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The Lion And The Lamb

This story begins like any other, a king that lived in beautiful castle with stained glass and royal archways that looked down on a cobblestone village. Except unlike other stories this one does not entail the love escapades of the king’s offspring. Of their perfect wedding while the townspeople cheer. No, this village was shackled with fear. Their king was not beloved by all, but rather hated with such distain that the men spit and the women hid. This tale is about a sacrifice to end the terror, to smother the hate, and to free the people.


The woodcutter tucked his daughter into bed and kissed his wife. He then snuck down the street to the tavern. Below was a small basement used as a meeting room where the men of the town met. And planned a rebellion. They longed to take out the king. A cruel man who prayed on the women of the village, snatching them from their beds and off the street. Some of them never returned and those that did, held a tainted look in their eyes. So the men planned at night and hid their women.

The woodcutter joined the group right after his daughter was born. She was a dark beauty that turned heads even as a baby. Now she had dark hair that fell to her waist, porcelain skin, ruby lips, and icy blue eyes that cut into you.

The men of the town had worked out a warming system to help protect their daughters. Maiden’s like the woodcutter’s daughter could not be even seen by the king. For once he laid eyes on a beauty, her fate was sealed. So when the king’s horses rode into town, the priest would ring the church bells. They were the only thing loud enough to reach even the woodcutters in the forrest. Then as the bells rang out, the men would race home. Sprinting frantically back home to bar their doors, as the wives hustled their children into the cellar.

So now, as the men planned their rebellion, the bells created only a moments pause before they scattered. They fled home through the black night. The woodcutter burst through the door of his home as his wife put out the fire. Not even the coals glowed in the hearth. The woodcutter opened his mouth to call for his daughter, when she stepped from the shadows, her gray cloak wrapped around her.

“Father.” She whispered. He sighed and bared the door with the thick plank. His wife ran to the cellar, their daughter following close behind her. They locked the cellar from the inside waiting for the woodcutter to come and get them. The woodcutter waited by the door with his shotgun. Gently pushing the curtain back with the barrel. Across the street he could see his neighbor’s curtains fluttering as well. After an hour, the church bells rang out again, this time sounding much more peaceful. The woodcutter set the shotgun down. He went to the cellar and knocked on the door.

“It’s all clear, my darlings.” He spoke. The door opened and the woodcutter’s wife and daughter rushed into his arms. He sighed, relieved to still have them both safe.

“To and from school only.” The woodcutter’s wife said sternly the next morning. She tucked a stray hair under her daughter’s patched hood. Her daughter sighed.

“Yes mother.” The young maiden skipped down the road, enjoying the warm breeze on her skin. The path split into two roads. The school house was visible at the end of the right fork, but she stepped off the path, flitting to the edge of the woods. Beyond the tree line was a field of wild flowers.

The woodcutter’s daughter was positive that the king would not return to town so soon after last night, and it was so beautiful outside. She longed to just be out. The maiden sat down in the middle of the field of orange and yellow wild flowers. She ran her hands over the petals, silk against her fingertips and hummed along with the birds. The warm wind swirled around her and she smiled. Until the church bells rang out overhead. The woodcutter’s daughter froze and even the birds stopped singing. It’s too soon, it’s too soon, kept running through her mind. The woodcutter’s daughter ran back through the field and the woods, her skirts clutched tight in her fists. Her hood fell, her dark hair spilling out, whipping across her face.

She burst through the tree line, stumbling backward as she caught glimpse of the king’s horses in the street. As if he could smell the terror that seeped from her pores, the king turned his head and brought his horse to a halt. His lips twisted up in a sick smile and he tilted his head to the side.

She was unlike any beauty he had ever seen. Her wide icy eyes seemed to stir something inside of him. Her dark hair hung in her face, across her shoulders, and over her heaving chest. The maiden gripped the branches behind her as her heart threatened to leap from her throat. The king’s robes fluttered as he kicked his feet out of the stirrups, ready to dismount and claim his new beauty.

Their eyes were locked in a deadly gaze as he swung a foot around and slid off his steed. Just as his boots hit the ground, the maiden was ripped from the tree line, the woodcutter’s hands gripping her upper arms. He dragged her away as fast as his feet could carry him. Too fast for the king to remount and ride after them into the thicket. The king made himself a promise that he would one day have this beauty for his own. She was special. He remounted his horse with a small smile still playing over his lips.

The church bells rang out just as the woodcutter dragged his daughter through his backdoor. They didn’t even fully make it through the door before the woodcutter’s wife was upon them. She enveloped her daughter in her arms, shedding tears of joy at her return. When she pulled back she caught glimpse of the tears in her daughter’s eyes and turned to her husband, whose jaw was clenched tight.

“What happened?” The wife cried. The maiden was speechless, fear paralyzed her muscles. The woodcutter spoke, his voice cracking with panic and anger.

“He saw her. The king saw her, she skipped school to go to that d*mned field again.” The wife gripped her daughter’s shoulders, feebly shaking her.

“He saw you? He saw you? Why didn’t you just go to school? Do you know what this could mean?” She looked back to her husband. “What kind of look? How did he look at her?” The woodcutter sighed, a devastated sigh.

“He was practically licking his chops.” The wife collapsed onto the floor, the maiden falling with her. They held fast to each other as sobs racked their bodies and the woodcutter paced. His head was spinning. He could take them away, leave the village and never return, but that required money and he was a woodcutter five days away from pay. There was no way.

“No.” The woodcutter said and crouched down beside his wife and daughter. “I won’t let anything happen, I promise. I’m going to fix this.” He smoothed down their hair and kissed their foreheads.

“What are you going to do?” His wife cried out. He did not answer, just picked up his shotgun from beside the front door and left out the back. Where he pulled his ax from the stump. The woodcutter walked down the street with the posture that made men follow. In the cellar of the tavern he stood against the back wall and spoke for the first time in that room. There is something about a man that never speaks that forces one to listen when he does finally part his lips.

“For years, we have feared for our women as we courted them. And then spending months on our knees begging god for a son. Not to carry on our name, but to save our blood from the torture that is this town. Then our wives spread their legs and gave us daughters. And all we saw in their eyes as they held their new baby girl was grief. We have spent years on edge hiding them. And some of us have had the unimaginable horror of loosing them. Some have returned, some have not. But all have been lost, because those that return are forever changed. I tell you that this must end. We must save our wives, our daughters, our grandchildren. And we must do it today, while there is no chance the king believes we are coming.” The men paused and a silence fell over the room. All of their talk had never been anything but that, talk. But then, a single man in the back of the crowd cocked his shotgun without saying a word. And fifteen others echoed.

The woodcutter’s wife and daughter had settled down when they heard a commotion in the street. They went to the window, still holding onto each other, not bringing themselves to let go. People of the village ran past their window, women and men alike. The woodcutter’s wife and daughter ventured from their home, running along with the crowd to the center of town. The baker stood on the platform of the king’s statue.

“What’s happened?”

“Who survived?” The townspeople called out in panic.

“The men who stormed the castle have been taken prisoner.” The baker shouted over their cries.

“Prisoner?”

“What’s to happen to them?”

“Is death their only fate?” The woodcutter’s wife and daughter clutched each other tighter, for now they knew the woodcutter was amongst the prisoners.

“We need to send some men into the castle to try and bargain with the king. See if we can get the men back somehow.” The baker said, smoothing out his flour covered apron. “Who will go with me?” The baker had no daughters.

“I will.” The blacksmith raised a hand smeared with ash. He had two sons. They both volunteered as well. The shoemaker volunteered too, along with his son. And finally the banker, against his his wife’s wishes. He had no children. So the men made their way to the castle, raising their hands as the guards approached.

“We only wish to speak to the king.” The baker spoke. The guards led them inside the castle, down stone corridors and through a set of large wooden doors. The shoemaker wondered how they ever got them open. Through the doors was a throne room. The king sitting atop a single golden throne. His lavish robes spilling over the sides. His jeweled crown glittered in the sunlight coming through the stained glass, leaving a ruby reflection across the floor between the men and the king.

The men did not kneel as the king expected. Instead they spoke straight away, pleading for a trade. They offered him money, their homes, anything they had. But the king had all the money he could ever want, he lived in a rich castle, and had no use for shoemaking, blacksmith work, or even baked goods. The king knew what he wanted even before the men began to blubber.


“The maiden, the black haired one with the ice eyes. I will hand the others over if the maiden is delivered to me.” The king was quite pleased with himself. What were a few rebels worth if he got the beautiful maiden for his watery prison.

The king had a large pond in the back of his castle. On a good day the water was crystal clear and one could make out the dresses of each of all the other young women, forever trapped underneath the surface. Chains held them to the muddy bottom. No fish lived in this pond, no ducks swam on the surface, and no deer stopped to drink. For the pond let off an aura of death. The king loved to look down upon the water, marveling at his beauties, forever his.

His favorite though was when a new beauty was added. He licked his lips while the scarlet rose bloomed at the surface. Slowly, the rose would fade as the last drop poured from her neck and the new beauty became visible. Her skirts suspended in the water. He would smile to himself as he clutched the dripping knife, running the fresh blood between his thumb and forefinger. He would then press the blood to his lips dripping between the dry cracks.

“What does he want?” The mason asked as the men returned from the castle.

“He wants the black haired maiden for his collection.” The blacksmith said, his eyes were grave. The mason’s face crumpled. And he immediately thought, was the life of one girl worth the lives of fifteen men and a possible revolution to take out the king and save every future woman. The mason had two daughters. He strode in the direction of the woodcutter’s house. All the men followed. The woodcutter’s wife answered the door. But as she took in all the men in her doorway, she turned, screaming and running.


“Run!” She screamed out to her daughter. The men rushed into the house, grabbing the maiden just as she threw open the back door. They grabbed hold of the maiden, dragging her out. Her mother clung to her like a last breath. The men pried them apart, using all of their strength. Both of the women screeched. Their desperate cries split the eardrums of the men and broke their hearts. But they kept telling themselves that now they would never have to hear these cries from their daughters and their wives.


“Mother!”

“No!” Five of the men stayed to hold back the mother. The others dragged the maiden through the streets. She screamed and kicked.

“Mother! Mother! Father!” As the men’s grip tightened her shrieks turned to sobs. They did not shush her. Finally her body only shook with silent, defeated sobs. When the men were no longer dragging the young maiden along, the mason spoke.

“It’s the only way. Fifteen families will get their men back tonight because of you. And you might just give the women a chance too.” His voice was cold and detached, but his eyes were red rimmed.

“He’s going to kill me isn’t he?” The maiden asked, her voice cracked. No one answered her and she choked back a sob.

A group of women stood at the mouth of the path that lead to the castle. The seamstress held a stark white cloak in her hands that she had made for her daughter’s wedding. The men stopped in front of the group of women. Tears still rolled down the woodcutter’s daughter’s face. The seamstress wiped the tears off her cheeks and unfolded the cloak. The mason gently slid the patched gray one off her shoulders from behind. The seamstress then carefully wrapped the white fabric around her shoulders, gently placing all her dark hair underneath the hood, and fastening the golden button in the front.

“Thank you.” The seamstress whispered, tears reddening her eyes. The mason turned the maiden around and looked directly in her eyes with such pain that she had to hold back more tears.

“I’m sorry.” He said, his voice cracked. The young maiden did not speak, for the only thing that would slip from her lips were sobs if she even so much as breathed through her mouth. Two guards gently pushed through the crowd, taking hold of the maiden and leading her back up the path. All could still hear the woodcutter’s wife’s shrieks.

The maiden wrapped the white cloak tighter around herself. She held her head high as she strode into the water. Her cloak grew heavy as the water grabbed hold of the fabric. She stood waist deep in the dark water. The moonlight sparkling across the surface.

The king stood above in the balcony of his castle, watching. The guard came up behind her, splashing through the water rather that gliding through it as she had. She knew what was coming but did not close her eyes. His left hand snaked out with the knife and in one smooth motion, the blade slit across her neck and she fell. There was only a brief glimpse of scarlet loss cast across her cloak before the white figure was swallowed by the liquid night.

The death of the woodcutter’s daughter was seen or heard by all. The sacrifice of the innocent maiden broke the dam inside the calmest men. As the sun broke the horizon, all the women and children were shut deep under the church with the preacher. The men gathered their shotguns and axes, and the butcher passed out his knives. The woodcutter led the men, fighting like no other man before him. Others’ blood cast across his clothes and face and arms. The men stormed the castle, cutting through the guards with a furry that would be remembered for years to come. The woodcutter’s strength would be remembered in particular. For generations to come, people would tell that the hand of god reached down and gave him strength.

Finally, the woodcutter reached the king’s chamber. After the guards laid on the floor gasping for their last breaths, the woodcutter entered. He found the king huddled in the corner. The woodcutter came to stand over the king, ax in hand. The king fell to the woodcutter’s feet begging for mercy. The king offered him riches and fine robes, everything he had. The woodcutter grabbed hold of the king by his collar and wrenched him to his feet. He was conflicted for a moment about slaughtering an unarmed man. But then he remembered his daughter. She bared no weapon, yet was still bled on his sick alter. And she had held her head high. A girl of fifteen, chin tilted toward the heavens. This man, weasel, was crippled with fear.

The woodcutter snapped his ax into the king, over and over. Until his body was unrecognizable, and the woodcutter’s shirt was soaked with his blood, tears cutting paths in the blood on his cheeks.

Once the palace was secured, the men brought shovels to the graveyard, digging holes for the women of the pond. Not one of the village men were killed in battle. As some dug into the grassy earth, others swam to the bottom of the pond and began to pry the chains from the soft mud. One by one, the women floated to the surface. Their bodies were bloated with water, their flesh falling off in pieces even with the gentlest touch.

Except for the woodcutter’s daughter. The woodcutter was the one to go in after her. He strode from the pond with his daughter cradled in his arms. She was limp, her head lulled to the side, and her mouth was parted with an unreleased scream. Yet she still held her dark beauty, even in death. Her wet hair covered the neck wound. The woodcutter’s face was not just slick with the water, but drenched in silent sorrow. His wife remained at the bank, her broken soul leaching from her face in a way that left every passer by raw themselves. The woodcutter paused at his wife. She gently brushed the dark strands out of her daughter’s eyes and closed them. She then kissed her daughter’s forehead, tasting the death.

Everything the water touched stained with the smell of death. The vomit educing oder followed the people as they buried the women and floated the guards down the river. It clung not just to their skin, but to their very souls. Eventually a few of the men brought down the king from his chamber, sliding his body on an old horse blanket. They then rolled the mass of mangled flesh into the pond, stirring the water again.

The beautiful palace was left to rot just like the king. Tall weeds grew in the patches where blood had seeped into the earth. Vines cracked the stained glass and weather eroded the walls. The only inhabitants were the ravens. Below lay the small village, where the children played in the streets while the smells of warm bread and hot soup called the husbands home from work. The church bells only rang on Sunday, the cellar doors were rusted shut, and every woman and girl slept safe in their beds, to awaken in the morning and thank the woodcutter’s daughter for that night. Her statue stood proudly in the center of town. A likeness of her before she died, white cloak, head high, face decided. However, instead of water at the base of her cloak, there were flowers carved into the bronze. And below a plaque read, “And so the lamb was lead to slaughter, to let the others live another.”



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