The Beginning ____________________ LONDON, ENGLAND, MAY 30, 1710 I saw her dancing, spinning, and twirling around the ball room. Her mask was black around the eyes and golden around the edges, amber eyes contrasting with the black. Milky skin was clothed in an elegant ballroom gown, smokey black matching her mask. Golden feathers and silver strands were expertly woven throughout her hair, an ebony waterfall cascading down her back. Unlike most women here, she wore her hair down, only pinned back in a few select places and wore a simple, yet elegant gown, a black corset fitted on her torso and laced with a golden ribbon. I was entranced, as was most other men. She was as beautiful as a lioness, but on a skilled hunt, the prey unknown as of now. The women were scoffing at her merits, calling her childish and immature. As the band finished their song, she slowed her dancing and gave one last spin. A smile lit up her face and she accepted a drink from a man carrying a tray full of them. She drank from it and smiled at everyone, even the other women. I saw my father climb up on the stage next to the band and the crowd soon quieted. "As you all know, we are here to celebrate my son's 18th birthday, and for him to find his wife. As he is my eldest son, he will take the throne after me, and whomever he chooses as his wife, will become queen. If Prince Alexander wants to get to know one of you wonderful women, he may ask you to dance. Every woman he asks will be assembled here after the dance, and he will choose someone." He stepped off the stage and the band started up again, the women all buzzing with excitement and hoping I, the said prince, would pick them to dance. I looked for the gold and black girl, wanting to ask her first. She was nowhere to be found, so I asked a random woman to dance. Once we started, the women found partners and started dancing too. The woman I was dancing with was talking almost nonstop. I was surprised my ears didn't fall off! I politely excused myself, saying I needed to go out for fresh air. Stepping out onto the balcony, I realized I wasn't lying to that woman. The cool air felt like a relief compared to the hot ballroom. I walked to the marble railing and looked down at the gardens far below. Then, I saw her. She was sitting on a bench next to the small pond, her face reflected in it, but her hair formed a curtain around her face, shadowing it. I ran back into the ballroom and ran across the floor, ignoring the dancing couples and down the spiral staircase, taking the steps two at a time. I jumped the last few and ran the distance to the garden, then the shorter length to the pond. She heard me approaching and stood up as is accustomed in the presence of royalty, wiping at her cheeks. She bowed elegantly and then stood, looking me in the eyes. She was bold, even my own mother didn't look any man in the eyes. She didn't look into my father's until they were married and rarely did it after. I was still breathing a little heavily, my words broken up slightly by pants of air. "May I ask you to dance?" She smiled softly and nodded, holding up her hand with her fingers down, "you may, and I would be honored your majesty." I took her hand in my own and led her to a clearing surrounded by silvery flowers we call "moon flowers" because they only blossom at night. I pulled her close and a tint of pink spread over her pale skin. As we spun slowly to a different tune than the band was playing, I reached up and brushed a lock of hair off her cheek, feeling a wetness. I then noticed that tears were spilling down her cheeks. I stopped and wiped her tears away, using my thumbs. "Dove, what's wrong?" "I want to marry you, probably as much as you do, but I'm already betrothed." She held up her hand and showed the band of silver around her finger to me. Tears glistened on her cheeks and I held her close. That's when I noticed we were opposites. She was the dark of night, her raven's wing black hair and ebony black dress, gold and silver stars in her hair, while I was the bright of day. My dressers had chosen a yellow, orange, and red outfit, my mask was a blue to match the spring sky. My blonde hair curled and was more like gold and polished bronze than normal hair. "You don't even know my name, yet you love me. I know you do. You ran down here from the balcony just to ask me to dance, that's not something an ordinary prince would do, nor is it normal for a betrothed woman to want to marry a prince as much as I do." She looked up at me boldly with her amber eyes. Her's trapped sunlight, while my stormy gray only trapped the shadows cast by her light. "Then what is your name? If you can't give me your hand in marriage, please, at least your name." I was just holding her hand now, the same distance between us as if we were still dancing. "Calla, my name is Calla." I kissed her hand and looked down, "Miss Calla, it's a pleasure to me-" I was cut off as she slumped into me and looked into my eyes, her golden ones filled with pain and shock. I heard footsteps quickly retreating but couldn't take my eyes off the knife sticking out from between her shoulder blades. I slowly sat down and gently pulled the knife out, tears starting to slide down my cheeks. I started to cry out in a hoarse voice, calling for help as I cradled her to me. Both of our clothes started to get drenched in blood, but I ignored it. I looked down at her, my tears landing on her cheeks and mixing with hers. I closed the gap between us, pressing my lips against hers. I held her close, not wanting to hurt her, but wanting her close. I pulled back and whispered quietly, "I love you Calla, my lily, in this life, the next, and every single one after that. I'll love you forever." As she died in my arms, she drew her last breath and whispered so softly I had to lean in to hear her. When her heart stopped and her soul was gone, I could feel my own heart die with her. It felt like it had broken into thousands of sharp pieces and pierced the tissue around it, shredding my insides. But I would carry her last promise with me, as quiet as a whisper but heavy like the world. "I love you, forever."