A/n: Hey all. As you can see, this story was published quite a while back and I have been writing it for quite some time. Like, a super long time. Like, when I started writing it, Facebook wasn't a thing, Bush was president, we had just invaded Iraq, everyone was listening to Lil Jon, etc—AND I WAS STILL IN MIDDLE SCHOOL. Besides wanting to drop really relevant references, my point is that my writing style has changed, grown up A LOT in the intervening years. Accordingly, I've cut down excess, tightening the narrative, polishing the language, deepening nuances and underlying currents, and basically making sure that everything syncs. Essentially, this story started out around 89,000 words and I have pared it down to respectable 74,000.

Also, I have changed a few names in the course of this editing. The BIG one (and it's a confusing one, so apologies) is from Auroera to Aurelia. Queen Aurelia, on the other hand, has become Almera and Selene's family name has shifted from Veloy to Khamad. Dareius has gone from a male to a female named Niara. Those are the important ones I can think of. Anyways, happy reading!


It was a quiet night outside. The warm scent of fall swung hauntingly in the air, with just a sharp hint of winter needling through. It wafted through the open window which led to the room where the Princess of Aquia lay in labor, cooling her sweating brow. Shimmering on was the moon, which cast an eerie glow of the Eastern Plains where the First Tree proudly proclaimed its presence. The stars danced above to a symphony heard only by the celestial bodies.

Or so Mother said.

Nurse Beya always maintained that when I was born it was storming something terrible, and the sheets of rain were being blown into the birthing room by a terrible gale. She also said I left my mother's body at the selfsame moment that fateful bolt of lightening felled the First Tree of the Faeries. Despite the autumnal nature of the season, the storm subsided in a few moments like a summer storm. And after being wiped down, I was swaddled in silk blankets to the sound of Mother's second labor.

However their tales differ they agree on a few pivotal points. Born by the dark as the moon strewed silver shadows on the plains and the woods, I was a child of the night: eyes the indigo of the night sky, hair black as the sea before daybreak and skin as white as the moon. Born three hours after me was my twin sister, who appeared on the air as the first fingers of the sun stretched across the plain, the broken shafts of the First Tree. She was the daughter of the day: hair which outshone the sun, skin that gleamed like summer wheat fields, eyes as brown as the good earth. Moonlight and sunlight, dark and light. We were the perfect balance. On the dark scale was I, Iris Selene on the light, Roselyn Aurelia. Our names were apt descriptions of what we represented to our principality: night and day, despair and hope. It was my birth, according to Nurse, the caused the First Tree to collapse and it was Aurelia who was presented the bill. That was the initial description of the situation, but if only they had known the true extent of the havoc the curse would wreak.

Perhaps more explanation is due. After all, to a foreign eye, how important can a tree possibly be? One can just plant another one. Ha. Only a fool would recommend that course of action to the Faeries. The First Tree is referred to by many names: The Sage, Astaro, The Healer. Faerie legend weaves a tale of a newly created world, still heaving from the pain of her birth, receiving a gift from the heavens: a small star which sailed from the dark to help heal her pain. From this small star grew the Sage, and the Faeries hold that on certain nights its leaves capture the glow of starlight and emit it of its own accord. Who knows the truth of this? I find it to be a great deal of silly mysticism but mortal beings, even those as long-lived as faeries, need something to believe in, to hold on to, for that is our universal nature.

It is a relic of show sanctity that all the proud tribes of the Faeries: Wood Fays, Star Pixies, Sea Nymphs and Wind Sprites, put aside their pride to congregate at the tree every month during the full moon. And although the Tree once stood within our view, during those nights a silver cloak would fall around that area, hiding their actions from the view of men. And when the Sage fell, the Faeries, a rarely united voice, came together to call for vengeance, vengeance against the Royal Family of Aquia, the Khamad. The Queen of the Faeries, Lilianna, who was elected from all four tribes herself commanded that Auroera and I be given to them in retribution for against what they claimed to be a grievous affront. While I was not there, I have put to together in my mind a compilation of what it must have been like from tales told to me by Beya.

The Queen enters the castle, disregarding the many standing guard. The winds blow the door open and she glides to the bejeweled seats where Mother and Father are seated. As she speaks, her gown begins to blaze a headier and headier gold, the jewels on it gaining their own light. Her russet hair streams behind her, revealing an fine high cheekbones and ivory skin. She would look like any mortal woman, albeit an unusually gorgeous one, if not for the wide orange and black wings which flutter proudly from her back, bared by a deep cut in the dress. She looks about the throne room which disdain painted heavily on her face, noting the soft golden stone and black and white painted archways with derision. No doubt they are not competitors for her own Chambers of Audience. "You," she begins, her voice as terrible and beautiful as a thunderstorm. "You will give to us what our loss has earned."

Mother stands up, still weak from childbirth, she draws up the entirety of her regal bearing, although her nervousness is betrayed by the quivering of her crimson skirts. Her golden hair has been disarrayed by Lilianna's windstorm. "You will not take my children Lilianna."

The Fae Queen glares at her contemptuously. "As if you would miss them amongst your passel of brats."

Princess Niobe of Aquia, Grand Duchess of Cursinia, Marquise of Steifin, steps back as if slapped. Now her quivering has been changed to that of anger and for a mild woman's eyes, they gleam ferociously.

Stepping forth, Prince Rowan turns his hands so his palms face the sky. "We apologize Lilianna for any perceived wrong but we are innocent as are our children."

"Your stand against me is amusing. The Faerie's will have their due," Lilianna spits. The wind grows stronger in force until Mother falls against Father whose dark hair billows in the breeze. Finally, it subsides and as they uncover their eyes Lilianna has disappeared, although they know it was no apparition by the mess she has left behind her.

And all of the country of Nighlyn and all of the principality of Aquia waited with bated breath for the sworn retribution, a retribution which was rumored to be the downfall of our principality.