Chapter One

Darkness is Banished

Once upon a time, there was a king and a queen who wanted a child more than any treasure in the world. But when a prince was at last born to the aging couple, they learned that his fate would be to protect all weak things even at the cost of his life. [1]

Mime, the old king of the land, stared into the face of his dearest friend, feeling in that moment the full burden of a heavy heart. They had been through much together. Many wars. Too many, if he was honest. And he did always try to be honest, just as the man before him did. It was because of this that his next question was so entirely hollow and lackluster. "You are certain?"

The Court Mage, with his long flowing beard that touched the carpeted floor, nodded solemnly. He was a haggard man. Life, and the Sight that he possessed, had weighed with him over the years. "I am afraid there can be no doubt. Your son shall grow into a man who loves everyone. All things, all creatures, and all people. And his kindness will know no bounds… Even those set upon him by his own body." The silence between them was heavy. "He will be a truly great king," offered the Mage. [2]

"–If he ever lives to be king," Mime answered darkly, looking away from the bearer of these tidings, as though with a gesture he could look away from the tidings themselves.

"Mime." He turned at the rebuke.

He had almost forgotten the presence of his Queen in the room. How ridiculous, considering the place where they three were now assembled.

No…not three. Four.

They had just returned from the Chapel of Hope, where they baptism had been performed. Sieglinde once again lay in her bed, exhausted, her arms wrapped around their son, born to this world not two hours before. It was amazing how, despite the hours of labor, and the fatigue which she had fought through, she could still be keen to every word spoken. [3]

The King held her gaze for a moment longer before relinquishing it, finding it a burden, with all of its conveyed anxieties, too heavy to bear. He turned away from her, the Mage, his newborn son, and this newborn foul prophesy. Mime strode to the window, and looked out upon his kingdom. It was truly a glorious place. The land was one of well-tended fields, of beautiful valleys, hills, streams that coursed far into the distance, and lush forests that lay bespeckling the countryside.

He leaned his arms upon the stone sill of the window, and bowed his head. After these many years without an heir, and then these many hours in fear for Sieglinde's life… would there always been a darkness to each spot of sunlight they were granted?

Sieglinde, whose eyes had been fixed on the outline of her lord, now looked back to the little wonder she had brought into the world. He was so beautiful, with his tuft of sheer blond hair and little red hands. He was so small… only just born. She leaned down, and laid a gentle kiss upon his soft, fresh-birthed little head. After all these years of wanting he was her little ray of radiance, born into a barren world.

The king and queen mourned, for with such a fate their prince would come to know nothing but sorrow and pain. [4]

King Mime gripped his fingers into the stonework of the window frame. "No," he said resolutely. "No, I will not have it." He looked across the land, fraught as it was with sunlight and shadows. He looked again to the forests, and the long shades they cast, and again to the windmills, and houses, where their rising forms left dark footprints in their wake. "If we are to have a son who will love all things, and who will always defend his subjects against the powers of evil and darkness-"

"-Then let us cast out all the darkness from our kingdom."

King Mime turned to look upon Queen Sieglinde, who sat erect, her eyes fierce with a regal resolve, clutching her child, and one true treasure, to her chest.

The king looked to his Mage, and nodded. "Yes. This is our wish."

"Your Majesties, I must caution you not to act too hastily. Remember that it is often the very actions we take to avoid misfortunes which may bring them upon us with most haste," the Mage looked from his old friend and sovereign, to his queen. "A story of despair may very well be set in motion if you tear despair from its makeup." [5]

"This is our wish," Sieglinde reaffirmed, holding the child all the more closely.

And so, thinking to save him from grief and bequeath him nothing but unending happiness, they banished all shadows from their kingdom. [6]

The ravens blotted out the sun.

From every forest, from every glen, and from the rafters of every farm and castle, they rose like dark clouds, expelled by the Mage and his magic; by the King and Queen, and their decree.

Sieglinde sat in the window-seat as the sun set, dressed in a loose evening robe, her child wrapped in her arms. She smiled down at him, even as the patches of darkness played across his face. Tomorrow, she and Mime would present him to the court. Tonight, however…

"My love, should you be up?"

Sieglinde looked around. In the semi-darkness of the room she saw Mime closing the door behind him. "It is strange, is it not?" she said, looking outside again. "I would never have suspected there were so many in the entire kingdom. Where are they all coming from?"

"Some," the King removed his chain of office – a heavy burden – and draped it over a chain, "are uprooted from the nests that are the memories within our subjects. Many, I dare say, actually. From their minds. From their hearts." He sighed heavily, looking through the window, beyond his wife and child. [7]

"Negative emotions like the ravens lurk within everyone's heart," he said quietly. So quietly, that Sieglinde almost did not catch the words over the deafening cry of birds and flap of wings outside. [8]

"Some," he continued, "are not from the minds of men at all, but appear to have come from the land itself, and range in their identity from creatures natural, to those of sheer magic…" Sieglinde gave him her undivided attention. [9]

"For every splash of light, there must also be a shadow," he said, crossing the room, and laying a hand on her shoulder, his eyes all the while fixed on the flock of darkness outside.

"Always… until today," she said. "After today, all of the dark emotions shall be thrown out from the kingdom, and we shall have no grief or suffering ever again." She looked out of the window again, rocking her child with a soothing rhythm. "I wonder why none of your forefathers ever did such a thing," she mused. [10]

Mime sat down beside her, his eyes also fixed on the chaos outside. "They feared the misbalance that such an act might bring," he said, thinking back to the myths and omens of his childhood. "They feared the consequences of a kingdom of too much light. That… without darkness… light may very well come to have no meaning…" He fell into deep and troubled thought. [11]

"I dare say," he finally continued, "that they considered it a natural order of life… to learn to live side by side with, and make peace and harmony with, the ravens in our own hearts." [12]

The Queen shifted her darling bundle slightly, and reached out to take her king's arm with her free hand. "We had no choice," she said quietly. "It is known, and has always been known, that the raven was born from the ugly desires of humanity." Gently, she took the baby, making certain to support his head, and delivered him into his father's arms. Mime held him like the world's most delicate and fragile animal; as though he was no more than the hatchling of a swan. "With a heart so pure and loving as that of our son's," the queen continued, "the ravens, if allowed to remain in this Kingdom, could become even more powerful, and strengthen those negative emotions. All of the land… the entire world… could be shrouded in darkness." The baby, still too small to even make a noise, wriggled in his swaddling. Sieglinde looked down at him. The very sight of him convinced her beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had done the right thing. "…What seeds of misfortune would scatter throughout the land, if this came to pass? Plague? War? In the end, all that would be left…would be hatred." [13]

She again looked out the window. Already the shades were thinning, and vanishing. "Do not think of it as an act that your ancestors would never have committed," she said, the shadows playing across her face, her eyes transfixed. "Think of it rather as an act which you found the ideal time to perform. You found the perfect moment to strike. We have freed the land of shadows, my love," she smiled wearily at her husband. "And we have saved our son."

For a long while the two simply sat in the windowsill, and smiled down at the child between them. "Yes… yes, I agree," he nodded. And even as he spoke, the King felt all the agitation waning from within him, as though it had grown wings, and flown away.

"Ah, peace forever," they sighed, watching despair and anger and darkness fly out from the prince's heart, from their hearts, from the hearts of all their subjects in the form of ravens. But where will they fly to? The king and queen wondered before forgetting the question in the shining smile of their son, his heart now untouched and pure as freshly fallen snow.

But did the Monster Raven, so entirely evil, come out from the prince's heart or did the prince, so impossibly pure, come out from the raven's? [14]


[1][4][6][14] Excerpt from This Pendent Heart, a light-novel by LunaSphere. Ch15. p.119

[2] The trait of universal love in the Prince is from Princess Tutu (anime), Ep.26

[3] "Mime" and "Sieglinde" are the parents' names in Richard Wagner's 1876 opera, Siegfried.

[5] This catalyst of the events is drawn from This Pendent Heart, Ch15. p.121

[7] The uprooting of the ravens is drawn from This Pendent Heart, Ch18. p.161

[8] This sentiment is drawn from Princess Tutu (manga), Vol2. Ch10. p.13

[9] The uprooting of the ravens is drawn from This Pendent Heart, Epilogue. p.176

[10] Reference to the 'dark emotions' is drawn upon from This Pendent Heart, Ch18. p.154

[11] The kingdom of too much light is drawn upon from This Pendent Heart, Ch18. p.164

[12] The notion of living with the ravens is drawn from This Pendent Heart, Epilogue.p.176

[13] This speech is similar to one from Princess Tutu (manga), Vol2. Ch10. p.11