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(SPOILER WARNING!) Prom Dreams Side Story Volume 8 (FINAL)

Prom Dreams Side Story
Volume 8: Eleanor Roth - “Promises”

by QZProductions

Thirteen Years Ago

"...And so, having found his true love at last, the young prince asked Cinderella for her hand in marriage, to which she gladly said 'yes'. The wedding was filled with laughter and frivolity, and from that day forth, the two lived happily ever after. The end."

From beneath her wool blanket, the messy-haired little girl studied the pages of her storybook carefully. Her mother, who had been holding the book in her lap, noticed this pensiveness just as she was about to close it, so instead, she turned her attention to her daughter.

"Dolores?" she asked with a tilt of her head, "Did you not like the story?"

Dolores shook her head. "Mm-mm! I liked it a lot." She looked up towards her mother. "But - what does 'happily ever after' mean? You say that a lot during story time."

Eleanor smiled to herself; she expected no less from her inquisitive, precocious little girl. "It means that they were happy together for the rest of their lives," she said. "It's just another way of saying that the story has a happy ending."

"Oooh," said Dolores, returning her gaze to the book. "So they were always happy? They never got sad again, ever?"

"Oh no, sweetheart," said Eleanor with a small chuckle, "I'm sure they got sad plenty of times after that. 'Happily ever after' doesn't mean 'perfect', after all." She placed a hand on her little girl's head. "It just means that, even after all the bad things Cinderella went through, everything turned out okay in the end. It's more about overcoming hardships - about following your heart, even when things get hard or when you get hurt."

With a little nod, Dolores relaxed at the gentle touch. "Okay, I think I got it." She shifted around in her seat, somewhat awkwardly, in order to snuggle closer against her mother. "...Mommy, does 'happily ever after' happen in real life, too? Or is it just in books?"

As wise as she knew Dolores was for her age, this sudden question left even Eleanor taken aback, and for a moment, she wasn't quite sure how to explain it. Finally, she answered her, stroking the girl's hair lovingly as she did so.

"Of course it does, my love," she began. "I think everyone has a chance to have a happy ending. Sometimes it doesn't always come right away, and sometimes you have to go through sad and scary things beforehand - but it's always there, waiting for you to come and find it." She closed her eyes. "You just have to believe in it, you know?"

Dolores nodded once more. "Okay." She yawned, her eyelids beginning to droop. "Mommy, I'm sleepy..."

Eleanor opened her eyes once again, then shut the storybook. "That's because it's half an hour past your bedtime," she said, gingerly scooping the little girl up in her arms, her form somewhat frail for a four-year-old. "I think it's time to call it an evening, hmm?"

With an affirmative murmur, Dolores clumsily wrapped her arms around her mother's neck before burying her face in her chest. Knowing that her daughter would likely not stay awake for long, Eleanor didn't dare stir her by standing up; instead, she placed a gentle kiss on her head and waited for her to fully drift off to sleep.


Prom Night

It was nothing less than a mother's worst nightmare; a scene she had tried so desperately to prevent, yet she had ultimately failed. Even in her new form, divorced from conventional natural laws, Eleanor felt her knees buckle and her eyes sting with tears at the sight of her only daughter lying cold in a pool of her own blood.

"No..." she said breathlessly, "This... this can't be..."

Her legs gave away from beneath her, and she fell to her hands and knees, no longer able to suppress her tears.

"Why... why couldn't I stop this!?" she sobbed, balling her hands into fists. She screamed at the ground, though her grief remained inaudible to mortal ears. "Why isn't my magic working!?"

Eleanor's tears fell to the ground, mingling with droplets of her daughter's blood as she wordlessly cursed those who were responsible for this - the selfish girls who had tormented her daughter so, her insufferable sister-in-law who had done nothing but exploit her, the good-for-nothing man she had once called her husband, who had left them both alone in an unforgiving world... but, most of all, she cursed herself, for all of her sacrifices, all of her effort to protect her daughter from life's cruelties, had been all for naught. Had her attempts to build her up and give her hope only served to worsen her heartbreak and loneliness...?

She crawled closer to her daughter's lifeless corpse; then, with trembling arms, she summoned just enough of her power to manifest physically and cradled the girl's head against her chest.

"Dolores," she whimpered, "my baby... what have you done..." She squeezed the body tightly. "What have you done...!?"

Amidst her grieving, however, Eleanor suddenly felt a shockwave throughout her form; a surge of all too familiar power emanating from the east. Her eyes shot open as she turned to face the source, gasping at what she saw - an aura of red and black energy, flickers of an arcane power that could have only been the work of the Demon King, Moloch. It did not take her long to fully realize the horrible implications, yet even she could not have expected the result to be so dreadfully powerful...!

"She's going to kill them," whispered Eleanor in horror, "she's going to kill everyone...!"

She glanced once more at the body in her arms, remembering the sweet, bright little girl and the hopes and dreams that once sparkled in her eyes - then with a furrowed brow, she returned her gaze towards the horizon.

"...I can't let this go on," she said, her voice laced with both sadness and determination. She laid her daughter's head gingerly on the ground, as though laying her down to sleep one last time. "Forgive me, Dolores, but - I have to stop you. I will stop you from becoming a monster," she took a bloodied hand, closing Dolores' eyes with her fingertips, "I promise."

Prying her gaze away from the girl's body, she pulled her cloak's hood over her head; then, she recited a few ancient words before disappearing in a flash of golden light.