Mist and Pearls
by Jadadaye

It is a tale told many a time amongst the youngsters of the Jellicles of a time decades ago when Deuteronomy still led the Jellicles and their fiercest warriors waged brave battles against their foe Macavity. Aside the tales of the childhood heroes Munkustrap and Alonzo, there were tales of lost loves and romances that made the little queens sigh and the little toms wrinkle their noses.

Among those was the tale of the ill-fated queen who was cursed to awhile her days in silence and solitude, only allowed out of her twisting towers of old wood and metal once a year on the night of the Jellicle Ball. It was death unto her to come down at any other time, and she cherished those few hours she was allowed to walk amongst her fellows, free from the entrapments of the tower.

Often at nights, the kittens would clamor to hear tales of her, begging their wise-woman, who was said to be the great-grandkitten of Jemima, one of the kits who had been alive in that legendary era. The story that they loved the most was one of the saddest, for it was one of the love-lost tales, and it was one that even the young toms failed to turn up their whiskers at.

"This tale - as I'm sure you all know - takes place a few years after the Jellicle Ball in which the Magical Mr. Mistoffelees saved Old Deuteronomy from the clutches of the mastermind Macavity," the elderly queen began, watching the kittens' eyes sparkle at the mention of the famed Jellicle Ball. "Now, year after year, the lovely lady Cassandra came down from her tower for the scant few hours to dance with her fellows, her ethereal blue eyes always filling with hopeless tears as the moon set and she was forced back to her prison. For if she did not, the curse that had been put on her would wreck its vengeance upon the poor queen."

Here, as always, the youngsters gave a few gasps of pity for their ancestor.

"Her beauty had not gone unnoticed by any, though. As destined for ruin as it was, the brave Sir Alonzo had no eyes but for the lady Cassandra, and would spend many an hour staring up at her tower and wishing he could break the spell. And at one Ball, he could withhold himself no further and approached the lady, his hazel eyes looking deeply into her sapphire orbs. Though Alonzo knelt before her, begging her not to go once again within her tower, the lady drew away, wrapping her tail firmly about her. 'I cannot,' she begged. 'To stay outside its walls would bring the curse upon me.' But her admirer could not take this for an answer, and every Ball after that, he again proposed to her. Many other queens pleaded for his paw, but he would look at none save the cursed Cassandra."

"Then what happened?" whispered a tiny black kitten, her face smudged with white, brown eyes wide.

"Then one year, she could resist him no more," the elderly queen replied sadly. "She stayed with him, curled within his embrace, and as the sun touched her fur, two tears slid down her cheeks, dripping onto Alonzo's fur. And as he gave her one final kiss, the lovely lady Cassandra faded into nothing but a mist, leaving her lover alone, with two pearls in his paw, the only thing left of his love."

The kittens gave a wistful sigh, gazing up at the moon that was rising overhead. It seemed to them that a sorrowful face was held within, raising jeweled eyes to the heavens. As the kittens were slowly taken away to their beds, the elderly queen opened a small bag from around her neck and dumped its scant contents into one wrinkled paw. Seeing the moonlit glint on the smooth pearls, she nodded with a sad smile and turned to seek her own bed.

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