All things have an equal. A thing as powerful as they, pushing against them with the force of ocean waves, with the weight of mountains. And it's equal, it's opposite, pushes back. As the sea laps at the earth, does the earth stand defiant. Winds may howl and fire may burn and wars ravage the land, crimson upon verdant green. A clash of wills that shakes the skies and brings empires bloodied and defeated to their knees. War between morals is a fleeting thing caused by petty squabbles and tiresome games of who did what. A sister may fight her brother for his crown but it all ends so quickly. Wars among gods start over grand things. The right to live, to own their own shreds of the Aether. The privilege to ascend to the throne, to shape all things in their image. And so they would clash in long bloody conflicts that snuffed out stars like candles in a breeze for even gods are made with a reflection of themselves. Like Kings and Queens, Earth and Sky, Moon and Sun, each of them had an opposite. But gods are vain creatures and their creations reflect that. Morals are petty and mean, clashing over split milk as are the gods, bickering over a throne. A throne that was already filled.
That was until their most violent clash, a clash that sent one of the most powerful gods cowering in fear hidden amongst the woodland of the mortal realm. A clash that would not have happened if not for the meddling of a certain being. This would ruin them all if it were not ended. And the living avoid that breasted out chaos and harmony had intended to end it swiftly. Thing never go as planned even for the almighty ones. He considered himself above opposites and equals, such petty things they were. He considered himself above all others and yet. There fore him stood a being who knew him more deeply than himself, one who found power in things kept hidden. Knowledge was power and there were shadows that held a wealth of it. This being, this god, knew each secret, each veiled truth. Nothing and nobody could hide from his ever seeing gaze, not even the King of Gods on his throne of Apocrypha. And perhaps that was a good thing.
But all things must end for that is the one truth that everything adhered to, no matter it's power or status. Who could imagine that two hated foes would join to overthrow their ruler and shatter his cosmic throne before turning on the Trader of Secrets and tearing the divinity from him that his cries of suffering rippled across the universe becoming a cataclysm so grand in scale that it sundered gods and tore the heavens. So sorrowful that he was that even as he was cast from the heavens he wept tears that scatter the sky with new born stars. And some looked down upon the gods of secrets and scoffed at his pitiful fate while others followed in his stead. The living Void, Eden, followed, even knowing that divinity would die in his veins like the last embers of a fire burning their last. Nothing could last forever but, he was master of fates and of the ebb and flow of chaos itself. If he wanted this to last, it would last. And so the cycle turned it's first, and the god Eden, lord of Discord and Harmony awoke, mortal and alone.
The Chant of the Court of Secrets
Chapter 1- Her Purpose (and other Musings)
The young woman awakes with a start, breath hitching in her throat painfully and heart leaping into her mouth. Her covers of velvet, fur and silk seem to restrain her in a death grip, twisted and soaked with sweat. So she waits, eyes closed and shaking from the strange dreams that are quickly leaving her. She allows her sharp breathing to subside and her heart to slow to normal before wriggling her legs free and into the chill of the morning air. She flicks her braid of snow white hair away from her face as she pulls herself into a sitting position amongst her nest of bedding. The repetitive ticking of the clock resounds in the quiet room, the hands almost touching nine am, a perfectly reasonable time to be awake if one had aught to do. And she, with the coming of autumn and the winter months, would be preparing for the last of the balls and parties. She wanted aught else but to crawl neath the covers of her bed for another hour or two but, when the clock chimed the hour and a series of knocks came at the door she knew that there was no hope of that.
"Enter." The woman called with a yawn, struggling to the surface of the bed sheets.
The door easily swung open allowing another woman to enter the room pushing a silver dining cart that bumped and rattled with various plates, bowls and cups. The scent of warm breakfast was delightful to the senses and could almost be tasted on the air. The lady's stomach growled in delight.
"Good morning Princess Seretice." The new arrival greeted with a practised, polite smile.
"Is it?" Seretice grumbled with a stretch, eyeing up the different pastries sat on the trolley, "I haven't noticed."
"Oh, well then let me just get the curtains for you, madame."
Seretice winced and screwed up her blue eyes as her maid swiftly pulled back the thick velvet curtains allowing the brilliant light to flood the room. The bright stark white was an assault to her light depraved eyes. Snow as usual it seemed. The winter blizzards had been coming earlier and earlier each year. This year's blood moon ball seemed to be more of a frozen, soggy moon ball if anything. At least she didn't have to make tracks through the terrible weather like the other party goers. Some good morning this was looking to be.
"Mira, how is snow a good thing?"
"Well, it's not snowing as heavily as it was yesterday." Mira told her as she set about preparing breakfast from the trolley, "Croissant or something different for a change?"
"With that caramel sauce Nanny always makes. And berries."
Mira smiled,"It appears that even as a lady you still have that sweet tooth, madame."
"Oh, Mira how long is it I've known you? Much over a thousand years now, yes? You can stop being so formal all the time." Seretice asked in mock exasperation.
"Almost coming on one thousand and seven hundred years now. And I'm afraid in times such as these, as close to the Blood Moon Ball as we are, the Empire's eyes are upon us. From hold to province, village and city alike. The people look to the Crown for answers. You may have been hiding in your brother's shadows but, the people need a princess. They need beauty in this time of savagery." The maid carefully explained, dishing up the princess' breakfast and serving it to her, silver platter and all.
"When did you get so theatrical? You're scarce a few decades older than me!"
Mira laughed a deep, jovial laugh at that flicking a stand of brown hair away from her sun-kissed face. One thing that always perplexed the princess when she was younger was how the other had managed to keep a healthy tan in such cold, sunless weather. Mira had simply said it was just how she was and that the Moon elves were different. Cold, she had said, like ice. Sun Elves, like Mira and Moon Elves, like Seretice were a world apart from each other, both figuratively and literally. Her maid smiled and passed her a cup of steaming tea.
Seretice ate in silence churning over the thoughts in her head. The Blood Moon Ball was in but a week, this was true. The entire nobility and then some would be flooding the Imperial Palace, decked in red and rose. The empire's eyes would truly be upon them that night with ruling powers gathered in one building. The Knight-commander would be there for certain, invited by her sister the empress. Perhaps she could keep things cool between the emperor and his sister who would turn up just to cause a scene. The High-priestess was a wicked woman with a snake for a tongue and who hid her red bloodied hands neath the robes of the Moon Goddess. A contradiction of peace and ruin. Not unlike her counterpart, the Holy Grace, champion of the All-father. Radiant as sunlight but burning like the flames of the hearth.
She'd be incredibly surprised if they all didn't break out into bloody fighting. She could almost see her mother going straight for the High-priestess' throat, her sister trying to hold her back, and the priestess' daughters pulling her back. Her own father would be sipping wine and making small talk with the Arch-mage or some other high class citizen. The Blood Moon Ball would be the same as it always had been, boring and full of meaningless charades. The nobles of the empire were all backstabbers and liars, playing games with each other's lives. If there wasn't some sort of assassination at this ball they'd turn up their perfectly powdered noses and call it a bore.
"Another cup, madame?" Mira asked, with a smile.
"Perhaps just one more." She answered holding out her empty cup for a filling.
Mira gladly poured her some more tea before busying herself with tidying and rearranging the trolley leaving Seretice alone with her thoughts again. So much to do and so little time to do it in. But, as her mother had told her countless times, a princess does not rush, she makes time wait for her. Her siblings were not so fortunate. The wall in front of her was graced by a large portrait of herself and her family, each of the painted faces there all wore such convincing smiles upon their faces that one would think they were real. Well, at this point in time perhaps her only father's was genuine, so free spirited and airy he was. He had been so glad to have all of his children back in one place again. Before hand he had been on-edge for weeks before the portrait was painted. It was by his lucky stars that both Ysdraille, Seretice's eldest brother, and Celesse, her only sister, were able to get leave from their duties with the Holy Order to be there. Ysdraille had seemed relieved to be out of the Grande Cathedral but Celesse was agitated. And who wouldn't, in the same room as the woman they had betrayed and left for dead in the hands of the enemy.
"Madame, what colour should you wear today? Purple or pink? Perhaps something between?" Mira asked all of a sudden jolting her lady from her musings.
"Well, that really depends on who I'm rubbing shoulders with today. Schedule, please."
"Oh! Of course, madame! It completely slipped my mind!"
Mira rummaged through the large pockets in her white apron with its little floral patterns before pulling from the depths a large scroll, slightly crumpled. She cleared her throat with a loud "ahem" before continuing.
"There was only two activities originally planned for today but, however, with the emergency calling of the Imperial Council, a couple more events have been fit into your schedule. Firstly, your brother, Heir-to-Grace, his Holiness Lord Ysdraille, has requested that you meet him in the private chapel as soon as possible. Lunch is served in the great hall as per usual. There will be an influx of visitors today with the council being called which includes those of the High Council, Paladins and Holy Order.", Mira took a deep breath and continued, "After lunch you will meet with Lady Melorie of the Bellerose family for dance lessons. Due to the close proximity of the Blood Moon Ball she will be looking for absolute perfection. After a short break to freshen up you have been invited to take dinner with your great uncle, the Lord Glenal Valonde, as both a personal meeting and a short assessment of your etiquette in preparation for the Harvestmere feast held the day before the Ball. Later on in the evening you will be meeting your new Arcane Studies instructor sent by the Arch-mage himself. Supper will be served here as usual before bed. Any questions, madame?"
"A...few. Just when did my brother get here? I thought he would be running the Cathedral while His Radiance is busy here with the council."
"I believe he arrived sometime last night in the midst of that storm. His Radiance has sent him in his stead due to unforeseen complications." Mira replied after a moment of thought.
"Complications? I do hope it is nothing serious, his Radiance usually finds such uproarious joy in agitating my mother at these meetings."
"So I have heard, madame. I believe he will be present for the Blood Moon Ball so I'm sure it's really nothing to be much concerned about. It's most likely the High Priestess is throwing a temper tantrum. Needless to say, she is not invited."
"She'll show up with or without an invite. I'm fairly sure very little can stand in her way." The princess said with a roll of her eyes, unimpressed with the priestess' antics before adding more thoughtfully, "I'm surprised she hasn't tried to off both the Grace and my brother."
"That's what the Grace's shield and sword are for. And your brother's bodyguard for that matter. I see no reason to fear, madame. There will be no assassins slipping through the defences in place."
"I... suppose so. I am more curious about this instructor sent by the Arch-mage, however. Do we even have a name?"
The maid began to hurriedly reread the day's schedule with a furrowed brow. She then rummaged through her apron pocket in case there was something she had missed before looking back up at the princess confused.
"I'm afraid we don't have a name? Should we cancel the meeting? This is rather suspicious."
The princess held up a hand, "No no, I don't think that is necessary. If the Arch-mage has hand chosen this person then I respect his choice. Really how bad can it be?"
"W-well, he is a member of the House Lithelliin, madame."
"Pfft, he hates them as much as my parents do from what I've heard. I agree this is an odd occurrence but nothing we haven't dealt with before." The princess said assertively, "Now as for the answer to the original question posed. A pale purple dress, not too long, but below the knees with some form of floral theme should keep all of our guests happy. You know how lady Bellerose is when it comes to fashion."
"Right you are, madame."
Within the next half hour the princess was dressed in a newer gown of silk and ruffles, flowers in her hair and long snowy curls hanging down her back. Mira fluttered around her straightening hemlines and smoothing out creases. Princesses must be perfect. They must not offend the eye. They must never have a hair out of place. They must never step a toe out of line. She was a rose to be admired, pink petals and delicate under sunlight. But she was the daughter of a man with a brilliant mind, who had brought kingdoms to kneel and a woman who was a sword for war. She was the empire's rose but she hid thorns neath her petals. She wasn't perfect, she wasn't all sugar and sweetness but, she could damn well act like it. In an empire that fed off deceit, she didn't need a mask to hide herself.
"Does the colour suit me?" The princess asked, looking down at her maid who was tying the ribbons of her shoes.
"Very well, madame." She replied, "Though most colours do."
"Well then, I suppose I'd best get going." Seretice said with a sigh as Mira finished her work.
"Yes or else you'd miss your meeting with your Lord Brother."
The princess nodded and left the room, door clicking shut behind her. While a couple decades wasn't really a very long time it felt like it sometimes as the days and months marched on. Her brother, Ysdraille, was a very busy person rushing hither and thither doing the bidding of the empire's most powerful holy man. The Grace was as the sun, commanding, radiant. His heir; the shadow. Cloaked in ebony and moonlight silver he was to be the hands of the Most Holy. The hands that reached far beyond the Grand Cathedral.
Seretice glided down the corridor, taking note of the reduced number of imperial guards standing silently in their gilded armour. As a child she had simply thought they'd been empty suits of armour and had hidden behind them when she and he brother had played their games. The guards never gave away her position and she hadn't realised until much later there were people inside of them until her mother had scolded her for distracting the soldiers. She used to greet them all a good morning or good evening when she passed. Now she simply walked past. They had a job to do and needed to focus, it was best to just let them work, despite how boring standing around all day must be. Vigilance, her mother had said. Boring, the princess had thought. With the clashes in the lower city and out in the countryside this vigil had been weakened greatly.
Not wishing to trouble her mind with war politics the princess tried to focus her mind on something else. Not knowing what to do, she turned her attention to the many paintings hanging on the wall that had been collected over the many years of imperial rule. One caught her eye, hidden partially by shadow. It was not a painting she had much paid attention to but,something about it seemed a little off. With a frown, the princess approached it with a little more caution than was perhaps necessary for a simple painting. It didn't look to be antique, but she didn't really have an eye for art. It was another religious painting, one of many of its sort, but it was not the Gods one would usually pick. Ivunluna, the Moon goddess, reaching to the skies wasn't unusual. Reaching towards her heavenly siblings was. The Goddess of Magic looks off to one side, shamed by her sister's betrayal, while the God of Journeys looked to the other side in denial. The only one who faced her, who reached towards her was Him. That one. The Traitor. She shivered and moved on quickly.
She quickened her pace towards the moving platforms, enchanted crystal elevators that ferried people to and fro. She hated the platforms. The princess fairly was certain they weren't completely safe no matter how many times she used them. The way they shuddered when they started to move, or wobbled when they stopped. Or the horrible sick feeling when they just dropped suddenly. She really hated the platforms. Holding a displeased sigh inside Seretice allowed the operator of the platforms to help her aboard and take them down to the ground floor. As soon as it was safe enough to be off the moving monstrosity, the princess was gone, bustling off to meet with her brother.
She was glad that it was still too early for visitors to be allowed into the palace as she was more than unwilling to deal with another poor lad being forced on her as a suitor by stuffy overdressed parents. She was even less willing to hang around in a room stuffed with nobles reeking of perfume. At least the incense in the chapel wouldn't be so overpowering with her brother's sensitivity for smells. It wasn't long before Seretice found her self brushing off her dress outside the doors of the chapel despite her brother's condition. On other days she would of taken the route through the gardens but, with the storm the night before, that option was no longer viable.
The doors shut behind her with a thud. At least her brother would know she'd arrived, on time or not. The private chapel was bathed in pale light shimmering through the stained glass windows lending an almost eerie lonely feel to the temple. It was serene, a world away from the bloody clashes of the civil war. Her brother was sat away from the light, by Umbra's window, bathed in darkness rather than radiance.
"Good morning! A shame about the weather!" He greeted with almost painful cheer.
One thing Seretice loved about her eldest brother was his endless source of cheer, despite his condition. His lofty title did not phase him, nor his difficulty in life. He always seemed to be happy, genuinely happy. Ysdraille always seemed to have a joke about something and eternally had something to natter on about. He was happy, a far cry from the teenager laid up in his sick bed begging his father to make the pain go away. Most thought that he would be reserved, perhaps even shy but, he was anything but. Oh, he could create the illusion of it sure, inheriting his father's wit and guile, and he was ever professional when it came to his job but, when around friends and more private company, he was practically jubilant. Had he not been forced into the Holy Order, he would of been adored as Emperor.
"Good morning," Seretice greeted back, unable to hide her own joy, "The weather is awful isn't it? Though, I hear you were out in the blizzard last night."
Her brother's face lit up. The princess realised with a start that he was not wearing his ceremonial veil to cover the horrendous scarring to his eyes.
"Ah, Seretice! It has been so so long, has it not?" He replied with a huge grin.
"Nearly two-hundred to be exact."
"Has is truly been so long? I suppose we've both been busy, haven't we? Come! Sit, let us catch up some, I have great a many stories to tell."
Seretice found herself being beckoned by her brother's graceful hand to sit by him. The scars on his face always unnerved her, taking her back to when he was undergoing his Trails. It only lasted for three years but, it must of felt like forever. Prayer and fasting and literal torture. He had endured them all and had proved that he was the strongest willed and most capable to be the Heir. Then they had blinded him. Fire and pain and he had howled like a caged beast. The High-priestess, back before she and her brother had been trying to murder one another for the throne, had invited the family to see Ysdraille after his final trail. That had been the start of the feud, Seretice supposed. When her father had seen the cruelty inflicted upon his son in the name of Gods he had flown into a rage. And the princess had simply curled up next to her brother, fearing for him in place of pointing blame.
"Does it still trouble you, my sister?"
The princess was a little taken back by the question. Yes, she supposed, she was still troubled by it. It troubled her a great deal to the point that she feared pain, that red made her feel sick whenever she saw it. She was her mother's daughter but, her mother was made for war. She was not. She was made to feel, and to be pretty and to inspire little girls to settle down and marry a good husband. So yes, the fact her most beloved sibling had been begging the All-father for death with blooded tears streaming down his face while her father and auntie came to blows still troubled her. But, he knew that already. He knew it made her want to love crimson for what was done. However, done was done, even if sometimes she could still hear him screaming.
"Oh you poor thing..." Seretice sighed, lifting a hand to his face, "It does trouble me but, I worry more for you most times I dwell on it."
"Then do not dwell upon it. Instead give thanks that the Gods ignored me in that moment and I can be with you now. I am well, even if it still hurts, I am well." He gently told her, continuing before she could voice more concerns, "And I am not alone. Sulivivenne is with me and we have both suffered the same ordeals. I have him and that is enough."
She smiled at him, even if she knew he could never see it.
"You're so strong, I don't know how you do it."
"I... wouldn't exactly call myself strong, sister."
She arched an eyebrow, watching as his hands grasped his ebony robes. She leaned against him for support, a gentle force to say, 'I am here'.
"I am merely defiant." He says, sightless eyes staring at something Seretice can't see, "And never again will I submit."
A heartbeat passed between them before both siblings burst into laughter.
"Oh my dearie me, we got so very serious then, yes?"
They both took a moment of two to stifle their laughter before Yadraille stood. Seretice was certain she knew his intent however, and rose with him, linking his arm and guiding him towards the All-father's shrine. The God's window looked down upon the two mortals with almost disdain, his grand wings holding the sun aloft. His piecing gilded gaze felt like it was searching her soul, as if the Sun God himself knew she'd stopped to regard his fallen bride and her siblings earlier in that painting. But that was a foolish thought and the princess whisked it away.
Instead, she watched as her brother lowered himself into a kneeling position, black robes pooling around him like a puddle of moonless midnight. As he bowed his head his stark white hair fell over his shoulders, like the moon peaking out neath a shroud of clouds. Seretice thought he was beautiful when he focused. So driven and calm she knew when he became Grace he would inspire millions. She joined him on the floor, bowing her head in respect to the All-father who silently judged their worth. Ysdraille cleared his throat.
"Safj* Evanura, father of the world and sky above. We, your beloved children, kneel before your glory. Through darkness and ignorance we have walked to bask in your glory. Now our eyes are opened to the greatest truth of all. You are our only truth and in you do we trust our lives. Sweetest father, lend us thy blessing from Apocrypha high on this day of trials..." Ysdraill recited, voice calm and monotone.
Seretice shamefully did not know many prayers never being one for religious instruction. This one was one she did. It was a prayer for luck, for protection and more importantly to beg forgiveness for sins yet to be committed. Her father had chanted this before some important meetings. Her mother screamed this to the heavens before battle. Her brother whispered this is reverence. He was planning something, something he believed needed to be forgiven. She listened to his gentle voice drone on before the world around them dropped to silence. Moments passed in calm reflection before the Heir moved to stand stumbling slightly. The princess rose with him, a steadying arm helping him stand.
"There is something afoot, sister. Something perhaps terrible and his Radiance is going to stop it. I do not know if I will be involved but, all I know is that it will lead into something... something perhaps that cannot be forgiven." Ysdraille carefully explained 'looking' down on his sister who in turn looked back at him.
"Just don't do anything you may regret."
Ysdraille 'looked' towards her again and with a thin lipped smile said: "With who we are dealing with, waking a slumbering dragon would be safer."
Seretice placed a concerned hand on her brother's arm hoping that she could somehow convey her support for whatever terrible act was in the works. There was no doubt in her mind that the Grace had plans for the High Priestess, perhaps even at the Blood Moon Ball. Be is assassination or forcing her to step down through other means, it was not something the All-father would look so kindly upon. Seretice hoped that any of them weren't acting too rash on any possible information possible spies had dug out for them. Empyrean nobility and those of high standing played dangerous games with each other's lives on a daily bases. With spies, assassins and backstabbing, participating in the national sport of espionage was lethal if one stepped a toe out of line. But, luckily, Ysdraille was good at playing it. For one in his position of power, he needed to be a good player in order to keep his place in the world. Anyone can fall from Grace, as her mother once said.
"Now, I suppose we should move on to lighter conversation," Ysdraille suggested with a smile, "You are starting magical studies soon I hear?"
"Today in fact!"
"Oh! So soon? My my, look at my baby sister all grown up and ready to weave frost and fire!"
"I don't think I'll be quite at that level yet..." The princess admitted, blushing brightly.
"Perhaps you should learn from the Gods yes? Come, lead me around to each shrine and I shall tell you a little that may aid you understand their spheres of power."
Seretice once again linked with her brother and began leading him to the first shrine. The princess was glad to have this time with her brother, even for the short hours they would be together. And further more, she was glad to listen to him talk so animatedly about lore and history, something that had intrigued them both. They visited each of the elementals, Ignis, Hydris, Spiris and Veridia. They gave thanks to Ivunluna, the moon goddess and mother of their race and paid respects to Ar-arisa, the trickster. Each god and goddess had their own powers, their own magic, and the people long long ago in the ages before the creation of the modern ages had made a pact with a Forgotten God to tap into this magic. And this Forgotten One was the one whose name could not even be uttered without repercussions so dangerous that he was. And he, was one of the Five.
Above all the Five Divinities ruled absolute, though calling them that now was fit to see someone punished. Of course Evanura, the All-father had a place among them as he sat on high as King of Gods. But, also among them was his greatest rival, Umbra, God of Darkness and suffering eternal. Opposite in every way imaginable. The uniforms of the Grace and his Heir mirrored the nature of the rival gods. One gilded and golden, the other as shadow. Symbolic, her brother said, and stupid. The two had once used the heavens as their own personal battle ground back in the ages of myth to wage a war so terrible it shook the very foundation of creation. Two of the Divinities, Serenity and Eden had simply watched them battle for control. While Serenity, the Time God, had no desire to join in the fight, Eden had other plans. That was the supposed beginning of the war of the Gods, when Eden decided to leap from his throne to quell the forces of light and darkness. Fitting for the God of Order and Discord. The Holy Order's teachings always, always seemed to leave one Divine uncounted for. That was the Keeper of Secrets, The Dawn God, Valanora.
The simple thought of his name sent shudders rippling down Seretice's spine. To even think of his name was to invoke him. She wasn't so sure though. He was forgotten, defeated, dead. Nobody knew if he existed or if the horror stories were even true. But people believed. And when people believe dangerous things could happen. The destruction of all things relating to the Keeper had been swift and violent to say the least. At least that's what the Order said they had done. There were still little things, here and there. Like murals in the old temples of Eos, or the fountain hidden in Lumina. Soon enough though, Seretice's thoughts wandered to light places like the upcoming ball and pestering her brother about his crush on one of the paladin ladies.
The hours passed by the two royals in a blur and before both knew it, midday was fast approaching. Ysdraille would soon have to join the council in their halls and the princess would have to attend dinner in the great hall. It was with deep sighs and small promises to try to see each other soon that they both departed, the large doors closing behind them with a thud. Seretice walked back the way she had come from, back towards the moving platforms. The snow had finally stopped falling beyond the windows and the inner gardens were partially visible. The nobles would be out in swarms now, showing their friends around the public places of the palace and hoping to throw countless suitors at the princesses feet. Ysdraille walked with her a while before he ascended towards the council chambers on the upper floors. He took her into one large almost crushing hug before leaving.
"Don't dwell on it." He'd whispered into her hair, "This too, shall pass."
She did not know when next she would be seeing him again but, she was filled with comfort knowing that he was not too far from her. The princess lingered for a moment after he was out of sight before turning on her heel and striding off towards the great hall. Lunch would be just beginning and it was not unusual for her to take her meals with the more common of folk. A princess had to be seen to inspire and that meant showing her face at least once a day to someone. She had a sneaking suspicion that she should of prayed to the All-father's aid in keeping the nobility from waylaying her in her quest for food. A small nod to the door guards and the ornate doors to the great hall were pushed open on their massive hinges. The aroma of the lunch buffet drifted on the warm air towards the princess as she manoeuvred her way around the hall that was full with people of importance. Many were paladins and nobles Seretice had never seen before as Mira had warned her of.
Paladins were always a mystery to Seretice. She never interacted with the royals much despite her mother's own sister being the Knight-commander. From the grand stories told of them she knew their lives had to be very exciting, much more so than hanging around the Palace all day. Fighting of daemons and hunting evil necromancers in the dark tunnels of the Midden sounded so very much fun. The paladins that sat here however, didn't seem to be the grand knights in her tales. No, these people did not wear shining armour that was blessed by the Moon itself but, rather fine leathers trimmed with feathers of pure white. They were scouts, hardly the stuff of fairy tails but still rather exciting. With dagger and bow they hunted shadows and saw what would frighten lesser folk to death. The princess couldn't help but let her eyes wander from group to the group as she ate.
"They are somethin' am I right, my Lady?" a thickly accented voice asked from behind.
Seretice turned in her seat to look at the newcomer and she very nearly dropped her meal down her front. Spitting her soup across the table would of been most embarrassing. The woman who'd somehow come up behind her was something entirely different than she was used to. And she was the kind of woman she'd hoped would one day lift her over her shoulder and whisk her away. While the princess wore gowns of velvet and silks, this woman wore armour of pure starlight. Eyes the colour of a tempest in full force and hair like snow, this paladin was probably as pretty as she was dangerous. And a sun elf to boot.
"I've been meaning to see you," The paladin began, "I suppose ya spoke with your Lord Brother aye? Well, this here concerns a concerning plot."
The princess gave her a funny look.
"Somebody out there, an I don't know who. But somebody wants 'im dead."
*Safj- Lord in elvish