Chapter 1: Sleeping Beauty
"Come to me. Come break your curse."
When Lumina first stirred from sleep she realized that rather than being on the soft bed she'd slept on all of her life, she was instead on the cold floor of the throne room. At first the room was so silent that she was sure she was alone, but a shuffling to her side drew her attention.
A young man with hair that could have been black or blue stood to one side, leaning against a white pillar. He wore a black cloak that dropped to just above his ankles, revealing brown work boots. She opened her mouth to ask him what was going on, but instead she found her gaze following his toward the throne.
Or rather, what should have been the throne.
In place of the elegant chair was a banquet table, maybe six feet across, covered in one of their finer tablecloths. But what really caught her interest was the familiar fabric hanging over the side of it.
"Mother!" The girl ran forward and grabbed the Queen by her shoulders. "Mother! Wake up!" The young princess began to shake her lightly, but there was no response.
"Did you honestly think it would be so easy?" Lumina turned to see the man from before standing a few feet away. The guilty look on his face told the young princess all she needed to know.
"Why won't she wake up? What did you do?" She let go of her mother and faced him, standing bravely in front of the person that raised her.
The man frowned at her. "I didn't do anything." He brought his gaze to the floor and stepped forward, but stopped purposefully, only slightly closer than he was before. Lumina carefully let her sight drop to where he was looking, and saw that a semi circle had been drawn around the table and to the wall on either side. He was standing just outside of it, and Lumina recognized that it was a magical barrier. "But I can tell you how to undo it."
Lumina frowned at him. "Why should I trust anything you say?" She had learned from her mother that it was good to trust people, but there was only so much trust that could be given without being naive. It seemed like a poor idea to believe a stranger in this situation.
The man didn't seem offended. "Believe me or not, it's your choice. But you can shake her day and night; she won't wake."
Lumina looked back toward her mother as if contemplating just how true that might be, but in the end she turned her attention back to the man. "Tell me what's going on."
The man smiled just a little at this, though the emotion didn't quite reach his eyes. "Is that an order, princess?" When the girl failed to answer, he sighed and continued on. "She's under the fairy tale curse. Or rather, you are."
Lumina narrowed her eyes at him. "That's impossible! That curse hasn't been allowed for years." Her mother always kept everyone safe from it. And even if that wasn't the case, no one could curse the Tenebrarum bearer...could they?
"Maybe. But it doesn't change that it's here now, and if you want your mother back before it's too late-"
"Too late? What do you mean too late?" She glared at him, and in that moment she looked every bit the ice princess that came before her.
"I mean that you'll need her help in the times to come, but if you don't break the curse before your birthday, you'll be all alone when their target switches."
Lumina didn't know which question to ask first. "Target? They?"
"I can't tell you who they are. But I can tell you they'll be after you the moment you inherit the Tenebrarum." Lumina looked hard into the man's eyes as she sought the truth, but they gave away nothing. Nothing but an intense sadness that could only mean he had something to do with this.
I want to wake her up now. If she were awake she would know what to do. But inheriting the Tenebrarum would break the curse, and that would be more trustworthy than the stranger's words. But that's….nearly an entire year away…. And besides that, this curse, which should have been impossible to create, was in place. Who was to say it followed the same rules as the Fairy tale curses from her mother's past? "...What do I need to do to break it?"
The man nodded as if expecting that question. "Sleeping Beauty. That is your curse. It's the same as the fairy tale. Your mother and everyone else in your home will sleep until the curse is broken by true love's kiss."
Lumina brightened at the knowledge. "True love's kiss? That's all? My father will…" Lumina frowned in deep concentration. "My father…"
I can't remember who my father is.
The man noticed the young witch's face pale as she realized her predicament. He spoke to her again. "I told you it's really your curse. You won't be able to break it easily, and you won't have magic to help you. Not to the extent you're used to, anyway." This visibly distressed the girl, but so lost in thought was she that she didn't speak for some time. "If that's all, I need to get going."
Lumina darted towards him but stopped at the edge of the barrier. If she was right in assuming he couldn't get through it, than she was better off staying in it. She had no weapon, and no idea how much magic she had access to. "Wait! How do I remember who my father is?"
"By breaking your curse." She frowned deeply at him.
"But I need him to break the curse. That makes no sense."
He sighed. "If breaking curses was so easy, they wouldn't be so terrible, would they?" Lumina had no response to that, and the man turned to leave. "Seek out others that have been cursed. They will be able to help you."
"But...how am I supposed to know who has been cursed?" Once, a tavern called the Marchen had been enchanted for the safety of those under the fairy tale curse. Lumina had been there a few times, but the tavern was now open to anybody. Besides that, why were other people cursed? How were they cursed? She didn't know what to think anymore.
The man walked to the door. "I don't know how you'll be able to tell when you leave your kingdom, but…" He turned to face her one last time, "For now, you'll know because they'll be awake."
And then he was gone. Lumina had no idea how long she stood in the throne room, feeling more alone than she had ever felt in her life. Questions were making her head spin, and she leaned her head on top of her mother's resting body, breathing in the comforting scent of home. Mother….I need you.
But she did not wake.