Welcome, welcome little ones, and hear the tale of a distraught country called Berring. You see, in my time, there was a grand castle, taller than anything I'd ever seen before- taller than any mountain, taller than any tower. At the bottom of this most impressive castle was a city that spanned as far as the eye could see from the tallest part of the castle itself. It was mysterious and magical, both the castle and the city. Together, they were ruled by a beautiful and just queen who always knew what was right. The queen had lost her husband right after she became pregnant with his only heir, their son, the prince. For years the queen ruled, doing her best to fill the void left behind by her beloved, trying to teach her son the rights and wrongs of the world.
Upon a particularly stormy night, the queen met with an untimely death. Fate had conspired against the young prince, leaving him completely alone. Desperate and saddened by this fact, he lost all taste for ruling. He kept to himself constantly, in his father's dusty old study. The servants and tutors tried to ease his suffering, even suggesting that he get married to appease the people. Perhaps a princess of a faraway land would listen to Berring's populace and soothe the aching hearts. The people were unhappy that their country was falling into such disrepair, and their new ruler would not listen to them.
The prince agreed to the idea after months of pestering via his aides. He would meet with the princesses who offered themselves to him. Eventually after traveling around this old world, he came to the land of Balamese which had two princesses as its heirs. Upon first glancing at her, he fell in love with the elder of the two. They were a match made in heaven. They were perfect for one another. The prince felt his heart at ease, and once again, he was happy.
However, fate once again conspired against the prince. The night he left Balamese and returned home to prepare the vast celebration for the revival of his homeland and his life, the kingdom of Balamese was sacked by another country's forces. Upon hearing this information from a Balamecian guard, the prince rode on his country's fastest horse to rescue his new love. By the time he got there, he found the Balamese in ruins. He met with not a single body, royal or otherwise, that could tell him exactly what happened. His beautiful princess who would help him recover from his emotional wounds was nowhere to be found.
Devastated by this turn of events, the prince returned home. He had become bitter, more than he ever had been before. His life had been ruined by the very concept of death. Everyone he ever loved was taken from him. Sitting upon the throne his mother sat, he declared that Berring would have vengeance for the destruction of Balamese. He would destroy the country that destroyed her, and if anyone else ever dared to cross his rule, he would destroy that country, too. The world would pay for taking all he held dear. He declared Berring the Empire of the World, and that he was Emperor of it.
Years later, the Emperor had taken the territory of Balamese for himself. He had forgotten exactly why he wanted the land, but it wet his appetite. He wanted more. It drove him mad. What was once a kind and gentle prince had transformed into a power-hungry Emperor! He commanded the forces of Berring to march upon the countries that bordered Balamese and Berring, meeting with more and more war. People were dying left and right, and no one could stop his rampage.
Out of the ashes came a rebellion to stand up and fight against the Emperor. They were able to sneak into the land of Berring, slowly recruiting people to spy to figure out the future battle plans. A rebel army rose up to fight against the tyrant, and when they were able to tell where he would strike, attacks were finally fought off. The Emperor demanded that the leader of the rebels be found, and through a few turncoats, the leaders were indeed found.
A woman led the rebels. Clad in rags from head to toe and a sword at her hip, she did not look daunted when she was forced to meet the Emperor face-to-face. She looked so familiar to him, like he had seen her in a faraway dream. She didn't beg to be set free. She stared up at him with no intent at ever giving in. When he asked her why she opposed his rule, she answered it honestly.
"The prince of Berring was a gentle soul with a wounded heart. He committed no crime other than being too gentle to live in such a terrible world. It is my duty to avenge his death at your hands."
The Emperor looked into her eyes, and suddenly, he remembered everything. He couldn't believe that his princess had survived that onslaught. When he tried to tell her that he was indeed the prince she had agreed to marry, she did not believe him. She believed him to be dead, and that this monster who had taken his place was an imposter. She hated his every bone, having lost so many friends and new homes to this tyrant, and the Emperor could no longer hold back his pain.
That night, he locked the princess in a lavish bedroom, swearing that she would never leave his custody for as long as she lived. She could be his Empress or his prisoner. Then, he looked into the study where he once found solace, and pulled out a cursed book. He wanted his princess' love more than anything in the whole world. He wanted to feel… wanted, needed, desired. He opened that book, and a storm raged outside the moment he did. He called out to the forces that lived inside it, demanding an answer .
The spirit of the book asked him exactly what it was he wanted. The Emperor confessed that all he wanted in this world was the love of the woman whom he loved more than anyone. The spirit asked him that he would give in return for that love, and he said "Anything." With one lightning bolt, the Emperor was struck down where he stood and the spirit cackled at the top of its lungs.
A week later, the soldiers of the rebellion came to storm the castle, but the Imperial men did not stop them. They found their leader lying on the floor, shouting at the powers that be. It seemed as though she understood why the Emperor went on such a rampage, and he wanted to speak with him about everything. She wanted to hear it straight from his mouth, in his words. If he would agree to atone, she could find it in her heart to forgive him.
The princess found the Emperor in the study, lying on the floor, lifeless. He gripped the book that sent him to finally be with his mother and father in his hands, with an expression that showed how shocked he was. The book was old. It could even be called decrepit from the cracks in the leather and the uneven ripped pages. It held power, powers she did not understand. It nagged at her mind until she finally got up the courage to take the book for herself. She had to pull with all her strength to pry it out of his hands; and when she finally managed to, it fell onto the floor, open.
The spirit of the book appeared before her, taking the form of the Emperor who lay on the floor. He once again appeared to be of gentle thought. He asked her if there was anything he could give her, and explained all she needed to do was say it and it would be done. The princess, through tears too many to number, just wanted to know what corrupted such a tender heart to such a degree. The spirit asked her what she would give for that explanation.
"My love," she whispered. "I have nothing else to offer."
The spirit of the book had never heard of such a bargain. It looked upon the Emperor's lifeless body with contempt and hatred, before it cast a magic spell on the Emperor's body to bring it to life.
"I cannot do anything with love," the spirit of the book replied before vanishing. The book slowly turned to dust before their eyes, and the Emperor sat up to greet the princess with a somber expression. He hugged around her, wiping the tears from her eyes. The voice of the spirit of the book spoke only once more. "The king of Berring and his lovely wife have both fallen victim to the power of witch that created this book. Let it be known that the witch was not a cruel woman."
The Emperor looked at where the book had been placed on his father's favorite shelf. He knew in his heart that he owed the princess an explanation, so he gave one. It turned out that the book was created by a witch that had a vendetta against the royal family of Berring. Her husband, a valiant knight, was taken to war and died in the name of the king twenty years ago. A war that, frankly, the witch did not find worthy of her beloved's sacrifice. When the good king was to be married, everyone in the kingdom came to give a gift in celebration. One such gift was the Book of Deals, which held within a spirit that would offer the person who opened the book whatever they wished in exchange for whatever the price they would be willing to pay.
Upon knowing of the prince being conceived in the queen's belly, the king approached the book to ask for the ultimate protection for both his queen and his unborn. The king said he would give anything, so the book took his life. Later, when the queen was lonely, she turned to the Book of Deals herself. The spirit took the form of her beloved king, and she asked for one who would take care of and love her son, who would always be there for him. The price she was willing to give? "Anything", so the book took her life as well. When their son approached the Book of Deals, the book's spirit took the form of his mother, who pleaded for him to not make any deals with the book. He wished to have the love of his beloved princess before all, and would give anything for it. So the book took his life.
But it was the princess who broke the cycle of unending death started with this book. She would not have given it "anything", and she had no wealth to speak of. All she had on her mind was what the Emperor had wished from the Book of Deals – her love for the Emperor himself. With the spells of protection from the king, of a constant companion from the queen, and the Emperor's wish for undying love, the book was defeated.
From that day forth, the Emperor renamed his homeland back to the Kingdom of Berring and stopped his onslaught on the rest of the world. The once princess became the new Queen of Berring and helped lead the land into newfound prosperity.