DIVA: Royals #3

deucexm deucexm at gmail.com
Thu May 4 00:43:22 PDT 2017

This one has been a /long/ time coming.  Personal issues.  Anyway, got some of 
the roadblocks worked out, so I'll see if I can step up my production game a bit 
- but more importantly, new chapter of...!

Royals: A DiVerse Alpha Chronicle
by Colin Stokes


Jack couldn't be sure he was falling any longer, once his stomach got used to the
sensation of weightlessness and the absolute lack of any visual reference.

The white void made him uneasy, somehow - not physically ill (not after the first
few moments, anyway), but rather worried beyond his usual state of concern.  There
was something going on here that he couldn't perceive with any of his senses; Jack
knew that much with unshakeable certainty.

Looking over at his sister, he could tell Vanessa felt much the same, so he reached
out and took her hand.  It was warm and real, and the contact made her smile; and
so with his own anxiety settled a little, Jack looked upon their benefactor.

Miranda had at some point traded her white robe for a dazzling iridescent bodysuit 
sheathing her from the neck down, leaving only her fingers bare.  Like her golden
hair and the orb she still held, it shone with a light of its own - though it was
difficult to tell in the void.  Her brow was furrowed slightly, Jack noted.

"This may be a little more difficult than I thought," the Lady Desire murmured,
half to herself.  "Oh!  Don't worry, children, I'll still grant you your hearts'
desire!" she added cheerfully, seeing their expressions.  "Just give me a moment to
get a little assistance..."

Jack watched intently as Miranda drew a golden pentagon in the air, which hummed
softly before filling with golden mist.  She waved to the Prince and Princess,
crossed her arms, and floated into the mist, vanishing from sight without a sound -
and then the pentagon shrank to a tiny golden dot and disappeared.

"Guess we're alone now?" Vanessa ventured after a moment.

"It /seems/ that way," Jack returned.  "All we can do is wait for her to get back."

More moments passed, and then the Princess spoke again.  "I've never seen magic
like that, or even /heard/ of a place like this - I wonder if Mom could tell us
about it."

"What's she going to think about what we're doing, though?" Jack mused worriedly. 
"If she knew, do you think she would tell us not to go through with it?"

"Having second thoughts, dear brother?" The question was asked jokingly enough, but
Jack could hear the concern beneath her words.  The Princess was not and had never
been particularly good at subtlety.

He shook his head.  "It's not like that, it's just... I'm not sure what I expected,
but it certainly wasn't this.  This feels bigger, more..."  The Prince gestured
vaguely, casting about for the right words.  "... more intricate and - /connected/.
 I thought giving up my power would be simple, but that was obviously wrong."

"I know!" Vanessa returned brightly.  "The Stardust Throne is so cool, isn't it?  I
bet there's all sorts of things about it we don't know.  Maybe even Mom doesn't!"

"The Throne holds secrets no mortal knows," a new voice intoned from behind them,
this one firm and purposeful to the point of sounding a little blunt.  "Though it
depends on your definition of 'mortal', I suppose.  You royals can be tricky."

Jack turned - it was like swimming, though he had no idea what he was pushing off
against - to see not only the Lady Desire, but another similarly-suited lady as
well - this one quite pale, with shorter jet-black hair and deep purple eyes that
fixed on him like a hawk.  It was a little disconcerting how she seemed to be
looking, not through him, but /into/ him.  "... 'Tricky'?"

The lady waved one hand dismissively.  "A figure of speech.  My name is Rosewood,
Goddess of Design, and Miranda has informed me of your situation."  She made a
curious gesture with that same hand, and flickering greenish light surrounded it
for a moment while she pulled a clockwork hammer out of the white nothingness. 
"The Throne is a delicate framework, so I must use an appropriately delicate touch.
 We may be here a little while."

Jack dubiously eyed the glowing red-orange fluid seeping from the hammer, watching
as it dribbled into the void and vanished after a few feet.  "Is there anything we
need to do?"

Rosewood gripped the hammer's haft in both hands, and swung it backwards, holding
it in position with a quiet breath.  "Let me know immediately if you feel anything
out of the ordinary," she replied, a little tensely.  "Like a sharp spike of pain,
or a sense that the whole of existence is crumbling around you."

Vanessa paled just slightly, and Jack felt her grip tighten a little.  "Is that-"

And that was all the Prince got out before the Goddess of Design swung her hammer
with tremendous force, and the all-encompassing white void soundlessly spiderwebbed
in front of her with thick black cracks that fuzzed unnervingly at the edges.  She
swung back, then forward once again; the cracks widened, still silently, and now
broad enough now to expose a dark gray staticky pulsation underneath.

"What /is/ that?" Vanessa murmured, her eyes wide, just as intrigued and unsettled
by the sight as her brother.  "What is /any/ of this, really?"

"The Throne itself, in a sense," Miranda returned comfortingly from behind them,
resting one hand on each child's shoulder.  "There are places where ideas - mental
structures, frameworks, whatever you like to call them - exist in a visible and,
well, let's just call it 'physical' state.  Here, they can also be, um..."

"Edited," Rosewood finished the thought, turning and pointing the hammer at the
royals.  A greenish glow enveloped it for a moment, then the head detached with a
series of mechanical clicks and split into four parts, each one a plain metal rod. 
Two stayed next to her, and the other two shot toward Jack and Vanessa faster than
they could possibly react - and simply pressed to their foreheads with a delicate
tap, rather than the knockout blow that should have resulted.

Jack simply made a little sound of surprise at the ice-cold metal pressed to his
forehead, and felt Vanessa's grip tighten again, then relax.  She was trying to
play it cool, but he could see the slight tension around her mouth.

"Now then, Worldbreaker," Rosewood declared, the remaining two rods next to her
sparking and crackling with green lightning, "we shall do this /properly/.  Neither
the Stardust Throne nor the Helix Gears Eternal shall suffer a single scratch from
the alterations we are about to make.  Is this not so?"

"BY YOUR DESIGN," the hammer handle in her hand sang - a synthetic, machine-like
series of tones, but melodious nonetheless - "IT SHALL BE SO."

Miranda beamed.  "Oh, Rosewood!  You are /radiant/ today."

The pale goddess's cheeks actually flushed the tiniest bit.  "D-don't distract me
from this, please.  Also thank you."  She cleared her throat quietly, and turned
her attention to the Prince and Princess.  "Now, this next part may be a little...
disconcerting.  Try not to scream, if you can help it."

"Um-" Vanessa began nervously, and then froze with her eyes wide.  Green lightning
lanced out of the rods near Rosewood, connecting to the ones pressed to her and her
brother's foreheads with a startling *BANG*, the metal's frigid touch turning to a
dull, throbbing heat in an instant.

Silence reigned for several long moments.  "W-well," Jack mused eventually, "that
wasn't so bad, right?"

Vanessa opened her mouth to say something snarky, but right then Rosewood submerged
her two rods completely into the pulsating vein of static.

'Disconcerting' didn't even /begin/ to cover it.

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