Miranda glared at Oberon. "Step out of my way. I must carry on my father's work." She took a step closer. "You yourself can see that this world needs saving."

Oberon shook his head. "Not like that. No, this world is connected to that of the Fae more closely than you can ever know. Stand down, Dread Miranda."

"You old fool." Miranda moved with inhuman speed to stand mere paces from the Fairy King. "Can you not see this world cares naught for you any longer? You are all but forgotten."

Oberon shook his head. "I'm sorry, Dread Miranda. But your crusade ends here. In spite of myself, I've grown rather fond of these foolish mortals. And you yourself were once part of their ranks. Why is it you turn against them?"

"My father wishes it," Miranda said.

"Your father wished it," Oberon replied. "Dread Prospero is gone now. His staff is broken, his books drowned, his slaves scattered to the winds, just as the Chronicler wished."

Miranda drew her own staff, carved of a cloven yew tree. "William was a fool, same as all his race!" She spat out a spell, and hurled a bolt of black lightning at the Fairy King. Oberon dove to one side, pressing his body up against the clock face.

"My dear Miranda, why do you continue to mark yourself as different? You yourself are human."

"I am immortal! I am a Messiah!"

Oberon stepped carefully onto the narrow catwalk. "Dread Miranda, you were made immortal by dark magic! How can you claim to be a savior?"

Miranda scoffed. "I tire of your prattle! Go, my Ariel! Strike him down!"

A figure cloaked entirely in black flew from the air behind the sorceress, reaching to seize the King. Oberon grabbed the outstretched hands and flung the air spirit away, making the creature spiral end over end through the air. "How dare you!" Oberon shouted, leaping at Miranda. "You father released him!"

Miranda dropped to a crouch, and Oberon leapt clear over her head. The clock behind them chimed four. "Dread Prospero bound Ariel to his line for one thousand years when he freed him from the pine tree Sycorax bound him in. Ariel still has five hundred thirty seven years left as my loyal servant."

"Slave, more like," Oberon hissed. "No one should bind another intelligent creature to their will. It is the peak of immorality."

"Like you are so guilt free!" Miranda shrieked, quickly becoming hysterical. "My father's blood even now stains your unworthy hand!"

The Fairy King clenched his fist. "Only because he slew my beloved Titania to fuel his dark magics."

"He meant to save the world from the plague of humanity!" Miranda locked Oberon in a spell simply by clenching a fist. "Look down on those petty mortals, King of the Fae! They race about, never even thinking to look up! They are but insects to us! Together, we could crush the unworthy, and save those that deserve it! Think, Oberon! There are seven billion of those ants! How many deserved to be saved?"

Oberon looked down the sheer gradient of the clock tower. "Each and every one."

Miranda used an invisible force to hurl him back. "I see there is no persuading you to my cause." Her staff came up, crackling with unholy energy. "Do you seek to atone for your bloody past? Ha, Oberon, my old foe, do not make me laugh! You would need a hundred thousand lifetimes to do that!" She leaned in. "Do me a favor. When you get to Hell, make sure to tell Lucifer that he shall have many of new souls, very, very soon." She released the dark magic, and her lips pulled back in a savage grin.

Oberon threw off his black jacket, and felt the cool air play over his skin. The plain white t-shirt he wore allowed most of his arms to be exposed to the air. Time seemed to slow down as the dark pulse rocketed towards him. He smiled.

The instant before it hit, two white wings appeared, created from the energies of white magic. They crossed in front of him, stopping the dark magic cold. As they unfurled behind him, almost angelic, almost, Oberon lifted an eyebrow and smirked. "Oh brave new world…" He gestured down to the people hurrying through the street below. "That has such people in it."

"I have always hated William for that," Miranda hissed. "Ariel, seize him." The dark robed figure appeared next to her again, and lunged at Oberon. The Fairy King stepped elegantly off the clock tower, his glittering wings keeping him in the air.

"Now, now, my dear. The same trick won't work on me twice," he said with a smile. "Especially now that I'm getting serious."

Miranda spread her arms, summoning lesser air spirits to buoy her aloft. "My dear stupid Oberon, now you have made me mad." Ariel drifted to her side, his long black robe billowing. Together, they swooped at the King. Oberon dove out of the way, and from the tip of his left index finger, shot a bolt of white lightning at the sorceress's airy companion.

Ariel swerved out of the way, and Miranda snarled. "Do not damage my property, Oberon!" She lifted her hands skyward, and they began to crackle with dark lightning. With a cry of blind fury, she released the magic and hurled it at Oberon. The king drew his wings around himself again, making the pulse split around him and strike the clock tower. The old structure erupted in fire, and the fairy shook his head. "Such a shame. It was a lovely building." He dove at Miranda, and when he grabbed her, plummeted towards the ground.

"Ariel!" Miranda screamed. A gale made the Fairy King reel, and he was forced to let go. Oberon snapped his fingers and Ariel dropped like a stone. He quivered as electricity coursed through his ethereal body.

"I said," Dread Miranda spat as she dove at Oberon, "to leave my property out of this!" She thrust her staff forward, black lightning pouring from the tip.

Oberon spiraled up and away. "Then perhaps your property should stop attacking me." He pulled his wings in and dove towards Ariel. "Spirit, you shalt ere long be free." He wrapped his arm around Ariel's waist before winging back up to Miranda. The cloaked air spirit acted as a shield, for Miranda would not strike down one of her most powerful minions without due cause.

"Why do you care?" Miranda asked again. "These humans are nothing! Nothing! Your world is quickly becoming obsolete, Oberon! Fairies are the stuff of tales for little children!"

"As are wicked witches."

If there had been ground, Miranda would have stomped her foot. "Oberon, don't you get it? This world is doomed anyway! But if we remake it the way it should be, then who knows? We may be able to save more of your precious humans in the long run."

Oberon shook his head. "You really don't get it, do you? The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself, yes, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, and leave not a rock behind. We are such stuff as dreams are made on."

"Don't you quote at me."

"Miranda, what I'm trying to say is this. Let the mortals make their own mistakes. Your father wanted to save the world, but his methods were flawed. We need to step back, and let come what may."

"What naive stupidity!" Miranda shouted, and prepared another burst of black lightning. "How dare you corrupt the memory of my noble father!"

"Ye gods," Oberon sighed, and hurled Ariel away. Any protection the spirit had offered was gone now. From the tip of his index finger, he launched a great bolt of white light. The two collided, and met at equal distance from the two combatants.

Miranda trembled with rage. "True darkness shall never be vanquished!"

Oberon smiled. "And light will never submit."

And with that, the two let loose their strongest magics, making a concussive blast the destroyed the tops of several nearby buildings. Ariel was blown away, spiraling over the remnant destruction.

When two equal powers meet… neither can triumph


"Meteorologists have confirmed that the strange lights over Milan today were the result of a rare class of meteor shower. Regrettably, one such object hit the old clock tower, triggering a gas leak. This leak was what prompted the later explosion, and is responsible for the strange lights seen in the sky."

Oberon took a sip from his bottle, and shook his head at the anchorwoman on the bar television. "These mortals… someday, one of them is going to figure out that 'gas leak' is code for 'magic'. Mm, this brew's good."

Miranda rolled her eyes, and sipped daintily from her wine glass. "They are so ignorant, so naïve." Behind her, Ariel nodded.

Oberon chuckled, and took another swig. "You owe me a new jacket, Miss."

"The check is in the mail." She swirled her pinot noir. "You still use the post box in London, correct?"

"Yes. Ah, but it's a shame. I really liked that jacket."

Miranda paid for her champagne, and picked up her purse. "Well, I'd best be off."

"See you next time, then." Oberon said, not taking his eyes off the television. The bartender had just switched to a soccer game. "Where are we meeting and when?"

Miranda thought for a moment. "I'm taking a vacation in the Caribbean from the fourth to the nineteenth."

Oberon downed the last of his beer. "All right, so let's say the twenty third. And how about Edinburgh this time?"

"I'll be there." Miranda snapped her fingers. "Come, Ariel." The sorceress and her spirit drifted out of the bar.

Oberon whistled to the server and paid for his beer. He walked out after Miranda. As he turned down another street, he saw Ariel drift closer to Miranda's ear. Using a small charm to magnify the sound, he paused to listen to their conversation.

"No Ariel," Miranda sighed. "I will not set you free."

"Well, Mistress, I also had another question. Why do you continue to meet Lord Oberon like this? Would it not be easier to simply attack where he did not expect it?"

Miranda stiffened. "Well, Ariel, this is the way my father would have wanted it. Surely you know that. Dishonor is not to be tolerated. And I would be lying if I have not started to find our little clashes a little… well, fun."

"Mistress Prospero, you give me much to think about. Truly, humans are a strange species." Ariel then fell silent, his dark cloak billowing.

Oberon smiled. "Well played, Dread Miranda, well played indeed." He turned on his heel, and walked away, whistling as he went. "As you from crimes would pardoned be, let your indulgence set me free."

A/N: This is my entry for the January Writing Contest Challenge, held through the Review Game forum. The prompt this month was a picture, and that picture can be found on the forum, which I have linked to on my profile. If you enjoyed this piece, make sure to vote for it in the week of January 8th—14th.