Long ago, millions of years before the kingdom of Guardia, an extra-terrestrial called "Lavos" invaded the earth. Ever since, it has been sucking out the energy of the planet and breeding its young ones, ready to take on the rest of the universe. In less than 1000 years, Guardia will be extinguished and its people annihilated. The dimensions of space and time will be thrown out of order and the cogs of time itself will cease to turn...

Chapter 1 Nadia Guardia - Tomboy Princess

Hello! My name is Princess Nadia! I'm sure you've heard of me from somewhere. After all, in this land of Guardia I am famous! Or infamous. Or notorious. In short, everyone knows who I am. I'm absolutely certain people talk about me on the streets, about the way I disregard my father and act like a tomboy. Being a princess isn't always that great, especially if you've got an overprotective father. King Guardia XXXIII never lets me go anywhere without supervision which is no fun at all. That's why I didn't really know what it's like in the big, wide world, until the day I snuck out of the castle and posed as a servant so I could see the massive carnival in Truce Village first-hand.

Before I tell you about my big adventure, let me tell you about how I thought about sneaking out. It's a long story, but we'll get through it because you should understand.

I'd better start on a general topic. The year was 1000 AD and everyone in Guardia was looking forward to the Millennial Fair, which was to symbolize the 1000th anniversary of the kingdom. Guardia is located on the top part of the continent and includes the village of Truce. Also, there is a remote island called Choras that is part of the realm. Choras harbours some famous carpenters and there's also rumoured to be a ghost in the ruins north of Kitsune Forest, although I've never seen such a thing myself. Guardia is linked to a country called Porre by an ancient bridge named Zenan. Porre is a military country, but Guardia has been on good terms with it since the Mystic Wars in 600 AD, when the two nations banded together to drive off a common enemy, known as the mystics. They were once a powerful demi-human minority, but since the war, all mystics have been banished to a single colony on the eastern continent known as Medina. Another geographical point on the known world is the desert region of Regiorra. There was once a time, father used to tell me, that Regiorra was a thriving land filled with trees and forests, but it's obvious that it's no more.

Myself, I lived in Guardia Castle. It's located on a sheer cliff, surrounded by the ancient trees of Guardia Forest. Just about anyone from ground level can look up at the 1000-year old monument and appreciate its regal quality. Besides, the castle has a natural advantage, surrounded by trees and on the cliffs; it would be hard to conquer.

Anyway, now we'd better move on. A few months before the Millennial Fair commenced I managed to talk father into letting me come on a voyage with him to Choras. The truth was: I had never been that far from home before. On that voyage I met a girl named Prudence, who became my first real friend. Father didn't approve of me having friends with the servants so I kept my friendship with Prudence secret. She said that on the Millennial Fair she had plans to try all the rides, games and food. I thought perhaps I would like to see this fair. I asked father if I could come.

He said NO.

'You mustn't mix with the common people!' he said crossly. 'Imagine the amount of vagabonds and pickpockets going to the fair. Perhaps there are some terrorists waiting to take you hostage.'

'Relax, father,' I said. 'You have to make everything so dramatic.'

Father growled. 'I said no and that's final!'

Devastated, I reported this to Prudence. She thought I should still go, even though father had a point.

'There really will be a lot of criminal activity in the fair, with so many people there,' she said. 'That's why you'll need to learn self-defence.'

'Really?' I said.

Prudence nodded. 'Yeah.' She thought for a moment. 'What about the crossbow? I've got an old one somewhere and my uncle taught me how to use it.'

And from then on, I practised day in day out with the guards, getting my aim good with my new weapon. That's where my reputation as a tomboy started. The Chancellor asked me why I should be doing this. I replied that I must be able to defend myself so I wouldn't be a burden in a crisis. The Chancellor looked at me as if he were sure that wasn't the whole story. Anyway, the crossbow was hard. At first it took no less than two whole minutes to load and aim it at a random target, but gradually my speed increased. Prudence told me to move with my legs and load with my arms to increase my nimbleness.

'You'll be a sitting duck if you stand still and load,' she advised.

See, Prudence was such a good friend to give me this opportunity. I thanked her sincerely then and thank her now.

As the days went by, everyone in Guardia was gearing up for the Millennial Fair. "Once in a millennium!" the billboards proclaimed. Signs were being hung up everywhere, especially, according to Prudence, in Truce. I couldn't wait to go. Prudence had helped me prepare everything, including my disguise and answering to my code name, Marle. Prudence had given me in-depth advice on how to make the most of the long weekend. On the day of the fair, I would have to sneak out with the rest of the servants and get lost in the crowd that would surely be there, heading for Leene Square. It would be there, as I was told, that the fair would be held.

I ticked the days off my calendar in my bedroom. I went to sleep each night with my heart thumping in my chest. What would father say if he knew? Would he be amazed? Or just angry? I didn't know.

On the eve of the fair, activity in the castle was busier than usual. Both my father and the Chancellor were doing their best to organize the fair and make it possible, booking places in the fair for exhibits, dances and rides. It seemed like it was going to be a blast! Nobody was looking out for me, which suited me just fine.

The morning was cold and a bit frosty, but as usual I was practising the crossbow on the ramparts, shooting out and away into Guardia Forest. That day, Prudence and I took a walk in the forest, revelling in the quietness of the air. I hadn't been to the forest very often.

Let me describe the forest to you. The trees looked so benevolent and wise, like they had been there for years, watching the lives of different people unfold. You'd understand if you saw them. Absolutely no light got through the trees, which made everything seem dark and sinister. During night, it was even more so, which was why I tended to avoid it then. However, on really bright and sunny days the light would still sneak through the thick canopies and brighten up the damp, mossy ground. Each gnarly root would seem gay and friendly and not the other way round.

'You're excited, aren't you?' Prudence teased.


Prudence frowned. 'Something else is on your mind, Marle.'

'It's just,' I said, 'I don't know why, but I keep thinking about my mother. You know...'

'The late Queen Aliza,' Prudence nodded. 'What about her?'

I hesitated. I didn't even understand why I was thinking about mother. She had died long ago...

'I don't know. Is she watching over me?' I said. 'Would she approve of what I'm doing?'

Prudence shrugged. 'I wouldn't know. All I do know is that you deserve to go to the fair, Marle. I have this feeling that the fair will be an important of your life, and that you will always remember it. And you'll always remember me, too, as someone who doesn't look at you as Princess Nadia, but as Marle, a friend. I'm sure you'll find other people like that at the fair.'

'Are you sure?' I asked. It sounded too good to be true.

Suddenly, Prudence hissed at me. 'Marle, I think we're being followed.'

'W-what?' I stuttered.

'Just hide in the bush and wait until I call for you. I'll deal with it. It's only some stupid bandits, I think.'

Trembling, I followed Prudence's orders. Bandits? I thought to myself warily. This was too much excitement. I'd heard of bandits terrorizing roads in the region but I never thought I would come face to face with them. Normally, bandits attacked in small groups, robbing travellers. Sometimes, bandits went far enough to raid small towns and villages. However, when bandits became a problem, father would always deal with it. One way or another.

Presently, the bandits came out of the bush and surrounded Prudence. There were about five of them and all mean and nasty looking fellows. The biggest and ugliest was obviously the leader. He had a couple of teeth missing in his mouth and his nose was long and thin. I felt really disgusted at his ragged appearance.

'Don't come any closer,' said Prudence, sounding very calm.

The bandit leader laughed. He had that kind of stupid guffaw that wasn't really intimidating, but the bandit more than made it for it with his looks and the fact he carried a very long and jagged club in his hand. 'We won't come any closer as long as you take off that bag you're holdin' and put it on the ground in front of you.'

Prudence sighed. 'Losers.' She pulled out her crossbow. 'You're going to regret that.'

She pulled the trigger and out came a bolt as fast at anything towards the bandit leader. Thwock! The bolt slammed against the bandit's club and its stinging vibration made him let go of it in a hurry. The other bandits, seeing their leader in pain, all rushed at Prudence at once. I held my breath. How was Prudence going to deal with this? Then I saw her duck and roll out of the way and as she did so, she caught another bandit's legs. She yanked them and the bandit fell to the ground. The others looked around in confusion before going for Prudence again. She sidestepped and let rip an awesome roundhouse kick at another bandit, who copped it directly in the face. Ouch. He was down and out.

Wow! I thought. Prudence was so good at fighting. I wished I was as good as that.

Then I saw it. While Prudence was focused on the remaining two bandits, the leader had recovered from his initial blow and had his club ready again. He was approaching Prudence's back and about to strike her down. I thought, unless I could quickly hit the bandit with my crossbow (I still had it from training that morning), all would be lost. With trembling hands I loaded and pulled the trigger.


I opened my eyes. I couldn't believe it. I'd gotten the bandit leader through the thigh. What a painful wound it appeared. Prudence turned around and punched the bandit leader in the stomach, winding him completely. The other bandits saw where the bolt had come from and started coming towards me. I couldn't run. My legs had turned to jelly. If you have ever participated in a fight then you will know what I mean.

Then Prudence saved the day with her crossbow, sending bolts through each of the two bandits' arms. They howled in pain and fell over, trying to staunch the flow of blood with cloth. I grinned because the battle had been won.

Later that night, just when I was about to go to bed, I opened my drawer and there, glittering by the lampshade, was a pendant. I picked it up. It was made of interwoven threads and there was a locker made of emerald. I opened it gingerly. It was a minute picture of my mother, Queen Aliza. I wondered then whether it had been her that had allowed me to strike the bandit leader earlier in the day with the bandit episode. All things happen for a reason, right? I had a feeling that this was just the beginning of the road for me.


Time to go to the Millennial Fair! Oh dear, I've lost my pendant... I'm not sure what I'm going to do now. No, wait, someone has found it for me. I guess he's pretty nice... I think... Next time in the Long Weekend: The Red-headed Idiot at Leene Square! See you soon!