Danilo was wise beyond his years. He had been one of the youngest in the history of his order to be ordained priest, in no small part due to his learnings during extensive travels across the civilized – and not so civilized – regions of Elessia. His former master, a diplomat, had traveled from the mighty Tower, the northernmost fortress in the known world, to the tropical forests in the lost isles of the south, where warriors with skin dark as midnight worshipped colossal trees.
But his master had not, in truth, been a diplomat. His sacred mission was to hunt the supernatural, monsters left behind from a bygone age where magic had ruled the world, magic which had since vanished, ages ago.
As magic dried up from the world, echoes remained – and thanks to the tutelage of his master, Danilo was one of the few people in the world who knew anything about such echoes, beyond whatever fireside tales were passed among the common-folk to scare their children.
When their travels led master and apprentice to the Holy Kingdom of Lohander, Danilo took great interest in the pantheon of the Sun-God and studied it thoroughly, especially where it intertwined with the kingdom’s imperial family. The women born to the family were fated to be priestesses, and each generation, one of them had the doom of being especially blessed by the Sun-God: she would perform a miracle. This miracle would mark her as the next empress, the one bearing the responsibility of selecting the next emperor, by way of marriage.
This, said the men of Lohan, was proof that their god was the One True God. For who could argue against the existence of such a being, when by his grace, a miracle was performed every generation?
But as far as Danilo was concerned, the implications were far more significant than proof of divinity. To him, such tales proved the existence of magic. The beasts his master hunted were but remnants of a bygone age; such miracles, were he to be able to confirm them, would allow him to stand on firm ground and say that magic was still lurking about the land, not wholly depleted. If a chosen child of the imperial bloodline could wield such powers, then what to say of many other, improbable tales?
One such tale, whispered by all in Lohan – but never within earshot of foreigners – was one concerning the Roses.
The Roses. There were always three of them. Three women, raised in monasteries near each of the Holy Kingdom’s borders – North, West, and South. Trained with utmost discipline until such a time when they were called to succeed their predecessors, taking the mantle of Holy Rose of the North, West or South. Three holy champions of the Sun-God, blessed with his power, the power to merge dream and reality, to open a small window into that which might have been, to transpose a portion of it into that which is.
The people of Lohan, as has been told, were not amenable to discussing such matters with foreigners, and soon, other issues took hold of young Danilo’s attention.
His interest in the legend of the Roses faded, the story archived and forgotten in a dusty corner of the repository of wisdom that he was steadily crafting inside his mind.
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