"Hi, I'm Arabelle Roselyn Lancaster, HPH Princess of Erisky of the Sky Islands. Erisky is one of the four main islands: Rejasky, Damasky, Erisky, and Laosky that make up the Sky Islands. It's the third largest and a beautiful place to live.
Not that I live on Erisky. No, I'm stuck here on Lancaster Island in the Vanishing Isles. Why? Because HPH stands for Her Pretend Highness. That's right. Instead of HRH, Her Royal Highness, or HSH, Her Serene Highness, my title is dismissed as wishful thinking. My claim is valid,however. It's rooted in an egregious piece of male chauvenism! Almost three hundred years ago Prince Roland's legitimate daughter, Princess Victory, was denied the throne in favour of Prince Roland's illegitimate son, Prince Kieran I. Totally unfair since Princess Victory was a brilliant ship's captain and a noted explorer. She charted the four big islands and the little ones as well. A woman who was a fine leader, well educated, and did more for the islands than most princes could boast, was denied her birth right simply because she was a woman. NOT FAIR!
The Vanishing Isles in the Sky Islands chain are called the Vanishing Islands because when the tide gets high, they sink under the waves. Only a few inches to a couple of feet, unless it's a really nasty storm, but it is enough to ensure I have the whole island to myself.
Why live here? Ever hear of Catch 22? If you are not a resident citizen of the Sky Islands, your claim to the throne is invalid. If you do live on one of the Sky Islands, then you owe fealty to the Prince of your island. That means you have to shut up and abandon your claim if your prince tells you to. The ruling princes have an agreement supporting one another's thrones...meaning they won't harbour a pretender to any of the four thrones of the Sky Islands. Boom! Got you coming and going....except for the Vanishing Isles which are held in fief to King Gregory...who is legally barred from 'interferring' in the succession of any principality.
There's also the Sky Islands' garbage gyre to contend with. The main islands form a semi-circle, blocking the ocean currents and creating a gyre. Since 8% of the world's plastic ends up in the oceans every single year, these gyres get choked with mountains of plastic. Our gyre is NEVER featured on our postcards! Since it's an ambition of mine to get the gyre cleaned up, the Vanishing Isles is a good place to be...if a little damp at times.
There's a third reason why I live on Lancaster Island. We prefer to keep it secret. So DON'T TELL! Lancaster Island holds a strange ruin, originally discovered by my great-great grandfather, Nicholas Lancaster. He hated Prince Rollo III for several VERY good reasons. He set up a trust fund to support any descendent willing to take up the fight to dethrone Prince Rollo, or his descendents, and to figure out what he had found. There have been others who have accepted the challenge but I'm the one who is going to succeed. I've gotten two banks of lights operational!
What he found was a portal. I'm sure of it! It was damaged and there are pieces missing. It also seems to be part of something larger but repeatedly getting dunked in the ocean doesn't do sophisicated electronic equipment any good! Plus, from what I could discover, it's over 5 hundred years old! Leonardo da Vinci was drawing his flapping 'flying machine' when this portal was constructed. Talk about exciting!
Portals are gateways to other worlds, times, and dimensions. How? It's very simple. You just suspend disbelief and you are good to go. Don't like that answer? I could tell you that it's so classified that if I told you I would have to kill you, but that joke's so old it isn't funny anymore. Joking aside, portals are built on quantum theory/chaos theory...meaning if you understood exactly how they work...they wouldn't. It's the scientific version of Catch 22.
Take light, as in the famous Double Slit Experiment. Light behaves like a particle, as long as you are watching it. When you are not watching it, it behaves as a wave. How can a photon of light can know whether or not it is being watched? No idea!
Take quantum particles. You can either measure the spin or the mass of the particle but not both. Entangle two particles and if you change the spin of one, that instantly changes the spin of the other....no matter how far apart they are. The change in spin occurs faster than the speed of light, yet nothing can go faster than that. Portals are Einstein's 'Spooky Action at a Distance' in operation...ramped up to the Nth degree.
Then, we bring in Schrodinger's Cat...the poor cat that is both/either dead or alive...at the same time. All particles are in a state of supposition. Until measured, when they coalese into one position. Activate the portal supposition field and anything can be out there, until the door is opened and it is observed.
Finally, we multiply quarks by quibbits to the power of fractals and plug them into a quantum computer. Since there are six flavours of quarks called:Up, Down, Strange, Charm, Bottom and Top..... Lets just stick with suspending disbelief. Okay?
With a foundation/operating principal like that, portals are not particularly reliable. If they work, you can't explain why and it's embarrassing! If you can explain why they work....they won't. Embarrassing.
Since the portal is anchored firmly on Lancaster Island, I have to live here if I want to study it and get it to work. Not being allowed to reveal that it exists, the only reason I can give for living on this soggy isle is being the Pretender to the throne of Erisky.
Sometimes I worry that I will actually succeed in becoming Princess of Erisky. If so, I will have to give up my research on the portal for ribbon cutting. (I wonder if this was the reason Princess Victory didn't kick her half-brother off her throne, because she would have had to give up exploring, which was her passion.) Not to worry. Prince Arthur, the current Prince of Erisky, has three sons and two daughters. I can fight the good fight without having to worry about winning.
I think there is a strong connection between the portal and the few natives living on Erisky's small islands: Swan, Dolphin, and Sunfish when my ancestors arrived. Very curious that they should live on the tiny islands when there were four big islands to choose from. They had only very primative rafts. That seems very odd for a race that must have come here in ocean-worthy ships. (Did they come by portal?) Plus they all looked exactly alike! I know that bigots say all members of a foreign people look alike but the records state that even they had a great deal of trouble telling one another apart. The records of the initial settlement of Erisky hold only a few curious myths about them. Well, they joined the settlers on Erisky, intermarried and that was that. It was a very peaceful intergration.
My speculation is that they used a portal to establish the portal on Lancaster Island. Winter submerged the island, ruining the portal and sweeping away the people. The gyre would deposit the surviors in that area. To the people back home, the new base would have vanished without a trace. With only a small population, fighting to survive, there was no pressure to reach Erisky.
Now, King Gregory insists the 'natives' were extraterrestrials but I think time travel was involved. The natives were human. They looked human. They successfully bred with the settlers, etc. Therefore, I think they were humans who came back in time, but His Majesty thinks they were aliens who used their 'Altar of Beauty' to change themselves into humans. He claims that is why the settlers who tried the altar were all dead within five years. (I argue that they lost the instructions on how to use the altar.) It's a moot point since the Altar of Beauty has been lost. If it, along with the Oracle and the Death Light, still exists, it will be locked up in the dungeons of Erisky. Getting Prince Arthur of Erisky even to admit he has them would take a miracle. Probably because he'd have to admit that his ancestors used them to commit mass murder. The history of the Sky Islands is pretty tame but there were still some pretty ruthless characters. Not just Rollo the Bad (Prince Rollo III) but some princes who were widely admired are rumoured to have abused these items. First and foremost was Prince Kieran I! He was Prince Roland's son by a native woman.
"Ta-da! I've got the portal's door open! Right now it just shows the stone wall of the back of the portal chamber. Soon, it will lead to an endless parade of wonders!"
Oh yes, politics! The Sky Islands are a constitutional monarchy with a strong heraldic tradition. Each citizen, at the age of 18, gets to try to win a coat-of-arms. To win, you have to pass the test and then serve a full year in the militia. Succeed and you win your arms and a listing in the Social Register and in the Reserves. Fail and you are listed in the Comprehensive Register only.
King Gregory and Queen Alexandra reign over the Sky Islands. King Gregory was elected king by the Sky Council which consists of the four reigning princes and their Designated Heirs.
Rejasky's throne is held by the Waldemar family, presently by Prince Gordon, son of King Gregory.
Damasky is ruled by the Lancaster family, Prince Franklin II holding the throne. (Yes, they are relatives of mine. I'm related to all the ruling families through daughters and younger sons. That's not particularly unusual. We are a small nation and neighbours become family.)
Erisky's royal family is the Wayfair family and Prince Arthur is on the throne.
Laosky's ruler is Prince Nicholas of the Mondrian family.
Well, that's the basic background. Care to come in and play?