Many moons ago…
Prince Casimir leaned over the marble balcony, peering at the foyer below. The party was in full swing over in the grand ballroom, and the fine band’s music seemed to crash through the walls. Royals from all over the globe had made their way for his annual party, one Jean-Luc always planned for his birthday. He embraced the loving crowd, the women who fawned over him and the men who wanted to be him. Glittering jewels and heinously expensive gifts had been piled up in the corner, each one more lavish than the last. No one dared to bring Prince Casimir anything less, for he was a vain prince, and one who valued beauty over all else. He enjoyed the glamour of the party, but lately it was much too political – ever since his parents passed, people looked to him for answers.
Answers he didn’t have.
“Oh! Your Highness,”
Casimir looked up to find a pixie of a woman standing at the front door. She was drowning in a blue dress, and her blonde hair was mussed by the whistling wind. Her face was much too small, her features pinched together like the ugly dogs his aunt used to favor.
“I’m so sorry I’m late,” she continued.
Casimir found himself shrugging, already bored with the exchange. “Well, congrats. You’re here now.”
The pixie smiled lightly, unaware of his sarcasm. She curtsied deeply, practically slamming her pushed up nose on the floor. Casimir found himself wishing she would – perhaps it would provide some much needed entertainment. He made his way down the steps to meet her.
“I’m Prince Casimir.” He said, bowing almost imperceptibly.
The woman’s smile grew, overtaking her tiny face. “I know.”
Casimir’s thick brows knitted together as she pouted her lips. “I’ve come a long way to meet you, my prince.”
“Hm. From where do you hail?” He asked, attempting to sound interested, but even he could hear the apathy in his voice.
“Somewhere far,” she breathed. “Much farther than you’ve ever traveled.”
“Well, the ball is that-”
Casimir was cut off when the woman lunged forward, pressing her lips to his. Casimir’s eyes widened in shock as he stepped back and pushed her slight shoulders to make her back off. She stumbled on her heels as a screech escaped her lips.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He growled.
The strange woman’s eyes widened. “I’ve heard about you, young Casimir. A prince of fine luxury with a rotten, dried up heart.”
Casimir took another step back. “What on earth are you talking about?”
“And here you are, rejecting me?”
Any words Casimir was about to utter dried up in his mouth as the woman began to change. Her black, perturbing eyes swirled as the roots of her hair darkened. He gasped as her dress became scarlet red, dripping with blood at the ends. He tried to yell for the guards, but it felt as if someone had sewn his lips shut with the strongest of threads. The woman continued to transform – her eyes turned an evil red and scratches began pocketing her face, dripping crimson blood onto the white tiles.
She began to laugh manically.
“Am I pretty enough for you now, sweet prince?” She cackled, throwing her head back.
“You’re…disgusting.” Casimir managed to choke out.
Suddenly, the woman’s laughter ceased, as if it had never occurred at all.
Now it was Casimir’s turn to laugh. “No wonder it took you so long to arrive – the wolves must’ve thought you their leader.”
“Watch your tongue!” She barked. “If we’re to be married, you will submit to my will.”
Casimir laughed harder. “To…to a hag?” He leaned over, hands on his knees as tears dripped from his eyes. “Go home, witch. You’re not welcome here.”
And with that, Casimir turned around to go back to the ball. He’d met strange people before, but never so insane he’d thought they’d escaped from the local asylum.
“Wrong choice.” She whispered, almost too low to be heard.
But alas, Casimir did hear. He turned around just in time to see swirling clouds of black and grey rise up from the floor and surround the witch.
“A test, darling. Everything in life is a test. And you failed.”
Casimir stood stoically, attempting to conceal his fear through a mask of indifference. It faltered when the woman’s skin turned an angry, blistering red. The air smelled of foul blood, of fear and treachery and all things awful.
“A curse, Casimir d’Vaile, upon you and all those who worship you in this household! You’ll spend eternity in a black castle, dark as the heart that beats in your chest. Only for when you and another truly learn to love one another inside and out will your life be restored. But until then, you’re exterior matches your interior – you’ll be a beast, dark as the soul that swirls in your mind and acts on your behalf. And for every mirror you look upon, you’re hideousness will reflect it!”
Then, a bright burst of light blinded Casimir as he fell to the ground. His ears were ringing, and he blinked rapidly in an attempt to regain his vision. His hands were splayed out in front of him, and he gasped as they came into focus. An inky substance had wormed its way across the bones of his hands, giving them the appearance of a rotting skeleton. But what was even more terrifying was the black floor on which he laid upon – it was no longer a polished white marble, but a cold, unforgiving stone. His gaze came back fully as a sob ripped from his throat – darkness.
It was all made of darkness.
A castle of midnight.