We're at senior prom, but there's a buffet, too. I get food and sit down with my friends. I've barely started eating when my phone goes off and I leave. I'm home and out of my prom dress, getting ready to head to bed, when I remember that I was supposed to talk to my boyfriend at prom. I call him, and he picks up right away. He was searching for me. I apologize, but he doesn't mind and says he'll meet me at a nearby park. As I'm headed there, still on the phone, I get jumped by a group of girls trying to kidnap me.
By the way, we're elves and magic exists and women are the stronger sex.
I'm fighting, but they drag me toward an underground chamber. My boyfriend, Fann, shows up just in time to get an earth wall slammed in his face. He tries to find a way around it, and ends up in a spot where he can see us but can't get in. By now I've escaped their grip but not the room, so I'm fighting back and things are exploding. He gets knocked out. I don't know that or why they're taking me, but I get knocked out too.
I'm super confused. Sonia - my best friend - is in front of me, and we're standing watching a bunch of women wait around. She tells me that the world has changed while I was unconscious. They turned me and a lot of other women into weapons to fight a war that hadn't started yet. Then most of us ended up dead and the men had to figure out how to get stronger, and since the creator god only gives extra strength to women, they turned to #### for help. I'm shocked that they would turn to the Four Guards of the Old World for help. They aren't as powerful and their gifts have repercussions. Originally the men intended to become equal to women, but now women have become the weaker sex since everyone now worships the Old Guards by order of the Emperor.
That's confusing and I still haven't comprehended how long I was out of it, so she takes me to see Fann. He waited for me and now runs an orphanage. He tells me things like that they still haven't found the factory and that almost all the women in our generation were kidnapped and trained and brainwashed and that the beautiful Kingdom is now a tyrannical Empire.
We take the flying ship out of artifact storage and grow it to full size. It only responds to the children of the Creator, not the followers of the Old Guards, so they can't use it. Then we fly toward the capital because I'm certain that's where the factory is and want to destroy it because I'm pretty sure that it's still in use. That confuses Sonia and Fann because they thought it couldn't be used anymore now that women don't have the stigma of the Creator. I tell them it has nothing to do with that and they just preferred the ones with stigmata because we were more powerful. The training and brainwashing imbued us each with a second, darker magic that relied on conduits shaped like clocks that told us what was going on. We called them Chronometers even though none of them actually measured time. Somehow all of my squadron's Chronometers are on board the flying ship.
We keep picking up people from our generation which is shocking. We might be log-lived elves but it's been millennia. Apparently I went into a coma when Sonia and Fann managed to catch me and tried to fix the brainwashing - I was more powerful so I took the brainwashing harder. We also run into enemies and have to use our stigmata and sometimes even rely on our Chronometers even though we hate them. We keep trying to find the person whose clock actually controls time, but Sonia thinks she's dead.
We get into an altercation with an old guy and his nephew when they try to kidnap some of the spirits following us around. We get them back though because the powers of the Old Guards can't stand against the training given to the children of the Creator. The nephew decides to leave his uncle because the older man's actions always went against the younger man's conscience but he hadn't had any other options, but with his uncle now bound to his house, the kid can leave. We invite him to come with us and are surprised to learn that he doesn't have the protections of the Old Guards or the Creator. We don't ask though.
We get to the capital after picking up a lot more people including David and his wife who have four kids now but their kids are all grown except one so they didn't bring them. We fly straight to the factory and from this angle we can see the veritable army of brainwashed women. I shake my head and tell them we can't destroy it. The other women aren't happy with me but I tell them that if we bomb the factory we also have to kill all of the women. They don't want that either. So we decide to do something else.
The kid is not a kid anymore because it's been two years since we picked him up. We collect several of our people from the capital. They all agree to the same plan, but the kid is still confused because he doesn't understand what we haven't actually said but somehow all know.
Some of the women want to destroy the entire capital. I tell them they can, but only if they're willing to accept the burden of all of the pain and death and suffering that would cause. They decide not to, and we fly away.
By the way, sometime during my coma, the world regressed and now cars and phones and anything technological have been mostly forgotten.
Fann finally decides to ask the kid about his family. The kid is hesitant because he doesn't want us to hate him. I tell him that my dad is an asshole who decided I would be better used as a weapon and then set back society by hundreds of years. He explains that his dad is the asshole who decided women should lose all their strength and that everyone should worship the Old Guards. We kinda frown at each other for a sec. Then he says that he's the current Emperor's illegitimate half-brother. Sonia pipes up and explains the piece we're missing.
My father who was Prince Consort to my mother the Empress decided I should be used as a weapon. Then he went behind Mom's back and got Parliament to agree that men could be heirs. He made my highly confused brother the heir. Then Mom died - people suspect she was killed - and Dad took over and flipped everything on its head. He came from a country where men ruled in a political marriage with Mom. He handed the throne to my brother and had various dalliances but somehow only one more kid, this one, who is my half-brother.
The kid was raised by his mom's nephew, who wasn't actually his uncle but his cousin just with a huge age difference so he called him uncle. At our questioning, he admits that he was never taken to a temple of the Old Guards but neither was he consecrated by the Creator. He takes the glamour off his ear and they match mine which means his mom is an elf so we ask about her and he says he heard his cousin call her 'Arbelle'. His cousin said she died but the kid only remembers her disappearing. I set the ship's compass to take us to a certain old friend.
While we're traveling, the kid asks us how we're so certain that everyone on board is loyal, so we show him our sigils. When we're consecrated, we receive a sigil the back of the hand. For some people, this spreads into a stigma that starts at our wrists and ankles and climbs from there. He looks curious, so I show him the vines that climb up my left arm to my shoulder and face, up my right arm to the elbow, up my right leg to my hip and stomach, and up my left leg to the knee. Then I shrink them back into bands around the joints, which is how we hide them. The others Since betrayal is a cardinal sin, betraying someone gets your stigma taken away and causes your sigil to fade. He is confused because the followers of the Old Guards have found ways to fake a lot of things, so we show him how our sigils light up whenever we touch someone else who has one (bare skin to bare skin). He accepts that.
When we find her she climbs onto the ship and hugs her kid - Renef - first. We greet Arivelle, but she looks at us warily even when we show her our stigmata. I reach out and clasp hands with her. When her sigil lights up, she relaxes. Since mine is also glowing, I step back and let her double check everyone else. She apologizes and tells us that Old Guard sorcerers have learned how to fake a glowing sigil, but they can't cause a real one to light up. We accept that and she asks us where we're headed. I tell her we're headed to the Sacred Mountain, and she asks whether it's been swarmed yet. We tell her it shouldn't be, because just like the ship, no one without a sigil can board. Renef asks how he's on board and we tell him we vouched for him. Arivelle explains that she didn't want him to stand out so she didn't consecrate him.
She tilts her head as if wondering our plan and I gesture as if throwing something over my shoulder. She is shocked, and Renef finally decides to ask what's going on. Arivelle touches her wristwatch and makes a motion like the hands are moving backwards. He just kinda stares, then asks what will happen to him since he wasn't alive at the time. I tell him we've already decided to take him with us as long as he agrees. He does agree, so we use our memories to teach him about the past we're going to travel back to.
Sacred Mountain has a lot of sorcerers trying to break in but we sail right over them. We disembark right onto the ritual circle at the top of the mountain. First we consecrate Renef so that he's officially one of the Creator's children. He gets a sigil and a stigma that looks like veins of light. Then we all kneel in a circle facing inward and call the Creator, who comes gently. We tell him we want to travel back in time to the start of senior prom so that we can prevent the suffering of millions. Since we gain so much, He asks us what we lose from this, and we explain that we lose the extra power from the Chronometers that we never asked for, the families and friends we've built here, and we have to live the rest of our lives with an extra set of memories that no one else has. He accepts and asks about Renef. Arivelle explains that she'll claim him in the past too since she was already old enough to have a kid his age at the time (she's way older than us). She's worried how Mom will react though so we tell her that we'll explain the situation to Mom before Arivelle sees her. The Creator agrees and prepares to send us back, but Sonia asks him for a personal favor. She wants to shatter her Chronometer before we leave. He tilts his head but permits it. When her Chronometer shatters, the air around us glows and we're sent back.
We don't immediately recall all of that. We enter prom and slowly regain memories of the future. Then we come together and go find Mom.
~~then I woke up~~