"She changed the air she breathed; she changed the earth she walked upon. She changed everything she saw, so that the world became new."
Once upon a dream, I used to speak… but that time seems to me a lifetime ago, as far removed from this time of sorrow as can be.
A time of drifting laughter and smiles.
A time of sweet whispers in the breeze that ruffled the moon-fed leaves.
A time of light.
It was all the Princess, of course, our lovely Princess with the flowers in her hair and the sweetness in her eyes. None who met her could escape unscathed; not touched as they were by such light. She was too lovely not to be loved, not because she was physically beautiful—though she was—but because of the transforming life inside her, changing sadness to joy, hatred to love.
Perhaps that was the problem. She was too lovely not to be loved.
I loved her even when she was a little girl—all who dwelled in the Twilight Palace loved her, from King Claus who was her father, to Filth the munkee, who was his fool.
Sometimes she would sit with me, in my chamber next to the secret Wunderkammen, and ask me questions, her eyes wide and sweet in their childish seriousness.
"Why is the song you're playing so sad, Bilarki?" she asked me once, as I played of Lady Izabella and the two lovers parted by her wide expanse.
We would never know joy without being touched by some sadness in our lives, Princess, my eyes would tell her—for I spoke only with my eyes. What wonder would the stars hold for any of us if we did not, at times, look at them through our tears?
And she nodded, and said, softly, "Of course. Only by being sad… can we be happy."
I inclined my head without disrupting the melody I played, but wishing to sweep away the crystals glinting in her eyes, began playing of flowers blooming in star showers, and lavender hues of sky, and sleepy afternoons on the Nonce.
"Quiffin tells me that Scoriae is gloomy to some people. Is that true, Bilarki?" she asked me next, after wondering aloud why so few populated the island outside of the Twilight Palace.
I let my music tell her my answer. It coiled around her, and drifted through faraway trees, and sang of silvery mists, and starlit waters, of dark kissing light, of shadows and half-light and mystery and beauty. And it sang of the music that made Scoriae so dear and chased away its gloomy grandeur; the music inside her that wound its way around the hearts of those she touched.
I would leave my chamber, at times, and walk amongst the trees and marvel at the eternal evening star that shone above our Palace, blessing it. What a place our abode was! A place of laughter, and dancing lights that banished the darkness that always hovered. A place worthy of the infinite goodness of our Princess, and the strength of the King of Day.
And sometimes, as I walked, ever playing my instrument, I would have a fleeting glimpse of Princess Boa dancing to my music, dancing among the star-shadowed trees like an elusive nymph, and my heart would swell with joy, overflowing in song.
Life was a dance, a cause for happy music.
"Oh, I hope you never stop playing, Bilarki!" my Princess would say, and I vowed to honor her wishes to the death.
And then, day of happy, cursed days! she came to me in my chamber and sat, long and silent. Finally, she spoke.
"Play for me of the Night, Bilarki."
I was amazed, for of all the subjects I played—from star-crossed lovers to circuses—I never spoke of the Night.
What would the Princess of the Day Hours want with the terrible intricacies of Night? my eyes questioned.
She closed her eyes and shook her head, and said, softly,
"There must be some good in Night, Bilarki, for Finnegan is nothing but goodness."
And here I learned of the man she loved, Finnegan Hob, child of Light and Dark, and rejoiced that my Princess would begin the age of healing with a man so well-fitted for such a task. But now, I think on it and feel a terrible regret and sadness, for the moment she fell in love with Finnegan marked her days as numbered.
Ah, such happiness! The Princess glowed with it. Her eyes shone with the stars of the heavens, and when she spoke, her joy-filled voice just about broke people's hearts in a way to cause blissful tears.
But now she is gone.
The Princess dances no longer among the mist-strewn trees, or delights the eyes of her father, or sings songs to the evening star. Her light was smothered by Darkness, and now she is gone. Lost forever.
I know who is to blame, but I can't feel anger towards Christopher Carrion—I couldn't then, nor can I now. I feel, instead, a great, overwhelming sadness for the light that has gone out of the world, and the black heart that had been touched by it and decided to douse it in despair.
Now I am left here in this abandoned house of lengthening shadows, where light no longer shifts against the walls, and no more whispers are carried by the breeze. I am left to a place of dreams and fleeting echoes.
But still, I play. I had made a vow to honor her wishes, to the death, scarcely imagining how horrendously precise my words would come to be. But no more dancing music for me, or sleepy afternoons in the Nonce, or dark-kissed light. I play now of lovers parted, and lights put out, and songs silenced.
But though I play, I no longer speak. Who is there to speak to, now?