Supreme Ruler of the Nine Heavens

In those days... it was said that the world was part of a kingdom ruled by an ancient god called Malpercio, who had once been strong and wise and just. But he had begun to sleep though all the days and nights because many, many years ago people who were jealous of his mighty heart cast on him a spell of slumber. They sealed him away with five shining magnus, and before very long the ungrateful people forgot that it was because of his power that they dwelled among the clouds, and that they had thrived and multiplied and swarmed over the islands... Time marched on, and what they had forgotten became stories, and then legend.

This legend is about a little girl and her mother and father, who lived together on an island that floated in the Sky much like yours used to, in a grand manor much like this one.

The manor belonged to the grand duke, who was growing old and felt it. The girl called him "Uncle" and he called her "Granddaughter," and because he had no children of his own, he loved her ten times as well. Indeed, he loved her so much that his only wish was that she would grow up into a fine woman and become the lady of the house, somebody he could name his heir. So the duke took very particular care of her, and spoiled her very much.

But one day the girl suddenly became ill, and the house doctor sent her to bed until she got well. Her mother and father visited her every day and spoiled her with toys and sweets and fairy-tales, until one day they suddenly stopped coming entirely. After it had been a very long time since they had last visited her, she mustered up her poor, sickly voice and asked the duke what had become of them. He smoothed back her hair like uncles do and explained that they had gone to a funeral and would not be back until it was over.

The girl had never heard of a funeral before, but she was so lonely without her mother and father that she yearned and wept and at last breathed a final sigh, and her body stiffened and she fell into a deep sleep and did not wake.

But she did dream. Hers was a wonderful dream, filled with the things she had begun to think her mother and father gave her in life: rotten sweets, nightmares that came true, and living toys that hissed and whipped their barbed tails, which she played with for years and years and years until she realized that, in fact, she was dreaming. Then, looking around, she had found herself at the edge of an impossible world, with a spray of stars overhead that was night eternal, and a road before her that was time unraveled. In the distance was a tiny, twirling black castle, and she realized that this place was not actually her world (or yours) at all, so she set off for the castle, in hopes that she might somehow find her mother and father, and that they would be waiting for her and that the funeral would be finished.

It didn't take her long—no time passed at all, in a land without clocks—and soon she arrived at the foot of the heaving castle. She flew up to the gate, and at once found herself surrounded by all kinds of monsters. There were no-face demons and one-eyed dogs and worm-like creatures with slithering tongues, all howling and screaming and hissing as they saw her, but she was too intent on finding her mother and father to stop and visit with them. So she paid them no mind at all, and they had to content themselves with whining and following her up and down the dark endless halls as she started her search.

Decades passed, but she grew neither hungry nor thirsty the whole time, as she was too taken with her fruitless pursuit. She was just about to rest and play with one of the severed hands that had been pulling at her skirts when finally she came upon a room different than the others. This one had a slick crimson throne in the back that seemed have crawled and crept out and swallowed the whole wall, and a cavernous ceiling that soared high and away into the black night.

But her mother and father were not there. Instead she only found a child, who was curled up on the seat of the throne, crying.

He was no bigger than she and he had the same blue-green hair and glassy red eyes as her, but he looked strangely tapered at the ends, and she saw that this was because he was tapered. His arms proved to be no more than a pair of peaking, bloody stubs. It was these he pressed to his face as he gently sobbed.

"Are you here to destroy me?"

The girl was silent, still unsure of herself and a bit shy, as most children are, but felt with each second her interest in the boy grow. This child had the eyes of her father too, ancient eyes that had watched the passing of the ages and the death of multitudes. He was also quite pitiful-looking, and looked as though he was in want of a good mothering.

But what could he be crying about? She drew close to the boy and made as if to shake his hand—or stump, rather. He pulled back sullenly, but she smiled a curious smile and sat down beside him, placing her fingers on the little severed limb.

She then saw that his legs also petered off darkly at the knees, and that the back of his head was a mere glistening red crater, and his abdomen no more than a crimson wetness. But still, the girl was filled with such a sweet feeling of nostalgia that she went to him and decided to try to make friends. As everyone knows, it is much easier for children to bond over the little things, so she simply hugged the child, wiping the blood from his face, angling his small shredded form so that he might return her actions. Yet he started to cry again, at first cautiously, though soon his chest heaved and much blood came out of the place where his heart should have been. Behind them all the monsters knelt down, and she began to smile with something like wonder. Then she died.

All the whole world lit up with the most delightful feeling of completion. The Sky and Earth had no color and reality was as thin as air, and inside it all the girl hung suspended. She drifted there, laid out most carefully on her back, until a strange hot sensation began to prickle through her arms and legs and fingers and toes. Something seemed to have set off a line of firecrackers inside her, and all at once she was breathing air again instead of stardust, and she was wide-awake, and back on the island in the duke's manor.

Her breathing steadied, and the girl felt the new silken shroud of death catch and pull in some places as it settled over her. She was taller now. It became apparent that she had grown an inch or three in the hundreds of years that had passed since she had closed her eyes last. When she blinked to let the sleep slough away from her eyelashes, all had turned white in her vision. Somewhere in the manor her uncle wept with joy, and all the old clocks started ticking again.

The girl felt strange, as though she had been hollowed out and pumped with darkness, but that's not quite right...—she felt better, and she was glad. She would bleed out the darkness that night.

The girl would do many things that night.

But that is the end of her story, for now. She has long since left that world, and returned to her search in the place untouched by time. Leading along the boy king who ruled an ancient world, loving him with her dream. They are lost still, doomed to their wandering in the black castle, and shall be for a thousand years more... until someone remembers who they are and what they've been.

(It will not be I, for the old ways of dreaming are beyond me, though I love them.)

Rushed, fragmented, too big for its britches (and probably title), buuuuut... I kind of don't care anymore. Just felt like posting something. I had a lot of little shorts laying around that I was planning on sewing into this weird Franken-fic for Katana, but since I don't know when she'll be back, I scrapped my original idea and made this instead.