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King Ornth was the ruler of the kingdom of Dnmaoid. He was a kind, intelligent, and just sovereign, under the patronage of the goddess Athena, and Dnmaoid flourished under his rule. Food was rich and plentiful, and plenty of money flowed into the country's coffers. The king was beloved, but his two beautiful and intelligent children, Prince Alaerec and Princess Elestra, royal heirs who adored the kingdom and loved each other, held the true love of the kingdom.
Prince Alaerec was a great-great-great grandson of Helios, the mighty god of the day star, which burned brightly in the day, through King Ornth. The prince's thick and wavy locks gleamed brighter than gold, his skin shone, his smile dazzled onlookers, and his large brown eyes, so light a brown as to appear a beautiful and pure gold, gave him an ethereal appearance.
His younger sister, Princess Elestra, claimed immortal blood through her mother, the dead Queen, as the great-great-great granddaughter of Selene, the serene goddess of the night star, which brought cool light during the night. Elestra's long hair was silky and a star-touched silvery-blond, her skin pale, and her wide and blond-lashed silvery blue eyes almost hypnotizing.
One day, Queen Hera, Queen of the Universe, looked down from her golden throne on Mount Olympus, saw the handsome Prince Alaerec, and instantly fell in love with him. She appeared before the prince in all her beauty and glory, offering to make him immortal and a god if he would but marry her.
Prince Alaerec was not fazed by Hera's beauty, or tempted by her bribe. Alaerec didn't care for Hera at all, and no matter what Hera used to try to convince him, the prince would not be persuaded to change his mind. Alaerec had very good reasons to refuse Hera's offer. As a child, he had promised at his mother's deathbed that he would always take care of his younger sister, and he would never break that promise. Prince Alaerec would never leave his younger sister for any goddess. Besides, the prince was very intelligent and prudent, and he was well aware that almighty Zeus would not be pleased if he married Hera.
So the prince politely refused the goddess's offer. Hera flew into an awful rage and whirled away in anger, her pride stinging from being rejected by a mortal man. She returned to Mount Olympus, where she seated herself by her magical pool and commanded it to show her the younger sister Alaerec cared so much about.
In the magical pool, Hera saw the young princess laughing with her friends in a beautiful garden, silvery-blue eyes dancing with merriment as she played a game of fan-toss with her friends. Hera's heart instantly filled with anger, spite, and jealousy when she saw how lovely, graceful, intelligent, young, and sweet Elestra was. Now Hera hated the young girl for her beauty as well as for the fact that she had been refused by Elestra's brother.
Her heart brimming with jealousy and intent on revenge, Hera sent for Eris, the cruel goddess of strife. At Hera's command, Eris filled King Ornth's heart with evil, greed, cruelty, selfishness, wickedness, and all the terrible things that her wicked heart could think of.
King Ornth quickly became an evil tyrant. He became obsessed with wealth and power and sent his armies to conquer other countries. To pay for these bloody wars and still remain wealthy, he taxed the people into poverty. The king also announced, to the horror of his appalled subjects and children, that no one could ever worship Zeus or the other gods ever again. Hera watched as the king grew more and more contemptuous and foolish, smiling malevolently.
When Zeus learned of King Ornth's declaration, he flew into a deadly rage and would have killed the man outright had not sly Hera stayed his hand. She cunningly suggested something that would cause the old king much more pain. "The old king now loves only his son, Prince Alaerec, my dear. Punish him harshly with storms and droughts, and then order him to sacrifice his son to appease us," she advised her husband. "After he kills his son, I know that he will be sorry. Quite sorry."
Zeus was ignorant of his wife's true motives and gladly agreed to his queen's clever suggestion. Posideon, the god of the seas, sent storms that crushed the royal navies, and floods that drowned thousands of innocent citizens. Other parts of the land suffered from severe droughts, the once fertile earth turning cracked and dried.
Finally, Hera flew down to the king in all her queenly glory, so magnificent that King Ornth fell to his knees and cowered when he saw her. Hera then commanded that he sacrifice his son to the gods, promising that the gods would show him favor after he killed his son. Weakened and made greedy and selfish by Eris, King Ornth rashly swore an unbreakable oath by the River Styx that he would kill his heir to honor the gods.
Hera smiled in satisfaction and left, not knowing that a horrified Elestra had overheard every terrible word the two had exchanged. Trembling, the girl ran down the passages to her brother's room, where she blurted out everything that she had heard to her brother.
Alaerec went very pale when he heard of what his father planned to do, but did not move. "Brother, you must go!" Elestra urged. "Quickly! Pack some money, clothing, and food, and leave! Father wants to kill you! The goddess Hera wants you dead! You must go!"
But her brother still did not move. Finally, he looked up, his countenance troubled. "Elestra, Father swore by the River Styx that he would do it," Alaerec replied slowly. "Anyone who breaks such an oath dies. I cannot let my own father die. I will remain for the sacrifice."
Elestra's silvery-blue eyes widened in shock. "But brother, father wants to kill you!" she protested. "So you just going to stay and be sacrificed, just to please him?" Her voice was shaking with anguish and anger.
Her brother moved forward and took both her hands. "Elestra, the kingdom is dying. We must appease the gods, or else everyone in Dnmaoid will die. Everyone. As the heir to the throne, I cannot let that happen. It is my duty to protect my people. This is the only way. Father got us into this mess, but I will get us out. I cannot let innocent Dnmaoid citizens die for father's foolishness." Alaerec took a deep breath. "If it means sacrificing myself to appease the gods, then so be it. Besides," the prince smiled shakily, "if the goddess Hera wants me dead, then I will die anyway, as a sacrifice to the gods or no. It's better to save my country with my death and die bravely." Alaerec's gold eyes fixed steadily on his sister's silvery-blue eyes. "You are the other heir, Elestra. You must rule the kingdom after father and restore it to its former glory. Be brave, sister."
Elestra was unable to bear it anymore, broke away from her brother's grip, and ran into the gardens. For hours she sobbed by herself, frozen in her grief, until she realized something. Her father had sworn that he would sacrifice his heir to appease the gods, yet Elestra was also an heir to the throne. It was also her duty to protect the country. Could she not take her brother's place to save her father and Dnmaoid? After all, the kingdom needed Alaerec. Alaerec was brave, intelligent, and noble. Alaerec would be able to restore the country to its former glory someday. Everyone would benefit from Elestra's plan, and the gods would be appeased. Elestra herself would be content with her brother's safety and Dnmaoid's prosperity. Smiling grimly, Elestra stood and slipped quietly into her father's rooms.
The girl took her father's royal and deadly dagger, the one Hera had told him to use to kill his son, closed her eyes, and plunged the dagger into her own body. She was dead within minutes.
Havoc broke out the next day, when Elestra's dead body was discovered. Alaerec went as white as milk when he heard, and when he saw his younger sister's body, he trembled violently and ordered everyone out, weeping for hours and hours by her limp body. King Ornth was shattered by his daughter's death and his heart was broken.
Hera was furious that her plan had not worked and that Alaerec still lived, but Zeus was happy. He had broken the King of Dnmaoid and showed him who was boss. Hera could not harm Alaerec anymore, not without first confessing why she hated the prince with such passion, and of course, she did not dare confess to her husband.
Tranquil Selene, the goddess of the night star, was horrified to learn that one of her descendants had killed herself at Zeus's command. Radiant Helios was also horrified at what his father had done. Together with Athena, the goddess of wisdom and the patroness of the country, they tried to figure out what had happened.
Helios soon learned from his followers that Zeus had ordered the king to kill one of his heirs, and when the princess had heard that her brother was to be killed, she had killed herself. When Helios demanded why Zeus would order such a thing, they could only reply that the king had ordered his subjects to cease worshipping the gods and that Zeus had wanted to punish King Ornth.
The god and goddesses knew that something was up at once. King Ornth was an intelligent and kind man. He surely knew that it would be insanity to insult the gods like that. So Selene, Helios, and Athena decided to pay the king an invisible visit.
Athena smelled Eris's work on the king the moment she laid eyes on him, and quickly deducted that Hera was the only one devious and cruel enough to use Eris, Ares being occupied with a war on the other side of the world. When she told her companions, they were furious. The three flew down to Hades's kingdom to demand that he return Elestra to life.
Dark Hades, god of wealth and ruler of the Underworld, listened politely to their story, and Queen Persephone wept at the sadness of the tale and begged her husband to release Elestra, but before the Underworld ruler had spoken a word, Zeus and Hera appeared in the kingdom of the dead.
Zeus was furious that his favorite daughter and good friends would try to reverse his work. Hera whispered that it must have been Alaerec's influence, and took the chance to slay the prince with a magical lance. The prince died the instant the lance pierced his skin. His subjects and father moaned with grief and pain as the handsome prince, so vibrant, so alive, died before their eyes.
Athena was enraged at this injustice. Injustice gave the goddess of war anger, and anger made her powerful, so that even her father was intimidated by the fire burning in her grey eyes. Helios threatened to withdraw the light of the day star from earth, without which all mortals would perish. Selene warned Zeus that she would stop the night star from giving the earth its light at night. Night starlight breathed life into plants, and without flourishing crops, mortals would also die.
Zeus was enraged that he was being defied so, but before he could explode, Apollo, the god of light and music, appeared. He begged his father to restrain his temper until he heard Apollo's tale. Zeus reluctantly agreed to his son's request and the gods and goddesses listened to Apollo's tale.
Apollo had been prowling the mortal realms when he had heard the loveliest songs being played on a lyre. Delighted, he had hurried to the place the sound was coming from, the royal palace of Dnmaoid. There he had seen a beautiful princess playing and singing with all her heart and soul. After admiring her music for a while, he decided not to disturb her, and to fashion the loveliest lyre in the world for the girl instead.
Just as he had been about to leave, he had heard the soundless crack of an immortal. Curious, he had ventured to see who it was. Hera went pale and shook with fear as Apollo told Zeus of Hera's treachery, while Athena coolly informed her father of Eris's work on the king.
Embarrassed and shamed, Zeus quickly sent Hermes, the messenger god, to free King Ornth of Eris's evil influence. Now Selene, Helios, Apollo, Hades, and Persephone demanded that Elestra and Alaerec be returned to life. But to the gods' and goddesses' horror, Hera had killed the prince and princess in such a cunning and cruel way that there was no possible way that the two could be brought back to life.
Apollo was heartbroken at this; he had lost his heart to the beautiful Elestra. Athena was outraged at Hera's treacherous ways, lying to Zeus and meddling in the affairs of those under Athena's protection. Hera just stood there, smirking triumphantly. Helios and Selene protested angrily about the cruelty of killing off their descendants, accusing Zeus of wanting only his own children to be great. At this, with a cruel smile, protesting that she was only trying to defend her husband's honor, Hera took two of Zeus's thunderbolts and hurled them at Selene and Helios. To her astonishment and utter horror, the two instantly lost the ability to give power and light to the night star and the day star.
Now all mortals would perish. Hera was horrified at what she had done. Athena's stone-grey eyes glittered. Justice had been dealt. Selene and Helios smiled grimly; Hera had reaped her own reward and deserved no pity. Zeus raged at his wife's stupidity, but what could he do? Even Zeus was without the power to breathe life into the night star and the day star.
Gentle Persephone, Hades's beautiful queen and the goddess of spring, spoke up with a quiet suggestion. "Elestra and Alaerec did not deserve to die," she began in her soft, sweet voice.
"Persephone, tell us something we don't know!" Zeus snapped.
"Zeus, listen to Persephone," Hades ordered. "She is wiser than you."
"Elestra and Alaerec did not deserve to die, so perhaps we can grant them life by immortality instead." Persephone carelessly waved away Hera's vehement protests. "It is necessary, Hera. Because of you, Helios and Selene lost the power to light up the world. But Elestra has inherited some of Selene's power, and Alaerec some of Helios's power. Elestra holds the power of the night star in her silvery eyes, and Alaerec's eyes are pools of golden liquid light from the day star. Perhaps they have the power to light up the earth at day and night?"
"I refuse to allow mortals such power – " Hera began.
"Hera, this whole thing is your fault," Hades interrupted wearily. "That is a very good idea, my dear," he added to Persephone, who smiled shyly. "Perhaps if all the gods and goddesses agree to it, than it can work." He turned a menacing glare on Zeus. "Is that alright with you, little brother?" Zeus nodded sulkily and raised a glowing hand to summon all the gods and goddesses.
The room was instantly filled with the shimmering light of all the gods and goddesses in all their magnificence and glory. Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, frowned in confusion. "Father, you summoned us?" She blinked at her twin. "Apollo, what are you doing here?"
Apollo explained everything that had happened, and the gods and goddesses readily agreed to Persephone's plan. "That's my clever daughter," Demeter approved, beaming at Persephone.
Elestra and Alaerec were summoned. The plan was explained to them. Elestra's silky blond hair hid her face and emotions. Alaerec showed nothing past polite attentiveness. Neither remarked on the plan, or on the way that Zeus and Hera seemed to take for granted that they would agree to the plan. "Well then," Zeus intoned haughtily. "Shall we begin the transformation?"
"Wait," snapped Selene. "You haven't even asked them what they want!" She gestured at Elestra and Alaerec. "You fiddled with their lives, forced one to kill herself and killed off the other one, and now you demand their help? Surely you should ask them, at the very least? And they do have a choice to say no! It's your fault we're in such trouble, not their fault!"
The glare she turned on everyone was so fierce that no one dared argue. Elestra curtsied to the goddess in gratitude, then turned to her brother. Elestra and Alaerec discussed the matter quietly together for a few minutes. "We will do it," Elestra finally announced quietly. "If we do have the power within us, then we will do it."
Alaerec's face was hard as he looked at the gods. He didn't care if they were powerful and immortal, and it showed on his face. "Not for you," he added coldly. His voice softened as he continued. "But for our people." Zeus would have retorted, but Posideon glared at his younger brother, and Zeus did not speak.
The two mortals joined hands and closed their eyes. The gods and goddesses circled them. Magic flowed, lightning flashed, and thunder boomed. Silvery light bathed Elestra from head to toe, while Alaerec blazed with golden light.
Finally, the transformation was complete. Elestra and Alaerec were now a goddess and a god. Alaerec and Elestra hugged Athena, Selene, and Helios, who wished them luck warmly. Elestra also hugged a blushing Apollo, smiled at her fellow gods and goddesses, and then lifted her arms to the sky. It was time for her to try out her new powers. She disappeared.
In the mortal realms, the cool dark blanket of night settled over the world. Elestra, beautiful, lovely Elestra, glowing with silvery light and power, let her light flow against the dark velvety sky, breathing life into plants and healing the wounds of gods and goddesses.
When night ended, Alaerec transformed. He became a blazing mass of glory and blinding, dazzling golden light and magnificence. Alaerec gave earth the warm light that plants needed to live, and the light that gods and goddesses alike drew strength from.
So day and night, Elestra and Alaerec took turns bringing life and light to gods, goddesses, and mortals. Mortals adored the beautiful god and goddess who brought them light, and wanted to give the two nicknames. So they nicknamed Elestra "Moon", after the beautiful silvery flower called moonara, and Alaerec "Sun," after the wonderful golden herb called sunkiss.
Elestra and Alaerec never fail to bring light to mortals, watching over the world day and night, never resting except when the other is working, or when an eclipse occurs, when the world is bathed in darkness and Elestra and Alaerec can relax together. Together, brother and sister watch over their beloved kingdom of Dnmaoid, day and night, forever.