title: Elusive Thoughts | Prologue (revised)
rating: PG
author: Mir
email: incandescence@juno.com
website: http://cathedraldragon.tripod.com/sm/

disclaimer: Sailor Moon, et al. belongs to Naoko Takeuchi,
etc., etc., and so on and so forth ^_^. The other characters
belong to me...for whatever that's worth. I have no money
to speak of, so suing me will not make you rich. Yes, and
this story was inspired by Melanie Rawn's *Dragon Prince*.
Kudos to her, it's an excellent novel.

*Prologue*


The desert air hung heavily with the smoke from a hundred burning
fires. Above the top of every watchtower dancing flames licked the sky, a
somber message passed from town to town, from tower to tower. Ashes,
falling like darkened snowflakes, covered the people who passed below,
people mourning the death of their Prince and Princess.

- - - - - - - - - -
The bandits had fallen upon the unsuspecting couple
in the dark of night and overwhelmed the guards by sheer
numbers alone. The Prince stood over his dying wife, one
arm clutched against his bleeding side, but he knew that they
were surrounded. He lifted his sword and slashed blindly at
the darkness, then collapsed, dizzy from loss of blood and
exhaustion. He covered her body with his, even at the brink
of death protective of his beloved, and whispered that he
loved her always and forever. A slight smile crossed her lips,
and she exhaled softly, her soul rising from the bloodstained
earth. The Prince followed; he took her hands, and they
drifted away across the metaphysical landscape while their
attackers slapped each other on the back and grunted in
triumph.
- - - - - - - - - -

And sitting by himself, a small boy hugged his knees to his chest and
wept, shoulders shaking from shock and fatigue. They'd made him light the
first fire; it was his duty, his responsibility - afterward he'd fled, run away from
the blazing tower to the quiet sanctuary of his garden. No one had pursued
him. Caught up in their own loss, they had let the crown prince escape from
the public eye.

It was his sister who took the trouble to find him, and it was her
shoulder to which he clung fiercely. She rubbed his back and pulled him
close, putting aside past disputes to offer the comfort he needed. He looked
up at her with eyes red from crying and blew his nose on her sleeve. Then,
hand in hand, they walked back toward the tower where their Godmother
Ariane was waiting for them.

"Darien," she greeted, firmly taking his clammy hand in hers. He
looked back at his sister who reached again for his other hand, but Ariane
stopped her with a glance. "Thank you for finding Darien, but I need to talk
to him now - alone." And as Kerri stared into her Godmother's eyes, so
dark and serious, she pulled her hand back as if she'd been slapped.

"Yes ma'am." Kerri bowed her head in resignation then disappeared
with softly echoing footsteps that faded into the night. After all, she thought to
herself, Darien was a pain in the neck, wasn't he? Just a little kid brother who
always buried his nose in books and asked way too many questions.

Darien turned to watch his sister leave, but his Godmother tugged at his
arm, pulling him back outside. He dug his heels into the ground stubbornly, his
mouth turning down at the corners. "Where are you taking me? Why did you
make her go?" he asked in a thin voice, once again on the verge of tears.

She stopped and knelt down so that her eyes were level with his.
"Darien, I've something I'd like to show you, something that you may not
understand now but that you will some day, when you're older." Her voice
was soothing, her tone surprisingly gentle. "You've had a hard day, and you
loved your parents dearly, I know, but can you come with me, please, just for
a moment?"

Startled by his Godmother's unexpected benevolence - he'd always
seen her a being rather caustic, holding herself aloof and disinterested - Darien
found himself nodding and following her without knowing why. The moon
filtered brightly downward, piercing though the smoke to light the pebbled paths
beneath his feet. He didn't notice they were back in the garden until the rich
sent of spring blossoms intruded upon his sense of melancholy dejection.

It had always been his shelter, a quiet oasis in the middle of the desert
sands, a place where he could disappear to for hours at a time, a place that he
had helped create by the work of his small hands and his eye for elegant
simplicity.

Ariane stopped at the edge of the pond and bid Darien to sit by her side.
A pass of her hand smoothed the ripples into submission, and she lifted her eyes
to the pulsing moon above. The prince held his breath as light began to collect
at the surface of the water, a shimmering opacity that condensed out of the air.
Ariane dipped her fingers into the cool water, and a face coalesced in the radiant
luminosity, a pale oval framed with fluttering blond hair and pierced with dancing
blue eyes. Darien stared, his mind working to memorize every detail before
Ariane let the conjure fade away. "Who is she?"

"She'll be yours some day, Darien. Make sure you guard her well. You're
meant to be together, and you will be...in good time." She smiled tiredly,
knowing full well that she'd failed to answer his question. "Come now, let's try
to get some sleep. Tomorrow they'll expect you to light your parents' prier, and
you need your rest."

He reached toward the water, the trembling fingers of a six-year old child
grasping for something enticingly beautiful that the he hadn't quite understood; he
hoped to capture the magic of just moments before, but managed only to get his
arm wet. His lips formed the first word that came to his mind. "Why?"

Ariane, not expecting the question, shook her head. "Not tonight. You'll
understand when you're older. Now, scoot - off to bed. I don't want to have to
carry you back inside." She rose from the ground and dragged a reluctant Darien
back from the edge of the pond. Her tears fell silently onto the ground, and she
turned her head away so the prince wouldn't see.


*end of prologue*

- - - - - - - - - -

Here's the revised Prologue - mainly just minor grammatical adjustments...
nothing major. I'm working on the rest of the fanfic, so keep your eyes
open for upcoming revisions - because I'm doing some major plot additions
to some of the later chapters *g*!

- Mir (11.20.00 ~ revised ~ 02.09.01)
.