The Mirror King
copyright © 2005 by Tony Pi
originally published in Flash Me Magazine #9, 2005.
On the wrong side of the glass, in a world beyond my sway, my love lies dying of a broken heart. Blind, she cannot know me; nor can my songs of solace pierce the looking-glass to soothe her. Only my other self ever hears me, and I petition him now: find a spell to free me from my crystal curse, so I might embrace my fair Queen and kiss away her tears. “Or confess that those sonnets were mine, that you only gave my adoration voice. Let her know she is loved. Give her cause to live!”
But the one who casts me scorns my pleas. He leans against the mantle that my mirror hangs above, and in a whisper taunts me. I am to blame for spurring him to marry a common, sightless girl so long ago. “She never saw my triumphs on the jousting field, nor the glory of my coronation. She knows not how to dance the galliard, and her eyes do not brim with desire like most damsels’ do.”
“So you’d let her die, this innocent who devotes her life to you?” I cry. “I’ll not let you crush this precious jewel!”
He sneers, and I fight the urge to mimic him. “You are nothing but my reflection, and she will never know you.”
“No. I may be doomed to wear your shape, but my heart is my own. I am the Mirror King.”
My double grabs an iron poker from the fire, and swings it at the silvered glass. The mirror shatters and I feel myself splintering into a hundred shards. I fight through the pain and will my slivers to reform in a single reflection. When I am whole again, I roar and hurl myself at the diamond wall, but the barrier does not yield to my fury. I grab the phantom of the poker and make it crystal, and swing it with all my strength. It does not smash through.
In that other place, light begins to fade. My twin commands his frightened servants to douse the fire. “No candles, no light. Leave us, so the Queen may go to her final rest in darkness and silence.” They obey, and we are alone.
Shadows begin to surge, to tear me from being. He knows that in the absence of light I must leave my argent world for a darkling void. “You will not keep vigil by her side,” he says. “Her last words will be mine alone.”
I am sickened by his cruelty. The dusk-teeth gnaw me, but I suffer those wounds as I must: I will not leave her with that beast! I invoke gods to save her; demons to aid me. But my prayers go unheard, and my beloved’s breaths grow shallow.
There is little light and time left to me. I rush to the side of her ghostly reflection, and call to it. “Be diamond,” I coax, and under my care she gains solidity. I caress her hand, but it is cold. It takes her shape but is not her.
“My love,” I murmur, “you do not see me but your heart knows me, knows my words. Hear what I say. Shadows may take me, but they cannot defeat me. Though I am an echo of another man, I remain your Quicksilver Prince, your King of Light. I forbid you to die.”
I stay with her until night devours me.
Alone again in the utter black, I weep for her.
“Why do you cry, my love?” sings my Queen’s soft voice.
I freeze. “How…?”
“I heard the echo of your voice, and came.” I do not see her, but soft hands cup my face while warm lips kiss my cheek. “Darkness is my world, and here I reign supreme.”
I embrace her, never wanting to let go. “Do you breathe? Do you live?”
“I will, now that you love me,” she replies.
“But when light returns, it will tear me from you.”
“Then let me follow you to your mercurial world, and when light fails I will lead you to mine.”
I kiss her, deep.
Somewhere flames flicker, and light conquers the darkness. But we find ourselves not in the prison of silvery ghosts, but a golden sanctuary lit by candle-flames. My Queen is real, and so am I. I look into the mirror above the mantle, and it is whole. My reflection glares back at me and rages, but I do not hear what he screams, nor care.
We are the King and Queen of Twilight.
In light, in shadow, in love.
Author’s notes: “The Mirror King” was originally published by Flash Me Magazine in 2005, and was one of my earliest story sales. Unfortunately, Flash Me Magazine has gone on indefinite hiatus. The story’s still available online if you know where to look for it, so I thought I might as well put up a copy here in case FMM‘s archives suddenly disappear.
The story was in part inspired by characters from my longtime play-by-email Amber DRPG campaign, known as Paradox. Mirrors played a big part in the mythology.