Chapter 22 - The Princess and I
A woman in a plain white sleeveless dress of thin cloth stood between tall skyscrapers of gold and white before a great wall, the structures reaching high into a partly cloudy sky of white and blue. People, animals, dragons, deities, and strange combinations of all four walked and flew the streets between the skyscrapers, entering the City of Gods through grand golden doors inscribed with an ancient poem turned prophecy. The woman’s eyes shone bright green in the shining sun that eternally hung overhead, hair becoming short smoldering flames of red and orange when caught by the warm breeze, face a soft and beautiful painting of perfection while a jagged scar scrawled over the nose and across cheeks of pale skin warned that this woman was more than looks.
Set within the beautiful face of sloping cheekbones and delicate chin shimmered unwavering jade eyes. Their gaze did not dart about nervously or drop diminutively, looking on proudly without fear. Sharp calculating caution betrayed a deep wisdom beyond her years, twinkling in the eyes of jade. Body built from tempered steel and sporting a number of impressive scars beneath the oddly innocent white dress this woman carried herself on strength and confidence found only after having been tested against the worst of adversities, one’s own limits. For all these traits the rough-looking amazon of a woman still could not physically hope to compare to those she was among, exquisite and glamorous beings that held the grace and wealth no mortal could ever dream to possess. Yet she did not walk through the crowd of legendary creatures and deities as an equal or lesser being, but one leagues above the rest.
All turned to stare as she walked, taken by a beauty that seemed much more than simple physical allure, it was as if she… glowed. The eyes of all followed this woman without fail, no effort on her part, caught by some divine aura on the grandest of scales. Any in her path parted to make way, and not simply because of the Angels of golden armor carrying weapons of fire that floated on wings of white feathers just above the ground at her sides but because something demanded this mysterious woman of suddenly magnanimous beauty and divine authority never be hindered by any else face an unnamed damnation. Those who witnessed this described her as, “Seeing one chosen by fate.”
In whispers the citizens and creatures of the city spoke of the woman, hushed and wondrous. The daughter of the King and Queen had been rumored to have gone missing out of some strange twist none dared to suggest, vanishing from the palace to travel inexplicably into the mortal plane where no resident of the City of Gods may travel, no exception. To do so would break the greatest of taboos set by the True King of the Sun’s Throne uncounted years past, Astora himself. The King of late, previously only a steward, had upheld the True King Astora’s passing with fervent diligence, sentencing any who broke the laws to death without mercy or consideration, all equally viable for damnation when facing the laws of the True King. Though… the daughter of the King had supposedly fallen and returned without punishment or even the smallest of reprimanding from any source. Most discounted these rumors as baseless chatter concocted to amuse those that lived in the City of Gods, which was no new occurrence, such rumors of ridiculous slander and betrayal always swirling in the City. A fresh line of gossip surfaced each day after all, but very rarely had they persisted so long as this specific topic had somehow managed. For several cycles of the mortal sun had this supposed scandal of the King and Queen gone on without any sign of dissipating or dispersing until the daughter herself stepped from the Sun’s Hold, palace and true home of the Gods, strutting about the City plain as day with only four royal guards accompanying her.
Swept up in the current by the revelation of this never-before-seen event the City spoke only of the daughter and the crushing presence of perfection and courageous glory she carried with her. No longer did the citizens and creatures of the City whisper dark rumors, glancing doubtfully up at the Sun’s Hold where the King and Queen ruled and the last of the Gods dueled for the right to sit atop the Throne. No longer did they gather to growl and gripe, moan and groan, sneer and whine, the terrible thought of an uprising in their minds against the Gods they had for so long watched with baited breath playing their legendary Game upon the mortal plane.
Now the City stood silent, save the giddy muttering of a single phrase thought impossible for so many years, uncounted decades, endless centuries, and lost millenniums. Scrawled upon the great doors forged from golden steel allowing entrance to the City was a prophecy heralding a future that would one day come true without fail,
One day a child would be born, chosen by fate to banish the dark and light the Flame in everlasting glory, ascending all to divinity the Child of Flame would live as the next True King securing the Age of Fire’s existence for eternity. Of this all were sure, for the True King Astora had foretold this fate and none would dare question the undoubtable truth of the first True King himself whom gave life to the mortal world and City with his great power of Flame and unbendable will to become the undying sun that protected the City from the unwelcome.
Though while many saw fate, few saw opportunity, after all this was the City of Gods where only the best and brightest could survive, all masters in their craft, field, profession, or what have you. Great magicians of old, heroes of ancient times, dragons whom had spoken their wisdom to Astora himself, and countless others, among these greats kindled a flame. But this flame… this was not the flame of Gods, instead a flame of their own that they knew could conquer the Gods they had so long knelt to should they have the proper champion, the Child of Flame. It was fact, their truth, that the flame they nurtured would be the salvation of the misfortunate when held as a great torch in the divine hands of fate possessed by the Child of Flame.
And while the Gods and their subjects of legend plotted, cheered, sang, muttered, and lived their unending lives of perfection and politics none cared to even consider a third party of such small size and power it blended in to the gray mass like a furtive pygmy. In the land of men, now ignored by those above as they celebrated, walked a corpse of lifeless and immortal flesh bearing the curse of the undead forgotten by all save the small council of the Gods themselves, though even then only the King and Queen honestly feared the nameless corpse of immortal flesh while the others held simple awareness of it. Yet still the King and Queen underestimated the undead, discounting it as a malignant child whom refused to play along by violently destroying whatever his hands of black plague touched, but fate would inevitably pull the child into place. This was true fact.
Ironically, even the undead did not know his own role, believing himself part of a prophecy woven by Gods, a truth he naively believes thanks to the curse of ignorance brought about by the infinite passing of time. Though the undead may learn what has been hidden since his birth by some miracle of chance, and then again the cycle may begin anew with another to turn slowly until it reaches the beginning once again, as it has many times before.
Though rather than hypothesize and theorize you are here to experience events surely to be of epic proportions so please, sit. What you have already heard, I suppose you would call it exhibition, back story, all leading to this, be it a long sequence of events you must understand it is better this way yes? Why begin at the start of the madness when I can show you the soft kindness of love? Oh, apologies, I digress your impatience is showing.
Very well, I will tell you the tale.
The tale of the Princess and I.