This story is loosely based on an anime called "Shuffle!". The names of the characters, as well as the main settings, are highly inspired from the anime although the story completely differs so it's not a fanfic. Just putting the disclaimer.
“Princess…are you here?”
“Princess…are you here?”
The young brunette looked up at the woman who approached her with a serious, yet gentle face. She was dressed in a completely black outfit; her pale white face having the traces of tears as a river would be in a desert, and the red blush on her cheeks were clearly seen as roses around.
“I am here. You are…?”
The blonde woman frowned. She was a woman of a strong figure, aged in her late thirties, and dressed as a sorceress would be. One lock of her curly, short strands of hair were put elegantly behind her ear with her finger as she replied,
“Irene, princess. Duchess Irene Gustav Rosenwell, of Cephiron.”
The little princess nodded, but she was quick to come back to her sobbing, burying her face between her arms on the table as her long brown hair hid her tears. Duchess Irene was moved, but she was quicker to remember what she had come for.
“The king wants to see you,” She spoke softly, but her eyes observed the girl sharply. She looked up at her with her broken eyes, but they slowly turned into ones of anger and hurt.
“I don’t want to see him. I have nothing to do with him anymore. If you’re here to tell me this, please leave.”
“He’s sick, princess. He wants to see you,” Irene’s reply was quick to come. Obviously, she had already prepared that the little princess wouldn’t want to come with her, not that easily anyhow.
But as she didn’t reply, but only kept staring at Irene with angry eyes, she continued, “He’s gravely sick. He’s dying.”
As the princess still made no signs of movement, and did nothing but frown, Irene had to continue,
“He killed himself, princess. He killed himself, with his own sword.”
At this, the princess’ eyes opened wide. She wasn’t on good terms with her father, at all, that was for sure. But what did Irene just say…?
Irene looked steadily and sharply at her, but through that toughness was some sympathy for the little girl who was becoming an orphan in a just a few days.
“He killed himself. He was found a while ago, stabbed in his chest. The doctors are trying to save him, but it’s hopeless. His last request is to see you, princess.”
The princess was shocked. Her wide-opened eyes were becoming mistier than they were already. A few days ago, she had lost her very own dear mother. She died right in front of her very own eyes; stabbed cruelly by her father’s sword, a fatal stab in her neck. She was too choked to say anymore, she was uncertain over what to do.
Irene could feel what was running through her thoughts. Looking down at her, her sharp eyes showing a little gentleness,
“You don’t have to forgive him, but give him his last request at least. He’s dying, Lisianthus.”
Calling her by her name, and the soft but strong tone Irene spoke in, Lisianthus’ tears trickled down even more.
“I…I will go to him. Is he in his room?”
Irene nodded and replied, “His very own room; his and the queen’s.”
Lisianthus was going to cry more, but Irene motioned her to move; there was not much time left for her father. So she got up, and followed Irene as she tried to dry her tears. But nothing was going to comfort the pain she felt inside; it hurt way too much.
At last, they were at the king’s room. Irene stopped before she knocked, and turned to Lisianthus one more time in her usual sharp manner. But those sharp eyes then showed a gentle look and she said, “Be strong now, alright?”
Lisianthus nodded, and then Irene knocked before she opened the door.
Lisianthus was first to enter, but her steps were slow, fearful of what she might see. Her fear was in place, for as soon as she entered, she saw what made the tears come back quicker than before. There lay the king on his bed, his face all pale and his eyes staring at the ceiling, awaiting the end. But as he heard the footsteps, he turned ever so weakly in their direction, and his eyes lit up with sorrow as he saw his own daughter approaching him.
“Dad…” She came to his side, and softly, slowly, she held his hand in her own. The tears didn’t stop in her eyes but only trickled down more, and the king gathered all his strength to raise his hand and wipe away the tears from her eyes.
“Shush…don’t cry. You shouldn’t cry now; you’ll be a queen.”
Lisianthus looked at him with bewilderment through her sorrow, but then she soon came to realize what he meant. He was talking about himself as if he were already gone.
Her hand tightening on his, she gathered her own strength to be able to reply,
“Please, daddy, don’t speak like this. Don’t speak like you are already gone. Oh daddy, why did you do this? Why did you take mommy away, and then take your own self away? Oh, daddy, why did you do this to me? You’ve hurt me, daddy, you’ve hurt me.”
Her words were like small daggers in the king’s heart, that heart whose beats were slowly dying down. But he could understand where she was coming from, what she was paining for. He couldn’t blame her, but couldn’t she have mercy on him in his very last moments?
“I’m sorry, dear…I really am. I don’t ask you to forgive me; I know you won’t. I-I don’t know what has come over me, what has made me do what I’ve done. I’ve killed hundreds, I’ve destroyed homes, and I’ve killed…Cine. Oh Cine. Cineraria. Please forgive me; oh heaven, forgive me.”
Lisianthus only cried more, but she didn’t speak a word. The king was lost in his thoughts for a moment, but as the pain in him increased, and he realized that the end was coming sooner and sooner, he looked at his daughter again and said,
“You’ll be a queen, Sia. I know you won’t forgive me, but what I ask you must be done. And I know you are strong enough to do it. You’ll fix your daddy’s mistake, sweetie. You’ll fix it, my very own dear. You’ll fix it, Sia.”
Lisianthus’ heart beat faster than ever, and had God not given her the strength to stand still and hold her strength, she could have fainted right here and there. But she stood still and nodded, replying,
“I will, daddy. I will be a strong queen, and I will end this war, once and for all. I’ll bring peace to Cephiron, and I’ll rebuild the devils’ world. But may God forgive you for the hurt you’ve done me, you’ve done mommy, you’ve done the devils’ world. I will pray for you, daddy. I will pray that God forgives you.”
The king slowly smiled, but his eyes were spacing out more and more. He could only have the strength to whisper, “And…don’t cry. Queens don’t cry. They stay strong…for their own responsibilities; for their own…country. I…I love you, Sia. Lisianthus.”
At this, his eyes rapidly shut, and the hand that held Lisianthus’ fell to the lifeless king’s side. Lisianthus could only weep. She could only weep. But through that weeping, she could feel Irene's hand gently touch her shoulder.
And so, it was announced, that the new queen of the gods’ world was Queen Lisianthus Ethan Fierswan, queen of Cephiron and what was around it and what belonged to the gods’ kingdom. People did not welcome the news, they did not like the daughter of who they thought a murderer to take over the throne and become their queen. Some protests came out here and there, around Cephiron and around some others, but the queen did not pay attention to them. She had things far greater than some protests to take care of at that time.
The chancellor entered the throne room, where Queen Lisianthus was seated at her throne, in her royal clothes. It had been a few days since her father’s death, and his funeral had been already made. The coronation ceremony also took place, but it was a small, private ceremony.
“My queen…I am afraid I have some bad news.”
Lisianthus sighed as she put her hand under cheek, with her elbow resting on the throne’s side. “What’s wrong?”
“Some devils’ troops, I fear. They are not large in number, around nine hundred, I believe. They stand in Petaris, or what used to be Petaris. They insist to attack, my queen. We’ve tried to talk sense into them; to tell them that we’ve got no reason to fight them. But they insist to fight. They say they want revenge. Revenge on the queen is what they seek.”
Lisianthus’ face turned into one of seriousness as she adjusted her sitting position. “They want to attack us? They want to attack Cephiron?”
The chancellor nodded. “We’ve tried to deal with them peacefully…but they refuse, my queen. They want a battle. They insist on a battle, and they await it.”
Lisianthus looked bewildered. What could she do? She had never been put in such a situation before, a position in which she would have to decide what to do. She looked to Irene who stood by her side, and the duchess looked back at her with her strong-willed eyes.
“You have got to fight them, Lisianthus. They are not going to calm down unless you do.”
Lisianthus looked hesitant however.
Duchess Irene approached her, and looked at her sharply. But her gentle touch evoked other emotions.
“They want to destroy Cephiron, Lisianthus. Are you going to let them destroy it? Are you going to let them kill our citizens, destroy our world, our home?”
Lisianthus’ hesitant eyes showed a little certainness, and she shook her head.
“Then you have got to fight them. We’ve tried to talk to them peacefully, yet they refuse. What is there to do? Nothing but fighting them. Send your army, queen.”
Lisianthus frowned as the words became clear to her. It was her world in danger; those devils weren’t innocent. They wanted war; they wanted to kill her innocent people. They didn’t want the peace, despite that they could get it. They were guilty.
“I’ll send the army,” Lisianthus spoke at last, determination clear in her voice, “and I will go with the army.”
At this, Irene’s eyes opened wide. “You are what?”
Lisianthus nodded confidently. “I want to go to the battlefield. It’s awfully wrong if I sit back here, put my soldiers’ lives on the line and just watch. I know how to fight; I have been training all my life. I’ll go with the army and I’ll lead the soldiers through the battle. We’ll defeat those devils, and we’ll protect our Cephiron.”
At this, she stood up. Her eyes were determined to do what she thought the best. If she became a queen, she needed to be with those soldiers as they fought. She needed to feel what it was like to be in the battlefield, to defend your own country.
“Fetch my weapon, Merlin,” she called after one of the servants who stood near, “My spear and my armor, and prepare for the battle!”
And it was done. Later the next day, the troops of the gods stood on the entrance of Cephiron, headed towards Petaris where the devils awaited. A battle awaited them, a deep, bloody battle. On the head of that army stood a beautiful white horse, and on it rode a beautiful fair queen; dressed in a heavy but elegant armor, with a helmet that covered those long strands, and equipped with a magical spear that looked sharp, fatal. On her side was another horse, and on it rode the strong Irene, who looked at her companion sympathetically.
Clearly, the death of her own parents was much, but that queen had never cried one tear after the king’s death. That queen was never seen weeping after the king was buried. And now, she was driving herself to her own death, when she was only about seventeen.
“Gods…prepare! Heaven, wait for the mighty gods! Cephiron, you’ve got a strong army to protect you. Devils, you were once our friends but not when you want to kill us. Here we come, here the battle begins!”
The army marched forward, heading towards Petaris, where the devils’ army was. The queen was at head of the troops, riding her horse but surrounded her a group of her personal guards to protect her. However, determined as she was, she was also frightened. Although she had been training well as a fighter with the spear, and was pretty good at it, that was her first time going into a real battle. That was her first time heading into a real fight, not knowing whether she could actually return. Not knowing, if she could actually survive.
Duchess Irene rode by her side, and all the while she had been keeping her eyes on the little queen. She felt sympathy for her more than anything, and although she had tried talking some sense into her, the girl refused. It seemed to her that she was trying to commit suicide, to take her own life away in the battlefield. But was that really what the queen was trying to do?
It took some long hours for the thousand and five hundred god soldiers to arrive, but finally they reached their destination. From the distance, they could clearly see the flag of the iris, the symbol of the devils. The wind made it blow furiously, and it flew from it to the flag of the rose, the symbol of the gods.
The leader of the devils’ army was a strong-built man, who looked to be of a high rank. As he saw the gods that approached, his face immediately turned to one of anger, one of rage. On instinct, he shouted, “Devils, prepare! Here comes the queen, here comes our revenge! Revenge for our world, for our king and queen, for our princess!”
Lisianthus was shaken a little by his strong, powerful shouts. That didn’t escape Irene who quickly turned to her and said,
“Lisianthus, stay behind and keep the guards around you. Stay behind!”
Lisianthus shook her head with a little fear but replied,
“N-No. I want to fight. I can do this.”
Irene shook her head immediately and replied, “Lisianthus, listen to me! Your coming was a mistake from the beginning. You are the target, damn you! Stay behind!”
At that moment, the devils’ army had marched and began to fight brutally with the gods at the first lines. Each side fought hard, but the revenge and vengeance that controlled the devils’ mind made them stronger and tougher to beat. The gods stood strong but sooner than ever, soldiers fell dead here and there, and the blood was splattered here and there, and heads were taken off bodies here and there. Lisianthus had been forced to stay behind the main lines with the guards who protected her all around her, all ready to defend in case the devils succeeded in reaching her. Irene had gone forward and using her powers as a strong sorceress, she fought with the gods, killing one here and one there.
One could only imagine the thoughts of anyone standing there, facing his fate and watching death him from right and left. So what about a little princess, one who had watched her own mother get killed at the hands of her own father, and that father dying in her arms a few days ago? A princess who had watched her mother’s neck get torn apart by her husband’s sword? A princess who had in a few nights, become an orphaned queen, in charge of a whole kingdom in war?
Lisianthus watched as the blood splattered around, and the lifeless bodies filled the battlefield so early on. Stabs, slaughters, organs flying around; all the horrible ways of killings, all the terrible means of war. She watched it one by one; all happening to the god soldiers. One by one. Her god soldiers. Her gods. Her people.
She could only feel her own hand tightening on her spear, her other hand get hold stronger of the bridle of her horse.
“Open the way, guards! If the queen they want, the queen they get!”
The guards whose job was definitely to protect the queen couldn’t allow her to do so, especially after Duchess Irene, who had been fighting bravely all along, had given them special orders to strictly protect the queen, even if they had to disobey her.
But what was life worth for Lisianthus to care for so much now? Hadn’t she lost the most valuable things in her world? So what if she were a queen? Was being a queen going to return her parents, her beloved ones? Was being a queen going to bring back her uncle, the king of the devils who was brutally killed? Her aunt, his wife and queen? Her cousin, the princess who was lost?
“I said open the way!” At this, she knew she just had to go in there; to fight, to battle. Ordering the horse, she made a sudden, quick move by making the horse rear upward and gallop forward, not caring who stood in front of her. Although they were taken by surprise by her reaction, the astonished guards managed to set aside right in time before their horses crashed.
She marched then forward, breaking through the lines of the gods, the fear inside her turning into a strong will. A will to kill those killers. A will to destroy those who were destroying her people. A will to get rid of those who wanted Cephiron over. Perhaps, just a perhaps, a will to die. A will to end her life in a way that wouldn’t be obvious, a way this is honorable. A will to follow her parents and her deceased family.
The devils who had been fighting hard as ever, burnt more with fire as they saw the queen’s horse come forward. Their leader, that strong-built man under the name of General Richard Delaport, shouted with anger her sight came to his eyes,
“The queen, devils! The revenge, devils, the revenge!!”
Irene had been busy fighting here and there, shooting balls of firing darkness at her enemies, or using her magical sword to stab the devils who attacked her. As soon as she saw Lisianthus march madly into the battlefield, she was the first one to follow her, leaving the god soldiers around her to take care of the mad enemies.
Lisianthus meanwhile had reached the devils’ lines, and the guards who had been taking care of protecting her personally had followed her as soon as they recovered from the earlier shock. If they weren’t able to prevent the devils from laying their hands on her, they could at least protect her through her madness.
As soon as she reached the devils’ lines, the devils had put their whole focus on her. It gave a chance for the god soldiers to recover from the continuous attacks, to quickly recover and fight back. Lisianthus fought hard, and as soon as she was engaged in battle, she was as violent as ever. She knew no mercy on who she thought were killers of her people-killers of her gods. In her mind, those people were murderers. They had to die; if they had refused to have peace, then they certainly wanted war; destruction.
She fought violently, and her spear stabbed here and there; killing a soldier, then another, and another and another. The blood splattered all over, and it stained her glorious shining armor till it became polluted with blood. Her face, which had been always white as a bed of white roses, was also stained with the blood of the devils she killed mercilessly.
It continued like that for a while, and Irene who hadn’t tried to persuade the queen to return, just stayed close to her and kept her eyes on her while she fought-no matter how hard it proved to be. The gods were beginning to get a stronger hold of things, probably because the devils were outnumbered by six hundred soldiers. Perhaps because of their queen’s well fencing. But things suddenly changed.
General Richard Delaport had broken through the lines he had been fighting until he reached Queen Lisianthus. As soon as she became close to him, he shouted in anger,
“Here you are, queen! Here you are, cruelness! Now face your own death!”
His sword was going right towards Lisianthus’ neck had she not dodged it in the very last part of second; her spear clashed with the general’s own sword, and both looked at each other’s eyes; Lisianthus’ in despair, his in anger.
“There is no use running away, queen! Your death is here, you little moron!”
“Who do you call a moron, devil!” His insult had greatly angered her, and it gave her an extra bonus of strength as she raised her spear against his sword higher. Irene had noticed that the queen was fighting the greatest general of the devils’ time, and as she rode to her rescue, she was only stopped with Lisianthus’ scream,
“Stay back! Don’t approach us! He’s mine to kill; the general is mine to kill!”
The general was not to be easily defeated however. He proved to be a great cavalry and a brilliant sword master, not to mention the vengeance that moved him so much. Lisianthus was not nearly as experienced as he was, but something made her almost his equal; her anger, her hurt, her sadness and her despair. She was not willing to let herself be killed; she wanted to protect her people against those devils; those killers. But death; she was not afraid of it. She wished it’d come, but in an honorable, memorable way.
The two kept on fencing, with no interruptions from both sides. The gods and the devils were both busy fighting each other, although the devils’ strength was slowly dying down as many of them fell lifeless and their numbers slowly decreased. The leaders’ weapons clashed against each other again and again, both feeling their energies drain out slowly as they fought so hard. Lisianthus was a sportive one, and she had been training on fighting and fencing for a long time, but she was also used to being a little princess who was brought up between luxury and comfort. Such a fight was too much for her.
At one point, her spear failed her as General Richard’s sword clashed against it. Her hand couldn’t stand against his grip and as she lost her concentration, his sword was rapidly going towards her for the fatal blow.
“Goodbye, so-called queen! Goodbye, killer! Goodbye, murderer!”
Her head would have flown off her body had the general’s horse not stamped accidentally on one of the many dead bodies that lay under its hooves, and momentarily lost balance. Before the general could have a chance to recover from the sudden misfortune, he could only feel Lisianthus’ spear right through his heart,
“Goodbye, so-called general!”
His bloodshot eyes stared her with a look of anger, a look of hate and a look of madness for only a moment, before his lifeless body fell off its horse, to be lay aside with the many dead who filled the battlefield.
As the great general was killed by the hands of their queen, the gods shouted in joy and victory; shouts that brought horror into the hearts of the devils that fought and were full of grief and despair after their leader’s ultimate death.
Duchess Irene couldn’t believe that the little queen had done it; that she had killed the great known General Richard Delaport. Her eyes moved towards Lisianthus, who was riding on her horse still, but her armor covered any expressions or emotions that could appear on her face. Glad as she was for the general’s death, Irene was more worried for the queen’s welfare.
It did not take an hour more, before all the devils were killed. Eight hundred soldiers were killed, and they were some of the last remaining devils. But you might ask, weren’t they nine hundred, as the chancellor had informed? The last one hundred were all children, women, and old men. Wives, mothers, old fathers. Sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. Those who were not soldiers in the battlefield, but only prayers for their army’s victory. Those who have fled away from their world after its destruction and had no choice but to follow their soldiers to their probable fate.
But Queen Lisianthus had already given her orders. No child, no woman, and no old men or any not armed person may be harmed. Her words were clear; no killing for those who could not protect themselves.
After the battle, the gods set up the tents to camp and rest for the day before returning to Cephiron the next morning. The royal tent was also set up, and it was made special for Queen Lisianthus. Duchess Irene had the tent just next to it, and both stayed in their tents alone but a few maids along.
The gods soldiers who have survived the great battle were busy taking care of the lifeless. What happened to the one hundred defenseless devils? They were given the choice to be in peace, or to be slaughtered and follow their dead army. Defenseless they were, poor and weak, they choice the first choice. And they were given it generously.
Duchess Irene entered the royal tent where Lisianthus was. Washed up and clean now, she was dressed in a white, simple but elegant dress. Her face looked to be completely cheerful; as if they hadn’t been fighting in a destructive war just a few hours ago.
“Well, Irene! We did it; we defeated the devils!” She said cheerfully as she came up to Irene, whose face did not show any signs of happiness.
“We did, my queen,” came Irene’s cold reply, but during it she looked deeply in the yellow eyes of Lisianthus’. Those eyes appeared to be happy and content, but deep down there, was a lot of hurt, despair and sadness. Irene’s own eyes softened for a moment, and a motherly expression came over her. Lisianthus noticed it, and for a moment too, her cheerful eyes turned into ones of despair, ones that told Irene that the little queen was keeping too much inside.
But their moment of motherly love was interrupted as one of the high ranked god soldiers entered. After paying his respect and bowing before the queen, he said,
“Your royal highness, we have a trouble we need your majesty to take care of.”
Lisianthus moved away her cheerfulness and looking back seriously to the soldier, she nodded. She then took her spear and followed him to outside. Duchess Irene closely followed.
Outside, through the light of the two moons of the gods’ world, in the darkness of the night, were the soldiers surrounding a man – a soldier, too – who was held as though if he were a captive. Queen Lisianthus stood before him and as she looked down at him seriously, she asked, “What’s the matter with him?”
The high ranked soldier from before here spoke up,
“Your majesty, this soldier has disobeyed your highness’ orders and killed three children of the defenseless devils. The bodies of the spoken children stand before you now.”
The three lifeless, bloody bodies of the three children, aged from four to six years old, two girls and one boy, were brought before Queen Lisianthus. And what a horrible sight it was! They were not killed ordinarily, but slaughtered mercilessly, brutally! One’s head was completely crushed, another’s neck was deeply torn, and the third’s stomach was emptied from anything. All three had their hands or legs cut in such a horrible, inhuman way.
Lisianthus stared at the sight with such horror in her eyes for a moment, and had she not caught herself, controlled it, she would have screamed in terror. But she didn’t even cry. She didn’t let a tear trickle. She didn’t let an emotion come out. Steadying herself as much as possible, her voice came out almost faintly,
“Take them away. Bury them in an honorable place; build them a grand cemetery.”
Those who have taken care of showing the children bowed and then carried the bloody lifeless figures away. Lisianthus stood still for a moment, heart beating fast. She looked steady, but inside, she was getting devastated. She wanted to scream, to yell, to run away or even cry one tear, but she stood still. And she got all inside, she buried it all in her heart.
Irene watched her carefully, and she could almost read her mind. She felt so much sympathy for the little girl; she wanted her to cry, to do anything, to talk. But she wasn’t doing any of that and it was going to only lead her to her destruction.
The next thing Lisianthus had done was that she stepped forward, one step and another till she reached the soldier who had been accused of killing the dead young triple.
“Why did you kill them?” She asked in a quiet voice, in a cold tone that wasn’t to be heard from Lisianthus.
The soldier did not show any signs of guiltiness or regret over his deed, but just replied,
“They were devils, my queen. All devils must die. Children or not, does not matter. Devils must die.”
Lisianthus did not say anything, but she held up the spear she had in hand, and held it tightly with both of her hands, only then she spoke up,
“You’ll die like them, soldier. You’ll die in the same way.”
All the present were astonished. Even Irene herself was surprised. Not ever, had the death penalty been performed on a soldier, even if he had disobeyed the queen and killed three innocent children. The soldier’s eyes widened in horror, and came his quick reply,
“No, my queen! I-I am sorry! Forgive me, spare my life!”
Lisianthus did not reply with her words, but replied with a fatal stab right in the soldier’s neck. The soldier yelled in horror, his last yell, before his body dropped dead in a moment right at her feet. Her shoes were wet with blood, and the beautiful white dress she wore had become stained with blood.
“Take him away,” She said coldly, then turned around and entered the tent. Not even Irene dared to go after her then, and the soldiers stared at each other in fear; fear of the new cruel queen.
The chancellor walked slowly through the throne room, his head low, his eyes down. At one point, he stopped walking and bowed in respect to Queen Lisianthus.
“I have got quite some news for you, your highness.”
Lisianthus looked at him with tired eyes. She had been working all day, checking matters here and there, looking into things and watching over others. But with a smile, she replied, “Hopefully, they are some good news?”
The chancellor raised his head up and looked back at the young queen. Nodding, he replied, “Some good ones, some bad ones. What would your majesty like to hear first?”
Lisianthus looked disappointed for a moment as she heard that there were some bad news awaiting, but she quickly gave back her smile and replied,
“The good news first. I could use something good to hear.”
The chancellor nodded, and then with a serious face replied,
“We’ve finished checking the devils’ world for all the bodies, my queen. We’ve cleaned everything, and we’ve searched around every single corner. The good news are, that we have found no traces of the princess’ body.”
Lisianthus’ face lit up with hope as the chancellor finished his words. Almost in joy, she replied, “So Nerine is alive somewhere? She is there somewhere! Oh god, someone of my family is still there!”
The chancellor did not exactly share her enthusiasm over the news however. His serious face had not broken a smile, and he did not give Lisianthus anything more than a moment as he continued,
“But we do not exactly know where she is now, my queen.”
Lisianthus’ moment of happiness was gone as the chancellor finished his sentence. Looking more serious, she looked thoughtful there too, and after a few minutes of silence she replied,
“Wait. If she isn’t in the devils’ world, and I can’t feel her presence in the gods’ world…”
Her face changed to one of surprise as though if she had realized something she hadn’t even thought of before. The chancellor was generous enough to continue her sentence,
“It would mean that she is in the humans’ world, my queen.”
The queen nodded, confirming that it was exactly what she thought. There were a few moments of silence, as Lisianthus was deep in thoughts and the chancellor waited for her to speak up. But seeing how silent she was, he decided that he should announce,
“We-We have already moved though, my queen. We do not know where she is exactly in the humans’ world, but I’ve sent some troops already, and they only await your orders to attack. They are standing at the entrance of a town called Deven---"
Lisianthus didn’t give him any more chance to continue what he was about to say, however. Almost yelling at him, she replied,
“What?! But who told you that I want to attack anyone in the humans’ world!? I don’t want another war, chancellor!”
The chancellor was taken aback a little by her reaction, but he stood his ground. Keeping his cool, he quietly replied,
“But my queen, if you allow me to differ, are you going to give up on what your father fought for?”
Lisianthus calmed down a little as the subject of her father was brought up, but she replied,
“I-I am not giving up. I will find Nerine, and I will take her powers like my father wanted. But out of war. Absolutely out of war! No more blood, chancellor, no more killing! And with who, with the humans!”
The chancellor dared to say, “But my queen, the humans are not at all that powerful. We could easily defeat---"
“I said no more blood!” Lisianthus again interrupted him, this time angrier than before, more determined, “The humans may be weaker but don’t you know how large their world is, how many are they? They would easily outnumber us. In any case, chancellor, war is not an option.”
The chancellor did not seem too pleased with the queen’s opinion, but he dared not say more. He replied, “What would your highness like then, my queen?”
Lisianthus immediately replied, her voice determined, “Search for her, in the humans’ world, every single corner. Search till you find her. I know the humans’ world is pretty large, but you’ll find her. You have to find her. You have to find Nerine. No matter how long it takes-we’ll find her.”
Her voice seemed to soften towards the end, obviously because she wanted to find her cousin, not the princess who had the special powers. But who could blame her? She was desperate to find anyone of her family alive, when all of them died in a glimpse of a second through a blood, terrible war.
Duchess Irene had been standing there all along, right beside Lisianthus who was seated at her throne. She had not cared about the news themselves as much as she cared about Lisianthus’ reaction, and she watched her so carefully. The girl’s softening towards her cousin definitely didn’t escape her, and she felt sympathy towards her.
Lisianthus then continued, “You said you also have some unpleasant news, chancellor. What are they?”
The chancellor frowned a little, but he replied almost immediately,
“We have cleaned all the bodies in the devils’ world, my queen, and…” The chancellor himself hesitated to continue, but he eventually did,
“We have found the bodies of the king, the queen, and Avi, my queen.”
At this, Lisianthus put a hand over her mouth as he eyes widened in shock, in horror. These were no news to her; she already knew of their death. No, she heard of their death. But she had hope, some hope, that perhaps those were rumors. That perhaps her uncle, his wife and her best friend have survived. But that hope was destroyed then, in a glimpse of a second it was all gone.
Irene watched Lisianthus sympathetically, and although the queen’s horrified face soon faded away, Irene had a feeling that she was about to explode out of sadness. Except that she wasn’t, and she was keeping on a strong face, which troubled Irene more than anything.
“Where…where are the bodies?” Lisianthus finally spoke up after a few minutes of silence. The chancellor replied,
“They…They are in the magical cold room here, my queen, awaiting the cemetery to be built. We keep them there to protect their bodies from decaying.”
Lisianthus looked distant for a moment, saddened, but there was nothing else more than that. Then, in a moment, she said, “I want to see them.”
The chancellor looked up in surprise, and Irene’s reaction wasn’t much different. Was that girl wrong in the head or something? After all she had gone through, she wanted to see her family’s dead bodies? Did she want to see the closest people she had ever known gone?
As though if she were answering her, Lisianthus continued, “I want…to bid my farewell. One last time. I want to see them.”
Her voice sounded so insistent and determined that the chancellor couldn’t protest. He nodded, and she was led out of the throne room towards the cold magical room, with Irene closely following. It was seen at one point that when she stood up to follow the chancellor, she looked somewhat faint. When Irene asked her about it, she said she was alright and quickly rubbed it off.
And so she was taken to the cold magical room. It was quite a creepy place, not at all the pleasant sight. It was neatly organized, and it had to be. Lying around were tens of lifeless bodies, those that awaited their burial for their souls have already gone in the other world. Lisianthus could only feel her hands go to her arms, trying to warm the cold shivers that were running through so fast. Irene noticed but only put a hand on Lisianthus’ shoulder, telling her secretly that she was there. Poor Lisianthus took it the wrong way, though.
Soon enough, they stopped in front of three bodies which were covered by white sheets. The chancellor looked to Lisianthus then, and she knew that she was about to see a most unpleasant sight. But she nodded to him, motioning for him to uncover the bodies, which he did.
And how she wished he didn’t. How she wished she hadn’t gone there. In front of her, lay three lifeless, dead bodies. The first was of a strong-built, stern looking man. His eyes were closed, and his face looked so pale. On his chest was a fatal stab, one of a spear, right through the heart. That was King Forbesii, former king of the devils, and Lisianthus’ dear uncle.
The second was of a middle-aged woman. Green haired, peaceful looking as she slept eternally, looking as gentle as if she were in a normal sleep. On her chest as well was a fatal stab that killed her, but one of a sword. The blood stained her gentle white face but did not make her look any less beautiful. That was Queen Sage, former queen of the devils, and Lisianthus’ dear uncle’s wife.
The third was a young man, who looked incredibly good-looking, with brown hair that made him look handsome, and a beautiful smile on his face. There were no wounds on his body, but there was no doubt that he was gone, away. That was Avi Nuffield, Lisianthus’ former personal companion, and her dearest, best friend.
Lisianthus could only stare at her deceased family; right before her very own eyes they lay. Dead. Lifeless. Her eyes were opened wide, and her hands were on her chest, right where her heart was. At that moment, she felt like her heart was about to explode, as if it were going to burst right here and there. But she didn’t speak. She didn’t let a tear trickle. She didn’t let out a word.
After a few minutes of staring, Lisianthus moved forward till she could touch anyone of those who lay there. Then faintly, ever so faintly, she whispered,
“Avi…Uncle…Aunt…” She touched each one’s hand of them as she muttered their names, her voice almost choked. She almost wanted to cry, but she didn’t let herself. She controlled it, and how good she was at it. She didn’t let a tear trickle.
“God, all my life I have been dreaming of the day when I would become a bride, and I’d find you all by my side,” she softly whispered, perhaps imagining that she was talking to them, but the chancellor and Irene could hear her very well,
“I-I’ve always dreamed of the day when I would find you all there for me, that very special day I’ve always spoke of to you. Oh uncle,” she looked towards him and softly continued, “didn’t you say that you’ll walk down the aisle with my father, and I’d be one bride with two fathers on her wedding day? Didn’t you say you’d be there? Didn’t you promise you’d be there?”
Her eyes turned to her dead aunt, and she softly whispered, “Oh aunt Sage, weren’t you always saying how you’d be decorating me as a beautiful bride then with my mom? Didn’t you say that you’d want me to look as beautiful as ever on my wedding day? Didn’t you say you’d be there? Didn’t you promise you’d be there?”
At this, Irene and the chancellor felt sure that the queen was going to burst in tears; she simply had to. The scene was too much for any person to take, no matter how strong they were. So how for a little, vulnerable girl as she was? But she didn’t; she didn’t cry, she didn’t let a tear trickle.
Lisianthus then moved on to the young man, and she looked at him with extra care, more tenderness. Her hand softly touched his ever so cold forehead, and she softly whispered,
“Oh Avi…didn’t you say that you’d be there too? You-You said that you’d be the best man on my wedding. You-You even said that you’d force my groom if he didn’t you to be so,” the memory seemed to give her a fake, weak smile, “You were my best friend, Avi. Oh god. Why did you die too? Why did you die too? I’ve been dreaming all of my life of that day. Now I am burying you all. I am burying you all. Didn’t you say you’d be there? Didn’t you promise you’d be there?”
The chancellor and the duchess were so sure that she was going to break down here and then, at least cry, at least let a tear trickle. But she didn’t. She didn’t cry. She didn’t let a tear trickle. She stood there for a little more while, catching herself as much as she could. But eventually, she turned to the chancellor and to Irene, and she said, “Let-Let us go. I think I am done here.”
The chancellor nodded, and proceeded to cover the lifeless bodies once more. Lisianthus watched him with distant eyes as he did so, and Irene eyed her carefully, wanting to hug her and comfort her, but she knew that if she did, Lisianthus would only try to cover her emotions more.
Once the chancellor was all done, he led the way out of the cold magical room. They walked back through the halls in complete silence, back to the throne room. Lisianthus walked slower than usual however, which didn’t escape Irene. Her distant eyes, her choked looks, and those imprisoned tears were what troubled her the most about the little queen.
They soon reached the throne room, and Lisianthus walked up the steps slowly to reach her throne. Those were three steps. She took the first step, and the second, but on the third her feet failed her, and before she even knew what was going on, her body softly fell to the ground, as the queen drifted away from consciousness.
It’s been a few weeks since the last battle in the war, and it was announced to be officially over. The devils were defeated, and the gods won the fight. The devils’ world was completely destroyed, nothing of it left but ruins, fire and blood of the many innocents killed by all ways. The gods’ world survived, with nothing of it touched but a few villages here and there, and no one of them killed but a hundred or two, and what was that number to the thousands who died at the other side?
But you may ask, what happened to the queen whose strength failed her? She was carried to her royal room, where she was taken care of, and where the royal doctor examined her. Duchess Irene especially gave her great care.
There lay the brunette queen, her long strands of hair by her side in her bed. She looked peaceful, but weary. She looked perfectly fine, but through that illusion was a broken heart. Duchess Irene quietly observed the sleeping figure of the little girl, as she gently held her hand. But as she sharply observed, it was ordinary to notice those yellow eyes as they slowly opened, tiredly awoke.
“Irene…Irene?” It was the first thing she spoke, as she took notice of her surroundings, realizing where she was. The last thing on her mind was walking to her throne, and yet she awoke to find herself in bed, with the eagle-eyed duchess looking at her with worry.
She quickly sat up, and fortunately did so without troubles. Irene did not try to stop her, but continued to eye her carefully, her thoughts running about in her head fast. Lisianthus looked at her confusedly, partly because she wanted an explanation, but mostly because of Irene’s sharp looks.
As the awkward silence continued, Lisianthus thought of a way to brush it off. Laughing nervously a bit, she said,
“I must have fainted, right? Man, I should man up a little more. But it was a tiring day now, wasn’t it? I suppose---“
Her try was quickly silenced by Irene’s reply, “Lisianthus, till when are you going to keep hiding your emotions like this?”
Lisianthus looked a little surprised by her reaction, and for a moment she was actually confused by the question. But as Irene continued to give her the sharp looks, she replied at last, “Whatever you mean, Irene? What did I hide? I-I am sorry I fainted like this but---“
Once more interrupted by Irene, the strong-willed woman approached her and held her hand once more, for their connection was broken when Lisianthus sat up. This time, she replied,
“Stop taking it all in yourself, okay? Stop burying it all inside, it’s only hurting you. Why don’t you free your feelings, let them out? We all need to let them out sometime, Lisianthus.”
She may have sounded harsh in a way, mean in another, but through those expressions, was gentleness, kindness, true care for the girl she thought of as her own daughter. Lisianthus was even more surprised by Irene’s words, but slowly, she came to understand them, and take them in. And slowly, after a few moments, came her reply,
“I am hiding nothing, Irene. I am fine. I really am fine. I suppose it was a little depressing for me that…that I have lost my family all of a sudden, that’s all. But I am alright.”
The duchess looked at her sharply still, not at all convinced. She truly cared for the queen and she wanted her to notice it. She wanted her to stop acting so cheerful when she knew she was devastated. She wanted her to stop smiling when she knew she wanted to cry. Yet, all Lisianthus did was to hide her emotions inside, and what good that was?
“A little depressing?” Irene finally replied after a moment of watching Lisianthus carefully, “Losing your whole family is just ‘a little depressing’? Lisianthus, dear, I have lost my husband some weeks ago and I am still mourning him. And I, with my strong personality as I admit, have cried and I cried hard. I am not ashamed of it, I am not embarrassed. Crying is nothing to be ashamed of. You’re only hurting yourself, carrying it all inside of you like this!”
Perhaps Lisianthus was angry then, perhaps she was hurt by Irene’s harshness, or perhaps she was pleased that Irene cared so for her sake. Irene couldn’t tell, for the queen’s face showed no expressions for a minute. But then, it slowly changed to a smile, a kind smile, full of sympathy and hope. She quietly replied,
“But I don’t want to cry, Irene. What is the point of crying anyways? Are the tears going to give me back my father, my mother? Are they going to return my uncle, my aunt? Are they going to make Avi return to life? Are they going to make me find Nerine now? They are just going to make me feel depressed, and I don’t want depression. I am not depressed, Irene, despite all that happened. I am content with my destiny. I’ve got more responsibility, it’s true, and it’s quite a huge one, but I accepted it. I’ve still got hope for happiness, I’ve it still.”
The duchess was surprised by what the little girl said. There when she expected her to break down or burst in tears, she strongly replied back to her with words full of optimism and hope. Surely, she was sad for her great loss, but she didn’t lose hope for a better future. But what hope did she have? What kind of hope that a little girl had, after the loss of her whole family, after all that she had seen and witnessed?
Looking weirdly at her, she replied, “What kind of hope is that, Lisianthus, that you cling to so much? What kind of hope that keeps you smiling through all of this, and prevents you from crying a tear?”
Lisianthus’ smile didn’t vanish, and she looked so happy for a moment. She even got up from her bed, and did so without troubles as though as she hadn’t fainted a few hours ago, and twirled around in happiness as though as if it were her wedding day. And how pretty did she look in her light violet dress as it laughed around with her, making her look full of energy and life. Then turning back to Irene with a content twinkle in her eyes, she replied,
“A hope for a better future, a better chance of love! A hope that one day, I will find the knight of my dreams, that knight in his shining armor on his white horse! And I know that we’ll fall in love immediately, and that he’ll sweep me off my feet, love me truly, deeply, carry me in his arms and become my king! I know I will find him one day, Irene, I just know it! And then he will make up for it all, all this sadness. Only then, Irene, will I cry. I will cry for him, and I know I will. They will be tears of happiness, Irene, tears of pure happiness. I know I will cry those happy tears, Irene!”
Nothing amazed Irene as much as Lisianthus did that very moment. The way she talked, the way she smiled, the way she looked at her without any hints of sadness. The way she sounded so sweet yet so strong, so delicate yet so determined. It amazed her how could a little princess overcome all what she has gone through in a little time, not be depressed about everything that had happened to her, and to be still optimistic about her life.
But inside her, she also knew that inside this little delicate strong cover, was a lot of pain and agony. Was Lisianthus trying to hide them, and was being so good at it? Or was she really optimistic about the situation, but her heart couldn’t help but cry for those she lost? Irene couldn’t forget the distant looks in the queen’s eyes as they walked away from the cold magical room, and how she fainted so weakly just a few hours ago. She wasn’t to be brushed away that easily.
Looking still at Lisianthus, her sharp looks never leaving her, she replied,
“But Lisianthus, can you explain to me how did you faint just a little while ago? How did you just look like a broken bird there, falling down all of a sudden? How did you lose it all of a sudden, and fall down like a dead rose? Explain it to me, Lisianthus. Or better, let me explain it. You’ve been burying it all inside, and it’s not the right thing. Stop acting so cheerfully and happily, Lisianthus. Stop it. Stop fooling around us. Stop fooling yourself, convincing it that you are happy when you are not. You will be only hurting yourself till you explode out of this misery, Lisianthus.”
Lisianthus raised an eyebrow at Irene, her smile finally going away and in its place, an annoyed childish pout. She replied to her, with a tone of a little blaming,
“I don’t understand you, Irene. I am perfectly fine. Do you want me to cry and scream? Will that make you happy? Will that make you feel like I am fine? I’m alright, Irene, I’m alright. I will be always fine, and I know I will find my happiness one day-once I find him. Once I find him, Irene, I can assure you then that my whole life will be sunshine. I will tell you to watch out for my tears then, those tears of happiness.”
With that, the queen sat down on the bed once more, feeling a little tired but not showing it. Duchess Irene finally decided that there was no point of talking sense into that girl. She so believed in optimism and happiness and whatnot, things Irene could not understand so well. But she decided, within herself, that she has to watch out for this girl from now on. To be her guardian, in a sort, even if she couldn’t go along with her ideas perfectly.
She got up, and looked down at the queen who looked like she was going to have a nap. She looked at her sharply as usual, but then gave her a gentle, motherly, soft look. Through it, she said,
“I am only caring for your sake, Lisianthus. I am hoping that you see that, but it’s also alright if you don’t see it. It’s not like I’d like to see you cry, but it pains me to feel like you are burying it all inside. It’s…it’s okay to let your tears trickle every once in a while, Lisianthus. It’s okay to let them trickle.”
She then went out of the room, and left the queen alone to have some rest. The queen simply covered her head with the blanket, but she didn’t sleep. She only hoped a hope, wished a wish, that she would find that love one day. She would find that guy of her dreams one day. She would find the hope of her sunshine, the king of her kingdom, and she would live forever in merriness with him.
Till then, she wasn’t going to cry. Till then, she wasn’t going, to let them trickle.