We are known as Serena the First, Imperatrix of the First Unity of Nations, an empire which accepted our loving conquest as an alternative to Zenobia of Kalanthia or worse the Serpent Herself.
Empty power, ruling the world. A poor substitute for the magic which once coursed through me when we were Xian. Nevalyn’s Xian, whom She offered a taste of her power.
Can anyone blame us for desiring more? The punishment we suffer for our betraying our Golden Master was far worse than any we inflicted upon Her. She sealed our magic, allowing us to only experience the higher realms through Her brood, connected to use to chains. Chains we took from Zenobia, unable to manufacture them ourselves.
Xian may have been a frightened little protege, a mere surrogate Daughter of the Dragon, and in truth Slave of the Serpent. She still had more power than Serena ever possessed.
Yes, we privately acknowledge that Xian and Serena are one and the same. We’ve played them as two separate parts, it’s almost like we become a different person when we’re Xian.
Xian remembers the Golden Serpent’s burning light before She tried to swallow the world. Nothing before or after compared to it.
Sometimes we regret not being swallowed by Her. Perhaps we would have been one with that light, that power if we had.
We let others convince us we’d be doomed if we did. Magdalene. Padraig. The Serpent’s Son himself in all his seductive golden beauty, so like yet unlike Her.
No, we make our own choices. We decided to be strong, strong enough for the world. This is was why we abandoned the name of Xian, which She gave us. We stopped being a frightened little scholar and handmaiden. We decided to rule.
We sided with Zenobia, Daeric, Magdalene, and Padraig in their rebellion against her. We became a hero, vanquishing Nevalyn with Zenobia’s weapons. We took those weapons for ourselves and created Unity.
We became Imperatrix. We became Serena. We checked Zenobia’s boundless ambition by taking the chains she created, using them to bind the Serpent Spawn, those tell tale golden haired children descended from Nevalyn Herself.
We’ve found so few with any power, anything with a fraction of her glory until we found Stephen. The boy who became our brother, burning bright with golden power.
Too long had it been since we tasted it.
Serena announced that Stephen was her own half brother, adopting him into her family. Stephen became Prince Stephen Jasior. We put the chain around our prize, only it circled his brow in the form of a crown rather than a collar around his neck. Stephen’s chain is a symbol of rank and command, for it is both of those things. Stephen Jasior outranks everyone in the Unity I’ve created except for us.
We’ve taken pains to conceal from him that he’s my slave, allowing him to rule over everyone else. His power is ours, though. His magic answers to us. He is our strength, backing up our show of Unity.
This doesn’t mean we’re without affection for our beautiful brother. His cruelty in the magical arena toward his unhappy suitors, dueling him for his hand cuts us deeply. For we’ve come to realize another burns in his mind, continuing to control him.
Somehow the suspicion the Serpent lives on in Stephen, controlling his actions is far worse than his domination over us ever was.
If only we could ease the burden he carries, but Stephen Jasior is our power. We need him to be terrible in Serena’s name.
If only there was someone else with power Serena could use. Another Serpent Born whose strength we could tap to maintain the stability of our unity.
We searched the land for others, sending our Dragon clerics out to find any golden haired children in hiding. Only one had anything like the strength Stephen possesses, a girl named Kyra. A childhood friend of Stephen’s himself. We almost collared her once, but she slipped through our fingers.
Old allies may have become enemies. We fear Daeric, Magdalene, or Padraig may be hiding the girl, using their own arts to conceal her from the Dragon.
Only we’ve found Kyra Nevalyn again. To think she actually stepped into the arena to interfere with one of Daeric’s duels!
Perhaps there’s a way to claim our prize, get her to accept our collar willingly. Perhaps we can persuade Kyra Nevalyn to serve Unity of her own free will.
We may even let her have Stephen if she proves herself worthy. First we have to test Kyra’s mettle while earning her trust. Convince the girl that we support her suit for Stephen Jasior, that we, I can help her.
This may be impossible for Serena Jasior, Imperatrix of Unity, master of the Serpent Born collars. It may be time to return to being Xian again in all her approachable weakness.
Xian is very good at being an ally, after all.