The Earth Senshi Chronicles - Book One
by Jason C. Ulloa

Chapter 1: Prelude

Primus 14th, 5941

"Again!"

The boy nodded and raised both blades in front of him, eyebrows furrowed in intense concentration. Slowly, the twin blades settled into a ready guard position. A light breeze played across his face as his right foot slid back a handbreadth; his heel grinding into the hard, packed dirt. "Ready, Master."

"Now, Parting the Wind!"

Instantly, both swords sprung forward in a burst of movement, each one cutting forward in a horizontal arc that flowed into a parallel overhead swing.

"Leafcutter!"

The blades moved into a rapid slashing pattern while remaining perfectly parallel to each other, first left, then right, then left again in a full circle.

"Heaven's Ascending into Cascading Rain!"

The two blades split, one going to each side with the right blade higher than the left, as he leapt spinning into the air, his blades becoming a corkscrew. At the height of his leap, he kicked out with his right foot, flipping over as he descended. Unfortunately, before his flip could complete, he hit the ground on his knees, followed by the rest of his body.

Boranos sighed and shook his head. "This is the tenth time you've failed to execute Cascading Rain properly, Prince Jovan. Maybe we should continue with the simpler forms for now?"

The prince shook his head as he rose to his feet. "Again."

Boranos sighed again, but in amused patience, rather than disappointment. "Honestly, young Prince, you are quite stubborn. Mastery of the Twin Blades does not come quickly. Or easily."

"But if I don't master it by next year-"

The blademaster waved the complaint off. "Yes, yes. Your coming-of-age will be postponed until you do." He folded his arms patiently across his chest and gave the prince a dry look. "Mastery of a complex style such as this one does not happen quickly, young Prince."

"Father did it by his coming-of-age."

"And just barely," he pointed out. "He almost cut off one of his arms performing Stormbringer. It took him another two years to properly master it." He gave him a stern look. "Remember, Prince Jovan, once you undergo the ceremony, you will be using the Twin Blades of Damocles instead of those wooden practice blades."

"I know, Master," the prince said, his features set in certainty. "But, I believe I can do it. I'll be ready by then."

Boranos shook his head and shrugged. "As you wish, young Prince. However, might I suggest that you work on your leg strength? You need to leap higher during Heaven's Ascending if you are going to have enough time to manuever into Cascading Rain. Maybe if you managed to grow as tall as your sister...."

'Speaking of Fulgora,' he thought as he picked his blades up off the ground and prepared to go through the sword form Rising Crescent, 'where did she and Mother go this morning? It's not like her to not tell me where she's going.' With a mental shrug, he turned his mind back to his training.

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"Welcome to the Moon Palace, Queen Jura, Princess Jura."

The Jovian princess nodded to the palace servant as she had seen her mother do many times before. Her mother had often told her that she should always make an attempt to be polite to servants, but not to treat them any better than their station deserved. Growing up, she hadn't really understood what that meant, so she figured that she should just act as her mother usually did and leave it at that. Now that she was older, she understood better the relationships between royalty and servants, but the habit of following her mother's lead was so ingrained, she unconsciously did it whenever she was with her.

"Tell me, have the other queens and princesses arrived yet?"

"Yes, Queen Jura," he informed her. "The queens have gathered in the Eastern Courtyard and are awaiting your arrival. The princesses have gathered in Princess Serenity's antechamber. If you would wait a moment, I can summon a servant to escort you, Princess Jura."

"I thank you for the offer, but that is unnecessary," she replied. "I can see myself there."

"As you wish," he bowed respectfully and turned to the queen. "If you would come with me, please?"

"Very well," she replied and turned to her daughter. "Try not to show any favoritism, dear."

She smiled mischeviously. "But Mother, this is for my dear brother's sake. Why shouldn't I?" She made a small curtsy and started down the hall, her footsteps making soft echoes as she walked away.

The queen gave a small laugh under her breath, then turned to the palace servant, who was waiting a short distance away patiently. "Please, proceed."

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It didn't take long for Fulgora to make her way to Princess Serenity's antechamber. She had been there several times before to visit or whenever there was an informal meeting between the Princesses, such as now. They didn't happen very often - quite rarely, in fact - so these meetings were usually held in the same manner as if they were just visiting as usual.

As she entered the antechamber, she saw that all the others were, as expected, already there and waiting for her. The chamber was quite large - definitely larger than hers by a wide margin; but then, this was the antechamber of the Moon Princess - and very well decorated so that the chamber seemed spacious without seeming empty. Light silk curtains draped across the openings between the main bedroom, the antechamber, the balcony, and between the main bedroom, another balcony, and the washroom, all pulled wide open and tied off in order to permit unobstructed passage. The curtains could be easily closed with a simple tug on the soft, velvet ropes holding the curtains open, should the Moon Princess desire it. There were also several small couches and chairs for occasions like this, where the Moon Princess had many guests to entertain. They were all colored similarly and draped with delicate-looking, colorful silks, pleasing to the eye without being too bright or distasteful.

Camilla and Salacia, the Princesses of Uranus and Neptune, were sitting over to one side of the room, speaking amongst themselves. Those two were older than the princesses of the Inner Realm at sixteen years of age. Only Cassandra, Princess of Pluto, was older at seventeen years. The last princess of the Outer Realm, Persephone, Princess of Saturn, at twelve years of age, was younger than even the princesses of the Inner Realm, who all averaged around fourteen years of age.

One glance around the antechamber showed that Cassandra was not present. Of course, since she had assumed the role of Sailor Pluto after her coming-of-age two years ago, she had been busy with her new duty of standing guard at the Gates of Time. Persephone was sitting with Aurora, the Princess of Venus, Bellona, Princess of Mars, and Minerva, Princess of Mercury, making small talk as Princess Serenity sat in her favorite cushioned, crystal chair, preparing a blend of her favorite tea for everyone.

"Ah, so Princess Jura finally decides to grace us with her presence!" Camilla said as she stood up and bowed dramatically.

"Camilla, please!" Salacia chided, shaking her head in exasperation.

Fulgora grinned, unfazed by the usage of her royal name, rather than her birth name. "I'm not that late, Princess Uriah," she retorted as she smirked back. She knew Camilla hated her royal name; she often complained that it sounded incredibly stupid. Camilla stiffened as she sat back down and folded her arms.

"I thought I told you NOT to address me by that name," she growled as she scowled at her.

"Sorry, Camilla," Fulgora apologized, waving a placating hand at her. "Sorry."

"It's enough that I'm forced to hear that stupid name all the time back home," she muttered, her expression lightening from a scowl to an annoyed frown. "I just wish I could tell them, 'Camilla! Just call me Camilla! Princess Camilla is fine, too, just stop addressing me by that stupid name!'"

Salacia sighed as if unwillingly returning to a familiar argument. "You know that, by law, only members of the royal families are allowed to address each other by birth names."

"Feh."

"Must we go through this every time we meet?" Bellona inquired, her calm voice starting to show a small undertone of irritation.

"Now, now," Princess Serenity cut in as Camilla started to reply. "Let's not have a repeat of what happened the last time we all met like this." She rose from her chair, picked up the tray of tea cups resting by her chair, and started offering the other princesses tea.

More than once, it was suggested to the Moon Princess that she could have a servant prepare and serve her guests, rather than do it herself. Each time, Princess Serenity would reply that she did such things herself because she enjoyed serving her friends and did not feel that such tasks were beneath her station regardless of what others would think.

"Thanks," Aurora said as she took a cup from Serenity and breathed in the tea's aroma. "Mmm. I love this blend." She took a small sip as the Moon Princess finished serving and went back to her chair. "So, is there something going on that we should know about? I mean, even our mothers are meeting to discuss something."

"Actually...," Princess Serenity began as she smoothed out her gown over her knees, then turned her gaze to Fulgora, "you should be asking her. This whole gathering is the doing of her and her mother."

"Is there something happening on Jupiter?" Minerva inquired, her expression showing concern. "Has some kind of emergency there arisen?"

Fulgora shook her head quickly. "No, no, no! Nothing so drastic as that!"

Minerva sighed in relief.

"So, what are we all here for, then?" Bellona asked as she took her own cup.

"Is this good news or bad news?" Persephone asked as well.

"First of all, it's good news," she said, smiling at the youngest Princess. "As you all know, my brother's approaching his fourteenth year next month."

"The twenty-eighth of Dimensis, wasn't it?" Princess Serenity said as she took a sip of her tea.

"Yes. He will be undergoing his coming-of-age next year."

"Along with Aurora and myself," she remarked with a thoughtful tone to her voice.

"Yes, it's almost that time, isn't it?" Aurora agreed with a laugh. "I'm really looking forward to mine."

"Isn't the Jovian coming-of-age ceremony for royal males the most difficult in the entire Moon Kingdom?" Salacia inquired. "I've heard whispers that in the long history of the ceremony, some Princes have either become permanently disfigured, or have even died while undertaking it."

Aurora's smile disappeared. "Is it really that hard?"

"Lucentius will pass," Fulgora said with complete certainty. "I believe in him."

"What's so hard about that ceremony anyway?" Camilla asked.

"The coming-of-age ceremony is part of our planet's ancient military heritage," Fulgora explained. "Jovians have always been warriors, many holding high positions in the Moon Kingdom's military or serving in the Moon Palace's elite Palace Guard. As such, the coming-of-age ceremony is one in which a royal male's combat skills are tested.

"First, there is a test of actual combat skill where the one coming-of-age must fight against one who has already undergone the ceremony; in this case, Father will be testing Lucentius, and he has already told us that he intends to make this test as difficult as possible, just as his father did before him."

"That doesn't sound too bad," Camilla remarked.

"It's not," Fulgora agreed. "It's the second and final part that is the most dangerous of the two. The second half of the coming-of-age ceremony requires that the one taking the test prove a certain level of mastery of the Twin Blades."

"The Twin Blades?" Persephone asked, frowning at the unfamiliar term. "What are those?"

"I've heard Lucentius mention those before," Bellona said as she set down her tea cup. "Those are supposed to be a pair of extremely dangerous swords that could harm the wielder just as easily as those wielded against."

"The Twin Blades of Damocles," Minerva added, nodding her head slowly. "I've seen mention of them, too. I've read a few medical cases that were under Royal Seal where young Jovian males of the royal line at the time had sustained severe injuries while wielding those blades. There are probably other cases concerning those blades as well, but those are classified Royal Edict or higher."

"They're easily the most powerful weapons ever created during Serenity I's Platinum Millennium," Fulgora stated. "They're possibly the most powerful weapons in existence, outside that which the royal line of Serenity wields." She shook her head once. "But now I'm getting sidetracked. The point I was trying to make was that Lucentius is going to take - and pass - his coming-of-age ceremony next year."

"So, I guess this means that your mother will be making plans to marry him off, then?" Salacia assumed. "I feel sorry for him. You know how he feels about the girls in your court." Nods from the other princesses followed that statement.

"That's also the reason why I've called you all here," Fulgora said, grinning.

"You want us to introduce Lucentius to some of the girls in our courts, then?" Bellona asked, a small frown forming on her lips. "Personally, I don't think he'd like them any more than your own."

"No, not quite," she said, a slow grin spreading across her face.

A similar grin started to spread across the face of Princess Serenity as she began to understand Fulgora's intentions. "Oh, I see where this is going now," she said, quite pleased with the idea.

The Jovian princess nodded as she turned to the other princesses. "I'm here to ask if any of you might be interested in an engagement with Lucentius."

The room went silent as everyone took in the request. The silence only lasted for a moment until it was broken by the soft sipping of Princess Serenity as she returned to her tea.

"I like your brother and all," Camilla began, "but just as a friend. Certainly, not enough to get married to him. Besides, my work as the new Sailor Uranus will keep me in the outer reaches of the Moon Kingdom more often than not."

"It's the same with me," Salacia agreed. "I certainly don't want to tie him down to a marriage where he'd have to wake up alone most of the time while I'm off performing my duties as the new Sailor Neptune."

Fulgora nodded her understanding, then looked to the princess of Saturn. "Persephone?"

She shook her head. "I... It's hard for me to see him as anything more than an older brother," she told her. "I mean..., maybe... in a few years... but... I don't know... Lucentius and I... married...?"

"Don't worry about it too much," she said, shaking her head. "It's all right."

"I'll do it."

Fulgora turned to Aurora. "You will?"

Aurora nodded and smiled. "I'll marry Lucentius," she stated as a blush stained her cheeks.

"Well, then," she said, smiling, "I guess that takes care of-"

"What? You're just going to skip over me, just like that?" Bellona cut in, folding her arms.

The Venusian princess blinked as she turned to regard the Martian princess. "Bellona?"

"Are you just going to pass over me without giving me a chance to say anything?" she remarked, casting a quick glare at Aurora before turning back to Fulgora.

"You want to marry my brother, Bellona?"

The Martian princess nodded silently, a similar blush forming on her face.

"Hey! I agreed to it first!" Aurora complained.

"That doesn't mean you're the only one!" Bellona shot back.

Fulgora glanced back and forth between Aurora and Bellona, then glanced over at Minvera who was staring at the two arguing princesses, her lips pursed as if debating with herself over something.

"Well, Minerva?" Fulgora inquired. "You're the last one. What's your decision?"

The Mercurian princess jerked as if startled. "Ah! W-Well, you've already got two people vying for-" she began.

"That doesn't matter," Fulgora interrupted.

"But, Aurora and Bellona-"

"Oh, quit hesitating and just say 'yes' already!" Bellona snapped at her. Beside her, Aurora folded her arms and nodded in agreement.

Minerva went quiet for a moment. "...yes," she said in a hushed voice as she hung her head, her face flushed in embarrassment.

"Well, isn't this interesting?" Camilla remarked sharing a mischievous grin with Salacia. "I almost want to see Lucentius' expression when he finds out."

"Camilla...," Salacia said as she fought the urge to roll her eyes in exasperation.

"Well, Fulgora, shall we go and share this information with our queen mothers?" Princess Serenity suggested as she rose from her chair. "I'm sure they're waiting for us to finish as we speak. Aurora, Bellona, Minerva, would you care to join us as well?"

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Primus 15th, 5941

"Engagement?"

"Yes, son. Since you are nearing your fourteenth year, it is time you became fully aware of what is required of you as the Prince, as you will only have one more year until your coming-of-age."

The prince frowned as he looked away from his father, staring down at the floor of the throne room as he gathered his thoughts. This wasn't exactly the kind of present he expected for his fourteenth birthday, even if Dimensis was next month.

"To whom am I betrothed, Father?" he inquired. "Do I at least know this girl?" He hoped it wasn't any of the daughters of the lesser nobles of his planet. They were either too snobbish and stuck-up, or too interested in political maneuvering. The same with the daughters of the higher nobles; ones who came from families who at one point ruled Jupiter during the reign of Serenity I during the First Millennium, or Serenity II during the Second Millennium. They all saw him as just a way for their own family to gain prestige in the Third Millennium.

Ugh.

The Jovian king gave him an amused look. "You don't have to worry; I know your opinion of the girls in our court."

He gave his father a grateful look, followed by a curious one. "So, if my fiancee isn't from Jupiter, then... one of the Princesses?"

"That's right," the Jovian queen said as she entered the throne room with her daughter trailing behind. "You will eventually be married to one of the Princesses."

"So, Hera, it is done?" the king asked, turning toward his queen.

"Agreed to and witnessed before Queen Serenity," she replied with a pleased smile. "Though I still think he should have come with me and Fulgora."

"No, the two of you were sufficient," he disagreed. "Lucentius still has a ways to go before he can relax in his training." He gave his son a pointed look. "Boranos says you're one of his best students and that you have the potential to be one of the best swordsmen the Moon Kingdom has ever seen, but you are still nowhere near mastery of the Twin Blades."

Lucentius frowned. "All the more reason why I shouldn't be worrying about an engagement," he remarked flatly.

"Now, don't sulk," Fulgora said with a laugh as she went over to her brother's side. "I know you'll pass your coming-of-age test when you turn fifteen. Your bride-to-be is counting on it."

The prince gave her a sulking frown. "Feh."

The king turned to his wife with a hint of an amused grin on his face. "How did it go, Hera? Did everything turn out well?"

The queen nodded as she strode forward. "While I was engaged in the usual pleasantries that come with a meeting between royals, Fulgora met with the princesses to determine if at least any of them were interested." She gave her son a warm smile as she took her seat beside her husband. "If you have to be engaged to someone, Lucentius, I'd rather she would at least want to be engaged to you."

"Salacia and Camilla didn't show any interest when I spoke with them," Fulgora added. "Persephone is too young and sees him only as an older brother, and Cassandra was too busy with her duty as Sailor Pluto to even attend. Out of everyone I've spoken with, only Minerva, Bellona, and Aurora showed any interest."

Lucentius mentally sighed in relief. Out of all the girls he could've possibly been stuck with, he could've ended up with much, much worse. Those three were best friends with Fulgora; since they were all very close in age, they had all grown up together. He liked them as friends growing up, but now he had to start thinking of one of them as his future wife.

Minerva was the princess of Mercury, planet of medicine and medical studies. She was a very intelligent girl, whose greatest joy was learning the trade of her homeworld. She loved talking about how, if she didn't have to take over as the next Sailor Mercury, she had always wanted to become a doctor. She often spoke of wanting to save her people's lives with her own hands; something that he had always respected about her.

Bellona was the princess of Mars, religious center of the Moon Kingdom. She was a confident and very outspoken girl. She had a bit of a temper at times, which he had had the misfortune of being on the receiving end on occasion, but that didn't bother him. He liked her strong personality, which was more genuine than the simpering submissiveness that he was used to seeing from the girls from his parent's court.

Aurora was the princess of Venus, planet of exotic flora and agriculture. She was a friendly, outgoing, and very lively girl who was well-loved by the people of her planet. It always seemed like she had a smile on her face whenever he saw her. He loved spending time with her, since she could always bring a smile to his face no matter what mood he was in.

"So, which one am I engaged to?" he asked.

"Right now, no one," Hera explained.

The prince blinked. "No one?" he repeated in a flat tone. "Mother, are you and Fulgora poking fun at me?"

"We're giving you some time to figure out your feelings," she explained with a laugh. "However, you've got until your coming-of-age to choose."

"Otherwise?" Lucentius prompted.

"We will expect you to choose by then," the Jovian king told him. "That's all there is to it."

The prince's expression went neutral. "I see...." With that, he turned to leave.

Hera and Fulgora exchanged concerned glances as the king stood up. "Lucentius."

Lucentius stopped and turned back. "Yes, Father?"

"Are you walking out on this engagement?" he demanded, frowning. "Your mother and sister have put some effort into ensuring your happiness in this matter. They could have just as easily arranged for you to marry one of the high nobles' daughters.

"Futhermore, being engaged to one of the royal princesses, and a future Sailor Senshi at that, is no small matter," the king continued. "Although is your duty as a royal prince to marry and continue the royal bloodline, it is a rare priviledge to be chosen as the Consort to one of the Sailor Senshi, and even rarer still to be allowed to marry one!"

Lucentius remained expressionless throughout the tirade. "I understand all that, Father. I have no intentions of walking out on anything. I am merely going to return to my training. It would hardly do for the future husband of a Sailor Senshi to fail a test during his coming-of-age, so I am taking my leave to fulfill my duties. If you will excuse me, Mother, Father." He gave his parents a polite, yet formal bow and left the throne room, leaving his father staring after him with a frown on his face.

"That is not at all how I thought he would take it," Hera said with some disappointment. "I thought he would be pleased to not have to marry any of those noble girls."

"I will go speak with him," Fulgora said as she curtsied to her parents. "By your leave, Mother, Father."

"Go," Hera said, nodding.

Fulgora rose and left the throne room at a quick pace. After she left, the king turned to his wife and gave her a regretful look.

"Do you think I may have handled that wrong, Hera?" he asked with a sigh as he sat back down.

Hera placed a hand on her husband's. "Dear, you handled that as well as can be expected. Lucentius will comply with what we ask of him. That is what's important." She turned her gaze back to the entrance to the throne room. "However, what is important is not always what we want."

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"Lucentius!" Fulgora called out as she quickened her pace in order to catch up to her brother. The prince stopped and glanced over his shoulder for a moment, before reaching out and opening the door to his chambers.

"If you're after me to talk to me about what happened earlier, don't worry about it," he told her as he turned back to the door. "I already said I would comply with our parents' wishes." He stepped into his room and started to close the door behind him, but his sister held the door open long enough for her to slip in behind him.

"There's more than that on your mind," she said as she closed the door and leaned with her back against it.

Lucentius stared at her for a few moments before sighing to himself. "Why can't you just let me brood over things in peace?" he muttered as he crossed the room and opened the small wooden chest where he kept his training uniforms.

Fulgora smiled. He wasn't going to stubbornly keep it to himself. She hated it when he wouldn't confide in her. "I love you too much to not try to help you if I can," she replied as he pulled out a clean uniform and tossed it on his bed.

"I know," he said after he closed the chest and stood up. "I'm going to change now. Boranos is expecting me shortly. I'll talk with you after my training."

The Jovian princess didn't budge. "Now."

He took one look at her expression and sighed again. She had that obstinate look to her eyes, the one he knew would not yield to anyone or anything. She would make a formidable Sailor Jupiter once she came of age, he knew that for certain.

"Fine," he acquiesced as he sat down on his bed and started removing his formal boots. "But can you at least turn around if you're not going to leave? It's not like I'm going to escape out of the window."

"Fine," Fulgora said as she turned around. She frowned as he continued removing his boots without saying anything else. "Lucentius?"

"Give me a moment to gather my thoughts, all right?" he said as he stood up again, separating the top and bottom halves of his uniform before giving her an irritated look. "I said I'd talk, so let me figure out what I'm going to say."

"What's to figure out?" she replied as she folded her arms. "Just say what's on your mind. We can figure it out from there."

The Jovian prince regarded her for a moment before he started unbuttoning his shirt. "Have you ever been in love, Fulgora?"

"Eh?" she blinked, almost turning around to stare at him. She hadn't expected that question from him. "What do you mean by that?"

"I mean exactly what I said," he replied as he shrugged out of his shirt and laid it on the bed next to his training uniform. "In a way, you should know what I'm going through. Or rather, you will, since you're going to become the next Sailor Jupiter."

She gave it some thought, then blinked again as she came to a conclusion. "You're talking about when I'll have to take a Consort, right?"

"Right," he agreed after removing his undershirt and tossing it on the bed next to his formal shirt. "Consorts are usually chosen from the nobility of the planet of the Senshi's origin, although there's no restriction against them choosing someone from a different planet." He paused long enough to slip the top of his training uniform over his head. "However, it's mostly been done for political reasons."

"That's why Mother and I arranged this for you," Fulgora told him. "We don't want to see you in a loveless political marriage."

"Who did you arrange it between?" he asked as he sat down on the bed again with his back to her. "Or rather, who was there when you made the arrangements?"

Fulgora opened her mouth to respond, but stopped as she realized what her brother was trying to say.

"That's right," he said as he stood back up and turned around, having already changed into the bottom half of his training uniform. "All this was arranged without my involvement. No one asked me what I thought or wanted. And now I've got a little over a year to decide which girl of three I want to marry. Only a year to decide which girl I will spend the rest of my life with. Once I decide, there's no going back. Do you honestly think just one year is enough time to make a decision of this magnitude?

"And what will happen when my wife becomes a Sailor Senshi?" he continued. "I know that the duty of a Sailor Senshi comes first, but what if it gets to the point where my importance in her life dwindles down to that of a mere Consort? If that happens, would I eventually get dismissed like a Consort? Dismissed by my own wife! I don't think I could live through the shame of that."

Fulgora shook her head. "That's way too far into the future to worry about," she told him. "Besides, I don't think that any one of them would ever do that to you."

Lucentius frowned as he glanced away for a moment while considering what his sister said. "There's really no way to know that for certain, is there?" he mused as he walked over to where his training shoes lay and slipped them on. "But, at the same time, I'm not really being fair to the others, am I?"

"Definitely not," she agreed with a nod. "You need to give them a chance, at least. Besides, who's to say that you won't fall in love with one of them?"

"True enough," he allowed with a small grin as he approached his sister. "So, is there anyone in particular that you're hoping to see win my heart?" he asked with some amusement as she turned back around to meet his gaze.

"I'm cheering for all three of them," she replied as she stepped aside so that he could open the door.

"I suppose that's one way of going about it," he remarked as he stepped out of the room with Fulgora following close behind. "So, how is this going to work with my busy training schedule?"

"We've already made the arrangements," she told him with a wide grin. "Don't worry; Mother and I will inform you of the details at dinner."

"Fine," he agreed. "There's just one more thing."

"What's that?"

"Could you not force me to talk while changing?"

Fulgora folded her arms. "The last time I tried to talk to you like this, you snuck out of it by training all day. I wasn't going to let you sneak out of it again."

Lucentius grimaced. She caught on quick. "Fine. I won't do that again."

The Jovian princess nodded. "Good," she said, pleased with herself as she left. "I'll see you at dinner, Lucentius," she said over her shoulder as she left, leaving him to shake head and sigh to himself once again.

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Lucentius stretched as he left his chambers, feeling tired, but relaxed. Once again, he thanked his good fortune to have been born into a royal family where the males also have the privilege of having private bathing chambers attached to their rooms like the princesses and queens did. Working as hard as he usually did during practice, soaking for at least half an hour to an hour in hot water really helped relieve sore and aching muscles. He doubted any of the princes of other royal lines ever had to work as hard as he did.

He slowed to a stop as realization dawned on him. There were no other princes. He was the only one. Granted, it was something that he had known for a while, but with the news of his engagement fresh in his mind, the realization took on a whole new meaning.

'That is strange,' he thought to himself as he started walking again. 'I shouldn't be the only prince in the Moon Kingdom. What if something were to happen to the rulers of the planets? The Moon would be fine, since they have Princess Serenity and the Ginzuishou, but who would rule the planets if the ruling families are wiped out? The Senshi can't give up their powers to rule. The nobles could end up fighting each other in order to take over as the new ruling family.'

The Jovian prince shook his head. 'I really shouldn't be thinking of things like this. Everything's peaceful and nothing is going to happen any time soon. There's plenty of time for the other royal families to conceive princes of their own. It's really none of my business, anyway.'

As he approached the dining hall, a servant in green and silver livery opened the door for him and bowed. "Dinner will be ready shortly, Prince Jovan."

"Very well," he nodded as he entered the dining hall and stopped just as the doors closed behind him.

The dining hall was large as it was built to accommodate several hundred people at a time. The table that the royal family sat at was placed on a large corner dais near the entrance he had used, which was for the royal family's use only. The rest of the tables were arranged in long lines, end to end, so as to make the most of the room the dining hall provided. There were several people already seated at the tables; however, it was the ones seated at the table of the royal family that gave him pause. His mother and father were seated at the far end, as normal, along with Fulgora, who was seated next to her mother, also as normal. Next to Fulgora was his seat, which was empty, as it was supposed to be. However, instead of his seat being at the end of the table, a second table was placed, joining together with the first. And seated there....

"What are you doing just standing there, Lucentius?" Bellona asked from her seat at the table, next to his empty seat. "Aren't you going to have a seat?" To her right, Aurora looked up, glanced in his direction and waved, a cheery smile on her face, as usual. Seated at the end of that table, Minerva also glanced in his direction and gave him a shy smile.

"I'm sorry, Lucentius," Hera said, a hint of amusement in her voice as her son gave her a questioning look, "I neglected to tell you earlier that, as part of the arrangement, they would be coming to stay with us until you undergo your coming-of-age test. After all, with your rigorous training schedule, you won't have time to do any off-planet travel."

"I... see," he replied as he glanced from his family to his three potential fiancees. 'Well, this will be interesting, at least.' He went over to take his seat at the table, his earlier concerns over the lack of princes in the Moon Kingdom forgotten.

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Author's Note: As I said before, this story is the basis for all my other stories, so this is where the 'love rectangle' from The Brooch originated. Or rather, will originate. However, as future chapters of this story already has Ryoku paired with Ami, that is how it will end up here. Sorry to spoil it for you. ;P However, as a reminder, that doesn't necessarily mean that the same thing will happen in The Brooch.

Disclaimer: All original materials belong to their respective owners. Sailor Moon belongs to Naoko Takeuchi and is also Copyright Kodansha, Toei Animation, TV Asahi, Bandai, DIC, Cloverway, Pioneer, etc. No copyright infringement is intended. This story belongs me, so I would appreciate it very much if you would ask for permission before posting it anywhere else.

Thank you.

Earth Senshi Chronicles, Kino Ryoku:
Copyright 1999-2009 Jason C. Ulloa.
All Rights Reserved.