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The Red Beauty
Growing up being the prince of the kingdom, I had benefits many other people were not able to have. In spite of this, I felt like an outcast among my elite peers and isolated myself from their company. I felt like no one understood me and when it came time for me to find a wife, I was instructed to hold a ball to seek my companion. I figured this task would be impossible due to my distraught, distressed disposition.
The evening arrived for me to discover my match at my masquerade ball. Before I was formally revealed to the guests, I had to catch a glimpse of the people. I snuck in through a side door and peered around a corner, watching the visitors enter. Mostly everyone was wearing a black mask with elaborate gowns and suits. Then suddenly, a bright ray of red light came pouring into the room, giving the entire ballroom a red tint. I gazed mesmerized towards the radiant glow. Concealed in the luminescence was a beautiful woman wearing a breathtaking red dress. In addition to her attire, she was wearing an elegant red mask with a jewel imbedded on the top.
I felt like Prince Charming watching his Cinderella enter the ball and knowing that she was the one. Abruptly, I heard my name being called and I was snapped out of my trance and speedily made my way up to the top of the staircase for my formal introduction. The instruments boomed and I stepped out from the shadows to be revealed.
After greeting many of my guests, I began to approach the red beauty. I couldn’t help being enticed by her because of her beauty, because of her presence, because of her power. “What is your name?” I gazed into her bright green eyes, that sparkled like emeralds complementing the ruby in her mask.
“Wenzori,” she said simply.
That one word changed my whole life. Her hair was as black as night, and every time I will look at the night sky it will remind me of Wenzori. Her radiant glow was so strong, every time I step out into the sun I will think of Wenzori. Whenever I hear someone speak I will forever think of the musical tone in the way she says her name, Wenzori.
“You look stunning tonight, Wenzori.” She studied me carefully as I said these words. As her eyes met mine, the whole world seemed to fall into place and my guests watched me intently and time seemed to stop and she began to turn away. “Wait,” I grabbed her arm as she pivoted in the opposite direction. “I noticed your jewel,” I told her kindly.
Wenzori suddenly seemed interested and took a step closer to me. I eased into the conversation, “I feel I’ve seen that ruby before, I noticed it as soon as you walked into the room.”
“I’m looking at it right now,” she said blatantly.
“Well how is that possible, you can’t see your own face?” I asked curiously.
She took another step closer and traced the largest jewel in the center of my crown, “It’s right here.” She nearly whispered.
“How could we have the same jewel? I was always told that it was one of a kind.” I explained to Wenzori.
“My family is involved in the trade of that gem, it represents the power of taking what you deserve,” she informed me nonchalantly. This was news to me. It sent shivers down my spine. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Her mysterious aura engrossed me.
A sea of black was surrounding me and I started to feel like I was suffocating. Sensing my discomfort, she put her hand on my arm and gently led me out of the room. We walked through the palace corridors and I began to tell her all about myself and my odd demeanor, but she never said a word. She only listened to what I spoke about, adding a head nod or some other subtle movement here and there. Away from the crowd dressed in black, I expressed my lack of communication with my family and our poor relationship.
For the first time she spoke, “So you don’t have a good relationship with the king and queen?” She asked intently.
“No, unfortunately not,” I looked down at my feet solemnly. “Do you have a good relationship with your family?”
“I lost my family a year ago and now I am queen of my kingdom.” She spoke of this without any emotion.
“You are probably so lonely ruling your kingdom all by yourself, would you want to be my wife and rule my kingdom with me?” I blurted out.
“I would love to rule your kingdom,” she responded quickly without any regard to my proposal.
Her words didn’t phase me much at first but as the night continued, I recalled this moment as I was sharing all of my secrets and she didn’t say any of hers. At a point in the night, I had lost her and I searched the castle for a sign of her. When I reached the ballroom, I was disturbed to find the bodies of all of my guests lying lifeless on the ground. The sea of black was now the dead sea and I heard a pitter patter of rain on the window pane.
Out of my fright, I continued searching for my red bride-to-be. I eventually found her standing outside on our main balcony. “What are you doing out here in the rain Wenzori?” I asked nervously and noticed that her bright red dress was now blood red.
“I’m just admiring the kingdom that will soon be mine,” she muttered ominously. I began to back away slowly, uncertain of her next move. I had almost reached the door when it had mysteriously shut itself as if a gust of wind had slammed it closed. I reached for the knob and shook it vigorously, realizing it was locked and I was stuck out on the balcony with Wenzori.
“Darling what’s going on?” I asked her nervously. She slowly turned to me and a smile appeared on her face. “Why don’t you take off your mask and talk to me dear?” I hesitantly took a step closer to her, daring to be brave.
Wenzori slowly removed the red mask from her face and gripped it tightly in her hands. She remained to be the most beautiful creature I had ever laid my eyes on, but in that moment with the way the moon shone on her face, I grew uneasy with her hungry stare. Her dark hair was a wet mop on her head and with a crash of thunder, she approached me seductively and placed her hand on my cheek.
I asked her quietly, “Did you see what happened to all of my guests? They are all dead downstairs in the ballroom.”
The smile on her face reappeared, “Why yes, I poisoned them all,” she chuckled to herself.
“Why would you do something like that?” I felt my hands tremble so I placed them on her waist to pretend like there was nothing to fear. I was beginning to realize that I had to be sly in order to keep her calm and protect myself and my people. I was willing to do whatever it would take to try and save my kingdom.
“They are all dead because of our trades.” She stared daggers into my eyes and I went cold.
“What do you mean Wenzori?”
“Your family gained that red ruby on your crown from my family trade, but they betrayed us by selling all of the gems we had given them for a higher price, and did not give us anything in return. The only jewel they kept was the one right there on your crown.” She stared entranced at the ruby for a long moment. “I want all of that power back, all of the power that was taken from me and my family.”
“How do you plan on getting that power back darling?” I wondered aloud.
“Oh my dear, I already have. I have killed every person in the royal bloodline in kingdoms surrounding this one, most were killed tonight at your ball. I took great pride in taking the life of your parents, all that is left now is you. You have more power than anyone and I am going to make sure that is no longer true.”
I gulped at her words, “But you and I together could rule happily,” I bravely tried to explain. “One of the most attractive things about you is how powerful you are, and together we could be extraordinary.”
She laughed viciously at me, “No, you see there can only be one person that holds all of the authority. That person is me, and without you I can exercise my god given right to be queen.
“What will you do with me then? I thought we were going to be married, you are the only person that understands me. Additionally, I have never even heard of a trade between my family and others, why should I take the fault of a family I never spoke to?” I was trying to reason with her like any good prince would do, but I could tell that she was not willing to listen.
“Prince Ashton,” it was the first time all night she had addressed me formally. “Even though you may have not been directly involved in something doesn’t mean you are not involved simply by affiliation. The end you will meet will turn your family legacy to rubble, and your past will go down in flames. I am going to rule your kingdom,” she seemed so pleased with herself and I began to panic even more.
Wenzori rested her hand on my chest and kissed me slowly. The last thing I saw was her red dress blazing like a fire trailing behind her. I felt my eyes begin to close and body become dead weight. She laid me down softly on the balcony floor and delicately took the crown from my head. In the pouring rain, she stood over me looking out at the kingdom, and placed the crown with the ruby on top of her head.