The night is darker than the deepest body of water, submerging everything and everyone. One should be careful not to trip and get lost, as only God knows what will happen to a little faerie wandering through the dusk.
However, within the quiet of the shadows, a body of light can be found. A body of light in the form of the vast estate of the High King of Comfort, where the halls are roaring and bustling with brightness and life. Amidst the chaos and ecstasy of the dancing creatures, the bodies tangled into a big mess on mountains of pillows, performing indecencies only the fae are capable of, and the spectacles involving human play toys, one couple of dancers are lost in their own world.
Princess Comryn, daughter of the High King, and prince Chander of the Court of Change dance together in a whirlwind of steps, arms and fabric floating around. From the outside, they look like two lovers, entangled in a sequence full of passion, love, and heat. However, once one listens closely, they shall notice the presence of passion and heat, but more surprisingly, the absence of love.
Comryn leans in close, taking in the heavy, intoxicating scent of her dance partner and places her lips close to his ear. “You really shouldn’t be here, you know. The relationship between the Kingdoms is more strained than ever.” Chander curls the right corner of his mouth and looks at her mockingly. “All the more reason to come and sweep their heir away, maybe we’ll finally be able to unite our Courts.” The dark-haired elf takes her hand and twirls her around before grabbing her again at the waist. He whispers, in a low voice that gives her a strange feeling in places she didn’t expect it to “Not that I needed any more reasons to do so, princess.”
Comryn inhales sharply, a small smile playing on the corners of her mouth. “Don’t call me that. And maybe once, I would have been able to reciprocate that feeling. When we still played together under the dense leafy roof of the trees, picking rowan berries to make necklaces.” Her smile drops ”But the situation is different now. We are different now. I would rather die before being courted by the likes of you.” She pulls back and fixes her eyes, a dark gleam clouding them “Or, preferably, unite the nation by extinguishing your light.”
The smug and proud look on the prince’s face cracks and his eyes emit a strange look. You could describe it like a mixture of cold fury and sadness, but there is an underlying emotion present which is hard to place. He steps away and examines her, holding her gaze, before turning his head and peering down at the floor. “You should really watch your back” he mumbles under his breath.
Leaving the elf dumbfounded by his remark, he moves backwards and disappears. Swallowed by the madness of ecstatic dancers and magic drunkards gracefully intertwining with one another.
For a while she stands there, unmoving and in a daze, staring into the storm. Then, like a bolt of lightning has jolted her awake from a century-long slumber, her vision sharpens as anxiety settles in. Frantically, she starts pushing through the fairies obstructing her path. Searching for a glimpse of the black hair and pointy ears of her ethereal nemesis. Goblins, sirens, and other fae folk obstructing her. She shoves them out of her way. They turn, ready to start a fight, but become white as a sheet once they realize who it is that wants to pass. Everywhere are arms, wings, and other limbs. Chaos. She stumbles into servers holding trays of everapple wine. Falls over dresses touching the floor. Gets tangled in fabric hanging from the ceiling.
Obstructed by the cloth, she twists her ankle and starts her downfall to the cold, hard floor. Closing her eyes and bracing herself for impact, she is startled to find herself jerking back as something catches her arm. Comryn looks back to find one of her court’s knights holding on to her. Before she has time to feel relieved that she will not be trampled to death on the ballroom floor, she notices his face. His expression grave and sombre - foreboding the news of a dire calamity.
The knight moves his mouth as if he should be producing sound, but she is unable to hear anything after his first five words: “The High King has passed.”
Everything turns into a big blur of sounds, shapes, lights, and other sensations until nothing remains but a high-pitched beep and a twisting, twirling vision. If it were not for the strong hand holding her arm, she would have kneeled down onto the ground, as her legs in an instant feel like nothing more than rubber.
“… Them … did this …” She mutters under her breath, staring out in front of her.
“Princess?” the knight bends over and reaches out to touch her. Before he is able to do so, however, Comryn lifts her head and looks him straight in the face.
“It was them. The Court of Change did this. They killed my father!” Her eyes are steel-set and clear, fury radiating off her face. She stands, straightening her posture and lifting her chin. “This time, they have gone too far. I will not be tolerant anymore.” She grabs the knight’s sword and marches through the crowd to the band of human musicians, a courtesy of the Court of Change, and plunges the blade into the closest musician’s chest, ripping him open and dropping his lifeless body to the floor. With an instant shriek, the music comes to a halt and all the partying fae look up to the stage. They open their mouths to start protesting, but quickly stop when they see the princess, covered in blood with a sword in hand.
Silence settles over the crowd as Comryn speaks “The High King, my father, is dead. As of now, I speak to you as your…” She stops for a second “Queen.” A shudder goes through the audience. “I have no doubts about the culprits, and I will not leave this incident unpunished. This night was supposed to be a celebration, a chance to unite Comfort and Change, but instead, they took our hospitality as an invitation to hostility.” She narrows her eyes “And hostility you will have. My fellow Comfort comrades, defend your heritage and feast on the blood of our enemies! I hereby declare the peace treaty broken, and war to the Court of Change!”
After only a beat of silence, a fierce roar rises from the fae as she finishes speaking. Another beat later the first splatters of blood stain the ivory white floors as a Comfort redcap sinks his dagger in the neck of a Change elf. Within seconds the crowd, once again, collapses into chaos. The tone of the party, however, has changed from a drunken festival to a festival of war – the curtains change into a dark shade of red as they get soaked with the blood of fae of both courts. Flocks of pixies gather to take down a screaming banshee, a manticore rips through the mass, and nymphs sparring with satyrs. In every corner of the dance floor there are mythical creatures having a stand-off, Comfort finding ways to kill Change whilst Change, lesser in numbers, finds ways to defend itself.
Comryn herself dances through the fairies, sword in hand, slaying all those in her way. Her wild eyes darting left to right, in search of that one person. She just knows that he is somehow involved in all this. He must be.
Suddenly, she feels a hand touching her shoulder. Before she is able to strike down whoever dares touching her, another hand holds her sword arm in place. Dread befalls her as she stares at her opponent. As she looks at his grim, dark eyes, she only has one thought.
This is it.
Chander stands in front of her, so close by that they are breathing the same air. And he looks furious.
“You!” She yells out. Desperately she tries to pull her arm from his grip. To no avail. His fingers only tighten stronger around her arm, his long nails piercing her skin. “What in the name of the Erlking do you think you’re doing?” his voice sounds cold and devoid of any of the playfulness it previously possessed.
“What do I think I’m doing?” Comryn finally rips her arm free, not noticing the blood dripping on her dress. “I should be the one asking you that question! What happened to uniting our courts? Was this really the best you could come up with? Killing my father and then, what? Taking over amidst the chaos? As if I would let that happen. I thought you knew me well enough for that.”
The prince gives her a pleading look “I do. Comryn. I do.” He runs a hand through his hair, taking a small step back. “You have to believe me; this was not the doing of any of the members of the Court of Chaos.”
“And what if I don’t?” Comryn says as she takes on a fighting stance. “I don’t believe a single word that pretty face of yours utters. You told me to watch my back, and now my father is dead. How do you even have the sheer audacity to call on my trust? You really think I’m that gullible?” Without any notice, she jumps forward, aiming her sword towards his sword arm.
Or, at least, where his sword arm once was. Chander has swiftly moved and gracefully evaded the vicious attack. “Please, Comryn, I do not want to fight you.”
She spits at him “Well, I do.” Quickly, she shifts her weight from one foot to the other, skipping around him, forcing him to partake in her dance of death. Exchanging blows, the metallic sound of clashing swords fills their little space. They leap, sway and twirl around each other in a whirlwind of fabric, blood spatters, and sweat. Their blades tear off pieces of skin, hair, and clothes, turning their finery into rags. Tiny cuts grace the skin of both elves, making them look even less otherworldly.
Comryn, blinded in her fury, keeps attacking and attacking, not noticing the change in her opponent’s behaviour. Until, suddenly, she stops. Or rather, she is forced to stop. Something is holding her sword in place and making it unable to move. Caught off guard, she snaps out of the dazed frenzy she was in and looks up to the prince.
He stands in front of her, weapon loosely in hand, hanging to his side. He looks at her, a small smile playing on his lips and a look of pity and sadness on his face. Comryn’s eyes widen in confusion, not understanding the sight she is seeing. Until he coughs, and a stream of blood drips from his mouth. It is not an object holding her blade in place, her fighting is halted because her sword is buried handle-deep in the dark elf’s stomach.
Both of them stand completely still, frozen in time whilst the tumultuous party around them continues. Locking eyes and exchanging looks, they silently understand that this is it. Years and years of friendship, family feuds and fighting has lead to this moment, and it is over within a heartbeat.
Chander grabs his stomach while he drops onto one knee, unable to keep standing. “You really did me good, princess.” He looks up at the queen of Comfort “Part of me always knew it was going to end up like this, we never stood a chance.”
Dumbfounded by his calmness and acceptance, Comryn speaks up “You really think Change would get away with something like this? Killing the king and taking over the rule of all the land? Of course you never stood a chance.”
The prince laughs “You still, even whilst I’m on the floor and bleeding out, believe it was Change who killed your father? Princess, I am not talking about our court not standing a chance. I mean us. You, me. We were never meant to be together.” He takes out something from his pocket “I went to investigate your father’s body after I heard the news and found this.” He shows her a piece of blue-and-green fabric, the colours of Comfort. “It was your own people who did this, but you reject Change so much that you were blinded and misled.”
Comryn gasps for air as she looks at the fabric in his hand, teardrops welling up in her eyes. Chander continues “I could never take anything so dear from you, princess. If anything, I want to give you the world, the skies and all the beauty within it. I have yearned for you ever since we ran through the fields, chasing wild fae and eating everapples under the moonlight.” He reaches out his hand to brush a strand of hair out of her face, now drenched in tears. “I love you, my princess. I have always loved you and I will always continue loving you, even after I am no longer here.”
He takes off his ring, which he has worn ever since he was born. “Comryn, please accept this ring as my last favour. Take it, wear it, and reign with it.” He cups her cheek and brings her face close to his. “You are capable of more than you think, of being so much more than your father ever was. If only you accept me and my Court, you will be able to grow and flourish when you are not constrained by your fear.”
Barely keeping her composure, the Queen of Comfort folds her hand over the Change Prince’s holding the ring. She brings his hand to her lips and presses a kiss on his knuckles. “I promise. I promise I will always hold on to it, until the day I perish, I will keep it close to my heart.” She whispers softly.
As she utters her last words, Chander smiles and closes his eyes. After he lets out his last breath, the elf breaks and sounds a heart-breaking scream, followed by inconsolable sobbing.
All around, the fighting fae stop and look up to the source of the sudden sound. When they spot the queen and prince on the floor, the crowd immediately parts. A silence settles over the folk. All is quiet, some are in shock, some are in mourning, except for Comryn’s weeping.
After a while, the sniffling subsides, and she stands. Her head hanging. Slowly, she straightens her posture and turns to face the public.
“My underlings, today we mourn. Both Courts have faced great loss.” She looks around “But I do not want this to divide us. Now, more than ever, we need each other. I will be honouring the last request of Chander, Prince of Change, and I will…” She shows her hand with Chander’s ring on it “… start my rule on a different footing.” A chattering ripples through the audience.
“From today on, Comfort will rule with Change. We will gather ourselves and we will rise.” Her voice swells in strength “From today on, we will unite and be stronger than we have ever been!”