Balance- Chapter One

"The Queen will see you now," the attendant says to me. I nod, she bows and moves aside so I can walk outside into the colonnade. My pale blue summer gown brushes against the stone floor as I walk to where my mother is seated. The garden is shaded by tall trees and cooled by a stream of cold water and smoothed stone. Three attendants and her knight are by the Queen's side and when they notice me, they bow. I curtsey lightly in return.

"Princess, please join me," the Queen of Sapphire Kingdom, my mother, says to me. As I sit every reason for her calling me out to join her runs through my head. She is probably going to lecture me on my lack of encouraging her vast supply of suitors. It really is not my fault they are all not to my tastes. Well…except one.

"How are you today? I hear you are not paying attention in your studies," the Queen says to me.

"I am not," I reply. "I am far too occupied with other things."

My mother looks at me disapprovingly.

"As future ruler of Sapphire Kingdom, you must know everything about your people as well as the surrounding lands in Ivalica," the Queen starts. "How can you possibly call yourself a Princess when you know nothing about the people you rule? And I would understand more if what you had on your mind was marriage."

I sigh as Princess-like as possible.

"I am only fourteen mother! Why should marriage appeal to me?"

"Because that is your job as a Princess," the Queen says curtly. "Why have none of the suitors appealed to you?"

"Because they are all filled with empty space and arrogance," I reply, before taking a sip of my tea.

"Even the Prince Diamond?"

I want to frown, but my lips turn into a smile. My mother was keen when it came to me- almost annoyingly so.

"Prince White Cloud is an exception," I reply with a smile on my face. He was absolutely perfect when it came to what I was looking for. He has more than empty space in his lovely head, I am certain. But there was only one technical problem. We cannot touch and for the life of me I cannot figure out why.

My bare hand touched his bare arm once and the most excruciating pain shot through us both. And for a moment, the look of shock and hurt on his face hurt more than the pain inside of me. Neither of us knows what happened or why we could not touch, only that we cannot.

This idiotic technical problem might cost me my perfect future husband.

"An exception indeed," my mother says. "A fine head on his shoulders he has."

I smile not even bothering to hide it. White Cloud is perfect- sans the technical difficulty. I try to find the various meanings of the phrase my mother just spoke.

"Speaking of which, I do believe the Prince is arriving today," my mother says with grin on her face. "Pity about the-"

"Mother please! We will find a way past that," I scowl.

"Cerulean, that is not a look a Princess should have," the Queen says to me and I twist my lips into a smile.

"Much better," my mother says to me. I roll my eyes in a very Princess-like way.

I watch his carriage draw up and I smile. Servants rush to the carriage door to open it before the horses have stopped moving. I see him step out of the grand carriage with a soft smile on his face. He is dressed in all white- from his linen shirt to his crisp walking shorts. A thick line of blue cuts across his chest from the sash representing the Diamond Kingdom. His fluffy hair is adorned with a diamond crown and a diamond ring graces his finger. The color of his bright hair reflects the sunlight, but it contrasts beautifully with his darkened gold skin. When he notices me, a smile more charming than before, graces his lips. My heart picks up a beat.

Prince White Cloud of the neighboring Diamond Kingdom gracefully goes onto one knee and lifts his gloved hand. Taking my bare fingers into his hand, he kisses the knuckles quickly. We were going to milk the extent of our touch for as much as we could.

"Princess Cerulean looks well today," White says smiling.

"I am well," I say with a huge smile on my face. White stands and I lead him inside. The Queen is waiting for him in the colonnade.

"How are you?" I ask as we make our way through the castle gardens.

"Truthfully, I am all the more excited to be here with you," White replies and I look at him in surprise. He blushes furiously and I do as well.

We make our way to the colonnade and my mother greets White. After her formalities for an hour White and I are finally able to walk around the gardens on our own. I lead White around the small pond a few times while as we strike up conversation. White is always the perfect Prince- keeping my arm intertwined with his own as we walk around.

The sun is warm, and the breeze is perfect.

"White can you show me your elements?" I ask, unable to keep the excitement from my voice.

"Which one do you wish to see?" White asks me. Always doting, this boy! I love it.

"Your holy element!" I say excitedly.

White nods.

"I will only if you show me your water one," he replies. I nod eagerly. I watch as White takes a few steps away from me. He opens his hands towards the sky and they start glowing. He claps his hands together and when he opens them again, glowing birds fly up and around me. I gasp in amazement. Then White makes a swift movement with his hands and a flower appears in them. He places it in my hair and smile warmly at his work.

"How lovely," his voice is barely above a whisper. I can feel White's holy element throbbing behind my ear. It's so warm.

Lovely indeed! I flush several shades of red and make my way past White. I close my eyes, but before I can tap into my water element a horrible shaking rocks the ground. I stumble forward by am caught by White.

"Princess are you alright?" White asks me quickly. His eyes are alert. I nod, looking around.

"I am fine, but what in the world was that?" I question. The ground shakes again and a loud explosion set off from the direction of the castle. My eyes widen in shock. I hear cries from within the palace.

"The Queen!" I cry feeling frightened. "They could be after her!"

I break out of White's hold and run toward the castle's entrance. What is going on? Why is everyone yelling? Oh God, where is my mother? I suddenly feel White take my hand a pull me away from the castle gates.

"No you mustn't go in there! It is not safe!" he says sternly.

"But my mother! I must save her!"

"How do you know they are not after you? They could very well be the same people whom tried to kill you those many years ago," White says holding me still. "The Queen has many people protecting her. And when you are safe I will join them."

"B-But what about you? You cannot leave me!" I cry looking into White's eyes.

"It is my job as a Prince to assure your safety," White says gently.

I close my eyes and think quickly.

"But I still cannot leave my mother," I say.

"Then I will be there in your stead," White says. Another explosion sounds, this time closer to us, and White drags me off to the gardens once more. He closes his eyes and starts to move his hands once. Before I know it a stunning horse made out of White's holy element is in front of me. White hands me onto it but the ground shakes as I barely make on the animal.

"He knows where he's taking you, my elements have assured this," White says quickly. "Now, I need you to get out safely."

"Please don't leave me alone like this!" I cry. "I-I-"

"Come on Cerulean, you're stronger than this," White says smilingly. I feel tears running down my cheeks.

"You are no longer safe here, Princess," White says. "You will be safe with him."

"Will I see you again?" I ask through my tears.

White nods and removes the ring from his finger. He places it on mine and kisses my hand.

"We will not be apart for long," White says. "But you must be strong, alright Princess?"

I nod and wipe my eyes.

"White…"

White places his finger to my lips to silence me.

"You know, I've always enjoyed my time with you best," White says gently.

I feel the tears threatening to spill again.

"There's the Princess!" voices of men cry. I look to my side and notice the green insignia of the Emerald Kingdom. Something cold runs through my veins.

"You are going to have to get through me," White says removing the gloves off his hands. He slaps the horse on its backside and it starts running off. I look back and see a bright light followed by a dark one.

Another tear falls down my cheek.

"White!" I cry. My heart is beating madly in my chest and I cannot breath properly. I furiously wipe the tears from my eyes.

It has been a year since my castle, my mother and my people have been under siege to the Emerald Kingdom. It's been a while since I've dreamed about my castle being attacked but every night, without fail, I dream about the boy who rescued me. He was the perfect Prince who came to court me, like every other man I've had to deal. But with him, I could never find the urge to drive him from the castle. Ten years after my father was assassinated, my mother finally decided that I was ready to be courted. I was thirteen then and for two years my mother tried to allow me to marry with "my own" choice.

All the other suitors my mother, the Queen, thought would suit me well, did nothing for me. I rather disliked everything about them regardless if they were handsome or gifted. For me, the only person I wanted to suit me was the Prince of Diamond.

He has handsome facial features- young like a boy's but perfect for me. He is tanned with the whitest hair I've ever seen. It was so bright it shined in the sun and his eyes were even bluer than the sky. He had the sweetest disposition and most charming attitude. Whenever he smiled I could feel my insides melt and no matter how bad I was feeling he would make me smile. I remember the soft tone of his voice, the quietness of his words always relaxed me. He was the only personne whom I remember made me want to be courted.

He handled all his magic well too. He knew all the elements- fire, water, wind, earth, holy and shadow. The Diamond Kingdom was one of the two that, right off the back, knew every element. But knowing all the elements and mastering them are two different things. Although he was born knowing all of them, he did not neglect his duties in the least. He mastered the elements and used them fantastically. I still shiver remembering the way his light element wrapped around him like water. His expression is something I cannot explain. It was beautiful.

His name was White Cloud and I don't even know if he's alive or dead because of those awful Emerald soldiers. I dream about him because that is all I can do. I want to see him again. I miss him so much.

But there was one problem with White and I. For as long as I remember, I could not touch White, skin to skin. We always had to wear gloves, or some part of our clothing had to be separating us. I remember being fed up with not being about to touch White and so I grabbed his hand and ripped off his glove. I remember touching his hand to mine and feeling and extreme pain shoot up my arm, and then spread to my whole body. Since then, I've never tried to touch him without my gloves on.

Of course, I cannot really remember much before the castle was attacked and I had to flee.

I hold the ring White gave me to my chest and hug it close to me.

"What's taking you so long?" his voice breaks me out of my thoughts.

I cringe. The bane of my existence He-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named is the reason I miss White so much. If there is one thing White did wrong in all his fifteen or sixteen years of life, it was leave me in the hands of this idiot. When my castle was attacked White rescued me and took me into a safe place. I met this idiot there and now I am forced to stay with him until we can see White again. But we can't see White because the Prince of Emerald has kidnapped him! How I hate Emerald's Prince! The stuck up arrogant prick I so annoying! That is one person God wasted his beauty on. It's disgusting.

"Argh I can't stand you!" I growl angrily. I stomp over to the ex-Prince of Onyx Kingdom with a sour look on my face. The first time I met him, he was in bed with another woman. She had a beautiful face, long legs and large breasts and I absolutely despised her. She was nice enough to me, but I could not get myself to be friendly. It was my first time out of the castle walls after all.

Of course, pretty-boy ex-Prince said that I was jealous because I did not have a nice body like she did. I am not going to lie, it took me a few months to realize that but I am never going to admit it to that no good pretty-boy.

"Good, then I must be doing my duty," ex-Prince Obsidian Midnight says grinningly. I frown. Why did you have to leave me here White? What did I do to deserve this?

"Your duty is to get me to the Emerald Kingdom!" I snap. "But you have been gallivanting all over the West for no good reason and I am expected to follow!"

Obsidian pulls his riding gloves on and takes a step past the only tree in the whole of the Western Sands, I am certain. He is not smiling and neither am I. The broad sword's handle on his back gleams as the sun hit it. The sheath is covered in dust as well as his cloth bag that has all our provisions in it. Obsidian's curly black hair is fuller and shiner than normal but I suspect that after a few more days of wandering in this desert it will be filthy. His legs are covered in black leggings and tucked into brown boots. His poor shirt looked as if it had not been washed in years but I was certain I had washed it two days ago. Traveling is such hard work especially when fighting desert beasts every five minutes completely ruins all the hard work I have put in to make our clothes clean.

We have no horses, no carriages and are forced to walk around Ivalica West on foot. Not only is the West the strangest region in all of Ivalica, but it is also the most diverse. The highest mountains ranges lead way to the hottest, driest deserts. It rains a grand total of once a year in the Western Sands, but that rain lasts for a month. In some parts of the Western Sands (the part we have not quite reached) is full of wild beasts that like to feast on wayfarers such as us. I have had to face down more beasts than I have ever read about when I was still in Sapphire Roe. Strange land creatures with four legs and horns, avions with wings expanding ten feet and frost elemental-sprites that pop out of nowhere and chase you down until you are defeated or it is. Even in the Western Sands I have heard of sandworms that suck you in and digest you with it's acid lined intestines before it leaves you as a pile of waste. I hope I never fight one of those- ever.

The first year was rough especially the beginning five months. Obsidian and I fled from Sapphire Kingdom to the small Opal Kingdom, then to sacred mountains of Alexandrite, then Obsidian dragged me to a small town at the edge of the Western Sands and now we are going to the woods of Peridot. I was not allowed to leave the castle walls ever since my father was killed when I was three. I barely even knew what my own people looked like and all of a sudden I was forced to go onto the frontier and fight hideous beasts. At that time, I only mastered the Water element because Sapphire Kingdom is where the water elements have chosen to make their stable.

Obsidian being from Onyx knew all the elements from the start and has mastered them but I rarely see him using any of them. When I do see him using his magic I see him using his shadow element. I can tell that the darker elements are the ones he is most familiar and comfortable with, unlike White who used the lightest elements mainly. The dark elements are the ones I dislike the most. There is something about them that sends cold shivers up my spine.

I shake my head at Obsidian's retreating figure before walking faster to catch up with his long strides. I am at least a foot and a half shorter than he is and it is quite difficult to keep the same pace as him all the time. I pull my light-blue hair into a ponytail, unable to take the feeling of the greasy strands on my shoulders any longer. The longsword attached to my belt by a small clip, bumps my leg as I walk forward. I shift the belt around a little so it is more comfortable. The bag attached to the belt is filled with herbs for healing salves. During my one year of travel I have learned how to make a poison antidote, an energy replenishing potion and a cream for disinfecting wounds. There is a way to do all of these things with the elemental magic but I have not figured out how to yet.

Walking right behind Obsidian, I take my gloves (more like gauntlets) out of the safe spot in my belt and slip them on. My gloves and boots were…commandeered at Sapphire Kingdom's port because I could not be wandering around Ivalica West in heeled slippers nor could I be tromping around in a gown. Obsidian had me take a pair of his lover's shorts, a shirt and "whatevers" as he called my undergarments, to prepare for this expedition. I found a skirt, tore it in half and sewed it to my belt because the shorts barely covered my backside. Now the fabric hangs loosely to the side, hanging right above my knee. It is better than nothing.

"Where are we headed now?" I question, walking besides Obsidian now. The bag on his shoulder swings from side to side as he walks.

"I've told you already," Obsidian replies shortly.

"Peridot," I say.

"Then why'd you ask?" Obsidian snaps. I grin. To annoy you of course, I think.

"Because I want to know why we are going there," I reply. "I still do not understand why you have dragged me all over Ivalica West."

Obsidian keeps his head straight and does not look like he is even listening to me, but I have learned that he hears everything.

"You sure are slow for a Princess," Obsidian mutters.

"And you're a coward of a Prince," I snap.

"I'm no longer a Prince," Obsidian snaps back.

"My point exactly," I say. Obsidian and I are silent for a long time. I have to break the silence or else I will not be able to get my question answered. Besides I'm not the one who's upset.

"You did not explain to me the reasons for our travel to Peridot," I say breaking the silence. Obsidian sighs and shakes his head.

"Peridot is where the earth element makes its stable," Obsidian replies. "You need to learn earth element before you learn fire."

"I'd rather not learn those," I say frowning.

"Prince Vert's main element is earth isn't it?" Obsidian asks me. I nod.

"Yes it is," I reply.

"So you need to understand its properties in order to fight it, don't you?" Obsidian questions.

I nod again frowning more.

"Not only that but the element of earth is weak against the element of fire, so you need to know both in order to take on Vert," the ex-Prince cuts me off even before I speak. "Therefore it would be wise to master all of the elements before trying to save you boyfriend right?"

"He is not my boyfriend!" I snap, hating whenever Obsidian called White that. Obsidian laughs loudly and I hope a beast comes and bites his head off. I stomp forward absolutely angry but feel Obsidian grab my hand and pull me back roughly. I was about to tell him off but he points ahead of him and I turn my head in that direction.

A chatt with a sharp horn on its head, glowing yellow eyes and mangled brown fur is looking straight at me. It starts to growl. I feel like growling back but I place my hand on the hilt of my sword instead.

"Look at that, I think he likes you," Obsidian purrs into my ear. I elbow him in the gut. Out of the dust behind the chatt, three others emerged. I sigh exasperatedly. One I could handle, maybe two, but four? That is why Obsidian is here. The ex-Prince grins and unsheathes his large sword. It gleams in the sunlight.

The chatts charge and I take a swing at one of them. Stupid beast dodges it and I defend against another attack. The first chatt attacks with its large claws and I duck, feeling the air swoosh over my head. I pivot around and lunge at the four legged beast. My sword cuts through the flesh but it is not enough to kill it yet. I hear one beast howl horribly as Obsidian finishes it off in one swing. The head lops over to my feet; it's severed neck oozing hot dark blood. The chatt I injured jumps at me now, ready to eat me alive, but I kick the severed head to the beast, knocking it down in midair. I hear another high-pitched yowl from another chatt and I know Obsidian's killed another one. I rush over to the chatt on the ground and with all my strength take off its head. Blood splatters everywhere but I make sure the beast is dead. I laugh and grin, falling onto my knees. I am panting but grinning at my victory.

Suddenly I hear the rushed sound of clawed feet against the sand and a roar. In the rush of the moment, I grab my sword, turn around and jump into the air. I thrust my sword into the airborne beast, skewering it on my sharp blade right through the heart.

The weight of the thing pulls me down to the ground and I land on my feet. The chatt lands few feet away from me. I walk over to it, pull out my sword, now dripping in blood and wipe the wetness off on the chatt's fur. I scrunch up my nose at the smell of the thing but grin when I sheath my sword. I actually killed two this time! Obsidian usually gets really impatient and kills off all of them in an instant. But I got the chance to kill some! I watch the corpses turn into dust before turning to Obsidian. He is entertaining the attentions of something I wish I never had to see in my life.

"I hate the desert!" I cry angrily. "I hate it so much!"

I run over to Obsidian as he dodges the five tongues of the sandworm. Two rows of sharp teeth, acid dripping from its mouth, more that thirty feet tall... oh joy. They are most easily defeated with the elements, but I am not very good with mine yet. I remember Obsidian telling me that the best way to master an element is to practice it. What great practice I am going to have with this guy! I stop running toward Obsidian when I am several yards away from the sandworm. I close my eyes and try to tap into my wind element. I feel it blowing inside of me I sigh, releasing it into my arms. I open my eyes and point at the sandworm with all my fingers.

"I call upon the gentle natured wind! Change for me and attack!" I cry. Out of my fingers shoot arrows of wind. The razor sharp gusts cut into the beast but do nothing but turn in to my direction. Oh great.

"Thanks girl!" Obsidian calls to me, as the sandworm races in my direction. A pile of treasure is in Obsidian's hands.

"What did you do?!" I cry angrily, running for my life. "You were not stealing from it, were you?!"

I hear Obsidians laughter.

"Keep it distracted! It has some really good things we can use!" Obsidian calls as he runs alongside the beast. Every nasty creature in the West carries the weapons and armor of the people they defeat. I bet this sandworm has plenty.

"Are you serious?!" I cry, furiously. Obsidian is too busy pulling "useful" items out of the sandworm's ridges to hear me. I stop running and face the sandworm. I tap into my light element and feel it in my head. I pull it down to my fingers, feeling it tingle all over me.

"I call upon sacred holy element! Shine your light for me and destroy this beast!" I yell. A gold halo forms around the sandworm before a small column of light shoots from the sky and cuts through the worm. The beast is thrown into the air and howls in agony when it lands again. It stops moving for a moment and I smile. Holy magic works! Before I can rejoice too long, the tongues of the sandworm shoot out like bullets and wrap around me. I feel the cords tighten around me and I cry out in pain. My back cracks. I shut my eyes and tap into the wind element again.

"Wind!" I cry. "Hear me and cut me down!"

Out of my body the arrows shoot and cut the tongues. I fall down, expecting to hit the ground, but feel a warm breeze surrounding me. Obsidian's wind softly lowers me to the ground. I can breathe again! I take fresh gulps of air and shakily stand up. Obsidian is beside me and I hold onto him. All the loot he stole from the sandworm is piled on the sand.

"Sweet water element, consuming fire I command you! Fuse and strike this beast down!" Obsidian's voice shakes me.

From above the monster, large pillars of lightning strike it. It writhes in pain. My eyes are wide with amazement.

"Y-you can combine elements?" I ask excitedly.

"Of course," Obsidian replies nonchalantly. "But not all elements can be combined. Now are you going to finish it off?"

"Why should I finish it off? You disturbed it!" I snap angrily.

"Just do it," Obsidian says. "We need to make good time so we can make it to Peridot in a few days time."

I roll my eyes. Oh yes, of course master, I think. Oh yeah make me do all the work! So what if I was in training? I still needed my elements for other battles right? I stop leaning on Obsidian and stand up straight. I was not going to have him have any more to say about my lack of training. I pull the light element from my head again and stretch out my arms. The sandworm charges again. I close my eyes.

"I call upon the sacred holy element! Shine your light for me and destroy this beast!" I command. My eyes fly open and the golden halo forms around the sandworm again. This time an even larger column comes out of the heavens and shines down on the beast, obliterating it. Obsidian whistles.

"That is how you properly use the holy element," he says grinning. He rests his hand on my head for a moment. "Not bad."

I grin but suddenly, my knees feel weak and I collapse onto the ground. My legs are having horrible spasms and I am certain I cannot feel my hands. Obsidian sighs and walks over to his pile of loot.

"I guess we'll take a break here," he says, sounding annoyed. "I suppose your elements aren't strong enough to handle that level of magic."

"I suppose not," I mutter angrily. I flop onto my back, unable to take sitting up straight. I close my eyes against the sand and feel my whole body sink into the ground. I feel as if my insides are resettling. It hurts a little.

I hear the click of Obsidian's compass and the clinking of metal before I fall asleep.


A/N: Part II or III of the Ivalica stories don't know which yet. Now that Jae Dong is over, I can start posting this! yay! Everyone enjoy and PLEASE review. Tell me if you like it or not. Is that really so hard?