The late summer sun shone brightly down on Paint Town, illuminating the colorful murals that were painted all across the quaint town.
Beige buildings were splattered with various colors of paint. Many paintings had been painted over with the change of the seasons, reflecting the state of nature throughout the year.
The entirety of the town was a perfect circle; twelve main roads all connected in the center, Rainbow Plaza. Today, the plaza was decorated with elegant tapestries, the fountain in the center of the plaza painted over with elegant gold strokes. After all, it's not every day that a town's Queen comes to visit.
The town was alive with the hustle and bustle of preparations for the Queen's State Visit that day. However, only a select few knew the true reason why the Queen was coming to town. The Rainbow Plaza was also home to a magnificent building, an enormous museum simply known as The Museum. Inside, squirrel-like fairies were preparing for the Queen's arrival as well.
Clio, a small pink squirrel fairy, bounced from pillar to pillar in the main atrium of the museum. The multicolored glass dome cast the atrium in a rainbow of colors, making things all the more magical for Clio.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Clio half-shouted to an older squirrel fairy. She was only marginally taller than Clio, though her pure white fur, tall hat, and golden accessories gave her status away.
"My darling Clio," the old fairy said. "I'm afraid all the Interpreters have everything under control. Trainees need only watch and observe." Her voice was firm, but also gentle and reassuring. Clio smiled sadly.
"One day I won't be just a trainee anymore though, and I'll need to know how to prepare for the Queen's visit!" Clio insisted. "Please, Freya." Clio's light blue eyes glittered with hope, hoping to charm the older Interpreter. Freya sighed.
"I suppose you can monitor the door to receive her Royal Highness," Freya said. She couldn't ever say no to Clio once those bright blue eyes started to glitter. "But nothing else. We have all the preparations rea...dy…" Freya's voice dwindled. Clio, shooting off towards the door, didn't need to hear anything else.
Changing Hearts Pretty Cure!
Prologue: "The Tapestry and the Unchanging! Escape from Chroma!"
It could have been four hours, it could only have been four minutes. Clio wasn't sure how long she waited at the Museum's entrance, but the Queen couldn't arrive soon enough. Her fluffy, pink tail twitched excitedly every few seconds.
"Are you my escort?" A voice suddenly said. It was a soft, warm voice, a lilting, sing-song voice. Clio jerked her head up, stunned at the figure who seemed to materialize out of seemingly nowhere.
"I- uh," Clio stammered. The woman towered over the small squirrel. "Yes!" Clio shouted out, her cheeks blooming with red. "M-my name is Clio, Y-Your Majesty…" The Queen let out a laugh. It rang genuine and pure. Clio knew immediately the Queen wasn't laughing at her, easing her embarrassment.
"Clio," the Queen said, her lips curling into a soft smile. "Take me to Freya, please." She walked inside the entrance, her gown shifting like an iridescent prism. Clio floated behind the queen, realizing the Queen knew where she was going. "Freya, my old friend," the Queen said. Freya smiled up at her.
"Your Majesty," Freya said, bowing deeply. "It has only been a year since you last visited, but it always seems like 10." Freya floated up, resting on the Queen's shoulder. To Clio, it looked as if the Queen had looked much younger at the entrance. Next to Freya, she could see that was not the case. The two looked almost identical to one another.
The queen's pure white hair had been styled into a loose bun at the top of her head, the rest of her hair flowing freely down her back in waves. Freya's own fur seemed to glint with the same iridescence as the Queen's gown. The Queen's smile crinkled at the edge like Freya's own.
"Let us tour the Museum, shall we, old friend?" The Queen said.
"Let's," Freya responded. The Queen and many other of the Museum workers made their way around the various rooms and exhibits. They started with some of the new features and made their way through some of the staples and the Queen's favorites.
Clio didn't pay much attention to what was being said; she was too enamored with the Queen. After a couple of hours, the procession finally ended. The golden light of the late afternoon bathed the atrium of the museum with warm, multicolored light as it shone through the stained glass dome.
"As always, dear Freya, I had a most wonderful time," the Queen said. Despite having walked for hours, she showed no signs of fatigue. Something told Clio the Queen wasn't leaving any time soon.
"Your Majesty, let's retreat to the Interpreter's Hall," Freya said. "We'll have a spot of tea before you return to the castle."
"I'm here until morning, actually, but tea sounds lovely," the Queen said. She turned to face Clio. "You've been hiding from me ever since I arrived," she said softly. "Join us in the Interpreter's Hall. You're a trainee aren't you?"
Clio wasn't sure what to say, though she could feel her cheeks once again bloom into redness. "I'd be honored, Your Majesty," she said, just barely above a whisper. Her tail swished in excitement. Nervously, she glanced at Freya, almost expecting her eldest mentor to oppose. Instead, Freya smiled kindly and nodded. The three of them made their way into the secret wing of the Museum, the Interpreter's Hall.
The Interpreter's Hall was underneath the main atrium. With an elegant wave of the Queen's hand, a mosaic rainbow design in the center of the atrium melted into nothingness, revealing an ordinary, spiraling brick staircase. The trio descended down the short staircase, which opened out into a brightly lit drawing-room.
Four long mahogany tables stretched out into the long hall, plump, golden couches flanking the long sides, with similar armchairs at the ends. The golden walls were speckled with hanging lamps and mahogany doors. The Queen, Clio, and Freya all took a seat in an armchair, flanking the end of one of the tables. Clio on one arm, Freya on another. A mint-colored squirrel, wearing a small maid's hat brought the tea for the three of them.
"I trust you find the Museum satisfactory?" Freya asked, though she already knew the answer.
"Freya, you are running it superbly," the Queen said, smiling into her tea. She took a sip, and the kind smile dropped downward, ever so slightly. "Though we both know the real reason why I'm here."
Clio looked between the two, unsure of what she meant. A door opened at the other end of the hall. A snobbish-looking squirrel floated through the doors. He looked over in the Queen's direction.
"Your Majesty. Freya," he called from across the room. "Your presence is required." The Queen took one last sip of her tea before giving a tired smile to Clio.
"Wait for us out here, child," she said. She stood, Freya finding her usual spot on the Queen's shoulder. She made her way to the other side of the hall, saying niceties to the other Interpreters along the way.
Clio waited a moment, fully intending to stay put. The doors were open for a moment longer, letting other Interpreters into the inner sanctum. Before she knew it, Clio raced towards the open door as it began to close.
"Cl-Clio!" The snobbish squirrel said. But it was too late, the trainee had managed to make it into the sanctum before anything could be done. She had never been in this room before. In fact, it was only now that she realized just how little she had noticed the door's existence until it had opened.
"Wow," Clio whispered as she looked around the chamber. It was empty except for tall pillars extended up into the darkness, reaching up to a ceiling that couldn't be seen. Clio wondered how a room like this could exist when the Interpreter's Hall wasn't that deep below the museum.
Other interpreters had filled the rest of the space. A few yards in front of Clio stood a tall, flat slab of beige concrete. Clio gasped when she saw the object floating just inches in front of the slab.
To the untrained eye, it just looked like an oversized, worn down canvas with abstract, shimmering shapes painted on it. But to the Interpreters and trainees, it was a living being. They spent years of education and training to read what the Tapestry foretold.
The Tapestry of the Future was Chroma's most important relic. It told the past and the future of Chroma, and Interpreters were vital to interpreting the visions of the future. Clio could see the shapes move and wriggle across the tapestry. A glittering fog seemed to be contained within the canvas. Clio couldn't make out anything that would come to be just yet. She mainly saw the events of the past that were set in stone.
"Clio!" Freya hissed. "This meeting was for certified Interpreters only."
"I'm sorry Freya! I couldn't control myself… once I got the idea to do it I just had to see what you and the Queen were needed for!" Clio cried. Freya rolled her eyes in annoyance, though she smirked at the young fairy.
"I suppose you were going to see the Tapestry eventually. Just don't say anything. The Queen is here to get her annual Interpretation." A few high-ranking Interpreters spoke quietly with The Queen when a muffled scream rang through the sanctum. It was quiet for a moment. Freya's ears twitched. Had they imagined it?
Another scream was heard. It was coming from the other side of the sanctum door. The Queen rushed to the sanctum's door, flung the doors open, ready to take on whatever was on the other side. Interpreters rushed into the sanctum, clambering over one another.
"What is the meaning of this?" The Queen demanded. Her voice was loud and stern. Most of the troubled Interpreters quieted at her command.
"Y-Your Majesty. They're here…" one squirrel said shakily. The Queen's face became pale and gaunt. Freya's tail went limp.
"What does she mean?" Clio whispered. Freya snapped her head in Clio's direction.
"Run. Get out of here," she said, worry present in each word. Before Clio could move, however, dust and brick exploded downward into the Interpreter's Hall from the entrance in the ceiling. When the dust settled, three thin, lanky figures stood.
"Saoirse, Keiran, you know what to do," the middle figure said. Within a second they had crossed the entirety of the hall. But before they could enter, the Queen summoned a rainbow-colored force field, keeping them at bay.
"Oh, Your Majesty... you couldn't stop this even if you wanted it to," the middle figure spoke again, her grey eyes cold and malicious. She raised a gloved hand, touching the force field. Rainbow-colored lightning sparked where she touched. Dragging her hand, thick, greasy black paint trailed behind. She took her hand off and smirked.
The Queen, who now appeared to be in pain at the liquid's presence, faltered. The force field disappeared, and the trio raced past the queen. All three of the figures stood before the Tapestry. They moved in perfect unison jumping upwards and touching the tapestry.
They fell to the ground, dragging their hands, black paint trailing behind. Black lightning cracked and crackled around the tapestry. The paint spread from its three points of origin. Within seconds, the tapestry was completely void of color, an unchanging gray.
"Escape! All of you!" The Queen shouted, her voice not as strong as it was before. Many Interpreters followed the Queen's order. However, those that were close to the Tapestry were caught in the ever-spreading gray that was now emanating from the Tapestry.
The Queen grabbed Clio and Freya. In a flash of rainbow light, the three of them were out in Rainbow Plaza. The sun was setting now, but the town was covered in black paint. Areas of gray began to spread from the paint. The Queen ripped off a jewel from her gown, held it in her hands, whispered something, and the jewel flew out of her hands towards the mountain towards the south of town.
"Clio, you must listen to me," The Queen said, taking the small fairy in her hands. Clio had been frozen in the events that just happened. She wasn't sure what was going on just yet, and she was truly too terrified to want to know. But she locked eyes with the Queen's. "I have something completely unfair to ask of you." Tears were welling up in the Queen's multicolored eyes. A second later, four orbs of light drifted down from the sky and floated in a circle around the Queen. Clio looked between the Queen, the orbs, and Freya.
"I'm so confused," she said. "What's going on?"
"Followers of the ancient witch are trying to spread her dark magic throughout the land. They started with Paint Town because of the Tapestry it seems," the Queen said. She seemed to have aged decades in the few moments that passed. "Everyone inside the Museum…" The orbs floated down towards Clio, transforming into four small animals: an almost white-red fox, an almost-white yellow bear, an almost-white purple owl, and an almost white-green butterfly.
"Take her to where your emissaries are," the Queen said. Clio realized the Queen was talking to the small spirits that now floated around Clio's head. "You must go to the peak of Mount Prism. There you'll find the portal."
"Portal to what?!" Clio asked, her own eyes shimmering with tears.
"We must rely on the Legendary Pretty Cure Warriors to save us now. Clio, you and the Spirits of the Seasons must find them. They're our only hope for fixing this." Another explosion sounded from behind the trio. The Queen sluggishly turned around. With a wave of her hand, a bubble of rainbow light formed around Clio and the spirits. "You must go!"
With her command, the bubble flew off towards the mountain, Clio's screams of protest unable to be heard.
There was nothing but gray spreading from the once colorful Paint Town. As Clio floated away, she tried her best to calm herself. Tears still welled up in her eyes, unable to comprehend the colorful town she knew to now be in such a state.
"We'll save it," one of the spirits said. Clio looked up. The butterfly smiled sadly at her. "We'll find Pretty Cure. And save Paint Town."
"Save Paint Town," the other three spirits said. Clio didn't say anything in response. She nodded.
"Pretty Cure…" she said. "I've heard of them… They're… they're just a legend though, aren't they?" The four spirits shook their heads.
"We are their power. The power of the seasons. The power of change," the butterfly said.
"The power of seasons…?"
"Yes, I'm the spirit of Spring, Clover," the butterfly said.
"Flash! Summer!" The fox said excitedly.
"Cinnamon… autumn…" The bear said softly.
"Flurry. Winter," the owl huffed.
"I'm Clio," the squirrel said. Before the spirits could respond, the orb they were all flying in began to descend. Clio hadn't realized how fast they were traveling if they were already at Mount Prism.
The orb had flown up to the mountain's summit. Even in the late summer, night at the summit had a chill to it. The orb settled at the base of a worn temple. Pillars were broken and weathered. Moss and grass had grown through the beige brick path.
The temple itself was simple, only housing a floating crystal, glimmering with rainbow light. The second the orb disappeared, the crystal shattered into a swirling vortex of the glowing rainbow light.
"This portal leads to Pretty Cure," Clover said.
"Pretty Cure!" The three spirits echoed. Clio stared at the portal. She wiped the last of her tears away, her gaze fixed. Her mind was made up. She would fulfill the Queen's request. The five of them made their way towards the portal.
"Leaving us so soon?"
All of them snapped their heads around, staring at the source of the voice. The three figures from the Museum had followed them. The middle figure, a woman with flat, long dark gray hair had an arrogant smirk on her face.
"I'm afraid I can't allow the five of you to leave. Won't you come with us? Liath needs you all to complete her plans," she said, lazily turning her hand over as she examined her nails. "The world must be gray. Nothing can change."
"We sealed Liath!" Clover shouted.
"Sealed Liath!" Flash, Flurry, and Cinnamon echoed.
"True, but you didn't destroy her. She still lives. And she still yearns for the Unchanging Gray," the second woman said. Her cool blue-gray eyes glittered with excitement at the mention of the Unchanging Gray.
"We won't let you do that!" Clio exclaimed. "Change is supposed to happen!"
That appeared to be the final straw. The trio lurched forward, hands extended, black paint dripping from their gloves. Before they could do anything, however, a burst of green light exploded from Clover, forming a shield, much like the one the Queen had created.
"You must escape!" Clover said, her voice strained, trying to keep their pursuers at bay. "Find the Pretty Cure! Save Paint Town!"
"Clover!" Flash exclaimed. "Not without you."
"Go!" Clover turned to face her companions. With a second burst of green light, she sent Flash, Cinnamon, Flurry, and Clio into the portal. "Find them! Save us!" Clio and the others shouted in protest. Clover's shield disappeared as the lone male of the trio grabbed her.
There was nothing to be done, however. Clio felt herself go through the portal. It was an odd sensation, her whole body vibrating as it was yanked backward by an unseen force. The scene in front of her - the man grinning maliciously, the tall woman scowling - winked out of existence. She saw nothing but rainbow light swirling around her.
Within moments she found herself floating in the sky, high above a land completely foreign to her. Tall, white, gray, and beige buildings lined the horizon. Far below her, roads were busy with dark objects moving quickly in and out of the city in front of her.
"Where are we?" Clio asked the spirits.
Flash exchanged looks with his partners. They all seemed to share a secret, mental conversation, before all of them nodding once.