This story is the prequel to a much bigger story that I have already written. So, you could think of this as an introduction. Please read and Comment!

"Excuse me. I'm so sorry." Stelmaria pushed her way through the crowd. The plaza was filled with people all anxious to see the ceremony. Stelmaria hurried to the front row where her family had a reserved section. Her mother was already there.

"There you are Stelmaria," her mother said sharply.

"I'm sorry Mother," Stelmaria began as she tried to catch her breathe. "I was-"

"Never mind that," her mother interrupted. "Straighten your blouse." Stelmaria looked at herself. Her satin blouse was a bit ruffled and she hurried to press it down. She also smoothed her hair. Stelmaria had long black hair that normally flowed down to her waist, but it was now braided into a single strand and intertwined with golden thread. She had a pale complexion and delicate features. In fact, many considered her to be a very pretty 17-year old. In the mind of others, Stelmaria was the perfect picture of what a member of the prestigious Acurrion Family should look like. She looked like an almost identical copy of her mother, Adrina, with the exception that Adrina's hair was a rich auburn color. Adrina gave her a quick smile to show that she now approved of Stelmaria's appearance. Stelmaria gave out a small sigh. She had almost forgotten her place again. She had been at the marketplace all afternoon. She loved looking at the merchandise, but never bought anything. Today was different. She had seen it passing by a textile shop. It was only a simple piece of cloth, but printed on it was a black raven with its wings spread as if it was flying. The shop keeper had seen her looking at it.

"The raven is a bird that is misunderstood," he had told her. "A bird that is only seen for its dark image, but a day may come when we need the Raven." Stelmaria had grown up with the superstition. Ravens were supposed to mark the presence of Mortem, the God of Death. She had been so intrigued that she bought the small cloth. It was now hidden away in her bag. She felt somewhat guilty because she was not really supposed to buy anything. Just then, an airship appeared out of the sky and landed by the platform. Out of the airship came a group of Military Generals. In the lead walked General Leon Acurrion; Chief Military General of Acadia and Stelmaria's father. He had once led the Acadian troops in the war against the Vesperian Empire; Acadia's northern neighbor. Now, he was the Imperium Council's top military advisor and led the military in their purge. The Purge. The extermination of all magic-users. The very thought made her shudder. Behind her father, marched a group of young soldiers. In the front of the line was Zephyr, Stelmaria's 20-year old brother. He had been in the military academy for four years. Now, he was joining the military officially. This was his induction ceremony. Stelmaria watched as one of the Generals gave a speech and then finally, her father stepped forward. Zephyr walked across the platform towards Leon and knelt before him.

"Zephyr Acurrion," the General directed. "Do you swear to serve the Imperium and to protect and defend the innocent of Acadia?" There was a moment of silence before Zephyr responded.

"I swear."

"Then, rise as a soldier of Acadia." Zephyr rose slowly and the General presented him with his own Gunblade as is the tradition. The crowd applauded and Stelmaria with them. The other academy members walked forward when it was their turn and were accepted into the military as full soldiers. The induction ceremony ended swiftly.

"Come," Stelmaria was directed. Her mother led her through the crowd to where an airship was waiting to transport them back to the palace. They were staying in the capital city of Sabre. Tomorrow they would head back to their own palace in the city of Leona. But tonight, they were guests in the President's palace and would attend his celebration. As they flew back to the palace, Stelmaria listened quietly to Adrina chatter about what she should wear.

Stelmaria descended the spiraling staircase slowly so not to trip over the long black train or the pointy black heels she was wearing. Groups of people were chattering unconcerned about anything that occurred outside that glass hall. Stelmaria walked to the group where her mother was laughing with her father and none other than President Sevarius himself. Stelmaria slowly entered the group. Her mother noticed her first and extended her hand toward Stelmaria. "Caesar," she said to the President. "This is my daughter, Stelmaria." The President smiled politely.

"You have a beautiful child, Adrina. Do I see another soldier from the Acurrion bloodline?"

"No," this time her father responded. "Stelmaria is not a fighter." Sevarius nodded.

"Anyway, Leon," he said to continue the conversation. "The council has just voted to continue the Purge."

"A little bit rash don't you think?" Adrina asked quietly. "Exterminating their kind may not help the Imperium's image."

"A point that I have brought to the counsel many times, but they are convinced it is for the better of Acadia," Sevarius said shrugging. Stelmaria had heard enough. She drifted away from the group and strayed toward the garden that the glass hall opened out to. The garden was surrounded by floating lights and glowing flowers. There was a huge fountain in the center which reflected the starry sky and the purple moon. Stelmaria walked to the edge of the fountain and gazed at the water.

"Are you alright?" Stelmaria turned around slowly. Adrina was standing there.

"I'm fine," Stelmaria responded automatically. Her mother walked forward.

"You're questioning your place," Adrina told her gently. Stelmaria gave a small sigh which told her mother everything. "You should be proud to call yourself an Acurrion, Stelmaria." But Stelmaria saw a shadow flicker across her eyes. Maybe she imagined it because it was gone as quickly as it came. Her mother took her by the hand and led her back into the hall. Her father walked toward them.

"Well, this is where we part ways, my dear," Leon said.

"But we leave soon," Adrina said impatiently.

"I know, but the Council summons me. So, I must stay here. You and Stelmaria shall return home alone." He kissed Adrina's hand and walked away.