Long, long ago, in the lost land of Calathena, there were magical folk no longer seen today. People that could control objects, minds, and even the elements who were known as Mystics. People that could change into an animal of their own, who were known as Shifters.

They were split into two kingdoms, that harbored envy, bitterness, and lust between them, caused by a feud between the Ancients millennias ago. Each kingdom lived separately, ruled by their own kings. King Tyrenndous ruled the kingdom Escia; King Vasuki ruled Alagria. In both kingdoms were magical people and commoners. Many times, the magics were from royalty, but not all times.

In this land grew a boy named Leon. He lived in Escia, but he was not Escian. Raised by his mother alone, he hadn't any idea who his sire was. They lived poorly, yet peacefully in the outskirts of town, far away from the palace, where the ongoings of war and court duties could not bother them. They were solitary, and Leon didn't know there were other villagers besides them, never mind having met them. He was content so far living with his mother, until he learned that she was with child, had been for two years, and while the baby had been continually growing, it wasn't yet ready to come out.

She was born when Leon was five, and his mother had named her Stacie. She had emerged, kicking and screaming and scratching. A normal, plump baby girl, hair blond unlike Leon and his mother's plain brown hair, who had torn up her mother's stomach from the inside as she was coming out. That's when Leon noticed her abnormalty, while he was nursing her with the few drops of milk his mother could produce. In place of her fingernails were tiny, golden claws. He immediately glanced at his own and saw that they were different. He stood suddenly, about to ask his mother, but Stacie clutched his arm and wouldn't let go until he sat. Five beady drops of blood streamed from the puncture marks in his arm. He looked over at his mother and realized how serious damage she had taken.

Leon and Stacie's mother died that night. The five-year-old boy was stuck alone with his newborn sister. Who had claws. He had no idea of what to do. He had no idea of who else there was he could find. All of a sudden, an idea struck him. The palace. Go to the palace. At once he had the realization of the palace, kingdom, land, and people. But I don't know where it is. His voice seemed to answer him back. East. The palace was in the east of where they were. He knew now that east was where the sun rose, but he didn't know how he knew.

That night, their mother was left, bloodied, in her bed. Early the next morning, she was gone. There was no sign that she had ever existed. Leon knew that he had to leave also. He packed what remaining supplies and food they had left, took their only goat, his sister, and headed towards the sunrise.

The first few weeks were hardest. They were all cold, tired, and hungry. Stacie was cranky, and Leon was burdened with the care of his sister and the loss of his mother. Day after day, they trekked through the wilderness, until they reached the first village. They had to avoid being seen, for Leon knew the dangers of greedy men. They were taken in by kindly villagers every few miles, but mostly were kicked and thrown rocks at, being forced to spend nights in dark alleyways, scrounging for garbage scraps. Leon felt pity for himself, but mostly guilt, that his sister must endure the hardships of being raised by a child. But there was always something, waiting for them. Sometimes it was a pack of food, sometimes a warm blanket, and Leon knew that while he was taking care of Stacie, someone was taking care of him.

Winter was the worst. He traveled barefoot in the snow, carrying their supplies on his back, with his sister tied securely to the goat with a coat. When the goat died a few days after a blizzard came, he knew they would not be far off behind if they did not find shelter soon. That's when the wolf appeared.

The wolf was larger than Leon and Stacie both, a male, and it looked fierce and merciless. Leon was frozen, both in fear and the chill of the air. When the wolf made no move, Leon tried to run past it. And it attacked. It ripped the baby girl from his arms, carried her with his teeth, and ran off faster than Leo ever could.

That night, he sat alone in the snow, crying. He had lost his sister and failed his mother. Snow and ice, take me now. Take me from this harsh excuse of a world.

No. Another voice seemed to answer him. You have great things in store for you, boy. T'would be a shame to give up now. Leon recognized the voice. It was the one who always told him what to do, the one who cared for him and guided him.

Go away, whoever you are. Leave me to die in peace. He had no care for his future. All that mattered was the present. And he found the present not worth living for.

You will become something great. But none of that will happen if you give up now. You must prove your courage and endurance. You can do this, boy. I have been watching, and I know you can. The voice had a deep, melodic sound, almost like the spray of a waterfall.

"Who are you? Why are you with me, a poor farm boy with no relations left?" Leon realized that he had spoken out loud this time.

All I can tell you is that you are more. You may seem like a boy outside, but inside, you have the heart of a king. And you do have relations left. Your sister is alive.

Leon gasped and ran up immediately. "I have to find her!"

No, boy. T'would be an empty search. Your sister is lost for now. But no worries, she is safe.

"No! How could you say that?! I have to find her and bring her back to me!"

Leon. Listen. For the first time, the voice said his name. Your sister is not part of your current destination. You must go your own way, as she goes hers.

The boy was sobbing. "Will.. Will I ever see her again?"

This time there was no reply.

Leon cried. He cried for the rest of the night. But in the morning, he got up and started walking again.

In total, it took him four months to reach the palace. Once he was there, he was amazed by the amount of guards who stood before the castle gates.

And here I am, a homeless child. What will I do?

Suddenly one of the guards called out. "You there! What is your business here?" Leon looked up to see the guard's gaze directed at him.

Say that you wish to see the king. This time, the voice was crackling like burning fire.

You're back! Leo was overjoyed by the return of his newly made friend.

Say it. Say you wish to see the king.

Leon was uncertain of this idea, but the voice had never led him wrong. "I-I wish to see the king."

The other guards were looking now. One laughed. "You hear him? This child thinks he can just wander in and ask to see the king!"

What do I do now? Leon was panicking.

Say you come in Adrelia's respects.

Who's that? Why should I say that if I don't know who she is?

For heaven's sake, boy, talk now and think later!

Fine, fine. Out loud, he murmured, "Tell the king I come in Adrelia's respects."

There were a few surprised looks. "Really now?" The first guard asked. "And how would you know the former noblewoman?"

You know her very well, boy. It was because of she that you were sent on this journey.

Something clicked inside his head. "I'm.. her son."

Finally, boy, that head of yours works. I was afraid of mechanical issues.

"Adrelia's son? You? Where is your mother, then?"

Stunned, Leon could not say the word. "She.. she was lost to us." Dead.

"You may enter." The guards stepped aside, the gate was opened, and the palace doors unbolted.

Why does everyone know my mother? Is she my real mother?

As real as they come. As for the first question, you'll find out soon enough.

The doors opened, and Leon was let into the palace of Escia.