The palace had been left alone for far too long.
It was hard for anyone to remember the last time that someone had walked through the halls of the castle that had once been so important. It had fallen too far from grace to have hope of restoration, leaving it a piece of forgotten history in plain view. The castle was easy as could be to spot in the crowded area near Skylia's capital city, but nobody ever dared to go too close to it.
There weren't any rules against people traveling to the castle, but the unsettling aura it gave off was enough to drive everyone away. The palace had once been used as the headquarters of the Skylox Heroes, after all, and with them gone, it simply felt empty.
The Skylox Heroes' massacre had taken place following the destruction of the Sapphin tablet, a magical creation used to tether the spirits of long-deceased warriors to the land of the living. Once the item was destroyed, all the halfway-living Skylox Heroes were sent into the afterlife, and the castle was left alone to deteriorate as the elements reclaimed it. Everyone who had once lived in the palace had died, and to some, it seemed as if their spirits still lingered.
Rumors flew through the nearby town about how the place was haunted somehow. Even the Soul mages, who knew this to be untrue, weren't able to keep fear of the palace from growing. There was only one figure who had ever been seen traveling into the castle's abandoned halls, but it had been months since she had last made an appearance.
The Silver Knight was once known for sneaking into the castle, frightening many who crossed her path. However, she disappeared shortly after the Clan Leaders made an appearance on Daragon, and none could say quite way. Either way, without her dutiful work to keep the castle in perfect shape, it was starting to fall apart at the seams, a shadow of its former self. To many, there was no hope of restoration.
The war of Daragon had ended a few weeks prior. The Clan Leaders had retreated back home to Earth, and life was starting to resemble something normal on Daragon. The Fearbringers had been disbanded, and Mersall was long dead, stabbed in the chest and left in the dirt by the Clan Leaders. Zelda had disappeared, leaving with the rest of the traitors of the Fearbringer army to set out on some unknown path. The only Hanilia faction that bothered to chip into the restoration effort on Daragon was the Draconic Superiors, but they could only do so much on their own.
Those who lived within the Skylian capital could do nothing but look up at the palace, wondering how different things would have been if the Skylox Heroes hadn't been annihilated during their mission to the village of Nadia months prior. The Skylox Heroes were the most powerful army in the Galaxy of Hyperion, and their work certainly would have eased Daragon back into routine much faster. However, it was impossible to bring the dead back to life, and there was no hope of things going back to how they had been.
Whispers could be heard if one listened closely enough that the Silver Knight was gone as well. She had apparently been seen on Daragon aiding in the war effort, but once the fighting was declared over, she went missing once again. She never returned to the palace that stood as a fragment of a recently lost history, and dust began to form across each layer of the building. Plants had started to coil around the gray towers in an attempt to drag the small space back into the warm embrace of nature.
There was always a buzz of anticipation in the air if one focused hard enough. The Clan Leaders were meant to be returning sometime soon if the words of Tuila were to be believed. The Draconic Superiors claimed that Daragon would be brought back to stability, and peace would once again cover the Galaxy of Hyperion. Even so, questions were always left unasked regarding the Skylox Heroes and who would replace the greatest faction of soldiers ever known to live.
Never was there an answer to such a daunting inquiry. The Draconic Superiors couldn't fix everything, and Daragon was their first priority in that moment. Skylia gave the image of stability, but without Lyloc to lead her, the planet was starting to fall apart. Behind the mask of perfection, everything was beginning to crumble.
Those who were able to observe such a shift dared not to speak up about it. The idea of mentioning how dangerously close to ruin Skylia was frightened all who thought of it. If the concept was never vocalized, it couldn't hurt them.
There was one exception to this, and it came in the form of a shadow that streaked through the dawn-lit streets of the capital city. Her boots clicked against the stones below, but none were around to hear. Most were still asleep, waiting for the sun to fully rise before they started to navigate the streets. It gave the young woman all the peace she could have asked for, and she needed it more than she could ever hope to describe. Speaking with others was an irritation she simply wasn't ready to face when destiny finally appeared to be within her grasp after years of nothing but waiting.
The castle stood tall and daunting above her, but she didn't let it get in her way. The young woman sucked in a slow breath before walking forwards, pressing her hands against the door. The wood refused to move at first, prompting her to use a small unlocking charm to open the entrance. Afterwards, she was easily able to slip inside, and a sigh escaped her lips.
The palace had been left abandoned for ages, but that was about to change, and it was all thanks to her.
New book time! Chapter one is coming tomorrow!