A/N: Welcome! Up for some fantasy? Thanks for clicking.
This story has a sad, sad past. I began writing this several years ago; it was the first original story I ever wrote. A while later, when I wanted to begin refining it, I typed it up on Microsoft 2003. I ignored it for a couple more years, and during that time my computer stumbled across a virus. My file was corrupted, and all my ten chapters of work were destroyed. What you see here is the brainstorm I did after I freaked-out about the unrecoverable file. Tragic... but true. :'(
One thing to note: I wrote this in story-teller style, so mind the occasional "ah" or "now" or "you."
Enjoy this second edition of "Once Upon a Time."
Very truly yours,
Plenician Princess Adora of the Forest Realm has been betrothed to the Hycrossian Prince Daemon of the Desert Realm. Legends of the ancient "Ocean Realm" are being whispered more loudly by the people of the Realms, and tensions between Hycross and Plenicia are on the rise. Will their union be tainted by the conspiracy between their countries, or will their love prevail?
Thoughts in italics. Flashbacks in italics.
Every word in this story belongs to me. Don't steal them!
*~ Once Upon a Time ~*
The Beginnings of Realms and Things
Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a prosperous kingdom called Plenicia. The people of Plenicia, often called the Forest Realm, prided themselves upon their long line of just rulers. King Gerard was the 14th of that line, and, indisputably, the best yet. Gerard had taken Octavia – princess of the neighboring Realm, Hycross – as his Queen. Together they had Adora, princess and solo heir to the Plenician throne. However, the Plenicians were fearful for the future of this great Era of Peace, for their king was ill.
Plenicia was fertile and prosperous. Forests dotted the green countryside of the Realm's luscious terrain, and it was known for its mild climate and weather. Trade routes and roads connected flourishing towns and cities across the Realm. Plenicians valued knowledge and peace, and depend upon the royalty only for protection; nothing more or less. Townsend, the wealthy city surrounding the royal Castle, flourished with their productive farmland and excellent trade. Greensbourge (the border city of the neighboring Realm, Calidus) and Irondale (a main hub of the famous Trade Road) were also major cities of Plenicia.
Hycross, the mighty Desert Realm, was full of chaos. Civil wars and violence was commonplace in this Realm, and Hycrossians were known for their curtness and hostility. The dry and barren Desert of Sorrow stretched across the southern plain of Hycross, and resulting, most the population lived in the northern savannas. The people relied on the royalty for much of their food, water, and safety – due to the lack of trade – making the royal family very powerful and dominating. King Borook had reined for twenty long years, and had payed no mind to the foul state of his country. His mind was focused on... other things.
Many have said that Reliquium was the "lifeblood of Hycross." Reliquium, a rare and precious metal only found in Hycross, has troubled many geologist for centuries. Slightly warm to the touch, the Hycrossians commonly forged it for weapons and armor, as it was nearly indestructible. It was mined in the Desert of Sorrow, by the many criminals held in prison camps there. One of the larger camps was Terren, a miserable home to the worst criminals of Hycross; it was a perfect example of the harsh ways of the Desert Realm. Ascot, one of the more populated cities, was found in the northeast.
The Snow Realm, Calidus, was a cold and mysterious place. In the Before Times – the time before recorded history – it was a place for prisoners and renegades. After the Great War, and the Realms formed, the people there became seclude and isolated. Neutral treaties were signed with its neighboring Realms of Hycross and Plenicia, banning any contact whatsoever. News from Calidus had not been heard in over 300 years, and some people even doubt if it's still inhabited. Few survive the treacherous trek across the Dubious Mountains, the natural barrier surrounding the Snow Realm, and even fewer return.
Now, what of Octavia? The Queen was bitter. Her bitterness was rooted in the very birth of her daughter, Adora. When the Queen had been young and naïve, she had wed the Plenician Prince and came to the Forest Realm. She lived in happiness for many years, and soon gave birth to a baby girl. The King and Queen raised Adora with love and joy for several years.
Then, on one warm summer evening, a strange old woman came to the castle. Her wispy white hair fell into her face, and a blue tattered shawl hung loosely over her slumped shoulders. The guards at the gate let her pass with little question, and the woman navigated the castle as if it were her own home. Queen Octavia was certainly surprised when the odd lady came to her room, requesting her presence. The woman hissed words in Octavia's ear, words that hardened her heart and stung her soul. The old lady left just as suddenly as she came, leaving nothing behind her but a small white pearl in Octavia's hand.
Octavia, wanting to know the identity of the peculiar person, descended to the guards at the gate and inquired about the guest. However, the guards didn't remember seeing a woman of the Queen's description pass through the gate... as if she'd never been there.
Whatever the strange lady had said changed the Queen greatly. Since, Octavia frequently speculated about where the old woman was from; her thoughts often drifted to the legionary "Ocean Realm."
Ah, the Ocean Realm. As the stories go, in the Before Times, a supernatural phenomenon known as "Magic" was practiced and used. However, not all people had the strange ability to wield such power, and soon, the Great War broke out between Magic and Non-magic beings. Being sorely outnumbered, the Magical beings were defeated and exiled to the Southern Sea. Using paranormal means, they created an underwater civilization which came to be known as the Ocean Realm. "Magic" had long been forgotten among the terrestrial Realms, but the stories of their ancient ancestors were still told. No encounters have been recorded with Ocean Realmers, and fewer even remembered...
Now, the whispered rumors of Hycross had not yet reached Plenician ears. Rumors of a conspiracy. Borook of Hycross had been planning something for many years. And now, with the betrothal of his son to Plenicia's Princess Adora, it would all be set in motion.
There was a custom between the kingdoms of Hycross and Plenicia. In the 18th year of their heirs, the prince or princess would travel to the other Realm, to spend a year in its court. This practice, as well as the betrothals, had ensured the long years of peace between the two Realms. Just as Hycross had given Octavia to Plenicia, Plenicia would give Adora to Hycross. Prince Daemon of Hycross had also spent his 18th year in the castle of Plenicia.
But the year had passed, and the royalty would now return to their respective courts.
The time for Adora's arrival at Castle Plenicia was at hand, and King Gerard had called a small celebration beforehand. He invited the court of Hycross to join his subjects just before the return of his daughter. A diplomatic meeting of sorts. Borook, along with his personal guard and his son, had attended. The feast was held in the castle's Great Hall, the finest room in the castle. A raised dais stood at the end of a vast carpet, holding the royal thrones. Tables of food were set out for the Plenician and Hycrossian guests, and musicians played soft melodies for those who wished to dance.
Borook cast a sinister gaze over the crowd of nobles. What fools, he thought. Soon, very soon they will see... He paused when he spotted Octavia among the guests. After glancing momentarily at the King Gerard – who sat on his throne, addressing a Plenician noble – he made his way to his sister.
Octavia frowned when she spotted her brother approaching. She had been trying to avoid him the entire night. It was too late to escape, however. He roughly took her arm once he reached her. "Hello, sister. May I have a word with you?" he murmured hastily.
Without allowing her a word of consent, Borook towed her just outside the Great Hall, in an adjacent corridor. "Brother," she complained, frowning, "you are hurting my arm."
He released her, glancing around for any possibility of an eavesdropper. Borook, though confident and brash, was paranoid and distrustful. He regarded his sister with little patience, and spoke harshly, "Have you forgotten your loyalties, Octavia? We must time this perfectly."
Octavia, knowing full well what her brother spoke of, felt her heart grow heavy. "I know, brother. I-I –"
"You are hesitating," he spat, disgusted. "If you refuse to honor your country and your Realm, then I will step in myself."
"No!" Octavia said fearfully. She rung her hands and bit her lip in nervousness. "That will never do..."
Borook, sensing her trepidation, relented slightly. "Very well. But Octavia," he said, lowering his voice. His eyes were almost frightening in their intensity. "The task must be completed before the return of your daughter. Hycross is counting on you." He quickly slipped something into her hand, and turned away.
Octavia watched her brother meander back into the Hall, a fake smile on his face as he conversed spuriously with Plenician courtiers and nobles. She sighed heavily and grasped the object in her hand. For Hycross? I haven't seen Hycross in many years... So many years...
She chanced a glance at her husband, who was laughing merrily as he spoke with his subjects. She felt her eyes moisten with sorrow as she looked down at the small vial in her hand. She recognized the semi-cloudy liquid immediately.
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