The soft scratches of a quill broke the stillness of the study. Small piles of neatly stacked tomes against the right window. The tall floor to ceiling window allowed the evening sun to fill the large room. A river of molten onyx ran down the woman’s head as she sat at the desk by the window. Her silky black hair was topped with two black fox ears with snow-white strains of hair that flared out from the inside. Her hair cascaded off her right to like a curtain of ink as the tips just touched the desk. A rather small diamond-shaped face with soft features was shadowed by the loose wall of hair; her thin pink heart-shaped lines moved faintly as she mouthed her thoughts before they were translated into the ink scrip on the paper below.
The squeal of rough iron hinges broke the delicate atmosphere of the study as a plump elderly maid in grey stepped into the room. Her hair greyed from the years and her face weathered by the sun; her eyes locked onto the girl at the desk.
“Your Highness, the Queen has called for you in the audience chamber.” She gave a trained partial bow as she delivered the message and found that her eyes could not look away from the fairy-like vixen that sat at the desk. Sun poured in from the inner bailey through the open door; highlighting her delicate features. A few more moments of silence persisted until the princess had finished her thought.
The raven-haired girl placed the quill down silently and looked at her work. She made no sign that’d say if she was pleased or not. Though, it did not bother the maid. It was most likely magic-related and to a commoner, it was not something she’d bother to try and understand. Her eyes were glued to the beauty until two shimmer orbs of silver looked her way. Ah… I wish I had Princess Alesana’s beauty. The maid thought.
“Did mother say why?” Alesana finally spoke up as two silvery orbs sparkled in the dim light as she looked at the maid. “I thought I was to be left undisturbed until the morrow.”
The maid held back a sigh. O, my dear, you know the Queen never tells me why only what I must do… She lamented in her heart as stood tall again. “The Queen did not say, per the usual.” She replied to the question.
Alesana looked her for a moment, her dark long eyelashes fluttered with a few blinks of acceptance. The maid gave her a smile. Having nearly raised the young princess herself, she was aware of her quirks. “Fret not. I’m sure it’s important, Princess.” The maid said. The girl rose from the desk and revealed a deep purple sleeveless dress that stopped just below her knees. A single nightshade flower was embroidered over her heart; the sigil of House Nightshade. Princess Alesana nearly a head shorter than the maid at five-foot-six.
“My lady, you must at least wear your boots.” The maid reminded her as she saw she was barefoot on the polished wood floor. “I know you do not like those fancy shoes, but you have to wear something or the King direct his anger at me again.” He’ll not hit me, but… The king is scary when it came to his little angel. Not that she did not understand why.
The Princess’s eyelashes fluttered again in annoyance. She bit her lip and sat back down in her ornate wooden chair and pulled out a pair of fairly crafted brown leather boots from beneath the desk; two finely woven white socks were on top of them. The maid gave smiled at her adorable princess before she stepped out of the room and onto a wooden catwalk. Lush grass filled the inner bailey of the keep where the Princess Alesana room and study was. Raised stone gardens filled a part of the left bailey while the supply buildings were to the right. A keep held the more precious things in a castle one said. She stepped aside when she heard the shuffle of leather boots behind her. She stepped off to the right to stand next to the female knight that guarded the door.
“Lady Pricilla, I’ll be off to see my mother.” She turned to look at the knight that stood right of the entrance. “As usual, I trust you won’t let my things be taken.” The knight saluted pike in hand and nodded. She was covered head to toe in steel armor. Alesana smiled and nodded back. She turned and stepped down the wooden steps to her left and crossed the keep’s bailey to the wall opposite of the tower where a wooden draw bridge was laid out with two more knights on both sides. “Lady Emerald. Lady Hailey.” She greeted them.
Both the girls saluted her just as the two passed them and crossed the short bridge into the main castle. They appeared in the living quarters then crossed through a few halls and down several steps of stairs. “I wish they’d just let me stay somewhere close to the main gates like brother and sister…” Alesana complained.
“You know they’d never allow such a thing, My lady.” The maid reminded her from behind as they stepped onto the last landing and pushed through the last door before, they entered the throne room
The first to greet them was her oldest brother Venin. His short-cropped hair and silver eyes held a tender gleam to them. “Sister.” He greeted her in a solemn tone, unusual for him. He was half a foot taller than Alesana with much more masculine features, though they were quite obvious siblings – it made him quite the handsome man.
He was accompanied by her older sister, Jannette, who was clad in an ornate suit of armor. Her hair was also cropped short, but longer than her brother; Stylized in a pixie cut, she looked like a heroine from the fairy tales. She greeted Alesana in the same restrained manner as her brother before she joined them as they stood before the throne. A large man who, even sitting, lorded over them with his bulky frame and defined muscle mass that was well defined even through his loose fitted deep green tunic.
Half his face was occupied by a neatly trimmed beard that covered his squared jaw like a piece of well-tended grass.
Beside him was her mother who also had long silky blonde hair and beautiful sapphire eyes that shined in the evening sunlight that poured in through the high windows of the hall. She was not as beautiful as Alesana, but at a glance, it was obvious where her body structure came from and where her siblings got their tall and stout bodies. Aside their looks, all of them were beastmen, of the fox variety. After she checked all of them were well at a glance, she began to notice the tension in the air. As one that was not often around people, it took her a few moments to notice.
“I have come.” She curtsied with grace before she looked at all their grim expressions. “Did you require something from me, mother?” Her silver eyes slid to her mother who held her chin up as if to extrude her authority, though it was just a front to hide her nervousness.
“Yes, my sweet moon.” Her strong voice carried itself louder than it needed to, especially to Alesana who had always heeded all orders that did not mean to harm others, or herself. “We need your mana to assist with the war effort.”
O dear Mother, you why do you ask when you know that I won’t… Alesana cried in her heart. “Mother, need I remind you that I will not research or help with anything that would be used to kill.” She responded while she bent her head down slightly hide from her father disappointed gaze. “I have already done all I could with the potions and spells. If you’re asking for non-magical solutions, I should say that I do not hold any knowledge with any of that.”
“Yes. I’m aware of that, but the times have changed and our allies have become our enemies.” The Queen said with more force. “We are surrounded on all fronts and they all seek to enslave us. Sweet moon, I understand your reservations and your beliefs; however, if you do not help – we’ll lose.”
Alesana looked up finally. “What is it that you need…?” If that was the case… So long as it was not too bad… she thought in her heart in an attempt to persuade herself, though her heart fought against it.
“Your research with the Mana stones.” The Queen began. “We’ve weaponized it with the guarantee from Head Mage Radcliff that it would turn the tides of war.” Her eyes scanned her daughter’s body for any side of dissent. While on most other occasions, she would have yielded the moral ground to Alesana; Should would not do so at the cost of the kingdom.
Alesana’s eyes widened in disbelief and horror. “Mother!” Her sweet voice turned shrill. “T-That was not-” Her cry was cut short by a roar from her father.
“Alesana! Do you not understand the gravity of the situation!?” The fire in his voice and the disappointment in his eyes were enough to tell her that he did not actually know what they had just said to her. “We are on the losing end of this damn war! Mage Radcliff had promised us that he could turn that damn research into a potent weapon!” He stood from his throne, towering nearly two heads over her mother.
“Dad!” Alesana cried out again. “That research was not finished! I could not make any stable stones!” She screamed in panic. Her last words silenced the two rulers. “The stones! They could not be moved or they exploded! I even stated it on the report!” Then another thought popped into her head. “Wait… You… You took it from my tower?!”
Her mother and father both looked at each other in confusion as the words processed in their minds.
“Sister… What would happen should the mages try to create a stone the size of… say… as large as dad…?” Venin spoke up in lieu of their parents not actually having reached the point of her summon, but he didn’t want to outright tell her.
“It’d level an area twice the size of the capital.” She responded without looking at him nor giving it much thought to the question. Such questions were common from the two. “Mother, how did they get my research – No – did they actually try to make the stone?!” The thought finally registered in her head and she turned to her brother.
Her brother’s tanned face was pale as cream and her sister spoke up in his silence. “Yes! They’re in the process of making it right now at the Laboratory by the docks!” She said with haste as she tugged at her sister’s arm. “Quickly! We need to stop them!”
Alesana did not fight, but ran with her sister; though slower, they quickly left the hall with Venin on her tall and her horror-stricken parents left behind. “Open that damn gates!” Jannette’s roar sounded through the castle as all the guards were quickly alarmed. Her voice was as well-known as the King’s voice and the portcullis was quickly lifted as they charged through the ward. Guards quickly appeared from every doorway.
“What is going on?!” The Captain of the guards appeared on the wall.
“Danger at the docks!” Alesana’s weaker voice sounded in response. Though he heard it and his wolf ears flicked in alarm as he let out a deep and menacing howl that quickly mobilized all the guards in the capital. As they flew down the winding King’s road through the Noble district, it took them only ten minutes to make it to the docks. Unfortunately, it had been too late…