Chapter Five

No Matter the Cost

Lohengrin paced through the courtyard, looking at nothing but his own shabby boots. There was nothing to look at now. Many of the windows surrounding the enclosed space had been cracked, broken, or covered with planks to keep the draft out. The dogwood tree had died from neglect sometime in the last year or so, yet its dark carcass still remained. And the lake was now a stinking swamp. There were no more swans, and no more ducks. In fact, no one had seen any kind of bird other than a raven in years. [1]

Years. Yes. The Prince had been battling the Raven for what seemed like endless years. [2]

Lohengrin stopped, rocked in place for a moment, and then turned. "Damn." He was late. The Prince and his scouting party were late. It should only have been a three day mission. And yet, now on the fourth day, there was still no sign of them. Lohengrin knew that he should not have let him go. But then… since the death of his parents…

King Mime had been first. In the months following the Raven's coup Lohengrin had seen in his king both the warrior of whom he had heard so much from his own father, and the man, fearful and broken by the one task that had been entrusted to him and the one task he had been unable to complete – the protection of his kingdom.

He too had been a protector of the realm. The first among protectors. None had dared defy King Mime when he ordered that the gates be opened. He them rode out, alone, and charged upon the onslaught. Siegfried only found out when he came upon his mother, standing ghostly silent by one of the windows, looking like a specter, with tears in her eyes.

The guards would not open the gates again for their Prince that day. It had been their king's last command – to keep the gates shut. Siegfried and Lohengrin had torn to the tallest tower as fast as their legs could carry them. From that height they had watched as the army of ravens flocked Mime, engulfing him. He died before he allowed himself to be turned into one of them. He took many of them with him, but he died none the less, claimed by the despair of the duty he had failed. Old King Mime was no more.

Queen Sieglinde… She lasted longer. She sat upon her throne, next to the vacant place of her husband, and ruled. She did what she could to ease her son's burden as he tried to scrounge together an army from the handful of men still within the castle walls. However, in the end, she too was taken. She could not live without the King, whom she had loved so entirely. Lohengrin still remembered how she had fought her own despair, even upon her deathbed, until it claimed her all the same. [3]

Lohengrin heard a clank of noise behind him. He turned. There, leaning against one of the cracked archways, in full armor, was his Prince. The knight saw him teeter, and his sword slipped through his gauntlet-clad fingers. Lohengrin tore across the court and caught his liege just as Siegfried fell. "What were you thinking? Why did you not take off your armor when you first arrived?" Lohengrin hissed.

Siegfried groaned. "Wanted to see you first… Knew you would be worried…"

"Foolish Prince," Lohengrin breathed as he fastened his hand around the rim of Siegfried's helmet and pulled it off of him. The helmet clattered to the ground, and Lohengrin breathed in sharply. "Siegfried…" he whispered, "…your hair."

Now that he thought about it, Lohengrin could not remember the last time that the two friends had seen one another out of their helmets. There was no time for leisure now. No time for dance. When they saw one another now, it was on horseback, swords drawn, before or after battle, or on the way to or from the council rooms. Now that he thought about it… Lohengrin could not even remember the last time he had seen Siegfried out of armor.

The Prince's hair, which had always been blond, cascaded out of the helmet now in silver trestles. Lohengrin blinked at it, mesmerized and horrified in one. With the war, the death of his parents, and the destruction their entire kingdom, Siegfried's hair had become sheer white.

"Haha…" Siegfried laughed weakly. "Ah… I was wondering how long I could keep you from noticing. It's been going for quite a while now." Lohengrin eased him to a sitting position and, as his Prince looked up into his face with an exhausted smile, he understood just why he had not noticed. His eyebrows were still a light brown, and their original color. They were all that was left of it.

Lohengrin awoke with a start. Sleep did not come easily to him anymore. His entire body was stiff and sore and he felt that his fingers could hardly grip a sword any longer. He did not even note the sound of crows outside his window, outside the castle. It was a sound he was so accustomed to that he could hardly take any regard of it. Still, he looked up from his bed, at the darkness that poured in through the panes of glass. He had not seen light in so long, with the body of the Monster Raven blotting out the sun… he had practically forgotten what it looked like.

The only illumination in this kingdom now, aside from the few remaining and swiftly depleting candles, was that of the flashing of thunderbolts, and the occasional fires that could be seen ravaging the towns beyond the wall. Lohengrin sighed. The world was colorless to him.

With a heave he rose from his bed. He would press on. He would never stop protecting the prince to whom he had pledged his sword and his love. Sometimes Lohengrin tried to remember the life he had led before he met Siegfried, before he had come to Swan Stone Castle to be knighted. It all seemed like another world now. He splashed his face in the freezing water from his basin, before slowly looking up into the mirror propped upon his nightstand. His entire body was covered in nicks and small scars from ravens' claws and crows' beaks. Lohengrin pressed his fingers against one of the fresher wounds on his arm, lost in thought.

He needed to hurry, or he would be late to the morning meeting in the council room. Mopping up his face with his own tunic, and strapping on his sword, Lohengrin prepared himself for whatever this new day of darkness would bring.

When he entered the council room some ten minutes later it was as though he had stepped into a hive of activity. For a moment, Lohengrin almost wondered if he had come to the wrong place. But no, for there, standing at the table in the center of the room, distinct from all others by his mop of white hair, Siegfried was leaning over their battle plans.

He looked up as Lohengrin entered, and the knight saw a fire in his eye that he had long feared had gone out. It was the same fire which he had seen the first time Siegfried had clapped eyes on the Raven.

"Lohengrin!" Siegfried called out, gesturing for him to come forward. The knight maneuvered his way through the jostling courtiers. They too had changed over the years. Lohengrin remembered how these men had appeared on the day of his knighting. He had looked down upon them then with their jovial faces, and their enthusiasm for their Prince's coming of age. He had thought them a silly people. Now, however, as he looked into first one harrowed face after another, he wished more than he could say for a return to that time. Lohengrin came to stand by the side of his Prince, who proceeded to point a glove-clad finger at the map. "There," he said. "There is where the defenses are weakest, and there is where we will be able to reach the Raven himself!" He looked about him at the members of court in the chamber, smiling encouragingly. "Our rangers brought us this news last night. We finally have what we need to defeat him. We ride in one week. Let these days be the last days of the Crow Festival." He pressed his fist firmly upon the table. The room was filled with exclamations of "Hear, hear!" The men's features showed disbelief and hope, arranged haphazardly on their faces.

Lohengrin felt the blood pounding through his veins. After all the suffering and all of the darkness, would these days truly see the coming of the light? He clasped his hand on his Prince's shoulder. "Then I shall ready for battle," he said hoarsely.

Siegfried smiled. "I will look for you on the field. Then, together, we shall bring this Monster Raven down."

Filled with a resolve that Lohengrin had not felt in years, the knight marched through the dark castle. About him the air was filled the ringing of metals as armor and swords were inventoried and as spears were gathered. For the first time in years the sound of crows was blotted out.

In one week he and Siegfried would take up arms one last time, and attack the Raven directly. The Raven spoke so often of the taking of hearts. Well, now they would strike him at the heart. Together, the prince and the knight would ride forward, and they would at last bring to an end this Armageddon.

Light splashed upon him. Lohengrin almost flinched as though he had been scorched, so unused and shocked was he by the sensation. He looked down upon himself to see that he was bathed in so many different colors; it was almost as though it was… "Stained-glass," he whispered. Lohengrin looked up to see that the light was coming through an archway. Mesmerized, he followed, and found himself in a small, discreet chapel.

He knew this place. The Prince had taken him here, in happier times. This was where Siegfried had been baptized. The Chapel of Hope, it was called. And there, in the one stained-glass window that rose just above him, was depicted the swan on the crest of Siegfried's house.

No… Lohengrin thought, coming nearer. No, the swan upon Siegfried's crest was a resting swan, perched atop a crown. This swan, however, was flying, her rainbow-touched wings spread wide on either side of her, the tiara gleaming atop her head. It was the same as that which Siegfried had embroidered in golden rays upon his purple garb, which he had worn that last time they ventured beyond the wall. The same as he had worn on his white tunic, the day of their knighthood. The image seemed to envelop Lohengrin as he stood before it.

He did not know why or how there could be light here, now, in such a world of darkness. The knight felt his mouth go very dry and, though he had never before felt the need to do such a thing since the day that King Mime had given him his sword, he took a knee.

For one moment, he gave himself to that light. It gave him Hope.

Lohengrin wrapped his fingers on the door of the castle smith some hours later, and opened it. He could just make out the man by the red hot glow of his kiln. He was a tall man, if an older one. He had once made many swords for the battles of King Mime's day. His hands still remembered his trade, even if his heart was unsure. The shop was a furnace of activity in preparation for the coming battle. "Sorry to bother you," Lohengrin said, walking in. "But I have a commission for you. I would like you to emboss my shield. I would like it emblazoned with a swan… with soaring wings." [4]

Lohengrin thought back to that moment when he had kneeled, and how that moment had passed. War called. He had risen back to his feet and, with a final bow to the stained-glass vision, he had turned his back upon it. And he saw the light no more.

One week later, dressed in full armor and with sword and shield in hand Lohengrin rode out upon Lamiere to bring her side by side with Siegfried's own white stallion. Behind them the Prince had assembled every able-bodied knight, noble and stable boy who could bear arms. In front of them stood the gate.

The darkness crackled about them and lightening split the sky. As Lohengrin gazed above the wall, he saw the Raven's blood red eyes crack open as his interest piqued. Siegfried turned his horse to face his people, by whose side he now risked everything.

"Friends," he called over the rising wind, his white hair whipping about his face. "We have spent many years together." Thunder clapped through the sky. "We have shared losses the like of which were past our imagination for so many years." Lohengrin could not say if it was the sky or the Prince's voice that cracked. "We have known deep and terrible pain." The silence that followed these words was thick with the grief that they had all felt, for all those who had fallen over the years. For Siegfried, the silence was for his parents. "However! We have never allowed that pain to conquer us!" A shout of affirmation went up from among the men. Siegfried drew his sword and pointed to the gate. "We have kept pain and suffering at bay long enough. Now, let us chase it from our land, once and for all!" Another shout. "We shall defeat the Raven!" Siegfried rode up and down the ranks of his men. "We shall restore the people of this realm, and free them of the raven's blood which contaminates them!" He once again brought his horse to a halt at the front of his army. "And we shall live in peace once more!"

The cheers, the cries and the exclamations erupted from the crowd in a tumult. They were almost enough to comfort Lohengrin. Almost… save that, out of the corner of his eye, he could see the crack in the sky where the Raven's fiery beak began to spread into a smile.

He looked to Siegfried, who was once more by his side. "No matter what happens today," he said quietly to his knight, "we cannot fail." Then, after a moment, he added, "no matter the cost."

Lohengrin remembered the wild look of fear on old King Mime's face when the knight had uttered those same words. Lohengrin's grip tightened on his reins. He remembered with what love and fear of loss he had looked upon his son, Lohengrin's dearest friend. He could not hesitate now. "Whatever the cost," the knight nodded.

The Prince raised his hand sharply and gave the signal for the gates to open. The sound of the crows' cry deafened the entire army. They staggered. Siegfried motioned forward. Lohengrin set his jaw, and sent Lamiere into a gallop. Horse and man flew upon the enemy.

From that moment on Lohengrin simply stopped thinking. Instead, in flooded in every single motion he had ever studied in his training. Every block he had learned by rote. Every lunge. From the moment that Lamiere's hooves fell upon a raven's beak and Lohengrin heard the crack as it splintered beneath their combined weight his senses went numb. He did what he could to keep the Prince within his sights. However, all too often his vision was obscured by feather, beak and talon.

Lohengrin smashed through the first lines.

Suddenly, he heard a burst of a laugh at his elbow, and Siegfried was once again at his side. He too fought with all the skill that drill and war had hardened within him. "Truly, Lohengrin, you did my kingdom the highest honor on the day you came to Swan Stone for your knighthood."

"Ha," Lohengrin laughed back, even as he gritted his teeth shut and threw his full weight upon another enemy. "You can thank my father for that! He sent me to you. I was none too keen, you know. Thought your castle was a little too," he strained his sword against an enemy, and won, "cheery!" Another raven bore down upon Lohengrin and a completely different set of movements, trained into him outside of the sparing grounds, took hold. Without even thinking Lohengrin placed his feet upon Lamiere's flanks and threw himself with a leap into the air, bending his back in a pas de poisson, and plunging his sword into the creature with its upraised claws.

He fell back into his saddle with accomplished grace, and took to the fight with new vigor, refusing to look into Siegfried's eye. It had been a movement that he had learned in the ballet classes Lohengrin had begrudged so much.

"Knight of the Swan," Siegfried finally called out to him through the fray.


"Knight of the Swan. It is a rank given to only the King's most trusted and most loyal knights. The last man to receive it was my father's old friend, the Mage, when they two were young in battle together." As he spoke, out of breath, Siegfried battered off three crows in one swoop. "The title is yours, if you'll have it!" Through the chaos, the war, and the darkness, Lohengrin caught a glimpse of that radiant, earnest smile that the Prince could exude even now, after so much suffering. [5]

A knot tightened in Lohengrin's throat and his grip on the leather strap of his shield grew taught. He opened his mouth the call out to Siegfried, but in that instant the next wave of the Raven's army washed upon them with full force. Once more Lohengrin lost sight of his prince.

As he scanned the area about him, all the while pressing forward, Lohengrin suddenly found himself face to face with a tall, poised woman, hair tinted green, astride a giant screech owl with feathers of red fire, flecked black. The lady wore – if it could be called wearing – a few plates of decorative armor. And she looked all too pleased to see him.

"My, my," she said, ignoring the din about her and instead fixing her eyes down upon the knight. "You must be my Lord's knight and protector," she cooed.

Lohengrin gripped his sword firmly. By her mount he knew her to be one of the Owl Clan, and thus a traitor to the royal line. "I'm afraid that I do not know your name, woman. But then, I know the name of no betrayers."

"Oh," the woman raised an eyebrow. "Has my lord Siegfried not made mention of the time that I asked for his hand in marriage, and of how his wicked parents, jealous that his affection should be divided, kept us from one another?" She stretched out upon the back of her owl almost as though she were in a sitting room rather than upon a battle ground.

So, this was the Lady Eule. Though Lohengrin had now lived in the castle many years there were still faces of which he knew nothing. However, he had heard tell of the Owl Clan matriarch, and how she had come for Siegfried's hand in marriage. Lohengrin had often teased Siegfried, back in the peaceful days, on the subject, for he found it amusing that so worldly a woman would seek the hand of so innocent a boy.

The knight was not laughing now.

"Yield to me now, surrender yourself to the Prince's forces, and no harm will come to you." It was a mere formality to ask her this. He knew her answer even as she looked upon him with that nocturnal smile.


They fell upon each other with vicious ardor. Sword met talon, and Lohengrin was engulfed in the beating of wings, and the shriek of the owl. He felt it in his ears and in his nostrils. In the next instant Lady Eule took the creature into the skies. The knight looked up just as the owl bared its claws once more, and hurtled down upon him. His shield was all that saved him. He felt his muscles screaming beneath his skin. Every ounce of work by rote he had ever gone through, both with a sword and on the dance floor, now came to his arms as his only salvation. He swung out upon the bird and its rider, and sliced the owl along the wing, cutting its tendons. Bird and woman let out an agonized screech as one, and toppled from the sky. As with any animal, it became twice as deadly when wounded. Lamiere snorted in fear as the mammoth bird lumbered to bare down upon them once again, its eyes wide with pain and fury. Through the feathered mass Lohengrin could just make out the face of Lady Eule, battered from the fall, and just as livid as her charge.

They were upon him.

He knew this would be his only chance. With a heave of all his strength, Lohengrin plunged his sword through the heart of the owl, through to that of its mistress. The Lady Eule's eyes became round and she looked upon the knight, who felt his sword taking on the dead weight of an enemy slain.

"His heart…" she whispered, her face now mere inches from that of the knight as he struggled to hold up his sword. "…I want his heart." The light went from her eyes, and Lohengrin pulled his sword free as he allowed the bodies of servant and mistress to fall to the battleground with a thud.

"It is not yours for the taking, Lady," he whispered.

As he wiped his sword on his cloak Lohengrin looked up to the combat before him. The Owl Clan was the last defense between the Prince and the Raven, and the Knight had just dispatched with their leader. Others around him were still battling. He was the first to have broken through. Lohengrin's jaw set. He was Siegfried's first and best knight. He was the Swan Knight. He would see an end to this Raven before the Prince could even put himself in harm's way.

He would always protect the Prince.

With a "Hyaah!" and a jolt to Lamiere's sides the knight drove forward, through the last lines of defense, through the darkness that shrouded about him, and through the lightening that cracked on every side of him, to halt before the Monster Raven himself. The Monster Raven's eyes were fixed on him.

"Ah, knight, how good of you to come and visit," he chuckled in his velvet voice. For how many years now had Lohengrin heard that voice cackling from his window? Seen those eyes on the horizon? Seen this monster in his nightmares? Now, after all the war and carnage, he stood before him, the plague which cursed this land.

"Raven," Lohengrin called up, "your days or tyranny end now! I have come to take your life!" He gripped his sword as tightly as he could and he held to Lamiere's reigns so that she could not stagger. This was the task he had always trained for. This was the moment that he had been approaching all of his life. He was not afraid. He was not afraid.

The Raven let out something of a sarcastic whine. "Really now, knight. And after I so ardently looked for you on the field!" He clucked his massive beak, and flapped his wings to raise hurricane winds.

As Lohengrin braced himself against the onslaught of winds the words that the Raven had uttered resounded in his mind. Someone else had promised to look for him on the field. Someone else, just recently, had… Lohengrin's blood ran cold. His eyes shot up once more to look upon the Monster that had ravaged the kingdom, against whom he and the prince had fought these many years, in defiance of whom the king and queen had died.

He looked upon the Raven, and he understood. For years now Lohengrin had wondered where such a colossus could have come from. Ravens and darkness were as old as the land. As old as light. But the Monster Raven… he was an anomaly. He was a creature of unnatural magic.

"You…" he whispered. "…You are the Prince's own darkness, banished from him on the day of his birth." As the prince was a being of pure goodness and charity and honor, so too was the Raven a creature of evil, of vice, and of disgrace. And yet they were two sides of the same coin. Both goodness and evil, in the absence of one another, unchecked and uncurbed, had grown into the most powerful versions of themselves. The spell that had been laid upon the land at the prince's birth had as much made the prince as it had been made because of the prince. Lohengrin now stood looking upon the result.

"Ah…" The Raven breathed out slowly, looking down upon the knight with something that almost resembled appreciation. "Well… Aren't you the clever little knight. Yes. I am the Prince, and the Prince is the Raven. Hence," once more that mouth split a smile across the entire sky, "I will have his heart, and be whole once again!" [6]

Lohengrin grit his teeth. "So help me, I shall strike you down with this sword ere I allow you to do him any harm!" He spurred Lamiere on. Now that he knew what the Raven was he could not allow him to live. He could not allow him to live because he now knew that his desire for the Prince's heart went so much deeper than any of the rumors perpetuated by the Owl Clan could ever have led him to believe. And he could not allow him to live because he could never allow Siegfried to know of the bond between him and this monster of darkness.

"You do not seem to appreciate the agony of being split in two, knight," he heard the Raven cackle as he charged. "Here, allow me to help you with your empathy." A shadow darker than the rest fell upon Lohengrin. The knight looked up to see one of the Raven's great talons hurtling down upon him, just as Lady Eule's owl had done none too long before. However, there would be no shield in the world strong enough to protect him from this blow.

He blinked, staring at the oncoming destruction. He felt Lamiere move beneath him, felt the weight of his sword and shield. And yet, it was like that day in the outer court when Siegfried had saved him from being crushed beneath his horse. Just so the talon descended. But there was no Siegfried to save him now.

The Prince trusted me. Trusted me to be a Knight of the Swan. And yet here I ride, to my death, without even landing a single blow with my sword. Truly, I am a useless wretch, who could only talk of protection. Siegfried, for the suffering and hardship that my failure inflicts upon you – I am so sorry. Lohengrin closed his eyes. [7]

Lamiere let out a terrified whinny as the Raven's talon grazed against her, cleaving the knight in two, from the right shoulder down to the left hip. Sir Lohengrin, Knight of the Swan, died in vain that day, his sword proving useless in protecting the Prince. [8]

Siegfried saw as the talon came down. He saw and, even as members of the Owl Clan whom he had previously only seen as Lady Eule's entourage tried to snare at his cloak, he fought through them, spurring his stallion on, willing him to be fast enough.

Lohengrin was felled down before his eyes.

Siegfried blinked. Stared. He felt as though someone had muffled all the sound in the word as he watched his friend's body slide off his horse and hit the ground. He felt his mouth opening until the corners ripped. He knew that he was screaming. He was aware that he was spurring his horse on with everything he could muster to get to the body of his friend – but he heard none of it.

It took for one of his own knights to charge in front of him, blocking his path, for Siegfried to jolt to his senses. "Sir! Sir! Are you mad!?" One of the knight's eyes had been pecked out. His face was a bloody mess. "There stands the Raven, my lord! To go there is certain death and destruction to all we have ever fought for!"

Siegfried stared past him. He could just make out Lohengrin's black hair strewn across the ground, still neatly tied back in a tail, as he had always worn it.

"Sir!" The knight bellowed into Siegfried's face. "The men's spirits are broken! Lohengrin's death is a blow we cannot endure. We must retreat! Come, sir!" The knight grabbed hold of the reins of Siegfried's horse and, fighting every inch of the way, pulled the prince from the battlefield. It was all Siegfried could do to bat off assailants. It was instinct, not action. His heart was not in it. His heart had been left on the battlefield with the body of his dearest friend.

The din of the crows outside the castle was fiercer than ever. Wounded knights and boys filled the outer court to the brink. Women did not have enough cloth or medicine with which to nurse the injuries. The entire castle stank of death and despair.

The Prince stumbled through the halls, not seeing, and not accepting anyone's assistance. His world had fallen into darkness. His friend… his one true friend… was dead. The Prince's legs refused their office. He teetered, and clattered against the stone wall of the passage. Sobs wracked through his exhausted form. Siegfried closed his eyes, and began to weep.

How long he stayed so, half standing, half clinging for support, he could not have said. His nails were dug into the masonry between the stones, and his entire body groaned at the unnatural attitude. He did not have the strength to unflex his grip and fall, but nor did he have the strength to right his legs and stand.

His righteous and honest father was dead. His fierce and striking mother was dead. Lohengrin, his knight… was dead. Siegfried pressed his face into the stone so that it scraped at the skin, his mouth contorted in a silent scream. What was the point of going on? What was the point of fighting anymore? What was there left to live for, even if the battle ended? The sound of crow cries filled his ears in the place of any welcome silence. He was entirely devoid of faith.

The light that broke upon his closed eyelids was like a bolt to the heart. His eyes flew open and wildly looked about him for its source. It was coming, he saw, from the archway into the Chapel. He blinked and, his joints groaning in protestation, Siegfried pushed himself from the wall. With one arm still pressed against the stone for support, he staggered forward, as a parched man staggers to water.

The Prince was standing in the Chapel of Hope.

He looked about him, still in a daze. He had not been here since before the Raven's arrival. That had been years ago. Siegfried looked up at what appeared to be the source of the light. It had been so long since he had seen light… It hurt his eyes, which rested upon the tall stained-glass window of the rising swan. Her wings were spread open, almost as if welcoming any who entered this little place of peace. She was not just any swan. This stained-glass depicted the Swan deity who, the legend said, had once imbued Nothung with its power. His father had taught Siegfried this during one of their many lessons, in the golden days. The Prince smiled weakly. He had last been here with Lohengrin. Then again… he had last been most places with Lohengrin. [9]

Pain wracked his frame up and down with such force that it left his body aching, and he closed his eyes to the pain, clutching at his heart.

The light behind his lids intensified. Siegfried put an arm up and tried to squint past it. His eyes went wide at what he saw. Slowly, he lowered his arm, his lips parted in awe. Still winged, and still all embracing, the form of the swan stepped forth out of the glass panes. Only, it was not a swan at all. It was a beautiful girl, dressed in a ballerina's dress and toe shoes, with a small crown upon her head. Not merely a Swan deity, but also a Goddess of Dance. [10]

Siegfried's head pounded. "Princess…Tutu…" he whispered. Slowly she opened her eyes and looked upon him. Vaguely he registered that they were the flawless blue of the untroubled sky. It was a color he had not seen in an age.

She stood en pointe, her great wings raised above her head, just as they had been in the stained-glass. It was from her that the light radiated so fiercely. "My Prince," she whispered, stretching one feathered hand out to him, "please come dance with me."

Mutely, he placed his hand gently upon her wing and, his muscles remembering the dance lessons which he and Lohengrin had not had time to practice in so long, he stepped towards her. "Why have you come?" he whispered.

"Because your heart is sunk in despair," she answered as he pulled her in to a pas de deux. "Because you feel that there is nothing left to live for. To fight for." Gently, he dipped her into a penché. "But that is not true. You are a Prince who loves everyone, are you not?" He held her as steadily as he could, drawing her into one pirouette after another, bringing his hand firmly to her waist again and again. He remembered now how much he had loved to dance. "Therefore, there are still those whom you must fight for… whom you must protect." He remembered now that, alongside beauty, the man in the Swaying Swan had attributed to her great strength.

"Whom?" he asked breathily, drawing her down into a partnering lift, holding her off the ground with all his strength.

They straightened, and she turned en pointe to face him, smilingly. "Your people." For the first time since the battlefield Siegfried felt his heart beat with life. Of course. His people. He could not abandon them. Them at least he would save. Her wings rose to wrap around his shoulders. His hands rested upon her waist. Her leg extended high behind her in a perfect grand battement.

Their faces were now a hair's breadth apart. "Do not fear that you will be left alone. Ever. Your people love you, as you love them." Her smile broke and, for an instant, Siegfried saw sorrow in Princess Tutu's eyes. "As I love you."

As his heart swelled, so too his blood ran cold.

"No," he whispered, even as he pressed her against his heart.

"As your knight's fall fed the darkness, allow mine to rekindle in you your inner light," she whispered. "Do not grieve for me. Know…that you are loved." Even as she spoke the light which surrounded them, which had already been so beautiful, began to intensify. Siegfried could hardly see her in the glow, but he refused to look away. Of course. The last of the three attributes. Cleverness. He had forgotten cleverness. [11]

"No! You cannot!"

He felt a feathered wing caress his cheek, even as the tears coursed afresh. He remembered the golden swan emblazoned upon his robes, surrounded by golden rays, so that the embroidery was more of a sun than that of a swan – and realized what he had never realized before, that it had always been a depiction of this very moment. The softness of the down grew heavy and moist with his silent weeping.

"Dear prince, your wish voices nothing," she whispered, smiling up upon him, and echoing the words which he had heard so long ago.

The light blinded him. Despite everything Siegfried closed his eyes to block out the searing flash. When he opened them again he could not see within the darkness for many, many minutes. But then, he did not need to. He could feel her weight had vanished from within his arms.

Princess Tutu was no more. [12]

Prince Siegfried clenched his hands into fists, and looked up once more upon the stained-glass window. All that he saw was darkness, and all that he heard was the flapping of wings and the cry of crows.

He would protect his people. He would defeat the Raven. He would not allow the sacrifices that were made be sacrifices in vain. Siegfried laid one hand upon the hilt of his sword, last of the heart-shatterers, and remembered his father's teachings.

Prince Siegfried was the Prince who possessed a heart which loved everyone, and he would protect everyone, even if it cost him so much more than life itself. [13]

Waifine's Note:Within this chapter there is placed in The Prince and the Raven an illustration of the Lohengrin dying upon the talons of the Raven as he drops his shield and as Lamiere flees the scene. This image can be found on my Profile Page as P&Rno2. It is from Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.9


[1] It is stated that there are no ducks in the magical kingdom in This Pendent Heart, Ch7. p.53

[2] That the Prince battled the Raven for endless years is drawn from This Pendent Heart, Ch2. p.17

[3] Despair is the Monster Raven that plagues Fakir in This Pendent Heart, Ch5. p.42

[4] The image on the stained-glass window, and on Lohengrin's shield, can be seen on a page of the Prince and the Raven from Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.9. Image on my Profile Page as P&Rno2.

[5] Lohengrin is known as the Knight of the Swan in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival.

[6] That the Prince and the Raven are two sides of the same coin, and that they were once one, is drawn from This Pendent Heart, Ch15. p.120

[7] These thoughts on the 'uselessness' of the knight are drawn on from Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.12

[8] This notion is drawn almost directly from Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.24

[9] The concept of the Swan deity is reminiscent of "the goddess of dance" that Pique mentions in Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.15

[10] Again, as it is implied that Pique did read The Prince and the Raven, it is also here implied that the concept of "the goddess of dance" came to her from this book, as she references it in Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.15

[11] Princess Tutu was said to have been "blessed with beauty, cleverness and strength," within Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.3

[12] I could not write more about Princess Tutu than this bare appearance. In Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.12, it is stated that "Princess Tutu is only presented in a few sentences. A miserable existence which none of the characters of the story wanted to take on. An insignificant existence which even the story left by the wayside. Someone who could never hope to catch the Prince's eye. A little added flourish. Poor thing!" This statement is confirmed later when Princess Tutu is described as someone "about whom only a little was actually written."

[13] I felt that Princess Tutu's death had to be a truly moving and inspiring act because in Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.12, it is mentioned that Mytho "wanted to hear over and over again the part where Tutu turns into a speck of light, and then vanishes."