Chamera sat down at the table. Her bowl of cereal almost seemed to stare back at her. The room had an absence of sound. The white table seemed still with the reflection of the elaborate stained windows above her. She twirled her thumbs. She sighed. She pushed herself back in her chair and adjusted her stained ball gown. She took the bowl to the sink. Her steps spotty against the cold floors. She never was one for shoes. Then again in her castle they were not considered necessary. She adjusted her ruffled and frizzy hair as she picked up the mirror on the counter.
"mirror mirror in my hand, how is my competition in the land?" it seemed to radiate a green energy as smoke appeared and within it. An image showed the princess known as Cafe. Her pink dress shimmering. Her hair in a blonde bonnete. Chamera scoffed. She pushed it down. It now showed her own reflection.
She looked carefully at herself. She noticed every flaw, every imperfection as well as every insecurity and difference. Her lashes were not as long as the princesses. Her face had a few more blemishes. She had a birthmark on her upper lip. She looked at her worked dark hands comparing them to princess Cafe's gloved ones. She sighed looking down patting her dress. "just because this is what you deam me doesn't make it what I am " the words spit like fire from her mouth. She sighed and put the mirror back on the countertop. She picked up her dress and walked towards the door.
She slung her satchel to her shoulder and was off. Her carriage ride was bumpier than normal. Her mind seemed to pace. It suddenly halted with a jolt. She had arrived. Stepping out of the carriage flashing lights began to stun her eyes. The carpet was red. She was well known. Several fairies asked for her comment. She declined with a wave. She kept her head down and walked into the building. Once inside a man in a formal tux greeted her. His hair was a frosty blue and his wings were small and fragile.
"Queen Chamera. Please. Come in. We'll get you in hair and makeup and off you go". She sighed once more. She looked at him with a weary smile. Green magic radiating from her skin. Her dark aura resonating an alienation to the passers by. They were looking at her. Gawking even. The bags under her eyes only seemed to exemplify the tired expression on her face.
She sat down. Several godmothers flew into the room. This was after all one of the most noble professions. Only those of high rank or royal blood were allowed to alter a public figures appearance in this manner. An elderly creature took a paint brush and began altering the galaxy like symmetry that was Chamera's face. "you are a beautiful one". Her voice was youthful. Her wrinkled smile shone and her sunken eyes glistened. "there" Chamera refused to look in a mirror. She knew the power of reflections all to well. She knew what she looked like but she wouldn't validate it "one last touch" the old creature said. As she pulled out a pair of contacts. "this will help hide that star in your eye." excited she forced the contacts into Chamera's eyes. Turning her blue and silver eyes a pure blooded pink. Her eyes watered. Puffy and red. She looked down as despair filled her mind.
"I appreciate it" she was careful not to say "thank you" for that would admit a debt owed. Oweing a fae was the last thing her anxiety pulsed mind needed as of the moment. She took her hands and received a glove from one of the staff. Her hands now had the illusion of being more fragile and gentle. Just like Cafe's she smiled. They took an iron and crimped her hair. With that she was off.
The castle she entered was huge. She never knew of the kingdom they were staying in but perhaps that was the point. She looked around at the other contestants her eyes darting to the floor whenever someone noticed her. All of them were awaiting their interviews. Several were gawking at her. Some scoffing. The chamber for the chosen princess of the hour had a limited audience and several cameras.
A girl took a seat next to her. "you must be the queen." "yes," " My name is Princess Air, It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance". "I'm Chamera," the girl laughed a quite giggle. "yes I know who you are, everybody here does." Chamera looked around. Her position became clear to her. "So what of it?" her tone was solid and far from fanciful. "Well, Its unique, I like unique, It's virtuous," she smirked. "really?" the girl smiled. "well I mean yeah, they've never hosted a fairytale villain before"
Chamera nearly spit at the accusation. Her words were slow and announciated. "I am not a villain" Almost sinister was the power brewing within them. A realization dawned upon Air. "Oh I didn't mean any harm, I just meant-" Chameras words carried an acute pronunciation. "I know" she paused getting up. "what you meant" their slowness carried a sour tone. She walked away. She stood at the doorway. Her arms became crossed and her stance much more firm. She became lost in thought. Battling her mind in a sense. Fighting her own internal monologue. She decided to walk across the hallway and peek at her competition
She saw freckled ginger girl on stage. She was seated with her legs crossed in front of heavy lights. Her interviewer was an elven man. He didn't look the part. "So tell me. Princess Monical, why do you deserve your happy ending?" the reporter carried an almost plastered grin. The lights made his teeth appear an unruly shade of white. The girl coughed and responded. "Because this is my dream" the audience clapped. "Good, good" the reporter moved, leaning in for a closeup. "So tell me what would that look like for you?" Princess Monical smiled. "A nice castle on a beautiful beach, with of course my own prince charming" her voice carried a sort of carmel tone. The audience clapped again.
Chamera looked onwards bored by the petty and dull conversations of the two. Eventually she got up to leave when she heard yet more clapping and a worried woman gestured for her to go on stage. Frustrated she walked on. She passed Princess Monical on her way into the studio. Monical stared at her through her side of her face. She walked on stage. She looked at the audience in the room. The hot lights beating on her. "Chamera please come in" She took her seat. Her dress ruffling with the sitting. The host smiled wide at her. "So tell me Princess Chamera why do you deserve your happy ending?" Chamera's heart fell. Thoughts began to pace her brain as she searched for a snappy reply. "Well because" she choked on the words. "No one like me ever gets to be happy" The audience was blank.
The elven man looked with sweat among the crowd.. "What do you mean no one like you ever gets to be happy?" his vocals wavered. He was clearly trying with this conversation. Chamera moved her eyes down as her forced smile faded, she fiddled with her gloved hands. "I mean" she looked at the bright lights shining. "How many fairy tale people of my stature do you know with a happy ending?" her words weren't irritated or quick witted but rather carried a simple air of fact about them.
The Elven man looked towards the audience with a sad smile. "Right, right" He adjusted himself in his seat. "Well, why should you be the one to change that?" his voice was jittery. "Because…." Chamera felt her heart race. The lights grew in intensity. The audience held judgement. She heard whispers. Mockery from the crowd. "I have to be" The audience's uncomfortable silence soon turned to pity. "I mean, I don't want to be seen as a villain for eternity, doing this might just save what I have left of my reputation" The audience to her surprise clapped.
The claps started off slow, and awkwardly paced. But eventually it turned into a proper applaud. Chamera breathed in relief. "So you want to be the hero of your story? A princess of hope?" The interviewer's smile grew true and he became eager with his question. "Not a princess, I'm not falling into the trap of changing who I am, I just don't want to be seen as something I'm not any longer" Question after question flew into the interview. Discussion after discussion rang. Eventually with a bow she left the stage with an ego driven smile. She walked past the others. One stuck her tongue out at her. A secretary came towards her and gestured for her to leave. She was ushered into a large carriage with about 5 other contestants. They were shoulder to shoulder and all had looked how they felt. An odor filled the cabin. The rug was worn and stained. Not so dissimilar to her usual attire within her quarters. Chamera kept quite. She looked towards the window for the duration of the ride.
Soon the carriage stopped with a clunk. A small cottage plagued by film equipment and giant studio lights greeted them. Chamera got out with a hop. The rest of the princesses all seemed to dog out of the carriage witnessing this Chamera felt relief. The paparazzi seemed to bark at them as Chamera walked into the cottage. It was a quaint little thing. A fur rug and 6 bedrooms. The living room was attached to a small kitchen by them. Distilled walls, and gaudy artwork hanging on them peeked her vision. Chamera looked up at the cameras that knotted each corner of any given space. She walked into the room. There several princesses were seated.
Chamera sat down with a plop. Princess Air noticed her and gestured for Chamera to sit with her. Chamera ignored her acquaintances bubbly exterior. A man was there pointing and extensive camera in their faces. They were told before hand to act as if it was unnoticed. It was on a moving device. He gestured for the girls to stay quite. The lights were soon dimmed and a man in a sparkling blue tux entered the scene. One drum roll later the lights returned to normal.
"Welcome to New Beginnings! I'm your host Audentes. Earlier this evening you were introduced to each one of our contestants." The camera seemed to focus on Chamera for an unpleasent amount of time before moving to each of the princesses in the room. "And now they will spend three weeks competing for their very own happy ending" his voice carried an air of pride. It was smooth and he was far from unattractive. Though the size of her foot he seemed to be the noble type. Chamera felt a ting of disgust.
"They will spend three weeks in this cottage with no means of escape. You at home will get to decide who stays and who leaves. Well girls I'll leave you to it. Enjoy your stay at Wisdom Cottage and have fun competing for your very own fairytale life!" He fiddled with his bowtie and with another drum roll and sweeping zoom in a puff of smoke the impish man disappeared. Chamera felt uncomfortable. She couldn't help but feel completely obliterated by the giant lights in the room. Or the cameras surrounding her. She walked outside to the porch. A camera man followed. It was a barred thing but it gave her an ounce more of privacy which she desired though small it was as she could obtain.
She held on to the railings. Her breath faltered. She looked up at the sky counting the moons with a chill when Air came out to greet her. "Hi" "hey" "So, little overwhelming?" "You could say that" Princess Air adjusted her auburn braid. She played with it as she talked. Fidgeting with it in a way. "I know you must not like me. What with calling you a villain and all...but uh I hope we can be friends? Or something..maybe..Um-" She put her hands to her side. "I really like you okay can we please just get along" The words were abrupt. Her innocent high pitched tone seemed to melt the anger Chamera was feeling previously. She looked at her feet. They were shoved in to glass that clearly made her bruise and bleed. "Sure" Chamera spit with a wave. She met Air's eyes somewhat bitter. "We can be friends"
"Um anyways. We should probs go back inside. They can't get much footage of us out here" Chamera looked towards the camera man. "Don't mind me" Chamera looked up at Air outreaching her hand. "Sure" Chamera didn't take it. Inside the gossiping seemed to halt upon their entry. Stern looks from the princesses surrounded them.
Air simply smiled and sat down. The on lookers made Chamera uncomfortable. Air pretended not to notice. "So I wonder what our first challenge will be" Air continued "No clue" Chamera mumbled.
Soon the lights flickered and glitter began to fall from the ceiling. It began to be pulled towards the middle swirling until a fairy godmother manifested center. "Princesses each one of you will be sent to bed now" she flew to each contestant. Her small person body carried by her wings. She dropped a key in each girls hand. She flew over to chamera and was silent for a moment. Silent, hovering with her focus on the contestants. Dropping a key and present wrapped in silver tape on each one's lap. The small women flew around the room doing a double check then disappeared in a whisp.
Air looked towards Chamera's lap. In it was a darkish key about the size of her hand covered in groolish tentacles. It seemed to drip an dark essence and was covered in some sort of sludge. Chamera looked at Air's key. It was gold same size as hers and coated in replica Candy. "I like your key" Air said. Chamera was silent. A giant flood of music played as the doors across the cottage manifested. Chamera looked for hers. It was not a challenge. It was a dark purple with a red lining. She heard whispers as she went towards it. She placed her hand and closed her eyes. Each of the doors seemed to match the personality of it's contestant. "Looks like that's our que" Air smiled snapping Chamera's attention away. "I'm sure it is" Chamera commented each Princess walked to her door. "Look Chamera! Were neighbors!" "Wonderful" Chamera's aggressive tone went unnoticed by the candy coated girl. Chamera was relieved as she approached it.
Air's door was a pastel pink with a light yellow star in the middle. The frame was a mint green with white stripes. It looked fairly appalling to Chamera. It carried memories of Cafe. The doors seemed to contrast. Neither matched the wall and both looked like they were plucked from different obscure universes. Air took her key and unlocked it. With the sound of the lock clicking Air smiled a faint thing. "Well see you tomorrow" Chamera looked at her. She looked back at her door. Looked at Air again. She took her key and began undoing the absurd lock. Her's was much more elaborate."So tomorrow?" Air asked. Chamera eyed the door and then the short girl Air. Not even half her size. A small person in posture and in height. She stared. "Yes" and with that entered her room.
Whispers greeted her. The muck that covered her key graced the floor. A bed aligned in wine held her attention. It was in the middle of the room. The walls were dark lined each held gold plated portraits of famous fairy tale villains. No first names but rather titles on plaques underneath it showcasing ranks such as "Evil Step Mother" "Wiked Witch of the West" or "Red Queen" Chamera held disgust. She got within bed. There was a t.v by her nightstand. With a click of the remote the television was on. "Princess Cafe won't be visiting her evil step sisters this friday. She says quote "I've been through enough" next on Fairyland news. The kingdom of Lycia is still in its depression following the departure -" zap! Chamera turned off the television. She looked at her hands shaking with anger. She moved towards the bathroom.
She started to draw the bathtub. It was marble plated. Something caught her eye. It was the mirror. She looked at her reflection for the first time since her arrival. Galaxies in her reflection. Stress painted on her face. "I went out looking like this..." She paused trying to compose her self. She got out of the tub. She looked in the drawer for something to cleanse her face. She scrubbed the stars away. She then forced the contacts away from her eyes. Swollen once again and corrupted with tears.
Chamera's eyes resumed their mismatched demeanor. They now looked uneven to a degree as well. She examined her body. She held her hips and then her chest. She moved her hands to her stomach. She traced the lines on her skin. She left her hand on it for a moment. Her hands were unstable. She looked again towards the bathtub and sat down within it to soak. She pushed her head back. Her curly hair resuming it's natural form.
She was still angry. But self care was important to her. Tommrow their would be much to do. Beyond simply meeting the other royals which as this point she had failed too. She was a dealt a cruel and it was time to way it against those more fortunate. Chamera put on a nightie and went to sleep in her bed. She saw many things in her dream that night. A world where she really was the princess and from a kingdom less extreme. A world where she had a better life. She woke up to the clock ringing. She hit it. She finally had a good dream. She wasn't pleased to be awake.