This is a story that happened a long time ago, about one girl and her adventure-filled life. It takes place in the hot desert regions of sand dunes, camels, tropics, and – most importantly – love...

A simple yet intricate melody of plucked strings rang through the busy air of the village. In the dry, desert air, the jingle of tiny bells soon followed it. The extraordinary sounds, weaving between one another, caught the attention of the people bustling about. It slowly stopped them in their tracks and they dropped their tasks for a moment's time. It was hard not to have their attention diverted by such a rare and mesmerizing spectacle.

"Are they travelling performers?"

"Seems likely," one woman murmured in awe. "I've never seen them around here before."

"What a beautiful looking dancer."

"The oud player is quite handsome, as well. They seem exotic, I doubt they could be natives."

"Perhaps gypsies."

Throngs of people gathered about the scene: a beautiful dancer girl and her handsome companion. It was an odd sight, one which they did not get the chance to witness everyday. It was hard to keep their eyes from watching so intently when they all had business to attend to; the lull of the gentle oud, as they watched the girl twirl about, was captivating and rich in contrast to the dull lives of the villagers.

Here you will find the story of an extraordinary girl. A young girl named Amu.

They marvelled at her glamorous movements. They were bewitched by the swish of her foreign rosy hair, whilst the musician enchanted them with his own strange navy locks and enrapturing tune. The duo were mysterious and unheard of in their parts, it was a wonder who they were; where they could have come from.

"That marking on her chest is bizarre."

"Come to think of it, I have never seen such tattoos on anyone. It's quite dazzling, really." Another odd sight for them to gaze upon...

What about her exactly was extraordinary? The mystical flower blooming on her chest, burned black into her flesh. To those who had no knowledge, it was just a striking mark on the stunning girl; but for others, who were more familiar with legends, knew that it was nothing short of a curse. It was the mark of a demon and its borrowed heart...

"Aye, yer preposterous thinkin' will have ye killed on the spot," a surly old woman spat, grumbling as she picked up a large basket of herbs and fruits and waddled through the clusters of townsfolk. She pushed her way through the crowd, avoiding the sight of the alien performers. "Ye don't know nothin' 'bout who they are, let 'lone what they come for in our land. Don't any of ya folk have some sense of pres'vation? At least for yer young 'ns? Can't just trust any sort of folk that come wanderin' inta the town!"

Some of them looked at the old woman sceptically – she always had seemed quite batty to them. Still, she was considered one of the elders in the village and there were a few who saw truth in what she had said. They were squeamish, standing at the edges of the crowd; very much afraid yet equally as drawn in by their own curiosity.

"It's true, the dancer isn't to be trusted. Don't you know? It's a rumour apparently, but that 'flower' is the mark of having a demon's heart," one man whispered quite audibly for the rest to hear. In an instant, a thick buzz ran amongst the people.

"Nonsense! A demon's heart?" A lady next to the man said with disgust, the man nodded gravely.

"Yes. Such people trade their hearts with a demon just so they can lengthen their life. It's revolting," the man seethed. "However, that is the signatures of those cursed by one, carved into their skin right over their heart." The new drone of voices made the old woman look back once more, her eyes narrowed, the wrinkles around them furrowing. She watched the crowd thin around the dancer.

"Aye, it's a phenomenon that ye rarely hear of. Only the wors' of the worst – those folk of grime, filth and sorcery – would sell their souls for the verve of breath. There can be no trustin' those that go far as tradin' their souls with the devil. Evoke th' Sun! Call forth its heat and destruction! Witches like tha' need ta be burned to the ground." The people watched her shuffle away with peculiar quiet but as her retreating back disappeared around the corner, voices started up again.

So you see, dear friendly readers, her chest was engraved with the mark of a flower. Although people of her kind were rare, their legends travelled from distant lands and made them foreign, too. Thus, those carrying a demon's heart were formally known as "Akuma no Hana": a "Demon's Flower".

"So that witch worships a demon?"

"Doesn't that mean she has the power to curse us as well?"

"She must have swindled that musician, as well!" Another careened. "If we don't be careful, we'll become bewitched by her, also."

With that, the streak of unpleasant murmurs swept through the crowds of the townsfolk and they hurried away as fast as they could from the dancing girl. Their once mesmerized selves now avoided the girl at all costs, like a disease. Like a plague. Like the people had seen the devil in flesh.

But those who looked down on those of her type called her an "Akuma no Ko": a "Demon's Child". And thus, our great story and this vast journey will begin…

Disclaimer: All rights to Shugo Chara and its characters go to Peach-Pit. The story is roughly based on the manga Hanatsukihime, which belongs exclusively to Hibiki Wataru – thank you for the inspiration!

I hope you enjoy this story as much as I do writing it and seeing it come together. Enjoy!

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