Once upon a time, in the city of Everbright where our story begins, there lived a king and queen who were much beloved by their people. Under their generous reign the kingdom prospered, poverty was limited, crime rates were low and the people smiled. Everbright was given two more reasons to rejoice as the years went on--the birth of Prince Laire, and a few years later, the Princess Lyren. Everbright was the poster country of peace and progress for the rest of the world and remained that way for many years, and countless countries attempted to follow along in it's shadow. But of course, with all goodness in the world there must also be an evil. On the day of the annual Peace Week, a celebration where every man and woman in the kingdom is free from work for seven days to spend time with their families and celebrate Everbright, a grown Prince Laire plotted his coup. He violently overthrew his beloved parents and sentenced them to die, along with his young sister come the morning after Peace Week's end. Yet hope remained. On the day she was doomed to die, the princess Lyren mysteriously disappeared from her dungeon cell. Upon great rewards and riches beyond imagination, King Laire decreed that any man who found her and returned her to her punishment would be fully pardoned and increased to the social status of high nobility. He ordered any who dared to search each corner of Everbright until the princess was discovered and brought to face her sentence. Our story begins as many do, with the fate of a kingdom hanging in the balance. Princess Lyren de Highlier, pink Wind whistled past her ears and through dark, dirty hair with each force of her legs, each forward push that threw her into a run. She had been escaping for hours without end, and no matter which direction she went the men of her brother's guard had never ceased to continue their chase. In the distance she heard the barking of ruthless hounds, the shouts of soldiers promised glorious rewards for the return of their princess to the capital city of Brighton. She would not let them have their gold of their glory so long as her muscles still had energy to keep life a hopeful risk. There was too much at stake to falter now. The fate of her father's kingdom hung by a thread, and it would end the second a noose tightened around her neck under the sights of gods and men. Dashing through a thrush of tall bushes, she gave a small curse as branches clung and tore at her skin, drawing blood that dripped down her arms and legs. There was no time to stop. I will not die today. "I see her!" a soldier shouted from much closer than she remembered them hailing. "There, up there!" Lyren was running out of options. In a desperate attempt to thwart those who grew closer to their goal by the second, she gave a sudden leap and grabbed on to a hanging branch of the nearest tree. Swinging her legs, she managed to grip her feet against the side of the trunk and make as quick an ascent as any princess was capable of. She had never climbed a tree in her life, never had the desire to, but in such a moment she was convinced that was a terrible mistake. As the soldiers emerged one by one from the bushes surrounding her temporary safety, Lyren had just barely climbed out of range from the hungry grasps of greedy, murderous men. "Go away!" she shouted helplessly, clinging to the trunk of the tree as if her life depended on it. Chances were, it did. "You don't have to do this, you can let me go and return to my traitor brother empty-handed. Perhaps that might save you from the damnation you're doomed to for this act of treachery, but I highly doubt it." "Princess Lyren," cooed the captain of the guard, a man she had spent most of her life growing to know, a man who had laid down his life for her father only to forsake every oath he took. "As spirited as ever, you are. I'm sorry. It's over. Come down and swear your fealty to your brother when we reach Brighton once more, and we can put this silly mess behind us." "Never." Lyren spat down at them. "Now now, that's no way for a princess to behave." The captain gave a heavy groan before waving a dismissive hand, and Lyren watched in helpless horror as the men under his command drew their arrows aimed at the trapped girl in a short tree. "You have two options. Come down from there, or we shoot you down." "You can't. You can't do that, the people would revolt if they haven't already, and if I pledged fealty you would be charged with attempted murder on the crowned princess of Everbright." "All true," he admitted with a dark chuckle, "but since you just stated that you would never pledge fealty, I've nothing to worry about." He waved his hand a second time. "Shoot her down, lads."