Disclaimer: I do not own Seiken Densetsu 3, its plot, or any of the characters within. This story is for entertainment purposes only... Don't sue me! But the parts of the story not from the game itself are mine, all mine.

Author's Big Long Introductory Note: So, you stopped in here, wondering what this is all about?

I got inspired after reading "Another Witchmaker" by Sinnatious, which should be read by everyone in the entire world, it's that good. But, if you're even on this site, you have probably already read it.

This story is nothing like that one.

I felt like the characters and storyline of SD3 had the potential for a lot more complexity. This story is a novelization of the events of SD3, and then some, using all six characters. Three plotlines and nine final villains are combined, so I've taken some creative liberties with the plot in order for it all to work out, including the creation of the now-completed prequel, "Eye of the Storm".

Warning: I push the envelope in a few places. There are love scenes here – quite a lot, actually - and some are pretty intense. There is occasionally graphic violence. Bad Things happen to Good People.

Stuff I did and didn't change: Ideally, the story will make sense even to those who haven't played the game. I occasionally use the game dialogue if appropriate and/or entertaining. Most scenes, even the original ones, have roots in the game somewhere, for those of you who are sticklers for canon.

I also reserve the right to change or remove the parts I thought were dorky and/or boring. That means no Bon Voyage (well, very little), no Volcano Island Bucca, and NO COROBOKKLE VILLAGE! I hate that part!

I fleshed out a lot of the history and philosophy behind it all. There's a Glossary at the end for clarification, but it does have SPOILERS.

A few things in particular: The Spirit of Light is Lumina (from the first Secret of Mana), a name I prefer. And what is a Delvar, anyway? I read an idea somewhere that it was derived from "Delphic Oracle", the ancient Greek future-seer; for purists, I state in the glossary that "Delvar" is the slang term. Magus is also referred to as "Black Magus."

And, in response to reviewer commentary, the formal term for "class change" is hereby declared to be "the Gift of Mana." The phrase itself was a, uh, gift from Tiamat42. The distinction is explained withing the text.

Angela is the main character. Why? Because you can't find her anywhere in the game if you don't play her, and because when you think about it, Altena really has the most to lose from the loss of Mana. Besides, I love it that the heroine is not exactly a Good Person.

Let's get on with it. The theater goes dark... Panoramic sweeping view of the world, slowing down to focus in on a snowy landscape...

--

1. MANA IS FADING (ANGELA)

Altena was getting colder.

The ice country had always been a forbidding place to live, but the kingdom's powerful magic had kept the inhabited areas as temperate as the nations of the south. As the cold winds whistled through the towns, rumors spread through the people that the queen had abandoned them.

Queen Valda sat on her throne, facing the mages of her army. Her long violet hair hung regally past her waistline; the large diamond of her crown, from the depths of the Gemstone Valley, shimmered as did the silk gown that molded itself to her figure. The Queen of Reason was a beautiful, and imposing, woman.

At her left hand was her chancellor, Koren, a blond man about ten years younger than she herself was. The shocking red cape he always wore had earned him the nickname "Wizard of the Red Lotus". Handsome, brilliant, and icy - that was Koren in a nutshell.

She stood to address the assembly. "My advisors, we have talked about the problem, and there is no escaping the answer. Mana is fading. The magic I have use to keep our kingdom livable is weakening, and the cold is creeping in.

"Koren has been researching the problem, and he thinks he has found a solution." Koren stepped forward to address the wizards.

"The old texts tell us of an artifact in the Mana Holyland - the Mana Sword - that is a nexus of the power of the Goddess herself. With this power, we could right the Mana imbalance, and preserve our kingdom," he began.

"But the entrance to the Holyland itself is sealed away. Eight Mana stones, holding the power of the eight elements, lock the entrance. Only by releasing the power of these stones can we enter the Holyland and reach our goal. It is a difficult and dangerous undertaking... but the future of Altena depends on it.

"Most of the Mana Stones lie in areas protected by other countries." A translucent image of the world appeared in midair; a blue dot marked Altena. "Valda and I have decided we will first release the Stone of Ice, located in the snowfields south of here." A wave of his hand, and a red dot appeared just south of the blue one. "Afterwards, we will proceed to the Stone of Earth, located in Forcena, and then to the others. I've already scouted the defenses of Forcena, and they cannot stand against our magic." A red dot appeared on the southern continent; several more followed, scattered across the world.

"There is an additional caveat. Release of the stone's power cannot be accomplished by just anyone. It requires one of the forbidden spells... a magic so powerful, that in order to rebalance the disruption in the Mana, it requires a sacrifice of a human life."

Murmurs went through the crowd then. Finally, one spoke up.

"My Queen," she said, "if you are to release the power of the Stone of Ice, who will be the sacrifice?"

"Koren and I have already decided who shall die to save Altena." There was a cruel, icy glint in her eyes.

--

Angela, Princess of Altena, entered the noonday brightness from the darker interior of the castle. Another stupid magic class over with, she thought. So what if I can't learn magic? I don't care. Why does Mother insist on putting me through this again and again? If I haven't learned in nineteen years, it's never going to happen.

Even with the approaching springtime, there was a chill in the air, more so than she had remembered from years gone by. Snow, fallen overnight, dusted the highest turrets of the tower. She was accustomed to wearing clinging dresses and lightweight robes, but today she pulled her burgundy cape tighter around her to cover the shoulders exposed by her dark red dress.

Stepping along the bridge overlooking the castle's inner courtyard, she heard a voice from below. "Angela!!"

She leaned over the railing, her lush, thick violet hair, so like her mother's but with a hint of wave, dangling downwards. "Victor!" she cried happily, balancing one elbow on the balustrade and propping her head up in her hand. Even her friendly glance carried an air of suggestion. Angela had long ago figured out that her looks attracted attention from both men and women.

"I thought I would be transcribing the meeting today for your mother, but instead she held her meeting in secret," Victor called up to her. "She left the other scribes and myself standing in the corridor all morning, and she only just emerged with a message to summon you urgently."

That got Angela's attention. A summons by messenger was not to be ignored. She wondered what was going on, and more importantly, how it involved her. Her tilted, dark grey eyes narrowed. She suddenly felt very nervous, and a frown replaced her previous smile. "I'll be right down."

She met Victor in the courtyard, and the two of them walked silently towards the center of the Palace. Victor glanced her way, but she was staring off into the distance ahead of her.

At the left door to the throne room, they encountered a mage-guard. "Princess, your mother is expecting you." But when Victor tried to follow her in, the guard put her cane in front of him, stopping him at the door. Angela turned back to look at him.

"Princess," he said. "Good luck."

--

Angela entered a silent throne room. As she approached her mother's seat, she saw the wizard, Koren, leaning over to whisper in Valda's ear.

Rumor had it that Koren had studied some of the most powerful and forbidden magics in existence, ones even her mother did not learn, for fear that the power would go to her head. She shivered at the thought.

At her approach, Koren looked up, and both he and Valda turned their gazes on her. He had that slimy expression she hated. Goddess, she found him irritating.

Nevertheless, a Princess knew to observe protocol. Curtsying before the throne, she did her best to ignore Koren's presence. "Y-you called for me, mother?"

Koren jutted in anyway. "We have been determining a solution to the weakening magic power afflicting Altena. In order to generate more power, we are going to release the seals on the Mana Stones, allowing us to access the Holyland and gain the power of the Goddess."

"Releasing the seals on the stones? I didn't think that was possible," Angela responded, startled.

Koren continued. "It requires a form of ancient magic, which is forbidden by custom, for it necessitates the cost of a life. But... in this case, we feel it is both right and necessary." Angela felt a knot grip her stomach.

Koren leaned closer. He smiled an evil smile. She wanted to smack him. "Royalty is, after all, supposed to sacrifice themselves for their country."

"No!" Angela gasped, and took a step back. This couldn't be happening. "Mother, how can you listen to him?!"

Valda stood, then, approaching her daughter. The Queen was a minimally expressive woman, but at the moment she was completely unreadable. There was no love, no affection, not even acknowledgement; she could have been looking at a rock.

Then anger flared, and Valda's anger had always been frightening to Angela.

"You who cannot use magic are the shame of this royal family, and you are unsuited for the throne. If you can at least sacrifice your life to rescue your kingdom, it will be remembered as a fitting demise." Though her mother had only taken a few steps towards her, Angela had steadily backed up, until she felt her back bump against a column, her eyes wide in fear. Was this really her mother saying these things? "N -no...Nooooooo!!" she cried, and the world grew hazy around her. She thought she felt herself faint.

--

As she slowly regained consciousness, the first thing Angela realized was that she was alive.

The next thing, was that she was very cold.

As the world slowly came back into view, she realized she was looking up at the gates of Altena, tightly shut, and she was out in the snowfields. It was easy to forget, inside temperate Altena, how cold the snowfield was. It had been named the Sub-Zero Snowfield for a reason.

How had she gotten here? Her mother would not have dumped her so unceremoniously outside the gate. Jail, maybe, but not exile. Besides, wasn't she supposed to die for the Mana Stone? She certainly couldn't do that here.

If she was able to use magic, she would have thought she had used some spell to remove herself outside the gates. All she remembered was an overwhelming fear before she passed out.

She walked to the gates and, grabbing the bars with her hands, looked through. It was getting late, and there were fewer signs of life in the town visible in the distance. But really, what would she do? If she called for help, and they brought her back inside, she was destined to die anyway.

Tears forming in her eyes, freezing her cheeks in the cold air, she realized there was only one way to go. Chances of survival were slim in the snowfields alone, but it was a choice between a small chance or none for Angela.

--

Angela didn't know how long she had been fighting her way through the snowfield, assaulted by sahagins en route. The aggressive amphibians were one of the creatures slowly being turned from docile animals to vicious monsters in these days of declining Mana.

All she knew was that it was growing towards nighttime. Worse, still, there was a light snowfall beginning, and a breeze chilled the air. This had the makings of a blizzard ahead, and few could survive a blizzard in the Sub-Zero Snowfield, much less someone as unprepared as she was. She knew the way to Elrand, more or less, but not at night.

She stumbled over a hidden root in the snow, landing on hands and knees. Freezing, and exhausted, she could not find the will to get up. For the second time that day, she felt herself descending into unconsciousness. Her last thought was how much she wanted to go home.

--

Waking up this time, was certainly better than the last time. For one thing, it was warm. For another thing, she was indoors. Her eyes began to focus on the beamed, slanted roof of a rustic-looking house.

"Mommy, she's awake!" she heard a child's voice. Her head was still swimming, and the voice sounded faint, as if at a great distance.

"Hush, Chichi, she needs rest. If we hadn't found her on our way back, she would be dead for sure. I think she barely survived as is." This was an older woman, presumably the mother of the child in question.

Angela hadn't yet found strength to move, when the mother's face appeared above her. She appeared to be in her early thirties, plain but kindly. More importantly, she appeared to have saved Angela's life.

A fear gripped her. "Do you know who I am?"

"No," replied the woman, "I haven't had a chance to ask your name yet. You've been asleep and delirious for a couple of days. You're in Elrand, and I'm a healer, so you have nothing to be afraid of."

Angela racked her brain. She wasn't sure what rumors might have arrived at Elrand, or whether her name might be recognized. "I'm Anny," she finally decided, a common name that could belong to anyone.

"Can I play with Anny?" squealed the child's voice.

"Hush, Chichi, she needs to rest," the woman answered absentmindedly. Sitting on the foot of the bed, she took Angela's hand. "Well, Anny," said the woman, "a young girl from an Altenan village should know better than to wander the snowfield at night without proper supplies. It's late at night, but rest here tonight, and tomorrow I think you will be ready to return home."

Angela thanked her genuinely. She resolved, when - and if - she was ever queen, she would find this woman and reward her. But I can't go home, she thought to herself. If only she knew.

Still exhausted from her ordeal, Angela fell into a troubled sleep.

--

The next morning dawned chilly, but bright. Angela bid goodbye to the healer, without knowing exactly where she was going... but she knew she had to find somewhere.

Stepping outside, she watched the activities of the port town around her. After the atmosphere of foreboding in Altena castle, watching citizens go around their daily business was refreshing indeed.

She wandered through the town whose Princess she was, anonymously, as if one of them. Interesting sentiments came to her ear.

"Valda's a fine queen, we should be proud of her, keeping us together for so long," said a woman in front of a small house at the east edge of town.

"The Queen of Reason is losing her power. That's why it's getting colder, and with the icebergs floating in the harbor, soon ships won't be able to reach here." This from an old man talking to a shopkeeper, piquing Angela's interest.

But the next snippet stopped her dead in her tracks. "Have you heard there's a bounty on the Princess's head? 10,000 Luc pieces. Apparently she's guilty of treason. It must be bad, for her own mother to be looking for her that urgently."

Suddenly the man turned, and Angela thought he was looking right into her wide eyes. Angela hurriedly ducked inside the nearby inn, fearful someone might try to claim the bounty then and there. Behind the safety of the wall, Angela cautiously peered out the corner of the window, not sure what to do next.

"You look like you've lost hope, young one." Angela started, and turned to see a withered old crone looking at her.

"A person's life is ninety-nine percent fate.. the other one percent is your hope guiding you, Princess Angela."

Angela looked around the common room, panicked someone had overheard. No one else appeared to be paying attention.

"How did you know my name?" she demanded.

The old woman ignored the question. "Go to Wendel, Princess. Seek the Priest of Light. Seek the Goddess. When you are lost in the dark, you need a light to guide you. Only She can give you the hope you need now." Angela turned back towards the window for a long moment.

"The Holy City... What have I got to lose?" she said quietly, half to herself. "I don't know what's waiting for me there, but I can't stay here. All right, I'll go. Maybe, I'll even learn to use magi-" and as she turned, she stopped, mid-sentence. The old woman was nowhere to be seen.

Angela blinked, and shook her head. Maybe she was still delirious.

But stepping outside, she heard a call. "All aboard, last call for passage to Jad." She didn't know what came over her, but suddenly she ran for the harbor, pushing startled villagers out of her way.

Breathless, she arrived at the gangplank. The captain greeted her. "Do you have money for passage, miss?"

She reached into her pouch, and emptied the coins within. Out spilled several Luc, bearing the snowflake of Altena, but she could tell from the look on the captain's face it wasn't enough.

Humility was not something that Angela knew much about. Nevertheless, she realized she was a beggar now. Taking a deep breath, she looked in the captain's eyes. "Please, sir," she asked, her voice plaintive.

The captain returned her gaze for a long second, then nodded his head. "Thank you," Angela told him, lowering her head in shame and frustration. As she stepped on board, she tried to give him her money, but her closed her fist around it and shook her head. She looked at him, surprised. After her experiences in the palace, it surprised her to be greeted by the look of kindness across the face of a common sailor.

Stepping on board, Angela stepped to the rail, surrounded by the common people of Altena, seeking to escape the encroaching cold, heading towards an uncertain future. She was only another one of them, now. She brooded as the ship loosed its moorings, and she watched her home fade in the distance.