The Venusian Masquerade - Chapter 1

© 1998 by Cresent Star

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Disclaimer: All characters belong to Naoko Takeuchi. A few of these situations were created by Rosalind Laker. Don't sue. Thank you.

The Moon Court had kept its opulence through its many years of history. Wonderful dances, balls and performances had been held many a night, this being no exception. Little silver lights adorned the hall, welcoming the guests that streamed through the double doors.

The choir was performing this particular evening - the source that had attracted many noble men and ladies. Even people from Earth had heard of the splendid voices that would echo in one's mind long after one had left the hall, yet only the subjects to the Queen Serenity had paid witness to these melodies.

Makoto winced under the strain of the tight corset that she was wearing, but she would bear with it for the time being. This was her big chance to sing for the royal court subjects, as well as her friend's and she would not ruin the evening by complaining about what she wore. The performance was being held in the honour of Queen Serenity's birthday as she had not wanted it to be too fancy an affair.

She had often teased her friend, "You my friend, shall be the Flame of the Moon Court, while I, the Rose," so saying, she would finger one of the rose earrings she always wore. She knew of course, that no one could ever take the position of lead singer from Princess Serenity. This was by no prejudice, as Serenity's voice was matched by no other. Her friend noticed her sudden forlorn expression.

"Something wrong Mako? Nervous?"

"No," she replied, a light smile touching her delicate lips, "but how are you coping in the wind little Flame?"

Her friend made a face in reply, "Spare me Mako. Is my hair really so red? I have a name as you would know - Marianna. And I would like you to use it."

Makoto shook her head bemusedly. Marianna never failed to realize that it was not merely because of her hair, but her personality as well. Her sharp tongue had never failed her before, but as Makoto had said, there would come a man that would strike her so wordless that she would have no more pretty speeches in her head. She wouldn't have to wait long, Makoto thought, her beauty has already turned the eyes of men wherever she went.

"Shh! The curtains will go up any minute now." as if on cue, the heavy velvet slowly rose.The music maestro tapped on the stand annoyingly, in the only way a music maestro could. Now Marianna could see the masquerading audience. The haughty, expectant atmosphere made her nervous, but she still found her eyes wandering over the room, surveying the various masks present. Feathers and jewels of every hue hid the faces of the proud audience. Evil, she thought silently, the way in which the unsettled guests milled about. Their sinister masks were moving in and out in an unrelenting dance.

Her reverie was broken by the appearance of two late comers-- a tall man and a dainty woman. She had long silken blonde hair, held up by a gold clasp. The pale yellow organza gown clung to her voluptuous body, accompanied by a silk mask that covered the top half of her face. The female wasn't the one that held Marianna's eye though. Her escort was tall, at least six feet tall she decided. His loose silver hair flowed around his shoulders as he walked with a graceful, but powerful step. A gold mask obscured the features Marianna was most curious about--his face. What was it like? He attended, as proper to his lady.

The guests that had already gathered watched in a horrified silence. What is wrong? Marianna wondered. Makoto grimaced, she knew full well who the aristocratic couple was. Princess Minako and Prince Celano of Venus. What was more, their sworn enemies were present, Oliveiro and Naru of Jupiter. There was going to be trouble, she knew it.

A chair was pushed back harshly, scraping against the marble floor. The Prince of Venus turned around coolly to meet the smouldering eyes behind the pale lavender mask of Oliveiro. The guests held their breaths as the fingers of the princes touched the hilts of their swords.

"What's going on?" Makoto heard the nervous whisper. Her answer was equally soft, but shades more intense. "The two planets have been feuding with each other for centuries. It started when a Venusian princess scorned the affections of a prince of Jupiter. The prince later had her killed in secret. They've been on the verge of war for years. Luckily, Queen Serenity's hold over both of them have stopped that from happening." Marianna wondered at this. How could anger over a petty matter such as that rage over hundreds of years?

"And," Makoto added grimly, her voice dripping in sarcasm," if we're lucky, we will see blood drawn." she than returned her gaze to the mounting drama.

The two men were sparring each other, though not a word passed between them. Hatred burned in both their eyes.

"Please love, no!" Minako's pleading voice broke through. The hand that was so close to unsheathing the sword withdrew and Celano took his seat in one of the front rows.

Oliveiro seemed to be insulted by this. He wanted dearly to strike while his opponent's back was turned, but he too was soothed by the gentle words of his lady.

The guests sighed, some in relief of not having the performance ruined and some in disappointment as they had not seen any blood. Marianna was one of those who were relieved. She had expected a bloody sword fight, followed possibly by death, but she soon realized that her fears had been groundless. The two rivals would not duel one another while on the Moon. Queen Serenity would not allow it.

Soon, a melodious chorus filled the room, washing away the ill feelings that had earlier been. Makoto and Marianna were up next to perform a duet. The two had perfect accompaniment : Makoto's voice, deep and rich, while Marianna's was clear and tinkling.

Singing their last note, Celano stood up and applauded them, "Well sung sweet maidens, truly magnificent." his voice was slightly rough, but deep and wonderful at the same time. He took the hand of his partner and led her toward the door. She was obviously not in the mood to remain in the hall any longer.

The strangest thing happened next. Perhaps it was a trick of light, or maybe an indeliberate glance, but Marianna could have sworn that as Celano turned to watch his back for Oliveiro that he looked directly at her.

The End of Chapter 1 - Goto Chapter 2

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