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 Sleeping Beauty, Act I Epilogue: The Aftermath

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Join date : 2010-09-17

PostSubject: Sleeping Beauty, Act I Epilogue: The Aftermath   Sat Nov 28, 2015 11:31 pm

“In which the dawn comes…”


The night gave way to the day, and everything concerning the tragedy that befell the Star was lost. The royal family, the fairies and the beast—even the fires in the castle died out with the arrival of dawn. The curtain of that night’s tragedy was lifted, only to expose the remnants of a fallen dynasty, and its lost and confused people.

As morning came, the townspeople gathered around the castle, finally braving the frightening grounds. No trace of the former brilliance of the Star remained. No survivors—no clue as to what had happened.

The fire that broke out deep in the night had ravaged the once-great palace, and woken a great many from their beds in fear of the inevitable destruction. Though the flames had died in the early hours, there was little left for the few brave souls to investigate. Sections of the castle had crumbled, thanks to the structural damage caused by the blaze, burying whole wings and the bodies within, while leaving others partially intact. Exploration of the scorched higher floors revealed only a select number of corpses, charred beyond recognition, and no sign as to what could have caused such a travesty. Certainly, it must have been an accident—but trying questions remained. Why had no one attempted escape? Why had nothing been done to quell the flames?

The strangest and most devastating discovery came during a search of the grand ballroom.

Accessible only through the broken wall, the chamber had inexplicably caved in, though the fire had hardly reached the outer halls, and the ballroom itself had no floors above it. Something had caused it to fall. The bodies of the great Emperor and his fair bride were found atop the rubble within, lying peacefully side-by-side. Clouded by mist in the early hours, the room itself seemed not of this world, like an image from a myth…or perhaps a nightmare. Though their remains were crushed, they were intact, and inexplicably untouched by the flames—and yet, the presence of unsightly punctures in their bodies indicated that they had not died naturally, nor in the cave-in. It seemed that someone had taken great care to dig them from the wreckage, but that person was nowhere to be found. With this, all hope for their survival was lost. They were gone from this world—and all that remained were damaged shells.

The Grand Duke’s body was not recovered, but his study and chambers were among those buried in the chaos, and so the would-be rescuers could only assume he had died in the night. The baby was also missing, though his nursery and his parents’ room were among the sections spared. While some hoped that, somehow, he might have escaped, others were more realistic. How could an infant survive a calamity that had taken the lives of men? No doubt his tiny body was lost in the rubble, along with his uncle, their guards and the staff.

News of the unnatural events spread like the fire that had taken the palace, stretching to the corners of the empire and beyond, to ally and enemy alike. The Star royals were of a fading clan, and with the loss of the family, none remained to claim the throne. However, the mysterious circumstances in which they had perished would certainly dissuade any rival kingdom from attempting to take the lands, fearing that they were cursed for their powerful and well-loved leaders to meet such a terrible fate. Even the widely feared Emperor of the Star, the warrior king himself, had not been spared a gruesome death at the hands of this horror. What hope could any other ruler have to take his place, when even he had been no match for his fate?

It wasn't until the following day, after the discovery of the night’s horrific events, that the Cross—once-rivals turned friends—returned to the devastated empire.

The tragedy that had befallen the Star had seeped into its newfound ally, bringing with it all the sadness and despair that gripped the people of the frozen kingdom. Even so, only one house remained, though this did little to relieve the melancholy in the air.

Beyond the ruined castle, people gathered about the graves of the lost. Nobility and commoner alike arrived to pay respect to those who had always been, now never again to be. Beyond the gathering, the dark carriage stood. The once bright escort of the visiting royal family was bereft of its signature golds and vibrant reds, now clothed in mournful black, in deference to the departed. They, too, grieved over the deaths of the imperial family…and with them, of their peace, and the very land itself.

The doors of the coach swung dutifully open, giving way to the Queen of the Cross. The lively flower of the South was dressed in the withered petals of death, a dark veil fastened over her face to conceal the grief a queen couldn’t afford to show. Consumed by her family’s own tragedy and the loss of their dear friends, Arianna stepped before the marble gravestone, cold and solemn in her sadness. With the deaths of the Star, the Queen’s hopes for the future were lost, and so the mourning extended to the Cross, its citizens uncertain of what the future would hold for them, if not the peace and prosperity they had hoped for. Dark times indeed were on the horizon.

A second figure appeared from the carriage. Clad in dark courtwear, King Paolo stepped down, both firm and unsteady, pursuing his wife through the ashen-faced congregation. His steps seemed heavy and exhausting, and in spite of the coat worn loose upon his shoulders, and the early morning chill, sweat appeared visibly at his brow. In spite of it, his expression remained firm, the expression of a strong ruler. A strong, wounded ruler who—like his bride—could not afford his stoic mask to crumble. He came to stand beside his queen, sharing with her his grief in silence, clenching fists in private anguish as she laid flowers for their friends. Together, they bid their grim farewells.

What would become of the two lands, now deprived of their joint future? What would become of the prince, left behind in his grandmother’s arms?

“Forget everything,” the woman comforted the silent boy, stroking his auburn hair. “It would be best if you just forget.” She welcomed him into her embrace, numbing his thoughts with each caress. This worked only in part, however, for as much as the faces in his head diffused, becoming indistinct and distant, the faintest jingling resounded, and brought them all back again. He really had come to accept and believe in the promise he made to the newborn prince that day—that both would live to grow old together, and that he would be there to keep him safe.

Feeling his eyes cloud with the return of his memories, he closed them instead, giving in to his grandmother’s comfort. Perhaps it really would be best to forget…

If only he were able to.

In the following days, the young prince—lost in the unfathomable world of adults—would find himself wandering without aim through the halls of his home. When the grownups were swept up in conflict and distress, there was little means for a lost boy to find his place. It wasn’t intentional. Amidst the sudden atmosphere of desperation in the Cross, his mother was forced to rule in place of his weakened and bedridden father. The king tried his best to take the burden upon himself, but his slowly recovering body denied him this ability; he was left frustrated and powerless, becoming distant, and cold. His mother tried as well, looking after his recovery while ever reassuring the prince that things would be all right. But mere words lost their power over time, and repetition.

Thus, it was that, while one house was lost, the other began to crumble from within its splendid shell. If not for the boy’s grandmother, the Cross would surely have been lost as well. The Queen Mother aided her daughter in both ruling and nursing, and it was her words that guided and comforted the boy’s mind.

One so young as the prince was not meant to know of death…to known of the eternal sleep, and how its power changed the world. In his naïveté, he understood that much. They were simply not things he was meant to comprehend. Scared, confused, angry and sad, all that he wanted was to give some meaning to what he felt, to find some way to ease the pain—to have someone to blame. Instead, he was given false reassurance, weak sympathy, and advice he couldn’t take. How was one to forget the memories of a friend? Not even wishing it could a person erase the shadows from his head. What was he to do, when his heart didn’t wish to forget?

His life and his innocence had been compromised by the events and the wisdom they had brought him, however fleeting and incomplete. Such a sin could never be made right—the wrong could not be undone. The memories would stay, and the young prince would have to cope with the pain they brought him. If only he knew what to make of it.

Alone in a hall that spoke of his line’s great conquest and victories, the child unknowingly made a vow, and an exchange. “There’s no point in magic…” he realized. His crumbling life would not be saved with a miracle—the answers would not present themselves by chance. Life just didn’t work that way. Magic had not saved his friend—it was not saving him. Stepping up to grasp a sword too heavy to be carried by a boy, he accepted reality, and discarded his sullied innocence, which to him had no use. Only with one’s own hands could life be protected, as his father had guarded his life, and by doing so, sacrificed his own.

Never again would he search for powers that didn’t exist. Such things were the fancies of children…and he was not a child anymore.


Once upon time, in a land far away, there stood two crumbling kingdoms. To the north lie the ancient Empire of the Star, a kingdom of knowledge, now without a ruler, or a direction for its lost and frightened people. To the south lie the neighboring Kingdom of the Cross, a realm of music and art, now silent and colorless in the face of doubt, in the shadow of their weakened king. They had once been glorious, intent upon peace and prosperity, together seeking their happily ever after—but it seemed that fate had closed the curtain upon that time. It was not to be.

With uncertainly on the horizon, and the promise of a future stage far darker than once sought, one thing was certain: this act was complete…and there would be no applause.

Act I - End
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Sleeping Beauty, Act I Epilogue: The Aftermath
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