Chapter the First: The Way Things Are
The violet-streaked skies rolled out onto the horizon endlessly, never fading, never ending, like the realm of Fascinaturu. The evening air was crisp tonight - even though one could not easily tell if the time was evening or daytime, for the dark atmosphere of the region was always constant and ever-changing.
A young lady with glossy curls slowly walked along the veranda that led to her room, but a small sparkle in the sky caught her, catching her eye. She stopped and leaned over on the balcony, and looked up.
It was when a masculine voice came behind her when she broke out of her reverie.
"The evening stars dare to appear, don't they?" smirked Zozma, also looking up at the twilight sky.
White Rose sighed with a smile.
"Yes, and how pretty they are. Especially that one over there - look how it outshines the rest of the stars. Why, I've never seen such sparkling as that one before!"
"Truly, that is a star like no other. How similar are the uniqueness of stars to significances of life. One in a million."
"The one and only."
The last word said by White Rose, was edged with a mournful undertone as it pricked Zozma's scrupulous ears. He turned to the rose-crowned princess.
"You're thinking about Asellus, aren't you?"
White Rose made no answer but continued to stare at the sky.
Zozma tried again.
"You miss the 'old' Asellus, back when she used to adore you and look up to yo-..."
"Oh, Zozma, you won't understand. Plus, why would you even care to think about Asellus at all?" With a dubious look, White Rose teleported away.
The red-haired mystic, left alone with the twilight surroundings, turned back to the sky, and spotted the "unique" evening star. It danced with emerald green and crimson lights.
"I miss her too..."
Two dark, sapphire-blue eyes stared back at the owner of the reflection on a mirror in the throne room of the ruler of Fascinaturu. Asellus grimaced at herself and turned swiftly away from the mirror. For once in a long, long, time, she had nothing that amused her. The new girls that were brought into the region were all so commonplace - there was no one with a beauty that just stuck out with any significance - no interesting person to look at, to keep. Why was it tha-
Suddenly, a gentle manly voice came into her attention.
It was Rastaban, her most faithful servant.
"Yes, Rastaban?" said Asellus, not trying to sound bored.
The latter let out a velvety smile.
"I know that you've been feeling indifferent nowadays, but we have someone that may be of some interest to you. She's quite spirited..."
"Hmmm. Bring her in."
Two other mystics appeared before Asellus with a young girl, who was struggling to be freed from the mystics' handcuff-like clutches.
"What is your name?" inquired Asellus, in an elegant voice.
The girl slowly looked up. She had a innocent face, eyes filled with fear, but also with contempt. Zozma, who happened to be hiding behind one of the royal columns of the castle, got a glimpse and gave a silent exclamation. Somehow, she looked awfully familiar...
"My name is none of your business! Who are you? Why am I brought here!"
Her voice rang out through the whole room.
Dead silence then followed.
Zozma allowed himself to feel a pang of pity of the human girl. Wrong move.
Rastaban was the first to break the silence.
"How dare you speak to her like that," he hissed vehemently.
More cohorts realized what had happened, and spoke up too.
"Shameless little hussy!"
Asellus watched as all her cohorts started to defend her, the Charm Lord, verbally. This girl...this human girl...
The Charm Lord had spoken. Another silence fell through the whole room once more. The human girl looked aghast and trembled violently with fear.
Asellus tried once more to make peace.
"You," she started, with a magnetizing smile that made even a cold soul like the human girl bewitched, "I feel that you are ... one in a million. A unique little girl."
Zozma thought so too. He also noticed that the human girl looked the same age as Asellus.
The Charm Lord continued. "There are so many beautiful, prominent beings out there...countless of them. Each and every one of them would have the power to soften even a serpent's heart. But I believe that you - ..." she leaned slightly forward and gave out her famous enticing gaze, "you, may have the power to win a devil's heart."
"You're brought here today, to me, your Goddess of Beauty. I will make your beauty last forever, and as uniquely as ever, for all eternity. An immortal life."
It was a speech that made everybody's heart swarm with jealousy against the latter. Why would this human girl deserve such divinity from the most powerful being of the whole universe?
The girl finally spoke, in low tones.
"Beauty is not worth a thing. What matters the most is the heart. A cruel person like you who kidnaps innocent people like me is not beautiful at all."
For once in a long time, Asellus felt a little flustered. She sure that this girl would accept the invitation of immortal life, but here was a bold, defiant girl, who refused this glamour. Truly, she WAS spirited.
But one meaning stuck out to both her and Zozma, who had been secretly listening to the whole dialogue all along. This girl, this human girl, was so much like...
'How she used to be.'
Asellus calmed down to an unearthly, deadly look. Zozma felt cold with anxiety, as did the cohorts and the human girl. Only Rastaban looked indifferent, except maybe a little faint smile on his face, Zozma noticed.
"You are right. Beauty is not worth a thing at all...therefore, so are you, you little thing. You insignificant little thing.
"Someone as beautiful as you should not have ever been breathing on the face of this universe. You are right, so right. For contributing your wise knowledge, I shall spare you from the rest of the troubles life may bring you in gratitude." Asellus smiled. "Rastaban," she began, "take her away, and please finish up my job."
The faint smile deepened into a dark one. "Yes, my Lord." He put a hand on one side of the girl's shoulder and both faded to black. A few other cohorts also transported.
"The rest of you are also dismissed," said Asellus, as she retreated with a yawn.
Zozma felt wise to leave too, as he knew that Rastaban would soon look for him. His job, Zozma's, was to execute any varmints. The red-haired mystic retreated to the Fascinaturu Floor.
"Well, here she is. What are you waiting for?" asked Rastaban.
Zozma glanced at the now unconscious girl, sprawled out onto the ground. He cleared his throat before replying nonchalantly, "Well, she's HALF-dead. I think this is good enough."
But Rastaban refused to be side-tracked. "The lord said she must be completely killed. We must do as she says." He sounded firm.
Zozma turned to Rastaban and looked at him, with a shiver up his spine. He had a countenance with eyes like no other. There was no life in those cerulean blue eyes. Well, Rastaban had always been a bit creepy, even from years back, but still...
"Rastaban," he began.
The latter turned around. Zozma, with those dead, lifeless eyes that were now fixed like glue on him, started to falter. He quickly broke away from Rastaban's gaze and turned to the girl once more.
She looked about 16 years old...a very young age, it seemed to Zozma, as he would be over a thousand years old in human years. So young, so innocent, and oh, so crimeless!
For once in his life, Zozma felt a pang of guilt. Could he really kill this unconscious being who had done nothing wrong to him - or to the any of the other mystics? Who was he to end someone's life just because somebody else wanted her dead?
He finally muttered, "You kill her. I - can't kill...a child..." With that, Zozma fled.
"Your choice, Zozma." replied Rastaban, with no one else around save himself, the young girl, and some few little creatures. He turned to the girl.
Zozma walked restlessly along the small village roads of Rootville, his mind just as racing as his feet were. He looked around and examined every inhabitant of the village.
Everybody had the same sullen expression. They walked the same way, they talked in the same tone, and they even blinked at the same time.
So constant. Forever unchanging. Just like the region of Fascinaturu - or at least that it used to be. After Asellus came into power, things have changed - for the worse.
"Don't tell me change is always a bad thing..."
Zozma turned around. It was White Rose, standing behind him.
"And I thought I was a stalker..." he smirked.
White Rose shrugged off the sarcastic remark with a smile. "I believe that we're thinking the same thing, Zozma."
The latter turned his back toward the princess. "So?"
"Well, maybe we have the power to do something incredible...better yet, significant..."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Oh, you should know the answer. You are 'the answer', after all. In fact, almost everybody in Rootville and the whole region of Fascinaturu knows you by that."
"By the fact that I've been exiled by Orlouge from Heaven remembers when?"
White Rose rolled her eyes. "Well, that too. But have you ever heard of fighting for what you believe in?"
Zozma looked at White Rose again. She looked back at him with mocking, yet serious eyes.
"Go on," he said, absently.
"Well, I didn't mean that we should rebel against Asellus and her cohorts...that would be too risky. But have you ever noticed how different Asellus looked after she became a mystic?"
'Almost as if a ghost went inside of her...' Zozma's thoughts started to race again. He silently nodded.
White Rose, as she got her word through, started to blush at what she was about to suppose. But it wouldn't be impossible, would it? She faintly remembered an old proverb from her human days...
"Maybe we can change her of her ways...?"
Zozma's breath stopped. He could not believe such a foolish, naive...
"Count a hundred, Zozma. Count. I mean, after all, what have we got to lose?"
He struggled to avoid raising his voice in exasperation. Instead, he laughed as he spoke, "Our lives?"
To Zozma's surprise, White Rose lunged toward him and grabbed him by his collar. She looked up with pleading eyes. "Please, Zozma! Just follow my way for once, please!
Two fiery, vermillion eyes met with a pair of gentle, yet desperate, steel blue eyes.
"What is your idea, White Rose?" the rebel mystic finally sighed.
"...It almost feel like as if a ghost went into Asellus...even after all these years, I still cannot - won't - believe that Asellus is truly an evil queen. I-..." White Rose started to trail off, overcome by mournful emotions.
Zozma quietly understood. White Rose and Asellus were close friends - they were very sisterly to each other. With Asellus being a loved one in White Rose's eyes, well, it was only natural. Hadn't love the truer vision?
The rose princess started again. "I think maybe we can speak to Rei about this...she's been studying magic for so long as well as other supernatural subjects. If there really is a ghost in Asellus, maybe..."
"Rei might know how to exorcise?" This was an extraordinary idea, but it slowly registered into Zozma's mind.
"Yes. Oh, I know this sounds so stupid and perhaps risky, but can't we try?"
The rebel mystic, as oblivious of soft, affecting feelings as he was, for the first time noticed someone else's emotions. White Rose was truly desperate to even imagine that Asellus could be changed back to her old self...her young, innocent self.
Zozma sighed. Even if he wouldn't admit to anybody else, he too, wanted the old Asellus back. He finally answered.
"Let's go for it."
The latter's eyes lit up. "Thank you, Zozma." she gently whispered.
Zozma smiled back, but he knew that this plan would not pull through quite easily. And what if Asellus is one of those who totally change and can never go back?
Meanwhile, a very depressed young lady was in her bedroom. Asellus thought about the young girl that Rastaban had brought to her earlier. She looked about 16...that was the age that herself was when she first came to Fascinaturu. Somehow, that girl's impertinence reminded of herself...who knew she'd be the next ruler of this place? Well, Rastaban did...a little.
Asellus sighed as she looked into the mirror. She had not aged a bit...but her hair was certainly longer than before. Her hair still looked the same; it did not grow that much, but it definitely was longer.
She knew she had pretty much stayed the same...but defintely her personality did not. Nothing was the same anymore...and she didn't see that it would ever be. Somehow, she felt grim over this, but then again, she was the leader of a whole race. But still! Why was she feeling so down like this lately? She had no clue. It was just the way things were.
To be continued...
A/n: I might change the title of the whole story.