Prologue: Curse of Blood & Moonlight

...No one truly knows how the curse came to be.
Some claim it as a punishment from the gods.
Others said it was the grotesque product of unatural unions between wolves and men.
But no matter the origin story, all who tell the tale agree on some things, the first being that the beasts are bloodthirsty, soulless monsters who kill without discrimination...

Olympia, the land from which our heroes hail, was once a great and prosperous land, known to all its neighbors as the Golden Kingdom.

'Olympia is blessed by the gods!' was what the royal family claimed.

And it would seem that way, what with the plentiful harvests and mild winters.
But seven-hundred-and-fifty years ago, that all changed.

Good King Nikoloas and his wife, the gracious Queen Jocelyn, were celebrating the birth of their children, the twins Lucian and Luna, who were their only heirs, for Nikoloas and Jocelyn were both nearing their fiftieth year. There would be no more children.

To celebrate the birth of the twins, they invited all the royal families of all the neighboring kingdoms to a great ball.

On the eve of the ball, once all the guests had arrived - King Oberon and Queen Titania, of the kingdom of Avalon; Simba and Nala, the leaders of Pride Rock; Artemis and Apollo, the twin rulers of Celestra, just to name a few - King Nikoloas stood up in front of his guests and thanked them for coming.

After Nikoloas had said his piece, Jocelyn took her turn in front of the audience, and thanked the guests as, one by one, they brought forward a gift and layed it down at the foot of the children's crib.

As Artemis and Apollo stepped forward to present their gift, the doors to the great hall flew open with a bang.

Everyone turned to face the doors.

Striding through the entrance as if she owned the place, parting the people as easily as Moses parted the sea, was a woman dressed in rich wolf furs of all shades - brown, black, grey, white and russet. Her hair was the colour of new fallen snow, her skin the colour of full moonlight.

Her eyes were the colour if old blood, and they shone with a malevolent light.

"Nikoloas," she announced. "Jocelyn. My old friends." She stressed the last word with a hefty amount of sarcasm.

Jocelyn chose not to notice this. "Lupa," she greeted the Wolf Queen. "What brings you here?"

Lupa arched an eyebrow at the gentle Queen.

"Isn't it obvious? I'm here for your children."

Jocelyn smiled at her graciously. "Thank you, Lupa. We welcome your gift."

Lupa threw back her head and laughed out loud. "That is what you think now," she hissed. "But I assure you, Queen of Olympia, you and yours will be cursing this 'gift' for eons to come."

Jocelyn frowned. Her husband drew her closer to his person. "Speak plainly, Queen of Wolves," he growled out. "Tonight is a night of celebration. Gods forbid your poison filled riddles ruin it for my wife and I."

"What care I that you wish tonight to be a night of peace? For I was not invited."

Jocelyn paled. "Lupa, I assure you, we did not mean to offend. Your invitation must have simply been misplaced. But now that you are here, you are more than welcome to stay and enjoy the festivities-"

"SILENCE!" Lupa roared. Her pupils dilated. Madness radiated from her. "I will not let this insult slide! Do you - all of you - truly think that I do not hear what you whisper behind my back? That I do not here the slurs you throw around? You hate me more than you hate Ares! This is the last straw! You must all be taught a lesson." Panting hard, Lupa paused for breath. Turning to face the crib that held the twins. She raised her hands.

"Lupus!" She bellowed out.

There was a flash of light, like the light of a full moon, and Lupa vanished.

With a sob, Jocelyn flew towards her children, as the audience made up of her guests looked on in horror.

The Queen of Olympia felt relief like no mortal woman had ever felt before when she saw her two children, safe, sound and happy.

Jocelyn felt a small but strong hand grip her shoulder.

She looked up to see the bronze haired, silver-eyed princess of Celestra standing over her, but staring at her children with a scrutinizing gaze that was wise beyond her years.

"My Queen," Artemis said. "Do you know what 'lupus' means?"

"No. I do not."

"Wolf," the princess supplied. "It means 'wolf.'"

Her brother, Apollo, stepped forward, his face unusually grave. "Your children have been cursed," he stated matter-of-factly.

Nikoloas let out a roar. "Cursed! What do you mean?"

The prince of Celestra remained silent.

The King of Olympia growled. "Speak plainly, prince, or I shall cut out you tongue."

"A curse of blood and moonlight," Artemis answered. "But that is all I can see for now."
Artemis turned towards her brother. "Shall we give our gifts now, do you think?" she asked.

Apollo nodded. "Perhaps not the gift we were originally planning to give, but yes."

Artemis placed one hand on Luna's forehead. "I have only enough power for one," she commiserated.

"Just do your best," Apollo murmured.

Artemis closed her eyes. "Exaltátum," she whispered, feeling the power the word held shiver down through her body and out of her fingertips, seeping into the sleeping baby girl, protecting her from the worst of the curse. "I am sorry I cannot save your brother also, little one," Artemis whispered.

Behind her, she could hear her brother explaining to the Olympian monarchs the true nature of the curse.

"Lupa has tried to transform your children into bloodthirsty, immortal beasts. Artemis has saved the girl, but she cannot save the boy. Neither can I, for I do not hold that power. What I can do, however, is cast a small fertility spell upon you so you can conceive again."

"Why must we have another child? If Luna has been saved-"

"Luna's humanity has been saved. The curse will still affect her, but she will retain her soul. She will not become a monster."

"And you need another child, because one born of Olympian blood can break the curse, I fear," Artemis interjected. "If you do conceive again, your line will die out, as will Olympia."

Nikoloas bowed his head. "We accept," he said

...Artemis and Apollo took Lucian and Luna away that night, and the story of what had happened was eventually forgotten over the ages.

The only part that was remembered was what Artemis had said: 'One born of the blood of Olympia is destined to break the curse. She is the cure. All you have to do is wait for her to arrive.'

And so, Olympia waited.

Through each generation, as attacks grew more and more frequent, as the beasts started hunting every night rather than just on full moons, they waited.

But no daughter was born to the royal blood line of Olympia.

At least, not until the present day.

The first Princess of Olympia to be born in 750 years, to be born since Luna.
Princess Annabeth Chase, firstborn princess of Olympia...

So, yeah... Mildly confusing prologue, but it will make more sense as it goes along.
I realised something as I was writing this chapter. I said this was going to be a Beauty and The Beast type story (which it is), but this prologue does read more like the beginning of Sleeping Beauty, which is completely coincidental.
I also apologise for any butchering of Greek mythology.

-JosephineSilver, Queen of the Demisaurs, out.

EDITED: 9/15/13