Author's Notes: Well. To say that I'm scared to death right now would be the understandment of the year. I spend all my time writing fanfiction, and putting it up for people to see, but for the first time I'm going to be posting with original characters of mine. More than five people might read this. And I am afraid.

Here's hoping. If this goes well, I might bring out the characters I'm more attached to- but it's like cutting out a part of me, or giving up a secret, or... Dear gods, that makes me sound insane. I'm going to stop writing now. Er. Yeah. Let me know whether this was any good.

Enjoy!

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The girl had stood, radiant in her beauty, flawless in her elegance.

Her strawberry-blonde hair flowed to reach past her waist in the sections that were allowed to hang free; the rest was coiled into shining curls and gorgeous buns, creating mounds of spun gold. Her long white gown was simply adorned, stitched with milky thread and tied by an ivory silk sash. Woven sandals cradled her delicate feet and clung about her graceful ankles.

A high flush stood in her cheeks and the pale blue eyes shone with emotion as she darted her tongue out to wet her lips. Silently, she'd prayed that no one saw her hands trembling by her side.

The sage's hands had descended slowly and lowered the crown to the girl's head with words of blessing. Its brilliant gold had shone as though with her own inner fire, and her people had loved her.

In the light of the sun, standing before them, the young queen had seen almost touched by the gods.

That day was a dim memory, now, conjured only by the mind of the woman that had lived its glory.

She stood now as she had before: poised, graceful, and composed… save the slight trembling that belied her anxiety. Her feelings mirrored those of the coronation day, as well; she was uncertain but determined, and willing to face whatever lay ahead with all her strength of will.

But it seemed the world had changed around her since that day, the world and all its intent.

Now the tapering towers of the city had crumbled to the ground, blackened by the fires which had ravaged them. Now the palace, her palace, and her father's before her, stood in shattered ruins, its ivory walls blackened by the smoke from the raging flame. Now the crowd gathered before her was one of carnage, formed by those that had reduced the city to rubble; they crowded about her, screamed for blood, clutched the hem of her dress with greedy hands.

She watched it all with her face set in weary composure, too worn with worry and the weight of responsibility to be unmarked by what she'd seen. Her eyes, pale and calm and bright, still shone with the light of her belief, though. Clear as the sky after dawn, they were as shining and determined as the day the war had begun, and the fair king-city Lenra had been doomed.

That day, too, stood in her memory with the coronation; it had dawned cloudless and brisk, and she had felt change in the wind. That day she had appeared before her people, arrayed in armor that gleamed as gold in candlelight, and committed them to war. That day, brandishing her beloved father's sword, she had spoken against the darkness that threatened to swallow their world.

That day she had killed them all.

Standing amidst the broken city, the young queen felt tears creep into her eyes. They were not tears of regret, certainly— she could no more regret her decision than she could condone the atrocities that had taken place— but rather, they were tears for all that had been lost.

They were for the children that had played in Lenra's garden's after their studies were complete, and for the young lovers that would never be recognized by law. They were for parents who had died knowing their children would never find true love, or grow old, or even see the following spring. They were for the maids' laughter in the palace halls, and the crowded streets on festival days. They were for the harpist that had performed in the town center during the evenings, and for the flash of a new treasure bought in the marketplace, and for the temple bell that had rung so clear and pure, and for the dreams of everyone who'd been lost.

Her tears were for all that had died, and she refused to let them fall. Her tears honored the dead; revealing her pain to those who had caused it defiled them.

A voice spoke then, and she turned to face it; on the platform where her most glorious moments had come to pass, she listened as the last few began to close.

"Kellen L'inralea," it recited, monotone silencing the yells that surrounded the platform. "Daughter of Jaelayne L'inralea. You are accused of treason against the Lord of All and Nothing. Do you deny this charge?"

If the young queen's voice quavered slightly as she spoke, she hid it well. "I cannot be accused as such, of treason, since I have never recognized your lord as my master, and never will." She paused, allowing that to be heard. "But if my actions have marked your definition of the crime, then I deny nothing. Do as you will."

"Very well." The voice grew more smug. "You are sentenced to death for your crimes against my Lord and Master..." The rest was cut short by the deafening roar, created by those pressing in against the platform. Cries of savage joy and cruel delight rose up from those gathered, snaking toward the bright heavens. The voice waited patiently for silence. "You are allowed to speak before you die. Do it quickly."

The young queen lifted her chin and brought her pale eyes to sweep over the gathered crowd. Her voice rose calm and clear, absolutely certain in the morning light. "I will not be the last. -We- will not be the last." Something in her manner kept the assembly before her silent. "Lenra has not died, nor will it ever."

The eerie hush remained as a figure in black stepped forward, as though in response to her final words. A single black-gloved hand took the queen by her arm; the other held a sharp, broad-bladed axe. The woman needed little guidance to reach the hastily set wooden stump in the platform's center, though. Her measured steps brought her to stand with dignity before the mangled stump.

Kneeling of her own accord, her eyes flickered once more to the sky, searching for tranquility and reassurance. Then, pressing her cheek against the stained block, she closed her remarkable eyes and took one long, deep breath.

The air parted fleetly before the razor-edged blade, allowing the weapon to perform a task that would forever be emblazoned on the memory of the world.

With the strike of the axe, shimmering flecks of crimson flew across the faces of the onlookers as at last they erupted into a maddening roar. With the -thunk- of the heavy blade sinking into the stump, long strands of gold were severed by the blade to fall in heaps, dyed sanguine with blood.

And with the death of Kellen L'inralea, Lenra and its queen passed into dreams, and into legends.

~owari~