A collaborative story with AngelBlackwing,Prima Ballerina, MisoNinja, BBchan and dreaming eyes.
A chill swept through the room. The guests stopped their festivities, the hostess looked up. Fog rolled over the grand staircase and out onto the dance floor. The candles were extinguished and the guests shivered. From the staircase, the curtain bellowed. The musicians, though quietened their playing, instruments started to play by themselves as though cursed. The organ at the head of the room suddenly began to play an eerie melody. Lady Leaf bit her lip and closed her eyes. She was desperately hoping SHE wouldn't come.
"What a festive little party, Lady Leaf," a chilling voice said from the staircase. Everyone looked up to see the queen of all chilling midnights standing in her most exquisite of attire. She swept down the staircase to Lady Leaf who was standing in the middle of the floor, Lady Sky and Lady Kanansai by her side. "You are not welcome," Lady Kanansai bit out, utterly terrified. The Queen laughed, a cold and mirthless laugh. "Why of course I am! Lady Leaf herself invited me!"
Though frustrated, the Dark Lady simply gestured the end of arguing. She looked up staring straight into the chilling queen's cold eyes, "What the queen spoke is true." Lady Leaf slowly uttered as she gently turned to the shocked crowd, from which the whispers of fear and confusion rose. "The invitation is open to ALL of this queendom!"
Lady Midnight smiled, watching the reverent hush that fell at the Dark Lady's words. The castle's mistress had always had the perfect combination of kindness and firmness that kept her both loved and respected in the queendom. Even the more...unsettling guests wouldn't cause trouble tonight, out of their respect for her. At least one could hope. "Well done, my lady." Midnight said quietly, curtsying as she came up to the hostess.
The Dark Lady nodded to greet Lady Midnight, though her eyes were focused on the queen, and emphasised "all" deliberately. The chilling queen's foot step hesitated at this word as she approached Lady Leaf. Wearing this sarcastic smile on her face, queen of all chilling midnights reached out her arm, "Will you not ask me for a dance?" The Dark Lady waved her hand, dark but elegant notes took the place of the eerie tune the queen made the musical instruments to play by themselves, The crimson waltz. Lady Leaf gestured invitation, the chilling queen stepped forth in her most graceful manner. The lace chiffons on her exquisite dress floated, drawing a delicate arch in the air. The audience withdrew, leaving a perfect circle for this most unusual dance. The Dark Lady bowed demurely. Holding the queen's fair arm, they spun. The golden edge of the Dark Lady's long black coat shimmered in the silvery moon, cutting in the air like a fine blade.
Lady Midnight stiffened. By nature, she was fairly kind-hearted and would never shun someone for any reason...but she couldn't deny that there were some people that simply made her very uneasy. The Midnight Queen was most certainly one of them. Ironic, she thought vaguely, seeing as they shared a title name.
Lady Leaf glanced at the ball room as they dance. She saw the pale face of Lady Midnight, the fair maiden who spenr most of her time with the rare roses in the garden of the Full Moon Castle. Sometimes the Dark Lady would consider this young lady more a rose nymph than an earthly girl. The lady's glance also fell on Lady Sky and Lady Kanansai, who were staring at their friend, holding their breath as they watched every movement of the chilling queen. Lady Eatha approached the terrified two," What should we do now?" Her voice shivered in tension. "Have some faith in our friend." Although being frightened, Lady Kanansai still held her ground as she always does. "But stand on your guard!"
Silence, except the music, all was but silence in this grand hall. Each and every eye was focusing on the two spinning figures in the center of the marble ballroom. "What a festive little party." Queen of all chilling midnights repeated herself, muttering, but still talking to the Dark Lady. "It is such an honour to receive praise from the midnight's queen." Lady Leaf replied as if she was self-deprecating. "Seriously Lady Leaf, I am more than curious, why invited me?" The chilling queen rose her eyebrows, her lips curved into a glamorous smile. "As I said, the invitation is open to ALL of the queendom of dolldivine." the Dark Lady smiled back, "but I did not expect the queen of all chilling midnights would grant her presence."
"Oh, my lady, please be careful..." Lady Midnight whispered worriedly. Sometimes, the Dark Lady was seemingly a bit too trusting of her subjects and that concerned the younger girl.
The Midnight Queen laughed, suddenly let go her hand that Lady Leaf was holding. "I am bored." The icing voice of the queen swept the floor, quietening the music and freezing each vital breath. Mist floated beneath the queen's shirt, frost crept on the crystal glasses the guests were holding. Quiet, too quiet for a masquerade like this, for the only sound in this grand hall was the ticking of an antique clock.
Lady Midnight took a few steps back as frost crept along the floor. Of course it had been too much to hope that the queen would not cause trouble.
"It is rather rude suspending the dance, my queen." Lady Leaf frowned. A little bit regretted, yes she was. The queen was known for her unpredictability after all. The Dark Lady paced behind the chilling queen, her eyes wandered through her guests, seeing each one's face as pale as the marble pillars. For some reason she did not know herself, Lady Leaf's glance fell again on the nymph-like Lady Midnight.
Lady Midnight lifted her skirt slightly as the frost nipped at the hem of her dress. If only she could call on her roses...she might be able to break through the chilling queen's frost...But even that was a small hope.
Among the many terrified faces, suddenly a smile bloomed. A younger guest, Camile, staring at the midnight queen in awe and in less confusion she smiled. For Camile's eyes saw no eerie queen of midnight but a possible friend, a silvery queen of moonlight. She started wandering, right towards the queen. "No, stop!" Lady Midnight gasped as she grasping Camile's arm and tried to awake her from the hypnotised state. "Why? What are you doing? " Camile looked at Lady Midnight in resentment, she just wanted go to the queen, go to HER queen! Lady Midnight knew she did not succeed. Camile shook off Lady Midnight's hand, her eyes wavered between the chilling queen and Lady Midnight. Glowering to the later as the girl quickly disappeared into the crowd.
"What was that all about!" The Dark Lady deepened her voice, stepping forth to confront the queen. She knew that Lady Midnight was attending to the hypnotised girl, Camile. This small incident disturbed the stillness, like water disturbed by a stone, ripples of panic spread. A meaningful smile of the midnight's queen was all her answer. She gently stretched her slim fingers, unveiling a small crystal vial. Inside this vessel shimmered some kind of transparent liquid coloured with an extraordinary unearthly blue. Even the moonlight dimmed at its otherworldly colour, also at its otherworldly chillness. This is the source of all the algidity that froze the festivities, this one small vial. Lady Leaf's eyes turned from confusion to astonishment, "The....the water of Lethe?" The Dark Lady's voice shivered for the first time. "The river of oblivion." The meaningful smile occupied the queen's face like a mask.
(Lethe, one of the five rivers of the underworld in Greek mythology, river of oblivion.)
Lady Midnight clapped her hands to her mouth. "No!" she gasped. She knew the queen to be malicious, but she never thought the evil woman would go that far. "What do you want!" Lady Leaf came face to face with the queen, trembling silently not knowing out of anger or fear. As if she did not hear the Dark Lady's words, the queen turned to the crowd and mumbled to herself. "Water from the underworld cannot tolerate the breaths of the living. Its coldness sneaks deep into one's soul, seeks out each bud of life and chills them before they have the chance to bloom. Without the source of all creativity, soon, your little world that full of colours and laughter and vitality, will drown into oblivion." The queen glanced at Lady Midnight unintentionally, or at least appeared so.
A chill went down Lady Midnight's spine as the queen's cold gaze passed over her. She tried not to let it distract her though as she silently called to her roses in the garden, watching as the tendril vines crept under the door. She had to get that vial away from the queen...
"Unless," The queen withdrew her gaze and rose her voice, "one of you is willing to take the oblivion into your very self. For the life force of the living neutralises the power from underworld." "Save your lies!" Lady Kanansai stood out side by side with Lady Leaf. "That from the land beyond has not such power in the world of the living!" "No, it has not." Though answering Lady Kanansai, the queen stared right into Lady Leaf's eyes, "But do not forget, on All Hallow's Eve, the wall between this world and the other thins to its weakest."
At the far end of the ballroom, by the main entrance, a girl, dressed in red and black, leaning behind the door, listened carefully to the queen. Though all the guests were concentrated, this girl's interest seemed...extreme. Her lips curved into a cruel smile, "The wall thins out," she hissed, "We then must rise! " An unusual crimson flashed in her eyes. The girl tempted as she held out one hand, groping in thin air, shakily and slowly as if shuddered at some unpleasant memories. Several burns on her hand told the story of unsuccessful attempts. But soon, the smile on the girl's face became even more obvious when her hand reached through the door, unharmed. The burns began to heal in a visible speed, the girl in black peeped around, "Actually, I mean, I must rise." Muttered she while sneaking into the masquerade.
A nameless chill swept the entire ballroom, silence, suffocating oppression shrouded each breath. For they all knew what the queen meant. Lady Leaf sensed some expected disturbing undercurrents from within her guests, planning, analysing, ready to stir a storm. But the Dark Lady cannot let herself get distracted, she must focusing on the QUEEN!
Lady Midnight couldn't let herself get distracted either...she watched the tendrils of her dear rose vines make their way to the queen. Get the vial. She had to get the vial.
And the source of this undercurrent, under the cover of shadows, making her way cautiously through the guests. Suddenly a longing face caught her attention, it was Camile, "Why they don't let me got to my queen?" Still she muttered. "My dear, what is it? You look like a chilled little bud?" The girl in black approached Camile, the disguised caring smile sicked she who wore it, her narrowed eyes locked her contempt inside. "I....I just wanted to go to my queen...but they, they wouldn't let me... " even Camile didn't know herself why she opened up to this complete stranger. "Oh, dear, you poor dear, they don't understand." The girl in black bent to hug Camile, "They are deceived by their eyes, only you see the truth. But, why dear, you are shaking?" "I'm frightened, I don't know why, I feel afraid..." Camile widened her eyes, she was such an innocent little girl. "On my dear, don't be afraid, here, I will help you." The girl in black pulled Camile closer to her, leaned forward to the girl's naive face. "But you see, myself have a little business here. I'll help you, but in return I need to ask you a favour..." The girl in black said, her voice trailed off a hissing. Camile looked up to the girl, her eyes blurred as she whispered "You help me, and I will help you...."
In the corner of her eyes, Lady Leaf noticed the vines crept quietly along the frost covered floor. No words could express her gratitude towards Lady Midnight. But the Dark Lady maintained her composure, she must won some time for the young lady's roses! Lady Leaf took one step closer to her opponent, frowned as she asked, "What will happen to the one who take in the oblivion?" The queen, still wearing her mask-like meaningful smile, also took a step closer, "Why ask, you know exactly." "Yes," The Dark Lady looked straight into the queen's eyes, "I just want to hear it from you." "The one who take in the water will be taken into oblivion." The queen paused deliberately, "she will be forgotten, and she will forget, lost, between the existence, forever..... "
The vines had reached the queen, but it was going to be difficult to reach her hand without being noticed...Lady Midnight got a sudden very risky idea and stepped forward. "I...I will take it..." She said with as much conviction as she could muster. "You!?" Lady Leaf and the queen marveled in unison, one voice astonished the other disdainful. "What is the name of this brave young lady?" The queen turned to Lady Midnight, asked in an appearance of scorn, narrowing her eyes. Lady Midnight felt the terror rising as she looked at the dreaded queen, but she held her ground. "A-Angel, Lady of the Midnight Rose..." She replied timidly. "Most times known as Lady Midnight..."
Lady Leaf strode in front of the queen, hindered her arm between those two, "No, Angel, you can't do this, it's not what meant to...." The Dark Lady's words was sealed by one finger placed upon her lips by the queen. Smiled a relishing smile, the queen turned her face, savoring the worried look of Lady Leaf as she pretended to hand over the vial. "So Lady of the Midnight Rose, who wants to be the savior of them all...do you really believe you can do this?" "Yes." Lady Midnight held out a shaking hand, watching as the rose vines moved around the queen, poised to wrap around her at their master's signal.
All of a sudden, the previously hypnotized girl, Camile, broke through the crowd, "No....o, she can't." Her trembling voice betrayed the bravery she could hardly maintain, "I...I will..." Camile, accomplished by the girl who was sneaking outside the hall, said as she approached Lady Leaf. "No." Lady Midnight put a hand on the girl's shoulder with a gentle smile. "I can. Don't worry. It will be okay." "Sure it will...." Said the girl in black, her unusual red eyes sparkled evil, "that is, if you can escape your fate..." Camile looked to the girl in black, "Help me Marcella...." she lowered her head, "and I will help you..." her voice fainted, barely could be heard. The red-eyed girl named Marcella smiled deviously at Lady Midnight and raised her eyebrows. "Your choissssse..." She hissed. Lady Midnight leaned down, using the pretense of hugging the girl to whisper. "I have a plan. No one has to take the water. Trust me."
"Well, well, well, scrambling for self-sacrifice, how I underestimated the generosity of the people of Dolldivine." The queen's relishing smile almost convinced Lady Leaf that she was fully distracted, if it were not for the unknown fact that the Dark Lady and her opponent were actually...old acquaintances. Lady Leaf watched Lady Midnight's rose veins and guessed her plan, but would it work? Staying fully alert, the hostess made up her mind, she cannot let any of the girls touch the vial in any case, for they were not aware of the terrible power the water contains.
Lady Midnight held out a hand for the vial, watching as one vine slowly slithered its way up, just about at the queen's hand...just a little more...All seemed to work well, too well. The queen's vial was so close to Lady Midnight's hand, one inch, another, time seemed to be frozen at this moment. All eyes in this grand hall focusing on these two hands, the tension in the air can almost be cut with a knife. One more inch to success, just one more inch....
But alas fate plays vicious tricks. Upon handing over the vial, the queen suddenly withdrew her hand, "Sneaky little cheater!" This eerie woman even could not be bothered by looking back, a perfect ice statue of the Midnight Rose formed at her voice. With one single clap, all that left with the rose vein, was a pile of twinkling scrap.
Lady Midnight's eyes widened in fear, looking between the shattered rose and the now furious queen. She tried to summon more vines to subdue the ice queen as her hand snapped out to grab Lady Midnight's wrist. Marcella suddenly drew her knife and lunged at Lady Midnight.
"I offered you a fair choice and you cunning people refused it." The icing fury burnt deeply in the queen's eyes, "now the rule changes!" The fearsome witch loosened her fingers, the crystal vial drew a deadly perfect parabola in the silvery moonlight. At this very moment, the young girl Camile surprisingly rushed forward, holding Marcella back and delaying her attack. This little unforeseen event won some precious time that the Dark Lady needed the most. She rushed to Lady Midnight with her full speed, pushing the young woman away from Marcella and forcing the water to move towards herself. This deadly little vial laid safely on Lady Leaf's hand right before it reached the floor, but meanwhile, Marcella's knife pierced her back.
"My lady!" Midnight cried in horror, hurrying forward to try and help her. "My lady, no!" Marcella lifted her knife and grinned cruelly, blood dripping from the blade. "This is what happens when you fool with a demon," she said, her red eyes flashing with evil delight.
A compassionate expression appeared on the queen's mirthless face for the first time. And beyond all expectation, the queen pointed her finger to Marcella, with one slight wave, the demon girl was thrown across the room. "It's alright, Angel..." Lady Leaf knelt on the floor, pain of her back wound numbed as frost spread from the vial, covering her hand and front arm. The Dark Lady lifted her head and met the queen's eyes. "It is what meant to be..." The firmness in the hostess's voice fainted.
Lady Midnight shook her head, biting back tears. "This can't be what you're meant to be! You're not meant to be cold! You're the mistress of the Full Moon Castle! You're supposed to be bright and lively!" she called to her roses and the thornless vines wrapped around her dear lady, trying to break through the frost. "I won't allow this! I won't!"
"Yes, you always knew..." The queen bent above this sad scene done by her very band, gazing down upon Lady Leaf's dimming eyes, "the water was made for you", her ever cold face almost laden with sorrow. The queen placed her hand on Lady Midnight's shoulder gently, "Call your roses back," the queen sounded so odd in her soft voice, "you will strangle her."
Lady Midnight jerked her shoulder away. "G-Get away from me, murderer! I'm not going to let her die!" One of her rose vines wrapped around her own arm, slicing her wrist with a single thorn. "This is NOT what's meant to be! I refuse to allow it!" She had heard legends of pure hearted blood...it was said to have miraculous properties. Would hers be pure enough? She could only hope. "Please...I won't let you die, my lady..."
Wearing a dolorous smile, the queen watched Lady Midnight's efforts, without any doubt that she knew the legend of pure-hearted blood, but could it against the power of oblivion? The queen wandered slowly towards the staircase, the light of the All Hallow's full moon shinned upon her thoughtful eyes. "Once upon a time, there were two friends, they met each other on a night just like this, in a masquerade at the crystal castle. They shared the same interest towards the unknown, and grew even closer ever since."
"But as they explored, one of them dug too deep and searched too close to the forbidden knowledge. This worried the other, she tried to talk her through but her friend, was completely overwhelmed by the joy of discovery. And she, did not insist." Gathering all her strength, fighting against the spreading frost, Lady Leaf's eyes followed the queen's silhouette in the moonlight. With the coldness chilling her face, the fortitude lady looked so vulnerable at the moment. Even so, the Dark Lady continued with her broken voice, "Until one night, another night just like this. A demon deceived the friend into opening the gate of the underworld. Although the other managed to stop the disaster, their road parted and never again did the two friends see each other."
The Queen of All Chilling Midnights cast one last glance back at Lady Leaf on the floor, wrapped in an icy silk. The corners of her lips curled and she waved her hand. The ice on the lady's body melted and water splashed her clothes. All of the guests looked wide-eyed at the Dark Lady and then to the queen on the staircase.
But all that was there was a billowing curtain and a silver moon, illuminating the inky skies.