Disclaimer: This story gives me no profit but fun. No copyright infringement is intended.
No one's more astonished than Turandot when suitors strike the great gong in a bid to win her hand despite the penalty should they fail. They appear before her bold and confident, then quiver with horror when they unsuccessfully guess the riddles. She covers her ears and shuts her eyes against the flashing sword and spilling blood.
Still men come to answer the proclamation...to defeat Turandot. (Why else do they attempt to pass the tests? Not for love of her or even the temptation of ruling the kingdom beside her. They rashly forfeit their lives for the thrill of the challenge, thriving on the danger.)
The princess does not notice how the pity and surprise she initially feels in the beginning changes as time passes by. She does not realize how her eyes turn dark and hard, her face unsmiling and blank, her skin deathly pale. That she moves like a sleepwalker through the cool moonlight, invisible dragons nipping at her heels and spirits floating around her. From the inside-out Turandot becomes cold as ice.
Prince upon prince try their luck. Their heads are commanded to be placed on stakes before the palace; however, this grim warning does not stop others from striking the gong. And she despises them for their arrogance, her heart growing harder – yet she feels nothing.
One day the princess faces another suitor. Unlike the others, he sees her, ignoring all else. The ardent glow in his gaze she can almost feel. For the first time she is afraid, unable to meet his intense eyes.
She is conquered. Trembling, the princess refuses to accept her fate. She knows not what to think when a means of escape is provided by the youth: discover his name and he shall die.
Turandot is haunted by the stranger's voice and eyes. Even the moonlight cannot offer her comfort and protection this night, shimmering and slipping away, lost to her.
"Princess of Death!"
Something inside her cracks when the dead slave girl is carried away, and then is confronted with the youth's anger and passion. The princess reaches for her pride and hatred, old companions, yet they cannot conceal her fear as the argument grows more heated. Suddenly, her words are cut off by his mouth. It is like a veil being lifted away, the sensation of ice melting in her veins after he ends the kiss. She feels the world tilt sideways. Tears slowly run down her cheeks. Tenderly he brushes them away.
Turandot looks up at the red sky; dawn has come. Dawn... Red... Blood… There has been so much blood – the girl, the suitors. No more. She will not take his, this stranger whom she has been unable to hate since first seeing him.
Instead of retreating though he comes nearer.
"I am Prince Calaf."
For the third time she is frightened, heart racing. Her mind's in a whirl as both of them are swept into the throne room. Before the emperor and the whole court, the princess stands motionless. A whisper of bone-chilling air brushes her forehead.
"His name is…Love."
Warmth washes over her. She holds out her hands to Calaf who clasps them in his own.
"We shall have spring again." Turandot smiles up at him before their lips seal the promise.