author's notes. this is all based on this beautiful fantasy au i saw on tumblr (google 'mielikki mist forest aph', first result). i changed a few things here and there, but all in all the idea isn't mine.


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prologue

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The Lovefate River feeds from the annual melting of the Beeblebrox mountains, when spring arrives in all its glory and the people of the Mielikki Mist Forest celebrate. There is a week-long festival held in the Chinatown Encampment that commemorates this occasion, named aptly by its celebrants as the 'Feast of Awakening'; for seven long days and nights, all are welcome to participate in the festivities and revel with food and wine.

It was the third day of the festival when the hooded figure arrived at the gates of the Chinatown Encampment, carrying within its arms a small bundle wrapped in cloth. The entranceway was unguarded, as it usually was when the feast was underway, although the gates of the gateway arch were padlocked securely closed, barring entrance; however, there was nobody in sight, and for the hooded figure, that was perfect.

They slowly lowered the bundle from their arms onto the ground, until it was placed squarely in front of the gate where it would be visible from afar. Then, giving one last regretful glance towards it, they turned around and slowly began the long trek back from where they had came from.

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Hours later, after a great deal of drinking, Antonio Fernandez Carriedo walked back to the watch-station for his customary check-in of the night. At seeing the cloth bundle on the ground, he at first mistook it for the alcohol playing tricks on his mind, and paid no mind to it. When he had sobered slightly later, he realized that there was indeed something in front of the gates, and immediately rushed to examine exactly what had been left in front of the town.

Two sets of small brown eyes greeted him when he unwrapped the cloth, startled by the sudden movement. Then, twin shrieks of terror pierced the air, joined in by Antonio's own cry of confusion.

For wrapped securely within the cloth were two infant boys.


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chapter 0

|forest of a thousand deaths|

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The Chinatown Encampment was the only town within the entirety of the Mielikki Mist Forest, although there was talk of starting another one east of the Lovefate River. It had been founded many generations ago by the last of the Ancients, Wang Yao, back when there were no mists that crept over the Lostland Plains from which the forest received its name, and had grown patiently from a small collection of cabins scattered over the map into the thriving town it was today.

Wang Yao still lived in the Chinatown Encampment, although the title of Head Chief had long since been passed on to a younger, more livelier candidate, a well-disciplined young man by the name of Ludwig Beilschmidt. Though brash at times, he could generally be counted on to be responsible and level-headed (much unlike his elder brother, Gilbert), as well as actually complete his paperwork.

"And what do you mean you found two babies outside the front gate!?" The voice thundered through the assembly hall, echoing outside for a good mile-radius or so.

"I—I don't know how they got there, Ludwig, I promise!" Antonio held up his arms in mock-surrender, backing away from the now irate Head Chief. "I was out drinking with Francis during the Feast and when I got back they were just there!"

Ludwig sighed, seemingly trying to hold in his anger as he pressed a hand to his forehead. "And why exactly were you drinking when you knew you were assigned to gate duty?" His voice was low and cutting, every word enunciated for effect.

"Oh come on, Ludwig, you know that nobody does gate duty during the Feast," Antonio said placatingly. He hurriedly ducked to the side as a paperweight came hurtling towards his direction, crashing into the wall behind him.

It shattered against the ground. Antonio gulped nervously.

"Aren't you a priest? Aren't you supposed to abstain from drinking during celebrations?" At this point, Ludwig's head was fully planted onto the table below him. He lifted it slightly, glaring at him with steely blue eyes. "And how are we supposed to take in two children? We don't have enough resources to care for them with tax money alone."

"They're with Elizaveta at the moment, but I don't think Roderich will be willing to take care of children," Antonio said. He looked pensive for a moment, before suddenly snapping both his eyes open in revelation. "They're wards of the church, so it'll be justified if I use the church tithe for their care. God won't mind, I hope." He smiled, like he had said something funny.

"What did this town do to deserve a corrupt priest like you?" Ludwig grumbled under his breath. In a louder voice, he said, "Alright, fine. Better that money spent on something good for once instead of your drinking allowance."

"Hey, you of all people shouldn't be speaking, Ludwig," Antonio said, slightly miffed at the accusation given the identity of the person who had said it. "Don't think that I don't know about what you spend your wages on with that brother of yours—"

He didn't get to finish, because at that moment a chair came barrelling past him mere inches away from his face.


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