once upon a time, there lived a seashell princess. she lived with many fishy underlings on the cold, cold seashore-- and though they spoke no words, they loved her very dearly. one day, a seagull came and snapped up all the fish, feasting on their innards and staining the seafoam red with gore. "why have you done this to my people?" she cried.
and then she, too, was torn to bits and devoured as an afterdinner snack.
From dormatory 101, where the prince and the princess made their home, there was a rabbit hole in the ceiling-- a loosely fastened airvent that could be reached with the precarious piling of boxes upon the corner of the princess' bed.
If one was brave enough to face the balancing act, they could reach that rabbit hole and find, with appropriate travel, The Royal Court of the Papercraft Conservatory.
The attic of the Heartford House for Abandoned Girls suffered from decades of disuse-- all sorts of forgotten treasures left to rot under an inch thick layer of dusty grime. The first time the Princess of the Blood Rose had ventured into the depths, she'd recieved her first spider bite and considered it the blessing of the invisible queen-- the one that watched over the court and presided all its tidings.
Now the attic had recieved a cleaning-- since the Royal Court had made the room its home, things had to be proper. A pile of boxes topped with a white linen was the throne and the stage, littered with wilted rose petals from their meetings gone past.
Mercy herself thought it was beautiful.
A tall, dirty window let in the decaying blue light of the overcast day, spotty as it was with panes painted white for their illegitimate purpose. It made the room clandestine, with its cracked hardwood floors and its dustmite air, floating like snow in a broken hourglass.
The princess had gone flower picking, today, and dressed her court with her findings-- scattering rosepetals with her delicate, bleeding fingers.
"And you," she said to her fragrant white orchid. "You're my special gift for today."
Crimson skirt swirled against the white of the linen as the girl ran down the makeshift persian walkway-- a red carpet strung together from old pieces of refurbished rug that'd been left behind for another century-- to retrieve her tin cup full of water from where she'd place it in the gift box built into the attic door.
"You'll still be alive for the meeting, won't you?"
A smile graced those lips even as the dusk rose higher.
Madeline had a jawbone in the box that she kept under Mercy's bed-- the jawbone of a kitten retrieved from a spot deemed holy by the word of the Royal Court. The princess herself, being fair and wise, had preferred to leave the sacred place well enough alone, even when the prince went out to view the body daily. One day, when the prince's excursions had ceased for a week on end, the princess had taken it upon herself to visit the sacred place-- ready for whatever she would find.
Wildflowers had grown from the kitten's skull-- beautiful and white and innocent.
When night fell, the orchid was left on its own in the sallow shade of the moonlight, for as Mercy knew, the things that grew from the dead would always keep the shadows at bay.