A Vow of Serenity

Amber Penglass

Chapter One

In the Ancient days, there were creatures called 'gods' and 'goddesses.' The truth of these titles were never known, but one of the greatest was Selene. Every entity presided in their own domain over a kingdom of those gifted with a tiny spark of power, a small sliver from their god or goddess.

Selene's domain was the Moon, and her people were grand and fair of face, their power allowing them long lives filled with luxury. They scorned the rock beneath them, the Earth, where other, minor, gods were constantly warring, neglecting their peoples to mingle and create their own realms, forgetting that they had once each had their own respective god.

They grew haughty in their scorn, vain of their beauty, proud of their long life. There were few indeed that had escaped this development in Selene's people, and one of those few was her daughter. When Selene at last decided on a solution for this problem, it was her daughter who begged for her to have mercy. So, instead of wiping them from existence, she banished them to what they had scorned- the Earth, with her daughter to govern them.

And so, in the far Western corner, where only a few, smaller, kingdoms had taken root, the powerful realm of Namoris was born. For all their new 'poverty' they were still Lunarian, and they treated themselves as such, erecting a great and powerful kingdom under the moon goddess's daughter's firm hand. They despised her, for she would not play favorites, or play their games. She was wise, and fair and just, but above all she was kind. She had mercy, when some wanted her to be harsh to their enemies. When one conquered another, she did not allow them to take all they had. And yet, the people whose kindness helped still despised her, for she would not grant what they wanted most- their return to the moon. She could do it, they said, return them.

But she would not.

They would outlast her, they said. She would soon go, and then they would do what they wished, and rise back to their place in the heavens, on the moon.

Selene heard their wicked plans, and delivered the final blow- she took away their immortality, and thus condemned them to a life as mere mortals, humans.

In time they forgot their heritage, but they kept their mean spirited ways. Those ways worked their way into the royal line, until it was the descendants of Selene's daughter that were the most wicked of all. The people, under oppression, having over the centuries had mixed with other races, learned new ideas, and they were not as wicked as they once were. They longed for freedom, for a chance for a world where one did not require a mean spirit to survive. They longed for serenity.

Jem City, Capital of Namoris, 224 AMK

A party was to be held that evening, in honor of Princess Beryl's coronation as Crown Princess, and Serenity, her younger sister, was elbow-deep in the preparations.

"Serenity!" Serenity turned as she heard her voice called by an elderly man, running over, a handful of wilted yellow flowers in hand."

"I requested that you order red flowers, red!" He waved the flowers in her face. "Does this look like red to you?"

"I told Marisii to get red flowers!" She responded, an annoyed pout on her face. "And he told me, as I told you, that the only kind of red flowers in season are Minoiti Rubies, but you said that they had no smell so they wouldn't do. So," she waved to the flowers in his hand. "We did the next best thing. At least it goes with black- anything goes with black."

Unable to argue further, the man stomped away, grumbling. Serenity almost giggled.

"I don't know how you handle them," Sandi, the man's apprentice, said as she came huffing by, a large basket brimming with sweet smelling golden flowers in her arms. Serenity smiled.

"Simple," she said with a wink. "I just remember that I'm the one with the key to the treasury, and there's nothing he can do but go along." The girls shared an amused snicker before Sandi moved on.

Serenity then looked around. Things were almost ready. All there was now was to actually put everything out and in place. That would be handled by the Steward, Safir. Normally, Serenity would have had nothing to do with anything, per usual, she would have stayed up in her tower during the preparations, party, and cleanup. But this time, the Court Treasurer, who normally would have handled the orders for flowers, baking products, ornaments and such for the Court bakers and chefs and decorators and Man of Ceremony, but he had recently passed away, and the position had yet to be filled.

And of course, her father nor Beryl would be caught dead ordering flowers and out in the sun all day directing what went to who.

So, the job had fallen to Serenity, the only other person authorized to use the royal family treasury. Serenity, until Safir had approached her, hadn't even known she'd had that authorization. Then again, beyond the fact that she was a second-rate, magicless, bastard princess, she didn't know much about herself or status at all. That was because, she had reasoned, she really didn't have much status in anything other than name. 'Princess' in Namoris didn't go very far unless you had 'Crown' in front of that title.

"You're doing a splendid job, highness," Safir came up to her, smiling, his blue-black hair radiant in the shining sun. "You handled Nistiec well," he referred to the flower man. She beamed at him, glowing in the praise that was always so short coming in her life.

"Thank you!" she chirped.

"Serenity, I hate to do this to you," he said. "But do you suppose you could handle the initial preparations?" Serenity froze. Safir continued quickly. "Just setting out the tables and supervising the hanging of the new drapes and such, nothing major. I'll be back in time to direct the flower placements and china and the rehearsal and such."

"J-just…putting out the t-tables, right?" She squeaked.

"And get them to take down the old drapes and put up the new ones," He added. "And roll out the carpet- straight down the middle. Don't forget to have Ambre lay out some protective shields over the carpet so it doesn't get soiled before the ceremony."

Serenity nodded, a bit too quickly, and she swayed. Laughing, Safir grabbed her elbow.
"Steady," he said, smiling. "Don't worry, I'll be back. I just need to get pick up my daughter from her dance lessons, and I'll be back." He walked away.

It never occurred to either that if he had acted so with Beryl, or with any princess in the past hundred years, touching her, laughing with her, he would have been put to death. Serenity truly was unique.

She turned back to the hustle and bustle of people, and at the pieces of parchment in her hand, lists and receipts.

Just then, Marisii, the boy Serenity had chosen to help her deliver orders, came running up. Only a year younger than her, he nevertheless looked barely older than eleven to Serenity's sixteen. It was often an advantage.

"Did you get it?" she asked him, remembering she had sent him off at the last minute when the Man of Ceremonies had discovered he'd miscalculated, and that they needed ten more tablecloths than he'd had Serenity order in the first place. The thing was, they had all been custom made. Serenity had come up with the idea of Marisii getting more tablecloths of the same color, and then alternating them with the custom ones, to look deliberate.

Marisii nodded, panting. "I told them to deliver them to the back door within the hour, all two hundred of them."

"Two hundred boxes?" Serenity squeaked. "We don't need that many!"

Marisii grinned. "Two hundred table cloths, Renity."

"Oh," Serenity calmed, flushing. "I knew that," she mumbled. Marisii laughed, and she whacked him on the back of his head as he ran off.

"Go tell Richin that the tablecloths are on their way!" She called after him, naming the Man of Ceremonies.

"No need," a voice came from behind, and Serenity jumped and squeaked yet again.

"Jittery, aren't we?" Richin said cheekily.

"You try being locked up in a tower most of your life, never seeing more than three people at once, and then released into this whirlwind of madness –and put in charge of it- and then you see how jittery you are." Serenity retorted dryly. Richin threw his head back and laughed.

None had known Serenity for long- hell, many hadn't even known she'd existed, or had forgotten- but many had come to be fond of the bubbly blonde with seemingly endless amounts of energy and ideas.

"But you said you were in charge?" Richin asked, momentarily confused. Then, "Ah, that's right! Safir warned me he may have to leave in the middle of all this temporarily. He said to come to you, then. Very well, I came to ask where Safir is, but I suppose now I come to you for orders, eh? Everything's read to be put in place."

Serenity froze again. She swallowed. She wasn't used to being in charge, to having people look to her for answers. That was Beryl's job! Granted, she thought her sister did an awful, malicious, and spiteful job of it, but still!

"'Renity?" Richin used the nickname many had dubbed her with, and she snapped out of her reverie.

"R-right, put things in place…er…um…"

"How about the tables?" Richin suggested gently.

"Yes!" She responded, a tad too enthusiastically, rounding on him. "That's it, tables! Yes, get the tables in place! Stagger them, like…make a square of tables, one table at each 'corner' and then a table in the middle, get me?"

"Perfectly," he responded, still smiling.

"Oh, and find Ambre for me- I need her to go with the carpet-roller-outer people to put a clean-shield on it."

"Why don't you just summon h-" He paused. "My apologies, I had forgotten."

"It's all right," Serenity sighed. "I'm used to it." She flashed him a brilliant smile. He responded in kind, and went off to follow her instructions. When he was gone, she slumped slightly. Indeed, she was used to it, people forgetting about her lack of 'power.' But she did have power, that was the thing… Just, it was the wrong kind…

"Look, daddy, look!"

"How many times must I tell you to call me 'Father' Serenity?" King Bawind said with annoyance,  not looking up from his papers.

"Yes, da- er, Father, but look look!"

Indeed he did look, and his eyes widened and he scrambled out of his chair and away from the tiny blonde girl with sparkling blue eyes, her hands playing with shining balls of magic made of light.

Silver light. Silver magic.

It was impossible, he knew. Then again…it made sense. As a babe, she had been tested, and had shown no signs of magic.

But now this… But of course, the king knew, the reason they hadn't sensed it was because she harbored no true magic. Black magic. Only trained mages whom had taken mage-tests had magic colored other than black, but Serenity was barely six years old. There was no way she could somehow have become a mage already, and even if she had, the black magic necessary to pass the Mage Trials would have been sensed in her.

So…what was this…?

Then it dawned on him, and he remembered. Six years ago he had taken the advice of his Wiseman…and Serenity had been the result, insurance that his reign would go on, that Namoris would continue to exist…

But…Wiseman had said he'd taken precautions to make sure she was magicless, no threat to him…

Obviously he had failed. The King would have to have words with his Wiseman. But before that…

"Dad- oops, Father, are you not pleased?" Serenity asked, a confused look on her face as the lights faded. Her pout was adorable, if he'd ever care to notice. Instead, he sat down and pulled her to him, yanking her up into his lap so that she was eye level. He held her by the shoulders.

"You are my child, Serenity, of course I am pleased." He told her. It was true- her being his daughter allowed him to remain king, so indeed he was pleased. She beamed. "But you must never use that ability again. That's not magic. True magic," he held up one hand, and a ball of blackness formed there. "True magic is black," he said. "Remember that. Never use that again. Never show it to anyone." He squeezed her shoulders, and her eyes went wide. "Never. Or I will hurt you."

He'd meant it, she knew. Her father was never one to sugar his words. She shuddered at the memory… The fear she had felt when he had dismissed her.

The worst bit of all, of course, was the itch in her fingers to use her power sometimes. The itch to help. So many times she knew –just knew- that she could help where other mages couldn't. But she never used it. Never.

Like now, when Richin had spoken of summoning- mages could speak to one another, mind to mind. And in a kingdom were magic was as commonplace as water, nearly everyone was a mage, even if only of the most ordinary sort. And the royal family, for ages past, had always been among the most powerful mages.

Serenity shook herself- no reason going over, again, something she'd been over before. She straightened her gown, a garment of endless multitudes of silvery grey cotton as soft as feathers and finely woven to look as smooth as silk. Only three straps per shoulder, of woven silver, held it up, exposing her shoulders and arms. Despite the sun-shield lotion she'd rubbed into her flesh earlier that morning, she was beginning to redden.

So, there was an up-side to having to oversee the beginnings of the preparations- she got to go inside! She entered the cool shade of the foray of the Dome Room, the main room of the palace, the center of everything. It was the largest and the grandest, used for balls, audiences, coronations, and royal weddings.

At the mental mention of weddings, Serenity remembered rumors of Beryl's impending betrothal to a King of a neighboring kingdom. He'd had an odd name, something that rolled of the tongue but for some reason she could never remember. She'd have to ask about that, when it would be and such. As much fun as all this had been, she didn't want to do it again!

The tables were being carried in just as she exited the foray and entered the Dome Room. Grand obsidian pillars coated in sheens of silver and gold towered above her, supporting a massive dome roof constructed entirely of a pale pink quartz. The floors, too, were quartz, studded with hematite pebbles.

Richin had apparently already told the table-carriers her instructions for their placements, so all she had to do was walk around and request minor adjustments until ever table had a clear view of the dais.

What came next, Safir had told her earlier, that morning when he'd laid out the order in which things would be done that day. She'd told him she thought that the tables wouldn't be needed until the party after the coronation- why put out the tables now when everyone would be standing? There wouldn't be enough room for everyone! Then he had taken her to the Dome Room, and showed her, using a key to do the thing that she would only need her hand for. Why? Because she was of royal blood, and he was not.

She went to one pillar, aiming for the small space between the back of the pillar and the wall. The massive structure was easily large enough for three men to grasp hands around, but Serenity was tiny and her hand easily slipped through the space to a small lever, ignoring the keyhole beside it that Safir had had to insert the key into before he could use the lever.

But the moment she touched it, she felt a tingle, felt it recognize her as a daughter of the king, and at her application of pressure it easily went down.

At once, all the tables sank down into the floor, and new panels of matching quartz and hematite slid into place. The room was once again thoroughly empty. Once the coronation was over, the guests would be asked to go the edges of the room, and Safir would again use the lever to raise the tables.

Servants would use passages under the Dome Room to go to the tiny 'storage rooms' where the tables were and set the tables. By doing it this way rather than doing it before they went down it minimized the likelihood of something falling over during the lowering and breaking.

That done, relieved it had gone off without a hitch (she'd been partially worried about some sort of alarm going off!) she turned and looked for Ambre, spotting the short, curvatious girl with dark blonde hair streaked with burnished red and full lips standing in the massive arched doorway, hands on hips. Serenity waved, and Ambre came over.

Serenity took a deep breath, one down, hopefully not that many more to go…

At last, at dusk, everything was ready, and the guests, nobles and wealthy merchants from all over the kingdom had begun to arrive. King Endmyion (that was his name, Serenity noted with satisfaction, the name of the one her father wanted to marry Beryl) was also supposed to attend, supposedly to discuss some political matters afterwards.

"The rumor," Safir, having returned just as he said he would, told her as they were eating in the kitchen, finally with nothing else to do. "The rumor now is that it has to do with the fact that Endymion's kingdom's crops failed miserably this year, while we've had such a great surplus."

"I heard that he's come to accept the marriage proposal King Bawind sent him months ago." A scullery maid said as she passed, a large pot in her arms.

"Why would he accept now?" Serenity asked. "Why after all this time?"

"Might have something to do with our surplus and his failed crops," The same scullery maid said. The chef came over and whacked on the head with his spoon, getting gravy in her hair.

"Y'no right t'talk to y'betters!" He growled. "Who tol'ye y'could talk t'the princess?"

The brown eyes of the maid widened considerably, and she glanced at Serenity, then ducked her head. Serenity opened her mouth to assure it was fine, when Safir's hand closed over hers.

"Don't say anything," he told her. "I know you mean well, but if you correct the chef he'll look like a fool and he'll be angry, and take it out on the girl."

Serenity hesitated, then consented to his knowledge of such things. He had far more experience with people than she.

"I'm still getting used to having been out of my tower…all day…" Her voice was slightly awed.

Safir looked at her for a moment. "You really don't leave it that often, do you?"

"He won't let me." Serenity said softly, looking down at her plate.

"Why ever not?"

"Because I have…" she swallowed. "I have no magic. I'm a danger, and a nuisance."

Safir snorted, a most ungentlemanly sound. Serenity looked up at him just as Richin sat down with his own plate.

"Nuisance my ass," Richin said promptly, not at all hesitant to use such language around a princess. "You've been a grand help, lass." He smiled at her, taking a large bite of bread. Serenity perked instantly, gifting him with a wide smile. Safir, too, smiled.

Upstairs, music could be heard starting up.

"The party's starting," Serenity said forlornly.

"You'd better go get ready yourself," Safir urged. Serenity gave him an incredulous look.

"I'm never allowed at Beryl's parties." She said. In her memory, she'd never been to any parties. It had never even been a verbal forbiddance, either, just…an assumption made on her part that she would not be wanted. It had started after that encounter with her father regarding her 'magic.'

Richin frowned. "You helped more than almost everyone to put that shindig together," he said firmly. "You deserve more than anyone up there to enjoy that party. Go get your ass in some fancy dress and go have fun."

Serenity blinked. She'd been told what to do before, almost all her life, and so out of reflex she stood to obey, but then she paused. She looked at him, and looked at Safir, who nodded.

"We won't," said a voice from behind, a small but strong-looking hand taking her elbow. "Take no for an answer." Serenity turned and saw that the voice belonged to Ambre, who was smiling with those full lips of hers, aqua eyes sparkling. She pulled Serenity away, and shooed her out of the kitchen towards her tower.

Automatically, she headed for her room, intending to do just what she'd been told. She stopped, in the middle of the deserted stretch of weed-filled land between the kitchens, in the back of the palace, and her tower, in the far back corner. Why was she doing this again? Because they told her too. But did she want to?


She grinned, hiked up her skirts, and took off running, knee-length spun golden hair in a long braid flying out behind her.

She flew into her room, and made a b-line for her wardrobe, an antique, but beautiful thing of cherry wood carved with roses. She flung open the doors by the single handle –the other had long ago fallen off- and wracked through her gowns. She realized for the first time that most of them were quite…plain. Very few had any embroidery or jewels or pearls or anything that would denote her as even noble, let alone royal.

She gnawed a lip. Was this such a good idea? Maybe she shouldn't go, after all…

But no, the notion and desire to go to that party that she had helped put together had taken root, and wouldn't go away. But she would not go in a plain dress.

But where would she get such a dress?

Suddenly, she thought of it.

Beryl's old dresses.

Beryl had once been as skinny as a stick, not the voluptuous, busty woman she was now at eighteen. Those might fit Serenity… Serenity knew Beryl never got rid of them. She knew because she had once found the chests of her old clothes in a storage room in another tower across from Serenity's, on the other side of the grounds. A servant had found her, and shooed her out, telling her that Beryl detested the idea of anyone touching something that was once hers. Even when she had no use for something, Beryl was possessive.

There was always the chance, of course, that Beryl would spot her and recognize her gown. Serenity would have to choose carefully, choose one pretty and grand enough so that she wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb, but once again nothing so unique that Beryl might remember it. Serenity would also have to be careful to stay in the shadows as much a she could. Could she do it? Of course she could. She'd spent her life being discreet when she needed to, around her father, Beryl, the more cruel nobles that had more than once tried to take advantage of a pretty young princess that was theoretically magicless and therefore defenseless.

Decided, Serenity dashed down the stairs, for once not tripping, and flew across the field. At the top of the other tower found Serenity out of breath and flushed, but grinning, her hair in complete disarray. She'd have to fix that…did she have time to do anything with her hair? Oh, she'd just leave it down and put on her pearl hairnet. For that matter, she should look for a dress with pearls to match the hairnet if she was going to wear it.

There were the chests, rows upon rows of them, everyone filled with gowns of the finest quality.

Serenity dove into them, and began her search in the scant moonlight that came in through the open door and the windows she had flung open. Dust caused her to sneeze constantly, her eyes red and watering. But she kept looking, realizing she had to be quick else she'd miss most of the party. She wondered, again, if she should give up, then she remembered that even if she missed the coronation and the party, there was the procession afterwards, in the morning (the party was to last all night) to show the people the new heir. She'd want a dress for that, but she hadn't given it much thought till then. No one ever looked at her before…

But now, for once, she wanted to be looked at. At least, just a little…

At last she found it. A beautiful, cascading thing of cream silk that wrapped around her from behind to cross over her chest and clasp at the back of her neck, the rest of the fabric falling free save for a golden band just under her breasts. It came with a cape of sorts, with three points, the center point attaching to the back of the dress at the back of her neck, the other two points with rings attached to slip on her middle fingers. More searching turned up golden slippers, and a hair net of pearls and moonstones, held on by a headpiece that looked like a combination between a circlet and a headband.

She heard, in the distance, the trumpets that announced the coronation was about to begin. Quickly, in the dark, she pulled off her silver grey gown and pulled on the cream and gold on, clasping it at the back of her neck, attaching the cape, slipping her feet into the slippers and finger-combing her hair before folding it all up into the net and securing the circlet at the top of her brow. She sniffed at herself- luckily, she didn't smell sweaty or anything due to the sun-shield lotion's sweet and citrus-y smell still lingering.

Golden pearls dangled from the golden band under her breasts, and from the circlet, making musical tinkling noises when she moved. There were more pearls, white and gold, set into the rings that the cape was attached too.

For the first time in her life, Serenity realized, she felt like she looked like she was royal.

Down the stairs she ran again, coming up short at the door that exited the tower. The fields were still damp from the summer two nights before. She could lift her dress and cloak and save them, but there was still her shoes and the knee-high weeds to watch for. She bit her lip…

An idea came to her then. This tower was identical to hers from what she'd seen. So that meant, hopefully…

Up the stairs again she went, thinking, 'At this rate, I won't have to worry about turning down dances to keep myself hidden- I'll be too tired to dance!'

To the top she went, to the floor that, in her tower, would have held her chambers. Bedroom, bathroom, privy, sitting room, sewing room, and a small library. She went to a window, the seal of which was quite wide, a good foot and a half. She touched four stones lining the window, then lastly touched the key stone of the arch of the window. Two panels moved- the wall beneath the window, and the section of floor beneath the window. They moved to reveal a set of spiraling stairs, stairs that quickly had one hurried blonde racing down its steps. Within a few flights, however, the scant light let in by the opening was gone, and Serenity was sent tumbling. Painful bounce after painful bounce she fell, until at last she managed to righten herself.

Panting and grumbling in the dark, she quickly assessed she had no broken limbs or sprains, although she was sure her body would be quite colorful in the morning. She whined as she pulled herself to her feet, and wondered how she would make her way. She was hopeless with directions, so there would be no navigating the secret passage in the dark. Not successfully, anyway. She was as likely to end up in the woods outside the palace grounds as she was to come up in the coat room off the foray of the Dome Room, which was her aim.

At last Serenity made a decision, gnawing on her bottom lip. There was no one here, she reasoned. It wouldn't hurt. Taking a shuddering breath, and wondering what had possessed her to do this after so long of being able to hold herself back from doing this, she held up her palm, and did something she hadn't dome since she was six years old.

She let that itch in her fingers out, let it grow to a delicious tingle, until that tingle became physical, and grew and grew until her flesh could no longer contain it. That tingle filtered out through her skin, and became the palest of milky silver light. It spiraled around above her palm, forming intricate loops and knots until finally it tightened into a solid ball of silver light.

The passage now illuminated, Serenity discovered she was at the bottom of the stairs. She checked her gown- no tears, and the only dirty spot was easily concealed if she stood so that a fold of fabric fell over it. One string of beads from the golden band around her torso was missing, but it was in the back and hidden by her hair. The golden mass, despite being in the hair net, still pulled said hair net down just past her shoulder blades.

She adjusted her circlet with her free hand, then raised the enlightened hand, and set off at a fast pace down the passage lined with smooth stones and old, rusty brackets. It was surprisingly dry, though the air was stale and musty.

Once, she passed a passage that she paused by, hesitant. She knew where it led. It was the only passageway that she'd been down only once, and never again. She'd discovered it when she was merely a child, no more then ten. It was a room that legends were made of…

The people of Namoris were, supposedly, descendants of the Lunarians, immortal beings, the subjects of the moon goddess Selene, banished to the Earth and subjected to mortality for some misdeed against their queen. But she had given them a token, a sword, as a way to tell them that she still cared for them. It had always been a sign of power for the queens of Namoris.

Beryl would have that sword, some day…

Serenity wasn't sure why, but for some reason the thought of this made her nauseous. She forced herself away from the passage, and continued onward.

When she began to hear music, little more than a slight vibration with a rhythm, really, she picked up the pace. Completely out of breath and heart pounding with excitement, she found the passage of stairs that lead upwards, and she raced up them, and encountered a trap door above her. There was a handle, and a keyhole. She hesitated, then, remembering the lever, she grasped the handle and twisted, and pushed upwards.

The trap door easily popped upwards, and, grinning with glee as light poured in, she doused her silver light sphere by making a fist and effectively snuffing it as one would a candle flame. Carefully she raised it up-

And quickly ducked down, lowering the door but carefully not to let it make any noise.

There, pressed up against the wall of coats and cloaks was Beryl, deep black velvet dress hiked up around her hips, one leg tangled with the legs of the man that held her up against the wall, ravaging the breasts that had popped free of the tight bodice.

"You're no princess," he murmured into her cleavage. "You're a queen."

Beryl gave a moan that was partially a throaty laugh.

Serenity watched, morbidly entranced. Of course she'd read of romance in books and such, but to see one of the many scene she'd read played out… A deep blush colored her cheeks, but still she watched. She had to wait till they left so she could join the party. She couldn't even close the trap door for fear they would hear it.

Noise outside abruptly was raised, and Beryl and the man shared one last passionate, lusty kiss and a few more rounds of groping hands before pulling apart and rightening their clothing.

"That sister of yours puts together a nice party," he told her conversationally, as if they had just finished having tea instead of nearly doing the dirty.

Beryl sneered. "It's all she's good for," she said with a flip of her deep red curls over her shoulder. Amethysts and rubies tangled in her locks caught the light and sparkled. At the same time Serenity's heart contracted with the cruel words, she admitted her sister was thoroughly beautiful, clad in a black velvet gown that hugged every curve, armbands of carved hematite on her upper arms, wrists, and a circlet of the same material studded with more rubies and amethysts. Serenity's hand went to the dirty spot on her dress…

"Is she truly without magic?" He asked as he used a bit of black magic, strung between his fingers like goo, and combed his hair.

Beryl sniffed as she conjured a mirror to check her appearance. "For all appearances. And if she isn't, daddy would take care of it."

"Take care of it?" He asked with a raised eyebrow, coming at her again. The mirror dissolved, and she melted into him once more, both of them seemingly forgetting that they'd only moments ago been trying to erase the evidence of the first time they had gone at it.

"Take care of her. Take her out. Do away with her, the nuisance." She trailed a fingertip down his face. "You know." She gave him a suggestive look, then drew her finger across her throat. With a haughty laugh she pulled his face down to hers, and they landed in a heap on the floor.

This time Serenity knew they wouldn't hear the trap door close, and she let it fall as more throaty moans and gasps were heard from above.

She was trembling badly, eyes wide as her heart beat irregularly. She leaned against the wall and slid down it, blinking in the dark.

Would…would he really? Would he really kill her, her own father, if he ever found out she did have magic? Or only if he found out she was more powerful than Beryl? Was she more powerful than Beryl? It didn't matter, Serenity didn't really care. Besides, her power wasn't real magic… Serenity raised her hand, and this time a black ball, not silver, formed. She'd learned to color her magic at will a long time ago. She'd never bothered to tell her father, because her magic wasn't truly black- just colored black, so she didn't think he would see any difference.

She swallowed. She was glad she had never shown him- else she may be dead.

Completely forgetting the party, Serenity crawled away from the stairs as far as she dare before calling on her silver sphere once more. Just as well, she thought. She tired easily- she needed sleep before the procession in the morning. No one else would get any. The party would go on 'til dawn, then the nobles would form the procession, circling the city before returning at noon when everyone would disperse and go home and sleep.

When at last Serenity crawled into bed, seemingly an eternity later, still numb from shock, she found herself still shivering not from cold, but from pure fear. She curled up in a small ball, wrapped in tattered satin and silk sheets that had once been quite fine, and forced herself to sleep.

It seemed her eyes had only been closed a few minutes before she was being pulled to the waking world by a rapid knock on her door, quite insistent.

Grumbling, having yet to remember the events of the previous night, she stood, stumbled to the door, and pulled it open.

Safir stood there, an amused smile on his face.

"Time for the procession," he told her, then spotted her attire, and raised an eyebrow. "Did you go to the coronation after all? I didn't see you."

Serenity looked down and with a small gasp realized she was still wearing Beryl's gown. Swallowing tightly, she answered, "I was going to, but I…I got a headache… The sun, you know…never been outside so long in one go before…" Even to her, her excuse sounded feeble. But Safir only smiled kindly and handed her a flask and a bread roll stuffed with nuts and dried bits of fruit.

"Eat, bathe, and get dressed. The procession leaves in an hour," he told her, and left.

Serenity shut the door, already mechanically eating the roll and downing the flask in record time.

She ran herself a bath –the palace was the only place with running water that she knew of- and soaked for quite a while before remembering she only had an hour. After which, she flew like a whirlwind, screeching to herself about being late. In her haste to grab clothing, she didn't realize she'd grabbed the gown that she'd been wearing the night before. The nature of the gown hid the creases that sleep had put in it, and her hair she let hang loose save for a simple thin circlet cross her brow stamped with crescent moons, the symbol of her royal family, taken from the age-old patron goddess of the females of Serenity's royal line, Selene the moon goddess.

Grabbing a light cloak to keep the sun off her already near-burnt skin, not bothering to attach the cape, she shoved on her slippers as she ran to the door, flung it open, and dashed away.

Arriving in the courtyard, Safir accosted her, commenting on her lateness.

"Well, sorry!" She whined at him. "I needed a nice soak! I was tired!"

Safir just raised an eyebrow, as he always did. "Did you stay up till dawn?"

Serenity opened her mouth indignantly, then paused, and then shut it with a pout. He laughed, and guided her to a white mare just behind and between two others, the saddles and bridals of which were far more extravagant. He picked her up and sat her atop the horse.

"Stay," he told her. "You'll hopefully keep out of trouble that way."

"Hey, I managed to put together that whole event last night!" She retorted as he walked away. "What do you mean, keep out of trouble?"

"I figure you used up all your responsibility for this year last night," he told her with a grin. Serenity sputtered, eyes blazing as she pursed indignant lips.

It was soon that the procession was underway, amidst trumpets and drums and the cheering of the crowd outside when at last the gate was open, and out rode a tiny blonde girl on her fine white mare waving enthusiastically to the crowd, riding just behind and between her father, the King, and her sister, the Crown Princess Beryl.

Looking back, Serenity would never be able to remember when exactly things had gotten out of control- it had happened so fast.

Then there had been fire. So much fire… It had exploded from a building, a tavern, just beside them. Someone, she would think much later, must have done it deliberately.

People were running, screaming. Everything was rattled loose. She looked around, through the smoke and the debris and running people, and saw her father and sister were nowhere to be seen. A guard came and helped her up- she had been flung from her horse, and she hadn't even realized it.

"All you all right, my lady?"

"Yes, I'm fine…" She said, thoroughly shaken. He tried to pull at her, to get her somewhere safe, no doubt. But the fire… It roared before her, towering, raging, consuming… People might be inside! She couldn't leave it! Without a second thought, she reached out with her power, that silver stuff that her father scorned, that silver mist that her father told her was the reason she was not the heir.

She reached out with that power like a moist, suffocating mist, raising it high over everything, condensing it to just above the burning building, and with a single, almost casual thought, she brought it crashing down.

At once the fire was…gone. Just simply gone.

The smoke and dust cleared, and everyone became still and silent as ice. But it was nothing compared to the ice of fear that jabbed at her heart when she looked at her father. He was a tall man, of a proud build with a dark red, wavy beard.

Then she saw her, her sister, her beautiful, breathtaking sister, tall and full of the curves of a goddess of sensuality, with a head of wavy, curl fire red hair cascading down and around her indigo satin clad form. She glared daggers at her younger sibling, across from where she stood. She was covered in soot, and the crackle of deep black magic still surrounded her hands.

Suddenly, the small blonde woman, looking at her fire-haired sister, realized what had happened.

Her sister, supposedly the heir because she was the more powerful of the two, had been trying to douse the fire, put it out. And had been failing.

And she, the princess rumored to be magicless because of her reluctance to use her power in public, afraid of her father's wrath, she…

She had put out the fire with hardly a thought.

She, Serenity, had publicly shown that at least in this, she was by far more powerful than her sister, the heiress to the kingdom of Namoris. The new Crown Princess….

What had she done?

All at once, Beryl's words from the night before rang in her mind, and she froze at the same time everything else seemed to start moving again at once, the guards reforming, gathering the royal family within the circle of their protection. They were hustled back to the palace, surrounding by screaming peasants. Serenity carefully kept a few guards between her and her sister and father, who were talking quietly, furiously.

Serenity was terrified. What had she done? Stupid, stupid, stupid! A moment of her ever-present compassion had undone all the work she had gone to all these years, starting the day she had been told, as a child, that the color of true magic was black, and that she was a freak, an abnormality.

They reached the gates of the palace, great black things of wrought iron and steel, supported between two great obsidian towers with walls of onyx and granite stretching from either tower to wrap all the way around the palace and its extensive grounds. Just over the wall one could see the very top of a drab gray tower in the far back corner of the grounds- her tower.

Once inside the gates, Serenity began to panic. What would happen to her, once they reached the Dome Room? Were they even going to the Dome Room? Or were they going to march her straight to the dungeons? Should she slip away?

Before she could decide, a man came thundering out of the Palace, heading straight for King Bawind, a furious look on his painfully handsome face. Serenity froze at the sight of him, never noticing the four imposing men flanking him. He was a god…an Adonis among men, with hair blacker then a raven's wing, skin a light, perfect golden tan that rippled over exquisitely molded muscles. He was flawless…

And he was angry.

Serenity knew this was her chance to escape, as all the attention was on the confrontation that was about to ensue. But she couldn't take her eyes away…

A hand on her elbow. She jumped, turned, saw Safir.

"Come with me," he said, and pulled her away as the handsome man confronted her father, positively furious. For the first time she noticed the golden circlet around his brow- King Endymion?

She would never find out- already he was out of sight as Safir pulled her into the shadows between a building and the wall.

"I saw what happened," he said, taking Serenity by the shoulders. Serenity snapped back to reality, and was suddenly terrified once more. She clung to Safir, her only friend.

"What am I going to do?" She squeaked. "I know my magic isn't real magic, but-"

"Renity, what are you talking about?" Safir asked. Serenity looked at him.

"Father…" she swallowed. "Father told me when I was young that the color of true magic was black… That…that my silver stuff…wasn't really magic… He told me never to use it…or…or he'd h-hurt me…"

Safir swore colorfully, and Serenity's eyes widened.

"Serenity, listen to me," he made her look at him. "You have to get away. If he told you that, and now…not only did you use it, but you're more powerful than… Ah, gods, this is bad…"

"B-but, where will I go?" She breathed, heart pattering with irregular thumps and twitters. Safir paused.

"You'll come with me for now. Esmeraude," he named his wife. "And I will hide you. We'll think of something."

He said this just as a great roar went up, and both peeked their heads out to find that Endymion and the four men with him and been brought their horses, quickly and sloppily saddled.

"Get out of my kingdom, and never show your face here again!" Bawind shouted. "This is war, I tell you, war! You have made an enemy of Namoris for as long as you live! Scorn my daughter's hand? Accuse me of bewitching your crops and mine? How dare you! Leave! At once! I will have your kingdom and your servitude for this insult! Be gone!"

"Gladly," was the simple reply of the foreign King, before he and his guards left at a full gallop.

"It seems," Safir said softly. "That you have been forgotten."

"Maybe they'll keep forgetting?" Serenity responded in a high, still highly jittery voice. Safir raised his trademark eyebrow at her before their attention was drawn once more to the shouting Namorisian King.

"Go back to your tower," Safir told her. "Stay there til I come for you." He looked at her intently. "Find something to defend yourself with, if necessary."

"Wh-why are you helping me?" Serenity asked breathlessly.

Safir looked at her for a moment, not answering. Then, "Because I wish it were you that is to be our queen."

Serenity's eyes widened. Safir had not only just pledged loyalty to her, but had made himself a traitor to the Crown! A crime punishable by the worst death…

"I'm no queen!" Serenity said forcefully, shaking her head. "Please! Don't ever say that again! Please!"

She darted away, then, taking the long route to her tower, keeping to the shadows. All the secret passages were too close to places where there were too many people to risk it.

She rushed to her tower, but for once it did not look like the pillar of refuge and safety, where every inch of stone and mortar was familiar and comforting to her. It looked like a death trap. She would be cornered, up there. If they came for her, before Safir came to her (with whatever he had in mind) she was dead.

But nevertheless, his instructions stuck with her, and again she obeyed automatically. Up the stairs she flew, and into her room, slamming the door shut and locking it. She leaned against it, breathing heavily. She sank down to the floor, wrapping her knees in her arms and burying her face amidst both, taking long, deep breaths.

'Find something to defend yourself with, if necessary…'

Safir's words echoed in her mind, and just as she looked around for something, she was startled into letting loose a sharp shriek when there was a sudden knock on the door above her head. She ducked down, half expecting the knock to be a warning that an arrow was about to come hurtling through the wood.

But nothing happened, save for her hearing a muffled voice asking a question from just outside the door. Thoroughly unable to hear or decipher any words, muffled or no, in her panic, Serenity grabbed a statue out of a nook in her wall, and held it high, ducking behind a pillar by the door just as the door pushed open somewhat, and in stepped-

Serenity slammed the statue down on the head of the person entering with a loud, nauseating crack. The statue shattered, and the person went down, blood leaking from a gash that peeked out between strands of long brown hair.

Serenity stood, looking on in horror at the maid that always brought her lunch. She glanced out the window at the noon sun, high overhead, and her lip trembled with held-back tears.

How had this day gone so wrong? Sixteen years she had avoided trouble with a father that ignored her and was annoyed with her when he did acknowledge her, and a sister who loathed her. Was she making up for all that in one day? This day?

The maid didn't stir, and Serenity feared the worst. She bent beside her, and with a trembling hand reached out to the girl's throat.


She snatched her hand back, and tears trickled down a wide-eyed face.

"Serenity, I think I have an idea. The king is making an announc- Renity?" Serenity didn't hear as Safir entered, and knelt beside her. But she felt the hand on her shoulder, and she jumped away with a shriek. "Calm yourself!" He urged, reaching out, as she had, to feel for the girl's pulse.

"She's alive, don't worry," Safir assured the blonde princess beside him. Serenity was shaking, and all she did was nod, eyes still wide and filled with tears. Safir abruptly looked at the plate of food that had fallen off the tray and scattered. It was mostly fish and rice, all sprinkled with herbs and seasoning, particularly rather large bits of something purple. He picked up a small piece of a leaf that was a lovely shade of lavender.

"Serenity, do you know what this is?" He asked, sniffing it. Serenity looked at him numbly. "Renity, answer me, what spices do you usually have on your fish?"

"Anything," she mumbled. "The cooks know I like trying new things…"

Safir looked at the purple leaf on his finger, then the others scattered throughout the food… He looked back to the blonde.

"Listen to me, Serenity, they've tried to poison you. Beryl or Bawind must have ordered it. You have to leave!"

"L-leave?" Serenity choked, eyes going even wider.

"Do you have any friends, people who will hide you?" He asked her. She shook her head slowly.

"I've hardly ever left my tower, let alone the grounds…" she said softly. Her eyes hardened. "And even if they did, I wouldn't endanger them! This is my problem! My stupidity…"

"You slipped up, Renity, in a moment of wanting to help," he told her. "No one can fault you for that."

"Can they?" she countered. Safir never got to answer- trumpets sounded, loud and clear, amplified by magic so that the entire city could hear and come to listen to the king. For that was the signal this particular trumpet tune delivered, that the king was about to make an announcement.

"Come on, this may be important," Safir hefted Serenity up, and she followed him out onto her balcony. A decent distance away they could barely see the King and Beryl standing on the walkway that arched over the gate. A crowed had gathered, they guessed from the noise.

And then the King spoke, his voice, too, amplified by magic. Serenity saw Ambre's golden head beside him.

"Hear me!" He cried. "I today decree war on the realm of Elysion and it's King, Endymion, and declare him and his heirs forever blood enemies of me and mine! For the murder of my beloved daughter, the Princess Serenity, Endymion will pay with his life and his kingdom! To not only scorn the hand of my heir, Beryl, in marriage, but to take from me my other gem? I will not stand for it!

"From this day forth every able bodied man and boy between the ages of fifteen and fifty is to enlist in the Royal Army, Navy, or Cavalry. Failure to comply will result in death and imprisonment of immediate family of the violator! I am King, and my will be done!"

It was an official decree, a royal one.

Serenity's breathing was harsh as she sat down quite suddenly.


Her kingdom, her land, her home, was going to war.

And he was using her as an excuse. Her…death…. Her murder. And who would question him? If she had thought things were bad a few moments ago, they had just gotten much, much worse…

Suddenly, Safir looked down at her and asked, "You say you know no one that will take you in?"

She shook her head, still numb with shock.

"Then," he asked slowly. "How are you with a sword?"

The next morning found Serenity standing in the foray of Safir's townhouse, Safir himself standing before her.

"I can't believe I'm doing this," Serenity muttered under her breath, touching a hank of hair that now barely went past her ear, wincing as she did so, as if the physical sensation of feeling her shorn hair was painful.

"Just remember," Safir said, handing her a small sword on a belt, not having heard her mumbled statement. "If you're discovered and need shelter, don't hesitate to come to me or Demando."

"Your brother?" Serenity asked. "The Court Armsmaster? I didn't know he was in on this." She struggled with the belt buckle, and the Steward bent to help her.

"Who do you think provided your sword and dagger and papers?" He asked her with a small smile, standing upright once more as Serenity adjusted the belt. She looked at him with wide, surprised eyes.

"Papers?" She echoed. Amused, Safir handed her some papers wrapped in a piece of folded leather.

"You weren't expecting to keep the name Serenity while in the royal army, now did you?" He asked with a raised eyebrow. He did that a lot, Serenity noted for the first time.

"Er…" Actually, she hadn't though about names. "What do I do?" She squeaked. Panic overcame her. "This is never going to work! Me, Hiding right under my father's own nose? As a soldier? A boy?"

"Casamir Nathai, to be exact," Safir said with an amused smile as he handed her the papers. "From Matihi Town, up north. Your mother died in childbirth, your father is a simple farmer. The town is too small to employ a mage, so that is why there is no record of you ever being tested for magical abilities. Therefore you will be tested at your sign-up. I don't think I need to tell you to hide your powers, at least somewhat." He frowned. "Or maybe even all of it. Just how powerful are you?"

Serenity shifted, uncomfortable both with the question and the loose-fitting breeches and shirt and tunic. The breastband that kept her already small breasts flat was itchy and tight.

"I have no idea," she said honestly. She looked away, blinking back tears. "Powerful enough to wish I really were magicless…"

Safir took her by the shoulders. "Never say that, Renity, never. Magic is a beautiful gift, and you already have so many beautiful gifts…who are you to deny yourself another? You are a beautiful person….completely and thoroughly. Treasure every one of your gifts, do you hear? Including this silver power of yours."

Slightly stunned, she nodded numbly, before launching herself into his arms and hugging him fiercely. He returned the hug, before teasingly telling her, "You'll have to hold down the hugs and smiles, you know. You have to be a man."

"Oh, right, right…" She drew back sharply, wiping away her tears. He wiped away the last one that fell, still smiling fondly at her.

"They've opened the smaller northern gates," A tall, pleasantly shaped woman with deep emerald green hair and an angular, but beautiful, face entered the room. Her gown of dark green rustled as she approached. She smiled at Serenity with a mixture of amusement and confusion. "You'd better go- men and boys are already lining up. They must have set up the sign-up tables right inside the gate."

"Right, then," Safir nodded to Serenity. "Get going, Reni-" He paused, then said, "Casamir. Luck to you. May Selene smile on you."

Serenity nodded, and took a step back. Lowering her voice an octave, she said, "Thank you for your help." Safir's approval was evident in his satisfied smile, and Serenity returned the grin, careful to keep it casual before at last turning, with a nod to Esmeraude, and left, closing the door of the cream colored town house behind her.

She crossed the small garden, the exited the gate that lead into the streets of the capital. The only people out, per usual, were those that had to be. This was, she realized suddenly and with a jolt of fright, her first time out on her own. Always before she had been on a procession, or with Safir. Never on her own.

Suddenly her terror and panic returned all at once, and she was instantly imagining all sorts of horrors awaiting small young women in the shadows….

But no, she reminded herself, lightly touching her masculine clothing. She was a boy, a near man. No one would attack her.

Letting her hand flutter over the rounded pommel of the hilt of her sword, she took a bold step forward-

And stumbled directly into a gutter.

Scowling, she hid the urge to cry. This was hopeless! But what other choice did she have? Her own father and sister wanted her dead…

She paused.

Her father had announced that she had been murdered. That meant that everyone thought her dead. The maid was probably still unconscious. Safir had said she had a concussion, and would be out, perhaps, for several days. So no one had found out from her that she hadn't succeeded. And that purple seasoning, the poison, Safir had told her would not only have killed her, but completely incinerated her body within a few minutes of her death. So even if anyone came in, they would think that Serenity had managed to knock out her maid before dying, then turned to dust, and her open window blew away the ashes.

She was…dead…

For all intents and purposes, Second Princess Serenity was…dead.

And she, Casamir Nathai, a girl in disguise as a boy to join the royal army to go to war with a kingdom she had no quarrel with, she…she was what?

She swallowed. She was a former princess without anything to call her own. Not even a name. Casamir…it was a boy's name, true, but a nice name. She could get used to it, she supposed. She had to. That was what she was going to be called…for who knew how long?

Safir's plan was for her to use the army to get out of the Kingdom. Take a ship to Sandoras, across the sea, perhaps. Basic training consisted of mage-lessons for those with some magic, so she could perhaps learn a few skills and make her way in the world as a hired mage.

That was the plan…

Serenity clung to it, and she set off again, this time wary of malicious gutters and other such road hazards. On her way, she once or twice suddenly stopped, somewhat lost, and had to try several different streets before she found herself heading once more to the palace. Often it was easy- just follow any other boys with swords and shields and packs. Other times, she was the only one around, and had to find her way on her own.

'Might as well get used to it,' she told herself harshly when a self-pity monster had sprung its ugly face. 'You'll probably be on her own for a long, long time.'

At last she made it to the gate, and found a long line of men, young and old, standing in the light of the rising sun. She swallowed, took a deep breath, and took up her place behind an old man that smelled of fish just as a group of youths, most likely brothers, got in line behind her.

She listened to them boast to one another, talking and sneering at their enemy that they planned on crushing. After all, Endymion had had a bad crop that year, his army was sure to be weak. They talked of the murdered princess, of Endymion's cowardliness, to harm something weaker than itself, to kill a woman. Because oh, yes, women were weak.

Serenity's hand tightened on her hilt. She remembered the three-hour crash course Safir had given her the night before with a sword, commenting that she seemed to have an aptitude for it, which was good- she would need ever advantage she could get.

But weak? Was she weak? As the line slowly crawled closer to the gate, she knew she would soon find out.

It was near lunch before she was only a few more men away from her turn at the table that had been set up, indeed, right inside the gate. Guards were there, preventing anyone from entering before they had signed-up and had a proper badge. Behind her, the line was constantly growing. The end was nearly out of her sight. When at last it was her turn, she stepped up to an old, bored and grumpy looking man with a younger, nervous youth beside him, most likely his apprentice. There was, for some reason, a lit candle on the table.

"Name?" The name wheezed.

"S- Casamir." She stuttered. "Nathair. Casamir Nathair."

He jotted it down, then, without looking up, asked, "Age."

"F-fifteen." Safir had thought it best they go with fifteen, a year younger than her true age. It would be more believable, for she was small, even for a girl.

"Place of birth?"

What was it Safir had said? She almost couldn't remember, in her white-hot panic bubbling beneath the surface of her control. "Matihi Town, up north."

"I know where it is." The man snapped, still not looking up as he continued to jot down her answers. And indeed, he jotted. Not wrote, but truly jot.


"P-pardon?" Safir hadn't prepared her for this question!

"What are you good at?" The man sighed with annoyance. "Archery, swordsmanship, blacksmith," he at last looked up and gave her tiny form a malicious sneer. "Or perhaps cannon fodder? Yes, that last seems most appropriate. Well? What be it?"

"M-magic. Magery." She spurted out the first thing that came to mind. The man raised an eyebrow.

"You think you've an aptitude to be a War Mage?" He asked her. She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin, and the man lifted an amethyst wand from the desk, and told her to put her hand on the table.

Serenity laid her right palm flat on the tabletop, and the man waved the wand over it. Realizing he was sensing if she possessed any magic, she dove inside herself where that silver well of power lay. In her mind, she suppressed it, hid it away, so that all but the tiniest bit would be invisible to him.

The man sneered as he pulled away. Again, he jot something down, asked her more questions, had a man standing nearby check her ears, nose, mouth, eyes, pulse (before and after running in place), and her overall health. He asked to see her papers, and Serenity remembered the papers Safir had handed her, and she turned them over to the man. He looked through them, jotting things down, and then returned them to her.

At last the man copied everything down quickly to another sheet of paper, stamped it, and then handed it to Serenity. His apprentice beside him reached into a basket in his lap and retrieved a badge with a deep round impression in it.

Serenity found out why, then, there was a candle. The man picked up a stick of blue wax and stuck it in the candle flame til it was dripping, then smeared a glob of melted wax into the depression in the badge, then at once stamped a symbol into the cooling wax.

It was, Serenity supposed as he handed it to her, cheaper than having hundreds of individual badges made. She was shoved aside as the man called for the next person, and she stumbled, bewildered as she looked at the paper and badge in her hands.

She was in the Royal Army, an army that was going to war because she had made a mistake. It was her fault…

It fully her hit her then, and she ducked into some shadows, overwhelmed by both the fact she had made it in the army, and that she was the one responsible for that army being called together.

Her fault…

She didn't want to fight… She didn't want to! Would she have to kill! Oh, she wished she'd thought this through further! Surely she and Safir could have come up with something else! But no, once again, she had done just what she was told…

'Never again,' she swore to herself fiercely. 'Never again will I do something just because someone told me to… Never! This I vow as a Princess of Namoris!'

She looked around her at the men and boys rushing about, those that had already signed in and found their assigned bunks in their barracks already having been put to work. She saw a boy, running, whom could not possible be more than fourteen, a sword strapped to his side. He would die, Serenity knew. He would never see his fifteenth year…

Because of her…

'You started it, you can end it,' a voice told her sharply, not allowing her any self pity. She paused. Could she? Could she possibly end this war that she had started?

She could try.

And she would try- if it killed her. This she vowed…

To Be Continued…

Safir has always been one of my favorite characters. One of my many imaginings is him actually helping Serenity, rather than turning a blind eye to it all for love of his brother. So I fulfilled that imagining in this chapter.

This is my first Sailor Moon alternate universe fic, and I have worked reeeeeeeally hard on the plot and I reeeeeeally want it to do reeeeeeeeally well. So, please, I would really encourage you to review not to say whether you like it or not (though that would be equally appreciated) but also to ask for requests, suggestions, etc.

Almost all the characters that are present in my story for more than will be an actual character from Sailor Moon. Obscure characters such as Shingo, Naru, and even some minor villains will be making appearances, so chances are you'll see your fav character no matter what.

There won't be all that much romance, but if you wish to go ahead and make a pairing request, go ahead, I'm pretty versatile and I'll be able to squeeze in some romance- I'm a romance addict. ~.^

Until next time.

-Amber Penglass