I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.
The Light and the DarkEdit
That's the thing about morality, it's complicated. Sages and philosophers have debated for thousands of years to answer the simplest of questions. "What is good?", "What is evil?" But is morality always so complicated? Are there not easier questions to ask? For every tough question like "Is it justified to kill one to save five?" is there not an easier question like "Is it justified to kill another for your own personal profit?"
Ask any of the Nobility and they will tell you that of course there is such a thing as objective good and evil. To the Radiant the world they inhabit makes this as clear as daylight. A Princess draws her magic from the Light. A force created by love, friendship, by effort to improve the world or just effort to help a stranger out. The Light probably isn't the absolute axis for all that is good, but if it could think you could say it's making a sincere effort to reach that exulted height. For the Nobility this is enough to point at for proof that good really does exist, because what Princesses compare the Light to is the Dark. The Dark is the Light's opposite in every way. It is a force of banal corruption, it festers where people commit acts of cruelty and inflict suffering on each other. Everything it touches is tainted with its own nature. If left unchecked it would cause an unending torrent of corruption until the Dark finally succumbes to its own nature and starves upon an empty wasteland. The scholars among the Nobility are divided upon one key question about the Dark: its origins. Some say that it is a dreadful alien being, attacking our world through humanity's cruelties for its own sustenance. Others say that we ourselves are the Dark's true origin, our sins created it and we shall forever be haunted by our crimes until such a day as we rise above them.
The contrast between Light and Dark is something every Noble is glad for. For as much as they look to the Light, even the Nobility live somewhere between Light and Dark. Sooner or later every Princess will have to make some tough moral choices; it comes with the job. On a bad day a Princess could find herself trapped for an unconscionable time with no clear answers. Struggling to stitch together some semblance of a moral solution to an impossible problem. On those days the existence of the Light can be the only thing reminding them that good exists, and it's worth fighting for.
The Kingdom's FallEdit
When the Nobility speak of the Kingdom they refer to at least eight sovereign nations: Alhambra, Andarta, Aztallan, the Confederacy of Four Winds, Crystal Heril, Danann, Gonel and Wen-Mung. There were others, but their names, histories and even their existence are debated with little consensus. Each lived the ideals of the Light in their own way, guided by the Queen who ruled them. None were perfect but by all accounts they were fantastic places to live, prosperous, just, kind and peaceful. Yet for all its Light the Kingdom did not last forever. Even in a world of Light some things are universal, one is the necessity of compromise. A land of individual freedom must accept a lack of organisation as its due. Each of the Queens chose what they deemed to be good, and accepted the cost. In time they forgot that this was a choice of preference and believed they alone had chosen the one true way. In their own way each turned rigid and dogmatic, from this simple Vice the Darkness gained its first foothold in its eternal war against the Kingdom.
The Kingdoms rallied and drove the Darkness back to whatever terrible domain it came from as they had done countless times before but this time they were blinded by their dogma. Small traces of Taint were overlooked, festering as "inevitable drawbacks" of the Light's civilisation. Rotting away in secret the Darkness began to grow within the heart of the Kingdom. Its attacks became more frequent, more destructive, and every time it was defeated the same growing rot remained unnoticed. In the end the Darkness broke over the Kingdom like a tidal wave, the armies were routed and the cities fell, still trying to understand how the Darkness' presence was even possible.
Today little remains of the Kingdom. The domains of the five Radiant Queens live on in the Dreamlands, but the warping Gales make it hard to tell how accurate a portrayal it is. If any true records of the Kingdom exists they would be locked away deep within Alhambra's vaults, for of the Kingdom's nations only Alhambra has survived to this day, protected by its Queen's formidable magic deep within the heart of the Darkness.
The Long Night and the DreamEdit
The Darkness cannot create, it can only corrupt. This was always its greatest weakness. Those corrupted however, would retain their ability to create for a while. Among those who were Tainted by the Darkness during the Fall were three mighty creatures known as the Red Queen, the White Queen and the Black Queen: the avatars of violence, self loathing and despair. These creatures knew the Light intimately, they knew that even as the Darkness turned upon itself the Light would build something new and wonderful to reclaim its place.
Guided by the Darkness' instinctive opposition to the Light the three constructed a trap deep within the Dreamlands, a mirror to reflect the Light of the world. The trap tricked the souls of the Nobility travelling towards reincarnation and drew them away from Earth. They incarnated within the Dreamlands where wonderful and elaborate illusions clouded their minds, letting them believe they lived and did their duties on Earth even while the centuries ticked away.
The Radiant call this period of history "The Long Night", and the trap that held them is simply called "The Dream". For much of human history the Radiant hardly had any presence at all. Reincarnations have always formed the vast majority of the Nobility and with the reincarnations locked away anyone who Blossomed was most likely alone and untrained. If they were lucky a group of friends might Blossom togeather. They would do what they can, but standing alone there was little chance of changing the world.
Only the Twilight Queens created any form of continuity for the Nobility during the Long Night. The Lady of Alhambra kept the last survivors of the Kingdom alive. The Seraphic General inducted mortal forces to throw against the Darkness. The Queen of Mirrors searched for her True Heir. The Twilight Queens were a temptation to the Princesses who Blossomed during the Long Night, but they were a temptation because they were so vital. The only constant source of support a young Princess could turn to.
The War of HopeEdit
In July 1969 mankind first set foot on the moon. The hope released by this single event was so great that for the briefest instant the Light shone brighter on Earth than it did in the Dreamlands. In a flash every soul trapped within knew that they were not on Earth as they believed. The five Queens mustered their armies against their jailors and shattered the machinery of their prison. Their victory was swift and brutal, after centuries of imprisonment the Kingdom was once again free.
The effects were far from instantaneous. The first reincarnated Princess to once again Blossom was in 1987 and the second was not until 1994. No one is even sure if the commoners of the Kingdom reincarnate at all, but no one has turned up with accurate memories of a past life in the Kingdom so far. Today the Nobility are still small in number, but they're growing fast with multiple Blossomings a year. At this point they are a minor force in the world, but have had some noticeable successes in areas where Princesses are common. (Blossomings have shown a tendency towards geographical clustering.) The first generation of Princesses have now reached middle age and many have gained positions of prestige and influence. In doing so they have caused a backlash from established power blocks, both mortal and otherwise. The Twilight Queens have also experienced a renaissance, each was active through the Long Night and were perfectly placed to take advantage of the release. New and vulnerable Princesses have been eagerly snapped up by all three sides.
As the saying goes, we live in interesting times.
Next: Being a Princess