Chapter 2 - A Weak King
King Joseph Peacecraft, the leader of the Known world encompassing both the continents of Oz and Sanc, sat on his beautiful throne made of onyx and moonstones while he fiddled with his rings. He did not like mystical things and preferred to keep them as far from his body as possible. He was the reason why the Star Dreamers were no longer respected as they had been. He was also the reason behind the isolation of the Guide and her servants. If he could not see it, then he did not want any part of it.
So, this Peacecraft king was rather nervous about meeting the Guide. She had insisted on meeting with him for the last three weeks and he had refused constantly, even rudely. But somehow, she was on her way and he could not stop her. His counselors had overridden his objections and had forced him to agree with this meeting. Damn those piranhas..
While the king was grousing about his counselors, his children were on a lower dais from the throne, quite curious about meeting the mysterious Guide. The Guide was supposed to be the receptor for visions straight from the Darkness itself, privy to things that no normal human mind could comprehend.
"Milliardo, what do you think the Guide is like?" Milliardo Peacecraft, the next in line for the throne, frowned at his little sister's question. She was always too curious about the strange things in the world, like this Guide. He swore, if it hadn't been for their father and him, Relena would have gone traipsing off to the Dreamer's Dome and demanded to become a novice.
"Relena, you'll meet her soon enough. What do you care what I think she would be like? It doesn't make a whit of difference."
Shaking her wheat blond head at her brother, Relena decided to ignore him. He was as bad as their father when it came to things not of this world. They were so narrow minded sometimes. Even if they weren't curious, she was. Ever since she could remember, she had been fascinated by the mystical aspects of their world. She had read everything she could about the Dreamers and the Guide. They were foretellers, visionaries. They knew things that no one else did. Now, the Guide herself was on her way to the castle to meet with her father. Relena was so excited that she could hardly sit still.
Milliardo, despite his curt answer, was also curious and excited. He did not like things he could not understand too much, but he was determined to see if the Guide was as mysterious as everyone made her out to be. After all, if he met her, he could assess her like a normal person. Then he wouldn't be so annoyed about their existence.
As each member of the Peacecraft royal family contemplated the mysticism surrounding the Guide, the doors to the Throne Room opened and the announcer stepped in. With a booming voice that rather hurt the ears of those in the room, he announced the Guide. "Your Majesty, Your Highnesses and Ladies and Lords, may I present the Chosen Guide of the Vision, Lady Dorothy Catalonia!"
Instead of fanfare, there was an unearthly silence. The only sound was the tapping of Dorothy's shoes on the smooth marble as she glided towards the throne. The king recoiled at her approach, plainly frightened of her. Relena leaned forward, noticing with a smirk that Milliardo did the exact same thing. Dorothy merely walked on, stopping at a distance of about a yard in front of the king.
"I am most honored that you have agreed to meet me. I am the Guide. I am here to warn you."
Relena felt a tingle race up her spine at the Guide's voice. She sounded so sure and calm, quite different from everyone else she had associated with in her young life. Relena was absolutely determined to talk to Dorothy by herself and find out what her life was like.
The king, however, had no such tendencies. He justwanted this girl, this creature, out of his sight."I don't see what you can possibly warn me about. Leave Our presence. You are most unwelcome."
What the king had thought sounded commanding and authoritative only sounded like the whining of a petulant child to Dorothy. Stamping down on her urge to slap some sense into the idiot, Dorothy continued, seemingly unperturbed.
"I must warn you that the prophecy of Light has begun. The Oracle and I have already discussed this."
A shocked gasp rang throughout the vast throne room. Milliardo found his voice first.
"How dare you meet with the Oracle! It was forbidden by the Ancients! The last time the two met, there was a cataclysm that still lingers today!"
Without changing her serene tone, Dorothy addressed Milliardo directly.
"My dear prince, if you know your history, you should know that it wasn't the meeting that caused the destruction. It was the foolishness of mortals who refused to listen to us. Listen to me now. This prophecy is far more destructive than the last." Apparently, the king had had enough of this talk of prophecies and such.
"Damn the prophecy. It's all just mumble jumbo anyway. The Guide and the Dreamers, if you lived in the real world, you would know that all that stuff means nothing."
At the king's disdainful tone, Dorothy's eyes changed as did her voice. Each became cold and menacing. The entire court drew back, afraid of this one, small girl.
"You FOOL. I'm here to warn you and all you can do is bury your head in the sand. I'm telling you now that the prophecy of Light has started. The world is going to be swallowed by the Light! There will be nothing left when it is done. You must get your people ready. Prepare them to battle the Unholy Legions of the Light. The Dreamers know the danger and have set off looking for the Children of Prophecy. The least you can do is help them."
By now, the tension in the room was thick. Relena reeled from the sheer magnitude of the news. She had read about the prophecy, of course. It was something that everyone knew about but did not talk about. It was supposed to scare children from doing bad things, like 'if you aren't a good little boy, the Light will come and swallow you.' It wasn't supposed to be so real, so close.
While Relena tried to slow down her madly beating heart, Dorothy turned and walked out of the Throne Room, plainly disgusted by her father. Without a moment's hesitation, Relena bolted out of her chair and ran after the Guide. If her father would not listen, she would. She did not notice her brother following closely behind her.
Dorothy waited until all her servants left her before letting out the frustration. She had heard that the king was a weak minded fool, but she had not realized to what extent until the meeting today.
"That moron. He would feed the world to the Light and be happy about it. What an idiot! I have to count on him to help out the Warrior Mages? If they saw that inane excuse for a king, they would leave us at the Light's mercy."
Dorothy's rant ran on, her voice undulating and fluctuating. Outside her door, Relena paused as she heard Dorothy's low opinion about her father. "She does not like our father, does she?"
Relena jumped. Her brother had somehow snuck up on her eavesdropping.
"Milliardo, can't you just announce your presence politely like everyone else? Why must you skulk?" Milliardo shrugged, clearly telling her that he would not change his ways. As much as she loved her brother, he could annoy her to death sometimes. "Are you just going to stand here or knock on the door?"
Relena stuck out her tongue at her brother. He was a sadistic man when he chose.
"Why don't you two come in."
Relena and Milliardo started guiltily. Obviously, the Guide knew of their presence. Mustering up as much dignity as possibly, the royal pair entered the Guide's room.
The Guide was sitting by the window, her sightless eyes gazing upon the beautiful gardens that she could not possibly see. Her red robe pooled around her like a lake of blood while her stark white shoes toed the carpet in a thoughtless manner. The afternoon sun glinted off her platinum blond hair and glared mercilessly in her blue eyes. She looked extremely annoyed, quite the opposite from the projected calm of the Throne Room. Dry washing her hands, Relena opened her mouth to apologize and to question. A raised hand from the Guide stopped her.
"You two would listen to me, won't you?"
Her voice was tired and Relena's heart went out to her. She was probably the same age as she was and the Guide had greater responsibilities than a mere princess. The Guide protected the realm of the mortals by warning them of danger and other things. She deserved their utmost respect and courtesy.
"I would listen to you, Guide. As the prince of the Known World, I should pay attention to every danger, even if they are fairy tales."
Relena could have strangled her brother. Here she was, trying to make the Guide feel more comfortable, and he had to go and insult her. But the Guide was not disturbed.
"Prince Milliardo. I don't care if you think the prophecy is a fairy tale. You'll find out differently soon enough. Just listen, and keep an open mind." Seeing nothing to argue about, Milliardo seated himself across from the Guide. Relena was forced to drag over a chair to be near the Guide. Her annoyance mounted.
"Do you know what the prophecy is?"
Dorothy's quiet question was met with an immediate answer from Relena.
"The prophecy was born three thousand years ago, right after the cataclysm of the world that we call the Apocalypse. It was also the time that magic left our world. The prophecy says that one day, the Light will come to swallow the world. It also says that there is only one method to stop the Light, that is, summon the Children of Prophecy."
Relena stopped in her recital and looked expectantly at the Guide. Surely, the Guide would be impressed by her knowledge.
"Do you know what the prophecy says, word for word?" There was no praise, just another question. Slightly offended, Relena offhandedly repeated the words of the prophecy.
"The Light will begin its journey when the Heart is lost and the Shield regained. The Light shall choose its Child of Prophecy and become one with the Child. The Light will cleanse the world of all life and corruption and keep the Darkness at bay. Only the Darkness may stand against the Light by choosing its Children of Prophecy. There are only two forks to this path: the Light as the victor, shining forever in purity, or the Darkness as the victor, shrouding the world in life."
Dorothy finally endowed Relena with a smile. Relena preened beneath her royal exterior, pleased that she had finally gotten the Guide, one of the foremost legendary figures, to notice her.
"You are quite accurate, Your Highness. The Dreamers have seen the Heart of the Warrior driven from its heavenly place. Also, the Shield has been returned to the Empress. My visions have shown me the blinding Light chasing away the Darkness, forever banishing it. The Light is looking for its chosen Child. As agents of Darkness, the Dreamers are looking for the Children of Prophecy. I hope you can convince your father to form the army necessary to help the Darkness. The Dreamers and I are messengers, and we cannot fight the Light alone."
Both Relena and Milliardo nodded at the Guide as if they knew what she truly meant. Dorothy dismissed them, practically chasing them out of her presence with her sudden curtness. When the royal twosome left, Dorothy bitterly twisted her lips. What did the mortals know of visions, stars and magic? Nothing. She had given herself to the Darkness completely when she had become its Guide. But now, she had to face the fact that maybe her sacrifice would be for nothing. She just hoped that the Dreamers would find the Warriors. They would be the true saviors. They would drive back the Light.