Til death do you part
Once upon a time there was a princess called Kiyomi Takada. She was the Princess of a great and virtuous kingdom called Amedinew. Princess Kiyomi was as beautiful as she was intelligent. Unfortunately, Kiyomi was also arrogant and proud.
One day a Prince of equal beauty and arrogance came to woo her. He had silken auburn hair, he was tall, well built, and had passionate red eyes.
Kiyomi was flattered, but tried not to let it show. Unfortunately, the Prince became bored and the next thing Kiyomi knew, the Prince had married Princess Misa, a vain idiot from the neighbouring Kingdom (and Amedinew's biggest rival) Fodellim!
After that, the Princess swore to never love a man again, but to always, always put the running of her Kingdom first. Many years past, and Kiyomi never heard anything about her Prince or Princess Misa, but she never forgot how infatuated she had been with him, or the hurt he had caused her.
True to her oath, she became not only a Princess but a heroine in her country. She could even be considered a goddess, for the people loved her so for her dignity, refined manner, poise, beauty and wit.
However, a few years later, the Prince returned. He explained that his wife had died, and that he had loved Princess Kiyomi all along.
Of course, Kiyomi was reluctant. If she left with the Prince, she would have to give her kingdom over to her successor, and live instead as Princess over the Prince's land; not only would she be a co-ruler, but her power would be somewhat diminished, because people obeyed the male over the female.
However, the Prince was determined. Every day he would return to woo her; he took her out for romantic meals, to the theatre, to day trips in the gorgeous country-side. He spent long hours listening to her various woes, and in turn would spend time discussing with her his dreams, aspirations and hopes. After some time he even began to admit to her how awful it had been married to stupid Princess Misa; Princess Kiyomi did not think it was possible to hate that Princess any more than what she already had, but after listening to her dear Prince, she hated the other woman with a fervent passion she had never known before.
Eventually, after much soul searching, Princess Kiyomi accepted the Prince's hand in marriage. After all, had she not been so stubborn in the first place, he would never have married Misa, and she and him would have been together all this time. In fact, Princess Kiyomi chastised herself a little, for bringing unnecessary pain and suffering to both of them.
She decided that she did not mind being the Prince's co-ruler, and she didn't even mind if he had more power than she did; she would just be happy being by his side. She had messed up once, but she wouldn't do so again! No way would she allow another Princess to steal her man!
Saying goodbye to her people, Kiyomi was swept away with the Prince on his golden Stallion. The Prince lived in a large Palace inside a Eastern city which looked like it was made out of pure, golden light. Everywhere was clean, peaceful and productive. This kingdom was very rich, due to all its industry and trade. Kiyomi smiled in wonder, as much as she had loved her own Kingdom, she could not help but feel this one would suit her personality better.
For several months, all was well between the couple. The country was ruled well, and Princess Kiyomi was looked after; she was fed well and given the finest clothes. The people of this new kingdom loved her almost as fanatically as they loved the Prince.
However, Princess Kiyomi could not help but feel uncomfortable. Though her Prince was accommodating, she was never allowed to make any real decisions on the Kingdom. She was only ever a mouthpiece for the rules he wanted to pass. Plus, he was keeping secrets from her. The Prince always wore a set of keys on a necklace that he never removed. Kiyomi was allowed into most of the rooms in the vast Palace, but one was banned. She was not allowed to ask why (in fact, her Prince often got quite angry when she pushed for answers.)
And then there were the rumours, Kiyomi noticed that no women worked in the Palace. When she asked the servants why (she didn't trust the Prince to tell her the truth) they would become uncomfortable and refuse to answer. However, unbeknownst to them, sometimes she would over hear their whispered conversations. They said that all the girls from the Kingdom were too frightened to come into the Palace because of all the missing wives.
How many wives had the Prince had? Surely there had only been Misa?
Princess Kiyomi often wanted to bring the topic up with the Prince, but felt unable to do so.
One day, the Prince had to leave the city for a few days on an urgent meeting with his father, the King of all that land. He left the keys with Princess Kiyomi explaining that she could go into every room in the house but one.
He took the key chain from around his neck and showed her, "this skeleton key is the one that opens my secret room," he fixed her with his red stare, "but you must not go into there. Do you understand?"
She nodded dumbly, before recalling her voice and answering in the affirmative. The Prince smiled and kissed her forehead, blessing her with the words, "good girl. I will get you a beautiful gift for when I return."
She smiled in response, though inside she felt a little indignant. Why did he treat her like a child? Maybe Misa liked being treated that way but she didn't. And why didn't he know that, after all the time they had spent together before getting married? He had never spoken to her like a child then, had he?
As she watched him ride away on his handsome steed, she felt the skeleton key between her fingers. Looking closely at it, she noticed that it had apples and skulls engraved into its hilt. She shuddered, she did not like it. She did not want to wear it around her neck! Instead, she slipped it into her pocket.
That night, Princess Kiyomi lay awake in bed. She kept looking across to her dress, or more specifically, the pocket of her dress. A strip of moonlight pouring through the window lit up that small part of her dress, as if it were tempting her, daring her...
Why was she not allowed to look into the room? She felt like a small child, who had to be told not to touch the flames of a fire. What could be in there? If it was something terrible didn't she have a right to know? She was his wife. She was intelligent and brave, and had ruled her own constituency well before leaving with the Prince. Was not keeping this secret disrespectful to her intelligence and role of his wife?
Her frustration building to a crescendo, Kiyomi ripped off her sheets and stormed over to her dress, she grasped the key, it hard cold steel burning in her palm. But she did not care.
As she crept down the dark hallways, she almost heard a quite chuckling behind her, a sort of rasping, "hyuk hyuk hyuk" sound. But when she turned around, there was nothing there.
She continued down the hallways, the lush carpets silencing the sound of her footsteps. She ignored the tapestry on the wall, which illustrated the Genesis story, focusing on the temptation of Eve, a beautiful, curvaceous, auburn-haired woman, both naked and sensual, ardently clasping a dark red apple...
Finally, at the end of the corridor, Kiyomi reached the door. It was on the left had side, and she stared at it for a few moments. There was nothing special about it. It was just a normal, oak panel door. Looking to the right Takada glanced out of a window, the one source of light in this terrible place. The moon was fat and white, grinning down at her. With a gulp she pushed the key into the lock. A faint whooshing sounded out behind her, she felt her hair and night gown lift slightly, as if something had quickly flown behind her. Again, nothing was there when she looked, but she did notice that the window was now open. Had it not been closed before? Kiyomi thought no more about it, deciding the wind must have billowed about her, she ignored the fact that there was no breeze outside.
She turned the key, which responded with a loud 'clunk' and she opened the door. There was a terrible smell in the room, and the sound of slight shuffling. Pinching her nose and scowling, Takada stepped inside. Something wet and sticky was on the floor. Pushing the door a little more open, the pale light of the moon shone inside, revealing its interior. Takada gasped and dropped the keys.
There was blood, everywhere!
In the middle of the room was some sort of altar, and all about it were the bloodied, rotten and detached body part of what could have only been women. Looking down with wide eyes, Kiyomi saw that she was standing in blood. IN BLOOD! She screamed in horror. A shuffling to the side caught her attention, looking to the corner of the room she saw someone was hiding in the shadows.
"C-come out!" She called. "I won't hurt you."
A small pathetic creature called in reply, "is the Prince not with you?"
"No, please, who are you? Come out."
Kiyomi gasped as the creature revealed itself; it was a dirty, naked Princess Misa! Misa raised her blue eyes and recognised Kiyomi, with a cry, the two enemies ran to each other and embraced.
"My goodness!" wept Kiyomi, "what has happened?"
"The Prince," Misa sobbed in return. "He did it. He did it because each of us disobeyed him at some point." She pulled away from Kiyomi and looked at her, blue eyes shining with sincerity, "he called us sinners."
"Are these all his wives?"
"Some of them are. Some are concubines. Some are lovers. One," Misa gulped, "is his sister...He's cruel, and quite mad! I'm certain that for some reason he is mad! He left me here to die! To starve, all because I wasn't clever enough." Again, Misa eyes welled with tears. "But how is that my fault? He knew I was never that clever, or not as clever as he at least, how could he blame me for that afterwards?"
"We must escape!"
"But he has magic, and an invisible companion!"
"What?" Kiyomi then remembered from earlier the bodiless chuckling and the supposed wind. "Alright, you run away, he will not notice. Go get help, from my Kingdom or yours, it does not matter! Get help and return with an army. And arrive quickly. The Prince will be back in just three days." She looked at Misa's frail figure, "will you make it?"
"Do not worry;" promised the blonde, her words possessing a strength Kiyomi never considered her to have, "I can do this! I will not let you down, Kiyomi!"
The women both left, Misa was fed and dressed, before being sent to get rescue. Meanwhile, Kiyomi packed her bags and waited for the dawn.
The next day, looking out her bedroom window, Kiyomi was horrified to see none other than the Prince riding back to the Palace!
She turned a ghastly pale. Quickly she hid the suitcases. The keys! She had most of the keys, but what of the skeleton key? She had left it in the hidden room! Terrified, she ran down the hallway to the room. The door had been left ajar; the keys were still on the floor in the blood. Wincing she picked them up and headed to the bathroom.
The Prince entered the Palace and was calling her name as she desperately tried to wash the blood off the key. Giving up, she pinched her cheeks in an attempt to give herself some colour, and went to meet the Prince. He stood at the bottom of the stairs, his face blank and his eyes dull.
She smiled anxiously, "you're back so soon..."
"Are you disappointed?"
"N-no of course not," she laughed a little breathlessly and unconvincingly as she internally cursed herself for stuttering.
He held out his hand. She looked at it stupidly for a few minutes, causing him to snort angrily and demand the keys. Her face growing warm with shame and fear, she handed over the main keys. His hand stayed open.
He wanted the skeleton one.
"Oh, of course, I'm being silly today," she smiled. He did not return it. Slowly she passed the slightly damp skeleton key to him. To her dismay he did not simply pocket it or return it around his neck, instead he closely analysed it.
"What is this?" He pointed to an apple on its hilt. Looking closely, Kiyomi saw that the engraved apple was not the colour of steel, but a deep red. It must have stained after being dropped in the blood. She gulped. "I have no idea."
"No idea?" The Prince whispered, his voice dripping with anger. His eyes burned, and Kiyomi began to unconsciously step away from him (unfortunately meaning that she was going up the stairs.) He stalked after her, matching her every step with his own. "You have no idea. Well I do Princess Kiyomi Takada. I know! You went into the room didn't you?" He was grinning know, his eyes wide and strange.
"My god," she thought in horror, "he wanted me to do this; He wanted an excuse to punish me!" Her eyes welled with tears. "He's mad, completely... mad..."
With a terrified scream, Kiyomi turned and ran up the stairs, her Prince following.
"Did you think you were clever enough to fool me!" He screamed, "Me, Prince Kira, the beloved of Light city! Did you really think you could outsmart me," he began to chase after her now, as she ran blindly through the maze of richly decorated hallways, "you SINNER! You, like all women, are nothing but a natural sinner!"
Running into a room, Kiyomi slammed the door shut and locked it. She ran to the window. She was too high up to jump, and there was no way to climb down. It was a sheer drop.
Kira slammed on the door. "I'm going to set you alight, Takada! I'm going to set you on fire! I'm gonna watch you burn!"
Kiyomi screamed out of the window for help promising herself that should Kira make it into the room, she would jump. No way would she let him kill her, no way...
Luckily for Kiyomi, Princess Misa had stayed true to her promise. Within the night, she had made it to the Kingdom of Amedinew. The Rulers of that land joined up with the Kingdom of Fodellim and sent their united armies to Light City.
Desperately, Kiyomi waved her arms and screamed for them to help her. Prince Kira, caught completely unaware, had no time to get his own army together. The united armies of the two princesses left the citizens of Light City alone, but charged into the castle after Kira.
A Queen, called Naomi, executed the snarling Prince Kira on the spot, whilst the other Queen, Queen Mary, released Kiyomi from the room. As the women hugged and wept in relief, the body of Kira disappeared into smoke.