Once Upon A Time...
Author's note: Inspired by my beautiful imagination ;) and the brothers grimm collection or fairytales
Hope you people enjoy it!
Hope you people enjoy it!
Chapter 2Chapter 2
Slug pulled the horses to a complete stop and I hopped of the seat I shared with Slug and Pig. I held the door open as Bash came out, smiling as the sun hit his face and he would look quiet normal if Finn wasn’t strung over his shoulder. Out follow Snig and Dour. Grog and Al had road ahead to make sure we didn’t encounter any trouble on the way here although I didn’t see the use of it since our camp was in the middle of nowhere and we quickly met back up with
There was no need to keep the sack over Finn’s head now that we’re already here, so I yanked in off, only to find that the prince was asleep. Snig and I shared a look and we burst out laughing. I’m pretty sure this is the first captive we’ve had that fall asleep rather than fight back although it was 4 in the morning. I was feeling a bit fatigued myself.
“Well, less trouble for us!” Pig commented.
“Do I still have to carry him? It’s not that he’s heavy it’s just, well this boy’s a giant!”
“No. You’re just a dwarf.”
“I still can’t believe he didn’t recognize you. I mean, I thought the eyes would surely give you away,” Al commented and I shrugged.
“He’ll figure it out soon enough. It’s not like I can hid my name forever.”
I pulled out a bag of provisions we had brought out of the carriage and set it aside aside to push the carriage, with Dour’s help, behind some bushes and trees where it will be out of sight from any wandering travelers, not that many came down this abandoned road anyway. Better safe than sorry.
I pulled my red cloak tighter around me as the chill began to come in on this cold fall night and nodded to the rest, taking the lead into the so-called ‘demented forest.’ Funny how just a few tricks and stunts on passer-bys can make the rest of the world stay away. Every once and a while, some idiot ventures into our forest and we are forced to let the ogre loose, chasing them away and spread the tale once again of, and I quote, ‘A giant beast, feasting off those who dare wander into the demented forest. But if the monster doesn’t getcha, then ay, I promise you, the forest itself will.’ I should know. I spread some of these rumors myself. It’s a fun pass time.
I paused for a second on the trail, which was visible only to those with a trained eye and who have traveled it before, glancing in the northern direction. I lifted my hand, motioning the others to stop and stay silent. There! Another rustle came from the bush and I drew my thin, strong, and light sword, hearing the others do the same with their weapons.
I heard a twang in the exact second I dropped hard to the ground, missing an arrow by centimeter that hit the tree behind me instead of my head.
“Dang it, Robin! You almost hit me!”
I stood up and brushed the dirt off my cloak, sheathing my sword as a man in his early 20s reveled himself from the tree, laughing of course. He was a short man, not nearly as small as the dwarves but the same hight as me, making him shorter then most of the other men. His brown hair was messy as always, curling a little at the ends and was in desperate need of a hair cut as he continuously pushed it out of his brown and warm eyes. He grinned at me and I saw the stubble growing a little along his chin and upper lip. He wore the usual, brown pants and a shirt with his quiver strapped around his shoulder and bow in hand, not at all like the green tights and ridiculous hat many people envisioned Robin Hood to look like. If anyone even brought up the idea of tights, you would most likely find an arrow in your chest before you can even finish the sentence.
“Trust me, Gwen. If I wanted to kill you, you would already be dead.”
“Oh yeah? Without that bow you know I can kill you, easy.”
“Why do you think I never put the bow down?”
I rolled my eyes and he grinned. His smile faded into curiously as he looked over my shoulder and caught sight of Finn, currently asleep and looking odd as he was string between Bash and Dour.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your boyfriend? It is, after all, my job as your brother to make sure every man treats you well. Your so delicate,” he said as he patted my hand. I swatted him away with a growl.
Yes, Robin Hood is my brother. Not my real one, of course, but he came pretty darn close. I met him a few years after the seven dwarves took me in as an abandoned baby. If you haven’t noticed, these guys aren’t very good mothers. They have left me alone countless times and even I’m surprised I’m still alive. So of course, I met Robin when I was 8, running around outside alone of course seeing that I was lost. Robin was only 12 at the time and he was just earning his title Robin of the Wood, which of course, over time, transformed into Robin Hood. He mistaken me as a deer due to the fact that I was wearing brown clothes and I was laying on the forest floor, looking a butterfly that caught my eye. He shot me. But again, he was just earning the Robin of the Wood title and thankfully, missed my heart. He only grazed my hip and once he realized I was no deer, he took care of me until I was well again. Ever since then, he always thought of me as his little sister.
“One: He’s not my boyfriend. Even you know I wouldn’t stoop that low. And two: this is Prince Phineas of Lynivar,” I said with a smug smile, enjoying his shock as his eyes grew as wide as saucers.
“Yup,” I grinned, popping the ‘p.’
“Oh gosh. Hurry! We have to get him to camp! The Queen would have already sent out a search party for him!”
I was surprised by his hast but didn’t question, following closely behind as we soon entered a clearing, roughly 3 acres all around, just as the sun began to rise. Thousands of tents were pitches, women, children, and men were playing, cooking, working. Many small fires were burning, giving the whole camp a smell of smoke and cooking food that mixed well with the natural scent of pine from the woods around us.
Along the way, Finn must have woke up because he was currently marveling at our camp we had built from the ground up. Here, supposed fairy tale creatures lived in peace and harmony, living off the resources given from the forest with the exception of the supplies we need from the outside world, which is why we must steal and take from unsuspecting travelers. We mean no harm and it has been years since we ever had to kill anyone, that being the exception seeing that they almost killed one of us. We take small things most of the time, little things here and there that all add up to a steady supply. But times are desperate now. The game in our forest are slowly depleting, leaving many of us hungry and our thievery has been increasing sadly.
“What is this place?” Finn asked, his feet no longer bound like this hands so he was walking on his own, next to me at the moment.
“I suspect you know all the fairy tales, right?” He nodded. “Well those stories you’ve heard, aren’t just that. This is where all those, so-called ‘fairy tales creatures’ live. Every tale you’ve heard was based off of the people living here.”
“Where are the Princesses and Princes? Shouldn’t they be living in grand palaces, and not in the middle of nowhere?”
“Not all fairy tales have princesses. In fact, most of the stories with princesses turn out to be a writer wanting to spice up the tale by throwing them in. Cinderella? A lie. Snow White was real, but, well, we don’t like to talk about her. Sleeping Beauty? Another lie although the 13 Wise Women is no myth and instead, there are only 3. I’m sure their around here somewhere... Anyway! The Frog Prince, although is very real. He and his princess are the grandparents of King Randal of Avvidina. They passed away but still, they were very much real. Other then Snow White, The Frog Prince, and a few select others, there are not many fairy tale princes and princesses in this land anymore.”
He nodded and continued to look around the camp in wonder and I got a better look at him. Without his mask, I realized he was quiet handsome. He had black hair with a slight curl at the ends and it was very messy but thats understood since Bash is not one to handle carefully. He had starling blue eyes of all things, a solid ice blue that could catch anyone off guard. He stood a few inches higher then me, something I didn’t appreciate that much and I sympathized with the dwarves. He was well defined, not to bulky but not too skinny. He has muscles in all the right places, the effect for years of wrestling, swords play, and horses back riding.
I realized I was staring and averted my gaze to something else. Through a crowd of little children running around and giggling, I caught sight of Fairy Candace and waved her over.
“Fairy Candace!” I shouted and couldn’t help but let a big smile break through.
I jumped up and wrapped her in a big hug. When most people think of fairy godmothers, they usually think of an old, kind lady with white hair, a sweet smile, and a long robe. Fairy Candace was nothing like that. If she wasn’t so dang nice and innocent, she could wrap every king and prince (maybe some princesses) around her finger in a snap without the use of magic. She had fiery red hair that put other shades of red to shame, definitely giving her character and her eyes were a rare amber color. She was incredibly tall at a whopping 6 feet and 6 inches and had that perfect hour-glass figure not to mention perfect smile, perfect teeth, perfect face. And to only add on to her beauty, she was the epitome of kindness, virtue, purity. If you say ‘nobodies perfect’ then you have clearly not met Fairy Candace.
Candace was also the one who taught me to at least act like a lady. If it wasn’t for her, I would have fallen head over heels at the ball. Literally. She was also the one who gave me the dress. I hate dresses. And make up. And those atrocious shoes. As I thought of it, I made a silent promise to never go to a ball again.
She gave me a warm smile and twisted a lock of my hair around her finger.
“I see the scissors worked.”
“They did. The spell broke and I am official a brunette.”
“Excellent.” She saw Finn staring at her in awe and gave him a smile as well before turning back to me. “And you’re trip was successful. How do you suppose the Council with react?”
I gave an awkward laugh before saying, “I have no idea. I’m sure we can work something out.”
“Council?” I turned and saw Finn looking at us in confusion. “What are you planning to do with me?” I shrugged.
“There’s a lot of things we could do. Kill you. Place you under a spell or a curse. Which ever you prefer although I doubt it will be your choice anyways. Oh! Gunther has been very hungry lately. A good option I believe.”
“Our ogre,” I said simply and turned away so he wouldn’t see me silently laugh to myself.
“Oh, Gwen. Stop torturing the poor boy.” Candace said with a disapproving frown. Finn jerked his head up and stared at me in amazement.
“Oops. Was I not supposed to say that?” Candace asked and I cursed under my breath, shaking my head.
“No, it’s fine. He would have found out at some point anyways.” I turned to see an open mouthed prince, staring at me as if I had grown a second head, which around here is possible. “Yes. It’s me.”
“Me,” I said in a bored tone, already knowing how this was going to go down.
“Know any other words?”
“That’s my name. Don’t wear it out.” I casually examined my nails, giving him some time to process the information.
Finn looked at me in disbelief for a few more seconds until his expression changed into a blank stare. I awaited for the jabber of words but he allowed for an awkward silence to fall between us. Candace and I shared a look and she shrugged, not knowing what to say and hurried away as the opportunity arose when someone called for her.
“Uhh, Slug? Why don’t you show Finn where he’s staying. There’s an extra bed in the house. He can stay there.”
Slug nodded, gripping Finn tightly by the ropes that still bound his hands and yanked him away.
I was left there, still wondering what just happened.
Slug dragged me along my the rope that bound me, chafing my wrists but my thoughts were too muddled to even realize it.
It is Gwen! How did I not see it before! I should have been able to recognize those eyes anywhere! How did her hair turn it’s brown color? Did she dye her hair? When did she even have time to cut it? How is it possible that the kind, quiet girl I danced with is the same as this fiery women who isn’t afraid to put a knife to my neck?
The questioned didn’t stop at just Gwen, but of the whole camp as well. I didn’t think it was possible for a whole community like this to live out here without the world knowing.
I was yanked out of my thoughts when I almost toppled over Slug, who had suddenly stopped at a giant stump, rising 25 feet above me. Years of eroding has whisked away the dirt under the stump, leaving it suspended in the air from the strong and sturdy roots that held it up high and strong. The roots were connected together with planks of wood nailed across them all around, giving it a wooden hut sort of look.
Slug pulled the heavy wooden door open and I had to duck a little to get inside. The inside of the house was even bigger then it looked on the inside. The stump was hollowed out, giving the roof and giant hole just above an open fire,t he hole used as a vent for smoke. I could make out a hatch on the roof to close up the hole in case of rain or any other disturbance that could come through the roof.
The hut was separated into 5 rooms. We were currently in the middle of the first one which served as a family room and kitchen judging by the cabinets holding spices, herbs, and other foods along with a rack nailed to the wall, holding furs or meats to dry off. Around the fire were stools, one taller then the others and everything seemed covered in soft animal furs. It is winter after all.
The next room I saw must have been the dwarves room. It only had the seven usual beds, a wide mirror in the corner, and 3 separate chests to hold personal belonging. Gwen’s room was similar only with a bigger bed and she had more hooks of the walls to hold more feminine clothing articles thought most of the clothes I saw where trousers and shirts. I did, however, catch sight of the dress Gwen wore last night. My room was roughly the same size as the others with a bed and chest in the corner. It was empty and I suspected this was used sometimes, seeing how the bed was unmade and the mirror had a crack along it.
I wonder what the 5th room was, seeing the closed door on the way here but didn’t bother to question. I looked down in surprise and saw Slug cutting loose the ropes. He twisted the sharp of the knife under that last length that held my writs fast and paused, looking up at me dead in the eye.
“Try and run and you will be dead before the first 3 steps. Understood?” I gulped at the threat, detecting the seriousness behind his words and nodded. He wasn’t kidding.
He sighed as if he didn’t believe me but cut the rope regardless.
“Get some sleep. You’ll see the court around noon. That should give you plenty of time to rest up and gather your strength. Trust me, you’ll need it.”
And with that, he left me alone in my room and I heard a clicking sound from the door. I shook my head, pressing my lips tightly together. Even if I say I won’t run, they still lock the door. I walked over to my bed, thankful for the furs as a morning cill began to bit through my coat that was now stained with dirt and dust. I sunk deeper into the pillow and let sleep take over.
I jumped out of bed in a frantic, hitting my head hard against something else and collided my head back into the pillow. Bleary eyed, I looked up to see Gwen glaring at me, rubbing her forehead in the same manner I was.
“Lords, Gwen! Did you have to scream? A simple ‘wake up’ would have been sufficient,” I said, returning her glare with equal force.
“I did try that! Plus poking, prodding, slapping, wet willying.”
“What’s a wet willy?” She just laugh and shook her head.
“Come on. The Council is held on the far side. Let’s hope we don’t run into any...unpleasant villagers.”
I held back the question, figuring I didn’t want to know. Gwen tossed me a pair of trousers, a loose shirt, and a pair of boots. She left the room for me to dress and I do admit. I would look good as a commoner. I grinned at myself in the mirror and I heard sigh from behind me. I saw Gwen in the mirror, leaning against the doorway with a raised eyebrow, shaking her head.
“And to think you couldn’t be any more vain. Come on.”
I followed her outside, seeing it was around noon and everyone was bustling to make or eat lunch. The tents were left vacant by this point, everyone chatting and laughing with gave the camp an all around good feel. I noticed that nearly every person greeted Gwen with a warm smile, and stared curiously at me, making me squirm under their gazes.
A cloud smoke appeared directly in front of me and I could hear Gwen curse beside me in between coughs. A small man emerged from the vanishing smoke and when I say small, I mean small in every way. He was as tall as the dwarves (well, as short as the dwarves) with thin arms and legs and a very lean and slightly hunched body. His orange hair was sticking in all directions as if he had been struck my lighting and his eyes stared at me with a crazed look. He pointed a boney finger at me with a mad and twisted grin.
“Quick! What’s my name!”
“Uhh...” I racked my brain. Where have I heard of this before? “ Your Rumpelstiltskin!”
“Wrong! My name is Muffi-Jo!” He cackled and skipped circles around me chanting, “Muffi-Jo! Had a crow! Who wants a fro! Woohoo!” I gave Gwen and bewildered look and she just rolled her eyes, a small smile twitching at the corners of her mouth.
“Ol’ Rumpel’s been like this ever since someone figured out his name. He doesn’t do much harm, just runs around and asks people for his name. We’re lucky the poor guy didn’t rip himself apart, he was so angry when they figured out his name.”
“Oh Billy Bob. Oh Billy Bob! My name is Grinch Ver Shish Kabob!”
I let a small laugh escape form my lips as the Rumpelstiltskin pumped his fist in the air and scuttled away to pester the other villagers, who reacted kindly to him. Not one of them uttered a single harsh word.
We made it through the camp without another run in with some poor crazy fairy tale creature much to Gwen’s relief and arrived at what looked to be the biggest tent here. It stood as tall as the dwarves hut, a flag planted at the top and the entire thing was stained red.
“Hey. Isn’t this the tent that was stolen a few years back?” I questioned Gwen who went red in the face and denied it no matter how much I insisted it was.
Not a single bit of space was wasted on the inside. A curved, horseshoes shaped table was curved along in the inside, the opening facing the tent entrance and 13 chairs were placed behind it. 5 of the chairs placed at the center of the table stood out against the rest, the back rising higher then the others and was carved with designs with 4 more lesser chairs on each side.
In the chairs sat 3 old women who seemed to be triplets, the only difference being one wore blue, the other wore green, and the last wore red. I recognized Fairy Candace from earlier and she looked as stunning as usual, calmly looking around and the many people arguing and debating. The last women was just as tall as Candace sitting down at least, and seemed to be made of snow itself. She glittered in what light there was, looking as if an ice and snow sculpture carved by skilled hands had come to life. A glittering ice crown was placed atop her head and blue eyes shined as they fell upon him. Those years his father told him of tales finally became useful as he remembered perfectly who this women was. The Snow Queen.
“Order!” The Snow Queen shouted, her voice filled with authority and power.
The chatted slowly but surly died down as they all realized that I was here. Gwen grabbed my by the forearm and pulled me to a chair that sat in the middle of the horseshoe, putting me on display so the 13 Council members could all get a good look at me.
“Gwen? Dear? What exactly have you dragged in this time?” The fairy in blue asked with sarcasm.
“Merryweather, there’s no need for doubt. This is Phineas,” she said, gesturing to me.
“I see... Well, any proposals as to what we should to with him?”
It was as if someone cut the rope that bound the chatter, letting it all loose as every single person was engaged in some sort of debate. I heard bits and pieces of words here and there but none of them made any clear sense.
“Hello? Hello!” I heard a tiny, drowned out voice to my left and saw a very tiny girl, only a few inches tall stomping and looking very angry and no one payed attention to her. Maybe I could earn her favor?
“Hey!” I shouted and everyone fell silent, looking at me in surprise. They probably didn’t expect me to speak. “She wants to speak.” I said, pointing at the little girl. The Snow Queen narrowed her eyes before turning to the inch tall girl.
“Go ahead Thumbelina.”
“Thank you!” she said with a sweet voice and patted down her tiny skirt before giving me a wicked grin. “I say we kill him!”
And the chatter instantly broke out again. So much for that plan.
“Stop!” All heads turned to Gwen who was pinching the bridge of her nose, her arms crossed and she looked very annoyed. “I kidnapped him for a reason. We need food and the only place we can get it is from the outside world.” Gasps all around that died done as Gwen raised her silencing hand. “I’m not sure if any of you have figured it out but this is Prince Phineas of Lynivar. He would definitely be worth a lot of money. So my suggestion is this: use him for ransom money.”
This time, people only spoke in low mummers of agreements. There was a lot nodding, some shaking of the heads but in the end, the majority agreed. Heads turned at the door flap whisked open and a man strode in, holding a rolled up piece of parchment and a very grim expression.
“Robin? What happened?” Gwen questioned with concern.
Robin’s response was unrolling the parchment, revealing my face painted on the tinted paper. My eyes widened at the sight.
“This is ridiculous!” I shouted and snatched it from Robin’s hands, looking it over and over again.
“For once. I agree with him,” Gwen said as she looked over my shoulder at the paper.
“I know! They gave me a unibrow!” Everyone fell silent and looked at me in mockery.
“Uhh, besides that. There’s a reward for the prince. 10,000 gold coins.”
I could feel in excitement in the air. All but one agreed. They were going to turn me in for the reward. Well, it’s better then being eaten by an ogre named Gunther.
“Wait. How do you know I won’t tell the Queen about you guys?”
“Easy. I already have a batch of Forget-About-It! stew! You’ll forget everything about this place and think that, for instance, you got lost in this forest, barely made it out with your life, and Gwen will pose as a girl who found you wandering the border line and collect the reward,” Candace answered with a soft smile. Anything she says sounds gentle and easy.
After a few more debates on other matters inside the camp, the Snow Queen dismissed us and Gwen took me back to the hut. She, of course, locked the door leaving me to rot until the time came to take me back, telling me to rest, but I could not. My thoughts prevented me from falling asleep. I wondered if there was a way I could avoid the Forget-About-It! stew and tell the Queen about this place. Sure the Queen was an awful women at times, but at the beginning, when she was first marrying my father, she was the most gentle creature I’ve ever met. I’m sure that person is still in there. Could she possibly give these people food and water, the supplies they need to live? Maybe their own homes in the kingdom?
But did these people even deserve it? They did kidnap me after all and steal from my people. They were thieves by law, criminals that needed to be punished. They seemed harmonious but could it all be just an act? Is it just a trick? Would it matter in the end?
In the end, I just confused myself. I would figure something out. Somehow.