A/N: Alright! Here's the first chapter. It's not very long. But, honestly, how many chapter do I write that actually are long? Anyway, here's the deal. It's IMPORTANT TO READ THE FOLLOWING. To upgrade your stats in this story, you must leave a review. This is how the stat upgrades will work:

The first person to review a chapter will be able to add 6 points to their stats.

The second person to review a chapter will be able to add 4 points to their stats.

After that, anyone who reviews a chapter (with the following criteria) will be able to give 3 points to any stats desired.

An acceptable review includes that you explain what you did and did not like about the chapter. Also, if your character is in the chapter, please, tell me if I have written him/her correctly. Also, make sure to include suggestions for anything you did not like. I want to hear at least one form of constructive criticism, please. Also, all reviews must be 5 sentences minimum. If you do not fulfill these requirements, you will NOT receive the stats.

MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE the stats that you want upgraded for your character in the review. Submit the stats in the order from the upgrades you want most to the ones you want least (just in case you review thinking you were first to review and someone else beats you to it). Example:

1. Add 2 toMight

2. Add 1 to Guard

3. Add 3 to Potency

This way (according to the example above), I will know that you want to upgrade your Might the most and then your Guard.

Here is the list of characters. And like every good story that has stats, we must have their rankings included. Also, their disciplinary strengths are included.

?: (Ethereal 45, Biomantic 20, Dark 20, Water 20)

Might – 13 (1st Place)

Guard – 7 (4th Place)

Dexterity – 8 (6th Place)

Coordination – 10 (4th Place)

Fortitude – 8 (4th Place)

Potency – 17 (2nd Place)

Resistance – 7 (4th Place)

Fiona ri'Vazni: (Wind 60, Fire 20, Light 10, Life 10)

Might – 8 (4th Place)

Guard – 8 (1st Place)

Dexterity – 10 (4th Place)

Coordination – 7 (6th Place)

Fortitude – 9 (2nd Place)

Potency – 20 (1st Place)

Resistance – 10 (2nd Place)

Elias Tamar III: (Life 50, Earth 30, Biomantic 20)

Might – 9 (3rd Place)

Guard – 8 (1st Place)

Dexterity – 10 (4th Place)

Coordination – 10 (4th Place)

Fortitude – 9 (2nd Place)

Potency – 16 (3rd Place)

Resistance – 10 (2nd Place)

Audrasteia-Fayte Raveena: (Light 45, Chronos 20, Illusionary 30, Alteration 5)

Might – 12 (2nd Place)

Guard – 5 (5th Place)

Dexterity – 17 (1st Place)

Coordination – 17 (1st Place)

Fortitude – 7 (5th Place)

Potency – 9 (6th Place)

Resistance – 5 (6th Place)

Roe: (Mimicry 45, Alteration 20, Catalytic 20, Ailing 15)

Might – 8 (4th Place)

Guard – 8 (1st Place)

Dexterity – 14 (3rd Place)

Coordination – 14 (2nd Place)

Fortitude – 10 (1st Place)

Potency – 11 (5th Place)

Resistance – 7 (4th Place)

Keata: (Alteration 55, Illusionary 20, Wind 15, Ailing 10)

Might – 5 (6th Place)

Guard – 5 (5th Place)

Dexterity – 16 (2nd Place)

Coordination – 13 (3rd place)

Fortitude – 9 (2nd Place)

Potency – 12 (4th Place)

Resistance – 12 (1st Place)

Ok! On to the story!

Chapter One - In the Shadow ofStorms

" Fiona. . ."

It was cold here, where the moonlight dared not tread – here in the midst of the shadows of this dank, bitter cavern. Only in the fitful bursts of angered thunder did particles of light manage to wander through the crevices in the cave walls and illuminate this horrid domain, casting demented figures across jagged, clutching rock.

Rain fell. It fell hard, its ricocheting bristle filling the seeming emptiness of the cavern with a driving pitter-patter. And, in the suddenness of the storm's anger, in the surges of coruscating white light, a shadow slinked across the mist-soaked cavern floor.

Black. Two, deep, black hazel eyes flitted back and forth across the mist from their mount on the face of a shadow – a shadow whom had perched himself upon an elevated stone, above the sea of billowing vapor. His fingers twisted in deep thought. Hazel eyes darted about again, this time intently directed to gaze upon the beauty of a woman.

Her unconscious body hovered limply above the mist; back arched and head tilted back. Tresses of long, dark hair wavered in the darkness, bleak against her soft, creamy skin, and flowing white nightgown. Her figure seemed bright, even amongst the darkest of black here.

" My flower."

The shadow – a lean, daunting man – rose to his feet; a striking figure amongst the darkness. Heavy, silvery-white hair fluttered in a ghostly breeze, as a hand stretched out towards the delicate young woman.

" Come to me, my flower."

Gloved fingers extended towards her, plucking gently at the air, and instantly, her suspended body began to drift forwards, as if drawn by a fragile, invisible string. Her bare toes streaked across the surface of thick fog, sending ripples of white in every direction, as she sailed towards him.

A grin widened on his once vacant visage, and his black, hazel eyes warmed.

" I have found my bride – the bride whom will never know me, a beautiful woman with eyes of crystal blue." He spoke lovingly. The white-garbed beauty hovered closer, her body straightening. " Your beauty transcends from you, even in your sleep. Open your eyes, my flower."

Slowly, but surely, the girl's eyes widened, a brilliant icy blue revealed in the urgency of another flash of lightning. Locks of wavy brown hair fell into her face, shrouding her empty expression, and she stared into the man's own dark eyes.

" Your eyes," the man said warmly, " there is still sadness in them." His hand lifted in her sight, and immediately, she placed her fragile hand in his palm. " I have come to you in your sleep, just to see you once more, before I take my final leave. I am sorry that I have disrupted your dreams yet again, my flower."

The girl's eyes seemed to narrow in response, and with a wave of his hand, they were shut.

" That's it. Rest. No one shall harm you here. You are safe with me, as you have always been." The man allowed her to drift back to her original resting place in the center of cavern, her body limp in midair. " It is a shame I will have to leave you after tonight. I wanted us to be together. . . one last time. Maybe, I shall take you with me."

Thunder beat against the cave walls, as the man seated himself again upon the stone. Thoughts flickered about in his head. Would she be safe on her own? Would she avoid the dangers that- his mind froze in mid-thought.

She sighed, fidgeting about in the air.

" Does she wake? Does my flower wake?" Immediately, he was plagued with excitement, and yet, a sudden, unexpected fear. Would he finally introduce himself to her? Would she fall in love with him? What if she did not? Suddenly, a sharp compression grasped at his mind. He knew the feeling all too well.

His deep, hazel eyes locked shut for a moment, only to spring open as hot, glowing spheres of blue. Someone. . . no, two. . . two are coming this way! They come to harm my flower!

" I will be ready for them, my flower. Do not fret," the man said, raising again to his feet, this time with a hand secured firmly around his saber's hilt. " If I must, I will spill blood. . . Please, forgive me."

" Which way?"

Footsteps reverberated against the cavern walls, as two shadows descended hastily into its darker realms. A young prince, a man of kind stature, hurried around another corner.

" Your highness, please, slow yourself," came a husky, female voice. A panther-like woman was following closely behind, easily keeping at his pace. " A little light should help us."

Immediately, her clawed hand brightened with light, as if bearing a torch, though, the illumination was clearly of her own spiritual energy.

The prince skidded to a halt, a long – once-fluttering – yellow cape forced forwards in the momentum. Panting, he glared at his surroundings. Two paths branched out from their position, and the prince quickly eyed each.

" Do you know where he took her?" The prince turned to the panther-woman in hope.

She sniffed at the air, golden eyes shutting firmly, as her senses pinpointed the abductor's position. " We'll follow the left trail. . . I believe he is down there."

The prince nodded, ruffling dark wet hair once plastered to the front of his face. He scorned slightly. Fresh, glistening droplets of autumn rain seemed to seep even through his heavy, white armour and into his bones. Paying no heed to the deep chill, he turned to glance over the ledge of the tunnel. Crags of jagged rock formed a sort of staircase into the netherworld of the cavern. Cautiously, he stepped over an outcropping, and with his hands, felt his way down the first steps.

The panther-woman – a Sher'lian – drew her sword instinctively, and followed close behind, taking less care than the human, as she nimbly made her way down the sharply inclined tunnel.

All the while, the two were unaware of the figure stalking in the shadows.

The prince had stumbled twice before catching the sight of hope ahead. " I think the tunnel levels off," the prince said, an outstretched finger indicating a flattening slope in the trail ahead. " It's not too far."

The Sher'lian woman nodded slightly, her lightweight armour creaking in its dampness. With some additional thought, she pushed the light encircling her hand to brighten, as the growing murk of the tunnel pleaded her to do so. With some agile bounds, she managed to pull in front of the prince, as the tunnel widened.

" Prince Elias." She stretched out a sword towards a grim opening ahead where the tunnel lead into a greater dome. A thick layer of mist disfigured the floor, meshing the contrast between air and stone. The prince turned to her and nodded.

Silently, they approached the entrance into the bowel of the cavern – a deep, empty expanse. With a few simple glances around the cave, the prince was taken aback, gasping slightly. The dome was not empty.

There she was, the kidnapped woman – her body flaccid and unconscious, eerily floating in midair.

" What in Ilvasoix-"

" Insolent human, heed my warnings. Leave this place if you value your life." A voice resonated, causing the mist to stir in its rich, daunting tone. " Honourable Sher'lian, look no further. I understand not your presence here in this place. Have you come. . . to harm my flower?" Irking with anger, his nuance boomed.

" We will be taking this girl to her home." The panther-like Sher'lian responded with poise, whiskers vibrating slightly as if to pinpoint the location of the taunting voice.

" Her home?" The voice roared, growing irate. " What do you know of my flower's home?"

" We know her home is not here!" Prince Elias shouted in rejoinder, raising his sword in defense. " Why do you hide from us? Your simple taunts will not drive us back!"

" Why do I hide? Why do I hide?" The voice settled. " I am not the man hiding within the confines of the tunnel!" The mist trembled under the sudden roar of thunder, lightning flickering menacingly in response.

Prince Elias turned to the Sher'lian woman, speaking gently. " We cannot fight what we cannot see."

She made no motion of acknowledgement, her voice simply thrumming in response. " I have a plan. If you can retrieve the girl, I'll distract him. Keep under the mist."

" I can do that." After a moment of silence, his feet Elias' were shuffling harder than they possibly ever had in a long while – with the exceptions of racing to the aid of his ill sister. . . a story worth explaining in due time.

Keeping low, he pressed his way forward, so as not to call upon the attention of their foe. The girl was in sight. Now, he would just have to reach her.

The Sher'lian, a great General of her people's army, strode out into the churning haze, brandishing her sword in the spiritual light cast by her opposite hand.

" I have come to negotiate." She looked about. There was no response. " If it is money you seek. . . for ransom. . ." She left it at that. There was no money to offer, and she wouldn't dare lie about having any to offer, even to a foe. " If it is not money you want, then I invite you to a match of swordplay." A reasonable enough offer, though, comforting, as it was clear no one would defeat a skilled General such as herself. However, there was still only silence.

She took a few steps further into the mist. " Reveal your-" Something had latched on to her foot.

Prince Elias was now only a few yards away form the floating beauty, still keeping low. He began to pick up the pace, feeling sudden apprehension push him forward. He almost froze at that moment. Looking up at her, there was something about her, breathtaking, really.

" I've come to rescue you-"

His words were cut short, as the narrow pinnacle of a saber was pressed up under his chin.

" Draw back, insolent human," the bearer of the rapier, which now drew a trail of blood from the prince's neck, spoke admonishingly. " I will not have you hurt this young woman. I know what you want from her, and I will not let you by."

" Harm her? I am not here to harm her-"

" Lies!" The man roared, lightning illuminating his dark features. His face was stoic, though strangely gentle considering the situation.

The prince stumbled back, climbing from his crouched position. There was no need to hide in the mist any longer, though a fear for the girl's safety wished he had been more furtive.

" I hope you know your sword better than your manners." The man swished his sword, striking at Prince Elias' arm, to no avail, as Elias quickly defended.

" I did not wish to harm you when I came here, but you leave me with no choice," the prince spat, swinging his sword with ease.

Metal sparked on contact, ringing violently with each assault thwarted. Cold steel ricocheted against each other, as the swordsmen nimbly made their way into a deeper region of mist. Striking yet again at the shady figure, the prince was certain he could hear the Sher'lian General calling to him, but before he could glance around to find her, he found himself performing another defensive maneuver.

Beads of sweat formed at the dark figure's brow, his hazel eyes glaring, though his movements remained fluid and unprovoked. The man he was facing – a prince; he was unaware of – was trained well, though he would take the young villain to his grave before allowing anyone to even approach Fiona, his flower.

Suddenly, the man's arm was pierced by Elias's sword, and he scorned, Fiona's body plummeting beneath the mist simultaneously. His thoughts were grazed just enough for him to lose focus, and release her from his power.

The prince took this moment of opportunity, racing towards the fallen damsel.

" Not so quickly!"

In an instant, the Prince's free hand was clutching at his throat, though a thin rapier blade obscured his reach. The shadowy foe knelt before him, one arm stretched out defensively, blockading Fiona, and the other arm outstretched towards him with a saber, its peak pricking deeply into his neck. The man applied pressure, igniting a deep, piercing pain within the prince, who stumbled backwards, a hand now firmly around his neck.

" I see you do not respond well to pain," the man jeered, moving closer to the unconscious Fiona.

Elias grinned, eyeing the blood on his hand, as he removed it slowly from around his throat. The once bloody incision in his neck had been healed.

" I see your tricks can heal your wounds, but will they raise you from the dead?"

" A scratch." Prince Elias spoke composedly. " It is but a simple scratch, and I will suffer nothing greater than that. Your sword will not stop me from impeding whatever it is you plan to do with this innocent, young girl."

" I only desire to shield her from the foul wickedness of your fiendish master's plot!"

" My fiendish master?" Prince Elias was taken aback. " I believe you have me confused with someone else. I am Prince Elias Tamar. I come here in the name of peace-"

" I spit at your 'peace'!" The man roared, rising to his feet, ensuring that Fiona was still behind him. However, she was not.

The girl raced into the Prince's arms.

" Eli, what's going on here?" She said groggily, falling into the arms of the prince.

" All is well, Fiona," the prince said, stroking her hair.

" Fiona. Fiona, can you not see that this is his trap?" The man urged her gently, almost afraid. His long white hair fluttered again in an absent breeze, shrouding his face in the storm's erratic light. Angered grew in his eyes.

Crystal blue eyes turned from the comforting chest of the armoured prince to gaze upon the striking figure of the man. " Do I- do I know you?" Her eyes narrowed, and as the lightning flickered once more, they widened considerably. " You – you're-" But, that was about all she could manage to procure from her lips before falling unconscious in Elias' arms.

A sudden howl echoed against the cavern walls. All eyes – with the exception of Fiona's – fixed in the direction of the voice; aggressive and struggling.

The Sher'lian General gave out another heaving cry, swaying her sword viciously at the air.

" General? Audrasteia-Fayte!" Prince Elias beseeched her, his toned laden with concern.

She glanced quickly at the prince, still swaying at the air. " We must move! This thing is overpowering me-" Her words fell silent, as her gaze returned to the supposed foe. Vacant air greeted her. " Where in Ilvasoix could it have gone?"

" Where could what have gone?" Elias asked, eyeing the cavern.

" The creature. . . there was a creature right here," the General, Audrasteia-Fayte, answered, indicating the air in front of her with her sword. Her brow raised in disbelief.

It had brightened considerably in the cavern, and the drill of rain had died. The moon had perhaps broken free from the barrier of storm clouds, now spreading an eerie, pallid light across their world.

Movement drew the prince's attention back to where the man once stood. He was gone.

" It appears I may have been wrong about you two." The man's voice bellowed, resonating within the depths of the cavern once again.

The prince's eyes whirred about, as did the panther-like woman. The man must have been hiding in the shadows again. For a moment, this appeared so, until Elias spotted him on a platform several yards above. How the man reached such an altitude eluded him.

" It's good to see you know we are not a threat to Fiona," Prince Elias replied, his eyes pursuing the shifty form of the man traveling across an outcropped ledge. He was silent, disappearing in shadows for fragments of time, and then reappearing in places the prince hadn't expected.

In the strange silence, a breath pawed at the prince's ear, snaking along the back of his neck.

" Everyone is a threat to her!"

He was there; dangerously close behind the Prince – his undetected descent swift and tacit. In another motion, Fiona was in his arms, and he pulled away quickly.

" I am the only one who can keep her safe. You do not understand." The man paused, speaking gently. His eyes fell to the limp body in his arms, breathing shallowly. " I thank you for caring for my flower. But, she is mine!" The man took a few strides backwards.

" I understand you want to protect her, but from what, may I ask?" Prince Elias urged him, readying his sword once again. " What is your name, sir?"

" There is no time for courtesy or explanation." The man froze, as he backed into a creaking breastplate. General Fayte's lithe, panther-like figure stood tall behind him, beastly strength keeping her footing as he stumbled into her.

" Why? What time have we to lose?" General Fayte implored him gently, though by her stance, he was tacitly demanded not to move.

" You may not be the danger I have been protecting Fiona from this night. . ." The man turned, his hazel eyes meeting the unmoving, golden eyes of Fayte. " But, as you have discovered, good Sher'lian. . ." – returning thunder quaked furiously, and rain began to fall harder – " the danger has already arrived."

A/N: Yes, I know. I know. I love leaving you guys on edge. . . it's my way of showing how much I care. Anyway, make sure to review with all the criteria, and include what stats you'd like upgraded for next chapter (your discipline numbers cannot be upgraded. . .they're simply a percent of your full knowledge of disciplines).Your statscould determine the outcome of your character's fate in Seasons of Bilancia!