Therein it is related that in the alignment of the planets, occurring only once in the span of a millennia, there shall be a holy union of two. The male, in the first quarter of his life, shall be of flaxen hair and rigorous of body and mind; the female, having celebrated no more than twenty years, small and dark, of pure heart and blood.
Signaling their meeting, a flash, whereupon day will turn to night and then return swiftly.
Upon the binding of the chosen two, a thousand years of blessed light follow and come upon this world on that night, the eve of the fifteenth month. If conditions be not met, damnation will fall upon the land until the planets align once again.
Michael Corinthos lowered the parchment, setting it on the surface of the long mahogany table. He was neither a tall man nor muscular one. But he was formidable and those who knew better did not cross him.
He was of average stature and dressed in simple suits, far below a man of his station. His eyes were dark mocha and forbidding, his hair of darker shade. His moods were like quicksilver-one moment he was laughing and the very next, his gaze had turned lethal.
No, being on the wrong side of Michael Corinthos was a very bad place to be. He was more than the bastard half-brother of Mirielle, queen of the realm. He was the Supreme Head of the High Council of the Realm of Rhigwyn and therefore his word was law and his wish was rule. Even the King and Queen were under his authority.
And such as it was, the remaining twelve members of the High Council answered to him. They sat before him now, six on each side. Women and men, the most noble of blood. Wife and husband, cousin and brother.
Each with their own story, their own family…and their own agenda.
“This is the text of the legend in its entirety,” Michael announced, his voice echoing in the cavernous room. He took his seat and sat back. “We have left this action for far too late in the process of the dawning. It is my fault as much as it is anyone’s so we must proceed with great haste.”
“It is no one’s fault,” Caroline Benson corrected quickly. She adjusted herself in the uncomfortable wooden seat. Caroline was both the youngest woman and the youngest member of the council in history. She had not expected to be called up so soon in her life but Edward Quartermaine’s death last winter had come suddenly and she was needed to fill his spot.
She was petite in stature with long golden hair that she kept securely tied back. Her eyes were the color of honey that had sat just a little too long, her skin clear and unblemished. She was a striking young woman with a mind like a steel trap. She was one of the most invaluable members of the council and had quickly proven her worth.
“All of Rhigwyn was thrown into mourning,” Caroline continued. “No one expected the deaths of Malcolm and Felicia Scorpio to hit so hard but such as it is, all plans for the dawning were left to the last moment.”
“How is dear Robin faring?” Alexis Davis injected looking towards the end of the table where Robin Scorpio’s guardian Barbara Jones was seated. The voluptuous redhead was the widow of Anthony Jones, a former council member himself. She and her husband had been distantly related to the niece of Rhigwyn’s most talented warrior, Malcolm Scorpio, who had been killed along with his wife in a recent attack of their northern borders.
Barbara sighed. “She’s lonesome and misses them a great deal but the visit of her parents from Derwyn last week helped a great deal. In addition, she’s been planning her nuptials to Jason Morgan and that has done her well.”
Michael cleared his throat. “Speaking of Robin and Jason, that brings me back to the original agenda for this meeting. We must decide on the chosen and begin the arrangements for their wedding seven days from now.”
Barbara’s eyes brightened and she leaned forward. She had not thought of her ward’s relation to the legend before. “Of course. Robin is eighteen years of age, tiny in stature, dark-haired and noble blood. It must be she that the legend is referring to!”
“We should not be so quick to decide that.” The quick response of Jasper Jacks had Barbara scowling. The aristocratic blonde leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. “There must be more than just one woman that fits the description.”
“There is Princess Emily,” the diminutive redhead seated on Jasper’s right interjected. Skye Chandler examined her perfectly polished nails and sighed. “But I suppose with her marriage to the prince, it does not matter.”
“It is true that Emily fits it as well-but she is too young, only sixteen. The chosen woman has always been between eighteen and twenty,” Alan Quartermaine reminded them. “As much as I adore my daughter, I do not think she is the chosen girl.”
Alexis nodded. “And while we are speaking of princesses…Elizabeth is a ripe candidate. She is very tiny-nearly as elfin as Robin. She is dark-haired, nineteen years of age. Her blood is more noble than most and she is a very good soul. I cannot think of a girl it fits more perfectly.”
Barbara’s eyes narrowed into slits and she leaned past the four people who seat between herself and Alexis. “Are you saying that my Robin is not a good soul?”
“No one is saying differently but Elizabeth’s blood is far more pure,” Caroline said haughtily. She and the redhead did not get along and Caroline always held herself superior. She’d gotten her position because of right of birth while Barbara had gotten it by luck of the draw. When Tony had passed away two years ago, Caroline was next in line for the council seat but far too young at the time-only twenty-two. Barbara had lobbied for the seat and it had been granted to her.
“Robin is the daughter of Robert and Anna Scorpio. Anna is descended from the queens of Derwyn. How can you say one princess’s blood is more pure than the other?” Barbara challenged.
“Simply because Elizabeth still has the right to be called princess,” Caroline replied with a smirk. “And Robin is just a noble girl.”
“Are you quite finished?” Michael asked, his voice deceptively calm. “Because if you would like to sit here and further debate who is nobler than the other, we can. As long as you do not mind a thousand years of catastrophe.”
His words served their purpose as the sparring members fell silent. Alexis cleared her throat. “It is quite clear that both Lady Robin Scorpio and Princess Elizabeth are candidates for the chosen female. But what of the male?”
“Well I should think that was relatively simple,” a new voice declared. Laura Spencer laced her fingers together and rested them on the smooth surface of the council table. “My son Lucas is blonde and strong. He is good and kind and twenty-three years old. Can you think of someone more fitting than he?”
“Yes,” Caroline said with the utmost sincerity. “Jason Morgan.”
AJ Quartermaine, the son and heir of Alan, snorted. “Not likely,” he remarked scathingly. “Jason Morgan is not nobility. He is a mere peasant.”
“His family served as captains of the guard for far longer than the Spencers,” Caroline shot back. “He is distantly related to both Michael and Alexis. He may live the life of a peasant but his blood is just as noble and pure as your own.”
“Might we ask the opinion of someone who is not in love with him?” AJ asked coolly. He said it to gain a rise from the younger woman but she just glared at him, her dark eyes covered with a thin layer of ice.
She would not give him the satisfaction, only turned her attention to Alexis. “Well, Alexis, what do you say?”
Alexis nodded. “Jason fits the description just as well as Lucas Spencer. He is descended from the first of the king’s captains and if not for the falling out between his great-grandfather and the king, he might find himself captain of the king’s guard and betrothed to Elizabeth.”
Laura scoffed. “It does not matter what may have been, only what is. My son is the captain and my son will become a prince upon his marriage to the princess.”
Michael shook his head. “Unfortunately, that can not take place any longer.”
Laura looked at him sharply and clenched her fists. “What is this? I had not heard the betrothal was to be broken.”
Skye nodded. “Well, of course it has to be. If I know Michael, I know that he came to this meeting with the names of the chosen already in his mind and the course of action we must take. If Robin, Elizabeth, Jason and Lucas are the only candidates, it stands to reason that the pairing cannot be Elizabeth and Lucas or Jason and Robin.” She flicked her emerald eyes to the silent man at the head of the table. “Am I correct?”
“As always, Skye,” Michael remarked. “The day has never turned to night when either of them has met. I’m sorry, Laura, Luke…and Barbara. But both betrothals must be broken. I will speak to Mirielle myself about it.”
“What is the course of action we must take?” Ned Ashton asked, speaking for the first time that meeting. As a rule, the cousin of Alan Quartermaine stayed wisely silent, speaking only when necessary and all of his words were carefully measured before being spoken.
“I will send Alexis to the Morgan Estate,” Michael remarked. “She will tell Jason and his family of the broken betrothal and bring him to the castle post-haste. We will arrange a meeting between himself and the princess. If the reaction does not happen, we will bring Robin to meet Lucas. It is imperative that it does not happen at the same time as we will be unable to decipher who is who then.”
Alexis nodded. “That seems to be the most expedient measure.” She glanced at Michael. “I will go as soon as you dismiss the council.”
“Then, I will not keep you. This meeting is done. I must speak with Mirielle.” Michael stood and strode out of the room without waiting for any more words from the rest of the council.
Seven days remained until the Aurora Dawning.