Destruction So Divine
By Julianna Teoh (PrincessAutumnArcher)
Twisted from Maleficent
There was once a kingdom bordered by mist and mountains, lush with forests and crystalline rivers that twined over the land like trails of tears dripping down porcelain cheeks. This kingdom was ruled by a gracious king and queen, but when malicious forces too powerful for mortal rulers to counter threatened the realm, the true guardians of the kingdom came forth.
Sister fairies, each with her own unique powers and sacred connection to the soul of the universe itself, protected the kingdom. Their presence could be felt throughout the realm; it was evident in the vibrancy of the flowers and the sweet iciness of the water that flowed as lifeblood through the earth. The people adored the seven fairies who walked among them, each exuding a tangible aura of power that lifted their mortal hearts and sang to their souls. These seven sisters were each linked to the natural world, comprising together the purest form of harmony between magic and mortal life: the rainbow.
The youngest of these seven harnessed the violet plane of power; within her veins ran virtue and a burning energy that could cleanse sins from the things they corroded. The next fairy dominated the indigo plane of power with her compulsion; her very voice had caused wars to begin and end, and a simple blink could seduce the stars into raining diamonds. The blue fairy and her azure blood held the control to emotion in her fingertips; she often worked alongside her indigo sister, lulling a monster to sweet sleep before the green fairy, perpetually graceful, slayed it in a display of the savage beauty of necessary salvation. The green fairy with her powers of elegance even in bloodshed stood by the yellow fairy, whose limbs thrummed with the heat of the sun, even in the deepest clutches of a frozen winter; her powers on the golden plane allowed her strength and speed beyond measure, much like the light of the sun itself. The orange fairy’s strength resided in a different realm; the plane which her powers were derived from was near invisible, for it was the orange fairy’s wit that set her apart from her sisters. The parts of her mind flitted from one thought to another swifter than her very wings; yet in this jumping speed there was a cold, keen logic that gave rise to the plans the seven sisters used to successfully defeat the foes of the realm. The eldest of the Rainbowguard, as the seven were called, found her powers on the red plane; sanguine were her hair and lips, but no such boundaries limited the illusions she was able to conjure. Visions of paradise and unimaginable beauty flowered from her fingers to amuse the children who flocked around her, as did scenes of horror and fear; the latter she saved for the beasts she and her sisters battled, until her skin was dotted with scarlet liquid to match her striking tresses.
The Rainbowguard were beloved by the people, and for good reason; they had kept the kingdom safe for longer than memory could reach. Yet, the laudation of the people could not counter the single darkest secret their beloved fairies harbored. There lived an eighth fairy, the eldest of them all; where her sisters’ powers stemmed from nature, hers were of something far more ancient and untamable.
Creation and destruction alike lived within the eldest fairy’s veins, dancing with each other in a deadly match, their hollow footsteps enough to raze the universe and make it reborn anew. This eldest fairy was by far more powerful than the seven of the Rainbowguard, but her power came with a high price; for everything she created, something must be destroyed, and for every utter obliteration caused by her powers, a new equivalent was born in the instant of death. Out of creation, destruction; out of destruction, creation; such was the duality of the eldest fairy’s life.
The Rainbowguard kept their sister hidden as best they could from the people they guarded. “The mortals will never understand,” they told her, “and they fear what they do not understand.” Certainly, the poor humans who inhabited the kingdom would fear upon sight the eldest fairy, with her curved, talonlike nails that protruded from emaciated fingers, flesh thin upon bone after millennia of secretly maintaining the balance of the realm, face drawn gaunt and taut over severe cheeks, the sockets of her eyes hollow.
Yet, even if humans could have resisted fear on viewing the fairy, pure terror would strike and sear their souls if they met her gaze, for in those pools of deep and utter darkness lay the raw madness gnawing at her bones, the dual edges of her powers slicing away in a warped harmony. It was this madness that drove her sisters to shy away from her and keep her hidden as they did; although they were no mortals, their sister’s aura and pure power dragged dread down their spines, for they were all too aware of what those powers could wreak if unleashed.
The Rainbowguard called her Maleficent, naming her for the curse they thought she bore; all they saw was the darkness licking at her limbs when she called upon her powers, swallowing her flesh before returning it to the open air. Maleficent’s seven sisters—beautiful, dainty, and bright—only ever saw how each time she caused a vanquished enemy to disappear (and a babe to be born screaming somewhere in the land), the shadows seemed to linger on her lips, dripping down her fingertips. They never bore witness to how her thin hands trembled afterward and she choked on her own breath, fingers clutching empty air as she fought to contain the chaos within her; the Rainbowguard assumed that she was like them, bound to the natural planes of the universe. They never knew the truth of her powers; Maleficent, the sister they both hated and loved for the powers they would never know, drew her abilities not from a singular plane of existence, but from a sphere of being that dwarfed the universe itself.
She expended her control over creation in order to restrain the destruction within her; even so, it seeped into her eyes, lips, and hair, dyeing them as if with spilled ink, cloaking her in raiments of sable so dark it seemed one with her shadow. As time stretched on and beasts mortal and fantastic plagued the kingdom, Maleficent grew weak; and so it came to be that she faded from human memory, known only as the whisper of a legend, barely mentioned by her own sisters except when her powers were needed to dispose of a fallen enemy.
While the Rainbowguard mingled with the kingdom’s people, accepting gifts and blessing babies, Maleficent withered atop her mountain home, watching silently as her sisters kissed the children she had given life to as salvation; slowly, bitterness welled up in her tormented soul and the barrier she had kept so firm to separate the opposing fields of her power wavered. With every child who ran up to her sisters with a posie of gratitude before fleeing from her dark, shaky smile, Maleficent’s heart fractured, barely held together by her own will.
Then one day, a mother’s love plunged a dagger into Maleficent’s chest, shattering the fragile organ there in a single blow: “You killed my daughter!”
The woman had screamed the words before dissolving into sobs; Maleficent had frozen, spine unnaturally stiff as she slowly turned to meet the cold, stone-hard eyes of a young man as he held the body of a young infant in his arms, cradling her as if to protect her from what had already taken her life. Silently, Maleficent swept toward the man, regarding the child, lips pressed tightly together. Her fingers, wasted away to skeletal digits, stretched toward the child, gently brushing away hair dampened by a dark liquid Maleficent did not want to identify. There, upon the infant’s soft, sweet throat, was a deep slash still weeping crimson tears; Maleficent gasped, eyes widening as she beheld the sight. She had not touched this child since causing her birth a winter ago—this death had not been wrought by her hands. The slit on the baby girl’s throat had come from another weapon, one wielded by a sister too sweet to have done such a thing.
Slowly, Maleficent raised her eyes to meet the wide, frightened gaze of Verina, her violet sister, whose fingers still crackled with the remnants of her burning energy, enough to sear away sin from mortal souls. But when those fingers came down upon an innocent whose soul bore no sin … Maleficent looked down again at the infant, who could have been sleeping but for the crimson gash running along her neck.
Maleficent withdrew her hand from the child and said softly, her voice roughened both by lifetimes of silence and tears like tar in her throat, “I … am sorry.”
She heard Verina sigh quietly in relief from where she stood, but the next few seconds seemed to pass as if Maleficent’s consciousness had diverged from her body; the mother of the slain child whirled up in a rage she had all the right to feel, and Maleficent lost herself to the darkness howling maliciously inside her.
Screams echoed through the village as the woman’s head rolled to the ground, still spurting blood; before the sun had set, crimson stained the dusty earth and word spread through the kingdom of Maleficent, the vengeful fairy now sweeping the kingdom with a tempest of death.
The Rainbowguard were powerless against their elder sister; she possessed formidable strength, far more than they had ever imagined now that she could no longer bind her power to her will alone. The following century became a dark age as Maleficent’s curse reigned over the land, rendering it a place of nightmares. During this age of blood, Verina’s guilt gnawed at her soul just as Maleficent’s had at her own; as graves took over what was once fertile land and the people huddled together around what light they could sustain as the shadows themselves cackled and gripped them mercilessly, the violet fairy pleaded with her sisters to save the eldest.
At last, the nightmare was ended when what was sown with the blood of the infant was reaped with virtue; the Rainbowguard made a final stand against their dark sister. Verina, skin smeared with gore and grime, slashed her own palm and pressed it to Maleficent’s, violet blood trickling down skin stained with darkness, and all became still.
Maleficent’s eyes widened, her jaw hanging loose as she stared into the sky. The only sound: the ragged breathing of the eight fairies. A second later, a soul-wrenching scream tore itself from her throat and Maleficent threw her arms up, black blood dripping down them as she called back the forces of evil she had released.
A blast of white light blinded the Rainbowguard as Maleficent’s scream reached the apex of its crescendo; when it faded, they saw their sister, kneeling at Verina’s feet, smoke curling from her body as she sobbed into the blood-soaked earth.
“Tell them that Maleficent, mistress of evil, is dead,” the dark fairy said at last. “This land needs a guardian, and I can only destroy.” Her sisters watched in shocked silence as Maleficent spread her arms and vanished, leaving behind only a wisp of black smoke.
Only Verina noticed the sudden budding of an oak tree nearby.
And so the news of Maleficent’s death spread through the land as if spurred on by hellhounds; the people celebrated, joyous that the reign of terror and blood had ended. The Rainbowguard swore among themselves never to mention their eldest sister again, and so the Black Fairy faded into the mist of legend once again.
All was well for centuries … the kingdom enjoyed peace and prosperity; the people were happy and hunger never touched a stomach in the realm. However, the king and queen grew worried, for they were growing old and had no heir to secure the kingdom after their passing; they consulted the Rainbowguard in desperation, pleading for aid.
The orange fairy exchanged a glance with the red fairy and a moment later, brilliant smiles spread over their lips; a year later, castle bells tolled to celebrate the birth of Princess Aurora Rose and the king, hair streaked with grey under his crown, announced a feast for the princess’s christening and her betrothal to the prince of a neighboring kingdom.
The feast was an ecstatic occasion; the people laughed, danced, and drank themselves merry. The Rainbowguard arrived to grant the princess seven gifts of beauty, wit, grace, and the like, much to the delight of her parents, who gleefully shared the news with the prince their daughter was to marry. Far in the outer reaches of the kingdom, a lone figure sat hunched in a cave, watching the feast in a pool of still water. As the prince nodded and smiled politely, a frown creased the figure’s face and she leaned in closer to hear as the foreign king whispered to his son:
“Fear not, we’ll have flown our flag from their tower long before you ever have
to kiss the filthy girl. Sixteen years is a long while to take such a puny kingdom.”
Dark eyes widened beneath the cowl of a sable cloak and a legend rose from death; shadows swirled over the stones of the grand feast hall and the people quieted as ebony flame burst from the ground. Maleficent unfurled her cloak, shoving her hood back, eyes flaring as she strode forward.
As she parted her lips to speak, she noticed her sisters standing tense, eyes sharp; the hall was hushed, the air tight, and Maleficent realized that her word would mean nothing. So, she swallowed the curses she had readied for the foreign scheme and announced instead, “I have come bearing a gift for the princess!”
The king swallowed nervously and nodded. “It is an honor,” he stammered as the queen scooped up her daughter from her bassinet, reluctantly presenting her to Maleficent with trembling arms as the fairy stood imperiously over her.
Maleficent stared at the foreign king for a long moment before uttering in a sonorous voice, “The princess shall indeed be gifted as my sisters have said, but as she lives for her people, so too she shall die for them.” Gasps rippled through the hall and the queen swallowed a cry as the Rainbowguard readied themselves for another battle, but Maleficent continued, “All shall be well, but on the eve of her 16th birthday, the princess will prick her finger on a spindle—”
Here Maleficent paused, feeling the stares of her sisters upon her; she looked at the princess and in an instant, Maleficent gazed not upon Princess Aurora, but upon a tiny girl whose blood adorned her throat like a sparkling necklace, dead before her time. The fairy’s hand wavered and she continued in a single breath, “—and fall asleep, to be awakened only by a kiss of true love.”
And with that, Maleficent vanished from sight. Immediately, the king ordered all spindles burnt and Maleficent’s head; however, even as smoke rose from the burnings, Maleficent remained a mystery. Over the years, the princess did indeed grow up with all the gifts the Rainbowguard had given. The foreign prince and his family returned quietly to their homeland, still brewing their plot to invade the kingdom after the marriage. The Rainbowguard kept Maleficent a secret from Princess Aurora, hoping that she would be safer that way.
And on the eve of her 16th birthday, the seven fairies bade their princess good night and waited until she was asleep to lock her bedroom door, sighing in relief and congratulating each other on 16 safe years.
However, it would take more than a wooden door to stop Maleficent’s gift; sometime after the fairies had left, the princess awoke to the sound of gentle singing and another, unfamiliar sound. She sat up and tilted her head curiously at the sight that met her; a woman, dressed all in the black of mourning, sang softly as she worked a strange wooden contraption the likes of which Princess Aurora had never seen before.
“Why do you grieve?” the princess asked softly, not sure if she was dreaming or not. The woman paused and looked up with a sad smile.
“I made a mistake, long ago,” she answered in a lilting voice, “and I cannot fix it.”
“Oh,” said the princess, unsure of how to respond. This was all so strange, yet she felt as if everything was now falling into place … “May I see what you are doing?”
The woman nodded and beckoned the girl over. “Come, and spin for a while.”
The princess walked over and sat by the woman, who arranged her hands over the wooden wheel and wound the thread round her fingers. “Now, just move your hands like this …”
The princess complied, weaving the thread over the wheel smoothly as the woman showed her, but suddenly, the woman’s hand knocked into hers, sending it against the tip of the needle; a sudden sharp prick of pain pinched the princess’s finger and she stopped, suddenly feeling rather dizzy.
She parted her lips to tell the woman, but her eyelids felt so heavy … a second later, the princess fell sideways, into the waiting arms of Maleficent, who carried the princess back to her bed.
“Forgive me,” she whispered tenderly to the girl she had watched grow up, “but I must right this.”
And so Maleficent allowed herself to breathe in relief, thinking that she had foiled the prince’s plan of invasion—but as she peered out the window and over the forest of thorns she had created, in exchange for the destruction of her own home in the mountains, she glimpsed the prince, wielding a sword forged by her sisters. Seven darting points of light surrounded him as he cut his way through to the castle, confirming Maleficent’s suspicions.
“Fools!” Maleficent threw a glance back at the sleeping princess before setting her jaw and flexing her fingers. An image of the infant girl so long ago flashed before her eyes and Maleficent blinked, grim determination settling over her face. “Equivalent exchange: The wrong must be righted.”
When the prince crashed into the room alarmingly quickly, he was met by Maleficent and a crackling aura of her energy; however, as he faltered and the fairy hesitated, seeing the glassy fear in his eyes, his mouth twisted into a smirk and he struck in her moment of weakness. Maleficent’s eyes widened and she slumped to the floor, agony flooding her body as she slowly brought her hand to the hilt of the sword spearing her chest, feeling the slick of black blood against her fingertips.
She fell backward, choking as dark liquid streamed from her chest, the flow quickening as the prince seized the hilt and yanked the sword out, leaving a gaping wound in Maleficent’s chest. As her blood poured out, the darkness that had stained her for so long did as well; the color fled from her features, revealing pure white eyes behind flickering lids, lips so pale they seemed nearly invisible, and ghostly hair, splayed over the stones slick with blood. As her vision dimmed, Maleficent flailed blindly upward for her princess’s hand, grasping it for the first time; blood dribbled down her chin as she coughed, lips forming words that Aurora would never hear.
“I … I’m sorry.”
As the last of her life force drained from her, Maleficent jerked Aurora’s hand to her lips, pressing them there desperately. It was the last thing she ever did; Maleficent’s thin, bloodless fingers dropped from Aurora’s flushed hand a moment later, skull cracking sickeningly against the stone.
The princess’s eyes opened slowly, seeing first the prince, who had taken her other hand in his, and then the dead fairy by her bed. She screamed, uncomprehending, and the prince was there to shush her and take her into his arms, shielding her from the sight that brought stinging tears to her eyes for reasons she didn’t quite understand.
Maleficent was buried quickly, and without ceremony, as the king wanted to wipe his hands of the unfortunate mark she had left upon the kingdom in trying to remedy it. Verina visited the grave only once, to plant a single acorn over the freshly turned earth.
“An equivalent exchange,” the violet fairy whispered to herself, and for a moment, she imagined that Maleficent whispered the words back, voice carrying on the wind.