Tales of loathsome tyrants and prophesied saviors aren't nearly so appealing when you are a royal bastard with a prophecy hanging over your head.


Prologue: Endellion

Excerpt taken from
the diary of
the late Princess Endellion Yunan,
Crown Heiress of Marsdenfel and
Illegitimate Daughter of
Queen Yuoleen of Marsdenfel
and King Barnett of Grehafen

[A s]light noise can be so loud. The royal amulet slipped from my mother's neck to the floor, today, and that faint sound echoed through the marble throne room. All present stared, aghast at this rejection by the Bynd, the avatar of the magic that grants command of the Crystal that binds the elves together as a race.

Eyes turned to me, heiress to the Bynd and the throne it binds the elves' Crystal to. I didn't take the Bynd and assume my place as Queen. My mother d[id]n't deserve that.

I could tell its magic wasn't seeking me as the heiress, either. It didn't seek anyone.

Murmurs started as my mother, barely score-and-seven years old herself, descended the royal dais and recovered the Bynd. She entwined the Bynd's chain in my fingers and met my gaze. "That was not a passing," my mother declared, loudly enough for it to be heard by the assembly.

With the Bynd's chain entwined in her fingers, she held the charm up for all to view. It had glowed with a vibrant green light until the moment it had released itself from my mother's neck, evidence that Mother's magic would follow the felven way, if she ever dared work magic. "Where is the light?" she asked.

The older members of the assembly murmured amongst themselves, remembering how the Bynd had acted when it had chosen to proceed to my mother. It had glowed brighter, then, before resettling in the standard vivid green. Now, its dull metal looked like a cheap trinket against my mother's w[hite] palm.

"It's rejected the whelp," someone muttered. Herdalin, one of the older women. I flinched.


"What else do you suggest, Your Majesty?" the woman snapped, defending her due critique of me. "For the Bynd to reject you and not choose another—"

Gaylen rushed in. His slight bow demonstrated that he respects the queen, even if few others do. Many find his regard for the woman he should have married more inexplicable than his willingness to marry me when I come of age. The room quieted out of deference to the prophet. "King Barnett approaches."

I flinched at the glances that then darted between my mother and me. Even if my mother had never told me of the circumstances surrounding my birth, I suspect I would've been able to guess who my father was from how everyone reacted at that announcement.

My mother curtsied slightly to Royal Prophet Gaylen in thanks, then patiently ascended the dais to return to her throne, Bynd still in hand. "Let the crown princess take her own seat," she ordered.

I obeyed and ascended to my chair to the side and a bit in front of hers, cautious with my impractical but requisite many-layered gown. The court started demanding it, and constant chaperoning of the crown heiress, after my mother's foolhardy decision and actions that produced me.

The cumbersome garments serve their purpose well, making it impossible to outrun guards and chaperones. My mother wears such garments herself by her own consent, as undue payment for her youthful actions that will likely bring the fall of Marsdenfel by my day.

In my day, now that the Bynd has rejected her. By right of custom, I am now ruler, my lack of even ten meager years on Aleyi notwithstanding. But I refuse to heed that; I know I'm not ready to rule.

My mother and I had barely seated ourselves when King Barnett of Grehafen entered. My father.

He glanced over me with a slight, confused frown, and I glanced over him and noticed that he is why I am large for my age, why my eyes are so dark, why I like grey, and why I don't tan well.

When my father spoke, his tone held more haste than politeness. "I would speak to the queen alone."

If anything, the silence grew with that demand. Those like Herdalin sent wary, distrustful glances my mother's way before leaving. Others politely obeyed the request in my mother's nod without nonverbal comment.

But even after my mother nodded, Gaylen remained, watching my mother carefully to be certain that she meant it, and my mother herself told me with her eyes to stay.

"Prophet Gaylen," my mother said quietly. "Please ensure that no doors have ears."

He bowed before leaving to obey. The stern look he gave King Barnett while passing made even me flinch, and I wasn't the one who had earned it.

The stone door, made light enough to move by magic infused in the naril metal etched into the rock, still caused an echo when it closed. Mother, father, and ill[egitimate] daughter remained solitary in that hall.

My mother raised her hand from the arm of her throne, releasing the Bynd from where she'd hid it in her palm. I gasped at its glow—orange, muted and greyed, but definitely orange. Reminiscent of a fire, if you knew which type of magic my father naturally used.

"This isn't yours yet," my mother said, bitterly wry. "The light should vibrantly match your magic."

He came forward, stepping up on the dais. I cringed away—

"Force it now, and you'll die!"

My mother's harsh warning startled me. I stared at her. She still punished herself for her folly; she'd forsaken her engagement to Gaylen, refused to marry at all to have a legitimate child and thereby disinherit me. I guess it shouldn't have surprised me that my mother still cared for the one she'd fallen for, even now when he was making good on his betrayal.

But King Barnett stopped abruptly, expression stricken. "No, Yuoleen!" I wanted to believe his aghast tone, but the Bynd glowed its orange, betraying that he was wresting my mother's royal magic from her, abusing what power he'd been given in the Bynd's magic by bedding my mother and thereby becoming part of the family.

He continued speaking, dropping to his knees on the step before her throne and touching her free hand, the one without the Bynd. "Karolcia is dead, we can wed—"

My mother's quick intake of breath was too loud in the marble hall. He fell silent. Seconds ticked by.


It was quiet, her response, and it took my father completely by surprise. Whether they liked her or despised her, the members of my mother's court were discreet. Word that my mother had refused marriage for my sake had not reached his ears.

"No?" He stared at her, at me. "No?"

"No." My mother smiled ruefully. "I will not give your son my throne, Barnett."

"I wouldn't want you to! Darnell is Karnelcia's child; he has already wed and will have Grehafen. We could have a child, could raise an heir for yours—"

"We have a child, Barnett." My mother's firm court voice returned. She gestured towards me with her fingers—a faint motion, barely noticeable. "And she is my scion."

King Barnett recovered quickly from this unexpected news. It is remarkably good fortune for a baseborn child, to be intentionally left a throne. From how he stared, I suspect he didn't know of my existence. "She could still be."

"I'm not marrying you, Barnett." My mother sounded tired.

He swallowed. "Yuoleen—"

"Answer me this, Barnett." She held up the orange-glowing Bynd in accusation all by itself. "If not for this, if not for the myth, would you even care to make an honest woman of me?"

The pause probably seemed longer than it was. I couldn't say if he were honestly considering that question or considering what answer my mother sought to hear. I do not know the man. "I would," he finally declared, firmly.

"You would?" my mother asked, quietly. "Or you would like to think you would?"

She pulled the Bynd back up into her palm, to hide its accusing light. "I can't give this to you, Barnett. You know that."

Silence, again. Then: "You know I need it."

"You think you need it," my mother corrected him. "It's a legend, Barnett. You humans' Crystal has been lost to time; leave our Crystal be."

"Lost to time? After two hundred years? Someone knows what happened to it."

"Someone, perhaps. Not us."

My father's eyes actually glimmered with tears. "I wish I could believe that." He stood, bowed respectfully, and headed down the dais, down the hall.

My mother stared at her hand that held the Bynd. "You'll be forcing this magic from me, then?"

"You leave me little choice, Yuoleen."

I stiffened and looked at my mother. She nodded, resigned. "It won't have quite the effect you intend," she warned, wearily.

He didn't know, I realized with more shock than fury. He didn't comprehend what the magic he was manipulating could and would [do].

My father ignored her warning. The stone door shut behind him, sealing my mother and I alone in the stone chamber that was as cool and silent as the royal tombs that my mother would occupy as soon as my father succeeded in his goal. I failed to not cry.

Diary Discovered by
Queen Evonalé Yunan
Queen of Grehafen and
Princess Consort of Salles
Prophesied Savior of Marsdenfel
and Illicit Daughter of Princess Endellion

Missing and denfelvish words were interpreted into mountaineer by the same.

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