As I mentioned in my previous one-shot, I would be trying a Princess Tutu chapter fic. Though it's actually a completely different idea than the one I was originally going to use (I'm still saving that one to possibly play with at a later date).
First and foremost, this is an AU (Alternate Universe). I wanted to put the characters into another story, with a similar time setting to the one of PT. A medieval sort of theme though, so perhaps a bit earlier (the time frame idea came from the Fire Festival bit in Act 5). And I apologize, but I don't plan to use much in the way of ballet (I'm not all that terribly knowledgeable about it), but there will still be a use for dancing.
I'm still going to use the Ravens extensively, as well as some similar aspects to the main characters and their pasts (with some changes, however). For instance, Mytho is like his starting anime self was in some respect, but the cause is not his missing heart, instead, he suffers from amnesia.
A summary of those changes would take too long, so I'll make this brief: There is no Drosselmeyer, but a set "fate" theme is still going to be implemented, in a way (one the characters can't read for themselves in a book, however).
With that said, I hope you enjoy the first chapter. Please drop a review if you have any questions and/or would like to this updated/continued.
Summary: (AU) The Kingdom of Kinkan was envied among its neighbors. Ruled by a handsome Prince, rumored to be full of happiness, and yet safe and secluded from outside influence. However, those outside the walls did not know what was about to unfold within...
Disclaimer: Princess Tutu and all of its characters do not belong to me in any way, shape, or form.
Darkness of Heart
Chapter One: White Swan, Black Feather
Bending down beside her wooden cart, the young woman held a small white flower out before her, smiling softly. "Take this, little one, and cheer up, won't you?"
The child rubbed against the wetness of her eyes, blinking bright brown eyes in surprise as she looked from the sweet-smelling lily to the lovely woman offering it. "I don't have any money," the child sniffled.
"Take it, free of charge," the woman insisted, gently pushing the bud into the little girl's open hands.
Still in awe, the child blushed and clasped her chubby hands around the stem, beaming back at the brunette woman. "T-Thank you very much, Miss. I will take good care of it!"
The young lady patted the girl's head affectionately and rose gracefully to her feet. "Hurry along to your mother now, before she worries."
Nodding vigorously, the child ran off, turning slightly as she dashed away to offer a final wave in parting.
Brushing one long lock of hair from her eyes, the young flower merchant smiled and waved warmly in return, but the grin quickly faded once the child had disappeared from view.
If only everyone could be persuaded to smile like that, she thought dismally, head bowed as she rolled the colorful cart further down the street.
Crimson-colored eyes were stern, but filled with underlying hope. "You know you're engaged to me, right?"
Clear amber glanced back. "You keep saying so, as do the other attendants in the Castle, so I suppose it must be true."
She frowned, skillfully hiding the pain his lack of emotion was bringing. "Couldn't you look a little more happy about it?" she snapped. "We are childhood friends, afterall."
"I don't remember," he spoke casually, shrugging as he turned away from her intense red gaze.
A fist clenched at the side of her flowing cream dress. "Are you even trying to remember, Mytho?"
His face gave way to slight irritation as he turned to face her again. "What do you expect me to do, Princess?"
"I said you could address me by Rue."
"Well what do you expect me to do?" he questioned once more. "Do you think I wanted to wake up one day not knowing who or where I was?"
The dark-haired young woman fidgeted with the sleeve of her gown, breaking eye contact. "Some still believe that was too sudden and out-of-the-blue to even be true," she mumbled mostly to herself.
He blinked, one lock of white hair falling over his left eye. "Pardon?"
"Nothing," she covered quickly. "You should start thinking of what you can do to get that memory back, Prince. Your kingdom needs you." 'And so do I,' she added mentally, biting her lip.
Without even offering a reply, he turned and walked away from her, settling at the window and gazing out.
She stared after him, tiara on the crown of her head catching the light from the window as she shifted to get a better view. Her blood-red eyes softened the more she watched him. Mytho was promised to her when they were but five years of age. And she loved him. More than anyone.
'Perhaps the memory loss will be a blessing,' she mused.
Rue had known Mytho never loved her the way she loved him, even when his memory was intact. Maybe now, with a little coaxing and a few skillfully placed white lies, she could finally win his heart.
A slow smile crept across her lips.
She was good at getting what she wanted, and right now, he was everything she wished for and more.
There was a beautiful lake on the outskirts of the main town, far and hidden within the depths of the forest. It was small, but enchanting in its own right, enveloped by a calm and comforting atmosphere. The crystalline surface was one to which many of Kinkan's wildlife flocked to.
Even now, birds of many shapes, sizes, and colors dotted its reflective surface, cheerfully squawking, quacking, and chirping about their own business. A language all their own.
One particularly fretful and tiny hummingbird was currently blazing all around the lake, making a lot of noise for its size.
"Urgent! Urgent! Urgent news!" the high-pitched flying creature buzzed rapidly between its many cousin species. "Listen! Listen! Listen!"
A large male duck flared his wings out in agitation. "Calm down and spit it out!"
Aroused from her slumber by the shrill chirping and irritated quacking, a much smaller duck, feathers not quite yet white, poked her head out from beneath her wing. One particular feather on her head popped straight up into the air once released from its cover and sleepy eyelids rose to reveal bright azure eyes.
Carefully hopping down from her small nest and making as little sound as possible, the duck paddled onto the lake until she was just close enough to eavesdrop on the unfolding conversation. She didn't want to get too close, considering many of the other birds held her in contempt due to her clumsiness and abundance of "accidents", but she had a feeling this was something she needed to hear.
Word-by-bird was a very useful thing to have in Kinkan. Due to the closed gates miles away that effectively barred outside Kingdoms from entering, anything that came from beyond had to be airborne to reach within.
Abruptly hearing the mile-a-minute chatter reignite, she listened in silently.
"...and that rumor has it that the ravens from the south have been visiting here for unknown reasons. Those we sent to follow to find where they came from mysteriously disappeared and haven't returned."
A squawk of suppressed alarm erupted. "None of them? Then this is dangerous. Have you heard anything else?"
The hummingbird flapped his wings as fast as he was speaking. "Yes, yes. There's more. I have caught mentions of the Prince. I think perhaps he is being targeted, if not the whole kingdom!"
A heavy silence fell over the occupants of the lake.
"...We haven't got a way to effectively communicate with the humans," a robin offered from its perch on a branch overlooking the lake. "Pecking and chirping away isn't going to help. And there isn't anything we can really do ourselves. Sending any more scouts is also out of the question."
The leading male duck raised his head. "Then there's really nothing we can do but wait," he stated simply, giving the duck's equivalent to a sigh of defeat.
From her intake of the information received, the blue-eyed bird swam back to her nest, pondering. "There has to be something we can do," she quacked almost silently to herself. "And if we're the only ones who know...then we can't just sit here and do nothing! The Prince and everyone are in danger!"
"Do you think you could help?"
She quacked loudly in surprise at the sound of the unfamiliar voice, falling straight out of her nest and into the water with a a splash. She quickly broke the surface, fluttering her wings wildly and wading toward where the sound had originated. "Who's there?"
The sapphire-eyed duck looked around. "Where? Who are you?" Her eyes caught a movement from shore and she hastily paddled toward it, flying off the water's crown and landing on the bank.
"This way," the smooth voice repeated.
She obediently waddled further into the forest in her very ungraceful manner. "Please," she quacked. "Do you know something? Something that might help Kinkan? Help the Prince? Anything!"
Finally, something poked out from a tree just beyond her standpoint. A long, elegant curved neck, attached to the head and bill of a beautiful swan.
For a moment, the female duck was completely lost in awe at the sight of the creature.
"I know a secret," the swan spoke, tone as beautiful as its appearance. "You are the only one who can help the Prince."
She blinked her large blue eyes. "Me? Really? But I'm just a duck."
"The Prince suffers from something called amnesia, which is a condition that causes loss of memory," the lovely white creature continued. "And you have the power to bring back his memories. Only you."
"Only me," she quacked wistfully, then quickly shook her feathered head in denial. "How can that be? I can't communicate with humans!"
The swan seemed to smile. "And what if you were to become one?"
"I, too, come from a distant land. A land where magic aids and effects our everyday lives." The swan lifted her great wings out in a wide arc over her head. "And with that power, you could assume the form of a human being."
Azure eyes showed slight hesitation, despite how wonderful the proposition sounded. "Why would you be interested in helping this Kingdom anyway?"
The white bird bowed her head. "Is it really wrong to wish to help?"
"No, no, no!" the duck quacked frantically. "I didn't mean it like that!"
"Then what do you say? Will you help the Prince?"
She nodded enthusiastically. "If I can, I will! I will!"
The great white bird then came closer. "Close your eyes," she said. The duck did as requested and soon found herself enveloped in long, elegant feathered wings. A strange warmth began flowing through her where the feathered touch made contact, spreading from the tips of her webbed toes to the edge of her duck bill.
And as quickly as the heat had come, it receded to nothing almost instantly.
She felt cold. So cold. As though she had no feathers at all.
And once her eyes re-opened, she realized, with unmasked shock, all her feathers were indeed, gone. Her wings were replaced by two very human-like arms, webbed feet were now toed feet, attached to long feminine legs, and wisps of bright red hair clung to her bare shoulders and back.
"I..I'm human!" she stammered, staring wide-eyed at her hands, curling and uncurling the small fingers. "How did you...?"
However, when she looked up, the white bird was no longer standing before her. "Wait!" she called out desperately. "Tell me what I'm supposed to do!"
"There is a penalty to magic," the voice whispered, too far away for her to pinpoint its source. "In return, you must sacrifice something."
The duck-turned-girl blinked her luminous blue eyes, still looking about for the swan. "What do you mean?"
"Your ability to swim, both in human and duck form, no longer exists," the soft and distant voice answered, echoing through the forested enclosure. "Furthermore, speaking like a duck will turn you back into one. The reverse is for you to figure out on your own."
"What about the Prince?" she shouted out desperately. "What can I do to help him? What do I need to warn him about? Please tell me!"
She waited, hands clasped together against her chest, but no answer came. The duck-girl felt her human body trembling as she rose to her feet. Where could she go and who could she seek? What was it she had to do?
So many questions and no one to answer them.
For a moment, she stared uselessly at the ground, feeling lost. And then, taking a deep breath of the woodland air, lifted her head and started to walk (very awkwardly, since she was not used to having such long legs).
'There's no use just waiting here,' she decided to herself, determination setting in her features. 'I have to find my way to the nearest village. Surely someone there can help.'
Slowly and carefully, she started to make her way through the endless trees.
'If I can really help the Prince, then I have to do my best!'
Had her eyes been trained on the ground as she passed it, she might have seen a single ebony feather.
Dark brows narrowed, emerald-colored eyes staring at the object in hand with distaste.
"What would I want one of these for, anyway?" he mumbled aloud.
The young man was of decent height, with a head of dark hair accompanied by mistrustful green eyes and a rather unpleasant facial expression. He was walking through the streets on the edge of town, a bucket in one hand, a flower in the other.
The latter was his focus. He glared it a moment longer, then reared his arm back as if to throw it.
"Just take it, Fakir. Please?"
He stopped himself before the fragile plant was released and sighed, the remnants of her sweet voice echoing in his mind. She hadn't meant any harm or offense. He knew that.
The sound of approaching feet lifted him from his thoughts, eyes falling onto a mother-daughter pair walking hand-in-hand alongside the dirt road. The little girl looked up at him and then at the flower in his hand.
The ebony-haired boy felt his face warm in slight embarrassment. Why was he carrying such a thing in public, anyway?
He glanced down to find the child still staring at him with wide eyes.
"What?" he snarled, somehow irritated by her large, questioning eyes.
The girl whimpered, hugging tighter to her mother. The latter of which gave him a very reproachful look and immediately distanced herself and her offspring from the surly young man.
He quickly tucked the blue and white blossom into his cloak pocket and out of sight.
Flowers just didn't suit him, as far as he was concerned.
"You need to be nicer to Rachael, Fakir," came a gruff and familiar chiding voice in his mind. "She only wants you to be happy. And so do I."
He pulled the cloak tighter around him, feeling the slight chill of the approaching dusk. The well wasn't far from here. He'd best hurry and get back to the house before nightfall.
Picking up his walking pace, he soon reached the old and weathered water well, and wasted no time in hastily lowering the roped bucket down to collect the liquid and hauling it back up. In proceeding to hurriedly deposit the contents into his own wooden container, some of the clear substance sloshed over the sides and onto the ground from the lack of care taken in the task.
Finished with his errand, he laced the well's bucket back onto its rope and lifted the handle of his own, preparing to turn and leave.
Something bright caught his eyes for a split second and he curiously trailed his gaze to the trees behind the well.
The bucket handle immediately slipped and fell from his grip, its cold contents splashing all over the bottoms of his trousers, his shoes, and the ground. However, he paid no heed to the frigid water.
His dark green eyes were fixated in wide horror at the sight that literally laid right beyond the well.
Splayed on the grassy ground was a body.
A very naked body.
A very naked girl's body.
He clapped a hand over his eyes, feeling the heat seep from his face to his fingers. 'What...the...hell?'
Whirling around in panic, one of his feet blindly caught the empty bucket and sent him to the ground in a jumble of limbs. Holding in a painful grunt from the fall, he kept his eyes glued shut.
A million questions were assaulting his mind, unbidden.
Was she dead? An abandoned servant girl maybe? What was she doing out this far alone?
He kept backing away, sliding his rear against the dirt ground and keeping his eyes firmly closed. Finally certain he was facing the opposite direction, he squinted into the dying light. 'Get up and go,' he urged himself, slowly getting back into standing position. 'Someone will come along and find her.'
Or something. If she wasn't dead already, by the time night settled in, something from within the forest would surely finish the job.
He paused and cursed himself inwardly. Charon and Rachael were starting to rub off on him.
"Damn it," he muttered.
What was he supposed to do, anyway?
"H-Hey," he called out, back still turned. "Are you alive?"
He waited in silence, hearing only the sound of his heart beating rapidly against his chest. Why did this have to happen to him?
After a full minute in which the girl made no reply, he presumed that maybe she really was already dead.
'And if she's not?' his mind countered. 'Are you just going to let her die?'
"It's not my problem!" he shouted into the air. "Damn it!"
Stripping his cloak off and ignoring the bite of the evening chill, he jammed his eyes shut and made his way toward the fallen form. Once reaching the vicinity he was pretty sure she was at, he took a brief glance to catch sight of her flaming red hair and hastily threw the cloak over her bare figure.
Finally deeming it safe, he cracked his eyes back open and cautiously knelt next to her. "Hey."
Still receiving no answer or response of any sort, he hesitantly poked the cloth over her shoulder. "Are you alive?" he repeated.
The young girl still made no sound or movement in response. He was about ready to give up and let it go when he saw that the cloth rose and fell, just slightly, and repeated the pattern. A steady rhythm.
She was breathing.
Which brought a new dilemma to the surface.
How was he going to move her and where was he going to take her?
'Charon and Rachael will know what to do,' he decided.
Taking a deep breath and glancing around for any signs of people, he swallowed the lump in his throat and attempted to ignore the flaming heat in his face as he hastily tucked the the cloak around the girl's form and lifted her into his arms.
She was light, at least, but with both arms needed to support her, the water would have to wait.
He spared a brief glance down at her pale, sleeping face. There was a light brush of freckles dusting over her nose and her hair had one unusual lock that curved up oddly. He was certain he'd never seen her in town before. Not that he actually went about the townsfolk unless he was on an errand of some sort, but her peculiar and abnormally bright hair color would have stood out in a crowd.
Shaking out of contemplation, he broke out into a run, heading for home.
How he was going to explain this to Charon and Rachael, he had no idea.
To be continued?
Anyway that concludes my first installment of this AU. Bit of a turnaround from the anime, isn't it? XD; I'm having fun writing it, though. I feel a little sorry for terrorizing Fakir at that ending scene, but it was needed.
Who caught on to the flower merchant at the beginning? I'm just curious. For some reason, that was the sort of job I could see Rachael doing, so that's her occupation in this fic.
If you're wondering about ages, I have aged the characters up a little, actually. Ahiru and Rue are approximately 15-16 years of age in this fic, Fakir and Mytho around the 17-18 range. I know that might make things a little more complicated, but hey, I'm all for complications.
A note on speech: Yes, to make things easier, I put the bird's conversations into coherent speech. They are still making the animal sounds if any human were to hear them, but they can understand each other in their own language that way. Er, if that makes any sense.
Anyway, if you'd like to see a continuation or have any feedback, please drop me a review if you can spare the time. I appreciate it. (And on a side note, for those who reviewed my one-shot, I thank you. I will get to replying to them soon.)
As always, thank you for reading.