We all lead such elaborate lives.
-Aida, "Elaborate Lives"
In the beginning there was Light, and the Light was the sustainer of all. No hatred or unhappiness shadowed the lives of the people in those days. Few knew what it was like to live in fear, to be filled with despair, to long for death. The universe had been at peace long beyond living memory, with inter-planetary system alliances paving the way for a future as prosperous as the past.
There had been rumors once of an evil force that had threatened to take hold in the most ancient days of creation, but the story was viewed as little more than a fairy tale. Followers of the Dark were thought to be long extinct if they had existed at all. When something sinister began forming in the deepest regions of space, on abandoned moons and on rocky ghost planets, few but a handful of prophets were concerned…until one day when the movement sparked an uprising of those who had long lain dormant, waiting for their chance to rise to prominence. The children of the Dark had faded, but they had never been gone.
Aware that the old era of peace had died, a new generation of young rulers took responsibility for stopping the Darkness from spreading. Young queens and kings across the galaxy joined together and fought to preserve their way of life, for their children if not for themselves. The battle was intense and lasted for many years, but in the end the rulers of the Light were able to seal away the Darkness into another dimension where it could never be released. All followers of the Dark were condemned to that shadowy fate, all except one small child of royal bloodline whom a young queen took pity upon. She saved the child and vowed to raise him as her own, unaware that he would one day be her destruction.
The Light had triumphed, but the friendships that had formed while fighting the Dark were threatened because the queen who had rescued the child had fallen in love with a king of a distant sun. Marriage between members of different planetary systems was forbidden in order to keep the blood and unique powers of each system's rulers pure. The young couple knew that and fought to keep their feelings secret, even from each other. One night in the heat of battle they were no longer able to deny it, and the love that had long flowered in secret suddenly burst forth to consume them both. They knew it was impossible to be together, but in the final days of the war when Death could be lurking around any corner, it was impossible not to be.
After the final battle, duty and responsibility overcame, and their relationship had to end. The young queen was forced to suffer in silence as her lover was betrothed to her best friend. At her friend's request she was present throughout the wedding preparations. She stood by her friend's side as she and the man she loved exchanged vows of fidelity. She stayed throughout the honeymoon and for many months afterwards while her friend, glowing with the excitement of her new life, couldn't bear to part from her favorite confidante.
Before long whispers began forming in the corridors about the newlywed queen's husband and her best friend. The court noticed that the queen's two closest companions avoided each other often yet gazed too long. They picked up on a sizzling electricity that, if not evident in their expressions, could be sensed in the air surrounding them. The gossip eventually reached the queen's ears. When she confronted her friend, she was told the truth of what had been. Her friend loved her too much to lie. Even though she swore that nothing had happened since the engagement, jealousy forged an ugly fear in the queen's heart. She ordered her friend away from her kingdom and told her to never return.
The young queen was forced to steal away in the night. She meant to leave quietly, but her former lover was tipped off about her flight from a servant. He rushed to stop her. When she told him that they could never see each other again, he became desperate. He told her that he would leave with her. He told her he would turn his back on his kingdom, his wife and their growing child, everything to be with her, but the girl tearfully reminded him that there was nowhere they could run to where they would be safe. Propelled by mixed longing and sorrow, they yielded to each other in one final act of passion that never would have transpired without the queen's efforts to keep her husband safe. After it was over and the temporary relief had faded, the girl had no choice but to leave.
The young queen returned to her home, but she did not return alone. Her final moments with the king were burned forever into her memory, and in the coming months his love grew within her into a child of their own. She knew she would never see him again, and being able to keep a piece of him inside her was a comfort. Knowing the penalty for such a love, she kept her pregnancy secret from all but a few trusted friends, trying to ignore the fact that one day she would have a choice to make. At the time it was a relief to have the child with her, a reminder of what she'd had and lost. But she knew her secret couldn't be kept forever. Sooner or later, something would have to be done…
0 0 0
"Push… Come on, Karenna, push!"
A teenage girl lay on the bed, her face pale and moist as she gritted her teeth against the pain of the birth. The smooth bulge of her belly was exposed as two young women anxiously leaned over her and murmured encouragement. Although the girl was trembling with the effort of the labor, she did not cry out. The huddled old woman scuttling around the room, watching and providing water and linen, took the queen's silence as yet another sign that what had been forming in her dark imagination was true.
"It's an omen!" she gasped, her breathing dry and raspy. She pointed a long gnarled finger at the queen and bared her yellowing teeth. "Only the children of demons need no pain to birth."
The intensity with which the girl gripped the hand of one of the women seemed to prove otherwise. Queen Vayu spun on the bent figure furiously and demanded, "Are you implying that your queen is a demon?" Her gaze had been known to frighten much younger and stronger than the old woman into retreat, and it proved successful again.
The old seer's own eyes widened, and she took a few stumbling steps backwards before she spoke. "Only her offspring, Your Majesty. The child should be killed before it destroys us all!"
Queen Vayu let out her breath in an angry huff. "Can you believe this, Karenna? Allow me to call the guards so they can drag this old bat away from us."
The young Queen Celestia on the bed tried shaking her head but she was stopped short with a sharp gasp. Worry crinkling her forehead, Queen Vayu gripped her hand more tightly. The other woman, Queen Inanna, calmly said, "The guards can't come because they can't know of this. We've worked too hard these last few months to keep this pregnancy secret to throw everything away now."
"But her ignorant superstitions aren't helping. We can't let her stand there spouting poison."
"She is wise…my parents trusted her," the queen of Athena managed to choke out before the pain of her contractions increased and she clamped her mouth shut with a muffled cry.
Her friend's obvious distress enraged the queen of Anteros. "See what you're doing to her!" Queen Vayu yelled at the old woman who was still cowering in the corner and pouting. "Karenna, please, let me…"
"No!" Queen Celestia's voice was surprisingly strong. "Ada stays."
Ada's creased old lips stretched into a smile.
Queen Vayu fell silent. She continued to grip her friend's hand, occasionally muttering to her soothingly or brushing her damp silver hair off her forehead with gentle fingers.
The birthing had gone on all night despite the presence of the fire-haired Queen Inanna of Hestia who was famous for her healing touch. Perhaps sensing the trouble her birth would bring, the child seemed reluctant to leave her home and was fighting expulsion all the way. Queen Celestia had grown weaker throughout the night but more determined. Queen Vayu had begun to fear that surgical action would have to be taken if the child didn't come soon, but within the hour the tiny, pink, and screaming infant was finally brought forth into the world. After the release, Queen Celestia let out such a long sigh and shudder that Queen Vayu feared for her, but only seconds later, her friend's pale eyes opened and her face softened into a weary smile.
"Let me see my daughter," she requested once Quenn Inanna confirmed that the infant was a girl. She stretched out her arms but was stopped by a shriek from the old woman in the corner.
"No," Ada protested. "Demon." Her withered form was shaking.
Queen Celestia's arms dropped obediently back to the sheets.
"She's a baby, a harmless baby," Queen Inanna said as she wrapped the screaming infant in a soft blanket and started cleaning her. She smiled as she gazed down at the whining, squirming infant in her arms.
"I know," Queen Celestia said, her pale blue eyes troubled. "But perhaps it is better for me not to hold her so it will be easier when…" She broke off and turned, her eyes filling with tears.
Queen Vayu gasped. "Surely you aren't listening to that witch." Her eyes shot towards Ada, and this time the old woman stared back with equal heat. "She's a crazy old lady, palace mystic or not. Karenna, I'm the queen of Anteros, and you know that my people are gifted with Vision. I sense nothing from this child that is dangerous. Only happiness and light."
"I know." Queen Celestia sighed, looking as tired as a woman on her deathbed. "I am not thinking of our safety but hers."
Ada picked up on that thought and nodded vigorously, even though safety of the child was the farthest thing from her mind. "Yes, yes. How will your loyal subjects deal with her, a bastard princess?" She spat out the words as if they were a horrible curse. "How will they deal with you? Will you retain any respect after the news gets out? They will call you a slut. They will call you unfit to be their ruler."
"I don't care what they think of me," Queen Celestia told her honestly, making Ada's eyes pop and her mouth drop open in a scandalized expression.
Queen Inanna frowned. "I hate to say it, but she has a point. We've been avoiding this discussion for too long. You know the laws against inter-system relationships. There has already been gossip about why you returned so suddenly nine months ago. It won't take long for people to guess who the father is. At the very least we need a cover story about where she came from to avoid an uprising against you and your daughter."
Ada's wrinkled eyes were looking feverish as she crept forward. "Why create a lie? We could rid ourselves of this curse, and no one ever has to know. You can marry and start anew. You will have a new child, my queen, a legitimate one, and a husband."
"I don't want a husband. If I can't have him, I don't want anyone."
"Heresy!" the old woman shrieked. "You must marry."
But Queen Celestia shook her head stubbornly.
Seeing her resistance, Ada returned to the one argument that seemed to have weight with the queen. "What kind of life will the girl know if you keep her? The truth will come out, and when it does she will be spat upon and looked down on from even the servants. She will bring destruction to us, I know it!"
Queen Vayu and Queen Inanna started to protest, but Queen Celestia lifted a pale hand to silence them. "She may be right," she whispered, her will broken by the lingering pain and exhaustion from the birth. "I only want what's best for her."
She closed her eyes in thought for a few minutes, her face tense, and then her eyes flew open. She clutched Queen Vayu's hand desperately. "Yes. Send her away. Find her a home. The best home you can find with kind people to care for her. She must have nothing but the best."
"Where?" Queen Vayu asked gently, sensing that she had lost. Her friend had decided.
Queen Celestia's lips twitched. She leaned back against the pillow, her eyelids fluttering. "The Moon Kingdom. Then at least…at least one of us can be near him." Suddenly overcome with fatigue, she closed her eyes and drifted into a deep sleep.
The supreme queen's will was spoken. Queen Vayu and Queen Inanna had no choice but to obey. While the queen slept, they made the necessary preparations to send the young princess away. They worked quickly, fearing what would happen if they delayed too long and a still fearful Ada got her wrinkled hands on the child. The infant slept as they worked, never aware that her young life was about to take a drastic turn. The two queens arranged for the baby to be taken away in care of a trusted servant of Queen Vayu who had merchant relatives that did business with the Moon Kingdom. Quickly, swiftly, as if she had never been there, the little princess was spirited away from her mother and out of the kingdom she might never know.
When Queen Celestia woke the next day her mind was clear, so clear that she regretted her decision and immediately asked for her child. She was informed by a tearful Queen Inanna that her orders had already been followed. Queen Celestia did nothing but cry for days, but she never asked her friends to fetch the child back. She knew that sending her daughter away was for the best, no matter how it broke her heart. The young princess, her daughter and the only reminder of her beloved Auren and the love she had lost, was gone.
Here begins another addition to my Sailor Moon universe. This story like Secret Destiny and Silver Twilight was written years ago, but I've been going through and editing/rewriting in an effort to not let old fanfics rot away on my hard drive. A few things you should know about Age of Innocence before reading:
-It is the prequel to Secret Destiny and Silver Twilight. It could be read first, but it was meant to be read third. I'm guessing new readers will not care about my original characters in here without having read the other two stories first. But I could be wrong. Proceed if you dare. :)
-When I originally wrote this, I was obsessed with the Disney musical Aida. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter are all lines from the song "Elaborate Lives." The song fits together with the story really well. It's sort of creepy, actually, looking back and seeing the progression of the story along with the lines of the song.
-I tried to give equal "screen time" to the Usagi/Mamoru/Averill and Jenny/Nick/Lord Ahriman storylines, but they dominate in different parts of the story. The first third mostly has to do with events in Jenny/Bryn's life, the middle is heavily focused on Usagi/Serena, and the end is a mix of both stories. Just a warning so you don't assume the story is all about Jenny/Bryn because the beginning is from her perspective. Averill comes into the story around Chapter 6 or 7, so if you're waiting for that triangle in particular, hang in there!
-Each character has a few different names. This stemmed from me not knowing back in the day whether to use the Japanese names for Secret Destiny or the names from the dub I was more familiar with at the time. I compromised by using the Japanese names for the present and using the English names for the Silver Millenium. To complicate things, each character also has a formal title. So Usagi is Serena in the Silver Millenium but her formal title is Princess Serenity, and Jenny is Bryn but her formal title is Princess Celestia. A handy chart with all the names for the characters is below.
Um...yeah, I guess that's all. Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think! I thrive on feedback.
So here, for your reading pleasure and to ease confusion, is a one-stop reference to the various names that are used in this story.
Secret Destiny/Silver Twilight Name: Warrior: Formal Title: Age of Innocence Name
Usagi Tsukino: Sailormoon*: Princess Serenity: Serena
Mamoru Chiba: Tuxedo Kamen*: Prince Endymion: Darien
Averill: n/a: Prince Kenrick: Averill
Ami Mizuno: Sailormercury: Princess Alcyone: Amy
Rei Hino: Sailormars: Princess Miya: Raye
Makoto Kino: Sailorjupitor: Princess Tinia: Lita
Minako Aino: Sailorvenus: Princess Kama: Mina
Hotaru Tomoe: Sailorsaturn: Princess^: Kira#
Haruka Tenoh: Sailoruranus: Princess^: Amara
Michiru Kaioh: Sailorneptune: Princess^: Michelle
Setsuna Meioh: Sailorpluto: Princess^: Tricia
Jenny Thomas: Sailorathena*: Princess Celestia: Bryn
Nick Kestrel: n/a: "Prince of the Rogues": Adrian
Lord Ahriman: n/a: Lord Ahriman: Lord Ahriman
Kelly Virida: Sailoranteros: Princess Vayu: Lydia
Alyson Dunam: Sailorpandia: Princess Aurora: Adira
Brenna O'Dell: Sailorhestia: Princess Inanna: Giselle
Dalila Eshe: Sailorastraea: Princess Amrita: Ciah
Lyyli Viljo: Sailorurania: Princess Mara: Alisia
Sera: n/a: Princess An: Sera
Christine Duvalle: Sailormetis: Princess Charis: Julie
Adiel Austin: Sailordemeter: Princess Lakshmi: Anna
Kai: Kyanite: n/a: Kai
Alexei: Alexandrite: n/a: Alexei
Andrew: Axinite: n/a: Andrew
Azriel: Azurite: n/a: Azriel
Cayla: Calcite: n/a: Cayla
Breyden: Bauxite: n/a: Breyden
Jevan: Jadeite: n/a: Jevan
* Does not exist in Age of Innocence.
^ I gave the outer senshi titles, but I can't remember what they were. My old notes are in another state, and I'd probably be too lazy to look them up anyway. Their titles are never used in this story, so they don't really matter.
# Yeah, okay, I know Kira wasn't her name in the English series, but having Hotaru twice would screw up my whole naming scheme, so I had to make a name up for her. She kind of looks like a friend I had in elementary school who was named Kyra, so I think that's where I got it from.