Once upon a time there lived the beau­ti­ful princess Medo­ra, in a king­dom far, far away. Her moth­er had died when she was born, and her father, the good king Eldric, raised her. When she was six­teen, the sor­cer­er Talisker came to their lands, and he took the princess to his keep, to make her his eter­nal bride, his beau­ti­ful swan maid­en. The young princess would eas­i­ly have suc­cumbed to his evil charms even­tu­al­ly, had not King Eldric announced through­out the lands that the one who could res­cue the fair princess from the evil sor­cer­er would be giv­en her hand in mar­riage, and half the king­dom.

The valiant prince Targenor heard the king’s announce­ment, and he stormed to the keep of the evil sor­cer­er, fight­ing against all the mon­sters that pro­tect­ed it, to the cen­tral cham­ber where the beau­ti­ful princess was kept a pris­on­er, but there he met his match, the sor­cer­er who was as skilled in sword­play as he was mag­ic. The valiant prince Targenor died of his wounds, and the sor­cer­er laughed, telling Medo­ra that she would suc­cumb to him, or she would per­ish.

She refused him, again and again, but no mor­tal woman could resist the charms of the sor­cer­er Talisker, and final­ly she begged him to take her and make her his.”

Or, well. That is how the Lumi­nary Rak­sha Talisker planned things. None of the involved know how long it took, but he found mor­tals to make into his pup­pets to play out the fairy tale, find­ing a beau­ti­ful girl, who’s name is no longer one that is remem­bered, for the role of Medo­ra.

Up until the valiant prince Targenor came to the keep of the evil sor­cer­er every­thing went as it was sup­posed to. Medo­ra was very beau­ti­ful, and Talisker con­grat­u­lat­ed him­self, watch­ing his bound bride hang­ing on the wall. The prince, too, fought valiant­ly, but of course in vain. How could even a god­blood com­pete with a rak­sha? He, then, approached Medo­ra, giv­ing her the choice of becom­ing his, or per­ish. The fair, gen­tle maid­en chose to turn her­self into a beau­ti­ful swan rather than suc­cumb to his advances, for­ev­er to grieve the loss… no, wait. That’s not quite how it hap­pened.

Medo­ra” doesn’t remem­ber her own name. She has vague mem­o­ries of hav­ing learned how to fight, and of a beard­ed per­son who she believes is her father, but mor­tals do have lit­tle to set against one of the cru­el fair folk. For her, the rev­o­lu­tion start­ed ear­li­er than Talisker realised. It start­ed see­ing the chil­dren that were abused and used as a mix of pets and walk­ing food sources. It start­ed see­ing the ser­vants who no longer had sem­blance of ratio­nal thought. It start­ed see­ing the guild mer­chants sell­ing more slaves to be used in Talisker’s sto­ry. And it fin­ished see­ing the attrac­tive Targenor struck down for noth­ing more than the amuse­ment of the rak­sha.

Talisker approached her, and he told her that either she would become his, or she would per­ish. She snarled and tore the chains off the wall, as if it had been noth­ing more than spi­der­web, using the fair folk’s sto­ry against him as she grew into the shape of a beast­man swan, strik­ing him hard, using the chains she’d torn out of the wall to beat him and his entourage up. The poor hob­gob­lins were no match to the furi­ous full moon, and even the Lumi­nary had to flee. He threw his cloak around him­self, stunt­ing his escape, leav­ing her with the words: “I will return, my love, once you have calmed down. I am sure we can work things out!”

Grum­bling over the rak­sha, Medo­ra then moved to check on Targenor, who was alive, but uncon­scious. She was still bound by the chains, and try­ing to tear them apart didn’t do much, so she had no oth­er choice than to lift up Targenor into her arms and car­ry­ing him out, bring­ing the var­i­ous chil­dren and ser­vants who were still alive enough to be saved out of the keep. Those who were not she gave what help she could. Her “father” was over­joyed to see his daugh­ter safe and sound, and it was a rag-tag band of 20 who fol­lowed the new­ly exalt­ed Lunar out of the free­hold, the few rak­sha left flee­ing from the fury of the enraged Swan Maid­en.

As night fell, they camped under­neath the full moon. Medo­ra had man­aged to slip out of her bonds by shift­ing into a swan, but she could feel pieces of her­self get­ting lost with every shift. She could not sleep at all, the moon call­ing her out. She let her gaze flick­er over the area, when her gaze fell on a huntress whose fea­tures glit­tered in sil­ver. As the eyes of the Swan Maid­en and the Bloody Huntress met, the god­dess raised her bow in greet­ing towards her newest child, before she turned into a sil­ver beam.

They con­tin­ued through the wyld. After they had got­ten into the bor­der­march­es, they saw a heart-wrench­ing sight. It was a car­a­van of guilders, trav­el­ling through the wyld, most like­ly head­ing for the free­hold they’d just left, or pos­si­bly anoth­er free­hold. They saw the slaves, and then the Swan Maid­en saw red. The for­mer slaves weren’t fight­ers, and the caravan’s guards were pow­er­ful. She would’ve lost all of them, had not a group of four Lunars joined into the fray, help­ing her and the freed slaves to fight back. As the Swan Maid­en met the eye of the mer­chant, she sud­den­ly went cold. A flash­back to him and her. She saw what he’d done to her before turn­ing her over to the Rak­sha, and she lunged. When she saw clear­ly again, he was blud­geoned to death, the slight repaid in blood. As it may be, it as like­ly that the vic­tim of her attack was a broth­er, son, grand­son or relat­ed even far­ther away, as the Swan Maid­en may have been a pris­on­er for as few as a two or three years, or as much as up to hun­dred, maybe even more.

Targenor was one of the few who hadn’t been brain­washed into join­ing the sto­ry, but was a god-blood, an off­shoot of… Well, nei­ther he nor his moth­er ever knew. He had been fool­ish enough to want to play the hero when he heard about the threats of the sor­cer­er against the peace­ful king­dom, and hadn’t realised how much in over his head he was until he came to the king­dom and realised how staged it was. At that time, how­ev­er, he felt that he had to do some­thing. He couldn’t just sit back and let the Rak­sha do its’ thing, so he con­tin­ued to play the role that had been sug­gest­ed to him, hop­ing against the odds he could find a way to save them. At first, he’d been slight­ly bit­ter that he had been such a com­plete fail­ure that the princess had to save him, but in the end he came around, and they both enjoyed each other’s com­pa­ny as they trav­elled.

The pack that had been sent to retrieve her con­sist­ed of two full moons, a no moon, and a teas­ing chang­ing moon, all of which she got along fair­ly well with. The last bit of the way, she had to leave the slaves and Targenor, but promised she would return to them. He, in turn, promised that he’d look after them. Eldric wasn’t her father, they both knew that, but they still felt like fam­i­ly, so she hugged him close­ly before leav­ing, promis­ing him, too, that she would return. They were all the fam­i­ly most of them had, after all.

The no moon, Wind Beneath Wings, was a crane totem, not that much of an elder, but old enough. He gave the Swan Maid­en an appre­cia­tive look as she came in with the pack, and of course she was still stun­ning. Through the trip from the free­hold, she had not had a chance to replace her out­fit, and gos­samer was very stur­dy, leav­ing her in the incred­i­bly beau­ti­ful white gown that Talisker had put her in, matched with a cloak. Say what you want about Rak­sha, but they know how to make things last. Wind Beneath Wings glanced over at the full moon who’d led the pack, thank­ing them for hav­ing got­ten her to him safe­ly, not­ing that the pact appeared to have got­ten a new chang­ing moon. This would have gone over quite smooth­ly, had not the chang­ing moon of the res­cue pack decid­ed to be a tease, lean­ing in to mur­mur to the Swan Maid­en that the no moon had sug­gest­ed that she couldn’t fight. That she was just a pret­ty face. And then the chang­ing moon sat back to watch the ensu­ing chaos. After all, it had been quite fun­ny (per his pack­mates) watch­ing her go after him for the same mis­take.

The Swan Maid­en, of course, was no match to the No Moon. Full Moon or not, she did not have the expe­ri­ence need­ed to beat him up, though he not­ed that she had a very good arm on her. He knocked her out, and when she woke up they talked instead, and came to an agree­ment. He agreed that he’d been a bit pre­ma­ture with set­ting her caste and would go into the tri­als with an open mind, she agreed that attack­ing anoth­er mem­ber of the pact, espe­cial­ly the elder try­ing to keep you out of becom­ing a chimera, was not wise.

The rest of the tri­als were fair­ly stan­dard. One of them was to pick ani­mals to ful­fill cer­tain roles, and as she was in the north she picked a wolf to hunt with, a raven to sneak with and also to be able to pass through cities unseen, and a hare for when she need­ed to trav­el in high speeds along the ground. With her mas­sive Beast-form she could fight, and with her Spir­it Shape she could fly. Anoth­er was to find a par­tic­u­lar Rak­sha and take from him the sword he car­ried, which she did by lur­ing him into a false sense of safe­ty with her grace and beau­ty, before she attacked. A third was strange to her: to retrieve an urn of a pool of sil­ver in the wyld. Moon­sil­ver, she was told, once she came back.

Every night he would talk to her while work­ing on the painful tat­toos, find­ing out more about her, incor­po­rat­ing who she was — or what she remem­bered — into her tat­toos. Final­ly he fin­ished them but for two things: What name she should use as her deed-name, and what would she be the stew­ard of? She chose the name of Shim­mer-Iced Mirage, evok­ing the sil­ver tat­toos and the view of Luna, almost unre­al, and the stew­ard­ship was obvi­ous: The Wyld.

Then came a time of tute­lage. She trav­elled with the pack that had res­cued her, com­ing to know them very well. The leader was a bull totem called Steady Charge, his next-in-com­mand was the raiton no moon Sails on Obsid­i­an Skies. The omega of the pack, if such a thing, was the coy­ote chang­ing moon Teas­ing Laugh­ter, and the final mem­ber of the pack was the eagle Bril­liant Flight. They were all of the Swords of Luna, which seemed fit­ting. Teas­ing Laugh­ter and Grace became on-again, off-again lovers, and always rivals. At the end of her tute­lage, hav­ing been with them lit­tle over a year, Wind Beneath Wings sent a mes­sage for them. He explained that it was now time she went out on her own. As a part­ing present he gave her a beau­ti­ful moon­sil­ver chain daik­laive, which told the sto­ry of a Swan Princess who freed her­self from the shack­les of the fair folk, who fought her way into pos­ses­sion of the Sword of an Anarch, the shack­les and Sword hav­ing been both used to cre­ate it. She smiled, a beau­ti­ful smile on beau­ti­ful fea­tures, and when asked what she would name it, the answer was sim­ple. “This is my fairy tale.”

The small vil­lage had blos­somed, once she returned to it. Some of the peo­ple had made new lives for them­selves, start­ing to trade with their neigh­bours, but a few were rest­less. She stayed for three months, and they crowned her ruler of their vil­lage. When she left, it was with Targenor by her side, as well as twen­ty of the more adven­tur­ous for­mer slaves. Eldric stayed back, rul­ing in her stead, all of them hav­ing sworn loy­al­ty to Medo­ra, their Swan Maid­en, Grace­ful Ret­ri­bu­tion…

Togeth­er they trav­elled through the coun­try­side, scav­eng­ing what they could, han­ker­ing on. Mirage would hunt and they’d sell the pelts, and some­times they were guards to car­a­vans, but nev­er the guild, and nev­er slave car­a­vans. One day she was out swim­ming in a riv­er when she felt the pull of essence. She swum down, find­ing a manse at the bot­tom of the riv­er, a small pago­da among the sea­weed, filled with rag­ing water swirling. It was not easy to attune to it, but she pulled it off in the end, being just slight­ly singed. The hearth­stone she set in her Chain Daik­laive, before mov­ing on.

They set­tled in two areas: Inside White­wall to have a safe haven, if nec­es­sary, and a small camp clos­er to the moun­tains, so that they would be ready, should the fair ones threat­en the city or vil­lages near­by.