The setting of this story is in a universe similar to ours, with similar places and (some) prominent figures in history (Think Piraticaby Tanith Lee). However, this story, in no way, shape, or form, will resemble any true events that may have taken place. There is no specific time period for this story: but if you must, think of a medieval government (with many kings, queens, etc, no democracies) with 18th century mannerisms and etiquette.

With that said: Once Upon a Time...

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It began when the world was still young and fresh, unburdened by modern evils and problems. Although people were starting to understand the world around them, a blanket of ignorance and superstition still fell across its inhabitants. Many people craved security and answers, putting all of their faith into their leaders. Those mortal kings ruled the lands with absolute, divine power. However, if they overstepped their limits in any way, the Magic folk above them did whatever was necessary to protect the fragile earth and its people.

One dynasty, however, disregarded their people's needs and the warnings of a powerful Enchantress, one of Light and Life. The rich, powerful family knew no wants but their own, with selfish thoughts running through their minds and royal blood coursing through their veins. When they paid no heed to the Enchantress, the consequences were dire.

"When you unleash your wrath, the people will see how ugly you truly are, inside and out."

The transformation of the family was immediate. Their vanity stripped and their sense of normalcy destroyed, the monarchs dedicated their lives to serving their people and bettering their kingdom. However, the damage had already been done and undoing their curse proved to be the ultimate challenge. Although there was always hope, the cure that could not quite be fulfilled drained the future generations of that hope bit by bit until none was left...

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There was no other choice. People were dying, council members demanding it. He told his people of possible consequences, of debt, of being taken over… of losing everything. No one paid him any heed, saying that if he refused to take action against the cruel king hell-bent on conquering them, they would just find someone who would.

Heaven forbid it was the goddamn king they were talking to.

King Cesario of Italle, forlorn and weary, swallowed his pride. In an act of pure desperation, he turned to his life-long friend of the neighboring country Fraanc, King Maxwil, for guidance. Although his councillors told him it was dangerous to leave the protection of the castle, Cesario insisted that he meet with his friend face-to-face, riding for many days in order to reach the secluded Freench castle in the forest of Pareis.

Riding up to the castle, Cesario could not help feel a sinking in his stomach. He had never liked this castle, for although it was in a beautiful setting, the dark, cold stone and large wooden doors always seemed so forbidding... or perhaps, foreboding?

Once Cesario had a servant fetch the king, he could not help but feel that perhaps things would work out after all. King Maxwil, surprised to see him, nevertheless bid his friend to enter and stay with him.

"What is troubling you, my friend?" Maxwil asked as the two sat down, a hot drink in their hands. Maxwil knew that something must be horrendously wrong for Cesario to come to him in person instead of merely sending a letter.

Cesario told him of the destruction that was plaguing the lands. "The Rushhans are slaughtering cities and villages all across Europe," Cesario explained to the reigning monarch of Fraanc. "They seem hell-bent on taking it over. They have already succeeded in conquering eastern Europe, including our bordering neighbors of Greese. I fear that we are next; they have already attacked some of our northern towns and cities. Eyerlin, Scoughtlyn, and Spainn have troops in training, but I would greatly appreciate your men. Freench weapon technology is superb in comparison to ours."

Maxwil noticed the multiple lines across his friend's face and the bleak look of his eyes. Maxwil knew of the Rushhans. He had hoped it would not come to this; he had not wanted to be dragged into such a war, originally, but now he knew that it would be better to act sooner than later. "I will help you out, my friend, in any way I can," he told Cesario without hesitation. "Enemies of my friends are my enemies as well."

Cesario allowed a small smile to flit across his face. So relieved was he that carelessly he asked, "How can I ever repay you, my friend?"

At that moment, the two men heard a crash. A vase had toppled over from its pedestal, sending chards of pottery and glass flying. Cesario was startled to see that immediately, without seeing him, Maxwil knew exactly who the culprit was.

"Derek," he growled. "Why are you not in bed?"

A little boy, only a few years older than Cesario's eldest daughter, peeked out from behind the pedestal. His dark hair was unruly, and his dimpled grin mischievous and shy. "Hello," he said to Cesario, ignoring his father and giving a little bow. "I am Prince Derek," he announced proudly.

Cesario chuckled. "I am King Cesario," he told him with a small bow in return. "Have you been eavesdropping, young man?"

"Only a little," Derek admitted without shame. He looked up at his father, his dark eyes wide and innocent. "I know it was wrong of me," he said matter-of-factly. "I am sorry. I was going to the kitchens for some milk and I overheard you talking. I just wanted to know who you were talking to."

Maxwil's face was stoic, although his eyes sparkled at his only child. "Very well," he boomed. "Now that you know, you may go to bed now."

Derek sighed. "All right," he said. Giving another little bow, he left the room, pausing at the door to give a small wave before he left.

Cesario chuckled, turning back to his friend. "He's a handful," Cesario said. "Very precocious."

"That is true," Maxwil said with a roll of his eyes.

"Now," Cesario said, "what was I saying? Oh. Yes. I am quite indebted to you, my old friend. I must repay you somehow."

Maxwil's eyes turned to the broken vase, and a wolfish grin stretched across his face. It was at times like these that Cesario felt that his friend was not quite human. Both men could feel the tension of Magic brewing in the air. With Cesario's words came an old, unwritten spell. A bonding spell. "We'll think of something," was all Maxwil said. "I will help you any way I can. I have a child to think of as well. Yes, it is my duty as ruler and as friend to help you."

In his joy, Cesariopromised, "Once this war is over, anything you want, it shall be yours." The two shook on the agreement, and the jolt that ran through both their arms signified that the spell had been complete; Cesario was now in debt to Maxwil.

Unfortunately, Magic could not help either man see the devastating effects of their actions. Although the war lasted a miserable half a decade, the two friends refused to back down from their cruel and greedy adversary. In the end their hard work did pay off, for they won.

But although they were victorious, the consequences were fatal: one king gave his entire treasury, the other gave his life.

What they did not realize however, was that in reality, they only won a large battle. The war had not yet ended, and would not do so for a very long time...

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Ten years later found the twelve councilmen of Fraanc wary and exhausted. Sitting at a round table, as old and sturdy as the kingdom itself, the twelve middle-aged men were faced with a problem. This particular problem was one that concerned their ruler most specifically; however, they felt the need to have a meeting in secret. The little room they met in was one that had been used for decades; a well-kept secret only they knew of. It was created just in case of a weak ruler and there may be plans to… overthrow them. However, the current line was full of strong and capable men, so the room had hardly been touched. Until now.

A certain councilman, whose name is unimportant, stared out the small window and wondered why he was stuck here when he could be with his family. The sky was a robin's egg blue with a gentle breeze as its companion and it felt unfair that the gorgeous day was polluted with talk about the royal family. It was his day off, after all. Inwardly sighing, he turned his attention to the current speaker.

"His twenty-first birthday is within the next year," one argued. "He needs to find a bride. Now."

"Thank you for stating the obvious, Edmund," one of his peers dryly remarked. "I think it is the general consensus that His Highness needs a suitable wife. The question is, how to go about doing it without angering him?" The twelve men around the table shuddered at the thought of their ruler's temper.

"A ball?" Suggested one man. "It worked in Inglin, did it not?"

"And look what happened there," snorted another. "Charles and his wife can barely look at each other, they are such strangers. We need someone that His Highness will actually like. There is enough squabbling without our rulers adding their own petty marital problems to it."

The others mumbled their agreement.

"How about," one, named Gregory, said, "we bring ten princesses to court that we think may be suitable to Our Highness's tastes? They will spend roughly nine months here, and the prince will hopefully fall for one while getting to know them. It is perfect."

"But will he agree to it?" Shot back Edmund. "You know how the Prince is about women. He thinks they're weak and pitiful—he has no use for them."

Another councilman, Franklin, chortled. "And other countries have trouble getting their prince to stop having so many liaisons with women. Yet we have the opposite problem."

"The boy needs to lighten up," agreed Gregory. "He is not the same child we once knew."

"You know he has not been the same since King Maxwil died," Franklin reminded him quietly.

"Hopefully these beautiful young women will help his temperament then," Gregory declared. "But will he listen to us?"

"He has to listen to us, though," Edmund stated. "He knows the consequences about not getting married."

"And to the right girl," pointed out Franklin.

The twelve men sighed in unison. It was like dealing with Patrik or Rey or Maxwil (bless their souls) all over again. All of the former monarchs were stubborn, with vicious tongues and tempers, although they desperately tried to keep them under control.

Well. Except Derek.

A few moments later, the dignified and reasonable councilmen were cowering under the steady gaze of their future ruler.

"No." It was one word, but laced in the tones was ice, frigid and deadly. Black brows were drawn together and the dark eyes beneath them narrowed in annoyance. Tense in his chair, Prince Derek of Fraanc ignored his mother's pleading stare and focused on the twelve cowering men before him.

"But Your Highness," tried Edmund foolishly. "You know the consequences…"

"I know the damn consequences," snarled Derek. "But I don't care. I know that I shall fail, just as my father and his father and his father…. What is the use? It is better just to accept my fate than get my hopes up."

Franklin licked his lips quickly and boldly said, "At least your forefathers tried, Prince. You know how your father would disapprove of your taking the… cowardly way out."

Derek was up out of his chair faster than Franklin could blink. "I am not a coward," he seethed.

"Then prove it," Franklin said, unfazed. "Let the girls come here and see if any of them catches your fancy. If not, then we will not force you in matrimony."

"Derek…" pleaded his mother. "At least think about it. You cannot officially become king without a spouse. You might be so lonely without a companion… and I dearly miss having children around the palace…"

He turned to her, his eyes softening at the sight of his poor, dear mother. "If it's all the same to you, Mother," he told her with a soft growl in his hoarse voice, "I never want my children to have to suffer like I have. I want this to end with me. And if it doesn't… then I shall never have children at all."

Turning, Derek stalked out of the room, leaving the council to their own devices.

Once the doors were slammed, Franklin turned to his peers, a triumphant smile gracing his lips. "I say it's time we make a list of everything we'll need, gentlemen," he said. "There's no time to waste."

Last edited: 8/9/10 - 0_0