The warrior limped her way to the city gate, her battered armor telling the story of her struggle. Despite obvious pain, she raised a triumphant fist to show a ruby cut into the shape of a pomegranate.
“Open the gates!” the queen shouted, quickly rising from her throne on the castle wall. Choked with emotion, she repeated the command. “Open the gates this very instant!”
The warrior limped forward– and into a final trap. A ghoul rose from the side of the road, clawing its way free of the dirt. A formidable opponent in the best of times, the ghoul would surely end the battle-trodden warrior. The monster threw its head back in a roar— and swallowed a bolt of lightning arcing directly at it.
From her perch atop the battlements, the queen again demanded the gates be opened. “I shall personally attend her wounds,” she declared.
“You have broken the rules, your highness. That ghoul was fair play,” a shadow whispered, itself unmoving but its voice following the monarch as she hefted her skirts and hurried to attend her champion.
“Away with you, devil, we have won and the land is safe for another five years. Be gone and find solace in your damnation.”
“The rules were broken,” the shadow hissed angrily as it dissipated. “Five years is too long.”
The queen ignored the warning as she burst into her private chambers, sending the guards scrambling and her courtiers trailing. “The queen appro–” a doorman began. He was dismissed with a sharp, royal glare. The queen turned to the battered warrior, picking up her hands and kissing her fingertips gently, their secret symbol. To love a commoner was an incalculable security risk to the realm. “Oh my sweet love. You have ensured our peace. You won.”
“I–” the warrior grimaced, then grinned. She hefted a ruby pomegranate gently. The jewel pulsated, a beating heart pumping new magic into the realm. “–brought breakfast.”
The movie credits rolled and the gathered villagers of Peyroux cheered. Written and Directed by Strawberry appeared on the screen and another bellow rocked the crowd, much to the mermaid’s pleasure and embarrassment. Strawberry’s wife stole a moment to kiss her before nudging her to the stage.
Movies are shown outdoors in Peyroux. Concession stands ring the back area, ensuring snacks and treats flow freely. Area graveyards host scary movies, while Autumn’s Lost Wood draws dramas and romances such as The Ruby.
Cosplayers, mostly of the queen or her champion, ringed the stage to ask Strawberry about her process and inspiration. A few witches using shadow magic to cloak themselves as the main villain joined, even a ghoul or two from the end could be spotted.
The mermaid gazed out over the small crowd, excited her latest movie had been so well received. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves, then took the first of many questions from the crowd.