Prologue: Unpredictable Turn of Events
In one moment, everything changed in my carefree life and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it from happening. To think that just one comment sent my whole world spiralling out of control. It made me query why I never even thought about it all before, how precariously everything had settled and how just one woman could cause that all to crumble, setting my future in motion like an avalanche...
"Serene Cade Crescent, will return to the island with the gift in hand"
But let's not get too ahead of ourselves here - let's go back a little before all that craziness happened…
About a week ago came the first sign of things to come. I was sitting on the roof of my home, admiring the blues, oranges and pinks tones of the twilight as the moon slowly rose above the horizon. Then, through the rising darkness , a blinding light burst into the sky like the strike of a match. The brightness died down so I could take a proper look and I knew exactly what it was. Everyone knew within the hour what was the object streaking through the night was and what it meant. A celestial entity had slipped through Heaven's gate and was falling to our lands. It was an Angel's gift.
So, where do I fit into this? Don't worry, I'm getting there.
Following this revelation came the big question of who would be the one to have the honour and thrill of leaving the island to claim the gift. Many of our brave knights stepped forward for the job of a lifetime, so many in fact, they were to randomly select the 'chosen one' and announce it in the castle town square. It was on this day that my life changed.
I didn't put my name forward. As exciting as it all sounded, it wasn't exactly something I believe I could manage on my own. That aside, I had a role to upkeep and that meant I had to stay close to home. Sure, I'd been away before but I was always back quickly - in fact, that was a particular forte of mine; being quick.
All of my family are pretty fast, I won't lie, but I'm still the fastest of us all. I wouldn't go as far as saying it was a talent, more a fortunate inheritance. It's part of the whole great legacy that comes with the Crescent name and that's to become guardians of our homestead and the protectors of peace… or something like that. So yes, as I was born with the ability to be super fast, I'd been sent out as a courier a number of times but my main role was to stay here encase of any circumstances that may require us guardians to deal with.
I was very curious though to see who would go though. Plus, it gave me a rest from my own training with my elder brother, Robin, who I love dearly but I do question whether he actually understands what a "break" is. I wandered down the small, winding alleys towards the square. The sheer volume of people took me greatly by surprise as I got closer, it appears everyone had ventured out to see this marvellous event take place; the area was alive with the chatter of thousands. As I made my way through the crowds, a number of people greeted me kindly and I tried to return the gesture every time.
There was a platform set up towards the front of the Bazaar where currently a microphone stood alone. The morning light came over the buildings, lighting the stage of the event. I finally found myself a little area, a barrel outside the Harpy's cup tavern, where I could sit and just watch the happenings comfortably.
From afar, just after placing a tray down at a table of young, laddish knights, I caught the eye of the large tavern owner and his round face lit up with a smile.
"Hey, it's our littlest Crescent!" he called as he shifted my way.
I looked around, "Midnight's here?"
"Always the comedian;" he gave me a quick wink, "So, you thought you'd come and visit us whilst in the area then?"
"Well, you know, its not everyday you get to see something like this. Plus, you always have the best barrel in the house, Perry"
"I try my best with them but where's my manners, did you want a drink, Serene?"
I shook my head but thanked him anyway for the offer and he went back inside. The murmurs of the nearby crowds rose as a figure started ascending up the stairs of the platform to the microphone, her heels clicking with every step. Her delicate hand moved from her side, previously holding her skirt down to protect her fair modesty, to the microphone, where with two short taps she silenced the mass' chatter.
'Undeniably charismatic' was one way she'd been described in the past and I couldn't dispute this. She was one of the only people I knew who could gain everyone's attention in an instant with very minimal effort; the other, unfortunately, being my narcissistic older sister, Fallena. But unlike her, Lady Oona wasn't vain at all and her down to Earth nature made her even more respected amongst the people making her an excellent royal representative for events such as these.
"I thank you all for coming here today to witness this historic event take place. And now, shall we find out who will be chosen?" The crowd cheered in response. Oona gestured to a large glass bowl which was being brought onto the stage by two large, strong helpers. "In here are slips with all the names that have been forwarded on them, the slip selected will be the one who will be sent on this task. And that person will be…" she turned and placed her hand into the bowl to retrieve a slip. She brought one out, carefully unfolded it and looked at the name before returning her gaze to the anxious crowds in front of her. She opened her mouth to say the name, to answer everyone's burning question but she never finished.
On the Northern side, above the canopies of the shops and markets, came a series of muted crashes as a woman struggled to open her old, aged windows that had been shut for the past century. Eventually, she flung them wide open enough for her to hang her top half out of to stare out onto the square, crazed and wide eyed. Her voice was low but loud enough for the mass below to hear. Wilhelmina looked like your stereotypical dishevelled old witch, complete with a large wart on a pointed nose and long bony fingers; but despite looks, she was a renowned prophetic clairvoyant, the predictions she shared were never wrong. She spoke, "Serene Cade Crescent will return to the island with the gift in hand!"
The silence was deafening, not a word was spoken whilst the shock still paralysing. A single wind chime twinkled in the morning breeze. From her window, Wilhelmina glanced over the crowds before setting her penetrating gaze on me. A few people nearby looked at me, then a few more looked at what they were looking at, then some more, and some more like a wave, until I was the one everyone held their rivativing gazes on.
From the front, Oona gave a cough, "Serene, do you mind making your way up here please?" I slowly got myself off my makeshift seat to stand. I was surprised when the crowds in front of me parted, much like that bible story where Moses parted the Rea Sea, except with people and they were wearing other colours as well as red. In what felt like no time at all, I was already making my way up the steps of the platform. At the top, Oona took my hand and squeezed, leading me towards the microphone.
"It appears, in this unpredictable turn of events, that our chosen one is Serene Crescent. The official ceremony and Serene's send off will commence in two days at the Castle."
So, yes, that is how I won this fabulous task. Fate had come in to enact the lives of others but, instead, decided to cut the strings off every last puppet and left me standing on my own. I can't help but thinking that Fate had chosen very poorly in this matter. Very poorly indeed.
It was the evening before my D-day and, once again, I was on the roof. True be told, in a house with four siblings, it was one of the only places I could get some peace and quiet. It was a little place I could call my own - mainly because I was the stupid one to try climbing up there in the first place.
Twinkling high above me the stars shone brightly in the clear night sky besides the large blue moon. I was always told these moons were a sign of ill-omens to come but I was never the superstitious type before and I have no intention to start believing them now. That said, it still wasn't a promising sign when I'd just been appointed a task that could potentially alter the course of the world if I failed and allowed the gift into the wrong hands.
No pressure then.
I sighed and leant against the length of the chimney next to me and tried to focus on admiring its beauty in the sweet rarity of tranquillity. Why me though? Why did my name have to be mentioned? It's not a complete surprise, most Crescents got a prediction about them in their teenage years so it's no biggie.
Everyone who receives a prediction, no matter how big it is, achieves it with little difficulty as that is what is foretold by the seekers of the future. Definitely.
Everyone who receives big, weighty predictions don't get hurt whilst achieving their dramatic destinies. Of course.
Everyone who leaves the island to achieve predictions always return home safe and sound, like heroes, and can happily return to their everyday lives. Totally.
If that's all true, then why do I have this sinking feeling that I will be the one exception to the rule?