The Destined Kingdom - Prologue
(Twenty Years Ago; Blossom Field Galaxy)
It was January of the sixth year since the start of the Resurrection Era, so named for the resurrection of the kingdoms of the Blossom Field galaxy that had been lost ten thousand years prior. The slowly recovering Delphinium planet that shared Overseer status with the thriving Protea planet had suddenly awoken from its millennia-long frozen sleep, and life had blossomed across the surface once more.
High Queen Sayena Delphinium and High Queen Shanae Protea had been living secret, relatively normal, lives on Protea within the city of Lux just on the other side of the mountains from the Protea Kingdom's ruins. When Sayena and her brother, Robert, had felt their mother world awaken, they had rushed to the surface to find it thriving anew. That had been the signal to them and their closest friends that the end of their normalcy had come.
Only a handful of months later, due to the sheer diligence and hard work of not just Proteans but people from worlds beyond Blossom Field, both the Protea and Delphinium Kingdoms had been resurrected, the palaces restored to better than new condition, and large capitol cities had sprung up around them. Interim world leaders had been overseeing Protea for ten millennia, and they happily turned things over to Shanae as they had wanted for generation upon generation, ever since her return in the earliest days of the preceding Rebirth Era.
Sayena and her husband, Evan—who happened to be Shanae's slightly elder brother—had finally returned to Delphinium to take control of the kingdom that also oversaw the Light planets following it: Aster, Carnation, Gladiolus, and Iris. Shanae and her husband, Robert—Sayena's slightly elder brother—had likewise moved to the Protea Kingdom to take control of not just the world but the Dark planets following it: Hyacinth, Orchid, Daffodil, and Statice. The slightly crowded but enduring landmasses of Protea found themselves able to breathe anew as billions flocked to Delphinium to start new lives there and rebuild all the lost cities.
The other eight worlds, affectionately called Lower planets though they had their own important roles to fill, had been in far worse shape than Delphinium. It took another two years of Shanae and Sayena cranking the force of the Nature/Dark and Illusion/Light Flower Elements of their worlds to the max in order to help them recover to where they could awaken and sustain life again. The same year Shanae discovered she was pregnant, construction finally began on the other eight worlds. It would take far longer for the reconstruction on these worlds than Delphinium for the simple fact that people could live on Delphinium while working, and they could not yet on the other eight.
The eight queens of the Lower planets and their husbands, therefore, opted to remain on either Protea or Delphinium where their beloved High Queens and Kings lived. Those of the Dark planets served as personal guards and protectors to Shanae and Robert, and those of the Light planets served for Sayena and Evan. All ten queens were Defender Cultivators, gifted by their worlds to have magic they could use in battle to fight against evil, but Shanae and Sayena had hung up their Masks long before ascending the throne. In fact, by the time it happened, most had even forgotten there were Protea or Delphinium Defender Cultivators.
As time ticked by, life settled into a nearly idyllic rhythm. War had diminished rapidly as forces of evil found it harder to enter Blossom Field with the kingdoms revived, and only occasional flare-ups had to be handled by the Defenders. Protea and Delphinium maintained armies of Royal Knights to directly protect the people of the worlds, and they did their jobs so quietly and effectively that often it felt as if even crime had vanished. No one complained with that at all! The two armies were directly overseen by the Captain of the Royal Knights for each world, and they personally answered to the four Commanders of each world that directly protected the High Kings—and happened to be the husbands and Caretakers for the eight Defender Cultivators.
Idyllic. As the start of the sixth year of the Resurrection Era arrived, people still covetously enjoyed using the word. Olivia Martine certainly enjoyed it. She lived it. She resided on Protea, in a vast farmland that sat just outside the capitol of the world. Her farm actually went right up against the strip of land between farms and city, rather than the stone wall encircling the entire kingdom as a whole. Her husband could drive into the city every day to go to work, and she tended to the lush and thriving apples of her orchard farm while raising their daughter.
Tasia Martine loved helping in the orchard as much as she loved sometimes tagging along behind her father into his job; he was a writer, and she loved words, too. Her birthday fell on the first day of the year, and her mother teasingly called her the herald of the Era because she had literally been born the first day of the first year of the Resurrection Era. On her birthday, she could pick whatever she wanted to do, so on her fifth birthday, she chose to run the fields of her orchards.
The tall child made quite a breathtaking sight to those who glimpsed her. She had softly mocha colored skin that glowed as much in the dark as the light, chocolate hair that had an odd mix of straight lines and random wild curls, and nearly crystalline brown eyes that transitioned between caramel or chocolate depending on whether she stood in light or dark. Truly, she seemed to be caught between both, and she held an already nearly ethereal beauty in her features. As she aged, as she found the majik inside her that had existed for millennia in her lineage, she would only become more beautiful as all good deeds done by a witch only served to enhance their appearance to others.
Her hair in its high ponytail streamed behind her as she ran toward the small lake on her property. She loved the lake. Despite Protea's temperate climate, there were random places where snow or ice could form—most notably in the highest mountain range on the landmass belonging to the city of Vericity—and the sudden appearance of ice on the lake meant two important things to Tasia: one, ice apples would bloom for a month, and two, she could skate on the surface!
She found the lake and stopped to happily look at the sparkling, shimmering surface. She loved snow and ice. It was her favorite thing. She never felt the cold either. She checked her shoes to be sure the soles were clean and then ran out onto the ice. When she stopped running, she started sliding. She swung around gracefully like music incarnate and slid back the other way.
A soft sound made her stop sharply. Her ears, hypersensitive to all sound, quivered as she tried to place what she had heard.
She took a sharp breath of realization. She did not bother to check; she simply ran toward the shore. The cracks spread faster than she could run, and the ice opened beneath her, plunging her into the frozen water below. Few physical endeavors had not yet been tried, and the presence of the lake in particular had led to very early swimming lessons. She still could not kick to the surface. She tried. Something kept dragging her deeper. She could not breathe, and cold spread through her soul faster than her skin. Something hurt. Powerfully. Majik and something else unknown rose wildly and desperately inside. Something flickered before her eyes yet did not form. On a burst of final desperation, the instinct to survive encoded in her very blood, she let out a piercing mental scream that resonated across miles and could be heard by anyone with even the slightest of mental ability.
When she next opened her eyes, she was warm and dry and felt tired to her bones. She could not breathe very well, but some tiny tube in her nose kept giving her air to help. Her eyes moved around the room and catalogued everything. It had to be a hospital. She did not see her parents, but she could sense them somewhere near.
The curtain around her bed moved, and a beautiful woman stepped around it. Her peach hair had been tied up out of the way, and her blue doctor's coat contrasted wonderfully against her brown skin. Copper eyes warmed as she saw Tasia looking at her. She could have been assumed to be just a doctor, if not for the crown of pink daffodils and ametrine stones that sat on top of her head.
"Hello, sweetheart." She moved closer to the bed and pressed a warm hand to Tasia's forehead. "You'll be alright now. I'm Kacey Daffodil. I'm your doctor."
"And a queen?" Tasia asked.
Kacey could only stare for a moment at the child in her hospital bed. She had never heard a voice like hers before. It softly echoed out music and power so that it resonated into the ear and then deeper to the soul as possibly the most beautiful sound in existence. Kacey had known some exceptionally powerful voices in her long life, but nothing like this. Shaking it off, she smiled. "That, too. I normally spend time patching up my friends when they get themselves hurt, but for emergencies elsewhere, I get called in. Sometimes medical science alone isn't enough, and someone who can heal with magic is needed. That's my gift as a Dual Cultivator."
That made sense to Tasia. Everyone knew that the Lower Queens were considered Dual Cultivators because they were both Ruler and Defender. Ruler Cultivators, well, ruled their world, and Defenders protected it. Both were called Cultivators because they had Seeds inside that gave them their magic, though each sort had very different types depending on the role they filled. Some worlds gave both roles to the same person, and others it split. History said Blossom Field had always been split until the Royal Era. Tasia liked history. She loved learning everything. "Did you save me?"
"It was a joint effort." Kacey sighed. "There's still some question of how you got out of the lake, but we know you fell through the ice and had drowned and yet revived by the time your mother found you. You came and went as we transported you here because your lungs had been shredded, but between surgery and magic, we put you back together. This," she touched the little tube gently, "is helping you breathe, something you may struggle with in the future. You'll have to work to make your lungs become stronger. You'll be here for a little while to recover, but you'll go home soon enough. I'll take good care of you, I promise. If you are slow to heal, then I will have High Queen Sayena come in as well. You would like her. She's good at cuddling. Alright?"
Tasia did not mention the odd feeling she still had of something frozen deep in her soul, or the sinister presence of perverted majik she had felt at the event. She just felt too tired for much of anything. "Okay," she said softly, before closing her eyes again as if to sleep—though she knew no sleep would come. She just wanted to go away for a while.
She went further than she had strictly intended, though. Her mind and soul drifted higher and higher from her body until she left the physical plane and entered into the intangible one beyond: the Ephemeral Plane. She had been walking there since she could walk, feeling as if a part of her belonged there in some way. The Ephemeral Plane held everything that the physical realm could not, and it depended not just on Protea's Nature magic, but even the majik belonging to witches. Tasia liked to think she helped by visiting. The Archon of the Immortal Fields, Pallas, was nice. He had held her hand and helped her take her first few steps there, and he always told her she could find him if she was lost.
She was not lost this time, though she did not have a destination. She sat amid the endless waves of flowers that covered the large Immortal Fields where dreams were housed, and she watched the eternally sunset sky. At the sound of a step, she looked back expecting to see Pallas. Instead, she found a boy not much older than herself. He had the same insubstantial feel to him that she herself did, meaning he did not walk there physically but astrally by projecting his mind out.
He was . . . beautiful. Flawlessly. Black hair framed a truly bone-deep beauty, and his black eyes looked nearly opaque except for the magenta shadows within. Skin roughly the same mocha tone as her own displayed perfectly against the black and magenta hues of his clothing. He wore an outfit she did not recognize, but it sort of resembled the black poppies she had seen in the Fields.
He walked closer to her and then stopped a bit in surprise as if he had not expected her. His eyes went over her with curiosity and then he said something in a language she did not know. It was neither Protean, nor Delphinian, nor the universally used 'Blossom' that could be found on all planets in the galaxy in addition to their personal one. Tasia spoke all three fluently already, and even a fourth that came from the Vericity landmass that had been in her family lineage for millennia.
She got to her feet and held out a hand to him. He took it with his, and then his eyes widened. "Better?" she asked him.
"You . . . how did you do that?" he asked, in Blossom. "You put something in my mind."
She nodded. "I have majik. I can do special things. I taught you Blossom language. So we could talk."
He felt a little dazzled as he looked at the girl before him. She . . . glowed. Almost sparkled. She had majik, too! But she looked . . . sick. He frowned and stepped closer. "Are you hurt? Or sick?"
"Hurt. Something bad happened. I tried to sleep, but I can almost never do that. I came here to just rest instead."
"Oh." He thought about things and then reached out his free hand. Magic moved over his fingers with black and magenta color and he produced a black poppy. "For you." He tucked it over her ear. "It's the flower of my world. It brings rest, so it should help."
She felt so suddenly, inexplicably, sleepy that she could not doubt him. She would have fallen to the flowers if he had not hastily caught her. He helped her lay down and then laid down beside her. He felt loathe to leave her, though he could not say why. "I'll stay with you, okay?" he whispered. "I can care for you."
"Mmkay." She let her eyes close and did not release his hand. "I think . . . I was supposed to meet you. I think . . . I will again. Okay?"
When Pallas, Archon of the Immortal Fields, came upon the two sleeping figures curled with their hands linked, he felt less surprise than he did a sort of impending weight of events set in stone. "So," he murmured. "That's how we begin." He lifted the broom in his hand, and his Nature magic swept down around the children. "Back you go for now, little ones. I am sure I will see you again. And that you will see each other again." Softer, he added, "How curious that She would take this route. Just what are you planning, Destiny?"