hey everyone!! so this is something of my own creation i've been working on for a little while... it's a bit of a Beauty and the Beast story... though perhaps not literal sense. This is really the first time/place i'm putting it up for criticism, so please do tell me what you think... and as always, enjoy! Also, i don't really like the title that i have currently... so if anyone can think of a BETTERone... it would be MUCH appreciated :)
The White King and the Rose
In a time long ago- so long that it has almost passed from memory, the northern kingdom of Kremlia flourished in the land of Anoria. In the old language, 'Kremlia' meant 'kingdom of diamonds,' for the beauty of the sparkling snow that would cover the land in the winter. For generations, the Kremlians lived in harmony with the creatures and kingdoms that surrounded them. In the spring, fertile lands provided generous crops that would last through the long winters, and game was plentiful for hunting. But this time of peace was not infinite…
The downfall of the realm of Kremlia began with a young prince, named Jareth. At seventeen, Jareth was everything that a prince should be- he was handsome, with dark hair and dark brown eyes that made every woman swoon, he was rich, powerful, and next in line to the Kremlian throne. His royal upbringing, however, had made Jareth spoiled, selfish, and arrogant. Brilliant of mind though he was, his intelligence was too often masked by an arrogant tongue. He was rebellious, and defiant of his parents' wishes for him to find a suitable wife; instead, he took lover after lover, giving one woman after another the hope that she might be worthy of a place by his side, only to leave her after a matter of days. In this way, his heart became cold; he viewed women as things to be used for his enjoyment, and love as a commodity that he had no time for. The king and queen, knowing that Jareth must take a wife, began a desperate search for a woman to wed their son. One night, a traveler came to the palace, clad in a rich, dark violet cloak that only someone of noble blood would be able to afford. Her name was Arantxa, she said, and her home was in the far north, past the borders of Kremlia. She had a majestic presence; with black hair and eyes the color of the midnight sky in winter. With one stare, she could stop anyone dead in their tracks. Her skin was a deathly, dramatic white, and she had high, delicate cheekbones, giving her a defined, regal appearance. When Jareth set eyes on her, he was instantly captivated by her intense beauty, and at that moment, it seemed as though he had found his queen.
But what Arantxa had not revealed to the king and queen was that she was a sorceress, and a powerful one at that. Jareth, however, saw how powerful she was and became jealous. Arantxa quelled his jealousy by agreeing to teach him her craft. She filled his head with sweetly seductive promises of power, greater than any he had ever imagined. Eager to learn, Jareth followed Arantxa willingly, happy to be her student. She taught him many things; how to draw strength from the earth, how to control the sea and the sky, how to summon the animals of the forest to his aide, and most potently, how to kill. Jareth devoured the knowledge hungrily, growing more and more power-hungry with each passing day. His magical abilities flourished; he mastered everything that Arantxa taught him, and more. Soon thereafter, Jareth succeeded at developing the power of empathetic sensing; the power to read minds, something that even Arantxa herself had not yet mastered.
The knowledge that he had surpassed his master was enough for Jareth. He had learned all that she could possibly teach him, he thought, and he had no further need of her. And so, he planned to be rid of her. He knew that Arantxa was like him- fierce and power hungry. With his new powers, he sensed her plot to use him to gain the throne. He continued to play the fool, letting Arantxa continue to believe that she was in control. Then, one day, he revealed her to the king and queen, and banished her from the kingdom forever. His guards arrested her, taking her to the Northernmost border of Kremlia and abandoned her, promising her death if she was ever to return.
Arantxa realized at once what had happened, and became furious. Her feelings of attraction toward Jareth turned to fiery hatred, and she vowed vengeance upon him and the kingdom of Kremlia. And so, returning to her home, hidden in the mountains, Arantxa plotted her revenge.
One night, under cover of darkness, she stole back into the imperial city. It was the night of a grand masquerade ball, in honor of the crown prince's eighteenth birthday. Masquerades were an ancient tradition in the North, and a time of grand celebration. It was a time when all were welcomed into the palace wearing their colorful costumes and grand masks, each person disguised. No one noticed the sorceress arrive, clad in dark red velvet, with a mask adorned with phoenix feathers. No one realized who she was as she moved inconspicuously toward the front of the hall, where Jareth sat, next to the King and Queen. No one recognized her, until she threw back her mask. Lifting her white hand, all fell instantly silent. Her fiery eyes locked onto Jareth's, and he found himself frozen with fear.
"Guards," he stammered, trying to retain composure, "seize her!"
The guards moved closer, but at that moment, Arantxa swept her hand toward them and they were hurled into the stone wall with bone-crushing force before falling to the floor, dead. Screams rang out, but no one dared to move. Arantxa turned back to Jareth who sat, horror-struck in his throne.
"You arrogant boy," she hissed angrily. Her voice was quiet, but the room was so much more so that everyone present could hear her as though her words had been magnified a hundred times.
"You could have had everything," she continued. "With me at your side, we could have ruled over the entire land of Anoria. We could have been all powerful. Instead, you have foolishly turned against me." Her words flowed from her mouth like silk; they were smooth and fluid, quiet but deadly. "Did you really think that you could beat me at my own game, Jareth? Did you honestly think you knew everything? I have power beyond your wildest imagination. I have power that could have made you great. I, Jareth, not you."
"Get away from here, witch!" Jareth spat, finding his voice. "I am powerful without you, Arantxa. My powers surpass even yours."
Arantxa laughed maliciously. "If that is what you believe, then you do not deserve what powers you have. I am the greatest sorceress of the age, and you are just a silly… little… boy," she spat out the words as though they were laced with poison.
Jareth's hand moved to his sword. "I told you once to leave," he said.
Arantxa raised a threatening eyebrow. "Do not worry, Your Highness. I will leave your kingdom. But first, you will pay for what you have done."
She pointed toward the throne where the king and queen sat and a blinding jet of red light shot from her fingertip. When the light died away, the king and queen were slumped over in their chairs, dead. She turned back to Jareth, who met her stare with furry and shock in his eyes.
"Kill me too, then," he said.
This prompted another laugh from Arantxa. "Brave," she remarked. "Which is uncommon coming from you, Jareth. But no, you are not to die today. For death is an end to suffering… you are not worthy of such an end. It would be far too easy. No… death is not punishment. Instead, I curse you… I curse you with immortality-" A jet of light shot toward him. It hit Jareth like a tidal wave, knocking him back before lifting him up in the air where he hung suspended, surrounded by the electric blue light, while Arantxa spoke.
"From this castle, Jareth, I condemn you to watch the ages pass. Never will you grow old, never will death strike you, no matter what harm befalls you. Never will you love, for the years of being alone will harden your heart to humanity, and time will freeze your soul. Your kingdom, too, shall share in your damnation. The animals of the forest are no longer your allies. They shall be beasts who hunt to kill and spare no one. What once grew in your lands to supply you with food will disappear- your crops will fail and your land will be barren. This, Jareth, is more punishing than death. Condemned to unimaginable lifetimes of watching your kingdom suffer, all the while knowing that all of this death and pain and agony could have been prevented, and that try as you might, you'll never be able to escape it."
Jareth fell suddenly to the ground, and the blue light evaporated.
He looked up in anguish as Arantxa stood over him. "You could have had me, Jareth," she said smoothly. "Remember that in the years to come."
And with a flash of green light, she vanished.
The effects of Arantxa's spell could be felt immediately. As the castle emptied, the Kremlians felt as though they were carrying the weight of ten loads of stones on their shoulders. It was the burden of the curse that they now carried; the curse that would hang over their land for years to come. The sun disappeared, completely shrouded by steely grey clouds that hung mercilessly over the land, sending down an icy, silent snow that would cover the ground for the centuries to come, never melting. The forests that were once alive with birdcalls and the sounds of the animals fell silent. The realm of Kremlia was laid waste, and its king was lying where he had fallen as the transformation had taken place. He lay, in seemingly perpetual silence, his fair cheek pressed against the cold stone of the floor for what seemed like hours, praying death to claim him, but knowing that for the first time in his life of royalty, his wish would not be granted.
The pace of time is a slow one for those who are waiting, but longer still for those who do not know what it is they are waiting for. It was in this way that time passed for Jareth. Most of the servants had long-since left the castle out of fear and despair, and those who remained kept their distance from the new, formidable king. And so, from atop the highest tower of his once-grand palace, Jareth watched the years slip slowly by. As Arantxa had predicted, the fate to which he had been condemned was far worth than the most painful of deaths. The friends that he had had slowly grew old and died, while he retained the youthful face and figure of an eighteen year-old. He shunned companionship, unwilling to watch the ones he cared about die. After nearly a century had gone by, nomadic tribes from the North began to encroach upon Kremlia's northern borders. Jareth led his armies to several battles, each time hoping that he would meet his end. But as Arantxa had promised, he found no peace from death. No matter how many times he swords cut his flesh or arrows pierced his heart, he did not die. The curse did not stop him from feeling pain, but as the years and battles wore on, he developed a considerable resistance to it. There was no fear, no fear of succumbing to the wounds, as with the fear also went the feelings of pain. He was numb— the pain became routine, and affected him little. The border war did not last long; the northern peoples were subdued easily, leaving Jareth no choice but to return to the shelter of his castle.
As the years continued to pass ever slowly, it seemed as though things grew progressively worse. Food was scarce- most of it was scavenged; a few hunting parties ventured out, but chances of surviving a hunt were slim. From his bastion in the clouds, Jareth watched his people starve by day, and freeze by night. The city was in ruin, the people lived in huts, struggling to survive, and there was no salvation in sight. Kremlia was a barren wasteland, and would remain so for centuries to come…