A Destiny No More

Prince Darien had looked forward to the visit from the Moon Princess and her entourage for nearly a month; ever since he first met her at the gala given for her coming out on the moon. The first time that he'd seen the princess in her elegant white ball gown, Darien had thought that she looked just like an angel dancing among the clouds. It was in that first instant when he caught sight of her that he knew that she was the one that he was destined to marry. When the Queen of the Moon agreed to allow the princess to make a visit to Earth the prince had no doubt that everything would work out just fine for him and the princess.

Of course the match had not exactly been popular among everyone in his kingdom. The people of Earth had an inherent fear of those from the Moon Kingdom as well as those from the surrounding planets. Isolationists have been pushing for all ties to the kingdoms to be severed. Instead of joining with the Moon Kingdom through marriage there was a large sect of the Kingdom of Nihon who wished that the kingdom be combined with the one to the south. Should the kingdoms join together it would be better able to defend itself in an event where the interplanetary kingdom were to ever turn its back on Earth.

While on the moon, the sister of the queen took to eyeing the young prince and had hoped that a match could be found for herself with the heir to the throne of Earth. Beryl had instantly been attracted to the prince of the Earth and she hoped that despite their age differences a marriage could be brokered in the name of good inter-kingdom relations.

Before the ball on the moon the match between Darien and Beryl seemed almost certain. A fact that had thrilled her to no end since she was very fond of the young prince; one might even say that she was obsessed. When it was made known that the prince would be entertaining the Moon Princess in preparation for talks that were sure to lead up to an announcement of an engagement, Princess Beryl had flown into a rage about being jilted. That had been the last time anyone had seen the fiery sister of the queen and soon the prince had forgotten all about the angry woman.

Now with the daughter of the moon and her guardians and guards on their way back to the moon, Prince Darien allowed all thoughts of anything other than the golden goddess to escape him. He took great pleasure in showing his would-be-queen around the kingdom that he hoped to share with her.

While out and about, it didn't take long for the prince to notice and become uncomfortable with the fact that Princess Serena seemed very familiar with one of her protectors. He was even less comfortable with the fact that Serena was not content to allow the member of the Royal Guard to fade into the background with the other guards; to trail her much like her shadow on the ground as a guard should. Seen but not heard from as the rest of the guards were. Serena would point out various things that she was sure that her companion would enjoy whenever she came across them.

By the third day of the royal visit to the palace, Prince Darien was starting to get a little unnerved by the Royal Guard who seemed to be far too close to the princess for propriety's sake. He found himself trying to show off for the princess in an effort to draw her attention from his unspoken rival. The man stood watch over Princess Serena while she observed Prince Darien and his generals spar in front of various members of court. As the guard watched on, Darien was almost sure that he saw signs of amusement in the blond man's eyes as he fended off a mock blow that the leader of his generals brought down (though the prince was well aware of the fact that the general hadn't used all of his might).

After three days of catching glimmers of the guard's thoughts in regards to him and his abilities, Prince Darien'd had enough of it. The prince called out and suggested that he should test to see just how well protected his love was by her Royal Guards. Prince Darien knew that the only way to wipe that superior look off of the lowly guard's face was to show him up and to do so publicly. Once suggested, Serena seemed to enjoy the idea of watching both the guard and the prince spar. As the two approached one another in the center of the courtyard, the cocky armor-clad guard spoke up just loud enough for the prince to hear him as he stood ready for the match to begin to see who the better swordsman was.

"Are you certain that you wish to do this, Sire?"

"Any reason that you wish not to?" Prince Darien asked as he lunged forward only to over shoot his opponent.

"I just figured that I should point out that I am not accustomed to taking it easy on my opponents. I will not succumb simply for the sake of allowing you to show off for the princess." The irritatingly self-assured guard easily parried Darien's next thrust of the sword. As they continued to spar, they did so both with swords and words.

"Trying to show off a bit yourself, are you?" Prince Darien asked since he'd like to know just where this guard stood with the woman whom he was considering to make his queen. Could it really be that this man harbored some hope to be more than the princess's hired protector?

"Nope, I'm merely showing you what you asked. How well defended the princess is from threats; regardless of where they come from."

With that last verbal shot, the guard sidestepped another blow and brought the broad side of his sword to the back of the prince's armor to indicate a killing blow had this been an actual battle.

Prince Darien's brows creased at the ease that the guard had been able to get the upper hand on him and in front of the entire court. The only thing that he could be somewhat happy about was that the princess hadn't seemed to be deterred by the apparent failure of the prince's ability to best the guard.

Still, the incident did serve to prove to him that he needed to strive harder in his studies of battle. If that one guard could get the better of him then so could another. That meant that, should something ever happen to his generals, he was vulnerable. As the future king of his kingdom, he had to ensure that any possible weakness was reinforced to help make it stronger; even if that weakness was him.

After the last of the vast royal entourage from the moon left, Prince Darien turned back toward the palace. When he looked up the prince saw a familiar individual standing on the fortress's wall gazing down on him. The kingdom's oracle rarely emerged from the inner recesses of the palace which made the prince lower his brows in concern. After a glance back toward his guards and seeing Malachite's own look of concern, Prince Darien decided to go to the oracle's inner sanctum to hear the latest words of prophecy that had never before been proven wrong.

The prince walked down the long, dark, stone-covered halls as he went to seek one of his most trusted advisors. So trusted, the prince knew that he didn't need to be accompanied by any of his guards or generals. Here in this dank and shadowed place, no harm could ever come to him.

It was once told to him that there was magic here that only would protect those with the king's blood running through their veins. Until a hundred years prior, these chambers had served as quarters for the royal family. Only as the palace was expanded so greatly that returning to this small corner of the palace took much longer to return to the main sections of the ornate structure had the family's sleeping quarters been moved and blessed by a wizard to offer similar protection. He could never really understand why the oracle had chosen such an isolated place to call home. Within the palace walls yet in the most deserted part since this was the oldest section; well over three hundred years old. Perhaps the isolation helped to call up the visions of the future that the oracle was known for.

Once Prince Darien reached the door to the oracle's chambers, he heard from the inside, "Come in, your Highness."

Not surprised that his presence was already known, he opened the door and found the palace mystic gazing into a large bowl of water. Strolling over to the table, he tried to see what seemed to be so captivating about the clear liquid but knew that he didn't have the gift that his long-time companion had.

"You wanted to see me," the prince stated simply.

Looking up, the dark-haired woman who had lived within the dark, inner chambers of the palace her entire life focused her eerie gaze on the younger man of only five years before returning her attention to the water.

After several moments of silence, the prince once more spoke up, "If there is nothing that you wished to tell me, why did you-"

"If you are to rule this kingdom, you will need to learn patience, my prince," the oracle scolded in a way that no one else in the realm dared to do, save only his own parents. "I was taking a second look to ensure that what I'm about to tell you will come to pass. After all, not everything is always as it first seems to be when peering into the future."

Prince Darien felt much like a small child for the scolding and went to reprimand her speaking to her prince in such a manner only to have the words die on his lips with only a glance from the woman. Here he was, the crowned prince of the greatest kingdom on Earth yet this lowly servant commanded respect from all around her, even him. That was the air that he knew he needed to exude but had not learned to the same extent as the oracle had.

"Unfortunately, in this case, it would seem that my first impression was correct. You must end this alliance with the Moon Kingdom."

"What? Why?" The prince knew that the engagement between himself and the blonde princess wouldn't be popular among his people but he hadn't really cared. Every day he felt himself falling more and more in love with the golden goddess and he would not be denied his happiness with her.

"If you pursue this union, it will mean the total destruction of this kingdom, needlessly. The Moon Kingdom will soon find itself in the middle of a civil war; one that we do not need to include ourselves in."

The oracle had to turn away from the vision within the water as she spoke. Looking up into the eyes of the prince, she knew that the lives of many would rest firmly in the hands of the prince and his actions in the coming days. She must convince him to forgo his choice for a bride for the good of all.

"Leave this matter for the queen of the moon to deal with. The blood of your people should not be spilt in defense of those who do not matter to them."

Hearing such isolationist thoughts coming from his advisor made his blood boil. "You see the deaths of those on the moon and do not wish to warn them? You'd rather sit back in comfort, knowing that we could have saved them?"

"But they cannot be saved, my prince. They will die! You cannot change that. Your actions can only influence whether or not your people will join them. As ruler, you must learn to put the needs of your people ahead of all else, even above your own heart." As she spoke, the oracle stood up and walked over to where her ceremonial saya, an ornate dagger, was kept and began to carve a design into the palm of her hand. It was time for the prince to receive his rightful inheritance. The last king of Nihon had the gift of sight and upon his death it was to be given to his first grandchild born so that the kingdom could be guided by prophecy.

"I've heard you say in the past that there are many paths that can be taken to reach the future. Surely there is a path available in which these deaths will not occur. I'll find that path. I will see to it that the Moon Kingdom is warned and-"

"There is no such path in this case," the woman said as she completed her carving, her warm blood beginning to seep from the shallow cuts. "But you will not believe me on this. Not without seeing it for yourself. Give me your hand."

"Why?" Prince Darien eyed the woman whom he'd always considered to be a friend.

"If we mix our blood, it will be possible for you to receive the ability to see what I have told you is true. But be warned, such a gift may prove to be a curse if used incorrectly. So, do you wish to see for yourself the destruction and death that I have foretold or will you take me at my word for it?"

"If you've been able to give me this gift before, why haven't you?"

"You've never needed it before, my prince." The dark-haired woman watched as the man before her debated with himself before extending his hand.

"How long will I have this ability?" Prince Darien wasn't sure if he really wanted to be able to see the future or not. Not if his companion was correct that there was nothing that he could do to stop it from coming to pass but he also wanted his best chance to do what he could to help not just his own people but his fiancée's as well.

"For as long as your soul desires it," the simple statement came in response. "Not only in this life but any life that may come afterwards."

Prince Darien felt the sting of the blade as it dug into his palm. Once the carving was done, he could see the outline of the royal family's crest that matched the one in the oracle's own palm. He watched as his own blood rose to the surface of his skin and blurred the lines of the drawing within his palm.

Without further words, the woman took the prince's hand within her own and intertwined their fingers, pressing the carvings and the wounds together. As their blood mingled, heat began to emanate from where their hands were joined. Darien went to rip his hand from her grasp but she pulled up her other hand to hold onto his wrist until the heat faded away. The oracle then released the hand of her prince and took a step backwards.

"Is that it?"

"Yes, you will be able to see that all that I've told you will come to pass, now."

Eyeing the pan of water, Darien walked over and squinted into its depth. He didn't know exactly what he was supposed to do but he concentrated anyway.

"I don't see anything. It didn't work."

"It worked; you just are not allowing the visions to come in their own time. They will not be forced."

"What good is it to see the future if you can't do it whenever you want?"

With a sad smile, the woman replied, "That is yet for you to learn."

Prince Darien sat up covered in sweat while breathing hard. Running his hands through his dark hair, he recalled the dream that he'd had. He'd seen Princess Beryl at the front of a vast army, an army that consisted of citizens of both the moon as well as Earth. The palace on the moon was engulfed in flames as its defenders began to fall away.

In his dream, he had known that he had to reach Princess Serena but he had been stopped by one of her guards; the guard whom Darien had suspected had feelings for the princess while she had visited his kingdom on Earth. Darien had been prepared to fight the man but he vanished from his vision and he found himself in the princess's inner sanctuary. There he saw the lovely young woman for whom he loved and raced to her. His lips found hers only to be pulled away from her by the very ground beneath them exploding.

Darien pulled his sword and stood to protect his would-be-queen. Before him stood Beryl and she had four warriors protecting her that he couldn't clearly see in his vision. He did know that they felt familiar to him. He remembered the sense of betrayal as he breathed his last breath. He never even saw what had been the fatal blow that had ended the lives of both himself and his princess.

Just before waking up, Darien saw the vision of the Moon Kingdom in ruins; only the queen of the moon herself remained standing. Darien knew that he had to warn Serenity of what he had seen. Her own sister was planning to amass a large army and raid the palace. She intended to use both the people of the moon and the people of Earth.

He would stop this future from taking place, he had to. Otherwise, he would watch Serena die!