Rest In Peace
There once was a King and Queen, who longed for a child. They tried and tried until one day the Queen gave birth to a baby girl. After which, the Queen could have no more children. So the King and Queen did everything within their power to keep her safe. They summoned faeries from far and wide to bless the infant princess to grant her patience, kindness, intelligence, beauty, and every other positive attribute in existence. They ensured that the Kingdom would remain prosperous through all of her days.
As the Princess grew older, they met with allies and foes alike to discuss potential suitors. One in particular was a powerful witch who had a son that she wished to see married to the princess in order to increase her power. However, the King and Queen refused. In retaliation, the witch cursed the kingdom to fall into decay.
The King and Queen were alarmed, at first. But they felt confident in the blessings of the faeries that their daughter and the kingdom would be healthy and prosperous for many years. That was until their daughter fell ill. In the beginning they were hopeful. The Princess was in good spirits and seemed even to be improving. But then she became listless and began to waste away.
She lost her appetite, causing her to lose weight. Her skin became pale and paper-thin, and her beautiful dark hair became dry and brittle. When spoken to she would not answer; she would not even make eye contact. The Princess had become a mere a husk, a shell of her former self. When she began to walk aimlessly about the castle, there was no choice but to sequester the princess in her chambers. Heartbroken, the King and Queen locked themselves away as well, taking neither food nor drink.
Fearing the onset of the Witch’s curse, the people fled, leaving the kingdom to fall into ruin. Word traveled across all the lands about the unfortunate fate of the Princess and her kingdom. Princes from all over made pilgrimage to the Accursed Lands, as it came to be called, hoping to find a way to end the curse. They were never seen nor heard from again.
After being prompted by his mother, the Witch’s son made his way to the little kingdom. When he arrived, the fields lay fallow and weed ridden, the buildings decrepit. A darkness hung in the air and the stink of rot was on the wind. As he approached the castle, it felt as if many eyes watched him, but there was not even a carrion bird.
When he reached the castle, he left his horse in the courtyard and made his way up the crumbling steps. The splintered doors hung on rusting hinges that screeched horribly as he opened them, allowing the sun to dimly light the way beyond. The passages and corridors beyond were layered with dust and reeked of mildew, tattered tapestries held back the echoes of his boots.
He had searched much of the castle and still had not found any sign of the missing princes, or of the Princess. Night was falling as he made his way up the tower stairs, the flickering light of a torch guiding his steps.
It felt like an age before he came to the chamber door at the top of the stairs. Pushing it open, he was surprised to find the space lit by candles. Hundreds of them. Long stalactites of wax dripped from the holders, some reaching the floor. And at the center of the room was a canopy bed with the Princess lying in state upon it.
Placing his torch in the holder nearest the door, the Witch’s son slowly made his way toward the Princess. Her dark hair lay fanned out over her pillow, while her hands lay resting on her stomach. Pink lips were slightly parted as she breathed. She was the most beautiful thing that he had ever seen. Entranced, he came to the edge of the bed and bent down to kiss her lips.
Her eyes fluttered open then, taking sight of the young man, and she smiled. “My Prince.” she said softly, reaching a hand toward his face. Before he realized what was about to happen, sharp claws dug into the back of his neck, pulling him down toward a mouth full of sharp teeth. He screamed in agony as those same teeth then fastened onto his neck.
As he felt his life draining from him, it was then that he saw the corpses of the Princess’s would be rescuers littering the far end of the chamber. And he was about to join them.