The Bone-Hearted Prince
The melancholy of this afternoon was unusual, even among these dark, gloomy days. Darker clouds have been flying through the sad sky, and rain water was curiously coursing towards the sewers below. The people on the street were in a hurry to their homes, while the homeless animal folk of cats and dogs watched the rain with wet whiskers, cowering silently under the eaves.
Lizbeth was searching through the boxes, with her grandfather in her mind. More than a week had passed, but still, she was unhappy. She felt as if the loneliness had routed a hole in her heart, which had filled her soul like an empty void. The one man, who had always understood and had not laughed at her, is no more. She remembered his kind face, his eyes filled with life, smiling together at her from beneath his old, worn glasses. She remembered his beautiful tales and fascinating stories, which he used to read her on the balcony among the brilliant rays of the sun. His favourite as he called it, - was the Blue Book of Secrets, which contained only the most wonderful stories ever told by his family. The city on shoulders, The bottle-hidden stars, or The Bone-Hearted Prince. Oh yes, this one was the most special of all. This was his cherished one: A prince, who, in his sorrow, turned his heart to bone.
Her grandfather told her, that once upon a time, these stories were all real, and people like him, had hidden them into tales. She was told, that on the forthcoming time she can search after the fictional heroes of the stories. Search, if they were real.
Eventually, she found the book which she was looking for. The wears and tears on the cover were the signs of time, which has slowly passed, even over this old blue book. His grandfather had used his favourite fountain pen, to write on the books yellow-toned page, which he had decorated with fine illustrations afterwards. Lizbeth was truly fascinated. She was reading the threadbare pages in amazement: The handwriting and the artwork was still clearly visible after all these years. She saw the great Naar, the creator with emerald soul, who is still carrying his beloved city sadly in eternity. She saw the Stars of Inky Light who had hidden from Time on Earth, and met even with the Blind Clown. She could catch sight of the paper scented hills of Heartnook-valley, but the most curious of all, was the Bone-Hearted Prince, whose handsome face in the beginning was gifted with smile, his empire filled with happiness. As she was turning the page, she saw his love dying, and thus, shadows settling upon his soul. Then she found the darkest of the pictures: Where he had turned his heart to bone, stopping the darkness from ever hurting him. There he lives now, in his castle, undying, through eternal time, staring into endless mourning.
Looking at the picture which depicted the Princes old prison, she noticed something: The castle, with all of its crumbling roofs, dismembered towers, and dead gardens, seemed familiar. She knew a similar castle high, upon the hill.
Her heart was quickly filled with excitement, as she threw the book down. In her blue raincoat, she headed to the hill. Up on grey coddle stones, through hidden alleys, beneath rusty gates, to the Eternal Fields. She went by twisted trees, in the shadows of ravens cries, trampling in stubborn mud, to the Sorrow-Hill, where the ruins of Middlesworth Castle stood towering.
She found its tremendous gates open, and stepped into a hall, which was only occupied by crackling beams and the monotone sound of rain, while the pale shining of the Moon pierced its empty twilight. A ruined fireplace, dirty, torn carpets, collapsed bookshelves, moldy, old curtains, all have been laying in disarray throughout the room. Gloom settled on Lizbeths eyes, which was grim and suffocating, as was the air, which filled the room. The walls seemed to shake in the false lights of the storm, and corners seemed to twitch at the arrival of this unexpected little guest.
She was treading softly, while gazing in amazement upon a rusty chandelier, which was hanging from the invisible ceiling. She stepped here and there, then, she saw a table near the window, with beetle-bitten chairs, and in one of them, she noticed a midnight black silhouette.
As she moved towards it, she felt her legs as heavy as thousands of chains, while a sudden thought rose in her head: Prince, oh no, it cannot be so!
Touching his shoulders, a faint clarity emerged from the darkness: from the candles, blue light illuminated the chandelier as rumbling awakened in the room; the walls and windows all started to crack, with the shelves, as well. The fallen chairs have taken their places again, the curtains were all curling, the carpets were all moving. A flame appeared in the fireplace, the rats have all fled away, and there, before Lizbeth stood the prince. His dead, grey skin was shining with pale bloom, a torn flag wrapped around his body. His lips were missing, eyes stitched shut, and on his head he wore a spiked crown of a thousand eyes, gazing down on the strange guest. The dark shape hissed on Lizbeth: Who dares to disturb me, here, among my castles walls? Who dares to disturb me, here, where my shadow falls? You! Entrance, for mans childe! It is forbidden to!
In her eyes with fear and seeds of lurking tears, she finally replied: My charming prince, after all, you really exist! I have come to you, to end your suffering; I will not let it persist. I would like to see you happy, and ever-gallant, like at the very dawn of time, shining, brilliant.
Wrinkles pulled together, he leaned in front of her, and then his teeth opened for an answer: Then vain is your coming, oh stray child of mine, my grief is eternal, my sorrow is impending, in here between antique walls, I mourn never-ending. Be gone for now, and thus, for ever, lay my soul to rest, here and forever.
Why do you not want to live, dear prince, what do you mourn so old? You may have a bone-heart, but I heard, your soul is made from gold.
You are a curious one, pertinacious, like who is on the run. But how could you help me, I ask, to get all this undone?
The prince lifted his hands, and with a sorrowful smile, he sighed: My love has died, there, because of me, and since then I have been living with Woe, from which I could not free. Came the shadows, demons and dark clouds, the sense of guilt, that, which eternally bounds. Haunting me through daylight, in rays of golden sun, chasing me at night, where night-terrors have come. I would not see them, I stitched my eyes shut, but I felt their cries like a cold, unholy, cut. Lacerating me, clawing at my spirit, I did not know where to hide my body, which I inhabit. I took forbidden books, of dark and occult lore, I said the words, and raised a spell, which turned my heart to bone. With his words finished, he pulled away the flag hiding his body, and revealing his chest. And there it was, his heart,on which he was now gazing down upon with sadness. Unforgiving tears were flowing down his sunken cheeks, as he was holding that grey cage of his emotions within his grasp. Lizbeth was looking at the prince in awe, who continued: The fiends cannot harm me, they fled gloriously, though here they are remaining, hiding silently. Lurking in the rooms, they poison me invisibly, they are still watching, waiting hushed, and calmly.
The spell has to be ended somehow! A hundred years have passed; your mourning shall be over now!
A hundred years! You are right! Let us go now; come forth my childe, enough of this misery, even death has died!
The prince took Lizbeths hand, and they left, up towards the old, stone stairs. The girl could feel his cold, moist palm, which was once warm with love and strong with will. Chitter and chatter accompanied their wake, the smallest habitants of the castle were curiously watching their passing. They went through dark corridors, climbed up on spiral staircases, and whereever they treaded, brightness spread. Flames were kindling on the candles, lighting up the ancient castle with flickering luminous life.
After a small rush, they have stopped in front of a closed wooden door.
Here hides the Gloom, the one, who blinds your vision, and disfigures your soul, with its mist-like prison. Often he glides, through, beneath the door, hiding in corners, and crawling on the floor.
They have cut across the gallery, where the sad pictures have been losing their colours, and the golden frames have all been forgetting their brightness. Their backs were pierced by suspicious gazes, and hopeless whispers, as they crossed the rooms. In the wing of the servants, at the eastern corridor, they saw a door ajar. Upon entering, they found themselves in a little storage, where the prince spoke: Here roots the Darkness, like ugly, horrid filth, looming on my castle like ethereal guilt. Its voice is terrible, whispering, seducing, vomits on your dreams, it lurks, festering.
Finished with his words, he suddenly shut the door, sending a tremble through the corridor. The prince showing a rigorous face, the thousand eyes of his crown opened as they moved along, downwards, through the kitchen, up to the bedroom. They stepped into the vast chamber, where they also found its monster. Its tentacles were crawling on the bed, rending the walls, had broken the windows, and had eaten the shelves. Its dozen eyes were spying on Lizbeth. The prince sighed, and with a woeful voice, he said: And hereby, see the evil, the vilest of them all, the monster of Sorrow, lies here asprawl. Defiling my chamber he is bloating heavily, everything I have, it will devour certainly. It had grown here on my Sanctuary, from my fault alone, because I became sorrowful and eternally lone.
Oh God, my Lord, away from here! Away from the monster, if our lives are dear! To the library, where your spell is being held, do not lose a minute, and let our hope stand!
Lizbeth and the prince moved on, until they reached the library. It was a dark, filthy room, with enormous sleeping shelves within, stretching towards the twilight of the ceiling. There were thousands of old books on them, their long forgotten dust sleeping next to the passing time.
And what will happen now, prince, where is that book of yours? Do you remember its place, through all these hidden doors?
Do not fear little girl, it has to be here, on monstrous shelves, atop, hidden there, It lies between old books on the top.
The prince stepped aside, and struck the nearest bookshelf. Boom, boom, echoed in the library, then a low hiss, which was followed by a big thump. Dust was floating all around, and the book rested there, before the princes feet. He bent down slowly, and picked it up, but even after restless searching, he did not find anything.
Curses! Empty are the pages my dear, I cannot see them, I cannot find a word, for what a creature, I am.
Your eyes are stitched shut, how could you read that? Away with your crown, and pull out the thread!
The prince grabbed his evil crown at once, only to throw it away into the darkness. In on hand, he held the book, but with the other, he was undoing the thread, which kept his eyes closed. He blinked once and twice, and with his vision cleared, he started to search for the lines, he was looking for. He found it, as the red bookmark showed, and then began reading it carefully, keeping his bony finger on the words. Lizbeth could not understand those lines which redeemed the curse, they were unknown to her. The prince was reading, and reading, through moments, and minutes, when all of a sudden, a tremble echoed through the castle and everything seemed to be moving at once. The prince grabbed the book, as well as Lizbeths hand, and he said:
Be quick, my childe, let us go to the hall! The change is coming; I can hear its call.
They went towards where they have come from. The torn flag was gliding behind the princes ghoulish body, and as they were running, everything was about to change. The blight has gone from the walls, the candles which used to blink, now have been glowing gloriously on the bright corridors. The paintings have regained their colours, the gold has returned to the once shining frames. The closed doors have all been torn open, the fiends lurking behind them have all gone from the rooms. The Sorrow has ended; the Gloom and the Darkness have all vanished. The curtains, as Lizbeth and the prince had ran along near them, have all been waving and curling only to let in the warm rays of the Sun. The stairs were singing beneath their steps, the air has turned fresh, like the spring wind. They quickly went down, stopped in the middle of the hall, and watched the magic taking its rightful place. The chairs, the tables have turned again to brown: they have fixed themselves, dancing to their places thereafter. Tablecloth appeared from the reborn shelves, and after flying through the air, they lay themselves down on the antique tables, while the chandelier glowed gloriously, its chains ringing kind tones from the bright ceiling.
The prince himself was about to change as well: the worn flag flew up from his body, forming new, royal clothes for him in the air. His skin became rose pink, his lips reappeared; his eyes have been glowing with life. His heart changed back, and started to beat once again, making his soul happier than ever. His clothes and his new emerald-socketed crown settled upon his body: He was not bone-hearted anymore. He was a prince of gallantry and happiness again, whose soft voice turned to Lizbeth:Thank you darling, my life is restored, to whom shall I grant my thank bestowed?
My name is Lizbeth, dear prince of beauty, and charming, I am happy to see you this graceful and shining. My heart is singing, like yours, and yours alone, let me be your love, for ever-ever more.
They took each others hand and walked through the giant wooden door, in front of the cheerful castle, where they lived happily ever after, often recalling the never fading story of the Bone-Hearted Prince.