Seiken Densetsu 3 – A Blossom Burning Brightly - 聖剣伝説3 聖剣3 紅蓮の魔導師 アンジェラ 紅アン

-The First Year-

Water trickled gently through a shallow stream below the front gate of the grand citadel of Altena, the kingdom of sorcery. Pleasant green fields extended all around the colossal stone structure, bordered in a sphere by the biting cold of the sub zero snow fields that surrounded the artificially temperate kingdom on all sides.

Creatures that had grown accustomed to the harsh conditions of the snowfields over many hundreds of years, now relaxed lazily in the pleasant environment maintained by the magic kingdom's spell of perpetual spring.

A thin track of deeply trodden footprints in the snow led from the wastes to the icy border of the spell's area of effect. A single figure wrapped snugly in a warm red travelling cloak, looked up at the high stone walls, admiring the lovingly crafted architecture and basking in the shadow of the magnificent structure that was the Altenian palace, a spire of ivory beauty that jutted up from the centre of the citadel grounds.

The midday sun was high in the sky, and today was the first day of this young man's new life. His name was Guren, a boy from the coastal town of Elrand, on the north-east coast of the Altenian frozen continent, through the treacherous wastes of the sub zero snowfields. His shaggy, golden blonde hair hung untidily about his face, shielding his bright blue eyes from the glare of the bright burning sun.

Today was the day of his sixteenth birthday, a day of which he had been in restless anticipation for many years. Today was the day he was finally old enough to travel from his home in Elrand to the citadel of Altena, to live his dream of enrolling in Altena's magic academy and joining the ranks of the wizards in the Altenian court and military. Guren took a step forward through the border of the spell, the misty breath issuing forth from his lungs melted away as it equalized with the temperature inside the spell. His body quivered with relief at the warmth inside the protection of the Queen of Reason's temperate domain, and he loosened the bindings of his cloak, dropping the thick hood from his head and shaking loose his matted golden hair.

Guren began the march toward the citadel's gate, the palpitations of his heart growing faster with every energetic step. A muffled whimper caught on the breeze captured his attention and stopped his advance, turning his attention instead to the stream that disappeared among rows of trees littered the space outside the citadel walls. Guren turned to the direction of the sound and crept lightly toward its source.

Guren reached a moderately dense grouping of trees on the bank of the small stream, there a spindly elven girl a little younger than him was sobbing lightly on the bank, her knees pulled up close to her face and the fine dress that adorned her developing figure was dirty and wet, as if she had been sitting on the muddy ground for quite some time. Guren had some time, the enrolment into the academy wouldn't start for at least a few days, and she looked like she needed a friend.

"Are you alright, little one?" Guren asked softly as he approached, steadying himself by resting his right hand against the bark of the nearest tree, leaving his left arm still hidden beneath the red travelling cloak.

The girl raised her head suddenly from her knees, obviously startled by the sudden unexpected voice. Her shoulder length, raven black hair bounced with the movement and her stare locked on to the young man watching her from the shade of a tree. Her striking green eyes were filled with tears, and her face was red from the effort of stifling her cries.

Though the evidence of her unhappiness was evident, her expression hardened and she puffed out her cheeks in immature defiance. "I'm not 'little'!" She protested, wiping the remaining tears from her eyes to hide her weakness, "I'm thirteen years old!"

Guren smirked at the reaction, tucking his left arm behind his back and sweeping his right arm low in an exaggerated bow. "Of course, how foolish of me, my lady."

"Who are you?" The girl asked, getting to her feet and taking a commanding posture, a gross contrast to the whimpering child who was huddling and crying just a moment ago.

Guren smiled broader at the girl's audacity, but decided it would be fun to play along with her, at least for a little while. "My name is Guren, my lady." He replied, raising himself from the bow.

The girl's budding elven ears twitched and she turned her nose up at the young man standing before her. "Guren? What kind of name is that? It's weird."

He was a little hurt by the comment, but it was something he expected from a girl of that age, and shrugged it off as quickly as it hit him. Guren examined her now at her full height, she was tall for a girl of her age though not as tall as him, her features were delicate, beautiful and defined and her body was showing the first overt signs of blossoming into womanhood.

"I'm sorry," Guren closed his eyes and dipped his head in faux apology, "It was the name my mother thought was best." As he finished the sentence, he opened one eye to watch for her reaction.

The girl was jarred a little by the submissive reply, as if she had been hoping for a different response, and all she managed as a follow up was an indignant humph. "You're too tall, are you a human?" She asked still seeming intent on picking a fight.

Guren returned to a standing position and brushed back the hair on the left side of his head, revealing a single, short elven ear. "I'm from Elrand, I've come to study at the magic academy." He responded with pride.

"Hmph!" The girl put her nose in the air again, "My mother is the most powerful wizard in Altena!"

Guren winced at the proclamation and scratched the back of his head with growing frustration. It was common knowledge that Altena's most powerful wizard was the Queen of Reason herself, and surely there was no way this girl all alone outside the citadel walls was Altena's princess.

"Why are you out here all alone?" Guren asked, "Did you get separated from your mother? Are you waiting here for her to find you"

The girl folded her arms and looked away from Guren, suddenly seeming dejected again, "My mother wouldn't come for me anyway." She sat back down on the bank and hugged her knees close to her once more, no longer crying but carrying a heavy air of gloom about her.

Guren approached brazenly and sat next to her, opening his travelling cloak to pull his own knees up to his chin, resting his head on the black tunic he wore underneath. "Did you have a fight with your mother?" He asked.

"No." She replied, "My mother and I don't fight."

"I see." Guren tapped the outside of his leg, "You're a bit of a mystery then."

"It's none of your business." She buried her face into her knees and pretended to ignore him, though in actual fact she was thankful for the company.

Guren sighed and lay himself back on the river bank, straightening his body out and relaxing. It was a nice spot at least, he could see why she liked to be here.

The girl peeked out at him from her exaggerated foetal position. She hadn't seen a boy like him before, he was elven like her, but at the same time he wasn't. His ears were elven but his face was defined like a human but retained the delicate handsomeness of the elven heritage, and he was too tall, far too tall... but then so was she. His long golden hair complemented the shining blue eyes that stood out from his already intoxicating face, she had never before seen a boy who seemed so exotic.

She blushed when she realized she was staring, and briefly buried her head firmly back into her knees, before turning her eyes back to Guren once again. "Why do you want to study magic?" She asked.

Guren turned his own head to face her and smiled broadly, "Because it's amazing!" He replied instantly, "A wizard from Altena came to Elrand, before leaving the continent. Everyone in the orphanage went to see him use healing magic in the town square. That's when I thought, I want to do something like that as well."

"You're from an orphanage?" She asked.

"Yeah..." Guren soured a little, though any negativity wasn't directed toward her. "My mother died giving birth to me."

The girl said nothing, and didn't seem to consider offering any sympathies, but it was enough for Guren to see the concern in her eyes. It was progress at least, maybe soon she'd be able to tell him what was making her so upset.

"What about you?" Guren asked, "Has your mother taught you any magic?"

"No." She said flatly, "And I ha-"

"Princess! Princess Angela!" A shrill voice cut the air between them and a distressed Altenian female rushed toward the stream. "Princess! The whole citadel has been looking for you!"

Startled at the sudden shouting, Guren bolted upright and toppled forward into the stream, floundering briefly before righting himself and sitting flabbergasted in the gently rushing water.

"Oh-" The girl, Angela, blushed again, this time out of embarrassment and averted her eyes from the soaking wet boy. "You're not cool at all." She pouted, but managed a brief relaxing smile.

"Princess!" The female Altenian planted her hands on her hips and began to chastise her royal charge. "You've been told before not leave the palace! What if something were to happen to you!"

Angela's sour expression returned and she jumped to her feet, stalking angrily away from the flustered attendant and the bemused boy who was still sitting in the stream unable to comprehend that the girl he had just been talking to actually was Altena's princess.

"Princess!" Angela's attendant protested and followed her still trying to initiate a lecture with the unruly princess, but sadly to no avail.

Guren finally pulled himself out of the stream and wrang the worst of the water from his travelling cloak, sighing at the mess and at his own clumsiness. He watched the princess and her attendant disappear inside the gates of the citadel.

It was both amazing and hilarious to Guren that this would be his first experience in Altena, but at that point he couldn't imagine just how far Angela's destiny would intertwine with his own.