The Prince of Time

Small crystals of sand slowly sifted through a conical glass in the center of the room, each grain dropping every second, day, or week. They represented any and all spans of time ranging from a yoctosecond to half a year. The hourglass rested atop a plane of glass that seemed to float in mid-air. There were no shadows, no light or darkness. The only other visible objects were an ornate wooden door, clad with gold accents and a chair with plush red cushions, golden legs, and a golden arch. On the chair sat a timeless creature with smooth skin and long, dark hair, kept back with a crystal band. Their eyes glowed blue as they sat, cross-legged with their arm connecting their inner thigh and head.

This being was none other than the Prince of Time. In another chamber rested another hourglass, representing all time spans beyond half a year. There sat the king, though he is much less relevant to this story.

Lately, humanity has begun tampering with time. By manipulating reality at the atomic scale, they found it was possible to capture the world in slow-motion, down to the femtosecond regime. The only problem is that at that scale, light can no longer keep up. In fact, the only thing scientists can see is the subtle movement of electrons as they shift across a metal plate [1].

Humanity is curious. They will keep learning. At some point soon, they will begin to see time as something they can manipulate. Something they can control. When that happens, the prince and king will both be dethroned and replaced by a new democratic regime with much, much less experience dealing with the intricacies of time.

More than that, humans had unwittingly stumbled across the key to the castle: light, itself. See, light moves at the same speed irrespective of its reference frame. No matter how fast you are moving, light (in a vacuum) will always move the same. Humans also knew that light is the only reason their cameras do not work at certain temporal resolutions and that photons are manipulatable objects.

When they control light, they control time, because light was not just the key to the castle, it was the castle, itself.

Projected into every single photon was a separate set of chambers holding the king and prince. To the humans, the prince controlled electric and magnetic fields, while the king controlled the space-time continuum. Over the past few decades, humanity has found nearly perfect control of the prince's chambers, and have thus continually stolen the prince's throne.

The prince, unable to see more than half a year ahead could only sit and watch, hoping for the king to step in while their kingdom was stolen from them, but the king cannot see how the humans are attacking because he can only see scales beyond half a year.

Between the two of them, the only being that could see the whole picture was light, but light had already allied itself with the humans.

There was no hope. The kingdom would be lost eventually.

The only thing the prince and king could do was wait and hope that the new rulers became much more conscious about how delicate the fabric of time truly was before they took power.

[1] Example:

Prompt: The Prince of Time is frequently kidnapped in attempts to reach unlimited power. The only person capable of saving him is: Daylight.

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