Over a thousand years since we fantasized about flying cars, teleporting from one location to the next, and exploring new planets, our world has devolved in some areas and evolved in others. Where there were once guns and nuclear weapons, swords and magicks replace them. Castles and kingdoms were reborn and technology advanced far more than we could have ever hoped.
The War of Kings was fought through the end of the 30th century, gave birth to the Age of Solidarity in the 31st. Eriwick, what was left of what was once called Earth, became nine kingdoms, governed by the Truveloy Dynasty. But the Age of Solidarity is at an end. King Everardus Fronzeborrow of the ninth kingdom, Chronos, was assassinated and Queen Nanette has ascended the throne in his stead. Her promise of war reverberated through the realms and forced a split between kingdoms.
It’s up to Princess Luna Truveloy of the Kingdom of Ophir to affect change, but not in the way she expected…
The sword ripped through his flesh and she could feel her blade regain its balance as he fell to the ground. Luna did not pause to wipe off the dirty silver. She hadn’t paused for several strikes. There wasn’t time.
Turning quickly, she cut through another soldier and knocked down another, resting her sword in another enemy’s chest. Her comrades were battling just as hard around her and the enemies had finally been dispatched. Luna used her victim’s cape to clean her sword of the dripping crimson.
Luna Truveloy was not an average soldier. In fact, she was one of only a few women in her state’s army. And she was a princess.
Looking around the heavily treed area, she saw mostly dead and a handful of her own soldiers. Autumn usually brought reds, oranges, and yellows to the leaves but, with the war, there was an unusual amount of red. Blood from the injured and fallen.
This battle had begun with a barrage of arrows and ballista fire from the forest behind the castle. Luna was confident that they had dispatched their attackers and smiled to herself. The Frozenborrows had been attacking the Truveloys for months now with no sign of letting up. Today seemed different. Their forces were not as full as usual.
That’s when her body was thrown to the ground. Sound left her ears and she could barely make out the faces of the men falling around her. Using what strength she had, Luna rolled onto her back and heat met her face. Truveloy Castle was aflame.
She scrambled forward on her knees, grasping for her sword. Forcing herself to stand, she raced toward the blaze, calling for anyone that could hear her. Her family was in the castle that was now constituted of blazing fire and quickly collapsing walls.
The heat became unbearable as she approached a doorway of the castle. She could hear cries of anguish all around her, but she could do nothing. A pop of stone rang in her ears and all she could do was stare as one of the balconies began to fall. Her body had frozen in fear and she closed her eyes, pleading for her life. “Please, don’t let it end this way.”
When the impact did not come, she opened her bright purple eyes to see a bright silver light that seemed to be engulfing her body. It took her a moment to realize that this light was emanating from the circlet on her forehead. She fell to her knees and she noticed everything around her. It was as though time had stopped.
The fires were still bright, but they were no longer dancing and the smoke above them was transparent and still. The trees had stopped moving but looked deformed from the torrent wind that was frozen around them. No more cries could be heard. Luna looked up and saw the balcony hovering above her as though she were in an invisible glass cage. She reached up and could feel the slight warmth of the fire-damaged stone.
A voice spoke in her subconscious.
“This is not your destiny, Princess.”
Her head snapped around, looking for the source of the voice, and when she found no one, she responded:
“Not who, but what.”
She felt slight warmth in the center of her forehead and she reached up to touch the delicate silver circlet at adorned her brow. She felt as though the voice was smiling at her.
“What is my destiny?” She couldn’t believe she was talking to an inanimate object and almost felt as though she were going insane, which was a possibility given the bizarre nature of her surroundings.
“You are not insane. And I cannot tell you what your destiny is; only that this is not it.”
Luna huffed and rested her body back on the heels of her feet. “What do you expect me to do? My family is most likely dead. The war is most likely lost. Why not just let me die so I can be with my loved ones?”
“Your path was changed for the wicked. I will send you back to mend what has been damaged.”
The Princess frowned. “Why me? You can’t honestly tell me that I am the key to changing destiny.”
She felt the voice smile once more.
“You cannot open a lock proper without a key.”
The balcony fell.
The sun felt hot on her face as Luna threw open the curtains in front of her. She could not believe her eyes as she looked down on what appeared to be her kingdom, her subjects moving to and fro throughout the marketplace. Very much alive.
She watched as children kicked around a ball, laughing as a stray dog grabbed it up in its mouth and played its own game of keep-away with them. Her heart flipped a few times as she began to notice familiar faces in the crowd, faces that she had seen dead just moments ago. At least, it felt like moments ago.
As her memories began flooding back of the scene she had just left, her hand instinctively reached toward her forehead, which she found bare and damp with perspiration. Her circlet was missing. Luna glanced around the room she was in, identifying many of her personal belongings. She was in her own room. If she believed what had just happened, then what day was it?
She fought her first instinct to jump into bed and try to wake up from this dream, which felt like a nightmare. She wasn’t sure she could relive what had happened over the last week, month, or even year. She couldn’t watch her kingdom fall again or the people she loved die around her. She felt like the universe was playing a sick joke by sending her back rather than letting her die in peace. If that is, in fact, what was happening.
Stepping toward her wardrobe, she flung open the doors, deciding that she needed to find out what fresh hell she had been thrown into. Luna reached for a pair of dark jeans, a white blouse, a corset, a buccaneer coat, a scabbard, and a pair of knee-high boots. As she changed, she checked herself over in the mirror, looking for any of the scars she had acquired over the years.
There was a five-inch-long thin scar that ran along her left side, spanning from the bottom of her ribcage toward her hip. The incident had happened about two months before the battle she was supposedly sent back from. The scar appeared to be healed with no bandages or sutures to be seen.
Luna dressed, stocked her belt with twin daggers and a long sword. The circlet she had been wearing during the battle had been a gift from her father to celebrate her engagement. As she couldn’t find it, she realized that it couldn’t be more than a month before the battle. Luna picked up her communicator, settling the device in its spot over the top of her right ear with a small arm that curved up to her right temple.
She tapped the piece that sat just outside her ear and a projection enhanced her view. Text scrolled across the top of her vision and the date read August 5, 3045, confirming that it was exactly one month before she would be sent back to this point in time.
What the hell was she supposed to do? There was no way one person could change the course of history in one month. And what if she changed too much? The outcome could be worse. Though she didn’t know how much worse it could become as she remembered all the bodies of her subjects, friends and family alike, lying lifeless in the mud around her.
“What was I supposed to be doing today?” she whispered to herself.
“Hello, Luna. Today, you have a meeting with General Velius…”
Her stomach flipped at the mention of Hall Velius’ name.
“I can’t pretend anymore, Lu.” He stood with his back to her, pounding a fist against the hard, stone wall. “Yer everythin’ to me. Why do ye deny yer feelings fer me?”
She scoffed. “How can I believe that when you’re with a different woman every night?”
He shook his head and turned to face her, no longer avoiding her harsh stare. Her brow furrowed harder as he sighed. “I was tryin’ to ferget ye, ’cause I know ye love…him.”
Her facade was broken for an instance, appearing hurt, but she regained her composure. “Of course I love him, Hall. He’s been there for me.”
“But does he love you?”
“What?” She stopped, grasping for words.
“Does he love you?” He took a step closer to her.
“What kind of question is that?”
“An unanswered one.”
Without another word, he pushed her shoulders, forcing her against the wall, and pressed his lips to hers. She met him with slight resistance, but gave in, returning his passion tenfold.
Luna shook away the memory hastily and made a sweeping gesture through the air, prompting her vision to change. Her movement had opened up a virtual keyboard and she began to type furiously, taking down everything she remembered about the month that had led to the final battle. She knew that she could count on Hall to listen, and she prayed that he believed her.
The clinking of weapons and grunting of men in combat reached her ears and she pushed away visions of the dead, taking a deep breath to calm her nerves as she approached the training field. A pale young man in etched armor was leaning against the fence as she arrived, and gave her a boyish grin as he sheathed his sword.
“Milady.” He bobbed his head in a good-natured mock bow. “You aren’t going in there now, are you? One of the new recruits will probably trip over their own feet when they see you.”
She smiled and raised a brow. “The General and I have a meeting. I don’t think the newbies will mind the break.”
Her fellow sergeant laughed and shook his head. “He’s with Squad Three right now, having the time of his life. You’re probably the only thing that could drag him away.”
Because I’m the Princess, she told herself firmly so as not to blush. That was all he’d meant by that comment.
“I don’t know, Elyes. He looks a damn pleased with himself.” Luna grinned. “Until next time.” She bowed dramatically and heard him chuckle.
“Until next time,” he agreed.
“Arthur, get off yer ass and back in line. We’re far from finished here.” Hall was pointing ferociously at a scrawny, blonde, barely-battle-ready lackey who was scrambling hard to get up out of the mud.
Luna picked her way around the muddy patches of the field, rolling her feet as to not kick up mud on her coat. She barely concealed a fond, mischievous smile as she approached the General, his hard expression barely masking the joy he took in harassing the new soldiers.
“Starting a little early, aren’t we?” Luna spoke with a smirk.
He turned his brilliant smile her way, but she couldn’t decipher whether it was from the torture or her arrival. He turned to the group, now doing push-ups in the mud, and barked, “Keep it up ’til I get back. Or else…”
His grin widened when he saw the pace quicken on many of the new soldiers. “Milady.” He motioned to a small cabin a few yards across the field. Lackeys feared being called in here, but Luna knew it well. Leaders in the military would meet there often to discuss strategy. Luna always tagged along, even though she did not lead a squad. There was something about the mechanics of war and peace that piqued her interest.
Her posture relaxed as they stepped through the entryway. “Thanks,” she smiled up at him as he offered her a chair and watched her sit before he took a seat behind his desk. Sliding a large box toward himself, he opened it and extracted a large cigar. Before lighting it, he offered one to her, a playful grin splashed across his face. She rolled her eyes as he shut the box with a chuckle and took a couple draws from the cigar until the end glowed, setting the small torch aside.
“Where shall we start, eh?” he asked, licking his lips as he rested his cigar on the edge of an ashtray. The smoke swirled as her mind faded back to the memory of his lips grinding against hers, and the things he’d said to her to make her break her vow…but none of that had happened yet. “You trust me, right?”
He answered with a nod. “O’course I do, Lu. With me life.”
She looked down at her hands before she continued. “I’m afraid you’re gonna take me off active duty and alert my father or the doctor as soon as you hear what I have to say.” She took a deep breath and plowed ahead. “I’ve seen the future.”
Hall was in the process of taking another pull off his cigar when the statement hit him. “Sorry, I thought ye said ye seen the future.”
Luna attempted a smile, failed, and gulped. “No, you heard me right. I know how the war ends, Hall.”
He attempted a cocky laugh, but it came out more like a nervous whimper. “‘Tis not Fool’s Day is it? Yer pullin’ me leg.” His cigar seemed to be shrinking quickly.
She shook her head solemnly. It wouldn’t be long before her memories became reality again rather than this reality where her life wasn’t in imminent danger and the people she loved weren’t dead. Now she remembered tripping over Elyes’ bloodied body as she fought for her life, her boots sticking in the mud as she tried to stand, and the many she had slain. She started to shake.
He left his chair and knelt in front of her, attempting to remove her pained stare from the floor. “What happened?”
She worked fiercely to get her nerves under control. Hall’s warm hand resting reassuringly over hers helped somewhat. “The war escalated,” she began. She made a fist in front of her face and made a motion toward the wall as though she were throwing a ball. The wall lit up with the words she had written just moments after she had arrived at this time.
“There was another territorial grab. Deviants. They wiped out Agoritha and everyone in it. Father was sick. Prince Zane said it was an assassination attempt. They were searching for a spy. There had to have been a spy. Some thought it was the Queen. She and all of my siblings, they were locked up. By our own people, Hall! And we were in clash after clash with them. There was one battle in the rain. Kathari Kardia. We lost.” She shut her eyes as she spoke. “Horribly.”
She knew he was searching for something to say, but nothing came. Tears were evident, threatening to leave her eyes. She just wanted him to embrace her like he had done before they had gone into battle, but she was far from the events that would lead to that. If she did something now, it could change all that. It could change more than that. She was a princess. A soon-to-be betrothed one, at that.
[To be continued…]