Once upon a time, as the stories say, there lived a king.
The fairytales have a lot of things right, but they remain unable to characterise the true cruel nature of man; and in particular, this man. Avalon.
He ruled his kingdom with malevolence in mind, and a passion for perversion. But although you can be a king and you can be in charge, you can't live forever. And so, Avalon needed to ensure his legacy lived on. He needed an heir, but first he needed a bride.
Unfortunately, when you're as dark-hearted as Avalon is, you can't just walk up to a girl and try and woo them with your personality alone. Instead, you have to resort to some more unorthodox methods... Avalon racked his twisted and brilliant mind for a solution and, in time, one was presented to him- he would make his queen.
It took a lot of time and a lot of failed experiments, each more ludricious than the last. You see, the key was humanity. How can a person exist unless they are truely alive? Once Avalon knew this, once he had obtained the required spark of humanity, it was really very simple to make a life.
This is how Marylena was created.
Now that he had a queen, a vessel for his plans, Avalon was able to get what he needed but didn't particularly want- an heir. In a short amount of time Glade was born, and then promptly handed over to the hired help. After all, what kind of maniacal monarch has time for his kids? No, Avalon had more important things to do, and Marylena... well, she was just a shell.
As Glade grew up he became accustomed to spending his time alone. He hardly ever saw his father, which he was content with, but he did crave time with his mother. The only occasions when he saw her she was either cooking or cleaning; trailing after Avalon and tending to his every need. Of course Glade had no choice in the life he had been given, but it disturbed him nonetheless. He couldn't help but think that something was rotten...
Avalon, meanwhile, was perfectly pleased with himself. With Marylena by his side, his every desire was taken care of... He had no interest in his son, looking on him as simply a means to an end- a necessary part of the future. Right now his eye was firmly focused on the present, his kingdom, and his queen.
And what did Marylena think of all this? Well, she didn't think anything. Though her limbs creaked in animation and a hollow tick echoed from where her heart should reside, there was no expression in her. Except for...
Sometimes Glade would look at his mother, and see in her eyes such a haunted suffering he could hardly bear it. It didn't make sense though- she wasn't alive. And yet the desperate flicker remained, though its light grew weaker with each day that went by.
As the years passed and Glade grew he became accustomed to the peculiarities of his surroundings. Still his homelife caused sensations of revulsion for his spirit, but he was able to find peace in the beauty of the kingdom. More and more he would spend his days outside, admiring the beauty of nature and the happiness it brought to his troubled young mind.
When he did return home he found no warmth there. As Glade aged his father began to take more of an interest in him, much to Glade's intense displeasure. Avalon saw his son growing and concluded that it was now time for him to receive instruction in how to be a king.
Unfortunately Avalon's idea of 'instruction' involved a great deal of berating and abuse; screaming at Glade whenever he acted incorrectly, which was often. Glade didn't want to be king, not if it meant turning out like his father. Avalon's bullying and demoralising ways chilled Glade's soul, and this was only the things that he knew about...
There was a lot going on behind closed doors... You could see the signs reflected all around like a broken mirror- a scream at night, a servant with tears steaming down their face, people disappearing. The only person who really knew the truth was Avalon, and he wasn't one for sharing.
With the passing of time the family was blessed with another child- a little girl named Maia. The arrival of Maia made Glade pleased and yet panicked at the same time; it was wonderful for him to finally have some company in the house, but he feared for her life at the hands of his father.
Avalon had made no secret of the fact that he hated women, how he thought their only use was for procreation, recreation, and serving men. And yes, Maia's birth aggravated him tremendously. He had a son, and that was more than enough. Quite simply, he had no use for Maia.
With his sister's life weighing heavily on his mind, Glade began to scrutinise his father's activities, hoping to perhaps pierce the surface and view the secrets that lay beneath. A lot of excavation only served to uncover disappointment for the most part, until one night he decided to explore the forest...
In the deathly stillness of night, with only the watchful moon for company, Glade slipped through the trees one by one, until he came to a small cabin.
Opening the door and stepping inside, Glade recoiled in revulsion as he stared at the mirror in front of him. The mirror was... wrong. Instead of his own reflection looking back at him there was a woman, seemingly trapped in the glass.
It was then that Glade looked closer; looked into the eyes of the woman- those frozen and helpless eyes that he had gazed into so many times before. The eyes of Marylena, the Clockwork Doll. His mother.
Glade didn't know how it was possible, didn't know how his father had done it. He only knew that, somehow, the Clockwork Doll was not entirely artificial- that the very integral part of the machine was oh so human. Marylena had been alive, once, she had lived just as he lived, and now she was trapped.
Upon his return to the house Glade immediately sought out his mother. He went to her and told her that he knew, that he was sorry, and that he wanted to help. No reply from Marylena, but the eyes grew sadder still. And then, with great effort, her arm creaked upwards, formed a fist, pointed a finger at the door, and Glade knew what he had to do.
Glade could have run from the house right there and then, but logic told him that wasn't an option. And so, with some careful planning in mind, Glade waited for the opportune moment to act. When the time was right, he crept into Maia's room under the cover of the obscure night, pried the sleeping child from her crib, and eased out the door.
Leaving the kingdom behind forever, Glade thought of his mother. He wanted to save her; set her free, whatever she needed, but it would be impossible to get her away from Avalon. Instead, Glade would just have to take Maia for now and keep her safe until he could go back for his mother. With one last glance back at his former home, Glade set out to find a place to hide. A place to raise Maia and protect her. A place called Riverview...