• In a kingdom known only by the tales of adventure and grandeur brought home by daring sailors, a long line of royalty ruled over the land. The only magically able people in the kingdom, each member of the family had a magical familiar which guided them through their lives and was their closest confidant.

    The current king and queen were the strongest in history, greater than Merlin himself. The queen, however, was unable to bear children. Unsure of what to do, the couple tried every method they could think of, but nothing seemed to work. They consulted doctors and specialists throughout the country for many years and, in their desperation, lost sight of their kingdom.

    With no one on the throne to keep the peace, crime flourished. Thieves inhabited every nook and cranny and murderers ran loose. The king and queen receded into the shadows in fear of what their kingdom had become, until one day......

    A servant burst into the king's chambers. "Your highness! The queen, she -- !"

    "What?! What is it?!" He ran to her room in a rush, still wrapped in only a thin robe.

    The queen lay on her bed, drenched in sweat and heaving great panting breaths. At her feet knelt a maidservant, preparing wet towels and a small pair of scissors.

    Suddenly, the queen broke out into gut-wrenching screams of pain and the maidservant rushed to her side and clenched her hand.

    "Calm down, milady. Please, just take deep breaths and push."

    She did as she was told, and after several hours of shouting and confusion, the queen lay asleep in her bed -- which was soaked in blood -- and the king held a beautiful little girl.

    "I never thought I'd see the day," he whispered to her. "My tiny miracle child, my wonderful baby."

    After the kingdom heard the news from their long-lost king, peace gradually returned. Danger still lurked around every bend, but it was nonetheless an improvement. The queen soon recovered from the delivery, and she and the king raised their daughter themselves. The child was a rambunctious one. She loved the outdoors and her smiling face would always be brightest in the garden. When she could walk, she often snuck out and wandered through the bushes; her parents scolded her gently when she returned.

    On her sixth birthday, her magical familiar -- a fire fairy, to match her warm and outgoing personality -- was born. She and her new friend went out into the garden and spent the entire day there, climbing the trees and looking out over the nearby city. Late in the evening, the fairy led her to the top of the tallest apple tree. As she stood teetering on the thin branch, she leaned out in awe at the brilliantly blinding sight of the setting sun, and --


    The mere twig she held onto broke off the tree, and she tumbled to the ground. She lay there, crumpled in all sorts of unnatural ways, cuts across her face, and fresh bruises appearing.

    A man who had been chasing a deer through the woods caught the scent of human blood and discovered a small child in a white dress, injured and unconscious. Doing the only thing he could think of to do, he took her home with him to treat her wounds.

    When a servant came outside looking for the princess for dinner, she was nowhere to be found. Maids and butlers and cooks came to search as well, and it wasn't until long into the night that someone came across the spot where she had fallen.

    In the moonlight, there seemed to be a mirage, reminiscent of the girl who had been there hours before -- but all that remained was her blood, shimmering in scattered puddles. Lying among the blood and fallen apple blossoms was a small crossbow. Intricately handmade and coldly beautiful, it was all that was left of the beloved princess, and the king and queen fell into despair.