He sat on a throne made of empty space and ruled over a kingdom of endless time. That is what things are like in the deep night, you see: endless and empty. Night is the deep breath. Night is the place between, and the only things that can exist there are figments and wonderings, the half-formed, the shadowed.
Now it came to pass that King Night had a daughter, though he had no queen. Why was there no queen? Sebille always wanted to know that, too. But that is not part of this story.
The Darkling Princess was the daughter of King Night; she was beautiful, as only a princess can be beautiful. Yet she was sorrowful, as only a motherless daughter can be sorrowful, and she came but rarely to the court of King Night.
King Night did not care. He was not cruel - though he could be strange and savage - but his heart was cloaked in darkness, and he was blind to the suffering of his only daughter. This made her more sorrowful than ever.
When the Darkling Princess was old enough to realise that her father was blind to her suffering, she wept.
“He has no heart!” she complained to her cat, Midnight. “He couldn’t care if I lived or died!”
Midnight had white fur and green eyes, and she was the only bright thing in King Night’s realm.
“That is not true, my lady,” purred Midnight. “Your father cares much for you, in his own way.”
“If he cares for me, why does he not comfort me?” she asked.“I have no mother to dance with me, no mother to kiss my brow, no mother to hold me and tell me things will be well.”
Midnight was sorrowful then, too, for it was true. All daughters deserve to be held.
“It is not in King Night’s nature to comprehend sorrow,” said Midnight, weaving against her mistress’s legs. “His heart is thick with darkness, and strange tides move him.”
“I know he is not a bad man,” said the Darkling Princess, and it was true. “He gives comfort to strangers. Many pilgrims seek his realm to rest awhile. The darkness gives them solace. Why not me?”
“I do not know,” said Midnight.
And if the cat was silent after that, she thought hard, and kept her counsel.
At last, she walked away, for her head was clearest when she was alone.