A princess, unfortunate enough to be constrained with two curses, held her dying friend in her arms. Another figure laid dead just a few feet away from them with shards of glass covering the grassy ground of the castle. The two victims had fought each other then fell out of one of the higher windows. All of which the future monarch blamed herself for. Next to the disaster, with the moon’s luminous reflection upon the calming water, was the pond where the young royal would spend time with her dear friend who taught her what it meant to be a better human being.
The princess’ hand now had a purple glow around it. “My power is nearly back.” She turned to her friend, “I’ll use my magic to heal you and even bring that man back to life! Once he sees that I’m not dangerous, maybe he and everyone else will-”
“No,” he interrupted while trying to push her hand out of the way. “By the time your magic fully returns…I’ll be gone…You cannot…change what happened…or what will occur.” He started coughing and wheezing.
The princess tried to dispute, “But-”
However, her friend wouldn’t let her, “I…won’t let you lose yourself…like so many others had.”
The young woman looked to her glowing hand. She recalled the many stories that had surfaced indicating how others lost themselves and went completely mad with power when they attempted to reach far enough into strong magic. In her case, if she went too far in order to break the laws of which God and nature set before the mortals of their world, she would never be able to return. Her soul and heart would be shrouded within darkness for all time.
She quickly whipped her hand and the glow went away. She was struck with fear at realizing what she planned to do; what she was capable of doing. “I’m so frightened,” her voice shook as she revealed the truth.
The elderly man then bestowed unto the princess his final lesson to her, “Piccola Luna…even the smallest of stars cannot be so easily covered by the night sky…Don’t let the magic you now possess cover you…Instead…shine your light over it.” He began coughing and wheezing again. He shakingly held onto her hand and was finally able to say, “Promise me…you’ll keep the light within your heart and use your newfound power only for good.”
She knew that last part also meant never breaking the laws of the natural world, no matter how badly she wanted to help someone. Still, it tore her apart on the inside knowing that in order to save herself from being consumed by the power of which she obtained, she had to let him go.
And so, while engraving the vow within her heart, the princess said with saddened tears streaming down her cheeks, “I promise.”
After giving one last tender little smile, the elderly man passed away.
Five days later, the princess was taken to a darkened cave on the farthest side of a mountain that contained a lake whose waters had never seen the light of day nor felt the glow of the moonlight. She was forced to stand prisoner in front of this very lake with the king, his queen, and their royal guard; some of the men were holding torches while four of them gripped the chains that bound the convict.
The young woman had hair as white as the fallen snow, eyes that were the color amber, olive skin, ruby red lips, and she wore a regal dress that all were claiming was as black as her soul.
Was this to be her execution? Normally, such an act would be done in the kingdom with an audience to witness justice being done. To bring a prisoner far from the prying eyes of the people, something else was decided to be her fate. Unfortunately, the king and queen, along with the members of their royal court, thought of a punishment much more painful, cruel even.
The queen was disheartened at what was happening while the king, though appearing dominant, was internally infuriated. The guards showed no remorse as they were guarding the chained woman. The Captain of the Royal Guard stood proudly next to his king and queen as they faced the men with the prisoner.
He opened a scroll and began reading aloud with his voice echoing in the cave, “Princess Luna! For your treachery against humanity and for the deaths of two innocent souls- one whom was a dear friend to the crown-”
The convicted princess lifted her head up in shock at the statement. She knew within her heart that what was just claimed was far from the actual truth. Her mother and father never claimed him as their friend. In fact, they never knew his name. The deceased victim- her friend- was being used for their twisted scheme of condemning her further.
This angered Luna as the captain continued with, “you are hereby sentenced to remain here at Lake Tenebre for the rest of your days!”
The young woman looked down upon her mother and father, as well as the captain who was approaching her. The man covered in silver armor with gold lining leaned in towards the scorned woman.
His thin goatee curled around his prejudiced mouth. “And since the Dark Power makes you immortal…you will remain here for all eternity.”
Forgetting she was in chains, Luna attempted to slap the man for his remark. The chains, however, prevented her from completing the task and she was instead forced to stare at the smirk on the captain’s face.
He walked away, but not before muttering under his breath, “Insolent girl.”
The royal guards waited for their next command. The king nodded, signaling for them to release the prisoner. The guards unlocked the chains. Luna looked around, rubbing her wrists, waiting to see what was to happen next. She locked eyes with one of the guards who jerked his head in the direction of the king and queen.
As Luna began to approach her mother and father, one of the guards spit on the ground right in front of her. She looked up and saw the pure hatred in the guard’s eyes. In fact, that’s all she saw from everyone surrounding her, hatred, and disgust.
It wasn’t unusual for her to receive such glances, for that was part of her everyday life back at home. However, this time, it was as if the stares contained hidden messages all ending with the same demand: to end her where she stood.
Luna could feel herself sinking deeper and deeper down a hole there was no way out of. The light she was hoping to see down the darkened tunnel, along with any kind of hope, was quickly fading away.
Luna stood in front of her mother and father, scorned that they would condemn her to an eternal life in isolation.
“Don’t worry dear,” her mother began saying in her usual calm and quiet voice. “This cave…this very mountainside has been enchanted, so none with an evil heart may enter here.”
“Or escape,” her father coldly interjected.
The king looked to his daughter like she was nothing to him. As if she was just another subject in his kingdom who broke his law and was now being punished for it. Not wanting to hear another word, Luna stormed off.
“Daughter!” the king yelled.
The young woman finally stopped when she reached the front of the lake. She looked down and was able to see her reflection in the opaque water. Holding herself, Luna tried to remember that she was still the same woman she had always been and not the monster that all were claiming. Her mind then became clouded with frustration and fury at the way her mother and father were reacting.
“You know very well that you brought this upon yourself!” her father continued. The princess began squeezing her arms as her frustration transformed into pure anger. “The plan was to remove the Swan Spell! Not have you add on another curse!” The king paused for a moment. It was as if he was taking the time to build up the strength needed to finish his statement. “Had you not accepted the Dark Power and instead done as you were told, none of this would have happened! You brought this upon yourself!” he yelled fiercely at her with his voice reverberating in the cave.
Luna knew in her heart that this was indeed true. However, her father knew very well why she had to do it. There was no other choice.
Silence filled the darkened cave once more. Luna felt the rage boiling within her blood. The dark magic of which she obtained began to create sparks on her fingers. The magic was still new to her, so when her emotions became out of control, her powers did as well.
“Luna, dear,” the queen began saying. Though she attempted to sound as sincere as possible, her heart was in the same place as the king’s. “Don’t fret. Your father and I will come visit you when we can.”
The young woman had just about had it. All of the controlling, impractical expectations, lies, and the empty promises from all the people within her world. Enough was enough. Luna was struck to her very core.
She whipped around with fists clenched angrily, now staring down at all of the hypocrites standing before her. All the while, she didn’t realize her fists were now covered in an ominous glow. “Don’t even bother!!” her voice echoed ferociously throughout the cave.
The magic shot from her hands and blasted on each side of the cave, causing the place to rumble. Everyone put themselves in a defense and shielded position in case she was about to attack them next.
The now ex-princess turned once again to look at her barely visible reflection in the lake. This time, however, she had a better look at what she had become. Luna was now worried that the image she had of herself was all an illusion and that the promise she made to her friend was becoming just as broken as she was. She held herself once more and closed her eyes, saddened by this thought.
The queen began to reach out for her wayward daughter, a fleeting pang of doubt stirring in her chest. However, the king placed a sheltering arm around his wife and began turning her the other way; leading her back on the path to their castle. They were leaving behind their only child to an eternity of exile in a lonely and dark cave far from everything she’d ever known.
The Captain, as well as the other guards, parted as the king and his queen made their way through them. They all followed right after. Not one of them ever looked back.
When all were gone and all was quiet, Luna was truly alone. During which time, she realized just how connected this new power was to her emotions. Now, she had all the time in the world to practice gaining control.
Luna took a few breaths in order to calm herself down. Not wanting to remain completely in the dark, she removed one of her hands from holding herself and used her magic to have fire appear in her palm. She thought of this as good practice for controlling her new powers. The area around her was now covered in a warm and fiery glow.
Many thoughts were bouncing through the mind of the demoted princess. She closed her eyes then saw memories of the past, flashes of the current events, and even visions for a future. All of which gave Luna an epiphany.
No more. No more relying on others. No more sheltering herself. No more taking commands or being under someone’s control. No more being what others wanted or perceived her to be. No more breaking her promise. No more! No more! All the tears she had shed for herself and others would be left in the past with her previous life.
The young woman slowly put her other arm down, stood up straight, and breathed in the air like a transformed human being. This is it, she thought to herself. The moment I open my eyes, the path that my life was heading will change course.
Within a matter of seconds, appearing confident and stern, Luna forcefully opened her eyes.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
LUNA OF TENEBRE is a Preteen- Adult retelling of SWAN LAKE that takes place in a fantasy world reflecting the Italian Renaissance.
Taylor Summerlin is an artist and author from sunny Southern California. Ever since she was a child, storytelling has been a huge part of her life and she expresses that passion throughout all aspects of her work. Originally, Taylor graduated from Fullerton College (AA Degree) and Cal State University, Fullerton (BFA in Entertainment Art/Animation) with the intent on becoming a Storyboard Artist in Animation. What she never expected was to discover a hidden love for telling stories through writing. The more she wrote, the more those who knew Taylor came to realize just how much potential she had as an author. All then encouraged the young storyteller to continue writing and from that brought forth her very first YA novel of which is receiving positive reviews from beta readers. From her art to her writing, Taylor uses the skills she gained over the years to create fun and entertaining stories for all to enjoy. She is currently in the process of getting her first novel published and hopes to publish more work in the near future.