CHARACTERS/PAIRING; Rose, John, Jade, Dave; light Rose/John
SUMMARY; Fairytale AU. In order to escape a dangerous betrothal, Princess Rose begins a quest in a strange land to find the one item that can save her. Things do not go as planned.
Once upon a time, far away in a kingdom of light and rain, there lived a wise queen and her only daughter. The daughter, called Rose, was clever and observant; not a fleeting look passed that she did not catch. But for all her intelligence she was proud and distrustful of others, always preferring to solve dilemmas on her own.
Until her sixteenth year Rose’s problems all could be solved in this solitary manner. However, the day of her birthday a guest arrived who would change that forever. He was an emissary from a far-flung kingdom, the regent to a child empress. The man’s demeanor was impeccable, but there was a smoothness in his face that repulsed the princess – it was as if she were staring into a polished surface when their eyes met, all reflection and no emotion. The gala held for her coming of age couldn’t end quickly enough, for the regent’s presence in the ballroom made it an intolerable affair.
While the princess wanted nothing to do with the regent, he was fixated with her. There was no way he would return to his kingdom before he made Rose his bride, and fortunately this wasn’t difficult to do. For while the queen may have been just in governing her land, she was incredibly unwise when it came to drinking. After cornering the good lady in the midst of one of her drunken stupors, the regent found it took only a few choice words to secure a betrothal. And so in the time it took to empty a glass of wine, Princess Rose’s life was sealed away.
The news of her engagement horrified the princess, but no matter how she pleaded and argued her mother refused to yield. To spite her Rose shut herself away in the massive castle library, refusing to come to the queen’s side for any reason.
Unbeknownst to anyone in the castle, an unhappy marriage wasn’t the only danger facing the young princess. Rose had been right in calling the regent unnatural, for his origin was not of this world; he was a powerful demon from another realm that prowled the earth determined to sow as much strife upon the land as he could. And what better way to cultivate discord than to murder the sole heir to the kingdom? For the regent meant to ensure that Rose’s wedding day would be the last time she drew breath.
The form he showed to the public was not his natural one, and for ease and convenience at night he returned to his monstrous shape. This would prove to be the flaw in his plan, as one night he forgot to close his door entirely. Princess Rose’s cat, who was given free reign over the castle, happened to poke his little head into the crack just as the regent transformed. Unfortunately for the poor cat, demons do not take kindly to anyone exposing their secrets; the next morning the cat’s body was strewn in the moat.
However, this was not the end. For all her aloofness, the princess had always been a good mistress to her cat. Even in death he could not bear the idea of her walking blindly into danger, and so he begged and pleaded with God until he was granted one night to return and warn her. That evening he appeared as a ghost in the princess’ inner chambers and warned her of her intended’s duplicitous nature.
"But what can I do?" Rose asked desperately. But her cat did not know, could not give her anything more to help her on her quest. Although perhaps the library would be more useful? She should seek her answers there.
And so she did, diving into text after text until she found the book that would save her life. The regent was powerful, fabulously so, but there was a time in the early dawn of the kingdom when he wielded even more power over the land. However it could not be contained in his body and began to leak into the ground, warping the fabric of reality as it settled.
This depositing of tremendous power for other people to find would simply not do, and so the regent sealed his abilities away in one of the rare treasures he’d collected over the years. This magnificent emerald, known as the Green Sun, was now what gave him his command over time and space. If the princess could find and destroy it, perhaps she would stand a chance in driving him away.
It seemed like a fool’s errand, but it was also Rose’s only chance to live past eighteen. She had no other choice but to evade her mother’s cloying decree to keep her in the castle until her marriage and find wherever the regent had stashed the Green Sun. To do this she would need someone who could smuggle her out of the castle, and luckily she knew exactly what she could offer a certain someone to do just such a job.
David was a young squire apprenticed to his brother in the castle. Outwardly he was nearly as stoic as the princess, but she knew that underneath ran emotions the boy could barely reign in. She cornered him in the stable and laid out her plan for him, including the hook: if he smuggled her out of the castle and accompanied her on this journey, Rose would make sure that he was knighted for it.
"And I know that you’re dying for a chance to get out of your brother’s shadow." she said, smirking at him from her spot leaning against the stall door.
David paused in his shoveling to regard her in the cool way he regarded everything. Then he shrugged and continued his work. "Well, it beats scooping out horse shit all day."
In the dead of night they stole through winding passages that should not exist out of the castle, heads down and feet bent for the docks. Untying a small boat that had been waiting for them they rowed out through the translucent water, out past the point where the shimmering waves congealed and darkened, through the watery border that marked where the kingdom of wind and shade began.
The Green Sun was a mythic object, a thing that was at best whispered about in the back of archaic tales. While the princess’ old maps had all definitively pointed to this kingdom as its location, the specifics became disjointed after that. The first few weeks the princess and her would-be knight spent much of their time traipsing up and down hills and trying to make sense of dead languages. It was a tense journey, as the pair was so similar in personality that they could not help but pick each other apart.
Eventually they came to rest at a small wayside inn, tended by an elderly couple long past their adventuring days and the couple’s grandchildren. They were sympathetic to the princess’ plight and let the two in on a secret that could greatly aid them – in that long ago time before the demon sealed his might, he kept a fearsome hunting dog. The dog was one of his greatest prides and went everywhere the demon did, and this eventually included being present at the sealing ceremony. The massive burst of energy from the spell needed a body to inhabit, and the poor dog was in the right place at the wrong time.
Granted abilities an animal could not understand, it fled the manor and roamed the forest for many days before being found and taken in by the couple. However it would always bear the mark of its first master, and like the faithful dog he was could always find his way back to the object that was the source of his powers.
When the princess heard this, she was overjoyed and begged to be able to take the dog with her on the journey. The couple assented, but admitted that the decision wasn’t truly theirs to make – the dog had attached itself to their granddaughter and would only listen to her commands. If they wanted his services they would have to take her along as well. Upon approaching the girl, named Jade, they found that she was willing to accompany them only if they took her brother John along as well.
The thought of having so many people on the journey made Rose frown in distaste, but what choice did she have? The party was expanded to five.
For all of Rose’s misgivings about the large group, she found that the addition of the siblings made traveling easier. They were genuine and lively, balancing out the stoic nature of their companions. The princess found she was particularly fond of John, who could make her laugh more in a day than she’d done in a year. She never thought about these feelings, however, as there were more important issues to worry about. Even if her life hadn’t been hanging in the balance, the princess would never had addressed the warm feeling in the pit of her stomach. She only needed herself to be happy.
As with all good things, the tranquility of the party soon ended. Over the days Rose began to notice that she was becoming less and less useful, a mere accessory on a trip undertaken for her sake. Being a woman proud of her ability to solve problems without outside help, this realization struck her heart cold and chafed at her frustrations. She could not, would not accept being useless – but what could be done to change it?
That night the demons spoke to her.
They reached out in her dreams, dark whispers sweetly caressing the princess’ sleeping mind. They had been banished into another world by the regent, the one she sought to destroy, and they wanted to help her in her plight. After all, such a sweet girl deserved to be shown the right way, the fast way, to saving her own life. Who better than the ones that knew the regent best?
In better times, Rose would have refused and forced herself awake in a tangle of screams and convulsions. But these were not better times, and the demons told her wondrous things.
She began to slowly withdraw from her friends, taking longer and longer to return from wood gathering or villages that they passed. The princess had always been willowy, but in the days after her dreaming she began to waste away into something pale and sickly. Her demons showed her how to fashion a wand out of a branch from a tree killed by lightning, and after it was made not even John could make her smile.
The others in the group worried, but couldn’t put into words the fear that they held in their hearts. After all, it was no easy paths they were traveling. To take the journey badly was natural of a woman who had never left the luxury of her castle before now. And if she was short with her words this was no difference from their first days together. But no matter how many times they repeated these things in their minds the heaviness did not leave their hearts.
David, who knew the princess best, who could never truly keep his emotions from running away, grew tired of dancing around the problem like a nobleman at a ball. The next time they stopped to rest he confronted her, demanding an explanation for her behavior.
"I’m simply expediting our mission with the help of outside forces."
"Whatever outside forces they are, they’re killing you."
"Don’t say that! You don’t understand, none of you understand how they’re helping us!"
"Then make me understand! Show me how eating away at my friend is helping!"
"Get away from me."
Rose took her wand, crackling with dark magic, and slashed open her knight’s chest. The boy she had dragged over land and sea gaped at her, and for a moment she felt a twinge of sorrow. But then his strength gave out and David collapsed, and the princess disappeared into a cloud of dark smoke.
Whether out of affection or newness to the craft, Rose had not left him with a deep wound. The siblings were able to stop the bleeding and satisfactorily bandage the cut; with this done they raced towards the decrepit manor looming above them, for it was obvious that what Rose intended to do was madness.
They found her in the library, in the middle of a spell circle and grasping onto a massive emerald that shone to put its namesake to shame. An unnatural wind whipped through the room as the princess unchained the locks to the other world, keeping her friends at bay. They begged for her to stop, if not for her sake then for their own. She paid them no heed and continued about her work, although it was obvious the way her eyes would flicker to John’s desperate face and back.
Finally enough of the binding were off that the demons began to reach through the cracks. They were grotesque beings, horned things with too many teeth and malice in their eyes. Rose greeted them like old friends, laughing and promising that soon she would repay their help. All that was left was to destroy the Green Sun.
And how to do that? The demons had promised to tell her the last step when she reached the manor, and now they made good on their word: to summon enough power to shatter the gen, she would have to take the lives of the companions who had so faithfully followed her.
Everything went silent. The princess stared in horror at what had until this point been her guides on the path to victory, unable to process what they were telling her now. They had no concern for her hesitation, screaming in an unearthly chorus for her to finish the job and spill blood. She could only look between the demons and her friends, unable to right her upended world.
Then John stepped forward, head bowed against the wind. He smiled, as if his friend wasn’t in the grips of darkness, as if they were still around the fire in the middle of the wilderness, and said "If you need someone to die, take me. I’ll do whatever makes you happy, Rose."
Rose made her decision then. With a scream, she turned and flung the Green Sun into the magical gate she’d made. The castle shook and the demons shouted and cursed the girl, but it was no use – the Sun exploded, its energy sealing the gate again in a flash of light and heat.
When the quakes passed, the princess was sprawled unconscious across the floor. Even a strong heart can only stand against so much at one time.
They bundled her up and returned to the kingdom of light and rain. On their journey across the tar sea, she awoke and amends were made. By the time they set foot on familiar ground their bonds had been sewn up tighter than before.
The regent had felt the destruction of the Green Sun and fled the castle that very night, leaving no one but the penitent queen to greet the travelers upon their return. She and her daughter embraced for the first time in years, time having melted the heart of each by degrees. The princess then turned to introduce her dearest companions: David, who kept her mind sharp. Jade, who made her smile. And John, who made her heart sing.
And they lived happily ever after. The End.
Would you believe me if I said that I wrote this for my English class. /DUCKS