Laeken and Zenyi's Story

Laeken and Zenyi met when they were teenagers. Laeken was a prince from a distant castle, grieving the death of his father and struggling to find his place in his mother's court. Zenyi was a young solider, a farmer by birth, and hadn't yet articulated what she knew about her gender in her heart. She still went by the name of Tamyo, and was seen by the world as a young man.   They became close friends. They enjoyed sparring together, and Laeken was thrilled to spend time with her in the stables, learning about indarigs] and helping her to care for them. Over time, their feelings for each other grew deeper. Laeken knew he would marry for political reasons after his sister became empress, and so neither pursued what they knew would end in separation.   As they got older, Zenyi confided in Laeken that she felt she was a girl, and asked if he would still want to be her friend if she wasn't Tamyo anymore. Laeken, of course, was more then supportive and used his royal influence to pressure the military into letting her present however she liked. It became harder and harder for them to bottle up the growing romantic feelings they had for each other.   Everything changed when Laeken accompanied his mother and sister to Taegin. On their way home, terrorists fighting for Tae independence attacked their caravan. In the assault, Laeken's mother and sister were both killed and he was thrown from the back of the indarig they had been riding. He hit the ground, hard, cracking his spine.   Laeken was taken to the nearest town for medical treatment, where he spent the next few days fighting to survive under the care of a rural doctor who was overwhelmed to be treating royalty. The empire fell under the control of Laeken's step-father, and Zenyi - still in the capital - struggled to get any information about whether Laeken was even still alive.   When his condition finally stabilized, it became apparent that Laeken was seriously and permanently injured. The injury to his spine crippled his legs and mad it impossible for him to walk more than a few staggering steps, and always with the support of a cane. Still, he was the rightful heir to the throne, and so he was taken back to the capital to formally take power.   Laekens' stepfather was not thrilled with his survival. The pair had never gotten along well, and now Laeken was the only thing standing between him and being the emperor. It didn't help that Laeken was very unpopular with the populace - he was a Sarvich, he was barely more than a boy, and he was disabled. Many people wanted the charismatic and intelligent Kellin Halkirk to take control for good. In the ensuing years, Laeken did his best to rule, while he and Halkirk subtly fought each other while maintaining public friendliness.   The one good thing in Laeken's life was Zenyi. Now the emperor, he decided it didn't matter if he would have to marry for diplomacy later on. He and Zenyi began a relationship which was never quite official and public but also not a huge secret. She was often out of town on military duties, but whenever she was around, his life lifted.   And then she left again, for an indefinite period this time. She didn't tell him where she was going, only that it was important, and it was something she had to do for him. Zenyo had been reading many stories of the past and became obsessed with the idea of flight. A long time ago, the Winged Ones ruled the world. They never had to walk because their wings let them travel freely. Then, after the The First Reckoning, they mysteriously disappeared. But Zenyi believed that they hadn't simply died; they had simply lost the power of flight. If she could find out how they flew and bring that power back, Laeken would be free to fly away from his wheelchair.   She had no idea what her chances of success were, but Zenyi set out on a quest to find the power of flight for the sake of her love.