Listening from his room, Millium, prince of the Light Palace heard the faint conversation below. He heard the voice of Master Zero, his teacher. There was his father’s voice, of course, and another one. If Master Zero was here, then Fiethsing must’ve come with her, Millium reasoned to himself. What could his father have called them for? He listened more intently.
“Zero, Fiethsing. I thank you both for coming in such short notice.” Grimm’s expression hardened a bit. “We’ve lost contact with Lumia.” Millium felt his heart sink as he heard the words. Aunt Lumia was missing? She was one of the most famous adventurers in all the land! Nothing could beat her. Could she have been captured? Could she be dea-. Millium dared not imagine what fate had befallen her, he continued listening.
“Years ago, at Alice’s request, we’ve been looking for ways to restore her world. We believed it possible with Lumia’s natural magics, but something of that scale was still beyond my sister. She’s been scouring the world for ancient knowledge and challenges to push the limits of her abilities. I’m afraid this time she might have taken on more than she could handle.” Millium could hear the worry in his father’s voice. The conversation paused before Millium could hear anything else.
“Simply put, I’d like your help in organizing a search party for her.”
“What are her last known whereabouts?” Zero said cooly. Master Zero was always like that, Millium thought. Nothing ever got to her. He could hear his father rustling with something before answering.
“We’re not exactly sure, but we believe she must have been around this area.” Millium’s father, must have been showing them a map. “Last we heard she had found an unusual magic stone and was investigating it.” Grimm, unbeknownst to Millium, was tracing his finger along an old forgotten path on the map. “This old trail here leads to deep into the mountains. We had thought no one inhabited those lands for centuries, but in Lumia’s last message we heard she’d met a pair of shepherds living out their by themselves.”
“Understood, my king. I’ll get to work forming a search party. What about you, Fieth?”
“Hmmm, a mysterious magic stone...”
“You know something about it?” Zero asked.
“If my guess is right...” Fiethsing trailed off. This sounded different than the Fiethsing Millium knew. She had always been Zero’s foil. Cheerful, decisive, not one to openly ponder.
“If you’re right?”
“If I’m right, then Kaguya should be arriving soon.” There was an awkward pause. Now that was more like the Fiethsing Millium knew. He stifflled a chuckle. But who was Kaguya? Another sage perhaps? No, Millium was certain that wasn’t the name of one of the six sages. Just another ally? It was a topic for another time, Millium decided.
“...Even I know that” Zero said, unamused.
As much as Fiethsing seemed to cause trouble, Millium knew there was a hidden wisdom beneath her careless demeanor. He also thought she was a good influence on Zero. He shuddered to think what his Master would be like without Fiethsing around to loosen her up. There was another silence from the throne room, and Millium pressed his ear to the door. He had left his room and snuck into one of the back halls leading to the throne room as the conversation became more interesting. Now it was only the wooden door that separated him and his father’s audience.
“Millium, you can stop listening at the door. Come in, son, we need to talk.” Millium did his best to choke back a gasp of surprise. His father had known the whole time? Of course he had, likely all three had heard him. Trying his best to look confident, as if eavesdropping was a completely respectable hobby, Millium turned the polished brass handle of the door and entered into throne room.
“Yes, father?” Millium forcefully held a calm expression. His father gave him a wry smile.
“Zero has asked that you join her and Fiethsing on their journey to the mountains to find your aunt. I’d go myself, but I cannot abandon the kingdom.” Grimm sighed. “But this is a family affair, so I would like you to go in my stead.” For a moment, Millium didn’t know how to respond. Often he had dreamed of adventure and seeing the world, as his father and aunt had done in their youth, but it felt like a far of fantasy. Now that it had arrived in his lap so easily, he was dumbfounded. After a moment, he finally found the words.
“Y-yes, of course! I was thinking the same thing, actually. I would be proud to take such a quest.”
“Your mother will kill me for putting you in danger, but it’s time you saw the world. Don’t get any ideas about any foolish heroism, listen to everything Zero and Fiethsing say.”
“Okay, father. I understand.”
“Zero, Fiethsing. I’m entrusting my child to you. Please take good care of him.”
“Understood.” Zero answered. “It will be a good test of the boy’s swordsmanship. I promise you he will not come to harm.” Zero looked as though she wanted to say more, but was distracted by the growing cacaphony down the steps leading to the throne. Two girls were arguing about something indeterminate, as a shy girl and a wolf watched. Was one of them the ‘Kaguya’ he had heard about before? Who were these three girls? Zero and Fiethsing certainly knew them. They watched the argument with looks of shame and amusement respectively. Grimm took the opportunity to pull Millium aside. He turned to see his mother, Pandora, had joined the meeting. Grimm looked nervous.
“Mother.” Millium had started, but she shook her head.
“I’m not going to try to stop you. All kids leave home some day. However...” Pandora produced a small chest, more like an ornate ring box actually, Millium thought. Pandora pressed it into her child’s hands, closing his fingers around it with hers. “Take this with you. It will give you hope, when all other hope seems lost. I’ll be praying for her safe return, my sweet boy.” Pandora pressed her lips to Millium’s forehead, Fithsing chuckled and Millium turned a shade of crimson.
“Thank you mother.” Millium tried to speak in a deeper tone, as if to assert his adulthood. He left the palace hall, back towards his room to prepare for his adventure.
Zero, fed up with Kaguya and Lunya’s arguement, finally turned to peer down the steps at the two and angrily shouted, “Will you two knock it off! I’d rather fight the dread vampire Zarosa’ad a thousand times over than listen to your ceaseless bickering for a moment longer!” Startled, the two girls separated, looking meekly at each other after having finally been scolded.
“Zero.” Fiethsing started. “How is Millium’s talent with magic? Has he inherited his father’s skill with fairy tales?” Zero turned her attention back to the elf.
“Well, I’m not sure anyone could ever match Grimm in that art. But the boy is determined not to live in his father’s shadow. He makes up for it with his own combat prowess. He’s quite talented with the sword. He’s created a kind if unique style of close range fighting with fairy tale magic as support.” Zero gave a slight smile as she considered her prodige. “What he lacks in skill he makes up for in creativity.”
Zero turned to look back down at the bickering rabbit and wolf. They were glaring daggers at each other, obviously still upset about something.
“Come on you two, Millium should be down soon, stop your pouting and meet the prince properly.”
By the time Millium returned, packed for the excursion, Kaguya, Lunya, and Charlotte had gathered at the top of the stairs leading to the king’s throne. The three introduced themselves to the prince. The shortest, the one with the purple hair, was Kaguya. The shy one was Charlotte, and the one who stood taller than Millium who bared sharp fang-like teeth when she smiled, was Lunya.
We’ve certainly managed to gather a very diverse band of characters in a short time, Millium thought to himself. Particularly Lunya. She seemed too confident to Millium, as if she knew how everything was going to play out before it actually did. Fiethsing sometimes spoke of vague prophecies, but this seemed different, as though everything was moving exactly as Lunya had hoped. It didn’t stop there either, he could feel something calling him from her. It pulled at his chest. His head felt light as strange whispers filled head. They were in language he couldn’t recognize and he had trouble determining if he was even hearing them at all.
“Oh right! I almost forgot, I’ve got a magic stone here from Lumia! Hehehe.” Everyone turned their attention to the wolf girl as she produced a rather large magic stone from a satchel tied around her waist.
“The one from her letter?” Fiethsing asked, intrigued.
“Why wouldn’t you mention something that important sooner...” Kaguya gave Lunya an irritated look.
This girl had the stone Lumia had written about? Surely she must’ve had some kind of contact with his aunt then, Millium thought. Why had she made it back safely to the light palace when Lumia had not?
“Don’t be too surprised, okay? Hehehe, it’s no lie.” The stone was of a brilliant red color, but was otherwise unremarkable. Millium felt the tugging in his chest and the strange phantasmal noises in his mind disappear, leaving him wondering if it was the stone or just his imagination. Both Zero and Kaguya touched the stone. Neither seemed to think there was much to the glimmering gem.
“I can barely feel any magical energy from this stone.” Zero commented.
“That’s because it’s not for you two.” Lunya said, her grin growing ever wider. She held the stone towards Millium. The young man placed his hand on the smooth geometric surfaces of the stone. All at once Millium felt a great rush of hot air swirl around him, as if something very large and ornery was sighing at his presence. The whispers returned to his mind, louder than before, but just as indecipherable. There was one thing he could understand, a feeling that resounded throughout his body. It stung his eyes, pierced his ears, permeated his body.
「POWER」, the sensation spoke to him. The power rushed into his body, threatening to overwhelm him. He could feel the light of his own existence being snuffed out, consumed by this strange force.
“Millium!” the boy heard the voice of his master calling to him and all at once the power was leached from his body, returning to the stone. Millium was back in the throne room, though now everyone was staring at him. A heavy silence hung in the room for a time.
“Seems the power of this stone responds to Millium for some reason, but it appears very unstable.” Fiethsing reasoned. “This stone must by very, very old.”
“For now, I’ll hold onto this stone. We will have a time to investigate this later” Zero took the stone from Lunya, who was the only one who did not looked surprised when the power revealed itself at Millium’s touch.
“That’s probably better. There will be a time when we may have need of such power.” Fiethsing adjusted her glasses.
“That power...it’s the same as his...the one that destroyed my home...Lapis.” Charlotte, eyes wide with fear as she recalled the evil that overtook her world, mustered the words between trembles. Kaguya had a more restrained, though similar expression.
“Well I have to say, even I didn’t expect it to have THAT kind of power. Hehehe, it’s no lie. Lumia only told me to bring it, after all this time she still doesn’t trust me. Hehehe. If we’re all so keen on knowing, we’d better get back to Lumia.”
And so, the party of six set out into the world, Millium leaving the safety of the kingdom’s borders for the first time in his life. He should’ve been excited. This is something he dreamed of, wasn’t it? But after the stone gave him his first real taste of the mysteries of the world, he found himself unsure.
-Lore written by Rajadeem the Seer, last of his order