Once upon a time, there lived a little girl who was the daughter of a great king and queen of a prosperous land. They loved their child greatly, and because of that love they kept her isolated so that she would remain innocent to the evils of the world.

A smart child, she learned to outwit her guardians and be able to roam about freely upon the castle grounds. One day, in the course of her walks, she came to a small valley with a tree in the center of it. Underneath the tree, she found a boy her own age sitting. She had never met anyone who was not of the royal family or their servants before, so she was quite surprised to find him, but they talked and became good friends that day.

They grew up together. Every time she got the chance, the princess would go to the valley to meet him. As they grew older, friendship blossomed into love, though they never talked about it. The boy longed for her, and one day he kissed her. As he did, she heard voices, voices that belonged to servants of her house and fearing that the secret she had kept for so long would be discovered, she fled.

Her rejection filled the young man with pain, for he too had grown up in a world of pleasant isolation and had never felt such a thing. Love is easily transformed into hate given a proper catalyst. Seeking a remedy, the young man visited a dark sorceress, telling her, "I want her to feel what I'm feeling now."

The sorceress was all too eager to oblige. "I need a drop of your blood, so that she will feel the pain in you."

The young man held out his arm, and the witch cut it with a blade, capturing a crimson drop in a stone of the same color that was set onto a gold ring. The moment that the blade touched his arm, he had a flash of blue eyes snapping open in pain, and fear for just an instant, but it was too late to go back.

"Get her to wear the ring just once, and the spell will work."

The next time the princess looked for her friend in the valley, he was nowhere to be seen, but underneath their tree was a small package that held the enchanted ring. She waited for him all afternoon, puzzled, for he had never been absent from this place. The sun started to fall, so she slipped the ring on and walked back to the palace.

That night a fever overtook her, and she became delirious. Her madness lasted for a week and the fever broke, but something inside of her had changed. Her happiness was gone, every moment she felt as if blades were slicing through her. She told no one of this, but begged her parents to bid her leave to travel, to see the world of which she had been denied for so long.

She was outfitted for a journey with supplies and servants, and she then fled the land of her birth. Happiness filled her once again when she found a new place. Her reputation preceded her and she was welcomed into any friendly kingdom, and she thought that in this new place she could be whole again.

But every hope was a false one and every dream she had was dashed. The feelings that made her run from her home always returned, driving her to seek comfort in another land.

Years passed in this way, travelling from country to country, yet the moment that a place felt like home, she was driven out of it by pain. She reached the edge of the continent, the end of the known world, and she had no place to run to anymore. She stood at the cliffs, the edge of the world, ready to throw herself off of it, when she noticed the ring that she had been wearing since the day that it started, a ring she hadn't thought of since the day she had put it on.

She gathered her party and they made haste to the land of their birth, to the home she had dreaded for so long. The king and queen were overjoyed at the return of their daughter, but pain still filled the princess with every breath that she took. As soon as she could, she left the palace and ran to the valley, hoping to find the companion of her childhood.

A church stood in the valley in place of the tree, and she entered it. The boy, now a man and priest, was praying on the altar, and looked at her in astonishment when she entered. It had been years but they still recognized each other.

"I'd thought that you were a figment of my imagination all this time," she said.
"I loved you, you know," was his response.
"And I you." She walked toward the altar where he was now standing and asked in a whisper, "what did you do to me?"
"Please forgive me." The man leaned in to kiss her, and as their lips touched he drove a dagger into her side. Her blue eyes snapped open in a flash of pain as he had seen before, and she collapsed to the floor as blood spread over the gash in her gown where the dagger had pierced her.

He collapsed too, in tears, having twice killed the girl whom he had loved. His sobs filled the room until he wondered if he could ever stop crying, if he could ever leave this spot.

"Are you all right?" He looked up and saw her, the girl that he had met in the valley so many years ago just as she was then. Her eyes had been wiped clean of the pain of her last few years, innocent to the evils of the world.

"Go back to your home, child." He commanded, and she obeyed. He looked at the dagger that was still in his hands and still wet with blood, lacking the courage to drive it into himself, and dissolved once again into tears.

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