Peer Review by Cordelia_Fitzgerald (United States)

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On Pain of Death... Boundless Love

By: AJ - Izzy


Hello fellow writers! I haven't been on WtW in a while now (cuz exams = intense stress) but I just wrote this super sad, super cute short story, so this is for all of ya great supporters! I cannot thank you enough, my time on WtW helped me to grow a lot in my writing and I am so grateful for all the advice, the likes, the follows, you'll be glad to know that it makes this girl grin like the weirdo I am :DD

So thank you, thank you, thank you so much! I hope you enjoy :)
AJ - Izzy


    It was on that day of glorious celebration when her time had come. Just seconds before they proclaimed their love did her spirit drift away and her body fell to the ground, cold and white like the snow scattered on the streets. His majesty fell to the ground beside her, crying in grief as he cradled her head in his hands. The entire kingdom felt his pain, his aching sorrow. The entire kingdom knew that he would never be the same.

    The prince was a persistent young man of musical talents. His family name and blood had ruled over the Kingdom of Iradel since the beginning of time. The people despaired for their future king, begging his trusted advisor, Ochielles, to do something. And so, just a mere 24 hours after the tragedy, Ochielles approached the prince.

    “Cyprian, your majesty, what is it that troubles you?” he asked. Cyprian looked up, face full of tears.
    “I must go to her,'' he whispered, “I must join my beautiful to-be wife in her passing.
    Ochielles widened his eyes in fear. “No, my prince, you mustn’t do this!” he begged, shaking his head vigorously, “there must be another way!” The prince stood up quickly, breathing hard.         

    “Tell me”, he cried. 
    “I can’t.”
    “Tell me!”

    Ochielles hesitated, but he couldn’t disobey his majesty. He told the prince of a land to the south, beyond the horizon and all that lay there. The land of the dead, he called it, where his future wife would surely be. But as the prince exclaimed in joy, his advisor warned him. He talked of a price, which all must pay if they wish to enter. “This land requires a talent, a worthy attribute”, he warned. Cyprian’s expression faltered, for he wasn’t strong, or brave.   
    Nonetheless, he packed his things and left. Oh, how heartbroken the King and Queen were when Ochielles told them of Cyprian’s hopeless quest. If only he knew… 

    Cyprian traveled with a smile on his face and a bounce in his step. He walked and walked and walked with nothing but his thoughts. The journey spread on and on, it seemed to have no end. At last, before his very eyes, it transformed. The landscape softened, the hard-packed dirt turning into sweet grass. Instead of wrangly branches clawing onto dead stubs, there were beautiful trees, covered in sweet-fragrance flowers. A clear path wove through the forest, each turn leading to a brighter and more beautiful place. Cyprian was speechless. In sheer excitement, he began to run. He ran and ran, until finally, he saw a light up ahead. Cyprian poured on speed, his feet pounding the sweet grass. Finally, he turned the last turn and skidded to a halt. 

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,'' he growled. 

    He was back at the wrangly branched and snow-strewn floor. The only difference was a giant rock that stood in his path. It grew at least 30 feet off the ground, stretching endlessly in both directions and it was impossible to scale. Cyprian, panting hard from the running, grunted in frustration. Was he going in circles?? What was this doing here?? 

    He was about to turn when an old man appeared in front of him. He jumped back in surprise. The old man had literally just appeared there. He held out a hand in greeting, “Do not be afraid, Cyprian, for I have been expecting you. My name is Charon.” The prince took a careful step forward and shook his hand, which was as cold as ice. The old man had a beard white like the snow, but his eyes were cold and dark. They twinkled in dark humour, as if death was something worth laughing over. Cyprian might not have been the brightest mind, but even he knew that this man was not to be meddled with. He was death himself, the power of a lit candle of life in his hands alone. Even then, Cyprian found himself being drawn to him, but he held firm.

    “I seek my wife”, he said, hiding the shiver in his voice. Charon nodded, his eyes gleaming with evil light. “My boy”, he cackled, “what talent do you have to offer to me?” Cyprian hung his head, thinking furiously. He had literally nothing to give. No amazing stunts, no knife, horse, or armour talents, he could barely fold clothing right! The only thing he truly loved, which consumed his time hungrily, was… was… 

    “I have a talent for you”, Cyprian said boldly. Charon raised an eyebrow, clearly amused. He waved his hand, gesturing at him to start. Cyprian ran into the woods, searching the grounds. He gathered sticks, vines, and leaves, all strewn on the frosted ground. He ran back to the rock, dumped his supplies on the ground at Charon’s feet, and got to work.
    At last, it was ready. Charon was silent for a moment, then he laughed. “Boy”, he cried, tearing up in laughter, “what will you do with a mere music maker?” Cyprian looked down at his new instrument, and his heart sank. He had managed to gather two sturdy stick and stretched vines out between them. He had one end firm under his armpit, the other in his spare hand. He wrapped leaves around his wrists, then held the end to keep it sturdy. It didn’t look like much, but he was confident. He raised his hand, took a deep breath, then thrust it down.


    It was perfect: sound, mellow, and free. He strum it once more, then began to pluck at the vines. They flowed perfectly, waves of music resonating through the forest. Creatures crept out of the forest to stare in awe at the musician, but Cyprian needed more. After a few more strums, he opened his mouth and sang. Never before had any man, animal, or nature, heard a sound so sweet. The trees bent down towards him, eager for more. He sang a song of gratitude, the song of the rock:

         In my sorrow and in my pain
        Oh how mighty are you 
        My heart only yearns for her
        Oh mighty one, please let me through
        We’ll play your songs, we’ll feed your gown
        Oh mighty one, I beg of you
        Let me through, let me join
        With my one true heart’s desire

    Cyprian plucked out the last note, then released his breath. His spirit watched in horror as his body fell down to the ground, dead at last. Charon winked at his spirit, eyes glinting, then vanished. But, as his spirit began to drift away with the wind, the rock trembled greatly. The great tremble was felt by all. In Iradel, the King and Queen held each other, eyes wide with fear. As quickly as it had started, it stopped. Then, more smooth than the ice coating the ground, it slid to the side, revealing a staircase going down. Before the thought even entered his spirit, he drifted down the entrance.

    It led deeper and deeper underground as the rock slid back into place above him. The stairs were deadly slippery, but he drifted above them. The tunnel was pitch black, the only light was his desire to reach the end. Time was lost and distance was non-important. Once the tunnel leveled, he passed an archway that read:    ​

                Μόνο οι νεκροί μπορούν να δουν τι δεν μπορεί να ζήσει ο ζωντανός

    “Only the dead can see what the living cannot”, thought Cyprian. 
    “You are correct”, a voice rumbled. 
    If Cyprian still had a heart, it would’ve surely stopped in shock. A long dining table sat in the middle of a chamber fit for kings and queens. He should know, he was royalty after all. “Not anymore”, the man sitting at the head of the table laughed. He was a man of even more evil than Charon. His face was pale, dark strips of hair hanging limp down his cheeks. A cloak and hood was wrapped around his shoulders, and in front of him sat a glinting silver dagger. Murky faces and silent screams pleaded from inside it, begging. Cyprian gulped silently. 

    “You search for your wife, do you not?” he questioned. Cyprian tried to speak, but his voice had left him back in the land of the living. The man nodded, then gestured to his right. In the other corner of the chamber stood Helene. She was reduced to rags and clawed servants clothing and her face was not solid, but ghostly. She reached a shaking hand out to him, but seemed unable to move. The man looked slightly amused as Cyprian tried to reach her but failed as well.

    “I am Hades, guardian of the underworld. You need to prove yourself, or join my followers”, he grinned, gesturing to the silver dagger. Cyprian nodded, then opened his mouth to sing of the wonders of Hades. But no sound came out. He tried tapping his foot, or hitting something, but everything passed straight through him. Cyprian started to panic. Without his music, he was… he was…             

    “Nothing”, Hades spat, “you are nothing. Best to join my crew.”

    Helene shook her head gravely, silently screaming. Cyprian was at a loss. He looked up hopefully at the dreaded master. “Yes, your wife will not be harmed”, Hades muttered. Just then, Cyprian’s spirit began to drift forward to Hades. He picked up the silver dagger, turning it in his hands, smiling maliciously. Helene cried in despair, begging silently. He drifted until he was right in front of him. Hades lunged at Cyprian, somehow grabbing him. Cyprian screamed silently in pain, for his ghostly form was evaporating. The dagger began to glow, drawing his form into it. He shook in terror, the pain turning his spirit to ash. It burned, it burned like the eternal flame itself had taken a hold of him. Just as he was about to be fully gone, his future wife still grieving in silence, Hades pulled him close. 

    “Just so you know,'' he cackled, “only the dead see what the living cannot. Your wife’s not going anywhere.” 

    Cyprian cried out silently with his last bit of strength, then dissolved into the fiery pain, becoming nothing more than a sinner, destroyed from grief and anguish, to be tortured for eternity in the flame of the dead.

I'm sorry about that ending... it hurt to write it! Anyway, special thanks to all 109 followers and and thanks to everyone, ya'll are awesome!

Oh yeah, this story has some Greek Mythology in it (Hades, Charon, etc) and the character Cyprian is an interpretation of Orphreus, the great musician in Greek Myths, except with a tragic twist of course. Thanks guys <3

Message to Readers

"That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet."
- Emily Dickinson

Peer Review

The persistance of the prince despite his failure. It was so tragic! Well done.

I would like to know more about the importance of the dead being able to see what the living could not. I want to know exactly how that ties into the story.

Reviewer Comments

I know I said this before, but this story was beautifully tragic! I approve of your sad ending. (Yikes, that sounds bad...) The only thing I would change is getting rid of the spaces between paragaraphs since those aren't usually there in other stories. Other than that, excellent story!