The famed writer and now lecturer Fakir Drosselmeyer stands on a stage looking down at a sea of what he believes to be somewhat empty faces. They do not know this, but then, he's learned to put on a pretty good show over the years. New suit, new fashions, standing tall and proud, all to hide that damned youth that still exists in his expression after all this time. He stands, sharp green eyes surveying them, with a frown that seems less intense than it truly is. Every once in a while his eyes drift to a young girl with red hair who sits in the front row in a reserved seat, who is watching him aptly with a small smile of encouragement although they have been here many times before, and it is there that his gaze softens slightly (though no one seems to catch this either.
"My grandfather was a great writer." He begins in a slight German accent, and the audience notes that he has not written a speech (they don't know that he views this as a necessity), "He had a way with words that really belonged to no one else. He tied his characters up with puppet strings and created such intricate dances that you would almost believe they were human. It was because of him that I learned to write, I owe everything to that man." He pauses as if thinking of something else his eyes glazed slightly, then he sighs and begins again looking at the audience.
"You will never find a book by D.D. Drosselmeyer in any bookstore, you will never find one online, you will never find one anywhere in fact. He was not quite, appreciated in his time. On a more curious and perhaps interesting note, if you were somehow to find a book by my grandfather you would find that the ending had been torn out. However, I feel that if I am to talk of anything I myself have written I must address him."
Here the speaker takes out folded, aged parchment, unsmiling as he does so and places it carefully on the podium looking down at that faded German cursive that belongs so distinctly to that dead madman whom no one remembers; the ghost who still wanders between worlds, writing this writing that, looking for puppets with a pension for self-abuse, looking desperately for those special masochists, those tired degraded fatalists who will fall straight into his hands.
"This is an excerpt from a novel by my grandfather called, 'The Prince and the Raven' the novel was never finished, he died while writing it, but he believed it was to be his greatest masterpiece and sometimes I find myself agreeing." He stops and looks down at the paper translating as he reads halting every once in a while searching for the corresponding English word.
"And there he stood, the Prince in the wasteland. For it was a wasteland, despite the towering castle, the cobble road, the church bell tolling, it had and would now always be a wasteland filled with crows. The crows that had once been people had taken to dancing in the courtyard beside the fountain. They clung together in a fevered waltz, black feathers clutching like desperate hands, and as they cried and cawed and laughed they did not look so very different from the humans they had been. This was his kingdom, this was his kingdom of dust.
The Prince walked among them in a daze, each one attempting to peck out his eyes as he passed, a miniature version of that dread and damned Raven. His eyes raked over each of them looking for familiar faces, but there was nothing, nothing to be done. This was his kingdom, this was his wasteland.
So this was it then, the Raven had won, in his own guile filled way he had slipped beneath the notice of the courageous and wise Prince. He had corrupted his kingdom behind the curtains, and the Prince hadn't even noticed until it was too late. Such was the way of things though, wasn't it? Wasn't it?
But then, they weren't quite done yet. The Raven and the Prince, no, they weren't quite done yet. There was still the sword. He thought then of the remains of his poor knight, split in two, bleeding on some forgotten street corner. Could he allow that man to die for nothing?
And it would be for nothing if the Raven won. If he allowed the Raven to win.
So he would not allow it. That was it. That was the decision of the wise and virtuous Prince. In the end it was the only decision to be made.
He would take out his heart. He would take out his heart and seal the raven away.
He took the sword out of its sheath walking away from the cawing dancing laughing crows that were no longer quite people. The sword gleamed so beautifully in the moonlight, swan feathers reflected in the moonlight.
Placing it above his heart he closed his eyes and prepared himself for whatever heartlessness brought.
And then there was a voice, 'Don't.'
He turned and looked and spotted a regal young woman in the clothes of a dancer, two pale wings coming from her back, she walked forward miming the word for no, 'Please, don't.' She repeated.
'Who are you?' He asked, the sword never wavering never leaving its destined path above his heart.
She looked at him with such desperation, such desperate sorrow, tears already in her eyes, 'My name is Princess Tutu but you can't… You can't do that…'
'Princess Tutu…' He repeated almost mildly as if tasting the words.
'You cannot shatter your heart, dear Prince.' She insisted coming close enough to grab his hands in hers, 'I know that I am tasked with retrieving the shards but Prince you cannot do such a thing.'
'It must be done.'
'No!' She shouted her hands gripping his so very tightly, this angelic stranger, 'I… You can't… What will be left of you?'
He looked then at the ravens, his people, 'What will be left of them, Princess Tutu?'
And so he slid the sword into his heart and watched with dulled eyes as it shattered, translucent red jewels that spread into the wind to seal away that dread raven. He almost smiled but that feeling of happiness, of relief, had already left him.
And distantly, ever so distantly, he heard a mournful cry, 'But I love you, I love you so…'
And then she was only a speck of light and Princess Tutu had vanished." The man stops reading having come to the end of the section and pauses for a few moments before looking up to the audience to continue.
"In the story no characters are named, there is merely the Prince and the Raven, and that is as personal as they truly get. The main characters while they suffer and grow remain distant from us, it is the minor characters, those who are left by the wayside who contain the most life. It is they who bring the light. Princess Tutu's only appearance in the story is these few lines, her entrance, her declaration of love, and then her death. But in those few lines my grandfather gave her more life than he did any of the other characters. Princess Tutu is the most human among them, a forgotten heroine whose existence was even forgotten by the story itself, the fate no one wanted, an insignificant existence about which no one thinks to even care." His eyes meet those of the girl in the front row who looks strangely pensive.
"Why include her? What did she add in that brief moment? A distraction? A brief sense of mystery? Or perhaps a character to be elaborated upon and developed later, before the story ended but then what an introduction her desperate plea and then her death. What a waste. But then, isn't that what we all are. The characters on the side who enter and exit within a moment, and what better way to go, then saying things which must be said and doing things which must be done even if they defy the fates handed us."
And he knows that they do not understand, they love his work but they do not understand. They do not see Tutu. Then again, neither did he. Neither did he, not until he saw her again, her brief entrance and exit. And that, he thinks, is how he brought her back. She was unnoticed, forgotten, enter the stage quietly enough and the story will not spit her back out because the story is indifferent. The story had forgotten her. They have forgotten her. And that is fine, because Duck is for the writers not the people, she is that signature of humanity upon the page that is so vital so necessary.
He goes on to talk about projects, stories, the ones he's written, the ones he has yet to write, and those that he never will.
"No I don't believe in tragedies…"
"Fate is a deadly machine…"
"Oh I don't know inspiration comes in its own time and form…"
"My family died when I was very young…"
"There must be more of a reason to live than we can see with our eyes…"
Meaningless drivel all of it. Necessary, meaningless, drivel. He lectures, visits, tours as a performer might; all because it is expected of him. How did they find him; he always wonders in his suits and ties? He should be dead, should have been dead for years, but somehow he kept on living and writing and living and somehow they found him. How did they find him? When did it happen?
Suddenly though he was thrust upon the stage taking his unknown, forgotten, beautiful bride with him. And there he is, suddenly, abruptly, talking as if he belongs there as if they want him. Why? Because they saw a story upon a shelf in some dusty German shelf, because some translator picked up a book by an unknown author and fell in love. He did not notice the date, the story never notices the date, so he did not notice that Fakir Drosselmeyer was far too young.
So why is he here? Why is he playing this role? He looks at her, in the audience, the only one who truly sees and understands. She is the only one, the only one who cried out when the Prince lay dying, the only one who was willing to fade into nothingness. And they would never see her, only him, standing on the stage alone in the spotlight.
No, he doesn't mind. If it keeps her here then he will pay this price, pay this role that does not suit him. That is what he has decided. Like Prince Siegfried, the unnamed man, he will do what must be done if only he can hear her as she comes to tell him no.
She will tell him no, Fakir, sometimes we must fight. Sometimes we cannot give in. Because life must be more than the fates we are given. If it is not then what is the point, if we accept what we are given then are we any different than the crows?
And he watches her, in that first row, those eyes more pensive than one would guess by simply looking at her. Yes, they really are alone in this world filled with crows, but he doesn't mind. After all, someone must be there to feed the crows.
Author's Note: Thank you for reading, reviews would be splendid.
Disclaimer: I do not own Princess Tutu