Chapter 1

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Crystalasia, there lived a beautiful and kind-hearted Queen, who went by the name of Hamai Misa. She was a fair and just ruler, and was deeply loved by everyone in the kingdom. Everybody respected her, and no one ever talked back to her, no one ever said no to her. Well, almost no one…

"No"

"But…"

"I said, NO!"

"Please, Len?"

"I said no, and I MEAN IT!"

Young prince Len held his ground, arms folded across his chest. His eyebrows were furrowed and a frown was etched on his face. Queen Misa was on her knees, at her son's eye level. She was trying to persuade him to follow her on her trip to the neighbouring kingdom of Solaris. But, as usual, he had declined without hesitation.

"Oh, come on Len! There'll be lots of kids your age there too! And then you can make friends…" she wheedled.

"Hmph…" Len snorted in distaste before spinning on his heels and striding off.

"H…Hey! Len…wait for me!" Queen Misa got up and rushed after her son.

The sun was setting in the horizon, tinting the wisps of clouds pink and purple.

Len sighed as he slumped onto his chair, rubbing his temples in exasperation.

"So you'll go, Len?" Queen Misa smiled hopefully, eyes shining.

"Fine…I give in! Having you onto me all day long is so annoying!" Len grumbled.

"Yay~! Len is coming to Solaris with mama!" Queen Misa laughed as she picked him up and swung him in the air.

"Ugh! Put me down, NOW!" Len yelled.

"Well, we'd better get packing! Come on Len, we're going shopping!" announced Queen Misa as she dragged an aggravated Len(still yelling and struggling to get away from her vice-like grip) out of the room.

2 days later…

The palace garden of Solaris was gorgeous; clumps of exotic fruits dangled from trees in the orchard, ripe and ready for eating. The hundreds of flowerbeds were full of beautiful flowers in full bloom; from Bird of Paradise to Snowdrops. The air was filled with their fragrant aroma. With the magnolia clouds floating in the lapis lazuli sky, the whole place looked a perfect picture. In the middle of the huge garden stood a pavilion, where Queen Lilith of Solaris was throwing a small tea party.

"Misa! I'm so glad you could come!" Lilith said as she pecked Queen Misa on both cheeks. Then she turned to face Len, "and I see you've bought your little boy along too!" she added "he's so handsome, just like his father!" Len simply scowled in reply.

"Umm…well, let's take a seat shall we?" Queen Lilith quickly said, slightly unnerved by Len's venomous scowl.

They were lead to a round table draped with an elaborate lace table cloth. Platters of finger foods lay on the table; cakes, fairy cakes, sandwiches, scones, cookies etc. Enamel jugs of milk and fresh fruit juice as well as steaming pots of tea and coffee stood in a corner. A bowl of fruits sat in the center of the table.

A smartly dressed servant appeared out of nowhere and pulled out chairs for Queen Misa and Prince Len. Once they had taken their seats and settled down, Len started observing all the others present at the party.

The Queen of Maldonis was there with her young son. A blonde hair blue eyed 4-year-old who looked like an angel by the name of Keiichi. He was munching absentmindedly on a sandwich; but his eyes, with their far-off gaze, revealed he was in another world all together.

Nose buried in a book was the Queen of Anglasia's son, Azuma. With his deep violet shoulder-length hair, tall, slim build and fair complexion, he looked like a prince from a fairy tale. He emitted the aura of a true gentlemen; learned and wealthy. He seemed much older than his six years.

Hands folded over his chest was Ryoutaro, the son of Queen Marina of Galantia. His hair was its usual unruly mop of green, and his handsome features were twisted into a frown. Len had met him a few times before, and all he ever talked about was soccer and piano. Len suspected Queen Marina had forbidden him from playing in the Solaris Garden today, hence the tantrum.

Swinging her legs back and forth, hands tightly gripping both sides of her chair was Shouko. The 4-year-old daughter of Queen Giselle of Gisantte. She was a timid little creature who hardly opened her mouth to speak; she almost always looked nervous and tense, except for when she was playing her clarinet, of course. But today she was her same old anxious self. With her short mint-green hair and warm brown eyes, she was quite a pretty girl and looked very sweet when she smiled. But that was rare.

Len also saw the Queen of Optiladrigal, but noticed her son was not there. Come to think of it, neither was Queen Lilith's daughter.

As if on cue, two merrily laughing children rushed into the garden pavilion. They were Kazuki(Optiladragil) and Kahoko(Solaris).

Kazuki was a tan, spiky haired lad of six and was a good friend of Azuma's. He always wore a cheerful grin on his face; mischievous yet endearing and adorable, and infectious.

Kahoko was a lot like Kazuki, with a bubbly, chirpy personality. She was often complimented for her looks (though Len thought she looked quite average). Her strawberry red locks framed her oval face, and she had a pair of ever-twinkling golden eyes. Her laughter tinkled like bells and her smile was as warm as a ray of sun.

"They would suit each other well," Len thought as he watched the two run round the pavilion in a game of catch.

Suddenly Kahoko tripped, flew into the air…and crashed straight into Len.

"AHHHH!" they both yelled simultaneously as Len's chair fell backwards and they both toppled to the ground.

"Owww…" Len groaned, eyes screwed shut and rubbing his head in pain.

"I…I'm so, so sorry!" Kahoko gasped, flustered when she found herself on top of Len. She quickly got up to her feet and offered Len a hand, still tomato red from her embarrassment. By now, everyone had gathered around. "Are you alright?" "Oh Kahoko you're so clumsy! Look what you did!" "Len, are you injured?" questions and comments poured out from everybody. "I'm fine!" Len spat, and slapped away Kahoko's hand angrily. Kahoko couldn't help but flinch; her hand was already starting to sting and was as red as her hair.

"Len! Apologize to Kahoko this instant!" Queen Misa thundered. But Len had already left and was storming across the garden lawn towards the palace.

The next day…

Torrents of rain poured down from the ominous grey heavens in silvery sheets. They were accompanied by dramatic flashes of crackling lightning which split open the sky, and deafening booms of thunder.

"Ne, Kaho-chan, wanna play hide-and-seek?" Kazuki asked Kahoko over the pattering of the rain.

"Sure!" Kahoko replied, and they began looking around for the rest of the children.

5 minutes later

"I'll be the seeker, okay?" said Kazuki.

Murmurs of agreement came from the rest (all were present except Len. They couldn't find him), so Kazuki spun around to face a pillar and, eyes shut, started yelling "1….2…3…". The rest scattered off in various directions, eager to find a good hiding place.

Kahoko ran for a while, until she entered a dimly lit corridor filled with rooms. 'Which room should I go to…' she wondered. Then she came to a particularly spectacular door; polished rosewood with gold leaf carvings of vines and flowers. 'Ah! This looks like a good place!' she thought, and quickly slipped inside.

Much to her surprise, Len was there! He was playing a violin, eyes closed and forehead wrinkled in concentration. For a moment, Kahoko just stood there like a chunk of stone, completely stunned. Then she began to enjoy the music…how beautiful it was! Notes flowed smooth as silk from the violin's reverberating strings, weaving a peaceful, lulling yet grand melody. It seemed to transport Kahoko into another world. She unconsciously closed her eyes, drinking in the mystical, moving music and enjoying it to the fullest. She was still in a trance-like state when, out of the blue, the music stopped abruptly. Immediately, the image of a glorious setting sun over the sea that Kahoko had created vanished. Startled, her eyes snapped open.

Len stood arms akimbo, glaring at her with an ice cold hatred. Kahoko's eyes widened as she realized she had been discovered. "I…I'm s-so sorry…I didn't mean to interrupt your practice! I…but…it was beautiful! What piece did you play?" she blurted. A single blue eyebrow shot up. If Len was pleased about the compliment, he certainly didn't show it. The two stared at each other for a while, a tense silence in the air. "That piece was called Ave Maria." Len said finally, "Now, would you please leave me in piece? I want to continue practicing." "O-of course! I shan't disrupt you anymore! Goodbye!" Kahoko quickly bowed and rushed out of the room. She raced down the corridor, for reasons unknown. She just felt like she had to get away! 'That was such a beautiful piece! 'Ave Maria', was it called? I must learn it one day!' she told herself as she ran to the main hall, where Kazuki and all the others awaited her.