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Long ago and far away there was a Princess, sweet and sad and beautiful. She was daughter to Abyss, who was master of the cosmos, with Entropy and Vacuum numbered in his court. Though she was surrounded by courtiers and lords, her world was cold and barren and she felt alone. As is the nature of princesses, she wanted more than anything to feel warm and safe and loved, as she never could on her own world with her ever watchful father. And even though her father wanted her to be happy he knew that it was naught but in his nature to devour her in darkness and frozen fuligin, as he devours all things. It was all he could do to offer her a choice, such as was his to give. He determined to make a pronouncement throughout his kingdom, the vastness and fullness of space and time.

“All know my daughter and her beauty,” spoke Abyss, his voice the sound of a star as it burns its last. Entropy and Vacuum listened intently. “It is her desire to find love, so that she might fill the void within her heart that was my gift to her at birth.” At this his voice took on the timbre of light when it first betrayed the darkness. “Whosoever can remove this void will be my heir, to rule at the end of time and the rebirth of existence.” Entropy and Vacuum both knew their own hearts, which were as cold and empty as their lord and master's, and they determined that they would work together so that one of them would gain the throne.

The court became filled with such passion and interest as hadn't been known in an epoch, but before any could begin to woo, the Princess stood from her father's side to declare her intention to leave. “This world is bereft of love,” she spoke, her voice tremulous as a cracked mirror. “My father has given me freedom to choose any from amongst his subjects, who number all the cosmos. I will have a better chance finding the lord of my heart between the stars than here.” At this insult the court rose in a tumult, but the Princess had already left, her voice having gathered strength so that its weak echo seemed a simulacrum.

Many of the court sought to pursue her, some for love and some for power. Entropy met their desire with his own might, and most found some other, lesser pursuit. A few lords managed to struggle past his net and continue their wooing. In the darkness between stars though, also following the Princess's flight, they met Vacuum who blocked their path with infinite nothingness. Pulling them back to the Abyssal court the few who escaped Entropy the first time were not so lucky the second, and so only the two mightiest, craftiest lords remained to pursue the Princess and the void in her heart.

By this time though, the Princess had found a small star in a distant region of her father’s kingdom. It was not so large or so hot as other stars, but it had a quiet pride, and its heat had a kind warmth that she felt comforting. As she approached this star she observed a young man, handsome and gallant. He was small, like his father the Sun, but he had a power to lead others around him to greatness, and to give them strength to endure beyond all they thought possible. The Princess felt that power touch her and she felt a chance that she could be happy here with that young man. His strength became her strength, and she loved him instantly.

She approached Sun to tell him of her love, so that the lord might call his son to their court. The young man, prince to Sun's small principality, arrived at his father's bequest and saw the Princess. As he watched her view him up close for the first time he saw her sadness turn to greatness, and her beauty magnify in his father's warm rays, and he loved her instantly.

But by this time Entropy and Vacuum had found the Princess and observed her love for the young prince. They could feel the void in her heart shrink, could feel their throne crushed and fallen through their fingertips. In rage they arrived at the Sun's court, their regalia and might far beyond what the simple assemblage was accustomed to. The Princess was horrified to see them, and her fear made them bold. “For your inconstancy and betrayal,” spoke Entropy, with pauses between words stretching across eternities, “we judge you guilty.”

“For your temerity and ill-considered passions,” spoke Vacuum, his voice the silence of a thousand screaming gusts, “we judge you guilty.”

“For this,” they spoke in unison, voices penetrating into her open mouth and eyes, diving into the waxing void of her heart. “For this, you will find what you seek only at the moment the heir will inherit, at the end of time and the rebirth of the universe.” They spoke, and their voices pressed against the love swelling in her heart, pushing it back and leaving only emptiness. And as they left, they cursed the young prince with the full might of Entropy and Vacuum, that he would forever be entombed in ice that neither wind nor warmth could melt. Before the stunned court the ice instantly spread over the prince, and princess's heart shattered fully, as empty as her father's.

The Sun tried and tried to free his child, straining so that his people cried in pain and suffering. They offered sacrifice and prayed, but for naught, perishing beneath their lord's terrible desperate efforts. But Entropy and Vacuum were far greater lords, and the Sun but a simple vassal, and the prince stayed entombed. When the Sun had given up, his heat no longer nearly so warm or comforting, the Princess remained. And she wept, for now she knew she had no home to return to. She wept, for she knew that she would never know love till the death of the universe. She knew the shape and form of what she had almost had, for she had felt its imprint in her heart a moment before losing it, and she wept for that loss and that never-known. Her tears were icy, chilled by the vast forlorn emptiness in her heart. They did not heat themselves at her eyes, or her cheek, or her chin. They did not find heat in the air, or from the Sun as they fell onto the icy prison. It would not have mattered, for no heat could have melted the curse of Entropy and Vacuum.

For an age the emptiness within her grew. For an age she cried, as the Sun came and went, monotonous in its duty. And as she wept, the ice shrank. She didn't notice, for her hands covered her face as she spent bitter tears on her fingers, spilling onto the tomb, until one day, she felt a presence at her shoulder.

“Why do you cry,” asked a voice from her dreams, a distant echo in her heart, “when there is so much to smile about?” She looked up into the eyes of the prince, bright and unwavering. Instantly the emptiness in her heart shrank, filled nearly to bursting with love.

“How?” she asked, fear shimmering in the last empty regions of her core.

“Though you may have thought me lost,” he answered, full of life, “I have been with you always. By staying near you gave me strength, and by the salt of your tears you have melted my prison.” At this he smiled, a soft secret smile that won him the Abyssal throne, for it finally filled the Princess's heart completely. And as she smiled back, the void in her heart shattered, for there was no room for aught else.

The Sun cried in joy to find his child returned, rays of warmth spilling from his eyes and down his cheeks onto the Earth. The seasons were mild and lovely as he presided over the prince and Princess's wedding. And so it was that Hope and the Princess were married, saying the three words to each other that bind two people together regardless of ritual or station. The universe shared in their pleasure and rejoiced in the news that at the end of time, Hope would rule.

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