Author's Notes: The first book of the original adaptation of my fanfiction series, The Genki Saga now begins! There's not much I can say about this, except that I do plan to have it published, eventually. Hopefully. I'm also amazed at how long this is--it's taking me _weeks_ to do this! Anyway, everything here is mine, though adapted from ideas from my friends. Steal and die.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------

The Starchild Saga: Book One: Aijiyoh

Prologue

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------

Payotrani Daiche, Queen of Boreas, glared down her hawk-like nose at the cowering chamberlain before her. Her narrow, red-brown eyes burned into his; she was the image of the goddess of fury. Her flowing crimson silk robes and matching, waist-length hair seemed to flutter in an invisible wind. The air was palpable, crackling with energy. Even her wings, the virgin-white symbol of her office, bristled until they almost hid the silver claws sprouting from the joints.

"I have made my decision, Keirse," she growled. Her voice, low as it was, spoke of the power she possessed. "I care not about the risks."

"I-I understand, Your Majesty," Keirse the chamberlain stuttered. He bowed deeply, and hurried out, leaving the angry queen to brood. And brood she did.

~Fool,~ she thought. ~I'm well aware of the dangers of Spirit magic. But...~ Her feathers calmed, reshaping into the falcon-like appendages they were meant to be. ~If I'm going to have a daughter, it's the only way.~

Despite her temper, the Borean Queen was a benevolent monarch. Her people--a race of thick, almost metallic-skinned organisms that resembled humans, which also resided there--all respected her, and most loved her. She went out of her way to make sure her subjects were content, while still sufficiently contributing to the upkeep of the kingdom. She'd been a welcome change from her father, a tyrant in comparison to her kindness.

Even neighboring countries respected her authority. Boreas traded its fine silks, rare gemstones, and foodstuffs exclusive to a temperate climate, in exchange for military aid-for Payotrani avoided even a possible threat of war. Her formidable army was maintained solely for defence. Only Draco was willing to challenge Boreas, but that frozen wasteland of a country was too far away to pose a threat in Payotrani's mind.

Thus the country lived in peace, surrounded by its allies, and untouched by war since the start of the Queen's reign. She ruled for over one hundred years--Boreans were naturally long-lived--without conflict.

Yet she knew her time was coming to a close, and soon, she'd have to produce an heir to carry on her legacy. And while she'd taken a husband once, she found she was unable to bear children. She desperately wanted a child--a daughter, even--so she resorted to one last method. Spirit magic.

The Spirits, supernatural entities that resembled mortal animals, were as common as any Borean. They spanned the entire continent; each country had their own distinct Spirits. But despite how close they lived with mortals, they avoided them. Only a select few were able to even contact the elusive beings--found only when they wanted to be.

Payotrani was one of those few. Already, she controlled a small fraction of their power. Their leading Clan, Starchild, had deemed her strong enough and stable enough to grant her access to a few of their secrets-which was more than any other mortal had been given. But even her Gift was not enough to give her a child.

There was a way, she was informed, to create a child from her own blood without the aid of a man. She had found the spell only a month before, but found her power was too little to sustain it. Fortunately, an ally of the Starchild Clan, and a friend of Payotrani's since childhood, offered her aid. Briane Quickeye, a wolf-Spirit known as an ookami, agreed to help, in return for guaranteed access to a small fraction of fresh domestic meat.

The spell would only work on the full moon, Briane had said. So, a fortnight after they made the pact, Payotrani sent her chamberlain to call for the ookami. That night was the full moon, and Payotrani didn't want to wait any longer. Her patience, along with her temper, was short.

~*~*~

Soon after Keirse had disappeared, blue fire flared in the center of the crystal throne room, on the velvet maroon carpet that spanned the length of the reddish floor. Payotrani started; despite her relationship with the Spirits, their method of transportation would never cease to startle her. When the fire cleared, Briane stood in her full glory before the Queen.

She was more than ten feet in length, from nose to tail, with silvery-white fur covering her lithe body. Her saber-length fangs and knife- like claws seemed to be made of ice. Such claws even protruded from her elbows; extra protection, she'd said. Her eyes, completely bloodred, save for ice blue slit pupils, told of an intelligence beyond even a human's.

The ookami's lips curled back in a grimace only Payotrani recognized to be a smile. /So...it is time already. A little soon, is it not, Your Majesty?/ Her harsh mental voice contained an echo of a power many desired for either good or ill.

"It is not," Payotrani replied, smiling in return. "And welcome, my friend. I hope you've taken the preliminary steps?"

/I have./ Briane sat back on her haunches, tail tip twitching slightly. /Are you sure you're ready for this, Payotrani? There are so very many risks involved with this spell. I wouldn't want anything to happen to you./

The Queen smiled as she stood, drawing herself to her full height. "I'm quite sure, Briane. I'm more than willing to take those risks, if I'm going to have a daughter. Now, shall we go?" Briane shook her head, sighing through her nostrils.

/I certainly don't see what you want with one,/ she grumbled. /Children are nothing but nuisances to me. Now come on; we'll fly./

Payotrani let out a soft chuckle as she crossed the throne room to a platform, open to the elements and lacking any sort of protection. Briane followed her, gazing out over the capital city, Kiohto. Buildings of all sizes and shapes were squeezed behind a stone wall nearly twenty feet tall, and just as thick. Only the palace, in the center of the city, rose above it all.

The palace was built nearly a millennium before Payotrani's reign, but no other structure could rival its ingenious architectural design. It had been carved from rose crystal, mined from Haku, the towering peak that was Boreas's single landmark and home to many races of Borean Spirits, which lay to the east of Kiohto. Its twin towers reached nearly as high as the mountain from which it had been carved. It served as a beacon of sanctuary even on the dreariest of days.

Payotrani sighed, flexing her wings as she watched the waning sunlight shine through her home. "It is a wondrous sight, isn't it?"

/I suppose,/ the ookami replied, stepping to the edge of the platform. /I see it so often. Kiohto's not the only place to have something like this, you know./

"Hm. It must be heaven to live on Haku." The Queen laughed at Briane's derisive snort. "So it isn't, is it? Remind me never to visit, then!"

/Perhaps to mortal tastes, it is,/ Briane admitted, /but it's middle- class by our standards. The Starchild Clan lives a split-level below Mirikil, because of their rank./ Payotrani whistled appreciatively.

"I might just be overwhelmed, then, should I try to travel _there_," she commented. "Ah, well. Shall we go?"

/After you,/ and Briane gestured toward the horizon with an icy claw. /I'd hate to blind you again./

Payotrani chuckled; when the ookami chose to fly, instead of teleport, the blue fire common in Spirits left a long trail behind her. Flying in its path was unwise, as it was hot enough to incinerate anything in its path for the few milliseconds it remained. So she took off first, half-spreading her wings as she plunged head-first from the platform. She snapped them open mere seconds before she hit the roof of the palace aviary, and soared upwards until she was eye-level once more with the inu. She grinned slightly, crossing her arms and legs as she hovered in mid-air.

/You show off more than you need to,/ Briane grumbled. She leapt into the air, and her Spirit fire immediately flared about her as she dashed through the air as though she were on the ground.

"You should speak, Briane, you old wolf," Payotrani called after her, and with a few flaps of her wings, had caught up, her wingtips barely brushing the flame-trail of the itachi. Together, they flew towards the dark peak with the fading sun behind them.

~*~*~

Haku was an ancient peak, most likely as old as any of the Spirits, if not older. Its snow-covered tip was invisible among the clouds, but it seemed to be untouched by the sun's light. A permanent shadow loomed about it, but the darkness wasn't evil. It was as if a midsummer night had found a home; warm and invigorating to any mortal who stepped foot on the mountain. The only unsettling feature was the sensation of eyes watching any unlucky traveler; most of the time, the feeling was not unfounded.

So Payotrani felt as she followed Briane through the dark evergreen forest. Though she knew she had nothing to be afraid of, she couldn't shake the slight paranoia that struck all mortals on Haku. She didn't relax even when they reached the entrance to a hidden cave, illuminated by floating will-o'-wisps. But she did push the fear aside as she gazed about, from the wooden tub of a whitish liquid, to the giant kiln carved into the side of the cave. Everything was prepared, just as Briane had said.

/The mold is in the kiln as we speak,/ the ookami said, and Payotrani jumped; it was the first time either of them had broken the peaceful-- however wary--silence since they'd arrived at Haku, and the Queen had grown accustomed to it.

"Then let's get this over with," she muttered. Briane nodded and motioned to the tub.

/Then step in,/ she instructed. /It may be best if you strip; the more contact with your flesh, the better./ Payotrani nodded and pulled off her robes, draping them over a nearby low-hanging branch. Then she settled herself into the putrid pearly liquid.

Almost immediately, she was overwhelmed by the sweet scent it gave off. She felt her awareness fade, but didn't fight it; she knew the mix of herbs with water from a nearby spring would put her to sleep. Her body seemed to drop away, and her mind soared above the clouds. Briane was speaking, but it was as if she were miles away; Payotrani couldn't make out her words. Soon, even that vague awareness faded, and she drifted into a deep sleep.

~*~*~

Briane murmured under her breath as Payotrani's consciousness faded under the influence of the herbs. Were she awake, the Queen would have experienced true agony; the agony of pieces of her soul being torn from her body. Briane didn't want to put her friend and ally through such torment.

When Payotrani was thoroughly unconscious, the ookami stirred the liquid with one claw, while the other dropped a leafy twig onto her bare chest. The incantation she changed was one known only to the Spirits; not even their allies could vocalize it properly.

It began as a low growl, very deep in Briane's throat. Then it gained strength slowly, and as it did, the liquid took on a bright glow. Soon, she was howling, yipping, and rumbling in a steady rhythm. Inside the stone kiln, the fires raged, firing the mold she'd shaped over the past fortnight. Payotrani's body convulsed, and Briane held her down with both forepaws.

The ookami continued the chant for more than a candlemark before she stopped. Payotrani laid still and the kiln fires burned down to embers. Briane pulled the unconscious Queen from the tub and laid her gently against a tree. Then she moved to the kiln and carefully removed the small mold, a humanoid-shaped casing that would fit an infant.

"Now, little one..." she whispered, using the language of the Spirits, as she carried the mold to the spring nearby. "I offer you to Zhanael, the Empress of the Spirits, Queen of the Gods. Be born into this world with the full blessings of the Spirits, and live as sister and ally to all." She lowered the mold into the pool, not even wincing as boiling steam hissed around her. The casing cracked, and soon shattered, and the ookami pulled a small infant girl from the water.

"Is she here?" Payotrani's voice inquired hopefully from behind. Briane smiled, turning to her friend. The Borean Queen had managed to pull on her robes, though they hung loosely over her well-curved body.

/She is indeed,/ she replied, switching to mental speech; only the Spirits, and now the infant in her arms, understood their language. The child in her claws squirmed and began to cry. The Queen blinked back tears and rushed forward.

"Briane Quickeye, my dearest friend, I thank you, with all my heart," Payotrani murmured into her fur as she embraced her. Then she took the screaming infant from the ookami's claws and held her to her breast.

/Have you chosen a name for her yet?/ Briane inquired, materializing a large cloth and draping it over Payotrani.

"I have." She gazed lovingly down at her daughter, the child of her flesh and spirit. "I shall name her Haruken."

/Then, Haruken Daiche, Princess of Boreas,/ and Briane laid a gentle claw over the cherubim infant, /I bless you with the power of the Spirits and the love of Zhanael. Receive our secrets!/

Payotrani watched as both the Spirit and her daughter both took on a soft blue glow. She could feel the lore that only the Spirits possessed pass into the now silent Haruken, and swelled with pride.

~At last, I have a daughter of my own,~ she thought. ~At long last, my wish is fulfilled. I am content.~