Samson Quin and Gina-Lou Harrison were supposed to be tutor and student. But it seemed after quite the story swapping, they were realizing that they were both students teaching one another.
After finishing up a story about how Queen Luna Dawnstar had met the first Foxy ever to visit her world, Samson simply stopped.
"Why did you stop?" Gina asked him.
"I thought you would pick it up there?" Sam probed.
"No, Sam! You've been great! Lots of details. I'm actually learning a lot. Keep going!"
"Thanks, Gina. But before I continue, I need to give a bit of backstory about Arie and Cleo. It's very important to what happens next.
"Ooh, such suspense!" Gina chuckled.
Luna's children were for the most part pretty good at playing their roles and keeping a low profile. But this wasn't the case for two of them.
Arie, Luna's firstborn, had always been the willful one. But with the birth of Luna's 13th and final child, Soluna, Arie's behavior grew ever more disturbing.
Having the enviable privilege of being first in line for the throne afforded Arie with many things that perhaps were not quite deserved. She was told a great many things that should have been kept in far better confidence. This would be a grave oversight that would cost her mother her Crown all too soon.
But Arie was not interested in gaining the Crown. If anything, she wanted nothing to do with anything royal at all. All but one of her brothers and sisters were equally disinterested in ruling Felonia. This sole exception was of one of her younger siblings, Cleo.
Cleopatra Starr was perhaps the most obedient and humble Felona to have ever prowled the Pridelands. She practically worshiped her mother. Cleo echoed nearly her every move with childish mimicry that many onlookers adored. It wasn't hard to surmise that Arie was not a fan of this heroine-worshiper of a sister.
Unknown to Queen Luna, there was a great power lurking in the shadows. It was a power foreign to her world, one that had been banished from another place long ago by a force known as the Great Mother. It was the same Great Mother as the one the Felona worshiped in the night sky. This dark power was very interested in Arie's distinct character flaws and the exploitable and naive wide-eyed kitten that was Cleo.
This dark and clever force was weaving a terrible plot right under Luna's nose. But how would Felona curiosity not sniff it out? The dark being needed an ally, someone just as naive as Cleo. But it needed to be someone higher up on the food chain - someone trusted. That someone was Aletto Stiletta.
Even after thirty-five years, Aletto was still a child. Not only did she still look like a child, but her temperament and demeanor had barely changed a bit from her adolescent years. Her buddy Kissa was as ever the vigilant and bright Aspect of Hope. She took her job extremely seriously. Aletto was the Aspect of Justice. But, for whatever reason, Aletto didn't seem to take her job all that seriously. She still somehow did it rather well.
Queen Luna trusted her and Kissa more than anyone else. But whereas Kissa was wise, Aletto was prominently not.
This dark being knew it would just take a little meeting – now, it was figuring out just how to stage it.
Aletto was roaming the palace grounds one day when she was met by Arie. The lovely red-headed firstborn beauty had not graced the grounds with her presence for quite some time. Arie's long hair was resplendent with curls and her burning red eyes filled with a burning flame. For what that flame burned for exactly Aletto couldn't be sure, but she was happy to see "little" Arie in passing.
"Hi, Arie!" Aletto waved, not intending to stop to meet her, but Arie stepped across her path. Arie's expression was friendly. But even the carefree Aletto could tell Arie was plotting something devious. To what end Aletto could have had no idea.
"Hello, yourself," Arie said smoothly. She wasn't the most polite sort, but Aletto didn't mind her less than perfect manners.
"You look lovely today, hon!" Aletto said with a smile.
Arie mewed politely, "Thanks, Aletto. I was wondering if you had a minute." The way she said it was not intended as a request. Aletto was going to have a minute for her regardless if Aletto wanted to give it or not. Arie was tall, and although not at all bulky, big enough to block Aletto's way without effort.
Aletto didn't think to unsheathe Dawnbreaker. This was, after all, Luna's firstborn baby. No matter how rude and distasteful this little girl had become, Aletto preferred to stay as non-confrontational as possible.
Arie looked up to her right. It seemed someone was watching her. Perhaps, she was just paranoid. But paranoia and Arie were never in the same room together. Aletto didn't bother to move her eyes to look at what Arie apparently was glancing at.
"I have something for you," Arie said with a grin.
"Ooh, what's that?" Aletto wondered excitedly. She was often too easily amused and Arie was playing to that weakness all too well.
"A blind date," Arie smirked.
Arie showed her sharp top teeth as her grin grew more sly, "Not for me...silly," she said, clearly rethinking her word choice mid-stream."For you."
Aletto wasn't allowed to be romantic with anyone in her position. It's not that it mattered to her. Romance had never been a thing for her, anyway. She was slight, not at all that pretty, and very, very busy with her royal duties. She didn't have time for a relationship and no one had ever bothered making her feel bad about it, until now.
"That's thoughtful of you, Arie," Aletto sniffed, "But I really don't have the time. I'm sure he's a nice guy."
"Please, I insist," Arie said, her lips now forming a much softer smile, but her face was drawing ever closer to Aletto's. Aletto didn't respond until Arie's nose almost touched her own.
"I'm not sure. I'll have to clear it with your mum."
"The old molly?" Arie chuckled, "She's got Soluna in her crib to worry about, Gemini making a mess of the smithery, and Virgo... Okay, we won't get started with Virgo..."
"Your mother can handle her children," Aletto said flatly, immediately debating the truthfulness of her statement.
"Don't worry. You won't be missed tonight," Arie assured.
Aletto raised an eyebrow and reached for Dawnbreaker's hilt. "Why do you say that?"
"Cleo's happy to take your shift," Arie promised.
That sounded too good to be true. Cleo certainly could do guard duty, but she was still young. Even for a warrior princess, her battle skills were somewhat raw and refined, though not lacking in effort or overall power.
Luna was extremely powerful, but she had her fair share of enemies. Aletto knew from personal experience that there were more than even Luna herself probably knew about. As capable as she knew Cleo probably was, it still worried her that something strange was going on.
Aletto wanted to check with Luna. This didn't seem right. But instead, she sighed and conceded, "I'll take your word for it."
Arie's smile faded to a thin line. "So ten o'clock tonight?"
Aletto's eyes widened, "That's a bit on the late side, isn't it?"
Arie looked at her with a mocking grin, "Past your bedtime, Stiletto?"
Aletto had always hated that nickname. It had been cute when Arie was little, mixing up Aletto and Stiletta. Now, it was not so much. "Please don't call me that, Arie," she insisted.
"Why not, Stiletto?" Arie asked.
"I'll be there," challenged Aletto. "With sword in hand."
"I'm sure Koja will be thrilled," Arie said with a big smile and trotted off. Aletto had a right mind to follow her. But instead, she went off to prepare for this impromptu blind date.
To say the least, her date was NOT what she'd expected. Koja was an unusual name for a Felona. As it turned out, her date was anything but a tomcat...
Koja was built somewhat similar to a Felona. He was covered from head to toe in a dark, dark cloak. If he had a tail or tails, they were hidden from view. All you could see were two snow-white paws and a long white snout tipped with a big, cold black nose.
To Aletto, it was an abomination. You couldn't even see the creature's eyes. Yet, somehow, he was not blind...
"Hey, there, hot stuff," Koja said, his lips forming a very unnerving grin. She obviously couldn't fully read his expression. Still, it wasn't hard to fathom that he was quite attracted to what he saw.
"Umm, check, please?" Aletto asked, ready to vomit.
"Please excuse my rather off-color introduction," Koja admitted as he bowed, "I am Koja, Dark Mage, Esteemed Apprentice of the Dark Mistress Shadoura of Miranda Prime."
"Miranda Prime?" Aletto wondered. She'd heard tales of a far-off world called Miranda Prime. It was filled with strange and unusual creatures that they could hardly imagine. "What's with the cloak?"
"Better off my true appearance remains a mystery for now. I may at first appear hideous to your untrained eyes. But I assure you, my kitten, you will see my true face soon enough."
"I'm not sure I want to..." Aletto grumpily admitted, drawing Dawnbreaker from its sheath.
"Aw! What sweet light!" Koja said as Dawnbreaker began to glow bright white as it was unsheathed. "And my, what a pure, uncorrupted heart you have!"
"Are you some type of were-wolf?" Aletto asked. "Because if you are..."
He is no such thing, said a voice from the shadows. The voice was soft, sweet, and feminine, motherly and soothing.
"Who's there!?" demanded Aletto, now poised to attack.
Koja shook his snout. "There, there, kitten. Everything is just fine."
Aletto, Aletto, do not fret. For you do not yet know why I have summoned you yet!
"Who's rhyming?” Aletto asked, “It's kind of creepy."
Then the speaker emerged from the shadows, herself a shadow. She had the same snout as Koja, her long black bangs covering her eyes. Her body was much like a Felona's, but she had two tails instead of one. Both her chest and hindquarters were voluptuous. Instead of large wide ears on either side of her head, she had two floppy ears which sat atop her head, poking out of the shadow woman's long jet black mane.
"It is well past time we met, sweet molly."
"My name is Aletto," the wielder of Dawnbreaker announced, "But I guess you already knew that."
"The Aspect of Justice for Queen Dawnstar," the shadow woman chuckled, "Aletto Stiletta, the Destined Light Wielder of Dawnbreaker."
"You know of me?"
"Quite well. We have a useful little bird in our service." the shadow woman admitted.
Aletto looked her body up and down. She almost felt jealous at its generously plump, but pleasing curves. Her long black hair looked softer than the softest woolens.
With a silvery-grey paw, the shadow lady pushed back a section of her bangs, revealing a bright burning orange eye. In it, there was only affection. Whoever she was, she really liked Aletto, and really wanted to do something with her.
"You're Luna's executioner," Koja said, still grinning.
"I'm her Aspect of Justice! I do what needs to be done to protect the Crown!" Aletto said proudly.
"And your friend, Kissa, is the Aspect of Hope?"
"Of course! She's our morale occifer!"
"More like propaganda," the shadow woman began, before realizing Aletto's odd misspeaking. "Did you say occifer?"
"Don't you mean, officer?" Koja wondered.
"That's what I said! Occifer!" Aletto frowned.
Koja held out a paw, "And now, you're ours."
"Huh?" Aletto's frown grew. A strange aura started to glisten around Koja's paw.
"My name is Shadoura," the shadow woman said, "And this is Koja, my apprentice."
"That's a pretty name, Shadoura," said Aletto, starting to feel entranced for some reason.
"For someone as excitable as you, you are not very strong-minded. But your will-power could prove quite valuable."
"Wh-what?" Aletto felt increasingly dizzy.
"I don't see why Arie calls you Stiletto," Shadoura said disapprovingly. "You're not very sharp, although your skills with the blade may prove to be."
"Uh..." Aletto couldn't find words to speak. Koja's apparent spell was taking away any of her faculties. Aletto had never realized just how weak she really was.
Suddenly, memories flashed before her eyes, memories that had been very much suppressed. They were the key to the spell apparently. Anger filled her heart until it felt as if it had turned to stone. These memories, they were definitely hers, but when could they have happened?
When had Queen Luna become a tyrant?
And now she understood...