Ami, Moira-Selene, and Duo turned. Danie just raised her head.
She was dressed in a pale blue robe over a white dress. Her long blond hair fell gracefully in gentle curls past her shoulders and her blue eyes were grave. Moira-Selene and Ami were so shell-shocked that they had to sit down. Duo leaned on the arm of the nearest couch.
A visit from the White Star Prophet was something to be awed about. She only appeared in the past when there was catastrophe on Fate’s mind, and it appeared that whatever was brewing was just getting started.
“Senshi,” Ingrid began. “There are things you must know.”
“This is about why I suddenly got sick,” Danie said.
“It is more than that, Daniella. This goes back for centuries, therefore, it has been destined for that long.” She sat down in a chair, which was odd, because the quartet had never seen her do such a thing. “This is quite a long story so I must sit.”
“Perhaps we should call the others, Ingrid,” Moira-Selene suggested.
“No, Moira-Selene. I trust you four to relay this story to the others without fault. They have things to do and this cannot wait until you all are assembled.” Moira-Selene nodded. “Close your eyes.”
They did so, and the journey began…
* * *
103 B.C.E., The Kingdom of Nova
King Orion the Second was on his deathbed. The King had ruled over Nova for thousands of years, and now, sickness had taken him over. His three children, eldest child Aidan, younger son Fiore, and only daughter Tonari, watched as physicians came in and out of the King’s chamber, trying desperately to save him from the illness that had attacked the virile king without warning. During their vigil outside the chamber, Aidan, at one point, sighed and sat down with his head in hands. Tonari, sensing her big brother’s discontent, went over to him and took his hand.
“Aidan… Talk to me,” Tonari pleaded gently, which was not her nature with anyone but her brother. “You’ve been quiet—too quiet.”
Fiore, who was less emotional about the situation, crossed his arms and turned away. “He’s afraid that Father will die.”
Aidan looked up at his brother with indignant brown eyes. “And you’re not?”
Fiore didn’t answer. Tonari turned to look at her older brother’s back for a moment. It was true that Fiore harbored some resentment for being the middle child. But then again, he lacked the startling presence of his older brother. Aidan was not only diplomatic, charming, and sensitive, but he could fight with the best of them. Tonari had the infinite good luck of being trained by him, and she was thankful for the skill he passed down to her. It had been used in deterring Fiore from sparring with her and thinking that he would win many times.
“I believe it would be best if you kept quiet right now,” Tonari warned her older brother.
Fiore whirled on her, eyes blazing. “Dammit, don’t tell me what to do!” He raked a hand through his dark hair. “I am so goddamn sick of being told what to do all the time, and now you, you silly little woman—”
“Fiore,” Aidan interrupted sternly. “Please. Do not start your histrionics right now. Our father lies in there dying, and all you care about is your ego.”
Fiore came closer as if he wanted to strike Aidan for being frank with him. Tonari rose, and nearly towered over him. She glared at him, silently warning him that if he came closer, she would be forced to defend her big brother.
The sounds of the chamber door opening caught their attention. Cannes, the family doctor, came out with his hands at his sides and his dark eyes grim. Tonari, refusing to believe the truth, rushed to him and grabbed his arms. When Cannes said nothing, just shook his head, Tonari nearly collapsed from her grief. Aidan rose to his feet and embraced his little sister. Fiore stood apart, seeing the reflection of his siblings comforting each other in the glossy marble. Revulsion rose in his throat and threatened to sear his vocal cords.
It intensified when Cannes said, “Prince Aidan, the Royal Council will like to talk to you as soon as possible. Whenever you…feel is best to proceed.”
The three of them knew the significance of Cannes’s statement to Aidan; it meant that as soon as he allowed, he would follow in his father’s footsteps as King of Nova. Aidan nodded and led his sister away, intending to put her to sleep for the night. But once he had settled her into bed, he found that just her sleeping presence seemed better than his own empty bedroom.
He sat in the overly cool room and mused. Tonari seemed the most hot-blooded of the three, so her room was unnaturally cool, even for a room on the Sun. A couple of hours passed. Aidan figured it was time for him to retire when Tonari awoke and grabbed his wrist.
He looked down at her, startled. “Tonari. I thought you were sleeping!”
The raven-haired young woman sat up, slightly rumpled. “I was,” she admitted. “But I’m awake now.” She patted her bed. “Sit down. Something is bothering you.”
Aidan chuckled a little. He should have known that his little sister would be so sharp. “I can’t keep anything from you, can I?”
“Of course not! I know you very well, Aidan. You should know that already.” She patted his hand. “You mind telling me what’s got you so anxious?”
A quiet moment passed. The whirring of the air conditioner filled the silence before Aidan spoke.
“I’ve heard a rumor,” Aidan told her. “And this doesn’t go past this room, understand?” Tonari consented. His voice dropped several decibels. “I was having a meeting with the council of the eastern lands when I overheard a couple of the members talking about…our mother.”
Tonari blinked. Their mother, who had passed on when Tonari was a little girl, was a sore subject for her. “What did they say?”
Sensing her growing unease, Aidan asked, “Are you sure you want to hear this?”
“Aidan…” Tonari was exasperated. “I’m old enough to take whatever you want to say. I’m sure it was hard for you, too.”
Aidan nodded, as she was correct, as usual. “Well, I suppose it’s not easy to hear that your mother bore an illegitimate child from a couple of gossips…”
Tonari went pale, understanding his meaning—or believing that she had. A feeling of despondency washed over her. To find out, suddenly, amid her father dying, that she and Aidan, her glorious brother, were not blood-related at all rendered her speechless. She searched his face, his eyes, trying to find out if he was lying. He wasn’t. It would be unlike him to lie.
He then saw her tears and in a flash and realized what she was assuming. “Oh Tonari!” He wiped her tears away. “Dear sister, it’s not you…if that’s what you’re thinking…”
Relief washed over her. Then… “Oh no…” she whispered. “Aidan. Does he know?”
Aidan shook his head. “From what I heard, only Father and Mother knew.”
Tonari closed her eyes. “If he ever finds out… Aidan…he might try to hurt you! You know how he feels about you.”
Aidan shook off the possibility of being killed by his own brother. “Nonsense. We will deal with it when it’s time.”
Tonari nodded, believing in her big brother. He was strong, noble, and true. She would always believe in what he told her, even if it meant the death of her.
* * *
A few days later, Crown Prince Aidan became King Aidan. His sister clapped wildly as he was crowned. Fiore just looked on with a neutral expression.
The first several years of Aidan’s reign were peaceful. He had gotten married to a noblewoman named Cara, and she was pregnant with their first child. Tonari was the first to congratulate him with little Zoë was born. Fiore, of course, had been partying all the while and arrived drunk to congratulate his brother. Aside from that, there had been no significant altercations between the two.
But Peace gave away to discontent. A rebel group in the western lands was preparing to revolt. Apparently, not everyone liked the change in administration.
Aidan, feeling like the kingdom was his responsibility, donned his armor even though his wife and his little sister pleaded with him not to.
“It’s my battle to fight,” Aidan insisted. “I am not some figurehead king. I will amend this as a warrior of the Kingdom of Nova.”
Cara, holding little Zoë, grabbed her husband’s arm. “But Aidan—you could get killed!”
Aidan gazed at her with intense brown eyes. “Then so be it.” He leaned down and kissed her trembling lips. “I love you. Take care of our child if something happens.”
The two lovers were locked in a gaze until Tonari rushed into the room. She looked restless. Aidan peered at her flushed face and tried to discern her problem. He strode to her, in full armor, and asked, “Tonari, what is the matter?”
Tonari’s lips pursed together and her eyes watered. “It seems that the rumor has spread, dear brother,” she responded. Aidan’s eyes widened when he understood her meaning. “The kingdom is in an uproar. They think that you are the illegitimate child instead of Fiore and are ready to overthrow you.”
The sound of a glass shattering in the doorway caught their attention. The worse had happened. Tonari turned to find Fiore staring at them with shocked eyes from the doorway. His shocked eyes became piercing with anger. Fiore walked away without a word. Tonari started to go after him, but Aidan stopped her and went instead. By that time, Fiore was out of sight, and the time to march had descended upon them. Cara, wracked with worry, decided to pray to the gods for Aidan’s safety so Tonari took little Zoë to her room to care for her.
On the battle field, Aidan and his fellow warriors were successful in suppressing the revolt. While Aidan was checking the houses for survivors, he came across his own brother in an abandoned shack. When Fiore lunged at him with his sword, Aidan stepped back, astonished.
“Fiore!” he exclaimed. “Don’t let your anger consume you like this.”
Fiore was not listening. His rage had consumed him, and there was nothing he could do about it. He pointed his sword menacingly at him. “I am going to kill you!”
The two brothers sparred. It is not surprising, given the present events, that Fiore’s anger allowed him to best his stronger older brother. Stabbed in the heart, Aidan was only allowed to say one thing before he joined his parents in the Great Beyond.
“You will pay for this,” Aidan vowed. Those were his last words.
Fiore cleaned his sword and claimed that he had found his brother dead when the others came looking for Aidan. Fiore returned with the army and Aidan’s dead body. When Cara was told of the news, she cried—and accused Fiore of killing his brother. With the same sword with which he killed his brother, he struck her down in cold blood, and the Castle of Nova assumed that the same person that murdered Aidan had done it. Fiore did not try to clear up the misunderstanding, and he became king.
Tonari, knowing the truth, took baby Zoë away, in the middle of the melee. She was afraid that Fiore, having killed her parents, would kill Zoë, too, to assure that his blood would succeed him. And the rightful blood heir should live on, in Tonari’s opinion. Tonari disappeared from the world’s view, married, and had a child herself and died telling her niece of her real lineage. Upon Fiore’s death, Zoë came forward and presented the proper evidence of her nobility—the Mark of Nova. Queen Zoë, beloved and honored, ruled Nova for a long time as her grandfather had—until her granddaughter Aidanne became of age.
But this, as it appears, is not the end of the tale…
* * *
Ami, Moira-Selene, Danie, and Duo opened their eyes.
“Wow,” Moira-Selene breathed. “That was intense…”
“That explains a lot of things,” Danie remarked. “In that case, Alex is not the rightful Sun Prince in the first place.”
Ingrid shook her head. “No, he is not. And it is imperative that you find the rightful one, my child, or you will suffer the most.” When Danie’s eyes widened in questioning, Ingrid added, “Aidanne is about to strip Alex of his powers soon. Without the rightful Prince to accept his destiny, you will receive all of it and possibly die.”
Danie didn’t like the word die, so she clenched a fist. “We will find him. Somehow.”
There was a knock on the open door that caught their attention.
“Lady Angelica,” Ingrid greeted her.
Angelica Wolfe, still in her school uniform, strode into the room, her sisters following. She crossed her arms and looked at Danie. Moira-Selene and Ami were astonished at their presence. Before anyone could utter a word, Angelica stopped in front of Danie.
“Danie-san,” she began, “it seems that we have a lot to catch you up on.”
Duo shot up to his feet. “You guys know who this missing Sun Prince is?” he demanded.
Angelica grinned at him. “We can do you one better. We already know where he is.”