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Old Far Far Away... (Sequel to OUAT and HEA)

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Old 11-17-2019, 07:00 AM
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Liri Dazzlebeam Liri Dazzlebeam is offline
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Great posts Alexa! We will make sure someone introduces themselves to Kati!

Sorry this post is really long, but this is the post where you all learn a bit about who She is, and where Jack tells more of his story!


Jack Frost

The words on the page filled my mind, repeating over and over again.

“Nightlight, bright light, do you remember?
Time’s first lesson; remember, remember, or lose the last ember!
Seek the Author, seek the pupil; return to the beginning, the once upon a time.”


The words began triggering memories of Her. The grey-eyed, auburn-haired girl, with that one curl always falling to hang in front of her right eye.
Her hand reaching out, "Jack? It’s time. I’ll go with you.”
“Remember?”
Her smiling, “Once upon a time…”


Faintly, I heard my Ayla call my name, but I was lost in memories. Memories of a different time. Suddenly, I felt Mei’s hand on my cheek, drawing me back to the present.
“Jack? It’s time.” My wife said, for a moment sounding just like Her. “This message, it’s from Her isn’t it?”
I nodded. “It has to be. No one else… no one else would say that… would know that.”
Mei nodded, her suspicion confirmed, “Then it’s time. Time you tell the girls. Let’s go apart from the group a bit. I will tell Mom we need a moment.”
“I really should tell everyone…” I began, but didn’t really feel ready to do so yet.
“Yes, you should. Soon. But you can take a moment first. You can tell your daughters first.” Mei replied. I hesitated again, worried that we would lose precious time if I didn’t tell everyone at once, but…. I had only ever told Mei before. I needed to tell my girls, tell it to a small group, before trying to tell it to everyone else.
“Ok.” I agreed, promising myself I would tell everyone else right after I told my girls.

Mei told her mom, Queen Laurel, what we were doing, and then met the girls and I in a small room next to the great room.
“Daddy, what’s going on?” Yue asked, “What did that message mean?”
I took a deep breath, then began the tale. “Girls, I have been around far longer than you could imagine.”
“Well, obviously! You are an immortal Guardian, Daddy!” Ayla stated with a laugh, but I shook my head.
“No, Ayla, I mean, long before I was an immortal Guardian.” I corrected, and their eyes widened in confusion.

“Long before there was civilization on Earth, before Estoriana even existed, I was a being. A being known as Nightlight, an immortal child, and the last of my kind. I was the protector of the Man in the Moon when he was just a baby, and I fought Pitch many times - long before fighting him as Jack Frost with Jamie and the Guardians.”
“How were you someone else than you are now?” Yue asked, confused and a bit awed.
“I don’t really know how or why, just that I was.” I replied.
“How did you change?” Ayla asked.
“I gave a girl my Nightlight Kiss of Goodnight.” I replied, remembering the choice I had made that day. “To save her life.”

“For a long time, I served the royal Lunar family by protecting the baby who is now the Man in the Moon. One day, Pitch came and attacked the Lunar family, and I fought him, falling to earth with him. The two of us became trapped in a deep sleep, until one day a moonbeam set us free by accident. I remembered nothing of my past as Prince Lunanoff’s bodyguard, so for a long time I wandered the earth alone. Eventually I came across a village, unlike any of the other villages on earth - a village of refuge where magic abounded and children understood animals. For a while, I only watched them. But when Pitch attacked the village and trapped some of it’s protectors, I fought against my old enemy once more - freeing the first Guardians from his grasp.”

“North, Sandy, Bunny, and Toothie?” Ayla asked.
“North yes, but there were other Guardians before Sandy, Bunny, and Toothie joined in. The first three Guardians were North, an old wizard named Ombric, and a little girl named Katherine.”
“What happened to them? Why aren’t they Guardians anymore?” Yue asked.
“They are still around somewhere. And they are still Guardians, they are just doing a different task than the rest of us.” I explained, though I wasn’t sure at all what Katherine was doing.

“After we returned to their village, we went on a journey for answers, and found the Lunar Lamadary - a place high in the Himalayas. The people there remember the entire history of the Man in the Moon, Pitch, and my life before falling to earth. They told us who I had been, and how I had battled Pitch and trapped him for centuries.

“I remained with the Guardians, and over time we found the others now known as Guardians, and joined with them in the fight against Pitch. Katherine became my best friend. Then, Pitch trapped her in a deep sleep - like the one I had trapped us both in centuries earlier, and the only way to save her was to give her my Kiss of Goodnight. I knew I would no longer be Nightlight once I did, and I had no idea what I would become, but I chose to save my friend. And I was forever changed.”

“And you became Jack Frost, the Guardian.” Yue stated, but I shook my head.
“Not at first. I didn’t know who or what I was at first. In our battle we had managed to trap Pitch, so I left for a while, going far away - and over a hundred years passed by.

“In that time, my friends grew into the Guardians the world knows them as; Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Sandman… Ombric grew into Father Time, and Katherine grew into Mother Goose - an young woman who became immortal because of the kiss that had saved her. And I had begun to become Jack Frost, though I wasn’t who I am today yet - that wouldn’t be until centuries later.

“Eventually, Pitch began to stir and send minions against us and the children of the world, especially targeting me - his archenemy, so I returned at last to join with the Guardians. I helped the Guardians with holidays like Christmas and Easter, but I didn’t tell them where I had been all those decades.

“Then one Christmas morning, my old enemy’s army came out in force, and I knew that it was time I told them. In the brief moment of calm before the battle would begin, I told Katherine of all that had occurred while I had been gone, and she became the keeper of my story - like she already was for all the stories of the Guardians.

“I told her of the many adventures I had in the early years, and the battles with Pitch’s minions who endlessly hunted me. I told how I learned I had powers, and learned I could become any age between 11 and 18. I told how I began epic snowball fights, and brought adults and children together in great fun.

“I told her of the family who had taken me in, and the time I had spent just being a boy with a family. I told of the friends I had made along the way; the wolves, trees, leaves, squirrels, wind, children, adults, and my staff. I told Katherine how I had missed them all, but that how I knew I was supposed to have this life without them for a time. Then, I told her of how my happy “childhood” had ended abruptly, when my enemy’s forces had attacked my little family.”

“No!” Ayla gasped, hugging her sister closer to her.
“Yes, dear. It was one of the worst days of my life. Let me tell you of that day.” I continued, telling the story how I had told it to Katherine all those centuries ago.

“My adopted siblings and I had been out playing, when suddenly they were there, and they tried to get my siblings. My friends from all around came to help, and I used my powers for the first time in a very long time. The army chased after my siblings instead of me, and that was when I realized I had to leave my family behind in order to protect them - because Pitch would always hunt down anyone I cared about. I asked my friends to take my siblings to safety, hugging them for the last time, then I turned to face Pitch’s army.

“I shattered the ice covering a lake, sending his forces into the freezing waters, where I followed. I let myself sink deep into the icy water, with only my staff, where I would remain. I wanted Pitch to believe I was dead so that he could harm no one I loved.

“I knew I needed to stay away from everything and everyone. I had to feel nothing so I would be invisible to Pitch. I had to be gone.

“I stayed there for a hundred years. I made myself forget everything about my past, to protect everyone. I even forgot Pitch, and my dear friend Katherine. Then, at last, I returned to the world, knowing only that I had powers.”


“How did you remember all of this now if you forgot it when you were frozen in the water?” Yue asked, sorrow filling her eyes at my tale.
“I would not remember for many years. But one day, Pitch’s Nightmare Men finally tracked me down, and at last I remembered everything I had once forgotten when in the ice. I remembered it, and knew that I would someday have to face Pitch once and for all. That is when I rejoined the Guardians, and eventually told all this to Katherine.” I answered.

“After I finished telling my story to Katherine, Pitch finally broke free of the prison we had put him in over a hundred years before. All the Guardians, Pitch and all of his army, and the creatures of the world all began to gather for one more battle - a battle that I was prepared for with the only thing that could end Pitch at last. But when the battle began, I realized Pitch had one more surprise, he had sent forces to attack the descendants of my adopted family. Luckily, Toothie had already sensed something was wrong, and she fought to rescue my family from his men. Meanwhile, I used the one weapon that worked against Pitch, defeating his army in the process - since they were created from him. Silence fell.

“At last, I knelt over the fallen form of my greatest enemy - with his daughter beside me, who had become Mother Nature when her father was corrupted by Darkness. Leaning over him, the weapon dissolved into the tears it had been created by, falling onto his chest. The tears soaked in, and the Nightmare King transformed back into the noble and valiant man he had once been - the right hand man of Tsar Lunar, Prince Lunanoff’s father. Together, she and I grieved him, her father and my old enemy - the man who was once the most honorable in the universe.

“We would never again face the Pitch who was formerly Lord Pitchiner, second-in-command to Tsar Lunar, but the Boogie Man and the essence of the Darkness still exists. Two hundred years later we fought the new Pitch Black, the next Nightmare King, with young Jamie and his friends - which is the story that you already know. It was then, that I finally became who the world knows now. Jack Frost, immortal Guardian, able to control all that comes with winter.

“Just before we had this battle though, Katherine went off on a journey - far away from earth, and none of the other Guardians have seen her for over a hundred years. We all can feel she is still out there, still alive, but we don’t know where or what she has been doing. But now, today, she sends me this message, a message meant to help us with this new danger we are facing,” I finished at last.

“Whoaaaa.” Yue said, the story of my life slowly sinking in.
“You are sooooo old Daddy!” Ayla proclaimed, “Waaaaaay older than I already thought, which was already really old!”
“Ayla!” Yue exclaimed, exasperated with her sister. “Is that the only thing you heard?”
“No! I heard the whole story, I promise I listened. And all of this happened before he even met Auntie Astrid! Daddy, you have been through so much.” She hugged me, and Yue joined in. “But, you are super old…” She added, and we all laughed, Mei joining into the hug.
“Yes, yes I am, my child.” I replied, still laughing. “Come, I need to tell the others my tale now. And I need to explain the clue Katherine left me.”


I then told the rest of the Varden the entire tale that I had just told my daughters, leaving out no detail in the second telling. The others sat in stunned silence when I finished, having not interrupted me like my daughters had.
“So, Katherine, the Guardian of Storytelling - also known as Mother Goose, is sending us a clue to aid us with the new danger we are facing.” I finished, waiting for it all to sink in for my friends.


My sisters Astrid, Ivory, and Lillie looked at me, with fresh wonder and love in their eyes now that they finally had heard my story - a story that spanned centuries. Mei rubbed my shoulder, then wrapped her arm around me.
“Thank you for telling us all that, Jack.” My mother-in-law, Queen Laurel, finally said. I bowed my head in a slow nod, feeling free after telling so many of my friends my story at last.
“Yes, thank you Jack.” Iv agreed, “Now, can you explain what Katherine’s clue means?”

I read the clue out loud to the Varden,

“Nightlight, bright light, do you remember?
Time’s first lesson; remember, remember, or lose the last ember!
Seek the Author, seek the pupil; return to the beginning, the once upon a time.”


“She addressed it to me, using the name she first knew me by, Nightlight. The next words are the beginning of the vow I made when I was the protector of Prince Lunanoff, swearing to protect the baby prince always. ‘Time’s first lesson’ refers to Father Time, the former wizard named Ombric Shalazar. The first lesson he always taught all the children of his magical village was, ‘I believe! I believe! I believe!’ - because all magic is only possible with belief.” I began breaking down her clue.

“She keeps saying ‘remember,’ because I have a history of losing my memory, and she has no way of knowing what all I remember from our past at the moment. And also probably because humanity is forgetting our stories. I think that she is urging to remember ‘or lose the last ember’ because if we don’t get enough people to remember our stories again… then I can only imagine we will all disappear eventually, our bright lights flickering and then fading away.” I continued.
“That makes sense,” Astrid mused, “It fits in with what Lillie, my Never fairies, and I have figured out so far.”

“I am not sure what the next lines mean, ‘Seek the Author, seek the pupil’… I don’t know who the Author is, or the pupil. Katherine isn’t the Author, I know that much, I can feel it.”
“Here!” Noelle spoke up excitedly, “In the front of Tales of Estoriana it says it was written by ‘The Author’!” We all looked at the cover, and sure enough the words were there.
“So we need to figure out who this Author is, and who their pupil is.” Calla said, “But where do we even start?”

“We can start with the last piece of the clue, and try to work from there. Katherine says to ‘return to the beginning, the once upon a time.’ I think she means to return to the beginning of our history together, where we first met - in her village on earth. I can only hope that more clues can be found there. That was where our story began, and where she first began to become Mother Goose. The village of Santoff Claussen, which name means the ‘place of dreams.’ The place where Katherine first spoke the words ‘once upon a time.’” I said.
“And where would that village be?” Queen Kida of Atlantis asked.
“Deep in the forests to the east of Siberia.” I replied, remembering the hidden haven.

“So,” Iv began, “All we have to do is find Katherine, find the so-called ‘Author’ and their pupil, and restore belief in us to enough people so that we won’t all fade away. Seems…. just a tad bit more impossible than all the other things we have faced and accomplished, so should be totally doable!” She laughed, with a bit of her usual sarcasm, despite the fear and worry I knew she felt - we all felt.
“Like we told everyone earlier, we will figure this all out together - like we always do. Together we are strong, and together we will get through this.” Astrid restated, firmly.




(Hope you all like it! Jack's story information comes from the Guardians of Childhood books by William Joyce - what Rise of the Guardians is based off of. Katherine is the Guardian of Storytelling, not the Apprentice, but she is with the Apprentice somewhere in the Universe(s).

She and the Apprentice are sending clues to everyone because they want to help save everyone - unlike the Author who believes they should all stay apart and not interfere one way or the other. Katherine and the Apprentice have written up a prophecy that will say who needs to go on the quest to find the Author and to save all the fairytale characters. Each of us needs to come up with lines of prophecy for each of our characters that are going on the quest. Night and I have begun writing ours, and they are all three lines each, with something to describe the character and something that speaks to what you want them to overcome/achieve/experience throughout the quest experience.

The prophecy will also have a few lines at the beginning and the end to round things out and tell them where to start, though they will travel through many worlds. So! Everyone, start thinking of and writing up your prophecy lines! You can send the lines to me and I will put the whole thing together when we have all the lines!

Here is an example, see if you know who this line is about :

Dance of the snow maiden in the land of sweets, born as the winter’s long fury depletes
The powers you cherish, not your greatest gift, a strength to challenge the mightiest rift
Pierce through the darkness with your heart as your blade, into the unknown, find the light that won’t fade


And here's another one:

Tears of gold that restoration create, as the flower within changes ones fate
Accept that your battle is one to protect, reconcile with the self that you cannot reject
When the empath becomes a warrior at last, the legacies together will be held fast


So, be writing up your prophecy lines for each character of yours that will be questing! I can't wait to have them all get going! )

Last edited by Liri Dazzlebeam; 11-17-2019 at 07:56 AM.
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  #92  
Old 11-17-2019, 07:54 AM
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Wow! Awesome posts, both of you! Ahh, I absolutely love Jack's backstory! It's great to finally meet Odilia. I'm so excited to see where she and Kati decide to go from here, and as always, feel free to talk to any of my characters that are available!


Um, you want to talk long posts... I'm sorry, I've kind of been adding to this all week, when I was waiting to post, and now it's kind of... monster sized.



“So,” Iv began, “All we have to do is find Katherine, find the so-called ‘Author’ and their pupil, and restore belief in us to enough people so that we won’t all fade away. Seems…. just a tad bit more impossible than all the other things we have faced and accomplished, so should be totally doable!” She laughed, with a bit of her usual sarcasm, despite the fear and worry I knew she felt - we all felt.
“Like we told everyone earlier, we will figure this all out together - like we always do. Together we are strong, and together we will get through this.” Astrid restated, firmly.
After these bold declarations, ringing out like a battle cry, the room split up into smaller groups. Some starting to plan for this new quest, others simply trying to digest all the mind-boggling new information we’d all been presented with.
I looked over at Ayla in excitement. “Siberia! I’ve never been, have you?”
“Oh no,” Mom cut in, shooting me a glare. “Noelle, you won’t be going, and neither will any of the other children. This is far too dangerous for you, and we’ll be going to a place where you won’t have any magic to defend yourself with. We don’t even know who or what this Author actually is, so who knows where we’ll end up on this quest?”
“What?!” I exclaimed. “But Mom, you all just finished saying that this concerns all of us! And besides, like Tamsin said – “ I shot a grin at the girl who had fallen through the ceiling with her brother. “A lot of you were the same age when you went to fight the villains! And you won’t have any powers on Earth either – but Ayla will!” My best friend nodded vigorously, backing me up.
“The very fact that you’re treating this like some kind of fun adventure proves that you aren’t mature enough to handle that kind of responsibility,” Mom said firmly. “Coupled with your display at the Reunion Ball – “
That was the last straw. “Do you really believe I think of this as – as just fun and games? I know how serious all of this is, Mom! For goodness’ sakes, the literal fate of the entire world is at stake! Just because I’m not sitting around acting like it’s already the end of the world doesn’t mean I don’t understand the gravity of the situation. You told me to trust in the Varden – that they’ve faced the impossible before and always came out on top, and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. Why is it that you always have to assume the worst of me?!"
I stomped off, not waiting to hear an answer. I was tired of Mom treating me like a child who didn’t understand anything. You could be excited for adventure and yet still understand how serious this whole thing is, couldn't you?

I stopped when I heard two familiar voices just around the corner. In the all rush and bustle of the Council room, I hadn’t even noticed them leaving.
“I’ve never told this story in its entirety to anyone before, except my wife.” Jack Frost was saying. “To be honest, it’s freeing, finally having all of this out in the open.”
“After all you’ve been through… we must be like a blip on the radar to you, huh?” Ivory murmured, a soft note of sorrow in her voice. “Compared with the vastness of eternity and all the ages of the world you’ve lived through… What are we but a breath on the wind, no longer than an immortal’s sigh?”
“Of course not. How could you think that? No matter how long I’ve lived, or how many people I’ve met, the ones who have touched my life the most deeply will always be precious and irreplaceable. Mei, my daughters, the Guardians, Astrid, Lillie, Dove, and you.” Jack pulled her into a hug. “It doesn’t matter whether our time together is a fraction of my life, or all of it. I wouldn’t be who I am today without you.”
“You’re right, of course. Sorry. I’m being silly.” She rested her head on his shoulder. “All this belief and forgetting thing… plus, with my mom and dad having passed on only a few years ago. It’s made me realize how fragile all of this is. Our very existence.”
He ruffled her long, silvery-blonde hair in a gesture that was distinctly big brother-like. “We’re going to get through this, Iv. We’ve fought the impossible before. And really, it’s been so many years since our last grand adventure. You can’t honestly tell me you haven’t missed it?” He asked teasingly.
Ivory laughed. “Well… it has been too many years since they last cheered our names through the streets.”
“I’m sorry about your parents, Iv. I know it must still hurt.”
“It’s okay. It was their time, and they told me that they had no regrets.” She stood up. “But there’s a whole world of people out there who can still be saved. And we’re going to fight for this land of magic and wonder with everything we’ve got. Just as we’ve always done.”
Seeing that they were about to head back to the council room, I slipped away, feeling like I’d seen more than I was supposed to. Ivory didn’t often show her vulnerabilities in front of Mom and me. She was normally our pillar of strength, or the one to lighten the mood when things got too grim or serious. I guess I hadn’t thought about what secret sorrows and fears she might have been carrying this whole time.
Suddenly, I felt small and petty for being upset that Mom wasn’t allowing me to go on the mission to Santoff Claussen. Maybe she was right to doubt me. Maybe I am too immature… after all, what did I know about life and death, and being responsible the fate of an entire world?

On the ride back to Arendelle, I sat by the carriage window, tapping my fingers absently on the frosted glass. Ayla and Yue had gone to Corona, their mom’s birth kingdom, where their parents and Saige would get ready for the journey ahead. It was where they usually stayed when they came to Estoriana – well, either there or at the Arendelle palace with my family.
“Sorry I argued with you in front of the whole Varden, Mom,” I murmured. “I didn’t mean to make a scene.”
Dad laughed. “Noelle Lucilla Silvestre, trying to avoid making a scene? Now that’s a sight I’d love to see.”
I rolled my eyes. “Not helping, Dad!” Turning back to Mom, I added, “I still wish that you’d trust me more, but I know this is much bigger than me or whatever I want. So I’m sorry.”
Embeth raised an eyebrow. “Wow. That was surprisingly mature of you, little sis.”
“Maybe Yue is finally starting to rub off on you,” Tavia teased.
“I’m sorry too,” Mom said, surprising me. “I know I’m hard on you, Noelle, and I don’t want you to think I don’t trust you. It’s just – I know what it’s like to go on a quest like this. The thrill of it, the excitement, but there was so much fear and pain along the way too. I want to protect you from that, for as long as I can.” She wrapped her arms around me in a hug. “I know you’ll do amazing things someday, Noelle. You have the courage for it, and the hunger for adventure. But I don’t want you to have to learn what it’s like to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.”
“It is quite a weight indeed,” Ivory murmured. She gazed at me, looking usually solemn. “A lot of us were like you once, you know. We started out bright eyed and excited, but trials and tribulations wear down both our naďve beliefs and our insecurities, until we find out who we really are, underneath it all… the strength that we carry deep within. When the time comes for you to forge your own story in the Tales of Estoriana, Noelle… I am sure that it’s going to be one for the ages.”
I ducked my head, still feeling a bit awkward. I didn’t want her to know that I’d witnessed her private moment. “Well, that depends on the Author, doesn’t it? We’re going to find him or her, because they’re the one who can change how our story plays out.”
“Do you believe that the Author is some great puppetmaster, dictating how our stories will unfold?” Ivory tilted her head, smiling. “Personally, I think that we all write our own stories. The Author is merely the keeper of them, not the one who chooses where they go.”
Juliette pondered that for a moment. “I like that idea,” she mused. “But, if the Author is just some record-keeper, how will finding them fix anything?”
“I don’t know. But I trust Jack, and he’s helped save Estoriana from ruin more than once. If he thinks Katherine and the Author are the key, then that’s good enough for me.”
Dad raised an eyebrow. “Queen Ivory of Arendelle, saying that she trusts someone? This really is the day for impossible occurrences!”
Ivory punched him playfully on the shoulder. “Really, Calla,” she scolded. “Sometimes, I seriously question your taste.”

“Your Majesty! Lady Calissa and Lord Nikolai!” a panicked voice cried out from outside the carriage.
“What’s going on?” Mom asked, pulling aside the curtains to look outside the window. She let out a horrified gasp.
Outside, Arendelle was… gray. It was like all of the life and color was being drained out of the city. The bright turquoise fjords, green grassy mountaintops, the spiral piers of the palace… even the grass beneath our carriage looked dull and lifeless. It was as if our whole kingdom was fading away.
Mom yanked open the door and leapt out of the carriage, followed closely by Dad and Ivory. As soon as her feet touched the grass… a miraculous thing happened. Vibrant green began to spread from the place where she’d stepped, the gray color slowly leaching away to normal earthy hues. When Ivory took a step forward as well, the effect became more pronounced, color returning to the fjords beneath the bridge we’d just travelled across.
“Oh, thank goodness!” It was the guard who had cried out earlier. “I knew Your Majesty and the Varden would figure something out.”
“What happened here?” Ivory gasped.
“After you left, throughout the day, this was happening across the kingdom. It was like all the life and color was draining away,” another guard explained, still shaking with fear.
“And the disappearances!” a third guard cried out, looking distraught. “Nearly a dozen, in the less than a day that you’ve been gone!”
My sisters and I looked at each other, and I saw the same numb horror that I felt reflected in all their faces. How had things taken such a turn for the worse, so quickly?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~

“I think there’s only one possible explanation for this,” Mom said, a few hours later, to the other members of the Varden.
It was decided that it was much too dangerous to try meeting again, so the Varden was communicating with each other via a magic mirror network. Courtesy of Queen Layla, and her daughter Janelle, who were experts in mirror magic, being descended from Queen Imperia herself. We were all gathered around the huge mirror in the Great Hall right now, which was split into fractals – each showing a different Varden member’s location. I saw with relief that Ayla and Yue stood behind Shang, Laurel, Saige, Mei and Jack in the Corona section of the mirror.
Mei nodded. “Somehow, our presence is slowing down the process of Estoriana’s fading. But how?”
“I think I might know,” a small voice spoke up. All eyes turned to Juliette, my shy and bookish sister, and she flushed a little under the scrutiny. “Unlike those of our ancestors, our stories are recent, so they’re still fresh in a lot of people’s minds. Tales of Estoriana was a popular book of fairy tales on Earth for many years. While many in this generation of kids are no longer believing, there are enough of those out there who still remember our stories to keep our magic going, at least for now.”
“I think Jules is right,” I declared, and my sister shot me a grateful smile for backing her up. “We all know the Varden hold a special and powerful magic, and that might just be able to slow down the process of Estoriana’s fading.”
“That’s where all the evidence points, certainly,” Saige agreed.
Jessamine spoke aloud what we were all thinking. “This would mean that, at least for the foreseeable future, none of us can leave our kingdoms. So… what will we do about the quest for the Author?”
There was a silence. “We’ll have to choose a delegation to go in our stead,” Queen Kida of Atlantis said at last. “It’s less than ideal, but we have no other choice. It may be a dangerous journey, so everyone needs to choose wisely.”

The meeting ended after that, with the promise to keep in touch if anything else happened. Now that we knew the Varden’s magic could be the only thing keeping Estoriana from fading even faster, we couldn’t waste any of that magic.
Mom sighed. “I really don’t like the idea of asking others to do this in our stead. It’s just so much to ask, of anyone. And with so little to go on.”
Dad put his arm around her. “Me neither. But what choice do we have?”
“If only this person talking to us through the book – Katherine, the Author, whoever it is – wouldn’t leave such vague hints,” I grumbled. “Why don’t they just say, ‘Hey! This is where we are! Send out these people and come find us!’”
“I’m sure that’s what you’d do, Noelle,” Embeth teased.
“But we don’t know what their situation is. Maybe they can’t for some reason – a rule that's in place, someone in charge who won't let them reveal too much. Or maybe there’s someone else out there who's also looking for the Author, someone bad,” Tavia suggested. “Who knows what powers the Author possesses, and what could happen if it ended up in the wrong hands.”
“Which would explain why Katherine left a hint that only Jack could understand,” Juliette pointed out.
“Okay, you all have a point,” I conceded, still grumbling. “Still, it would be nice if they left us something more to go on!”
As if my words had summoned whoever it was communicating with us, the book in Jules’s hands began to emit a faint, golden glow. She immediately flipped it open excitedly, and we all crowded around her, trying to read the rapidly appearing words that flowed over the page.
“It’s a new chapter!” I exclaimed, clapping my hands in excitement. “This must mean it’s the start of a new quest, just like when the story of the Great Battle of Exilia appeared in the book. Saige told me all about it!”
“But what’s it trying to say?” Em asked, peering over her twin’s shoulder.
“I think it might be… a prophecy?” Juliette replied.
At the very top of the page was an illustration. It showed a group of maybe 15 or 16 people, their figures enshrouded in shadow so that it was impossible to make out their identities. They were walking down a long, winding path, surrounding by dark and twisting tree branches, towards a location that lay shrouded in mist, mysterious and unknowable. A quest into the unknown.
Below it was a series of lines, with an almost lyrical flow to them, like a poem or a song. They seemed to be grouped into stanzas, each with a different theme and message. The first lines of the poem, just below the illustration, read:

Two worlds lie on oblivion’s edge, separated by an unbreachable wedge
Cast aside the rift torn by centuries’ rage, unite to escape your fate’s cruel cage
Each stanza below is one’s destined call, take heed Legacies, for split apart you fall

Journey through worlds both familiar and strange, as the pieces of the map slowly rearrange
Leading to the realm where all tales are kept, the forbidden haven where no mortal has stepped
There we shall await you at journey’s end, where salvation will come from the hand of a friend

Far far away beneath sunset skies, from belief’s last ember a new hope shall rise

“If I’m interpreting this correctly… I think each stanza is referring to a different person,” Tavy said slowly. “Considering what we just learned about most of the Varden not being able to leave their kingdoms, I think it’s reasonable to assume this is Katherine – or the Author – telling us who we should be sending on this quest to find them.”

“Wait!” Juliette exclaimed, pointing at the page. “Look at this passage!”

Dance of the snow maiden in the land of sweets, born as the winter’s long fury depletes
The powers you cherish, not your greatest gift, a strength to challenge the mightiest rift
Pierce through the darkness with your heart as your blade, into the unknown, find the light that won’t fade

“The snow maiden was a fairy tale about a couple who couldn’t have children of their own, so they made a little girl out of snow, who came to life through magic,” Jules, who had no doubt came across that in one of her books, explained. “In the story, she fell in love with a shepherd, but since her heart was made of snow too, it melted and she died.”
“That sounds like… Mom,” Embeth said thoughtfully, then added quickly. “Except for the heart melting thing, of course!”
It was true. Mom had been created from ice and snow by Ivory, over thirty years ago, for a couple in Arendelle who couldn’t have kids. Unfortunately, Mom’s adoptive parents had died of sickness when she was very young, so Iv had pretty much raised her in the Arendelle palace. As such, I’d never met my grandparents, and even Mom had only vague memories of them. The only thing I knew about them were their names – Lucius and Marilla. Mom had given me the middle name “Lucilla” in their memory.

”I’d always thought it was a beautiful name,” she had told me, smiling. “It means ‘light’, you know, or ‘hope’.”
“So my name literally translates to ‘Christmas light’?” I made a face. “Mom! Seriously? That’s so cheesy!”
She laughed. “Well, in time I hope you’ll come to appreciate it. And anyway, it’s my way of honoring my adoptive parents. Our time together may have been brief, but I know that they loved me. Ivory always told me it was their desperation and longing that convinced her to try creating me.”

Still, though we weren’t related by blood, it was always Ivory that I’d considered to be my real grandmother.

Shaking off the ruminations, I turned my attention back to the prophecy. “I think it is referring to Mom,” I said slowly, a sudden new hope budding in my chest. I scarcely dared to say it out loud… “She was a maiden made out of snow, who became a dancer. And… the land of sweets part is probably referring to Dad.” He was, after all, a descendant of Clara from The Nutcracker.
All eyes turned to me as I finally voiced what I had been thinking since I’d first read the passage. “Me. It’s talking about me.”
I was, after all, the daughter of Nikolai and Calla, born just before the first day of spring – as “the winter’s long fury depletes”.
I immediately looked to Mom, anxious about her reaction after her earlier refusal to allow me to come to Santoff Claussen. Would she try to stop me again?
There was sadness in her eyes, but I saw to my surprise that there was an intense pride there too.
“Maybe I have been holding you back,” Mom said softly. “I wanted to protect you, Noelle, and I still do… but maybe the time has come for me to step back and let you shine.”
Dad put his arm around her. “We need to make another mirror call to the rest of the Varden, and discuss the prophecy.” He smiled gently at me. “It looks like the call to adventure you’ve been waiting for has finally come. I know you’re going to do amazing things, my daughter.”

Embeth grinned at me. “Just be sure not to trip with the portalling device when you’re in Santoff Claussen, or the whole world could be doomed!” she teased.
She was referring to the first time Mom and Dad had taken us to Earth. I had been so excited, I’d insisted on being the one to toss the portalling device that would take us there. After Mom handed it to me, slightly reluctantly, I had attempted a dramatic ballerina twirl like the ones I’d seen her perform countless times on stage. Unfortunately, I had not inherited her talent for dance, and promptly tripped over a tree root, causing the portal device to careen off-path and getting all of us sent to Antarctica instead of London.
On the bright side, I got to see a real-life baby penguin being hatched, something I bragged about to Ayla for years.
I stuck my tongue out at her. “I was six years old!”

Despite the ribbing at my expense, I was grateful for Em’s attempts to lighten the mood. I was a mess of excitement and nervousness in equal measure, tinged with a bit of guilt.
Was it really right for me to be so looking forward to this? Though our entire world was on the brink of oblivion, I felt like I was coming alive for the first time in my life.
Why did I feel this way? Almost everything I loved was behind these walls. And yet… even with my family around me, even when Ayla and Yue and all my friends were here, there was a voice inside me that told me there was somewhere… else out there that I should be.
It was a secret siren’s call that I had never dared to follow before. But always, there was that part of me that longed to go. Beyond these walls, beyond this kingdom and even this world, into the unknown.



After Pan’s descendant finished explaining her theory on why the disappearances were happening, the entire room was thrown into chaos as a pair of twins tumbled out of the ceiling and onto the meeting table. For a moment, I almost forgot where I was, and my first thought was, these are the most pathetic spies I’ve ever encountered.
But of course, this was Estoriana, and they weren’t spies – just more examples of the usual descendant idiocy. I could think of a dozen other ways of listening in on this meeting without trying something so obviously foolish.
As their mother began berating the twins, I took advantage of this momentary diversion to slip away from the meeting without anyone noticing. I’d already learned what I had to, and it was just as I’d feared – this wasn’t something that was going to affect only Estoriana, but all the fairy tale worlds.
“Mother!” I called out as soon as I found a safe hiding place. I was holding the small hand mirror she had given me, that we could use for communication. It was connected to the enormous magical looking glass that hung in our snow lair.
There was no reply. I tried several more times, to no avail. Perhaps she was away from the lair, at a meeting with the Exilian council, or just busy with a spell. Either way, she clearly wasn’t going to return my call.
Well, no matter. I pulled out the small hairpin that I had stolen from the Arendelle palace a few days ago. It was the smallest portalling device I could find, perfect for slipping into a pocket or the folds of my dress, so I could slip away any time I needed to – or maybe even use it to escape if necessary.
After all, I wasn’t banished anymore, so I could come and go as I pleased.
Still, I shouldn’t try doing this too often – the more I travelled back and forth between realms, the higher the risk of discovery. But this was too big of a revelation not to share. Who knew what the situation was like on Exilia now? I remembered the inexplicable earthquake from the day before I’d left. More likely than not, that was connected to the same series of disasters that had befallen Estoriana.
I closed my eyes to the familiar tilt and spin of travelling between worlds, and opened them again to the all-too familiar desolate wasteland.

I walked out past the gleaming black towers of Imperia’s palace, keeping my head down and cloak pulled tight around my shoulders to remain inconspicuous. I didn’t want to run into Hook, Imperia, Jafar, or any of the others. No doubt they’d be demanding to know where I’d been, and I wasn’t in the mood to concoct a cover up story. I headed to the town marketplace, hoping to run into Mother or Mireya, or at least someone familiar who would be willing to listen.
To my relief, I saw a familiar curtain of long blonde hair, about to round a corner. “Scarlet!”
She turned, eyes wide. “Well, well, well. I didn’t expect to see you here. Back so soon?”
“This is no time for your games,” I said coldly. “Do you remember that earthquake from a week ago? Has anything like that happened again?”
Scarlet eyed me with suspicion. “So you’ve really not been back here in all that time?”
“Never mind me, this is much bigger than either of us now! Just answer me this – has anything strange and unexplainable like that happened again?” I demanded.
The urgency in my voice must have gotten through to her. “Several incidents like it, actually. The entire landscape around here has become more treacherous by the day. But more interesting than that, it seems that the veil between worlds has started to thin… if we know anything about the Council of Exilia, you’d better finish whatever it is you’re doing quickly. Our big day might be coming sooner than you think,” Scarlet informed me. “Now your turn. You know something about all of this, don’t you?”
I explained everything. The disappearances, the looming threat to all the fairy tale worlds, and how it was all caused by humans losing their belief. Scarlet’s eyes widened.
“How do you know any of this?” she demanded.
“Never mind that for now,” I said calmly. “Be sure to inform the Council, have them figure out if any disappearances have happened on Exilia yet.”
Scarlet laughed. “You’ve always had your secrets, Neva, but you won’t get away with them so easily this time. Imperia and the others will want to get to the bottom of how you’ve come by this information. And judging by Mireya’s reaction to your little disappearance… I get the feeling whatever you’ve gotten yourself tangled up in isn’t going to go over very well.”
“Mireya?” I asked, confused. “What does she have to do with any of this?”
“You didn’t know?” she tilted her head to the side. “She’s been upset at you for the entire past week, ever since you left. She refuses to tell anyone anything about where you’ve been, though.”
I tried not to let my shock and confusion show on my face. Did Mireya know? But how could she have? Even if she did, what reason could she have to be angry at me?
“Just pass on this information to the Council,” I said to Scarlet, and walked away.

I found her on the plains, in the place where we’d watched the herd migration a little more than a week ago. I stopped short, feeling suddenly nervous. A feeling of dread was starting to settle over me, and I didn’t know why.
“Mireya…?” I said uncertainly. She froze, then turned slowly to face me. So many emotions flashed across her face that I couldn’t make sense of them all. Shock, disbelief, anger, hurt, and… betrayal?
“How’s it been, Neva? Have you been enjoying yourself with your new descendant friends?” Sarcasm dripped from her voice, though it couldn’t hide the undercurrent of hurt.
“What?” I took a step back, shocked and confused. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t try to pretend or deny it. I know why you’ve been gone all this time – where you went.”
I stared at her, stunned. “You followed me?”
“You refuse to talk to me about anything, so what choice did I have?” She took a step forward. “Care to explain what exactly is going on here, Neva?”

I folded my arms. “I told you over a week ago that I was going on a secret mission and wouldn’t be around for a little while. Maybe I was a little light on the details, but I hardly think it warrants this reaction. Why are you so upset?” I could see her bristle at my callous tone.
“Why am I upset?” she exclaimed. “I saw you with the descendants, Neva! You manipulated them into breaking your banishment, and then you disappeared into that portal – leaving me behind! You tried to keep all of it a secret from me, though you know better than anyone how badly I wanted to see the world of my mother’s stories. I’ve been dreaming of being under that sunshine, seeing the grass and the daisies, for all of my life, and you went off with the descendants and left me behind!”
I took a step back, shocked by the anger and hurt in her eyes, and a bit annoyed. “What are you talking about? This isn’t some vacation that I’m taking. I was on an undercover mission to infiltrate their ranks, and I had to pretend to be one of them! Of course I didn’t take you with me, you despise the descendants more than anybody. How could you have enjoyed seeing the grass and the meadows, when they were infested with those people you hate so much?”
“Is that what you thought?” Mireya took a step forward. “I would have gladly smiled and helped you deceived those loathsome descendants, if it meant finally getting to see the world of my mother’s stories. Have you even considered being honest and asking me what I would have wanted, Neva? I’ve known this whole time that you and your mother had your own plans that you won’t share with the rest of us. I would never demand all your secrets, if you’re not ready to share them, but after all these years of friendship, I thought you’d at least trust me with the important things!”
“As if you know anything about what’s important,” I snapped. “You’re the one going on about sunshine and pretty meadows, while I’m trying to fight for my mother’s freedom!”
I knew I was being unfair, but there was a rising resentment and even… envy… that I couldn’t suppress. What must it be like to have such simple beliefs? To see someone else as the villains and hate them wholeheartedly, and dream of a beautiful world under the light of the sun, surrounded by gently swaying wildflowers?
I had long since forgotten such simplicity.

“Your mother?” her tone changed to one of surprise. “The descendants have something that can help break her banishment curse?”
“Yes!” My voice turned bitingly sarcastic. “Why do you think I even bothered to go on this horrid mission? You think I want to traipse off with the descendants and frolic in a meadow with them for the rest of my life? If you were spying on me the whole time, then you could clearly see that I was lying through my teeth to them. Yet your immediate reaction was to assume I abandoned and didn’t care about you?”
“Can you blame me?” Mireya asked quietly. “If you’d just been honest with me, we could have gone on this mission together, as friends, and you would have had someone to talk to and give you a break from those simpering descendants. But even though we’ve been together for this long, you still don’t want me at your side during anything important. Even though you know how much seeing Estoriana would mean to me.”
“Do you know who was there when I had to pretend to sympathize with the descendants?” I snapped. “The new Commander of Estoriana’s army herself. She was one of the people who ordered for your parents to be banished, was proud of what they’d done. What if you hadn’t been able to keep all your loathing hidden when you suddenly came face to face with her? All it would take is one slip-up, one wrong thing said, and our whole cover would be blown. I’m sorry that I made you wait a few weeks to go see your precious daisies, Mireya, but this could be the one chance my mother has at freedom, after all these centuries! Of course I don’t think you’d purposefully sabotage me, but I cannot take even the slightest risk, with so much on the line. She’s the only family I have, and this is all for her!”
There was a silence, as both of us tried to calm down. I didn’t want to be angry at her; I really didn’t. She was the only friend I had left, the only person in all the worlds besides Mother that I truly cared about.
“I know,” Mireya spoke up first, clearly trying to push past her anger at my harsh, unfair words and lack of trust. She didn’t want to lose this friendship any more than I did. “I saw her there when you were in the Frost house, and I didn’t try to attack her then. I wouldn’t have, if you had taken me with you into the house, either. I will never forgive her for what she and the other descendants have done, but I certainly wouldn’t prioritize revenge or seeing Estoriana over your mom’s freedom. I just wish you had told me from the start that that was what this is about.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, trying hard to make my voice softer. “It’s not that I don’t trust you, it really isn’t. But Mother thought that the more people knew about our plans, the more dangerous it would be. And I promise you, we would have gone to see all the grass and daisies in the world together, as soon as I was done.”

“And what exactly are these plans of yours?” she asked. “If your mother wants to get free and reclaim her rightful place on the throne of Arendelle, take it back from the sister who betrayed and banished her, why not just tell the Council of Exilia everything? I thought we were all on the same side here. You’ve always talked about how you hated your aunt’s descendants, those usurpers who live in that palace now. Why do the two of you insist on being so secretive?”
It seemed Mireya had overheard all of my conversation with the Frost family, Noelle and Saige. So. She knew everything, then. I pushed back a swell of irritation. This was Mother’s secret, the pain she had borne for so many years, and not something for others to know or speculate about.
But I was the one who had traded that secret in exchange for the descendants’ trust, so I had no real right to judge.
In truth, Mother had never told me exactly why her sister had betrayed and banished her, then went so far as to erase everyone’s memories. Perhaps even she didn’t know what had possessed Gerda to do such a thing. Or maybe it was as simple as Gerda being jealous of her sister and wanting to steal the throne. Either way, it was a heinous deed, made infinitely worse by the fact that it was her own sister she did it to.
“No,” I replied. “That was never Mother’s goal, and certainly not something I wanted. She wants to be free, yes, but she never had a desire to follow Imperia’s revenge schemes. Mother has a magic object that can grant her one wish, but it needs a descendant’s magic in order to activate. And that descendant has to come to us willingly, somehow. So I’ve worked my way into the Arendelle royal family over the past week, and soon I’ll be able to lure Noelle here and Mother will have her wish.” I knew I was being vague and leaving things out, but in truth, I still wasn’t sure how much I should reveal. This was Mother’s plan, after all, and she had always warned me against letting someone else, anyone, know about any of it. Sometimes I thought she might be keeping secrets from even me. Where had she found that magic mirror? How did she know how to unlock its magic?

I swallowed hard. There was another reason for my hesitancy. Even now, it was difficult to reveal the secret desires that I’d held close to my heart for so long. But it was time Mireya, at least, knew the truth.
“I never wanted to rule Estoriana,” I said bitterly. “What’s the point of it anyway? Even if we’re ruling over them, we’ll be surrounded by all those descendants we loathe so much. Living among them forever, having to face their hatred and disgust for the rest of our lives… what kind of a happy ending is that? Imperia and the others don’t care. They’re too blinded by their need for revenge to even think about finding a better future. I can’t – I won’t – betray them, but neither will I live as a pawn.”
I extended a hand out to her. “Run away with me,” I whispered. “Let’s leave this whole terrible, despicable story behind us and never look back. Forget all the fighting and the suffering and this whole worthless, irredeemable world of ours. There are other realms out there beyond Estoriana and Exilia – we can go anywhere, be anything. As soon as I can get my mom free from her banishment curse – and your dad, too. If you believe he can really live without the darkness, I’ll ask Mother to wish for his freedom too. It’ll be just the four of us, and we can finally escape and… go anywhere. Be anything.”

Mireya looked at my outstretched hand, and I could see the conflict in her eyes, the temptation. But it was overshadowed by her ever-present wrath, and a furious disbelief at what I was proposing. At last, she gave a bitter laugh, and turned away.
“Are you kidding me, Neva? This was what you had been planning this whole time? To run away and allow the descendants to keep living their happy little lives, where they won’t ever have to answer for my family’s suffering.” She shook her head, and I could tell she was barely able to hold back her fury. “I could never do something like that. I can’t believe you would even try asking it of me.” She smiled bitterly. “After all this time, it seems I really don’t know you at all.”
She turned on her heel and began walking away, back towards the dark spires of Imperia’s castle in the distance. Leaving me behind.

Sudden, blind desperation seized me, and I ran after her. “Mireya!” I yelled.
“I’ve already given you my answer,” she said coldly. “If you want to run away, Neva, and ignore all the terrible things the descendants have done, then you’ll have to do it without me. I’m done letting them get away with it.”
“No,” I said, sudden fury welling up. “You, and your dad, you’ve always let the crimes of others define your life! Why can’t you just let it go? Start over and try to build a new life.”
“And what would you understand?” she demanded. “The person who banished your mother has been dead for hundreds of years. That’s why it’s so easy for you to talk about just letting it all go. And my parents did try to start a new life! The descendants were the ones who stole that from them, or did you forget that? For all their talk of love and forgiveness, they sure showed no mercy towards my parents, did they?”
“Why should they be expected to forgive your father?” In my voice was a challenge that she could not answer. “Why should he be allowed to hide away in a cave and raise a happy family? If he really turned good, regretted his earlier actions, why didn’t he turn himself in, try to make up for all the families he’s destroyed in some way? And you’re certainly one to talk about forgiveness, when you refuse to forgive people who aren’t even involved in what happened to your parents. Not every single descendant is personally responsible for banishing your mom and dad, yet your hatred is for all of them.”

Mireya glared at me with real fury in her eyes now. I was attacking her deepest-held beliefs, the ones she had used to define her entire worldview. These were things she, Scarlet and I had been taught to be absolute truths since we were children – that the descendants were cruel, wicked, and deserved to be punished for their crimes against us. This, to her, was the ultimate betrayal.
I wondered, sometimes, if deep down inside, she’d ever asked herself the same things. Mireya loved her father – after all, he was all she had left. But some part of her must have known, even then, that there was no excusing the things that he had done. Those had been innocent children that he had been stealing away, all those years.
“And what about my mom?” she demanded, her hands balling into fists. “Do you dare tell me she’s somehow deserved what happened to her? All because she still saw good inside my father, though the whole world had given up on him. Did she deserve to die for that?” Her voice rose. “After all that’s happened with Saskia, you’re really going to turn to their side now?”
“No,” I said, unable to keep the fury out of my voice now. “Of course I’m not taking their side! How could you ever think that? I’ve spent the last two weeks with them, and they’re everything we thought they were – silly, vapid, and sappy, constantly talking about their parties and balls, pretending to be so concerned about others, yet utterly useless when a real crisis arises. They’re good for nothing more than stupid melodramatic speeches about love and trust and all that nonsense. And they never give a thought to all the people they’ve banished to this miserable place. And your mother was the ultimate victim! All she wanted to do was believe in the goodness that was inside your father. Of course she never deserved any of this!”
“Then what are you trying to say, Neva?” she demanded. “For once, could you just tell me what you’re really thinking?”
“I’m saying maybe nobody was in the right all along,” I said bitterly. “The descendants with their hypocrisy, and Queen Imperia and the others, caring about nothing else but revenge and wanting to reconquer Estoriana. How do we know that there’s no truth to what the descendants say, and that they were always the innocent victims? They certainly don’t act like it, with all their talk about raining destruction upon Estoriana. I’ve never been naďve enough to believe they were the benevolent rulers they said they were – just look at how they’ve treated the citizens of Exilia that they rule over. Locking up anybody who even slightly disagrees with what they believe in, tearing apart families and ruling like tyrants. There are no good guys here, Mireya. And the only way we can be free of all these terrible people is to go someplace far away, that’s never even heard of this conflict.”
“Is that what you’ve thought, this whole time?” Mireya whispered, taking a step back. “That my father was a monster, and the entire Council of Exilia were corrupt and wrong? That it might be possible that the descendants were justified?!”

I swallowed. Beyond all the anger and hurt I felt, in a place deep within that I refused to acknowledge, even to myself… Saskia’s leaving had been like a wake-up call to me. I had been desperate to understand, wanting more than anything to see what had possessed her to betray us all. And the answers that I had found brought me no comfort, only more bitterness and disillusionment. The descendants were cruel and hypocritical… and it seemed the people who had raised me were no better.
If I hadn’t lost Mireya completely before this, I certainly had now. Now that I’d dared to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the descendants weren’t the ones in the wrong. Mireya had dedicated so much of her life to her hatred for them. All the grief and pain she could not handle, when her mother had died and her father’s warmth and kindness had died with her – she’d channeled all of that into her blame and loathing for the Estorianians. And it was destroying everything that was wonderful and compassionate inside her, too, little by little, with each passing year. Yet I could never make her understand that.

“I didn’t know how to tell you,” I admitted. “I was afraid of what you’d think of me, that I would turn traitor too. And despite everything, Mireya, I would never betray Exilia! These people raised me, and I can’t just forget about that. Even if they were in the wrong, I can’t turn on my family.”
“You want to know what I think of you?” she demanded. “For the longest time, I didn’t know what to think of you! Why would I, when I could never tell when you’re telling the truth? You treat me like I’m Saskia, though I’ve never done anything but try to be a loyal friend to you. All this time that we’ve been together, you’ve been no more honest with me than you are with the descendants! You don’t treat your friends any differently from your enemies. And yet you still expect me to give up on everything I’ve ever known and run off into the sunset with you? To give up on revenge and ignore what the descendants did?! Maybe even convince myself that we’re just as bad?” Mireya shook her head. “You know what I think, Neva? I think you locked your heart in a cage and threw away the key when Saskia left, because you were too afraid of opening up and getting hurt again. You prefer to run and hide away from monsters, even pretend to yourself that they’re not so bad, rather than take a stand against them. Above all else, you’ve always let your fear control you.”

The shock of those words tore at me, making me forget for a moment the mounting fear that I was losing my only friend. Then a cold, blistering fury snapped away any of the lingering regret and desperation I might have felt. The always-present ache in my soul intensified, but I ignored it. If I was going to lose her anyway, I might as well say all the things I wanted to – all the harsh words I usually kept buried under a veneer of kindness.
“And how exactly is that any worse than being controlled by hate and revenge?” My voice came out as cold and merciless as a barren tundra, the words sharp as ice blades, intended to hurt. “I wanted you to be free, but you can’t see anything beyond your hatred. All this time, you and your father both – you only think about what how an entire world of people have wronged you, without considering whether you anger is justified or even fair. You’ll never stop to listen to another side of the story, because it’s just so much easier to pretend it doesn’t exist. You’re so eager to believe you’ve been robbed of a happy ending that you don’t care if your actions are only feeding an endless cycle of hatred and bitterness. Have you even considered whether your mom would have wanted this for you? What she might think if she could see you now? And certainly, you’ve never considered that maybe, just maybe, the one who is really preventing you from being happy… is yourself.”

Stop, stop… Neva, just shut up, please! There was a part of me that was screaming for it, for myself to stop talking and apologize, take it all back. To not destroy one of the few, solitary good things I had left in my life.
But the loudest inner voice was saying something very different. Too late, it hissed at me. Too late, too late, too late… If it hadn’t been too late before, it is now. Now that she’s seen what you truly are. Liar, deceiver, manipulator… and coward.
And as any liar knew, the words that would pierce and wound the most… were the ones that were steeped in truth.
And deep in the depths of my soul, I knew that there was truth in what we’d said about each other. If I had been a better person, a better friend, maybe I would have worded it kindly, tried to make her see how all her hatred and resentment was only hurting herself, and letting go was the only way she could be free. That her mother would never have wanted her to live a life of revenge.
But I wasn’t a better person. I was a vicious, resentful, cold-hearted girl who wielded words as weapons and wove them around people’s hearts to get what she wanted. If we were all monsters here… I was certainly no exception.
“Goodbye, Mireya,” I said, and disappeared in a flurry of ice crystals.

My surroundings slowly shaped themselves from barren wasteland to the icy perfection of the Arendelle palace. But the beauty of this world that Mireya had wanted so badly to see brought me no joy. I sank slowly onto the soft feather bed of my borrowed room.
All my life, I had hidden this part of me beneath the curtain of carefree, cheerful sweetness. Lying came as naturally as breathing to me. But this – this was who I really was.
A new thought crept into my mind. If I had trusted her from the beginning, been upfront about all of my mother’s plans and my own, too… would she have said yes to me then? Or would she still be unable to let go of her rage and hatred for the descendants?
Was it her who was too far gone, or me?
Or maybe it was both of us, and all the darkness we were harboring – with her heart filled with rage and mine full of deceit – meant that our friendship was always destined to fail.

I buried my face in my arms, curling into a ball. It didn’t matter. Mireya was right, of course she was. You couldn’t build a friendship on lies and mistrust and never revealing who you really were. Except whenever I did, it came out as cruelty and harsh words and resentment. I resented and distrusted the descendants, the people who raised me, everyone. Five years ago, my best friend had left me, and threw everything I believed to be true into question. I didn’t know who was in the right anymore. I was raised to hate the descendants, and every time I stepped into the barren wasteland of Exilia, this desolate world where nothing grew and the skies were bleak, it reinforced that hatred. But I knew too much now, about all the many, many people the various members of the Council of Exilia had imprisoned, kidnapped, and stolen away from their families.
And yet I still couldn’t betray the people I saw as family, and I couldn’t forgive those who did, like Saskia – even if I no longer believed my “family” to be innocent. I was a tangled mess of contradictions and confusion and bitterness – was it any wonder I didn’t reveal my real thoughts to anyone?
In truth, deep down inside, I could be just as bitter and resentful as Mireya. But always I silenced my rage, leave it to fester inside, instead of trying to do something about it. Because unlike her, my hatred was no longer simple, and I didn’t even know who to direct it at.

She was right. It was always the fear that I’d let control me – if I betrayed Exilia now, I would have nothing left. Saskia had a boyfriend to turn to when she’d made the decision to leave. But the relationships I’d built on Estoriana were based on lies, and there was no one in the world who wanted to be my friend once they realized what lay hidden beneath those pretty smiles. I wished I could say that I was fine on my own, that I could live without anyone at my side to soothe the aching hole within. But the one person I was never good at lying to was myself.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that a book on the nearby shelf had started to shake and rattle around, emitting an eerie blue glow. Curious, I picked it up – the infamous Tales of Estoriana, where the descendants recorded their twisted versions of how the history of the fairy tale lands had unfolded.
It flipped open by itself, revealing a brand new page, with swirling gold letters that began forming into words. A new prophecy? I felt my intrigue growing. It was clearly referring to the new crisis spreading across the fairy tale worlds, and who had been chosen to journey forth and save them from the threat of oblivion.
I stopped short, my breath catching in my throat, as I read the newest lines to appear on the page:

A heart in a cage, a silenced rage, the shadow of a legacy long since lost
The secrets you keep and more yet unknown, line a treacherous path that you walk alone
Sins of the past, revealed at long last, let the hate melt away with morning’s frost


A wild laugh burst unwittingly from me, and I glared up at the ceiling, as if whoever was magically controlling the book might be watching right now.
It was exactly the kind of saccharine ridiculousness I’d expect the descendants to turn my life story into. Let the hate melt away with morning’s frost? Did they think letting go of a lifetime’s worth of resentment, built up of countless moments of pain and suffering, was so easy it could be slipped into a silly line of poetry?
Still, I couldn’t ignore the meaning behind the words. It was a call to action, and somehow meant that I was going to play a key role in saving the fairy tale worlds from ruin. No matter how I felt about Estoriana, and Exilia, and all its citizens, I could hardly let everyone just fade away like that. Especially since that “everyone” would include Mother, Mireya and me.
If I did end up going on this quest, and played a role in overturning our dismal fate… maybe I’d be able to demand a boon of this Author person. I wondered just how far their power could reach. And even if I didn’t get anything particular out of it, it gave me a chance to get closer to Noelle and advance Mother’s plan, too. I already knew which line of the prophecy was referring to her – no doubt she was over the moon about being chosen for this quest, the silly girl. Looks like I’d have to keep up my disguise with the descendants for a while longer.
Of course, there was always the chance that whoever was “writing” this book would find out my secret and reveal it to the others. However, given how vague all of their hints had been, it could be surmised that something was stopping them from giving out information outright. I could use that to my advantage.
I got up, and strolled out of the room. My plans were in pieces, I couldn’t find my mother, and I’d just lost my only real friend. The whole world was falling apart, and my life felt like a microcosm of it. I would find this Author, whoever they were, and demand all that they knew about me… and maybe, just maybe, they’d have the power to rewrite my story. Somehow, I’d find a way forward, out of this mess.

(As always, do tell me if any of your characters weren't controlled right. I was so excited to post this that I haven't really edited it, so please let me know if you'd like me to change anything.)
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Last edited by Night Wish; 11-23-2019 at 01:33 AM. Reason: Typos... this is what you get for submitting such a long post without editing!
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  #93  
Old 11-18-2019, 01:06 AM
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Happy birthday, Liri! I hope you've been having a wonderful day.

Oh wow, that sure was a lot to read through. Was there some inspirational juice going around the forums last night?

It's good to hear from Kati again, and nice to finally meet Odilia. I'm looking forward to see where she goes and why she wants to find Exilia so badly. Scarlet is definitely excited to meet her, seems like they might be able to see eye to eye.

Liri, Jack's backstory was very interesting! He sure has been through a lot, wandering the Earth for all those centuries. Now you've made me curious about the Guardians of Childhood books, maybe I'll check them out when I have the time. It seems that the movie had to condense/leave out a lot of Jack's past.

Night, that was awesome! Your writing's really improved over the years. Is it weird that I think Neva might be my favorite of all your FFA characters? I think she's interesting.
Also, I see that you've been listening to the Frozen 2 soundtrack.

Anyway, I loved all of your posts, and I'll try to post again soon. I'll also get to work on my characters' prophecy lines. To be honest, I'm no good at rhyming/poetry, so this might take me a while.
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Old 11-18-2019, 02:52 AM
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Thanks Glory!

And sorry haha, I had written Jack’s post a month or so ago, I just didn’t want to post it until others got the chance to post haha.

And you should definitely read the books! They are fantastic!
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Old 11-20-2019, 07:28 AM
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Great posts, Night and Liri! I'll work on Odilia, Kati, and my third wip character's prophecy lines. I just recently had to write a bunch of rhyming riddles for something so I'm looking forward to this.
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Old 11-21-2019, 05:05 AM
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Aww, thank you so much, Glory. I'm glad you think so! I really like writing for Neva too, she's a bit different from most villain characters so it's a fun perspective.
Glad you noticed! I'm so excited for Frozen 2!

Yeah, sorry about the post bombardment. Like Liri, I had this written for awhile, but wanted to wait until Alexa had time to write again! We don't want to leave anyone too far behind.

Thanks Alexa! Can't wait to meet your new character.
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Old 11-27-2019, 05:59 AM
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I am so excited to see where this RP goes!! I love everyone's prophecy lines so far!!!


Mireya

A week later, I stood on the cliff above the plains, where Neva and I had always watched the herd migration together. How had things changed so much in just over a week? We had stood here together, like always, and then just days later… she had left me, alone. Scarlet and some of the others had asked where she had gone off to, but despite the hurt and anger I felt inside, I told them nothing. Now, I stood above the plains, in our spot, alone. I gazed out over the great expanse, then felt a presence behind me, the instant before I heard her voice.

“Mireya…?” She spoke uncertainly. I froze, then turned slowly to face her. So many emotions rushed through me that I couldn’t even make sense of them all. Shock, disbelief, anger, hurt, betrayal, and the tiniest bit of relief that she came back - even if she would likely just leave again.

“How’s it been, Neva? Have you been enjoying yourself with your new descendant friends?” Sarcasm dripped from my voice, though it couldn’t hide the undercurrent of hurt I felt.
“What?” She took a step back, her expression shocked and confused. “What are you talking about?” Wow. Pretending like she didn’t do anything.
“Don’t try to pretend or deny it. I know why you’ve been gone all this time – where you went.”
Neva just stared at me, stunned. “You followed me?”
“You refuse to talk to me about anything, so what choice did I have?” I took a step forward, “Care to explain what exactly is going on here, Neva?”

She folded her arms. “I told you over a week ago that I was going on a secret mission and wouldn’t be around for a little while. Maybe I was a little light on the details, but I hardly think it warrants this reaction. Why are you so upset?” I bristled at her callous tone.
“Why am I upset?” I exclaimed, the anger and hurt welling up fresh again. “I saw you with the descendants, Neva! You manipulated them into breaking your banishment, and then you disappeared into that portal – leaving me behind! You tried to keep all of it a secret from me, though you know better than anyone how badly I wanted to see the world of my mother’s stories. I’ve been dreaming of being under that sunshine, seeing the grass and the daisies, for all of my life, and you went off with the descendants there and left me behind!”

Neva took a step back, shocked, then annoyance leaked through her tone. “What are you talking about? This isn’t some vacation that I’m taking. I was on an undercover mission to infiltrate their ranks, and I had to pretend to be one of them! Of course I didn’t take you with me, you despise the descendants more than anybody. How could you have enjoyed seeing the grass and the meadows, when they were infested with those people you hate so much?”
“Is that what you thought?” I took another step towards her. “I would have gladly smiled and helped you deceived those loathsome descendants, if it meant finally getting to see the world of my mother’s stories. Have you even considered being honest and asking me what I would have wanted, Neva? I’ve known this whole time that you and your mother had your own plans that you won’t share with the rest of us. I would never demand all your secrets, if you’re not ready to share them, but after all these years of friendship, I thought you’d at least trust me with the important things!”
“As if you know anything about what’s important, you’re the one going on about sunshine and pretty meadows, while I’m trying to fight for my mother’s freedom!” She snapped, and I recoiled the tiniest bit before I regained my composure.

“Your mother?” I replied, surprised, “The descendants have something that can help break her banishment curse?”
“Yes!” Her voice turned bitingly sarcastic, “Why do you think I even bothered to go on this horrid mission? You think I want to traipse off with the descendants and frolic in a meadow with them for the rest of my life? If you were spying on me the whole time, then you could clearly see that I was lying through my teeth to them. Yet your immediate reaction was to assume I abandoned and didn’t care about you?”
“Can you blame me?” I asked quietly, the anger giving way to the hurt for a moment, “If you’d just been honest with me, we could have gone on this mission together, as friends, and you would have had someone to talk to and give you a break from those simpering descendants. But even though we’ve been together for this long, you still don’t want me at your side during anything important. Even though you know how much seeing Estoriana would mean to me.”

“Do you know who was there when I had to pretend to sympathize with the descendants?” She snapped. “The new Commander of Estoriana’s army herself. She was one of the people who ordered for your parents to be banished, was proud of what they’d done. What if you hadn’t been able to keep all your loathing hidden when you suddenly came face to face with her? All it would take is one slip-up, one wrong thing said, and our whole cover would be blown. I’m sorry that I made you wait a few weeks to go see your precious daisies, Mireya, but this could be the one chance my mother has at freedom, after all these centuries! Of course I don’t think you’d purposefully sabotage me, but I cannot take even the slightest risk, with so much on the line. She’s the only family I have, and this is all for her!”
There was a silence, as both of us tried to calm down. I didn’t want to be angry at her; I really didn’t. Neva was the only friend I had, the only person in all the worlds that I truly cared about, since losing Mother - and who Father used to be.

“I know,” I spoke up first, trying to push past my anger at her harsh, unfair words and lack of trust. I didn’t want to lose this friendship any more than Neva did, at least I hoped so. “I saw her there when you were in the Frost house, and I didn’t try to attack her then. I wouldn’t have, if you had taken me with you into the house, either. I will never forgive her for what she and the other descendants have done, but I certainly wouldn’t prioritized revenge or seeing Estoriana over your mom’s freedom. I just wish you had told me from the start that that was what this is about.”
“I’m sorry,” Neva said, softening her voice a bit. “It’s not that I don’t trust you, it really isn’t. But Mother thought that the more people knew about our plans, the more dangerous it would be. And I promise you, we would have gone to see all the grass and daisies in the world together, as soon as I was done.”

“And what exactly are these plans of yours?” I asked. “If your mother wants to get free and reclaim her rightful place on the throne of Arendelle, take it back from the sister who betrayed and banished her, why not just tell the Council of Exilia everything? I thought we were all on the same side here. You’ve always talked about how you hated your aunt’s descendants, those usurpers who live in that palace now. Why do the two of you insist on being so secretive?”

“No,” She replied, after a pause. “That was never Mother’s goal, and certainly not something I wanted. She wants to be free, yes, but she never had a desire to follow Imperia’s revenge schemes. Mom has a magic object that can grant her one wish, but it needs a descendant’s magic in order to activate. And that descendant has to come to us willingly, somehow. So I’ve worked my way into the Arendelle royal family over the past week, and soon I’ll be able to lure Noelle here and Mom will have her wish.” She replied vaguely, and I knew she was leaving things out still. That stung, that she still wouldn’t tell me everything, but I tried to push away those feelings. I guess my expectations are too high in this friendship - again.

Neva swallowed hard, then said bitterly, “I never wanted to rule Estoriana. What’s the point of it anyway? Even if we’re ruling over them, we’ll be surrounded by all those descendants we loathe so much. Living among them forever, having to face their hatred and disgust for the rest of our lives… what kind of a happy ending is that? Imperia and the others don’t care. They’re too blinded by their need for revenge to even think about finding a better future. I can’t – I won’t – betray them, but neither will I live as a pawn.”
Then, Neva extended a hand out to me. “Run away with me,” She whispered. “Let’s leave this whole terrible, despicable story behind us and never look back. Forget all the fighting and the suffering and this whole worthless, irredeemable world of ours. There are other realms out there beyond Estoriana and Exilia – we can go anywhere, be anything. As soon as I can get my mom free from her banishment curse – and your dad, too. If you believe he can really live without the darkness, I’ll ask Mother to wish for his freedom too. It’ll be just the four of us, and we can finally escape and… go anywhere. Be anything.”

I looked at her outstretched hand, and was filled with temptation. We could be free of everything, together. Free. But then, the memory of my mother, lost forever because of them, flashed before my eyes - and all that they had taken from me flooded me. The momentary temptation to run away with Neva was overshadowed by the ever-present wrath, and a furious disbelief at what she was proposing. At last, I gave a bitter laugh, and turned my face away from her.

“Are you kidding me, Neva? This was what you had been planning this whole time? To run away and allow the descendants to keep living their happy little lives, where they won’t ever have to answer for my family’s suffering.” I shook my head, barely able to hold back my fury. “I could never do something like that. I can’t believe you would even try asking it of me.” I looked at her and smiled bitterly. “After all this time, it seems I really don’t know you at all.”
Then I turned on my heel and began walking away, back towards the dark spires of Imperia’s castle in the distance. Back towards my fury. Leaving her behind this time.

There was silence for a moment, then Neva frantically ran after me, yelling my name. “Mireya!”
“I’ve already given you my answer,” I said coldly, stopping but not looking back at her. “If you want to run away, Neva, and ignore all the terrible things the descendants have done, then you’ll have to do it without me. I’m done letting them get away with it.”
“No,” She exclaimed, fury ringing in her voice. “You, and your dad, you’ve always let the crimes of others define your life! Why can’t you just let it go? Start over and try to build a new life.”
“And what would you understand?” I demanded, whirling to face her. “The person who banished your mother has been dead for hundreds of years. That’s why it’s so easy for you to talk about just letting it all go. And my parents did try to start a new life! The descendants were the ones who stole that from them, or did you forget that? For all their talk of love and forgiveness, they sure showed no mercy towards my parents, did they?”

“Why should they be expected to forgive your father?” In her voice was a challenge that I could not answer. “Why should he be allowed to hide away in a cave and raise a happy family? If he really turned good, regretted his earlier actions, why didn’t he turn himself in, try to make up for all the families he’s destroyed in some way? And you’re certainly one to talk about forgiveness, when you refuse to forgive people who aren’t even involved in what happened to your parents. Not every single descendant is personally responsible for banishing your mom and dad, yet your hatred is for all of them.”

I glared at her, fury raging inside me, the wounds cutting deep. She was attacking me over the things we had been taught to be absolute truths since we were children – that the descendants were cruel, wicked, and deserved to be punished for their crimes against us. It was the ultimate betrayal for her to take their side, to condone what they did to my family, to exonerate them despite - and even because of - the pain they caused me.

I refused to acknowledge the quiet voice deep down inside, buried and hidden, that whispered some of the same things. I loved my father – after all, he was all I had left - despite how I missed the old him, how he was when Mother was still alive. But some part of me, deep inside, knew that there was no excusing the things that he had done - the things they had all done. Those had been innocent children that he had been stealing away, all those years. But I furiously pushed that small voice aside, refusing to listen to it’s siren call, the call that would pull me off the safe ledge of knowing what I believe, dragging me into the free fall of questioning everything I stood for.

“And what about my mom?” I demanded, feeling my hands balling into fists. “Do you dare tell me she’s somehow deserved what happened to her? All because she still saw good inside my father, though the whole world had given up on him. Did she deserve to die for that?” My voice rose then, “After all that’s happened with Saskia, you’re really going to turn to their side now?”

I knew I had gone too far in that moment, using Saskia against her, but I had already flung out the harsh words and couldn’t pull them back.
“No,” Neva replied, unable to keep the fury out of her voice now. “Of course I’m not taking their side! How could you ever think that? I’ve spent the last two weeks with them, and they’re everything we thought they were – silly, vapid, and sappy, constantly talking about their parties and balls, pretending to be so concerned about others, yet utterly useless when a real crisis arises. They’re good for nothing more than stupid melodramatic speeches about love and trust and all that nonsense. And they never give a thought to all the people they’ve banished to this miserable place. And your mother was the ultimate victim! All she wanted to do was believe in the goodness that was inside your father. Of course she never deserved any of this!”
“Then what are you trying to say, Neva?” I demanded, throwing my hands up in frustration. “For once, could you just tell me what you’re really thinking?”

“I’m saying maybe nobody was in the right all along,” She retorted bitterly. “The descendants with their hypocrisy, and Queen Imperia and the others, caring about nothing else but revenge and wanting to reconquer Estoriana. How do we know that there’s no truth to what the descendants say, and that they were always the innocent victims? They certainly don’t act like it, with all their talk about raining destruction upon Estoriana. I’ve never been naďve enough to believe they were the benevolent rulers they said they were – just look at how they’ve treated the citizens of Exilia that they rule over. Locking up anybody who even slightly disagrees with what they believe in, tearing apart families and ruling like tyrants. There are no good guys here, Mireya. And the only way we can be free of all these terrible people is to go someplace far away, that’s never even heard of this conflict.”
“Is that what you’ve thought, this whole time?” I whispered, taking a step back from the girl I had thought was my friend. “That my father was a monster, and the entire Council of Exilia were corrupt and wrong? That it might be possible that the descendants were justified?!”

Neva swallowed, pausing for a moment, seeming to weigh her answer, and I saw a flicker of sadness in her expression.
“I didn’t know how to tell you,” She admitted. “I was afraid of what you’d think of me, that I would turn traitor too. And despite everything, Mireya, I would never betray Exilia! These people raised me, and I can’t just forget about that. Even if they were in the wrong, I can’t turn on my family.”

“You want to know what I think of you?” I demanded, my tone sharp, “For the longest time, I didn’t know what to think of you! Why would I, when I could never tell when you’re telling the truth? You treat me like I’m Saskia, though I’ve never done anything but try to be a loyal friend to you. All this time that we’ve been together, you’ve been no more honest with me than you are with the descendants! You don’t treat your friends any differently from your enemies. And yet you still expect me to give up on everything I’ve ever known and run off into the sunset with you? To give up on revenge and ignore what the descendants did?! Maybe even convince myself that we’re just as bad?” I shook my head. “You know what I think, Neva? I think you locked your heart in a cage and threw away the key when Saskia left, because you were too afraid of opening up and getting hurt again. You prefer to run and hide away from monsters, even pretend to yourself that they’re not so bad, rather than take a stand against them. Above all else, you’ve always let your fear control you.”

She reeled for a moment in shock, my words tearing at her. I regretted my words for a moment, fear mounting by the moment that I was losing my only friend, but the words had a ring of truth as I had said them.

Then a cold, blistering fury snapped out of Neva, dropping the temperature on our cliff and coating the ground in ice. Her words were intended to cut at me, her usual veneer of kindness wiped away.
“And how exactly is that any worse than being controlled by hate and revenge?” Her voice came out as cold and merciless as a barren tundra, the words sharp as ice blades, intended to hurt. “I wanted you to be free, but you can’t see anything beyond your hatred. All this time, you and your father both – you only think about what how an entire world of people have wronged you, without considering whether you anger is justified or even fair. You’ll never stop to listen to another side of the story, because it’s just so much easier to pretend it doesn’t exist. You’re so eager to believe you’ve been robbed of a happy ending that you don’t care if your actions are only feeding an endless cycle of hatred and bitterness. Have you even considered whether your mom would have wanted this for you? What she might think if she could see you now? And certainly, you’ve never considered that maybe, just maybe, the one who is really preventing you from being happy… is yourself.

I stumbled back a few steps, barely staying on my feet, her words cutting my soul.
“Goodbye, Mireya,” She finished, and disappeared in a flurry of ice crystals. Those words were the final blow, causing me to stumble and fall to my knees from the pain of truly losing my only friend. A roaring sounded in my ears, my vision darkening, her words ringing through me.


How exactly is that any worse than being controlled by hate and revenge?

You can’t see anything beyond your hatred.

You only think about what how an entire world of people have wronged you, without considering whether you anger is justified or even fair.

You’ll never stop to listen to another side of the story, because it’s just so much easier to pretend it doesn’t exist.

You’re so eager to believe you’ve been robbed of a happy ending that you don’t care if your actions are only feeding an endless cycle of hatred and bitterness.

Have you even considered whether your mom would have wanted this for you?

What she might think if she could see you now?

And certainly, you’ve never considered that maybe, just maybe, the one who is really preventing you from being happy… is yourself.

You’ve always let the crimes of others define your life! Why can’t you just let it go?



I know this solitude; I've seen dark before, but not like this. This feels cold, empty, numb. I am truly alone now, and it’s all my fault, just like you said. Maybe, the one who is really preventing you from being happy… is yourself.

I follow you around, I always have, but Neva now you've gone to a place I cannot find.

Can there be a day beyond this night? I don't know anymore what is true. Maybe nobody was in the right all along. Run away with me, let’s leave this whole terrible, despicable story behind us and never look back!

Why can’t you just let it go?
I can't find my direction, I'm all alone.

Have you even considered whether your mom would have wanted this for you? What she might think if she could see you now?

Then a tiny voice whispered in my mind, "You are lost, hope is gone, but you must go on, and do the next right thing." Just do the next right thing.

Maybe nobody was in the right all along.
How do we know that there’s no truth to what the descendants say?
There are no good guys here.

The quiet voice deep down inside was no longer whispering, it was shouting inside me, screaming for me to listen to it, not willing to let me ignore it anymore. It’s siren call pulled me into the void, dragging me off the ledge and into the vast unknown. I was no longer sure of anything - only knowing that I had just lost my only friend, and that my mother would be so disappointed in me.

I began to sob, curled in a ball on the dirt of the cliff. Oh Mommy, I’m sorry, I don’t know how to be like you. I don’t know how to be good. I don’t know how to forgive. I don’t know what to do. And now I’ve lost my only friend. Mommy, what do I do now?!

Then the voice, her voice, came again. Just do the next right thing, take a step, step again.

I took a deep breath, then slowly got to my knees. I won't look too far ahead, it's too much for me to take. But break it down to this next breath, this next step, this next choice is one that I can make!

I slowly began to stand up, determination filling me, vowing to myself. I'll walk through this night, stumbling blindly toward the light, and do the next right thing. I'll make the choice, to hear that voice I’ve been ignoring, and do the next right thing. Whatever that may be, I thought, uncertainty filling me again, but then I took a breath and took a step forward. Take a step, step again, I told myself resolutely, keeping my eyes fixed ahead of me.

Neva’s words rang in my head again. The only way we can be free of all these terrible people is to go someplace far away, that’s never even heard of this conflict. Run away with me. We can finally escape and go anywhere. Be anything.

I don’t know how to forgive them for what they took from me. Oh, Neva, how do I follow you to somewhere - something - I don’t understand?
“Take a step. Step again.” I told myself aloud, shaking off my worries. I will figure that out, but first, I need to do the next right thing. I needed to try to reach Neva, to try to make things right between us. I needed to try to remember the light I was born with, the light my mom brought to our family, the light my father briefly held. Maybe we could find our light together, me, dad, and Neva - if she ever speaks to me again. Take a step, step again. I can do this, I have to, somehow.
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Old 11-29-2019, 08:03 AM
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Alexa Diamondflower Alexa Diamondflower is offline
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Fantastic post, Liri! I love how you incorporated The Next Right Thing at the end.

Here are my prophecy lines for Kati and Odilia:

Kati
A girl born of the sea, who's heart has yet to find the key
The waves of time grow day by day, but do not let your mind go astray
A mother's gem, the strength of many; take up your spear to undo the mayhem


Odilia
Darkness surrounds her like a veil, with a soul that seeks to derail
Her powers have been tethered but soon they will be severed
Once within the great expanse, all will tremble at her dance.


Also, I finished my third character!

Name: Eldoris, Marin(M)/Maris(F) in Human form
Age: 16
Daughter/Son of : N/A
Descendant of: Ursula
Where are you? : Outskirts of Atlantica
Appearance : Cecaelia Form - Light blue skin, long pointed ears, yellow eyes, white hair, thin, 5'10, dark blue tentacles w/ light blue underside. Normally wears a combination of seaweed and ropes as a top.
Human Form - Light skin, brown hair, brown eyes, 5'7"(F) and 5'11"(M)
Humanoid-Pisces Form - Light blue skin, long pointed ears, yellow eyes, white hair, 5'8", fairly muscular, webbed feet
Mermaid/man Form - Light/light blue skin, regular/long pointed ears, yellow/brown eyes, white/brown hair, 5'7", thin, dark blue tail
Personality: Curious, adventurous, free-spirited, carefree, cunning, ambitious, laid-back, playful, a bit mischievous, determined, lonesome, yearnful, feels unwanted by other merfolk and ocean dwellers, insecure (but hides it) and acts more confident than they feel, quiet most of the time but can be quite outspoken once you get to know them or if they feel threatened; often feels a strange sense of darkness that calls on them to become more manipulative, selfish, fiendish, and menacing. They ignore this feeling most of the time but constantly wonder why they feel it and desire to figure out the reason behind why they feel those emotions.
Other: Eldoris spends most of their time exploring and treasure hunting, particularly at night. They have a fascination with bioluminescent creatures and plants. During the day, they might play harmless pranks on some of the merfolk and other sea creatures if they are feeling particularly bold. Otherwise, they’ll watch the citizens of Atlantica from a distance or just swim around. Eldoris enjoys tinkering with the items and treasures they find in the ocean. “El” and “Doris” are their nicknames, and in human form their nickname is “Mar”. Eldoris longs to find out more about where they come from since they have been living alone for about as long as they can remember.
Eldoris has had the strange ability to shapeshift their whole life and feels a deep connection to the world around them. They have heard of magic before but have never experienced or dabbled in it. However, they may need to delve a little deeper into the magical realm to really find out who they are.

I'll get started on prophecy lines for Eldoris. By the way, the reason there are three different attachments for the character is mainly because I kept forgetting Eldoris's different forms and kept having to create a new "scene". I know it looks like a lot but I assure you they're not as overpowered as they may seem. However, Liri, if there's anything you'd like me to adjust or fix just let me know.
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Old 11-29-2019, 08:36 PM
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Thanks Alexa! Eldoris looks great! Can't wait to see how you incorporate them into everything! And your prophecy lines look great too! I will add them into the big document
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Old 01-24-2020, 07:52 AM
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Alexa Diamondflower Alexa Diamondflower is offline
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I haven't forgotten about this, lol. I thought Night was next to post but I believe it's just Glory and I. I'll work on getting an introductory post for Eldoris out (and maybe something for Odilia).
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Old 02-01-2020, 06:48 AM
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Oops! I meant to have this posted last weekend. Apologies for the delay, it turned out much longer than I was expecting.

I included some stuff that’s happened several posts back in case anyone needs a reminder of where we’re at. I also tried to tie a few of the previous posts together.

Nice new character, by the way, Alexa. Really cool to have a NB character!




Everything was in chaos. People rushing about in a panic, all desperate to leave and get back to their families. I stumbled around, lost and suddenly feeling very alone. Noelle and Ayla had immediately gone after the girl who'd screamed - apparently their friend, Najila - and I lost track of them in the chaos. Lissa had disappeared too, pulled away by her parents.
"Soraya!" my sister cried out, shoving her way through the sword, and I had never been more glad to see her in my life.
"You're okay," she gasped, hugging me close. "Come on, we have to go."
"That man - he just - " I still couldn't process what had happened."I know," Amani said grimly. "I wish we could help too, but there's nothing we can do for him right now. And we don't know what caused him to vanish like that. It could be dangerous here. Come on, we have to go tell Mom and Dad."
It was in tense silence that we flew back to Agrabah. Mom was waiting for us on the balcony when we landed. "Is something wrong? You're back so early," she noted, concerned.
I swallowed. "Mom... something terrible has happened."
I watched horror dawn across her face as Amani and I recounted what had happened.
"Oh no, not Kai... poor Jalilah, I can't imagine what she's going through right now. And Najila too," she murmured, and I remembered that both Jalilah and her adopted sister, Janelle, had been among Mom's friends from when she's journeyed to Exilia to help battle the villains.
"Mom, do you know what's happening?" Amani asked in a small voice. I had never seen my sister look so lost and scared before.
Mom gathered us both into her arms. "No, but I promise you, my darlings, we'll figure it out. Everything's going to be fine, you'll see."

The entire next week was a flurry of activity. Mom and Dad spoke to the lords and village heads from all across Agrabah, as well as foreign dignitaries and various members of the Varden. We discovered to our horror that it hadn't just been the man at the Reunion Ball, but at least a dozen in Agrabah had disappeared, too, and many others from every kingdom in the Enchanted Forest. This wasn't just a stray curse or bit of dark magic, it was a full on worldwide crisis.
At last, the Varden seemed to come to some sort of conclusion, and so one week after the ball, we all set off for an emergency meeting of all its members. For once I didn't even try to get out of going. This was serious, more serious than anything I'd encountered in my whole life.
Amani, being crown princess, went to sit with Mom and Dad with the various leaders and other important figures, leaving me alone to find a seat.
"Hey, Soraya!" I saw Lissa waving at me from where she'd already found a place. I smiled, grateful to see a familiar face, and even more thankful that... well, that nothing had happened to her.
"Hi," I said as I sat down next to her. "I'm so glad to see you! Have you heard from Ayla and Noelle?"
Before she could reply, two figures appeared at the door, one brunette, the other white-haired. I breathed a sigh of relief as Lissa and I waved them over. Noelle flashed us a grateful smile as she sat down.
How are things in your kingdoms?” Noelle asked cautiously.
“There’s been quite a few disappearances, but so far, no one I know,” Lissa replied, looking as nervous as I felt.
“Same with us, plus Agrabah’s been having some drought issues, and Mom and Amani are really worried,” I added.
“I hope the Council figures out what is going on soon,” Neva bit her lip. “This is really scaring me.” Noelle put a reassuring hand on her arm.
“Attention, please!” Queen Ivory called out, and the soft murmur of conversation in the room immediately died down. “Thank you all for coming to this emergency gathering of the Council of Light. As you all know, we’re here to discuss the chain of disappearances of Estorianians that have been occurring throughout all our lands.” Her voice caught at this last sentence.
King Shang took up the speech. “We’ve been keep track of this horrifying phenomenon, and… we believe there’s some thing the vanished all have in common.”
The room waited with baited breath. “The only people who have disappeared so far… are those who have not been a part of the Tales of Estoriana,” Mom addressed the room. “And the fairies of Never Land think they know why.”

Astrid addressed the room now, and I had never seen Pan look so grim before. “The Never fairies are born from the first laugh of human babies. As a result, in the past, whenever a child stopped believing, a Never fairy would die. But that hasn’t happened for decades now. Because they live on through the stories people on Earth tell, about the magical worlds. And because children believed in fairy tales, we could live on. But it’s not just Never Land that’s like that - it’s all of Estoriana.”
“It’s the belief of the people of Earth who sustain us. They tell our stories, spread our legends, believe in us, and our magic lives on. But lately… the people are beginning to lose their belief in fairy tales. We see it everywhere whenever we visit Earth. And what we’re seeing is the effects of that. Estoriana, the rest of the magical lands, and all their people… are fading away.”
“And that’s why those who have a story in Tales of Estoriana, or at least have an ancestor who does, have so far been immune to this fading,” Laurel added softly. “More people tell their stories, so they can survive for longer. But… it’s only a matter of time until we all feel the effects of this.”

For the first time in over a week, the knot of terror in my chest eased a bit. My family, and Ayla's, and Noelle’s and Lissa’s - we all featured heavily in the Tales, and we were all descended from well-known characters whose stories had been told for centuries. The knowledge that none of us were going to disappear - at least, not in the immediate future – gave me a brief, fleeting moment of pure lightness.
Then I immediately felt guilty, as I thought of the man at the ball and many others that hadn't been so lucky. What would become of them, then? Was there even a way to bring them back? How did you undo something like this?

Before I could reflect on this thought further, there was a loud crash, and a boy and a girl fell out of the ceiling above and onto the meeting table. We all jumped back in shock.
A woman with long, dark hair was on her feet in a flash. “Tamsin! Aspen!”
The two, whom I could see now were twins, scrambled backwards, off the table and to their feet, but it was too late. Everyone in the room was staring at them now.
“S-sorry!” The boy, Aspen, stammered. “We didn’t mean any harm… it’s just… “ His voice trailed off as all the eyes in the room were fixed on them.
“It was my idea.” The girl, Tamsin took a step forward. “Mom – “
“Yes, I’d already guessed that,” Their mother narrowed her eyes at them. “And what exactly were you thinking, young lady, interrupting such an important Council meeting like this? And dragging your brother into it too, as usual. Don’t you understand how serious all of this is?”
“Yes!” Tamsin exclaimed. “We understand exactly, which is why we had to come! We were at the Ball that night too, Mom. We have a right to know what’s going on!”
“You’re too young – “
“Some of the members of the Varden were our age when they first set out to fight the villains,” Tamsin argued. “Look, we didn’t mean to make a scene – and we wouldn’t have had to if you’d just let us come along!” she jutted out her chin defiantly. Her brother winced, refusing to meet the gaze of anyone in the room.

“They have a point, Amaryllis,” Queen Ivory said with a grin.
Amaryllis sighed. “Still, this was not the way to go about making it.”
“Come on, Rhyllis,” Mom gestured for the two kids to take a seat. “They’re here now, so let them hear what we have to say. We can’t blame them for being worried and wanting to know what’s happening.”
Tamsin smiled triumphantly and immediately sat down with the other Varden kids, many of which I recognized from Reunion Balls in the past.
I turned now to flash a smile at the two kids as they took their seats. What they’d just done might have been inappropriate, but I admired them having to guts to pull of a stunt like that. Aspen gave a small, awkward smile in return, then quickly ducked his head, picking up a nearby book to bury his face in.
I heard Noelle whisper something excitedly to Ayla. A moment later, Ayla’s parents walked over to see what the fuss was about. Immediately, I could tell something was up from Jack Frost’s expression. He was staring at Noelle’s copy of Tales of Estoriana like he’d seen a ghost.
Mei leaned down to say something to Noelle. She looked a bit mutinous for a moment, but soon walked over to join Lissa, Neva, and me, leaving the Frost family alone to have a private moment.
“What’s going on?” I asked curiously.
“No idea! This message just suddenly appeared in Tales of Estoriana. Seems like Ayla’s dad knows something about it. Hopefully, if it’s something good, Ayla will fill me in,” Noelle mused.
Jack’s conversation with his daughters lasted a long time. When he was finally done, he turned to the rest of us, and began to address the entire Varden.
He then told us the entire story of his long, extraordinary life, leaving out no detail. We all sat in stunned silence until he finished, all of us transfixed in the tale he was telling.
“So, Katherine, the Guardian of Storytelling - also known as Mother Goose, is sending us a clue to aid us with the new danger we are facing.” Jack finished, waiting for it all to sink in for the rest of us.

Astrid, Ivory, and Lillie looked at him with fresh wonder and love in their eyes. Mei rubbed her husband’s shoulder, then wrapped her arm around him.
I felt like I’d just been told the most extraordinary legend - a story that spanned centuries.
“Thank you for telling us all that, Jack.” Queen Laurel finally broke the silence. Jack bowed his head in a slow nod, in acknowledgement of her words.
“Yes, thank you Jack.” Iv agreed, “Now, can you explain what Katherine’s clue means?”

Jack read the clue out loud to the Varden,

“Nightlight, bright light, do you remember?
Time’s first lesson; remember, remember, or lose the last ember!
Seek the Author, seek the pupil; return to the beginning, the once upon a time.”

“She addressed it to me, using the name she first knew me by, Nightlight. The next words are the beginning of the vow I made when I was the protector of Prince Lunanoff, swearing to protect the baby prince always. ‘Time’s first lesson’ refers to Father Time, the former wizard named Ombric Shalazar. The first lesson he always taught all the children of his magical village was, ‘I believe! I believe! I believe!’ - because all magic is only possible with belief.” He began breaking down the mysterious clue.

“She keeps saying ‘remember,’ because I have a history of losing my memory, and she has no way of knowing what all I remember from our past at the moment. And also probably because humanity is forgetting our stories. I think that she is urging to remember ‘or lose the last ember’ because if we don’t get enough people to remember our stories again… then I can only imagine we will all disappear eventually, our bright lights flickering and then fading away.” Jack continued.
“That makes sense,” Astrid mused, “It fits in with what Lillie, my Never fairies, and I have figured out so far.”

“I am not sure what the next lines mean, ‘Seek the Author, seek the pupil’… I don’t know who the Author is, or the pupil. Katherine isn’t the Author, I know that much, I can feel it.”
“Here!” Noelle spoke up excitedly, “In the front of Tales of Estoriana it says it was written by ‘The Author’!” We all looked at the cover, and sure enough the words were there.
“So we need to figure out who this Author is, and who their pupil is.” Calla said, “But where do we even start?”

“We can start with the last piece of the clue, and try to work from there. Katherine says to ‘return to the beginning, the once upon a time.’ I think she means to return to the beginning of our history together, where we first met - in her village on earth. I can only hope that more clues can be found there. That was where our story began, and where she first began to become Mother Goose. The village of Santoff Claussen, which name means the ‘place of dreams.’ The place where Katherine first spoke the words ‘once upon a time.’” Jack explained.
“And where would that village be?” Queen Kida of Atlantis asked.
“Deep in the forests to the east of Siberia.” Jack replied.

“So,” Iv began, “All we have to do is find Katherine, find the so-called ‘Author’ and their pupil, and restore belief in us to enough people so that we won’t all fade away. Seems…. just a tad bit more impossible than all the other things we have faced and accomplished, so should be totally doable!” She laughed, with a bit of her usual sarcasm, despite the fear and worry I knew she felt - we all felt.
“Like we told everyone earlier, we will figure this all out together - like we always do. Together we are strong, and together we will get through this.” Astrid restated, firmly.
And with those brave, uplifting words, the Varden’s meeting was over. I felt overwhelmed with all the new information laid before us. I was both terrified – and strangely, almost excited. Change was on the horizon, I could feel it. And somehow, I knew that I was going to have a role to play in the events to come.
Noelle looked over at Ayla in excitement. “Siberia! I’ve never been, have you?”
“Oh no,” Noelle’s mother cut in, shooting her a glare. “Noelle, you won’t be going, and neither will any of the other children. This is far too dangerous for you, and we’ll be going to a place where you won’t have any magic to defend yourself with. We don’t even know who or what this Author actually is, so who knows where we’ll end up on this quest?”
“What?!” Noelle exclaimed. “But Mom, you all just finished saying that this concerns all of us! And besides, like Tamsin said – “ She shot a grin at the girl who had fallen through the ceiling with her brother. “A lot of you were the same age when you went to fight the villains! And you won’t have any powers on Earth either – but Ayla will!” Her best friend nodded vigorously, backing her up.
“The very fact that you’re treating this like some kind of fun adventure proves that you aren’t mature enough to handle that kind of responsibility,” Calla said firmly. “Coupled with your display at the Reunion Ball – “
That was the last straw. “Do you really believe I think of this as – as just fun and games? I know how serious all of this is, Mom! For goodness’ sakes, the literal fate of the entire world is at stake! Just because I’m not sitting around acting like it’s already the end of the world doesn’t mean I don’t understand the gravity of the situation. You told me to trust in the Varden – that they’ve faced the impossible before and always came out on top, and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. Why is it that you always have to assume the worst of me?!"
Noelle stomped off, not waiting to hear an answer. Ayla, looking worried, was about to head after her, but stopped when she saw the looks on Calla’s and Nikolai’s faces. I understood her discomfort. As much as I wanted to intervene, this was clearly a family matter, and I didn’t think this was the time to put ourselves into the middle of it.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my parents and Amani signaling towards me that it was time to leave. I sighed. “Ugh, sorry guys, looks like I have to go. Keep in touch, okay?” I smiled at my new friends. “After all, I did promise you all a magic carpet ride.”

__________________________________________


Later, as that same magic carpet descended upon Agrabah, we were greeted by a chilling sight. I gasped in horror.
The warm, golden sands had faded to a flat, gray due. The bright colors of the palace had been drained away too, and the nearby oasis was similarly dull and lifeless. It was like all of the color and vibrancy had been sucked out of the entire kingdom.
“What happened here?” Mom gasped, jumping down from Carpet’s back.
As soon as her feet touched the ground, a circle of gold appeared and began to spread, and soon, the sand of the courtyard was back to its usual hue. Slowly, the life and color started to return to the palace and surrounding city, radiating outwards from where Mom was standing.
My family and I exchanged looks of shock and terror. A new twist had been added to the tale unfolding before us, with worrying consequences.

“I think there’s only one possible explanation for this,” Calla said, a few hours later, to the other members of the Varden.
It was decided that it was much too dangerous to try meeting again, so the Varden was communicating with each other via a magic mirror network. Courtesy of Queen Layla, and her daughter Janelle, who were experts in mirror magic, being descended from Queen Imperia herself. We were all gathered around the huge mirror in the Great Hall right now, which was split into fractals – each showing a different Varden member’s location.
Mei nodded. “Somehow, our presence is slowing down the process of Estoriana’s fading. But how?”
“I think I might know,” a small voice spoke up. All eyes turned to Juliette, one of Noelle’s sisters, and she flushed a little under the scrutiny. “Unlike those of our ancestors, our stories are recent, so they’re still fresh in a lot of people’s minds. Tales of Estoriana was a popular book of fairy tales on Earth for many years. While many in this generation of kids are no longer believing, there are enough of those out there who still remember our stories to keep our magic going, at least for now.”
“I think Jules is right,” Noelle declared, and her sister shot her a grateful smile for backing her up. “We all know the Varden hold a special and powerful magic, and that might just be able to slow down the process of Estoriana’s fading.”
“That’s where all the evidence points, certainly,” Saige agreed.
Mom spoke aloud what we were all thinking. “This would mean that, at least for the foreseeable future, none of us can leave our kingdoms. So… what will we do about the quest for the Author?”
There was a silence. “We’ll have to choose a delegation to go in our stead,” Queen Kida of Atlantis said at last. “It’s less than ideal, but we have no other choice. It may be a dangerous journey, so everyone needs to choose wisely.”

The meeting ended after that, with the promise to keep in touch if anything else happened. Now that we knew the Varden’s magic could be the only thing keeping Estoriana from fading even faster, we couldn’t waste any of that magic.

After we were dismissed from the meeting, Amani heading straight for the palace library. I followed behind, recognizing the determined purpose in her step.
“Where are you going, sis? You’re thinking of something, aren’t you?” I asked, half-jogging to keep up.
“It’s just…” my sister said slowly. “Jack found the message from his old friend in Tales of Estoriana. If it’s really someone speaking through the book, I wonder if they have anything else to share.”
Sure enough, when we stepped into the library, the book was emitting a warm, golden glow. The gentle, enticing magic it emanated reminded me distinctly of the feeling I had standing under the softly rustling leaves of the enchanted Grove.
We immediately snatched it off the shelf, flipping through the ornate pages eagerly until we got to the one with glowing text.

At the very top of the page was an illustration. It showed a group of maybe 15 or 16 people, their figures enshrouded in shadow so that it was impossible to make out their identities. They were walking down a long, winding path, surrounding by dark and twisting tree branches, towards a location that lay shrouded in mist, mysterious and unknowable. A quest into the unknown.
Below it was a series of lines, with an almost lyrical flow to them, like a poem or a song. They seemed to be grouped into stanzas, each with a different theme and message. The first lines of the poem, just below the illustration, read:


Two worlds lie on oblivion’s edge, separated by an unbreachable wedge
Cast aside the rift torn by centuries’ rage, unite to escape your fate’s cruel cage
Each stanza below is one’s destined call, take heed Legacies, for split apart you fall

Journey through worlds both familiar and strange, as the pieces of the map slowly rearrange
Leading to the realm where all tales are kept, the forbidden haven where no mortal has stepped
There we shall await you at journey’s end, where salvation will come from the hand of a friend

Far far away beneath sunset skies, from belief’s last ember a new hope shall rise

I clapped my hands together in excitement. “It’s a prophecy!”
“Oh, Soraya,” Amani gasped, putting a hand to her mouth. “There’s a line about you!”
My eyes lit up. “Me?!” I scanned the page eagerly, following each line of prophecy until I saw:

A princess with the mettle of the desert hawk, crown jewel of the kingdom in the sea of sands
Your smile may soon be shadowed by sorrow, though keep in your heart the hope for tomorrow
When you find the wisdom you’ve yet to unlock, the song of your spirit will ring through the lands


“It’s referring to a princess of Agrabah, yes,” I agreed slowly, frowning in confusion. “But… how can you be so sure it’s referring to me? I mean, you’re older, and you’re the crown princess. And the prophecy specifically refers to the ‘crown jewel’.”
My sister looked down, shuffling her feet. Suddenly she looked nervous and uncertain.
“Amani…” I said slowly. “Is there something you’re not telling me?”
She sighed. “I guess it’s time you knew. I should have told you a long time ago, but I was just afraid.”
“You see,” Amani ran her hand through her hair, shifting nervously. “I – I’m not actually a descendant of Jasmine. In fact, I don’t know who my birth parents are. Mom and Dad took me in as a toddler, but I’m not actually their biological daughter.”
Shock coursed through me. I’ve heard it said for years that the two of us didn’t really look like sisters, but I had never suspected. “You – you’re adopted?”
“Mom found me begging on the streets when I was three and took me in. Being a descendant of Jasmine, I suppose she has reason to sympathize with an orphan street urchin.” Amani smiled. “I’m so grateful for everything that Mom – Jess – has done for me.”
Mom,” I cut in. “Call her Mom. Because that’s who she is.” I folded my arms. “Why did the two of you keep this a secret for so long? Did you really think this would change anything between us? You’ll always be my sister, no matter what! I don’t care if you were adopted or not.”
Amani looked at the ground nervously. “I’m sorry I never told you… I didn’t think you would think less of me for it, but I guess I was still worried about how you would react. But now, with all this happening in Estoriana, and you having to go on this quest… I don’t know. I feel like you deserve to know the truth before you go.” She bit her lip. “And I have to tell the people of Agrabah, too, at some point.”
I put my arms around my sister. “Only when – and if – you’re ready. It doesn’t matter, anyway. No one’s more deserving of being the crown princess, no matter who they were born to.”
“I don’t know…” she sighed. “Sometimes, I feel like I’ve stolen something that was rightfully yours.”
I laughed incredulously. “Amani, you’ve worked to help the people of Agrabah your whole life. You’re the best crown princess we could ask for, and you’ll make an amazing queen, too.” I shrugged. “Besides, I was never cut out for ruling. I can’t sit through meetings or discuss policy without my eyes glazing over from boredom. I’d much rather journey into unknown worlds, and battle the threats to Estoriana’s safety as they come. We both want to help our people – and this is the way it’s meant to be.”
Amani smiled. “You know, you may grow to be pretty wise, Soraya. Thank you.”
I smiled, not letting go of the hug. “I’m really glad Mom decided to take you in. I couldn’t have asked for a better sister.”
“I was just thinking the same thing,” she murmured against my hair. “I’m sorry I hid the truth from you for so long. I love you, Soraya.”
“I love you too, sis.” I pulled back and clasped her hands tightly. “Let’s go together on this quest,” I said excitedly. “Since we don’t know for sure which princess of Agrabah it’s referring to, why don’t we just go on the journey together, as sisters?”
“You’d really want me to come with you?” Amani looked genuinely shocked. “I thought you’d be raring at the chance to go off on an adventure, without me around to nag at you.”
I laughed. “True, we can’t seem to go a single day without arguing. But, in a way, I think we both keep each other grounded. Besides, isn’t there some part of you that’s curious about what else is out there? Don’t you want to see some of the places from Mom’s old travel journals?”
Amani ran a hand through her hair nervously. “Truth be told, I’ve never thought much about it. Agrabah is my home, and I’ve never wanted to be anywhere else.” But then a smile spread across her face. “But maybe it’s time I expanded my horizons a bit, and try to see the world the way you do for a change. Okay, Soraya. I’ll come with you. To be honest, I’d be pretty nervous about letting you go off on your own anyways.”

That night, we lay side by side in bed, the way we used to when I was small. We spent half the night huddled under the covers, giggling and telling stories in the dark. And it was just like old times, before time and age and her duties as crown princess had put a new distance between us. When I finally drifted off to sleep, it was with a smile on my face.

The next morning, when I woke up, she was gone.

I rolled over, rubbing my eyes sleepily. “Amani?”
It was strange. The covers hadn’t been disturbed, and her side of the bed still felt warm to the touch. Her slippers were still there by the bedside too.
I sat bolt upright, a horrible though creeping into mind. No… it couldn’t be!
I leaped out of bed and dashed out to the hall. “Amani!” I yelled desperately. I ran through the halls, frantically searching every room, even places I knew she couldn’t possibly be in.
“Soraya? What’s wrong?” Mom asked, poking her head out of a meeting room.
I turned to her, tears already blurring my vision. “It’s Amani. She’s… gone.”




“What a day!” Tamsin sighed as she flopped onto my bed once again. “I think my brain is still trying to process all this new information! And ow, my leg still hurts from that fall.”
I glared over at her. “And whose brilliant idea was that? You should just be glad that Mom’s distracted, otherwise we’d be grounded for at least a month.
“She wouldn’t have been able to ground us if we’d been chosen for that quest,” my sister grumbled. “I can’t believe we weren’t included! I really thought this was our chance, finally.”
I gawked at her, though really, I shouldn’t have been surprised. “You thought that we’d be chosen?”
“Well, why not?” she asked. “We’ve been waiting all this time, Aspen, for something exciting to come along that’s going to change everything! Take us out of these boring, ordinary lives and sweep us away on a grand adventure. Some of the original Varden members were our age too, remember? This could have been our chance! To see not just Estoriana, but other worlds, too. Can you just imagine?”
“I didn’t know you felt that way,” I said quietly. To be honest, I’d never thought our quiet, mundane life was something we needed to escape from. I was happy the way we were, despite all of Mom’s worries and overprotectiveness. Had Tamsin really never been content here?

My sister studied me curiously. “Haven’t you ever wondered what else is out there, Aspen? What grand, interesting places there are that we could never have even imagined?”
“Of course I have.” I flipped idly through the pages of my book, not seeing any of the words. “We’ll have to leave home eventually and find our own way. But I never thought… well, that we would be the kind of people who would be destined for a greater cause like this.”

But that wasn’t entirely true, was it? A voice inside me chided. The truth was, I always knew my sister and I were different. Her eyes seemed to look beyond the horizon, never content with where she was, always wanting more. She was exactly the kind of person I could imagine a prophecy like this would single out – curious, bold, smart, resourceful, and fiercely brave. But me? There was never anything special about me. I didn’t possess amazing magical powers, cunning wit, exceptional courage, or any of the other things the heroes in books were supposed to have. The kind of people I’d always imagined the Varden to be like. All my life, I’d just followed Tamsin along on her crazy ideas and wild schemes. If it hadn’t been for her, I’d be completely unremarkable.
I was terrified that one day, she’d leave me behind to go on an amazing quest just like the one about to unfold. And I’d only be able to read about her years later, in books like Tales of Estoriana, marvelling at all the things she’d go on to accomplish. We had always been so close, she was like half of my soul, and I didn’t know who I would be without her. I certainly wouldn’t be anyone worth paying attention to.

“What are you two talking so excitedly about now?” Mom poked her head into the room.
“Mom! Mom!” Tamsin bounced up and down, her previous annoyance at Mom all but forgotten. “Tales of Estoriana just started writing itself again! And it seems to be a new prophecy!”
Mom’s face abruptly became serious as she took the book from Tamsin. Then it changed again as she read through the prophecy in its entirety. All the color drained from her, and she looked like she’d seen a ghost.
“It… can’t be,” she whispered. She looked from Tamsin to me and back again, then seemed to steel herself. “But… it says that the machinations of fate may yet be undone. So maybe there’s hope yet. Oh, please let it be so!”
“Mom?” I said hesitantly, feeling inexplicably terrified. “What’s going on?”
Mom swallowed hard. “Tamsin, Aspen… I’m so sorry. I didn’t want it to burden you, and more than that, I didn’t want to believe it could be true. But now… there’s something I need to tell you.”

_______________________________________

Tamsin found me later, sitting alone in the cornfield by the edge of the Yellow Brick Road.
"How long are you going to hide in there?" My sister leaned over me and put her hands on her hips. "Mom's worrying herself sick."
"Just give me a moment." I couldn't look her in the face. "Tell Mom I'm sorry... I'll go back in just a minute." I couldn't face her, not yet... couldn't face the gravity of what she had revealed to us. The dark shadow that had apparently been looming over us all this time, without us knowing.
Tamsin sighed loudly. "Hiding in the cornfield isn't going to make anything better! Come on, Aspen, get out."
"Aren't you scared at all?" I asked, finally turning to face us. "You're not at all worried about the fact that one of us is destined to - to - " I couldn't finish that sentence.
"Well, of course I'm worried! But that's what I came to tell you - there's good news! Ta-da!" From behind her back, my sister produced her copy of the Tales of Estoriana, worn and dog-eared from use. "It turns out, we are part of the prophecy after all!"
"Wait, what?" I snatched the book from her, my heart hammering.
"Look!" Tamsin pointed halfway down the page.

You’ve lived all your life as part of a whole, but can you trust the one who is half of your soul?
Though the machinations of fate seem set in stone, their power may yet be overthrown
If you can believe in the truths you’ve hidden, and claim the legacy you thought forbidden

A potent mixture of fear and hope was building in my chest. With what Mom had told us, it became clear that these lines were clearly referring to one of us.
Though the machinations of fate seem set in stone, their power may yet be overthrown...
"Does that... does that mean what I think it does?" I asked.
"Yes!" Tamsin clapped the book shut. "See, I knew it couldn't be set in stone. So let's go show that dusty old prophecy who's boss!"
"I don't know," I replied nervously. "That first line still makes me nervous. Do... do you think one of us is going to turn dark, Tansy?"
My sister laughed. "Of course not! That's just silly. Clearly whoever gave Mom that prediction all those years ago had no idea what they were talking about. This prophecy just confirms it's far from being set in stone. Now come on! We have to get ready for the quest!"
"What?" I took a step back. "We - we don't even know which one of us it's referring to!" I wasn't sure which prophecy I was even referring to - the one about the quest into the depths of the unknown... or the one spelling one of us as doomed.
"So? We'll make them allow us both to go!" Tamsin clapped her hands. "I'd much rather have you by my side anyways."
"There's no way Mom will let us," I protested weakly.
"She won't be able to stop us if it's a prophecy." My sister grinned. "What do you say, little brother? This could be our chance to finally be free! We might even make some friends our own age." Her face changed. "If you really don't want to come, Aspen, I can go by myself. But I'd really like it if we did this together."
It was the first time in both our lives that Tamsin had said something like that to me. Usually, she took it as a given that I would go along with her crazy plans, no matter how I protested.

The truth was, I was both too terrified to go alone on this unknowable quest, and too scared to let my sister go without me.
I swallowed hard. "Okay, Tansy. I - I'll go."
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Last edited by Blaze_of_Glory; 02-01-2020 at 07:03 AM.
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Old 02-01-2020, 05:38 PM
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Fantastic post Glory! I love it!!! I will try to post something soon, things have been crazy lately
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Old 02-02-2020, 04:07 AM
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Thank you, Liri! I can't wait for your next post!
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:06 PM
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Awesome post, Glory!

Sorry I haven't been around much lately! I'll post after Alexa and Liri.
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Old 03-08-2020, 06:29 AM
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Hello all! I finally wrote up this post, sorry it's long! Also, I had fun with a scroll creator


Ayla


Noelle looked over at me in excitement, “Siberia! I’ve never been, have you?” I grinned and opened my mouth to reply, when Calla cut in.
“Oh no,” She cut in, shooting my best friend a glare. “Noelle, you won’t be going, and neither will any of the other children. This is far too dangerous for you, and we’ll be going to a place where you won’t have any magic to defend yourself with. We don’t even know who or what this Author actually is, so who knows where we’ll end up on this quest?”
“What?!” Noelle exclaimed, and I felt just as shocked and upset as she looked. “But Mom, you all just finished saying that this concerns all of us! And besides, like Tamsin said – “ she shot a grin at the girl who had fallen through the ceiling with her brother, “A lot of you were the same age when you went to fight the villains! And you won’t have any powers on Earth either – but Ayla will!” I nodded vigorously at that, backing my best friend up emphatically.

“The very fact that you’re treating this like some kind of fun adventure proves that you aren’t mature enough to handle that kind of responsibility,” Cali-mommy said firmly. “Coupled with your display at the Reunion Ball – “
“Do you really believe I think of this as – as just fun and games? I know how serious all of this is, Mom! For goodness’ sakes, the literal fate of the entire world is at stake! Just because I’m not sitting around acting like it’s already the end of the world doesn’t mean I don’t understand the gravity of the situation. You told me to trust in the Varden – that they’ve faced the impossible before and always came out on top, and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. Why is it that you always have to assume the worst of me?!"
Noelle stomped off, not waiting to hear an answer. Calla looked at me, exasperated with Noelle and I, but I didn’t waver, just looking back at her steadily, stubbornly. I agreed with everything Noelle said, plus I would have to get some experience if I was going to try to be a Guardian like my dad some day! But I knew Calla and Noelle would need to cool down a bit before resuming this discussion. After a few moments, Calla raised her hands in the air and shook her head before joining Nikolai across the room.

After the adults had discussed things a little bit longer, everyone left to their homes to go prepare for the journey ahead. Our family went to the Kingdom of Corona, where my grandparents ruled and where Mom had grown up. Whenever we came to Estoriana we either stayed in Corona or Arendelle - but with Mom, Dad, and Auntie Saige leaving to save the world, Yue and I would be staying with our grandparents this time. Noelle and her siblings would be staying with family members in Arendelle while Ivory and her parents went on the quest.

I desperately wanted to join my parents and Auntie Saige in their quest to save the world, but I knew my parents would have a similar response to Calla’s, and Yue kept squeezing my hand hard every time I looked like I was about to say something. I shot her a glare when the most recent squeeze had hurt, but I got her message and stayed quiet. Maybe when we got to Corona we could have a discussion about it all.

My mind then drifted to replay the incredible story Dad had told us of his past. He was one of the most ancient beings in either of our planets, and he had protected earth and its children for far longer than any of us had known! My mind created images for the story, envisioning what I thought the first Pitch and his army had looked like back then, and envisioning Dad saving the day with his friends of old. His journey to become a Guardian, and eventually my dad, had begun centuries ago, and he had faced more than I had ever imagined! I can’t wait for my turn to become a Guardian and fight alongside my parents to protect the children!

When we at last arrived at my grandparents’ castle, I was shook from my daydreams and brought back to the present by a cry for help.
“Your Majesties! Princess Mei and Guardian Jack Frost!” a panicked voice cried out from outside the carriage.
“What’s going on?” Grandma Laurel asked, pulling aside the curtains to look outside the window. She and Mom let out horrified gasps, and the rest of us peered out from behind them. I stared in horror.

Outside, Corona was… colorless… gray. It was like all of the life and color was being drained out of the kingdom. The emerald fields, brilliant wildflowers, the sculptured palace and towers…. even the grass beneath our carriage looked dull and lifeless. It was as if our whole kingdom was fading away!
Dad yanked open the door and leapt out of the carriage, followed closely by my grandparents, Mom, and Saige. As soon as their feet touched the grass… a miraculous thing happened. Vibrant green began to spread from the places where Dad and Grandpa had stepped, the gray color slowly leaching away to normal earthy hues. When Mom, Saige, and Grandma each took a step forward as well, the effect became more pronounced, color returning to the fields around us as their healing powers spread through the land.

“Oh, thank goodness!” It was the guard who had cried out earlier. “We knew Your Majesties and the Varden would figure something out.”
“What in the world happened here?” Grandma Laurel gasped.
“After you left, throughout the day, this was happening across the kingdom. It was like all the life and color was draining away,” another guard explained, still shaking with fear.
“And the disappearances!” a third guard cried out, looking distraught. “Nearly a dozen, in the less than a day that you’ve been gone!”
Yue and I looked at each other, and I saw the same numb horror that I felt reflected in her face. How had things taken such a turn for the worse, so quickly?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Everyone, go to your rooms to wash and change into something more comfortable. In a few hours we will all meet downstairs in the study to call the other Varden and discuss what has been happening.” Mom instructed firmly. I was about to object, thinking we should call everyone immediately, but Yue kicked my ankle to keep me quiet. I shot her another glare, but let her drag me by the arm upstairs to her room.

“Ow! Why did you keep doing that?” I exclaimed as soon as she had shut the door.
“Because arguing wouldn’t have accomplished anything. We need to be smart about this, we need to use this time to think of a convincing reason why they should let us come on the quest. If you start arguing without a convincing enough reason, they will just refuse to listen to us!” Yue retorted calmly.
“Just because YOU don’t want to -” I began, then what she said sunk in. “Wait, you think we should go? You want to go?”
“Of course silly! You saw what happened while our family was away from Corona! It’s our worlds and our friends in danger too. We can help, I know we can.” Yue replied. “Now, come on. Let’s think this through.”



Yue


We paced around my room for the next few hours, tossing around various ideas for how to convince our parents to let us come along, and discarding them all in frustration. Finally, Ayla sprawled on the floor in a pile of snow with an exasperated huff.
“This is hopeless! How are we going to convince our parents?!” Ayla exclaimed in despair. I sighed and leaned against my huge bookshelf. I had tons of books in my rooms, both here and on Earth, whereas Ayla only had one - the only one she found important, Tales of Estoriana.

I stared up at the ceiling, my mind blank of any good ideas to use in reasoning with our parents, and still reeling from the shock of seeing Corona gray and lifeless. I know we can help! But how to make them see it?!

“Coming girls?” Dad called from the hallway, “We’re calling the Varden now.”
“Come on, maybe something will come to us during the meeting. Besides, Noelle and the others will be on the call too, maybe they have thought of something.” I said, pulling Ayla up from the ground.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~

“I think there’s only one possible explanation for this,” Calla said to the other members of the Varden.
It had been decided that it was much too dangerous to try meeting in person again, so the Varden was communicating with each other via a magic mirror network. Courtesy of Queen Layla, and her daughter Janelle, who were experts in mirror magic, being descended from Queen Imperia herself. Our family was all gathered around the huge mirror in the Great Hall right now, which was split into fractals – each showing a different Varden member’s location. I saw with relief that Noelle and her siblings stood behind their parents and Ivory in the Arendelle section of the mirror. I looked around the mirror sections and saw all of our friends were still there.
Mom nodded. “Somehow, our presence is slowing down the process of Estoriana’s fading. But how?”
“I think I might know,” a small voice spoke up. All eyes turned to Juliette, Noelle’s shy and bookish sister, and she flushed a little under the scrutiny. “Unlike those of our ancestors, our stories are recent, so they’re still fresh in a lot of people’s minds. Tales of Estoriana was a popular book of fairytales on Earth for many years. While many in this generation of kids are no longer believing, there are enough of those out there who still remember our stories to keep our magic going, at least for now.”
“I think Jules is right,” Noelle declared, and her sister shot her a grateful smile for backing her up. “We all know the Varden hold a special and powerful magic, and that might just be able to slow down the process of Estoriana’s fading.”
“That’s where all the evidence points, certainly,” Auntie Saige agreed.
Jessamine spoke aloud what we were all thinking. “This would mean that, at least for the foreseeable future, none of us can leave our kingdoms. So… what will we do about the quest for the Author?”
There was a silence. “We’ll have to choose a delegation to go in our stead,” Queen Kida of Atlantis said at last. “It’s less than ideal, but we have no other choice. It may be a dangerous journey, so everyone needs to choose wisely.”

The meeting ended after that, with the promise to keep in touch if anything else happened. Now that we knew the Varden’s magic could be the only thing keeping Estoriana from fading even faster, we couldn’t waste any of that magic.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~
“I hate the thought of asking anyone to go on this quest for us, we barely know what needs to happen!” Mom worried. Dad was pacing nearby, and I could tell he hated the idea of it too.
Ayla caught my eye from across the room, but I shook my head at her, silently willing her to stay quiet. It isn’t the right time yet. And we don’t have a good enough reason yet!
“I wish we knew who was supposed to go in our stead!” Auntie Saige growled with frustration.

Just then, a flare of brilliant light shone from behind my shoulder. I gasped and whirled around, the sound causing Ayla to jump into the air with frosted hands at the ready, prepared to defend us from whatever had startled me. We both stared at the golden light shining out from one of Grandma Laurel’s books.
“Tales of Estoriana!” Ayla breathed, and our family all drew closer. I carefully pulled the treasured storybook out, and let it fall open to the page that was filling with golden, glowing letters.

“A new chapter!” Ayla exclaimed, and excitement rushed through me.
“The start of a new quest, just like before!” Auntie Saige added, sharing a look with Mom.
“What is it saying?” Grandpa Shang asked, trying to see over everyone else’s shoulders.
“It looks like... a prophecy?” Mom replied.
“Katherine!” Dad whispered, “She is sending us another message!”

At the very top of the page was an illustration. It showed a group of maybe 16 or 17 people, their figures enshrouded in shadow so that it was impossible to make out their identities. They were walking down a long, winding path, surrounding by dark and twisting tree branches, towards a location that lay shrouded in mist, mysterious and unknowable. A quest into the unknown.

Below it was a series of lines, with an almost lyrical flow to them, like a poem or a song. They seemed to be grouped into stanzas, each with a different theme and message. The first lines of the poem, just below the illustration, read:


Two worlds lie on oblivion’s edge, separated by an unbreachable wedge
Cast aside the rift torn by centuries’ rage, unite to escape your fate’s cruel cage
Each stanza below is one’s destined call, take heed Legacies, for split apart you fall

Journey through worlds both familiar and strange, as the pieces of the map slowly rearrange
Leading to the realm where all tales are kept, the forbidden haven where no mortal has stepped
There we shall await you at journey’s end, where salvation will come from the hand of a friend

Far far away beneath sunset skies, from belief’s last ember a new hope shall rise



We all looked to Dad, since he knew Katherine and might be able to interpret what she meant.
After a long pause, Dad said “I think each stanza below is referring to a different person... I think Katherine is telling us who needs to go on the quest!”

Just then, Ayla gasped, “Look!!”


Tears of gold that restoration create, as the flower within changes ones fate
Accept that your battle is one to protect, reconcile with the self that you cannot reject
When the empath becomes a warrior at last, the legacies together will be held fast



“That has to mean Yue! Your healing tears! The only others who have healing tears are Mom, Auntie Saige, and Grandma Laurel - and we know they have to stay here!” Ayla exclaimed, turning to me, brimming with excitement.
I stared down at the page, stunned. Only moments before I had been wracking my brain for any reason that our parents should let Ayla and I go on the quest, and right before my eyes was a stanza about me. Me! I mean, I had believed that we should go, I had told Ayla as much, this is our world that is dying after all - but to see lines about me in Tales of Estoriana?!

I blinked, trying to focus and shake out of my shock, and began to read through the other stanzas.
Dance of the snow maiden in the land of sweets…

A princess with the mettle of the desert hawk…

One born into the legacy of the dove, with magic in her blood and soul…

Hmm, that one sounds kind of like it is referring to Najila! After all, it was all because of Dove that Layla took in her mom Jalilah.

You’ve lived all your life as part of a whole….

A girl born of the sea, whose heart has yet to find the key…

Daughter of the cold and winter air…


Wait! Daughter of the cold and winter air? That sounds like…

“Look Ayla! This one sounds like it is about you!” I exclaimed, and everyone crowded even closer.


Daughter of the cold and winter air, born of the protectors who hold children most dear
All those days, certain of your path, all those years, knowing who you’d be
Suddenly your world has somehow shifted, will you still know your fate, who you will become?



Ayla’s mouth opened in a silent “oh!” - for once speechless, and I could see the joy and worry flash across her face.
I looked at the rest of my family, and saw Mom and Dad holding each other close and looking at Ayla and I, tears brimming in Mom’s eyes.
“Mom… Dad…” I began, then trailed off, not knowing what to say.
“Oh sweethearts…” Mom began, then she reached out for us. Ayla and I instantly ran into their hug, and they held us tight.
“Our baby girls, going on a quest!” Dad said, and I saw pride shining in his eyes.
“It seems we can’t protect you both from the family tradition anymore,” Grandma Laurel added, “Estoriana knows how we tried to keep your mother and aunt from quests to save the world - and failed!”
“You never tried to keep me from the quests, I had saved you from your tower years beforehand after all!” Dad grinned mischievously, and Grandma Laurel laughed.
“I certainly feel like a hypocrite for having tried to keep Ayla and Yue here, I fought hardest for Mei and I to get to help when we were their age,” Auntie Saige smiled wryly.
“Indeed, it seems it is time for our little ones to save us all.” Grandpa Shang proclaimed, and Ayla and I clasped hands, feeling the intense enormity of what we were about to do weighing on us. We shared the pride and excitement at being chosen, and the fear that we wouldn’t be able to save our worlds and families, but for the moment, we simply hugged as a family.

After a few minutes, Dad pulled back. “We should probably call the other Varden so we can all talk about the prophecy. I have a feeling that many of your friends have been chosen by the prophecy as well.”


Ayla


When I saw the lines Yue pointed out to me, at first I was elated - I get to go on the quest! But then the last line started to sink in. Will you still know your fate, who you will become? I had always been so sure of who I was and who I would become one day, how could I not? But now, I felt the twinge of worry and doubt starting to creep in. What if I don’t really know who I will become?

Yue shook me out of my worries when she spoke.
“Mom… Dad…” She began, then trailed off, and I noticed the tears brimming in Mom’s eyes.
“Oh sweethearts…” Mom began, then she and Dad reached out for us. Yue and I instantly ran into their hug, and they held us tight.
“Our baby girls, going on a quest!” Dad said, and I looked up to see pride shining in his eyes. I grinned back at him, the elation about the quest returning.

“It seems we can’t protect you both from the family tradition anymore,” Grandma Laurel added, “Estoriana knows how we tried to keep your mother and aunt from quests to save the world - and failed!”
“You never tried to keep me from the quests, I had saved you from your tower years beforehand after all!” Dad grinned mischievously, and Grandma Laurel laughed.
“I certainly feel like a hypocrite for having tried to keep Ayla and Yue here, I fought hardest for Mei and I to get to help when we were their age,” Auntie Saige smiled wryly.
“Indeed, it seems it is time for our little ones to save us all.” Grandpa Shang proclaimed, and Yue and I clasped hands, feeling the intense enormity of what we were about to do weighing on us. We shared the pride and excitement at being chosen, and the fear that we wouldn’t be able to save our worlds and families, but for the moment, we simply hugged as a family.

After a few minutes, Dad pulled back. “We should probably call the other Varden so we can all talk about the prophecy. I have a feeling that many of your friends have been chosen by the prophecy as well.”
Joy filled me at that thought, Noelle and I can finally go on that adventure together that we’d always dreamed of!




(PS, totally NOT being anti males in the scene where they get out of the carriage, I was just imagining that Mei, Saige, and Laurel would have more of an effect on the land since they have the Healing power - whereas Jack is more powerful on Earth and Shang has only the power that comes from being a well-known character. But also, girl power haha)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg FFA Prophecy.jpg (33.6 KB, 4 views)
File Type: png Yue's lines.png (143.2 KB, 4 views)
File Type: png Ayla's lines.png (162.4 KB, 4 views)

Last edited by Liri Dazzlebeam; 08-22-2020 at 11:57 PM.
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