Fated Encounter

August 9, 2008
By Juncheng Dong, Boston, MA

When Alicia’s father passed away on her sixteenth birthday, she attended the funeral in her best dress. She gave a speech on how strong of a ruler he had been, and afterwards, was crowned the sole ruler of the Realm of Darkness. All the countless legions of demons, imps, goblins, shades, and ghosts that had once answered to her father were now under her command, to do with as she wished.

At first, she was exhilarated. All that power was hers to wield, to use as she saw fit. She spent weeks studying the many habits and characteristics of each of her subjects, learning to employ them to their best effect. To test her own mettle, she commanded raids against the Realm of Light, and under the guidance of her quick-witted mind and her natural understanding of good tactics, they won many victories.
But she was not only an outstanding general. While her father had ruled through fear, sacrificing soldiers whenever he saw fit, Alicia cared for them deeply and always tried her best to bring everyone through the battles they fought. She was beloved by her people, and even the Realm of Light grudgingly acknowledged her abilities as a leader. Soon, she became known as the greatest Queen of Darkness in the entire history of the Two Realms.

Within months after her coronation, the Realm of Light had largely been subjugated, and Alicia found to her great surprise that she had nothing left to do. The battle between Dark and Light had raged for thousands of years, and now that it was over, she could find nothing worthwhile to occupy her time. Boredom descended, and no matter what Alicia tried, she could find no permanent way to alleviate it.

Then, one day, as she was inspecting the dungeons, she found a boy her own age chained to the back of a prison cell, his body covered in wounds. There was so much blood seeping from his cuts that it had caked on his skin, flaking off in chunks as his body trembled with pain and exhaustion.

Alicia stood frozen in horror for so long that the boy began to stir, his eyes opening. They were a deep, deep gold, and despite his condition, they shone with life. They were the most beautiful eyes Alicia had ever seen. Looking into them, she was reminded of the happiest moments of her life, memories she thought lost beneath the weight of time.
“You are the Queen, aren’t you?” He asked, his voice strong and clear, accompanied by the faint tinkling of bells. It was then that Alicia realized that the boy was an angel, and her horror only grew deeper.

“Where are your wings?” Alicia asked, afraid that she already knew. The boy let out a hollow laugh, a bitter smile twisting his blood-streaked face.

“Don’t you know? You were the one who had your demons cut them away.”

“They cut away your wings?” Alicia felt a chill go through her. “You—You can regenerate them, right? Don’t the people of the Realm of Light have such powers?”

“Yes.” The boy angel told her, his golden eyes filling with a deep sadness. “But I cannot say when. It could be only a few days or perhaps a hundred years. Usually, an angel would die from such an operation.” Again, he smiled bitterly. “I suppose I’m lucky to survive, wouldn’t you say?”

Alicia was speechless. Then she snapped out of her daze, her eyes full of blazing anger. Calling for the warden, she commanded him to open the cell and help her unchain the angel boy. The small goblin looked like he was going to protest, but the fire in Alicia’s eyes kept his mouth shut. Swiftly, he unlocked the door and freed the boy from his chains. The boy swayed a bit on his feet as his bonds were released, then collapsed into Alicia’s arms, his strength gone.

“Why are you doing this?” The boy asked Alicia as she called two of her servants to carry him up to her private chambers. “Are we not enemies?”

Walking beside him, Alicia shook her head. “We may be enemies, true, but there is no need for senseless violence. I will not have it, not while I am Queen.”

“You are different than I expected.” The boy said as he looked at her with his golden eyes, something like admiration welling up from deep inside them. “Perhaps you should have been Queen a long time ago.”

Before Alicia could respond, they had arrived. The two servants, as per Alicia’s instructions, gently laid the boy down on her bed. They bowed as she ordered a hot tub of water, scurrying to obey her will.

“Can you bathe?” She asked when the water arrived, “I will have one of my servants help if you need it.”

“I have the strength.” The boy told her, “If you will leave me for a while. Unless you wish to stay?” He asked, glancing at Alicia.

“Wha—?” Alicia blushed furiously, “No, not really. I’ll excuse myself.”

As she closed the door behind her, she thought that she heard the boy’s gentle laughter echoing behind her. Indignant, she almost decided to turn around and give him a piece of her mind about gratitude. But then she realized how inappropriate that would be. She should be the one to apologize to him. If not for her, he would never have been caught and subjected to those horrible tortures. If not for her, he would still have his wings.

Leaning against the wall, she felt tears well up in her eyes. She didn’t know why. Perhaps they were tears of grief for the wings the boy had lost, or perhaps she was crying because she’d finally be confronted with the consequences of her actions. Whatever the reason, Alicia sobbed her heart out as she slid to the floor, her mind and emotions in deep turmoil. Her peaceful little world had been shattered. She could no longer ignore what she had done.

Alicia didn’t know how long she sat there, crying, but when she looked up, the angel boy stood in front her. Now that he was clean, he was breathtakingly beautiful. His skin seemed to glow with an inner light, his curly brown hair constantly stirring as if caught in a gentle breeze. His golden eyes were full of sympathy as he brushed the tears from Alicia’s face, his voice soft as he whispered to her.

“Why do you cry, little Queen? Does what you have done trouble you?”

Silently, Alicia nodded, her throat too choked to respond.

“Then you will simply have to make up for it, won’t you?” The boy told her, smiling. “What you have done is done, but what you do in the future can help heal the wounds you have created.”

“Is that even possible?” Alicia asked bitterly. She felt small and weak. All the things she’d done, the things she’d been proud of, been praised for, they had all culminated in the pain and suffering of so many of the Realm of Light. Even if she tried, would they ever forgive her?

“Of course it is.” Sitting down beside her, the boy placed a comforting hand on hers, “Unity may be a long time in coming, but I believe it’s possible. You are kind, kinder even than some of my friends. If you applied all the genius you possess to peace, I am sure you would create a world where the two Realms could be unified.”

Alicia stared at the boy in wonder, a smile slowly creeping across her face as she imagined what he described. Perhaps it was possible. Perhaps it was not. But it would be a challenge, a worthwhile goal to work towards. Deep inside her, Alicia felt that this was the destiny that she’d been looking for, something she could throw her entire being into. In that very instant, she promised herself that she would see this dream come true.

“Who are you, really?” She asked the boy who’d opened her eyes and so dramatically changed her world, “What is your name?”

“I have had many names,” The boy told her, smiling, “but the one you would know me by is my most common one.”

“What is it?”

Leaning closer, the boy whispered in her ear, “Why, it’s Fate.”

And then, just like that, he was gone, leaving nothing in his wake but the comforting warmth of his hand and the glowing dream in Alicia’s heart.

The author's comments:
Personally, I was surpised at this piece. I was working on a longer story for a while, with love and all of that, but never got around to really getting it going. So I got a bit impatient and decided to just write an ending for it. It may seem hurried to some, yet, it works for me. Incidentally, this was inspired by a piece of art I drew during my spare time, a picture of Alicia, who is, of course, the main character of the story.

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