be the one who finds me
70ow) !ounds like * found me some treasure.8 * was e2cited because that meant
* would findBwait a minute what or who is &me'(
My hands were shaking. ?ust then, the gargoyle rotated around to face me. *
dropped the book and went over to it.
70hat are you trying to say to me38 *t was hard not to shiver.
*ts mouth did not move, but it spoke, 7-inda, * will see you very soon/do not be
70hat3 * can(t believe this; it(s only my head playing tricks on me.8 * stood back
'ust in case it reached out for me.
$he gargoyle held out its front claw as if it wanted me to take it. $hen the
frightening devilish face turned black and the eyes turned red. *n a scary voice it said,
7you better run.8
*t lunged at my face and tried to bite me.
* ran away as fast as * could.
* went to the kitchen and sat there. * must have looked terrible, because #onsuela
scolded me for not washing up before * ate. * ate and ate until * felt sick. * couldn(t
understand what had happened in the library. )ne second the gargoyle was nice then the
ne*t thing...it tried to get me.
#onsuela was at the stove making all kinds of wonderful things to eat. * went
over to see if * could help. :ow that was a bad idea.
* ended up catching my frizzy hair on fire.
0hen $%a heard about the hair fiasco, she sent me up to my room without any
supper. 9ood thing, too, my stomach hurt from all the eating * had done earlier that day.
* felt better when * got to my room. * reached under my bed to grab the diary then
something bit me.
7+uch)8 Estrella was crouched on all four legs looking at me with her slanted
eyes. 70hat is with you, cat3 *(m not in the mood for your nasty attitude.8
70hat(s the matter, -inda38 * had heard this same whisper before.
70ho(s there38 * looked down at Estrella 'ust to make sure her little furry mouth
wasn(t moving. * stared at the cat, 7yeah right like you can talk.8 * sat at the edge of my
bed and looked out the window.
7*f * only knew what the =*( stood for, then * would find all the treasures, if there
are anymore out there.8 * was starting to doubt what was real and what * was
Estrella 'umped up on the bed and to my surprise, she snuggled up to me. ,er
purring was loud; it kept me from falling asleep. After all, * only had a few hours left to
sleep, school tomorrow. <or a small fur"ball, she sure took up a lot of space.
*(m not sure why she was in there in the first place; she never slept with me
before, e2cluding that strange night in the keep. 0hat a weird cat.
?ust about when we had both dozed off, the door slammed. Estrella didn(t move,
but * sat up terrified. * could see a shadow. *t looked like a girl coming toward me.
70wwho/are/ you38 * shook in horror.
$he shadow danced around, ignoring me. !he went straight up the steep ceiling
and clung to it, then slid over the walls; she was creepy.
* couldn(t move a muscle in my body. * wanted to run, but * could not. * froze
with fear. $he shadow came toward me again its arms were out in front of it like it
wanted something from me.
79ive/it /to/me,8 it whispered.
* handed the shadow Estrella.
7:ot that)8 *t screamed.
7* don(t have anything else.8 * tried to figure out where * could hide in my room.
7-iar)8 *t screamed again.
* ran to the corner of my room and curled my arms over my head.
7-eave me alone.8 * peeped out the corner of my eye and saw that it was gone; at
least * thought it was gone.
70here is it, little girl38 $he shadow was now in front of my face. * could see
right through it. * tried to touch it with my finger, but * felt nothing until it grabbed me.
7:ow you will pay,8 it said.
$he ne2t thing * knew, * was tied up in the spooky dungeon.
7,ello38 * called out, and got no answer e2cept the howling wind.
* could see rats around my ankles. here was that cat when I needed her'
Estrella appeared out of nowhere.
7,ow did you do that38 * was so confused about the cat * never saw the evil eyes
coming at me. $he eyes danced around me, as if guarding me. $he evil shadow
appeared, and grabbed the eyes from its spot where they hovered and put them in its
7#hild, are you ready to tell me what you found38
* shook my head =no.(
7:o3 0ell, you leave me no choice.8
* screamed when * saw the shadow(s hand turn into a hook)
0as * dead3 * decided * wasn(t, because * felt something cool around my ankles.
* opened my eyes slowly and there before me stood the most beautiful thing *(ve ever
70hatBor who are you38 * whispered.
!he was pure white and looked like a ghost, at the same time little like a porcelain
doll. !he wore her ghost"hair up high like a beehive made of spun silk, and her dress was
a ball gown covered with 'ewels. $hat too was of pure white. ,er dress looked like what
a princess would wear to a fancy ball, and the necklace that was snug around her neck,
looked 'ust like the one * was wearing.
$he chains and all of the fog had disappeared. * wasn(t scared at all, even though
* probably should be but * felt sure somehow, that she wouldn(t hurt me.
$hat evil shadow that had 'ust been here sure scared me.
!he started to sway to music that * couldn(t hear. !he picked up Estrella6 who
was dancing around the ghost without fear, and before my tired eyes, the cat turned into a
young, beautiful girl.
70hat did you do to the cat38 * asked.
$hey both stopped dancing.
$he girl whom * knew as Estrella the cat began to speak in English.
7Allow me to introduce you to her Coyal 4rincess, *sabella.8 Estrella curtsied and
grabbed my hand.
* looked at the pure white hand and looked again to Estrella, who nodded at me to
7$ake it, -inda, she won(t bite you, * promise,8 Estrella was a girl, but still held
some feline characteristics to her face, like her slanted dark eyes.
* 'ust couldn(t believe Estrella was standing and talking to me; she was a cat, or
so * had thought.
$he woman smiled at me. * felt a warm fuzzy inside, so * took her hand.
* curtsied awkwardly and Estrella rolled her slanted eyes at me. * felt even more
clumsy than usual because the princess wouldn(t stop staring at me.
7Aoes it talk38 * asked.
Estrella hissed, 7of course, 'ust give her a moment, she(s not use to seeing you in
* crinkled my forehead, 70hat did you mean by that38
70ell, whenever she wanted to see how you were doing she would imagine you
to be something like herself like white clouds in the sky.
7#ool, huh38 Estrella winked at me with her gorgeous, slanted eyes.
$he princess spoke in a smooth as silk voice,8 -inda, *(m so happy you found me.
*(m your great great"grandmother, and El Alcázar is yours/all yours.
My mouth fell open and it felt as if it was on the floor.
Estrella had her paw"hand over her mouth laughing at me, as if to say, 7and * bet
you thought you(d never have anything to call your own, boy were you wrong)8 !he was
hissing and laughing at the same time.
$he princess turned to Estrella, 7Aoes my granddaughter always look so
$hey both laughed at me.
7!it,8 Estrella commanded me.
* sat on the dungeon floor legs crossed *ndian"style.
$he princess began to draw with her white finger and drew up the most beautiful
scene of a castle with its inviting gates made of shiny, gray stone.
$he moving picture drawn by the lovely white hand of my grandmother(s ghost
led me into a grand ballroom where people were all dressed like her, and food stacked
up to the ceiling. * could even hear their laughter. * eagerly watched as * pretended * was
there too, dressed up and dancing with all my friends.
Everyone in the moving picture stopped and looked at me, but they were not
looking at me, rather they were looking at a girl who looked 'ust like me. !he was in the
moving picture standing at that door. * could have been looking into a mirror; she was
that close to my own reflection.
+ne thing * had that the girl in the picture didn(t was a leg. My eyes were as big
as saucers. * covered my mouth so * wouldn(t scream. *t wasn(t anything grotes;ue 'ust
a little shocking.
* pointed at the picture, 7thatBthat girl $%a !ophia told me about her, she(s the
mean king(s daughter.8 * looked at Estrella and back at the beautiful woman.
71es, you(re right -inda,8 the ghost said.
70hy are you showing me this3 * don(t get it.8 * stared in disbelief.
Estrella hissed at me again, making me wish she were a cat again so that * could
pick her up and throw her out.
$he ghost continued, 7the girl you see here was my mother.8
70ait, wait, $%a said she didn(t have a kid that is why the king was so mean to
her. ,e could never marry her off, remember Estrella38 * asked the cat, as if she would
.ut, seriously, so many strange things had been happening, how did * know whether the
cat would know or not3
7:o, !ophia was wrong, and she(s not your aunt. 1ou have no living relatives,
child,8 she informed me calmly.
* held my stomach, 70hy are you saying mean things like this to me38
Estrella, instructed to sit by me and comfort me, started to pet me on my head like
* use to do to her.
* tried to talk again, 71ou mean that nasty mean king is my something or
another38 * really didn(t know what * was trying to say.
$he ghost looked at Estrella with a confused e2pression, so Estrella spoke for her.
71es, the mean king is your grandfather plus a few =greats( before that. :ow do
you feel better38 !he continued to pet my head.
7:o, * don(t) * don(t want to be related to him at all)8 * was now standing and
pacing around like a caged lion. * stopped in my tracks, 70ho is !ophia then38
71es, well, there are a lot of ;uestions to be answered, so sit down again and
we(ll go through it all,8 said my great great"grandmother.
* figured *(d better get use to this kind of news, especially if the messenger came
back from the grave.
$he three of us spent hours in the dungeon and * learned a great deal, who * was
and where my family came from. $hat part of history was very interesting to me.
$he princess, who had one leg, was indeed my relative. ,er name had been
*sabella too, seems we all have that name in there some place. !he had a baby girl, and
that girl had a girl, who was the woman in white here with me today.
$he picture in the locket had only two sets of *sabella girls in it e2cluding my
mother and her mother. :o reason given and * didn(t ask. $hat was a still mystery to me.
Estrella and grandmother * asked for permission to call the ghost by that name
told me that the person * knew as $%a !ophia was not my real aunt.
+ur oldest family enemies had hired her. *nformation passed down from
generation to generation, intent upon finding me and keeping me here. 0ithout me, no
one at El Alcázar would be able to lay his or her hands on what was mine. And, that day,
* learned * had a lot of stuff for a teenager.
As for the people who raised me in America, they were long distant relatives of
the mean king(s staff, so they knew who * was way before * did.
#onsuela had been watching out for me how else would the diary and
chocolates end up where * could find them, Dshe knew *(d be nosing around the keep
eventuallyE, and Estrella tagged along for good measure.
#arlos, #onsuela, and Estrella all wanted me to know the truth; as for the rest of
them/who really knows.
$he e2citing part is letting everyone know who * really am.
+h, * almost forgot my cousin ?uana in all this history; she(s not my real cousin,
but a girl the grown"ups said was my cousin for the sake of the lie.
* still think she(s pretty awesome for a cousin who(s not really a cousin but *
don(t care * will always think of her as such.
A few months later, #hristmastime was upon El Alcázar and it was beautiful to
look at and live in.
$he castle was booming with holiday cheer. * was feeling a little sad at this
magical time, because #arlos and #onsuela sent my use"to"be $%a !ophia away from the
old castle the same day * had learned who * really was. !he left a note for me saying
good"bye and that she would miss me. * believed her too, we were close at a time when
no one else was here for me. * will miss her.
Estrella assured me she would be all right, and once everything settled down for
us here * could then find her if * wanted to; she was, after all, still in !pain.
As for #arlos and #onsuela they stayed here with me, who else would take care of
me3 *(m only thirteen, you know.
* now have a great new family. Even if she was 'ust a ghostly vision, * knew my
great great"grandmother would be there any time * needed her.
Estrella, the cat, was my new best friend and when * wanted her to, she would
turn back into her cat"like self 'ust for me to pet and play with. +n the other hand, when
she(d aggravate me with her laughing and hissing at me then, *(d wish her back to
feline"mode for sure.
#onsuela had planned a fantastic #hristmas for us all, and she had #arlos chop
down the biggest tree he could find. 0e all decorated it with ornaments my royal
relatives left behind years ago.
+ne of my favorite ornaments was a crystal ball with a moving picture inside of
my great great"grandmother dancing around El Alcázar and waving back at me.
0ho would have guessed that the clumsiest girl in the village would turn out to be
a princess3 *t would never have been me)
%lossary !panish & #n$lish
Alcázar' <ortification; #astle
%atita' #at, Kitty
(ola mi amor' ,ello my love; Affection
*aella' !affron"flavored dish containing rice, meat, seafood, and
,-ue pensar ustedes. 0hat are you thinking3
!e/orita' @nmarried !panish lady
!esos' .eef or -ambs( .rains6 served as a snack
!0 mi amor' 1es my love
Churros' <ried pastry; !panish doughnut