The clouds opened upon the lone girl, showing the moon to her upturned face. With a maddened laugh she let out a howl, hearing it echo in the thumping waves around her. She laughed again, and let out another rip of yearning, her voice soon breaking to tears as she crumpled to the ground. Great sobs raked her body and she curled upon the sand, her tears dropping to the ground in a desperate plea. As if on a sudden thought she sat, her tears drying quickly with the wind. Three dots signalled where her tears had fallen and not yet gone. Quickly, with nails bitten rough, she scratched at the sand, feeling it linger under her touch. The sand stung the sores stained across her fingers, but still she continued to dig down, her body bent beneath the moon. Slowly the hole became bigger, her hand barely reaching the bottom as she leant further in.
When she unrumpled from her strenuous work she found the sun beginning its rise over the ocean. Soon the sun would encompass the little island on which she was cursed to always remain, the island which had quickly allowed her mind to break its constraints. With a final laugh mixed with tears, she leant once more to dig at the ground. And as her body curved deeper to reach the bottom, she fell. Down she tumbled, twisting as the growing sun grew farer from reach. Just when she felt that she might fall from her, she landed with the softest thud, her feet still standing.
Below her stood tall streaks of grass, each piece whispering softly against her bare feet. Looking around she found a deep green forest standing to one side, and, on the other a meadow leading to a castle in the near distance. Her voice came in a yelp of joy as she staggered around in the meadow, her feet barely touching the stalks as she jumped around in play. All effort eased she lay down amongst the grass, feeling it slide to create a bed for her weary body. But her mind would not rest, her happiness uncontested in emotions. The ever-standing question placed itself in her mind; where was she? Racing with thoughts she lay, until finally sleep encompassed her into its soft folds.
She woke as the wind pushed the gentle grass against her arms, tickling the hairs standing bare. As she felt it on her body, fear pushed through her for a moment. Fear that the meadow had been but a dream, and that she would find herself lying in the sand again. Opening her eyes, an inward sigh leant through her body, finishing in her toes where she rose with ease. The meadow still remained the same, the grass lay crumpled where she had just been.
But though she was here, she had little idea of where to go, and her mind once again raced with choices. Her want for company pushed her towards where the castle sat, and she began to walk, her feet once again barely touching the ground as she leapt gaily towards her destination. Each step seemed to cover more distance than the last and she found the castle drawing nearer with every step.
As it grew, it began once more to shrink and she looked back, to find that only the meadow has she passed, the outline of the forest covering the horizon. So once more she started, and it grew, to her delighted mind. But as she watched it again began to shrink, and so she found herself in a lack of what to do.
Her mind beginning to overcome with fear, she sat, her tears shrouded by her arms. Water flooded from her cheeks, a never-ending flow.
"What ails you dear child?" A voice croaked, and she looked up, her head rising with quick effort as she searched to see who had spoken. An old woman stood before her, back bent from labour, hair wiry from time. For the first time in many years, she saw another person, heard another voice.
She sprung to her feet, gleeful, the castle almost forgotten from her mind.
"What ails you?" She repeated.
The cause of her tears flashed back into her mind. "I wanted to get to the castle but every time I walked towards it, it would grow, then shrink."
The old woman smiled with curiosity. "Where are you from child?"
As she went to speak she realised she did not know, her past home in a place that no one knew of. "The island," said she.
But the woman seemed to understand this for she smiled again. "The island is a bad place, you were right to get away."
"I know." For she did know; she knew how the island had tormented her with madness, yet each day had kept her breathing.
A sigh came from the woman. "How much do you want to get to the castle?"
"Then take this, and you will get there." The woman took a necklace from her own neck and handed her a piece of silvery ribbon, a knotted jewel hanging from the edge.
Fingering the sun-shaped gem, she took in its glassy white composure. "Thank you."
"But when you get there, you must do something for me."
"Anything," And she knew that she would do anything, for her joy at being able to reach the castle overcame all moral judgement.
"When you get there, you must introduce the princess to the stableboy."
The task seemed easy enough, and the girl agreed willingly, slinging the necklace around her neck.
"You must do one more thing, but not for me, for yourself."
"Anything," she repeated.
"You must not tell anyone your name."
Again she agreed, the task easy enough.
"Then it is time for you to go to the castle." She stood away, and the castle stood glittering once more.
"Thank you." The girl began to walk, leaving the old woman behind her. She lingered not long on the woman as she walked, her mind only turned to the castle. And as promised the castle only grew, until she was forced to stop and examine its elegance. Extravagance at ease the castle stood with sparkling towers spiring towards the sky. A golden path gilded by flowers led to glistening doors. Behind them, the girl could almost imagine the people that stirred within, their embellished clothing swiping as they laughed.
With a laugh herself she stepped onto the golden path, feeling it sing out as she walked. And if she listened hard, she could almost hear a voice coming from beneath her:
Fate has come
From one and all
Fate has come
Everyone draw near
Fate has come
Or shied away in fear
At the doors she found a small bell, and she rung it earnestly, the noise barely whispering in the air. At once they opened, their giant ways moving aside to show a glimpse of what lay beyond.
"Who knocks at my bell?" A stout man stood before her, adorned in golden colours topped with a red hat.
"I do." For she did not know how to answer, without stating her name.
"And who is I?"
"And who is me?"
"Please may I come in?" With relief the subject was changed by her.
"Why are you here?"
And she had no idea of what to say. Her mind searched for an answer to the question, finding none but the truth. "Because I don't want to be back there."
The man looked at her seriously for a moment, as if examining her worth. "Come in." He opened the door wider and she entered with a delighted step.
Around her walls grew up in an array of pictures. People sat, men fought beasts; each one told a different story. A corridor led straight down, on either side doors stood closed.
"This way." The man lead her down the corridor, more paintings covering the walls.
She looked down at her grubby clothes, torn and plagued with dirt. Embarrassed, she tried to brush away the grime, finding it stuck.
Corner and corner they turned, the only noise being their feet sinking in the carpet. Soft under her bare feet, she again felt embarrassed, eyeing the golden buckles of the man.
"Wait here." They stood before a door, and he slipped between the open gaps, closing it behind him.
With him gone, she shook her dress more vigorously, finding still no dirt falling to the ground.
"This way." The man had returned, a rigid look striking through him. His movements were wary as he moved to open the doors before him. Taking a look back he pushed them open, as no noise came from its hinges.
The doors swung open for the girl and she peered inside, her eyes falling on everything before her. People milled about, gleeful colours adorning their bodies. Looking on, the clothes seemed like silk, flowing as they merged with their waiting anticipation. Every pair of eyes turned upon the girl, as she stood, with jovial fear. Her sight travelled along the way in which no one stood. The bare floor lead silently to three thrones sitting against the wall. On one throne sat a man clothed in rich fabric, in the other a woman likewise. But it was the third that stopped her at the door. A young girl, swathed in cloth, sat complacent with a ring of gold surrounding her comely face. A curious smile amazed her face, as the young girl looked about with ease.
"This way." The man urged her forward with a flick of the wrist.
With anxious steps the girl edged forward, eyes falling to her feet at every second step.
"Your majesties." The man flourished a deep bow, continuing with speech as he straightened. "May I present a wanderer of your nation."
All eyes turned to the girl as she was introduced in the questioning way. Unsure of what to do, she curtsied, a clumsy fall that took her to the ground and back.
The man she took to be the King stared at her, his eyes spreading into her depths. Wavered at his gaze she sent her sight to the ground.
"Who are you?"
The question sent fear into her mind. As answers sped through her head they came to rest on the only answer she could. "I don't know."
"My my, a girl who does not know who she is." The Queen had spoken , a subtle voice that fled through the room.
"I can't remember." And she knew it was a lie. The young girl still sat silent, a stare gazing from her eyes as if she could tell the words that came were not the truth.
"Well, we'll just have to give you a name won't we?" The King looked at the young girl, as if seeking approval.
"Daughter, why do you not pick a name, you are always good at it." The Queen addressed the Princess, though she spared not a glance.
The Princess smiled, and rose on quaint legs. Walking with softened steps she came to the girl, standing straight before her.
Together they eyed the other, each finding more in every passing moment.
At last the Princess sighed, "I do not know."
Almost abashed the King spoke roughly. "How can you not know, it is not very hard to find a name."
"No Father, there is more to a name than that. Give me time and I will decide." Although under her Father, the power in her voice showed her control over him.
"Thank you Father."
She turned to the girl. "Come with me." And then in a lower voice, "but curtsey before you leave."
The girl curtsied as hurriedly as before, words catching in her throat as she changed her mind of speech.
The Princess began to leave, and, when the girl did not follow, she turned again. "Are you coming?"
A nod came and the girl traced her steps, following her through the doors that closed behind them. But the Princess did not pause, and only continued walking. On a sudden move she stopped.
"My name is Elena."
The girl nodded, unsure of what to say.
"What is that necklace that hangs around your neck?" They had begun walking again, a curious tone in the princess's voice as if she already knew.
"Just a trinket." And the girl saw the necklace as a trinket, as that was what it was to her.
"It's quite pretty."
"Yes." Equal in steps they walked without noise, the carpet shrinking their paces. The girl looked as she passed painting after painting, each coloured in a different rhythm. Her eyes fell to one, an old woman, hunched against the frame.
"Who is that?" She pointed at the crooked woman.
"One of Father's friends apparently." It was said casually, but a greater suspicion surrounded the words.
The girl waited for the question to come, 'why?' But when it did not come, she continued to stare at the painting. Around the woman's neck hung a sun-shaped gem and her back was bent with labour, her hair wiry from time. And inside the girl whispered the words that only she dared hear; this woman she had once met.
"Well come on, the painting will still be here tomorrow." The Princess hurried them along, their steps thumping once more against the ground.
"Where are we going?" The girl dared ask.
"I don't know."
"Can we go to the stables then?" The girl suggested, remembering the promise she had given.
"Okay." Her quickness to agree surprised the girl, but she allowed the Princess to lead them through yet another maze of corridors.
Although she did not know how she could introduce the stableboy to the Princess when she did not know him herself, she felt that with each step she was getting closer to reaching her promise.
A simple door lead to a garden of green and flowers. The girl stood shocked, amazed by the flowers that she had so long not seen. Callous steps lead to the nearest pansy, a dirt-covered hand flew down to pick the flower from its roots. With a sigh the flower shone, a glittering gaze that grew up her arms to cover her whole body. A gasp trapped in her body she waited, as the petals began to drop. When the final one fell to the ground the stem fell with it, slipping from her grasp. As it touched the ground it continued to fall, the dirt merging to take it into its body. Bending to feel where it should have lain she let out the gasp she had held, a shocked course ringing through her body as she took in the sight covering her. A cream dress tumbled across her body, clear blue singing out in the edges.
"It's a faience flower, it makes you beautiful."
She could only nod, wonderment drawing through her body as she felt the silk topple over her.
"Shall we continue to the stables?"
The girl nodded, her answer being suppressed by her actions.
The stables were dappled but bright, the horses neighing playing into both their ears.
"Here we are, the stables."
They entered through the open doors, the Princess pulling her dress so as not to trail against the ground.
A scuttling came from the corner, a shoe disappearing as someone hurried to get away.
"That's probably just the stableboy," the Princess stated, distaste showing in her voice.
"I might go see what's around the corner." The girl walked away quickly, hoping the Princess would not follow. Happy to find that the Princess became occupied with a horse, she paced to reach where she had seen the stableboy, praying that the boy would still be there.
With a turn she looked upon the boy, hunching in the corner. And as she stared, at the boys brazen clothes and pained face, she saw not just him in his figure; but herself.
Finding that it was not the Princess that had found him, he rose quickly, ashamed.
"Who are you?" The boy's voice was rough and fast, curious though.
"It doesn't matter who I am, who are you?"
"My name is Felix." Although she had not answered the boy's question, the boy had answered hers.
"Come meet the Princess." She wasted no time on formalities, wishing the hold to be over.
The boy's head shook as a mumbled "no" came from his mouth.
"Please, it will be good for you." She did not know if she told the truth, but as she said it her mind flicked back to the island, and the words whispered to her, 'it will be okay.' And for awhile she had thought that it would be okay, but soon she disbelieved the assurance.
"Yes you can. Please if you don't, I will break my promise." She spread light to the boy, hoping to make him agree.
The boy's face contorted with pain, a decision crossing his mind. "Okay then. I do not want to be responsible for a broken promise."
Joyful with glee, she took the boy by the hand, dragging the rigid body behind her.
"Princess Elena." She had reached where the Princess stood stroking a horse. "This is Felix." She pushed him forward, stepping back to widen the space.
And as the Princess turned, a smile spread across her face, one that brought the love to her eyes. The boy was bowing, a hasty bow of a boy determined to keep his eyes on the Princess. Together they stood, staring at the beauty they each saw before them.
The horses neighed, the wind blowed, and yet they were oblivious to it all. With a break of eyes, the Princess turned to the girl.
"Do you know what that necklace does?"
"No." And although she had been told that it would get her to the castle, she knew that it was not the pendant that had gotten her there, but the woman.
"An old woman used to own it, and now you do. Because you own it, you have taken its powers."
The girl was puzzled, confused by the words spoken by the Princess.
"I know your name," the Princess smiled. "Would you like to know it?'
The girl thought back to the past she had come from. The past where everything had been normal, until she had found herself on the torturous island. The past where her name had been her own.
She gulped, nervous. "What is it?"
A smile again engulfed the beautiful Princess. "Your name is Fate."
And the words sank deep into her, tumbling through her body as the words became true. And the girl, once someone else, now took this new name for herself.
She was Fate.