Anyone who knows Hamlet obsessively like I do will appreciate the cleverness here. Anyone else will just think it's a load of boring crap.... o_o HAMLET LOST By north-north-west, the castle stood, and in the tallest tower sat the Prince. All day he had been there, bound in the nutshell of his workshop, carving away till the very witching hours of night. His work was almost complete, the object honed by every cut and file. Now and then he would try it on to check the fit, to feel how it hugged the contours of his body. A few more edges filed, and then… then it would be ready. This night the Prince was most dreadfully attended. Outside his room, the players were making ready, a hustle-bustle of costumes and props. The Prince had instructed them, directing the actions of the coming play, wherein he would catch the conscience of his enemy, tent him to the quick and fright him with fire. “The play’s the thing,” the Prince whispered, as he turned his invention in his hands, shaping the curves, smoothing the surface. Just a few more moments, and the audience would be arriving, taking their places for the show. His last chance to turn back was here and now. Should he hold his tongue, and in silence bear the whips and scorns of time, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? Or should he take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? The players awaited his orders, baser natures come between the fell and incensed points of mighty opposites. But still the Prince lingered, holed up in his nutshell tower, hesitating. Some craven scruple of thinking too precisely on the event perhaps… or perhaps he was one part wisdom and ever three parts coward, and all his capability and godlike reason would fust in him unused this night. To be or not to be, this deed, this rebellion. That was the question which he pondered as he crafted the object. How innocently it had all started – two months ago. The Prince had been summoned with all the kingdom to attend the royal court and there give praise to a new union. A new king had been blessed. And there was such elation. The Prince had stood to one side, silent as the people praised their king and cavorted with delight. There was singing and dancing in the royal court, the distracted multitude wreathed in the glorious light of their new ruler. But what was the Prince to think? How was he to answer this union? He had been next in line to the throne, and now this… a new king, a new lord to pledge allegiance to. Of course, the Prince had smiled. He had assumed a pleasing shape as the people rejoiced, sugaring himself over with devotion’s visage and pious action. But he could not shake the questions or the discomfort, gross and rank, that settled in his belly. That is should come to this, he despaired. But break his heart, for he held his tongue. It was not till after the celebration that his prophetic soul was answered. His best friend approached him and with him brought two watchmen, guards from the northern walls. They had seen something, a ghost out on the borders, and they felt it writ down in their duties to let the Prince know of it. On the platform where they watched, they had been encountered by a portentous figure, perhaps herald to some strange eruption to the state. On the third night the Prince’s friend – a man who was not passion’s slave – had witnessed also, and by heaven charged the ghost to speak. But it had vanished upon a dreadful summons. Hearing this, and seeing the terror in the faces of his followers, the Prince deemed that he would join them on the next watch. And that he did, and there he learned that there were greater things in heaven and earth than were dreamt of in his philosophy. The Prince followed the ghost to private discourse, and from its lips he learned that this time was out joint; that there was something rotten in the state. For though the ghost was forbidden to tell the secrets of its prison house, it brought news of deeds foul, strange and unnatural. A brother’s murder… the primal eldest curse; a king whose hand was thicker than itself in brother’s blood and still possessed of those effects for which he did the murder. And now, two months later, the Prince sat in his tower and planned his fine revolution. For two months he had forced his soul to his own conceit, a rogue and peasant slave in the kingdom that he alone could rescue from peril. From the table of his memory he had wiped away all trivial fond records, and assumed an antic disposition to challenge the impostume of wealth and peace. A direct attack was impossible, for there was such divinity that hedged the king that treason could but peep to what it would. And so, like actions that a man might play, the Prince feigned madness; yet there was method in it. The sponges and politic worms revealed themselves, agents of the Poisoner King, who would not let his madness go unwatched. And now all were invited to the play. There was a knock upon the door, and the Prince’s friend entered, his face as haunted as it was on the night they beheld the ghost. The torchlight caught on the silver plates of his armour, and as he stooped through the doorway, he flexed his wings to their full extension, driving back the shadows. Beelzebub, the right-hand lieutenant of the rebel prince, gave a stoic salute. “My lord, the time has come.” Prince Lucifer twisted in his seat and raised the object he had been carving throughout the night. The mask, made from polished bone, lifted in front of his face, and he smiled, matching the deathly grimace of the skull. The time had come with most wicked speed. His foil, the Archangel Michael, God’s bodkin, was marching on the castle, holding a weak supposal of Lucifer’s state. And with him old Uriel, that foolish prating knave who had sought to pluck out the heart of his mystery, and the Prince’s so-called friends, Raphael and Gabriel, who sought to play him like a pipe. And even Abdiel, who Lucifer did love once, an angel of his own legion. Yet he had seen the puppets dallying, and now Abdiel was but a traitor, returning with spirits and ministers of grace to smite the Morningstar and rid the kingdom of his diseased wit. Not single spies, but whole battalions, to benet him round with villanies. The play was about to begin, and Lucifer would meet his dearest foe in heaven. Two months, and so much had changed; so much had been forced upon him and so much he had chosen. There was something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out. Perhaps the ghost had lied; for how could an angel trust a creature of primordial chaos, a creature from the nothingness beyond the walls of Heaven? Or perhaps… perhaps this was all according to God’s plan. Through the eyeholes of the skull mask, Lucifer looked out from the tower to the highest mount of Heaven, where the throne of God resided, a massy wheel to whose spokes ten thousand lesser things were mortised and adjoined. Had God planned all this and worked his son Lucifer to an exploit now ripe in his device? Lucifer remembered the celebrations that morning, two months ago, when God had proclaimed a new union with a world called Earth. And he remembered when the ghost came, a herald of doom, proclaiming that the balance of Order and Chaos was out of joint; that by creating Earth the Everlasting had fixed his cannon against the cosmic balance and slain his brother, Chaos. Humanity, a race set above the angels, to rule over them in time; a new king, in the shape of Adam. Did God know all along that Lucifer would feel abandoned, that he would resent the new rulers and feel compelled to seek redress as the ghost desired? It had seemed to be so clear… Heaven, a kingdom bloated, where discretion fought with nature… and Man (what a piece of work!), a quintessence of dust that would only bring further discord. And Chaos… a poisoned realm, slaughtered by God’s expansion, no funeral rites granted, no ceremony else. Only he… only Lucifer… could set it right. But the interim was still his. Perhaps he could surrender, disclaiming from a purposed evil, and return to building churches or not bear thinking on. Or perhaps it was too late and for his good intention he had already fallen, taking corruption from that particular fault. Michael’s army would meet with his, and Lucifer would fight, though Hell itself should gape and bid him hold his peace. He could escape with nothing but his shame and the odd hits, or else be sent hence with fiery quickness with all his imperfections on his head, banished across the seas, returning only for the final duel at the end of all things. But there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. And surely, divinity would shape his ends, rough-hew them as he will. The readiness was all. Lucifer rose from his chair, donning his nighted armour, wings dark and drooping like a sparrow’s. Flights of angels stood ready to sing him to his battle, and this night he would learn if he would justly serve his mysterious Lord, or else cause war to fall on the Inventor’s head, till all the stage was poisoned in the final act. Whichever way it ended, Lucifer would make sure of one thing. The mask he wore would hold across millennia, and all who looked upon it would draw their breaths in pain to tell his story The Prince drew his sword and followed his friend from the tower, down to where the army of Fallen Angels awaited his command. His final words, whispered to the southern winds, were “Adieu, adieu, remember me.” The rest is silence.