Far, far away from darkness and divine might, gently touched by a day firsts ray of sunlight, is the verdant and aquamarine planet known as Mythos.
Gaudy and affluent in its architecture and brimming over with wealth and abundance. Vast esoteric forests and fertile plains, inertly swaying in the early breeze and the morning dew sparkling like precious jewels. Sapphire oceans and cresting mountains. The birds singing with relish towards the sky to greet the morning sun and welcome another prosperous day.
Truly, a paradise in its entirety.
In one of those glorious acmes of myth civilization, a marble city imbedded in great walls, stands tall and sublime the palace of Iustitia.
It appeared to be entirely out of gems and similar preciosities and its six skyscraping towers glimmered in all the shades of the rising sun. This noble construct was enlaced by gorgeous gardens and parks with tidy little trails, colorful vegetation and fountains. Even in this paradise the palace and its surroundings seemed out of this world.
And as this world is in truth extraordinary, it is inhabited by none other than the extraordinary myth people. Since the beginning of time they have lived relatively peaceful and prolific on this planet. Of course, every society has its flaws and iffy history, but the important diegesis surely commenced on this particular morning.
Since dawn Anette had worked through the endless notes and records taken in the past weeks and the wooden shelves in her humble office in the south-western tower of the castle had gotten more and more crammed by the hour. Now she finally put down one of the heavy folders and used the opportunity to stretch her tired body. Her fingers were cramping and she eyed them, lost in thought, seriously considering once more whether she should just finally surrender and buy a computer. Lord Kalt had just offered her one the other day, a thin new model that could transcribe her every word into written form. She had kindly declined. She did not like his mocking tone upon seeing her calendars and journals, and she was way too old to get used to all of these new shenanigans anyway. With one exception. A gentle vibration from the device behind her left ear evoked an irritated sigh and she started rifling through the piles of paper to find the small illuminated display. As expected it lit up brightly with the daily reminder to eat breakfast, accompanied by recommendations and nutrition statistics. Anette shoved it aside and sat back down on her brittle chair to continue her work. It might have been pretty antiquated of her, but she preferred to eat when her body told her to. Old habits like that were hard to dispose of, although even she had to admit the Al was a quite useful device. As she scratched her neck, uncomfortably feeling the small chip underneath her skin, she read through the notes she had just taken the other day.
The allowance for the noble family had not changed one bit and although it seemed almost ridiculously high, neither the princess nor the queen seemed to be willing to finally invest into proper security for the castle. The few guards entrusted with the protection of the monarchs were a courtesy of Lord Bonmark. Of course, Anette wasn’t exactly comfortable with the thought to have this ancient sacred construction beset with alarms and monitoring equipment, but she did value the safety of her staff and the monarchs more than her sense of tradition. She’d begged at least a dozen of their predecessors for the same favor, but one was more stubborn and careless than the other.
Both the queen and her sister had furthermore taken off the other day while Anette remained dutifully in the palace with the few guards and palace staff. She had long stopped asking or even wondering where the royal family was going. The queen Helen had probably gone to Heisei for another one of her training sessions, neglecting her duties here, in Iustitia, and escaping the despised bustle of the capital. The princesses whereabouts were considerably harder to guess. She was either up north for military training or getting drunk in some suburb out of town with another mistress. Either way, Anette would find out in the news sooner or later. Those two were such a burden to the throne. One worse than the other, she thought.
A more urgent beeping sound from her device finally motivated her to get up and clean her messy desk. She didn’t feel like another heartlessly prepared meal by one of those horrible domestic machines, so she’d have to grab some food in the city. With a heavy sigh she slid the Al in the pocket of her cardigan, stifling the protesting bleeps. She felt for her card in the vast pockets. She was still afraid that she’d lose it. She hated not owning physical money. After centuries, she still wasn’t fully used to it. The rusty keychain on her belt rattled as she approached the door and it opened with a mournful creak. As she descended the stairs of the tower she caught a glimpse of her dainty reflection in the crystalline walls. She found an exhausted face looking back at her. A little too pale maybe. She should get something fruity for breakfast. And more fresh air. Her lonely steps echoed in the vast halls she passed, the guards on her way greeting her respectfully, until she had finally reached the pompous front gates. Two tall soldiers opened the heavy, ornamented doors for her. Anette stepped into the already bright sunlight and took a deep breath of the fresh morning air. The sweet warmth on her skin lifted her spirits immediately and in a much better mood she took another step forward. Her foot suddenly caught onto something on the castle steps that had escaped her attention and she struggled for a few moments to keep her balance. Slightly irritated she lowered her gaze to identify the culprit. It was a large wicker basket. It was exquisitely crafted out of spotless white tetter and covered with a delicate cloth. Its sight was only too familiar. Anette suddenly felt even more exhausted than before. The cloth moved barely noticeable.
″No breakfast then.″, she sighed wearily.
It was time to call in the nobles.
The door of the castles private infirmary stood wide open. The tall woman in front of the entrance however seemed rather unwilling to step in. She uneasily prowled up and down the hallway, her golden uncombed mane bouncing with each step. Her gaze was restless and tense, fiery eyes scanning her surroundings and one hand resting on a long sword in her belt. Her head suddenly jerked to one end of the hallway long before the approaching steps became clearly audible. When she saw who was advancing, the woman sensibly relaxed.
It was none other than the queen herself, the title however more impressive than the petite and unremarkable lady bearing it. The two women, one next to the other, did not seem like sisters at all. Queen Helen was small and dainty with dark, silky hair, a childish face and manner, the lovely smile not reaching her dull and sightless eyes.
″You seem nervous, my dear.″, she greeted her sister who welcomed her with a brief embrace.
″There’s good reason to be.″, said the princess with gritted teeth. Behind the queen stood a young soldier in a black uniform whom the princess addressed with a quick nod.
″Have you already seen them, Madison?″, asked the queen.
″Well then, what are we waiting for.″
Both women inertly entered the room, closely followed by Helen’s guard. The infirmary was rarely used and thus almost empty, exempt from the large table and an empty shelf at the other end of the room. On this table, next to an unusually pale Anette, stood the ominous basket.
″So?!″, Madison asked.
″There is no doubt, your majesty. No way it was an imposter.″, said the book-keeper while expertly examining the cloth that had covered the basket. The soft silk had been ornately embroidered with a shimmering, perfectly symmetrical apple tree.
″I’m certain it was sent from Eden.″
As Madison now slowly approached the table, she gasped in disbelief when she beheld the two infants, safely wrapped in blankets and asleep, in the white basket.
″Was their timing ever wrong?″, she remarked.
″Never, your majesty.″, said Anette.
″So how long do you think we have left?″, asked Helen calmly as if it were but a minor matter.
″Are you fucking kidding me, Hel? Like I wanna know!″, snapped Madison with growing panic.
″I always varies.″, said Anette, ignoring the princess. ″Sometimes it takes days or even years until the old royal family dies after the arrival.″
″There has to be a mistake.″, whined Madison. ″Me and Hel haven’t had a single century, it’s just not fair.″
Anette eyed her disapprovingly.
″There is no mistake in divine deeds, your majesty.″
″Anette is right, Madison.″, interfered the queen. ″The only thing we can do is make the little time we have left count and not fall into panic.″ Her voice was shaking but she seemed resolute about her decision.
″Please Anette, appoint a tutor for those two children as soon as possible and see to it that they have everything they need. The southern tower is not ready yet, but it has to be cleaned and furnished in the days to come. If there is anything you need, you may call me or Madison.″
Madison grunted something inaudible.
″I’ll be damned if I’ll just cower down until I’m dead.″, she growled. ″You!″
The young guard waiting outside the door now immediately peeked in.
″I want us to have at least five guards each. Hit up the Bonmarks, get us someone from the Black Parade. I want every single fucking Ald on this planet to be under maximum surveillance, got it! The soldiers on the Isle of Monsters have to be alarmed to keep an eye out for anything even remotely suspicious! I wanna know if any of those fuckers even sneezes! No one leaves or enters the capital without thorough investigation!”
The guard had barely typed out the orders on his Al when Madison had already stormed out the door. Anette shook her head in disbelief while Helen didn’t seem surprised in the least.
″She will have to come to terms with it sooner or later.″, she said.
Then she nodded as if to reassure herself and turned around to leave the room, her guard quickly coming to her aid but waved aside by the queen as she confidently stepped outside.
An important detail had almost slipped Anette’s mind. She quickly followed the queen outside.
″Who will pay for all these unexpected expenses, my queen?″
The queen reflected for a brief moment and then turned her head back to the book-keeper.
“The realm, my dear.”
And then the queen and her servant vanished around a corner, leaving Anette alone with the two infants.
She heard the babies wailing.
Mother help me, she thought to herself.