Notes and Disclaimer: The characters and world is mine, and only mine. I've worked for two years developing the world these two inhabit, and I intend to keep it.

The characters are Emperor Aghanim and Princess Aghamay, both of the empire Lemania. The palace they reside in is referred to as the Golden Palace, hence the mention. Semlet is part of three-men Lord General's council, the highest authorities in the military, and Elin is but a lowly cadet, the lowest rank.

Elin is also the biggest creep ever, but you didn't hear that from me.

Origins of the Kingdom

His chest, and thus her head, moved with every breath. It was silent in the royal bedchambers, aside from the hoots of the owls, drifting in through the open balcony doors. A soft breeze touched her skin and she shivered, holding closer to her brother.

She didn't know how it had gotten so far, when she had stopped loving him like a brother and a protector and merely thought of him as something... else. Something weak and manipulative, someone with whom the greatest sin among family could be comitted as he soon would pass away.

She closed her eyes suddenly and clung to him; and still sleeping, he brought an arm around her, whispering comforting words in his sleep. he had learned that when they were still children, after their parents' death.

How innocent it had been back then, when they had curled up together at night, crying. Him, just old enough to know that he would be throned and forced to wear a burden far to large for a single man, let alone a child. And she, hardly old enough to understand death, heartbroken because mother and father would never be home.

She had loved him then, and she had genuinely grieved when he started falling ill due to pressure, but... the Court had twisted her and she had learned to despise him, learned to take advantage of the one mental weakness he had - his love for her, so pure and yet so easily twisted by her hands into something perverted and sinful.

She opened her eyes and lifted her head, brushing bleached white hair out of her face. White hair was constantly fashionable, yet only the spirits-chosen heir to the empire had pure white hair. Aghanim had pure white hair; Aghamay had settled for her pale red until her real self had dissolved in the intrigue of the Palace.

The Emperor, dying at twenty-four - hardly even in his prime - slept on, his arm slipping away as his sister sat. She rose, careful not to rouse him, and slipped into the silken robe she had arrived in. She moved silently through his quarters to the main entrance and slipped outside, only to bite back a cry of shock as she nearly bumped into someone's chest.

Black hair, dark skin, slanted brown eyes; she took a deep breath. "Semlit, kindly stand away. Your intentions could be percieved as threatening in such a posture."

The Lord General bowed lightly and stepped away. "Forgive me, your Higness, I merely thought I'd catch you here. Is your brother well?" The unspoken condemnation of her incest hung in the air, expressed so clearly between the lines of accented speech.

Everyone knew. Everyone knew, and no one ever spoke a word.

"The Emperor sleeps," she informed him curtly, tugging her robe tighter around her. "Was there something you wanted?"

As she started moving to her own quarters, he followed, respectfully one step behind. "Yes. Your Highness, whispers of a coup against the Emperor have started to make themselves known. I wonder if your spies have all ready informed you." Again that silent accusation. How could the vulgar mountain-nomad accent hide such intents?

"No," she snapped, speeding up. "I thank you for informing me. I'm sure the General Council will do all in their power to deter such an unfortunate idea."

"Of course, your Highness," he all but purred, smiling as she turned to look at him. "We will stop these traitors. With any means neccesary..." He bowed and departed, leaving the threat to simmer.

Aghamay held her hand to her chest, trying to quell the fear. She was wiser in the Court's proceedings than any of the three Lord Generals, but they were the military power of the Empire and fiercely loyal to her brother. They would be a formidable enemy if she ever let her intentions be known. Sighing, she opened her door, smiling at the redhead sprawled across her living room futon.

The cadet, who in fact served directly under Semlit in the Opal Battalion, grinned at her. "Highness, what a pleasant surprise."

"Elin," she greeted, "to what do I owe the honours?"

He stood, ushering her to sit in his place, before taking two glasses and pouring from a decanter of sweet greenish wine. "Nothing, really. I came here merely to see the object of my devotion. You were speaking with the chief?"

She took a second to mentally translate the last phrase before nodding. "Semlit, yes... He seems suspicious of me."

Elin handed her a glass and winked, grinning. "Can't imagine why." He sat and took a sip of the wine. He couldn't appreciate it on the level she did, he was after all merely a peasant's son, but he could appreciate that it was alcohol.

Aghamay chuckled weakly, running a finger around the gilded rim of the glass.

The cadet blinked at the weak response and looked her over carefully. "What's wrong?"

She took a sip to moisten her throat. "Nothing's wrong."

"Something's bothering you," he said, sitting up straight. "Tell me."

There was silence for a while, and Elin sat merely watching her, waiting. Finally she opened her mouth to speak.

"My brother is dying," she said quietly, rubbing her fingers over the smooth glass, studying her reflection in the wine.

He watched her impassively. "And?" he asked when no explanation seemed forthcoming.

Aghamay mentally shrank back. This was her mentality, this was the thought she had pressed upon her accomplices. Spirits, what am I doing... "And nothing," she said lamely, shakily drinking.

Elin frowned and took the glass from her. "You're lying."

"Are you questioning me?" she demanded, trying to keep her voice from faltering. "Do you doubt the word of your princess?"

The cadet turned away, hazel eyes narrowing in either fury or hurt. She couldn't tell. When did she stop being able to read him? "Of course not, your Highness. I'll leave you to your own devices." He stood, setting the glasses on the table.

She watched him move. "Elin, no... I just would rather not think about it."

He froze, tense, but seemed to accept it. They hardly ever spoke of anything aside from how to put Aghamay on the throne as quickly as possible. He sat back down, taking his glass. She left hers on the table. "Can I help you?"

She looked at him, surprised. For a moment he had almost sounded caring. "No," she told him, looking back down at her lap. It was an illusion or a temporary weakness on his part; he was as power hungry as she was, and followed her ardently in the hope of a Lord General's stripes.

He nodded and emptied his glass, leaning back. "Did the boss say anything else?"

Again that obscure peasant slang. "He threatened me, and everyone else will ill intent against his beloved Emperor; not that I expected less."

Elin snorted in amusement and closed his eyes. "Of course not. If you ask me, Semlit's more eager to get in his Excellency's bed than to defend him."

She snapped her head around to stare at him. That had to be a jab; he had to know. How could he not hear the rumours and whispers within the walls of the Golden Paradise? He looked calmly at her, cruelty in his eyes. Oh, he knew; and he dared her to talk.

Aghamay looked away, taking her glass and throwing the wine back in disregard for royal etiquette.

"Oh-ho!" laughed Elin. "Getting drunk tonight, are we?" He wrapped an arm around her and when she didn't resist, he pulled her closer and kissed her neck softly.

"No, merely trying to be free of the world, and who better to help me?" She leant her head back. "With you I can be vulgar."

He grinned and kissed her, a hand sneaking inside the robe. "Precious, I haven't even begun to show you vulgar."

~*~

His chest, and thus her head, moved with every breath. It was silent in the royal bedchambers, aside from the hoots of the owls, drifting in through the open balcony doors. A soft breeze touched her skin and she shivered, holding closer to her brother.

He held her closer, burying his wet face in her pale red hair. He was crying; somehow it made her feel worse.

"Mother and Father... They're never coming home again, are they?"

There was silence for a long while. Then, "No."

She clung closer to him, shivering. "We're all alone now..."

He held her tighter, whispering comforting words, stroking her back. "I'll protect you, little sister. I love you and I'll never let anyone hurt you."

She bunched the cloth of his clothes into her fists, sobbing into his chest. She was so frightened, but her brother said it would be all right. He'd make everything better, because he was Big Brother. He'd make everything all right.

end