IV: Aurora and Luna | Prologue

A Near Thirteen Suns Prior

A man with hair black as ebony stood at the top of a tower… his tower. He gazed triumphantly through the tall arched windows at the Full Worm Moon—she was big and golden. The black-haired man was working right in line with the Cosmos; tomorrow was Ostara, the day of new beginnings, and, thanks to him, New-Camelot would be brought into fruition. He had done nearly everything he needed to do in order to manifest this.

All but one final task…

The man turned to a female elf who lay on the cold citrine floor. She had dark green hair and bright green eyes, colours so similar to the forests his men had been cutting down.

She gave him a look that begged for mercy, but the man paid no attention. (He was going to have to get used to ignoring such looks.)

As the man adjusted the hogtie in which she was bound, he simply let her scream—though she could not form any words, for he had her in a witch’s bridle as well. This was a nasty-looking cage for the face, often made of iron—but of course, his was made of gold—that prevented the wearer from talking. He reminded himself that he was doing all this for the benefit of the common folk. They had begged him for help, begged him to save them, begged him to protect them.

Saved them, he had, and protect them, he would; he was creating the new world they had dreamed of, a world where no folkian would ever have to live in fear of the monarchy.

This world, however, would require some level of sacrifice.

It was nearly midnight now—he could tell by the position of the Moon in the sky. He took a deep breath and, using his new staff made all of gold, he levitated the bound elf down the winding steps of his tower. He reckoned he would not run into anyone—and even if he did, who would dare to question a man who was not merely a king, but an emperor?

He made his way outside. The elven woman moaned the entire way—but who would come to save her when everyone else was feasting merrily in the ballroom?

He continued through the castle grounds, the Moonlight shining down on the two of them. Eventually, they reached the Royal Gardens, a divine place for all those who worshipped Emperor Sola.

Sola hurried passed the rose bushes, but paused when he reached a statue. The statue: the only physical means he had to remember Esme—or rather, Empress Esmerelda Imperial. He gave a sigh so heavy the elf stopped screaming.

Only for a moment, however; she resumed as soon as he began levitating her body inside a large marble gazebo that housed the pond.

This was Emperor Sola’s greatest creation, the water being every colour of the rainbow and extending into the moat that would protect his new kingdom.

Allowing the woman to hover in midair over the pond, Emperor Sola reached into the pocket of his golden robes and took out, not just a dagger, but an athame. It was a beautiful instrument, made from the antlers of a Greenlandian Forest buck, and decorated with detailed carvings, elven runes, symbols he didn’t understand.

Once again, the woman stopped screaming, only this time to examine the athame. It seemed as though she thought this elven-made blade indicated there was a chance Emperor Sola might spare her.

Sola hesitated only a moment; just long enough to look at the athame and remember Esme’s ebony-black hair, with waves like the sea.

All-too-soon he shook his head and pulled himself together. Hands trembling, he lifted the athame high in the air and began taking stabs at the poor elf. Her blood squirted everywhere, splashing his face. He could feel the elf’s flesh in his hands. Never before had Sola performed such an act.

Oh, how she moaned and wailed and gasped for breath! But then, rather suddenly, she stopped making any noise at all, just once Sola had cut out her heart, which was now dangling from his hand.

“The heart of a mundane…” he breathed, in disbelief of himself.

Quickly, he added, “Or so she was sentenced to be!” And he looked up at the sky, as though it would tell him whether or not this was valid.

As Sola clutched the heart of the elven woman, a triumphant smile crept up his face. And then, with great pride, he threw it in the centre of the pond. Upon meeting the water, the elven heart burst into a shimmery green substance and dissolved in the pond, only adding to its colour and marvel.

The elven woman’s body still floated above, blood dripping into the pond, and once again morphing into a magical green substance the second it met the water. Sola let her bleed out until there was nothing left to bleed. Then, with the slightest gesture of his staff, he directed what was left of her corpse towards the surrounding garden floor.

He held out his wrist and pulled back the sleeve of his golden robe, exposing his flesh in the silver Moonlight. He raised the athame once more.

“And magical blood, willingly given…”

And the elven-made blade met his pale wrist. Now he was the one in pain, as his own golden blood trickled out of the wound on his forearm.

But Emperor Sola had no time to moan nor groan. Quickly, he used his staff to direct the blood through the air toward the pond. Inside the enchanted pond, it went, and the thick golden substance simply dissolved into the water.

Sola glanced up at the sky again—and this time voices did reach out to him. He listened intently, not saying much, mostly nodding. After receiving the message he had hoped for, Sola gave a final nod and somehow managed to utter the words, “My thanks.” Yes, he had been expecting this answer, but still, it was surreal.

Then he turned away from the pond, back toward the body of the elven woman. Her green eyes stared lifelessly back at him. But he felt no sense of guilt, for he knew she deserved what she got; she had been working on the other side of things, after all.

It wasn’t as though Sola hadn’t given her a chance; why, the elf’s sister had gladly taken the opportunity he had bestowed upon them!

And so, with no remorse for his actions, he gestured his staff towards the corpse of the elven woman. He muttered something under his breath and her body disappeared—well, it wasn’t so much that it disappeared, as much as it was drawn up into his staff.

His work here was done, for now. And so, the newly crowned king and emperor exited the gardens and made his way back to the castle, where he would join his merry folk and feed on an assortment of succulent dishes. Tomorrow would be forever known as a holiday; the dawn of the Solar Revolution.

*

‘Twas the dawn of Ostara when a crone, with long silver hair and a dark blue gown embroidered with silver Stars and Moons, realized it was time to head away from the Interior—or rather the Solar Kingdom it would be called, now that it was under Sola’s rule.

The crone would never, under any circumstance, call him ‘Emperor Sola’. Zelena had known him simply as Sola, and Sola he would always be. No, she would never bend the knee for such an imposter. A prophecy from the Cosmos, indeed…

And so, Zelena and her loyal followers began their long journey down the dirt trail known as ‘the Golden Road’, away from the barren land that was now the capital. Behind them, in the East, the rising sun was already hot on their backs, despite Spring having only just arrived. The golden fields revealing themselves seemed to stretch on and on forever. Once the sun was up completely, there would be nowhere to hide.

The promise of the lush rainforest that was the Greenlands kept them going—this would be the best place to hide during Sola’s reign. In the seclusion of the trees, they could build a cottage, one large enough to house all of them.

“I sense we will need another member,” Zelena said to the giant, Sir Cogsworth Brown, quietly so the other rebels wouldn’t hear.

From several yards above, Cogsworth scoffed, “Oh, Zelena! Are ya still reaching out to the sky for answers? Look here now! The Stars have abandoned us. It’s time to give up the old way.”

Zelena ignored his criticism; “And I sense it will be the golden-haired child.”

For a moment, Cogsworth said nothing; only the distant rattling of snakes could be heard.

“Look, Zelena, if yer trying to say she is some kind of… some kind of…”

“That’s exactly what I’m trying to say!” Zelena insisted, as she adjusted the brim of her black witch’s hat.

Cogsworth shook his head. “We aren’t to go messing with that lot, Zelena. They’re on the other side of things, after all.”

Zelena said nothing. Instead, she took a deep breath of the dry, dusty air, and, picking up the pace, walked ahead of Cogsworth. With each step, she led the coven further away from the Solar Kingdom and closer to the Greenlandian Forest.

Cogsworth could be wrong all he wanted, but Zelena knew the golden-haired child was the one. And, mad as the crone may appear, when they were safe on the edge of the West Coast, Zelena would reach out to the sky for answers.

*

A maiden watched it all. It was happening so quickly, and there was nothing she could do. So badly she wanted to speak out, to talk some sense into everyone. But she had been silenced for eternity.

Silenced and exploited, she was—oh, how it sickened her! And yet she still managed to have forgiveness for everyone involved.

If only she could actually do something! If only she could put a stop to this!

But she was bound until the end of time; bound and forced to watch over it all.

And in thirteen Suns, it would be final.

Author’s note: If you wish to keep reading IV: Aurora and Luna, subscribe to my free newsletter and you will be sent a link to chapter one. Or subscribe to my Patreon where, for a small donation, you can start reading an early-bird version of my manuscript today.

You may also enjoy the short stories The Trial of Titania Brown and The Golden Candle, both available for free on my website.

Sincerely,

MD Luna