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A Lost Fable

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Once upon a time, there was a lonely Princess. The Princess lost her parents in a horrible war, and wasn’t even a proper princess at all, hiding in a derelict castle she couldn’t leave.

One night, the Princess wished upon a shooting star: “Please, let me leave, I cannot stand being alone anymore”, and the star brought her five half-dead Knights from a dead world. With the brave Knights, the Princess had heart-throbbing adventures, step by step defeating the evil empire, even if it came at heavy costs.
The night the Princess and her Knights were resting after the final victory, another shooting star appeared. The Princess made another wish: “I want for our adventures to never end!”

And then…

Once upon a time, there was a lonely Princess. The Princess lost her parents in a horrible war, and wasn’t even a proper princess at all, hiding in a derelict castle she couldn’t leave.

One night, the Princess wished upon a shooting star: “Please, let me leave, I cannot stand being alone anymore”, and the star brought her five brave explorers from a faraway world.

The Princess was initially scared of her life repeating, and worried she’d have to lose her loved ones again. However, the second world proved much kinder than the original, the stakes much lower, and death almost absent. So, the Princess decided to have fun, even if under a name that was not her own.

In her second life, the Princess managed to continue her adventures longer and form deeper bonds, particularly Black Knight, who originally died before they could hold a conversation (not that he was a good conversationist to begin with), and Red Knight, with whom she fell in love.

But then, strange things started happening. Large amounts of time started passing in a blink of an eye, leaving only memories of events she didn’t live through, and the memories of the events she did live through were remembered completely different by others, who kept sending her worried looks.

Despite that, she didn’t despair. She still had her friends, all of them, more than she has ever had. She had her lover, who was about to marry her. She had the Galactic Alliance on her side, ensuring that the tragedy that took her parents will not repeat itself. Her planet was recovering, and she was to preside over the recovery.

But then…

Once upon a time, there was a lonely Princess. The Princess lost her parents in a horrible war, and even though she wasn’t even a proper princess at all, there were many people who considered her as such and looked up to her as their leader and a symbol of hope.

When the Princess realized her life is repeating again, she started screaming and crying and begging the shooting star to take her wish back, but all it did was make her nanny sedate her. Having come back to herself and analyzing the new set of memories, the princess decided: wait for her knights to arrive, and ask them for help.

And arrive they did, explorers again instead of runaways. The third world was harsher than the second one, but not as harsh as the first one. Having her training and memories, the Princess proved a capable team member. However, she never got to telling her friends about her past life, not with her lover, her husband-to-be, ignoring her completely, barely acknowledging her.

The Princess and her Knights accomplished a lot, surprisingly, in a short amount of time. This time, their mythical machine was not the only one on the side of good. This time, it seemed, not all enemies were evil, or, at least, not as evil as she expected them to be, based on her memories of the first world.

And then, time skips started again. Somehow, they ended up in a distant past, and witnessed the construction of their mythical machine. Somehow, the Princess found herself on a strange planet, devoid of all memories, only to be finally rescued by her Red Kinght. Somehow…

When she restarted her life for the fourth time, the Princess was furious, and her fury grew cold and precise. She no longer cared about winning any war, she only wanted her time to stop rewinding. She dedicated her time to study various means to do so, scientific and magical, honorable and unethical, yet no matter what she tried, she was no closer to any answer than at the beginning.

She couldn’t even rely on her friends, as the men behind their faces were unrecognizable. They were… thugs, the bunch of them. In comparison, the evil Prince-now-emperor, calm, intelligent and outspoken, seemed alluring, but only until the Princess remembered the Prince he used to be in her first life. She didn’t even put much effort in associating with her Knights, but what she did ended with her in bed with Red Knight, which was more than she could say of her previous three lives.

And then, she felt the timeline collapsing. Having realized the symptoms early, she had enough time to make another wish: “I don’t want to be a princess, I don’t want to repeat this anymore!”.

And her wish was granted.

When she woke up, she was back in the castle, but she was no longer a princess. The Princess woke up before her, more beautiful and assertive and capable than she was in her first two lives, and nowhere as bitter as she’s been in two further. This princess was whom she’s always wanted to be.

The old Princess wanted to speak to the new one, but nobody reacted. She was but a ghost, unable to be heard, unable to do anything but observe.
What a torture it was.

Despite first impression of being yet another kind world, the Princess’ un-life was the worst of all her lives. The Black Knight (the Princess never really got used to their names, especially since they tended to change even within one life) died soon after she first met him, in a mutual kill with the evil Emperor. As he was dying, he seemed to be able to see and hear her, perhaps a distant echo of their mystical moment two lives ago, but it lasted only for a few heartbeats, and he was gone. The princess mourned with everyone.

Soon afterward, the Green Knight journeyed to find her lost brother, while the rest of their group was arguing who should pilot which lion (as if it wasn’t obvious, the princess thought, they always ended up in the same configuration). Having an increasing sense of dread, the Ghost-Princess accompanied her. She was with her when she found her brother’s grave. She was trying to make her sense the approaching bounty hunter.

But the girl only acknowledged her as she was bleeding on the ground, her lung pierced by his weapon. She tried to say something, having only just seen the Princess, but the hunter beheaded her before she could say a word.

The Knights never got her head back, taken as a trophy to the empire’s headquarters. They had to bury her headless corpse under her brother’s symbolic gravestone. In the end, her father figure took the Green Lion, her doppelganger took Blue one, Blue Knight went into Red, and Red into Black. They were capable of forming the Knight-Robot during training, but his didn’t stop the Ghost-Princess from worrying.

She was right. During their next fight, the Knights were lured into a trap and separated from each other. Unable to use their ultimate weapon, the Red Knight sacrificed himself to let others escape. His death was so swift that he didn’t even catch a glimpse of the Princess before he was gone.

The team was mourning, and the princess was mourning with them, as she did with Black and Green. But this time, she was also angry. If the new Princess is so capable, why is she letting her team mates die? What is she good for? If she were in her place, she wouldn’t have let that happened!

Her internal venting was stopped by the Black Lion returning, bringing the worst possible passenger – the Prince-turned-emperor himself. Of course, the Princess allowed him in. Of course, the team immediately agreed to let him in as a team member, a team leader, as soon as he told them he was overthrown in a coup. The Ghost-Princess wanted to scream to them, don’t fell for obvious lies.

But fall they did, and payed dearly. Once back on the throne, the emperor backstabbed them quite literally, taking the life of the Yellow Knight. A three on one battle ensued, later joined by the emperor’s former female companion (Who. Is. She.), who had a change of heart and joined the fight in Yellow Lion (How. Was it. Possible.).

Four lions firing at the same time killed their enemy. Unfortunately, it took Black Lion with him. The Ghost-Princess could feel the difference – now it was an empty husk. She no longer cared what will happen with this world, and welcomed the time anomalies with relief.

In her sixth life, the Princess didn’t wake up in a castle. She wasn’t a princess at all, only a peasant girl in a small group of refugees fleeing galactic horror. The evil Prince was their savior, with almost godlike worship by other refugees.

For the first time, the princess Paid more than just shallow attention to the Prince. And this made realize he is the key to the mystery.

In her first life, time reset itself soon after Black Knight sacrificed himself to kill the Prince.

In her second life, time fluctuations started with the Prince’s death, stabilized with his resurrection, and the time reset itself when the Prince died a second time.

In her third life, time fluctuations started when the Prince was presumed death, and time stabilized when he returned (somehow). She couldn’t be sure whether he died before that timeline reset itself.

In her fourth life, she paid little attention to anything but her research, but taking the political climate in mind, it’s easy to assume that the Prince was assassinated.

Fifth life reset hours after the battle that killed both their enemy and the Lion.

“So be it”, thought the Princess who was no longer a princess, “It’s not as if I hadn’t changed names and roles before.” As long as the Prince lived, she could live a peaceful life.
And so she did. And then…

The dreams started. The Princess dreamed of being the new, better Princess, her fated dopelganger. At first, she thought those were just memories from the past, but then the events started to diverge. When Red Knight returned with Black Knight, she was sure – these were not memories, these were events taking place somewhere far away, right now.

The Princess who was no longer a Princess was furious. That new Princess not only took her rightful place, she also took any chance of her achieving happiness! As soon as the Prince dies, so does the world, and only gods can tell what the next one will be.

“But, this is fine”, thought the Princess, “If this has to end, it will end my way.”

Damned be fate, damned be shooting stars, gods who answer only when it causes suffering. The New Princess will be the cause of her own downfall. It will be so delightful to watch!