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Nothing's Fair in Love and War

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The Prince of Heart was a cunning young man with a troubled soul. He had long ago sworn a deadly vow that could potentially strip him of his dignity and honour if he were to break it. He had promised his elder brother that he would avenge him after he fell at the hands of a Witch many years ago. His brother had raised him on Derse as a merciless criminal, with no tolerance for sympathy, leaving him no option but to follow in his distant footsteps.

On Derse, the evil training ground for aspiring villains, the slackers and wimps were slaughtered to make room for the most vicious evildoers. The Prince, being of the same blood as the notorious Knight of Time, had an advantage, but when the day of his trial came, he barely slipped past with his right to live

He was never as malicious as his brother, who had all the time in the world to perfect his purely evil state of mind. The Knight was a master of disguise, having fooled the entire country into thinking he was nothing but a beloved filmmaker with a dark, yet friendly sense of humour. There was a time when people thought he was the hero, but they could never have been so wrong.

As the Eternal Knight faced his inevitable demise, his last controversial act of revealing his identity was enough to absolutely demolish the illusion of safety the public had clinged to for so long. The people had lost all trust in the ones they once looked up to, and rioters ran wild in the streets, wreaking havoc on everything they once thought they loved.

The Knight of Time left such a strong legacy, the Prince feared he could never be a worthy successor, for he considered himself to be substantially weaker.

His brother died long before the his trial, leaving the young villain to train all by himself. He refused to be taken in by any other guardian, and insisted that he could make it on his own. His brother had left him all that he needed; he just needed to think outside the box. He would deconstruct old machinery to build robots, set them to kill mode, and spar to the death.

On that cloudy evening, the Prince faced the so-called hero they named the Page of Hope. They were an amateur, and had wasted their fair share of extra lives. They were prophesied to have dangerous potential, but as many Pages had proved in the past, the Prince had a feeling they wouldn't live to fulfill it. All he cared about was the unforgettable fact that they were a descendant of the Witch of Space, the one responsible for the execution of the Knight of Time. She was long gone, but her kin remained, ripe for the picking.

The Prince watched his target from the shadows as they flew from rooftop to rooftop, searching for the arsonist responsible for the fires in the streets. The Page moved swiftly in the night, though their bright yellow hood clashed with their stealth. They were long and lean, with an overly confident stride. Their actions proved them to be quite obviously inexperienced in the field of battle, though the Prince would never rely on rash judgment alone.

As the Page came into better view, the Prince identified them as a male of his age. He looked quite tough, but not very intelligent, considering his choice of clothing. His spandex suit consisted of a short-sleeved top and a pair of humiliating shorts that exposed his gangly legs. A hood concealed his face, and a silken cape flew in the wind behind him. A symbol reminiscent of angel wings shined a crisp white on his chest.

"Show yourself, you scoundrel!" he shouted, as though he could sense the Prince was near. "I know you're out there!" He spoke with courage, his voice never wavering, but he had an accent that his foe could only describe as fake.

The Prince donned his dark hood and silently emerged from the shadows, creeping up on the Page from behind. When he was within an arm's distance, he stopped in his tracks, and prepared himself to fight.

"Page," he whispered, reaching for one of the guns held in the hero's belt. He had his finger on the trigger as he began to slip it out of its holster. "Are you so foolish to turn your back?"

The Page whipped around, throwing a wild punch at the Prince, who merely stepped to the side before turning back to glare at him.

"You've got nerve, Goldilocks." He threw the pistol on the ground, watching the look of shock on the Page's face. The hero lunged for his weapon, but was shoved back by the Prince. "You won't be needing that, trust me. If you cooperate, this will be quick and easy—for me at least."

"You started those fires to lure me here, didn't you?!" The Page stumbled to his feet and grabbed the villain by the collar. He was unusually strong for his thin frame, but the Prince had faced infinitely more powerful enemies.

"It took you that long to realize?" the Prince teased, an evil smirk creeping up on to his face. "You're pretty dense for someone who's so favoured amongst the city, don't you think?" He pulled the Page in close, staring him down with eyes that glowed like red LED lights beneath the shadows of his hood. "I could kill you right now, but that wouldn't be very fun, would it? I'd much rather watch you squirm a little longer."

"You are disgusting!" the hero muttered through clenched teeth. "How can you live with yourself?"

"I have my ways," he said, unsheathing his blade. "Now, are we going to do this the easy way, or the hard way?"

The Page stood his ground as the Prince grabbed him by the neck and aimed the sword at his throat. He was taught to always fight bravely, and never back down, even if there were deadly consequences.

Besides, he knew the Prince would not delight in killing him so easily. He and his brother were notorious for their cruel and sadistic games of hide-and-seek, in which the loser was brutally murdered or held captive and tortured for ransom. The Page wasn't sure which was worse.

"Why do you do this?" he asked him, straining against his crushing grip. "Why did you choose this evil life?"

"I didn't have a choice, you idiot!" He lowered the sword and tightened his hold on the Page. "Prospitian trainers pamper their heroes, but on Derse, we are stretched far beyond our limits, ensuring that only the strongest survive. Where I come from, you either fight, or die."

"You don't know a single thing about the life of a true hero!" The Page kicked the Prince, sending him stumbling back and losing grip on the hilt of his blade. It skittered along the concrete of the roof, landing next to the Page's scratched pistol. “And you never will!” he shouted. “You’re nothing but trouble, Prince, you and all your people! No one will ever root for the villain!”

"That's a bit harsh, don't you think?" The Prince got back on his feet in time for his red-violet cloak to catch a breeze and whip in the wind behind him as he slowly approached the hero. "You don’t know what I had to live through to get here. While you were riding your grandmother's coattails, I was born and raised in the dark, completely hidden from the public. No one knew I existed until I did something bad enough to make the papers!"

"You don't deserve to be famous for such a terrible thing!" the Page shouted, landing a solid uppercut on his jaw. He hit him again and again, but the Prince barely stumbled back, as though he were immune to the blows. His body took damage, blood dripping off his chin, but no matter how many times the Page hit him, nothing seemed to take him down.

"You're a fighter, Page. That last one actually stung." He pinned the Page back down at the edge of the roof, a wicked smile creeping up on to his face. Bright red blood oozed from cuts on his brow and his busted lip, staining the lustrous gold of the Page's garment. "Did anyone ever tell you that struggling only makes things worse?"

"Let go of me!" The Page thrashed around beneath him, kicking his feet and trying to free his arms.

"You're pathetic," the Prince said, pushing the Page further out on the ledge, his head now hanging over the street below. "I almost feel bad for you." He tore off the hero's hood, revealing his fearful emerald eyes. He let out a sigh as he mockingly caressed his bruised cheek. "I'd hate to ruin such a pretty face." He chuckled, watching the blood rush to his opponents head. "I sure do hope they taught you how to fly."

The Page gasped as he was suddenly thrown off the edge, his last sight the sinister grin and mock salute of the Prince perched on the ledge.