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 6“Savan. You’re here.”
The Queen grinned as the handsome young man entered her room, a messenger bag slung around his shoulder.
“And I got what you wanted. You’re sure this will work?”
After the Queen made her second wish, she didn’t waste any time trying to sort her memories. They were all there and she knew exactly what she wanted to do. First, she demanded Kenton to show her what the dwarves were doing now and when she saw them laughing
The next thing the Queen wanted to see was what Finn has been doing the past week. She saw him the night he was kidnapped, the day of his trial, and learning out to hunt. Mostly, she saw him and the girl together frequently and this only made her question the girl even more.
So the likely thing for her to do was do some research on her. And, boy, did she find some information. Gwen was abandoned as a baby, brought into the dwarves household only a few months after the Queen’s memory was erased. She made friends with that man called Robin Hood she saw earlier and quickly grew to be a good hunter, a quick thinker, and a smart girl as much as the Queen was reluctant to admit. For some reason, this only made her hate Gwen even more. Gwen had stolen from the Queen, she had defied her, taunted her in small ways. She was the girl Finn danced with. She was his kidnapper. And from the looks of it, she was the reason Finn did not want to return.
Naturally, it was easy to blame her as the reason Finn was not here, thus blaming her for the fact that she could loose her crown. It’s her fault she kidnapped Finn. It’s her fault he wants to stay. Her. Fault.
The last thing Clara asked to see was Savan, Gwen’s ex. She had seen him while she was digging up information at Gwen and the Queen saw this as her opportunity. An opportunity to get rid of her.
If there is no Gwen, then why should Finn stay? The Queen thought. It’s would be best to get rid of her, and once I go, the dwarves with come out into the open with me like I know they would.
The Queen still thought that they would live a better life here in the city. No more scrounging for food and water. No more hard labors under the beating sun. The dwarves can live a peaceful life. The Queen knew the dwarves wouldn’t like it at first, but once they see how great they have it, they would thank her, she was sure of that.
But let’s go back to step one. Getting rid of Gwen.
It wasn’t hard finding Savan. There had been reports of people dying from a wolf in a small town near the boarder of the Demented Forest. She immediately sent Garret to catch him and, just like he did with the Aladdin and Jasmine, he surprised her by coming back in only a few hours with the wolf in tow.
When Clara went on, explaining how she remember how she is Snow White, he shifted back into his human form and they went to planning. By this time, it was early in the morning, since the Queen stayed up most of the night with the mirror. Savan set out on a special mission and finally, he has returned. Successful.
“One strand of Gwen hair. You can check that off your demonic list. And you’re sure this spell won’t kill her, right? Just a simple revenge spell?”
The Queen was tempted to smirk. She could tell the poor boy was still in love with Gwen (a thought that made her scowl) and only wanted revenge. It was his closure. She wondered what his reaction would be when he found out that the spell would kill her. Slowly perhaps, depended on what curse entertained her the most. Queens get bored too, you know.
“Don’t worry. The spell will only frighten her, send her into a small depression or two. It won’t physically harm her. You didn’t happen to see Phineas while you were in the forest, did you?”
“Nope. Just Gwen. So what now? Do you need any other ingredients?”
“Not that I know of so far. You may leave.”
He nodded and exited the room, taking a secret passageway so that he remains unknown to the castle staff. That would only cause problems.
The Queen gripped the small bag holding the strand of brown hair. Laid out on the marble self under the mirror, sat the other ingredients she knew she would need. Phoenix feathers, mushrooms, herbs, and a vial of the Queen’s own blood. Now, all she needed was a full moon to cast the spell and Gwen would be good as gone.
The Queen smiled as she looked at her moon chart, drawing a circle around the moon tonight. The full moon. Dusk was falling and, already, she could see the moon outside her balcony, making it’s way towards the center of the sky.
Now, all she had to do was wait.
I couldn’t be more proud. With a simple plan like ours, that has absolutely no depth or plan Bs, the dwarves knew exactly what to do. We barely needed to talk as we snooped our way past the first line of guards, slipping a Dreamer’s Draught potion into their drinks as we passed them.
I squatted low in the grass, listening to the sound of footsteps as my eyes trained onto the guard walking back and forth on the wall. There were 4 sides, 3 to each wall, one to each corner.
Al and I shared a look and nodded. We knew what to do. I knocked an arrow in my bow as he set a decent sized rock into this sling shot. Since Al wasn’t as muscular are his brothers, he settles for a less physical weapon. The sling shot worked perfectly for him. And he was a great shot.
We both silently counted to 3, simultaneously standing as Al fired at the guard on the corner closet to us, knocking him out as my arrow flew up and over the edge of the tower that was now free of guards. The rope tied to the arrow stopped unraveling as the arrow fastened itself tight in the tower. I gave the rope a tug to make sure it was safe Al started climbing since he was the lightest.
He reached the top, tied the rope onto something more secure, and I climbed up after.
While I waited for the rest to come up, I sneaked up right behind the first guard and poised myself to knock him unconscious in the quietest way I know when the thick silence of the night was shattered.
Chatters filled the air and we pressed our backs against the wall, trying to make ourself as small as possible as waves of staff members swept out the huge entrance door through a flowering garden, and out the palace walls. It seemed as if the Queen’s entire staff was leaving.
I grabbed Al and pulled him closer to me, hiding him under my cloak as one of the servants came out the tower door, instructing the guards to leave the stations and go home for the night. They all look just as confused as I felt but didn’t question once the servant mentioned it was a direct order from the Queen.
“What’s happening?” Al questioned.
“I don’t know,” I whispered back and we watched as the last of the servants, maids, cooks, butlers, and more made their way out the portcullis.
The giant gate closed with a thunder that echoed into silence.
The rest of the guys made their way up and looked just as questionable as Al and I. By this time, I began to worry about this mission. What could be so important that the Queen has to send her entire staff home?
After a silent debate inside my head, I decided against aborting and instructed Grog, Al, Dour, Pig and Bash to watch the towers as we had originally planned.
Snig, Slug, and I climbed down the tower stairs into the court yard, still sticking to the shadows in fear of any stragglers remaining in the palace.
The doors opened again, releasing a spurge of light that only reached out so far into the darkness that had taken it’s hold on the night. The sound of heels of marble steps drew my sight to the Queen, wearing a black cloak with the hood down.
I nodded to Snig and Slug and cupped my hands together, blowing it and sending out a low call of the night owl. A signal to the others to watch what was going on down below them. The Queen jerked at the sound at first before continuing into garden, oblivious of us stalking her from the shadows.
I peeked through a bushel of roses (very beautiful, by the way), watching with a burning curiosity as Clara slipped a bag off her shoulders, rummaging through it before protruding a small pot and some other simple things. The filled the pot with what looked like blackened water, adding herbs and mushrooms and ground tree bark. Finally, she protruded a golden lamp from the bag and I watched as it glistened in the light of the full moon.
“You don’t think...” I heard Snig whisper.
“Yeah. That’s the lamp of legend. The genie’s lamp.”
The night suddenly buzzed with the electricity of magic as the Queen rubbed the lamp’s side and a purple smoke wafted from the spout. The smoke grew bigger, drifting a few inches off the ground. From the smoke emerged a beautiful women who I suspected was the genie.
“What do you want now?”
“Curses like this can only be performed by magical being, right?”
“So. My third wish would be for you to perform the Phoenix’s Curse.”
The genie’s eyes flashed in my direction and I sucked in sharply. She saw me. She saw me and now she’s going to expose me. I took a slow step backwards and was about to high-tail out of there when she casually continued the conversation like nothing happened. I know she saw me. Why wasn’t she saying anything.
“I can’t do it unless you say the magic words.”
“I wish you would perform the Phoenix’s curse on Gwyneira White the second the moon is directly above us at the stroke of midnight.”
I felt Snig and Slug tense at the mention of my name. I, on the other hand, didn’t respond. I had gone numb.
The genie’s lip twitched, almost unnoticeably but I caught it. She was hoping this would happen.
“You wish is my command. Master,” she said, putting an extra emphasis on the “master” part. “Oh and, just so you think I’m not tricking you in any way, I’ll be hanging around here. At least until the curse if fulfilled.”
The Queen nodded as was waved away as the genie plopped down in the grass, the small pot directly in front of her. She pulled one last object out of the bag, a small pouch only the size of my palm. The genie rummaged around it for a second before pulling out a strand of hair, my strand of hair, and held it high above the water, shutting her eyes with a small smile and she began chanting foreign words laced with black magic.
The genies eyes opened, reveling an empty eye, vacant of any color other than white. She was performing a ancient, dark spell, that much I knew.
Her skin was glowing black, reveling her dark aura. All eyes were on her as her grip on the hair loosened. This was a real death curse. This was my ending.
“Aliquando finis tuus est. Salutem ex manibus. Decet vos successerit, anima simul liberabit,” she finished, her eyes returning to normal and an evil smile spreading across her face.
The clock rang out, 12 vibrations shaking my entire being as the genie released my strand of hair, my life, into the pot.
A photo snapped, a photo that will forever be carved into my memory. Snig and Slug, gripping my arm tightly with paled faces. A darkened looks of Al, Grog, Dour, and Bash as I saw them watch from above, completely helpless. The moon, casting a bright, yet somehow dark, light on the garden, highlighting the Queen’s dangerously victorious smile, the genie’s focused, yet smug look, and my blank face as I unwillingly committed this scene to memory. The string of hair as it sat twisted and curved in the air, only inches away from the black water. Inches away from completing the curse.
The final ring of the midnight bell was the play button on the world, snapping everything back into motion. Including my string of hair. It was consumed by the water and I held my breath, waiting for something to happen. Anything.
But nothing happened.
“What’s going on? Why isn’t it working?” The Queen demanded.
“Relax. Now you can activate the spell at anytime by adding you blood. It will obey your command once you do so.”
“Very good. Now leave,” the Queen commanded rudely, earning a glare from the genie.
I felt Snig tug my cloak. They were ready to leave. We had seen enough.
I welcomed Gwen with a smile when she returned from her mission but it faded when I saw how stricken she was. Her face was pale and her eyes were red. She look tired and didn’t utter a single word, walking quickly into Candace’s camp. The dwarves were no better, not responding to any question I asked. It seemed like they were all in shock and Robin was just as curious as I was. Something happened at the palace. And whatever it was, it was big.
Since it was around 1 in the morning, Robin insisted that we all go to sleep and ask questions in the morning when Gwen is up for it, but no matter how much I tossed and turned, I couldn’t seem to sleep with Gwen and her strange behavior in the back of my mind.
I didn’t sleep a wink and hadn’t realized how much time had gone by until the sky showed the first hints of daytime.
I immediately hopped out of bed and dressed warm, since winter had not showed any signs of weakening. I checked Gwen’s room, only to find her bed empty and ran out to find Candace.
She opened her door even before I had the chance to knock and looked worn out. There were bags under her eyes and I peeked behind her, catching sight of Gwen passed out, her head buried in the crooks of her arm as she slumped over on the table.
“Finn. I was just about to get you,” Candace said, her voice slightly raspy.
“What’s wrong? What happened last night?”
She stepped aside, granting my entrance and I saw Robin, waiting patiently on the other side of the table across of Gwen. I took a seat between them and Gwen stirred slightly, blinking her eyes and squinted them as she looked at me. She just grunted before burying her head back in her arms.
“Gwen,” I whispered, placing a comforting hand on her forearm. “What’s going on?”
She just pointed in Candace’s direction, not even lifting her head to look at me.
“She was right, Finn. She’s cursed.”
A deathly silence followed as the reality of it sunk in. It was then when Gwen picked up her head and I saw the horrible state she was in. Her eyes were bloodshot and empty with dark rings under her them. Her hair was tousled and stuck out everywhere. I doubted that she for much sleep.
“There has to be a way to break it,” she muttered, her eyes pleading.
“I don’t know, Gwen. The spell wasn’t activated. I wouldn’t know how to break it even if there is a way. Most death spells are binding.”
Gwen got this distant look in her eyes as she stared blankly at the farthest wall.
“Phoenix’s curse,” she whispered, so softly I wasn’t sure I heard it at all.
“I’m sorry?” Candace asked.
“Phoenix’s curse. That was the name of the curse.”
Comprehension crossed her face and she ran out of the room, quickly returning with an old dusty box, foreign symbols scrawled on the top. She opened it in record time and pulled as an ancient book with a heavy lock on it. Candace pulled a necklace out of her shirt, a silver key that slid easily into the lock. Dust flew as she heaved the heavy leather cover open and waved us over to crowd around. She flipped through pages of parchment before stopping on a one that appeared random.
On the corner was a shadowy ink blot, shaped into a smudged silhouette of a man in flames, two red dots acting as eyes that looked straight at you. Calligraphy covered the page, leaving holes and spaces for gruesome images of the victims. I gulped and cursed my creative imagination for being able to imagine Gwen if she was ever in those exact situations. No, she will be in those exact situations.
“Yes! Gwen, Gwen! Look here!”
Hope sparked in her eyes as she tumbled over herself and looked to where Candace was pointing. Her eyes scanned the sentences, growing bigger by the second. She gasped and a huge smile broke out on her face.
She suddenly engulfed me in a hug and buried her face in my chest, surprising us all. She pulled away like nothing happened and I was shocked to find my face heating up.
“We have to find him!” she shouted and reread the paragraph.
I looked over her shoulder and read the paragraph for myself.
The bounty hunter is known for never leaving without a victim and never resting until the target is terminated. Only one man has ever escaped the Phoenix’s wrath, Julius Field, today more commonly known as Merlin. He has never been seen since, last sighted entering the White Forest north of Avvidina...
I stopped reading. I found all I needed to know. I watched Gwen with a small smile, nothing compared to the grin that seemed to brighten the entire room. I agreed with her 100%. We need to find Merlin.
“Can’t you just place a tracking spell on him like you did with Savan?”
The last four hours went by in a much similar way. Candace looked up thousands of ways of track down Merlin, but since this is one of the most famous, skilled and mysterious wizard that’s ever existed, it was understandable when she came up with nothing.
“You think we can just place a spell on Merlin of all people? If he doesn’t want to be found, then some Tracking spell won’t work. Not even the greatest seer would be able to find him.”
“Then what are we going to do!” Gwen exclaimed, her smile turned into a disapproving frown.
Candace’s eyebrows knitted together in thought as she stared long and hard at a page in another old and dusty book.
“You’re gonna have to find him without magic.”
“Without magic. You mean go out into the White Forest and look for Merlin. Without magic.” Candace nodded and Gwen sighed, clasping her hands together and giving her a doubtful look. “Candace, darling, in this world, you can’t do anything without the held of a little magic. Even those who don’t know of us have a little magic involved in their daily errands, whether they know it or not.”
Candace narrowed her eyes and her and whacked her shoulder.
“I know that. I mean we won’t be using magic to specifically find him. Here. Look at this.
Gwen, Robin, and I bent over the book to read the passage.
Chapter 14 Merlin’s Letter
It was told that, after his disappearance, he left some messages behind, revealing only to those who were worthy, 5 to be exact. Hundreds of witches, wizards, fairytale creatures, even some humans exposed to the life of magic sought the letters out, hoping they would be the one to receive, possibly the worlds most important letter even created. All but 4 failed. A giant, a piper, a liar, and a baker are the 4 suspects believed to have the letters in their possession, hidden away and kept under lock and key. The 5th note has never been claimed. Some even believe it to be a myth. But in the labyrinth of magic, it shall forever remain a mystery.
Gwen and I simultaneously lifted out heads to give questioning looks at Gwen.
“Why have I never heard of this book?”
“Because it’s given only to witches and wizards and is not commonly known.” She did a double take and looked back at us. “Don’t tell anyone I showed this to you.”
I smiled a little and reread the passage.
“So I’m guessing all these people are related to a fairytale in some way?”
“I think so. The giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. The piper as the Pied Piper. The liar, I believe referring to Pinocchio. But the baker. He could be anyone. There are a lot of fairytale related bakers. I don’t know how we’ll find him,” Gwen said, then turning to Candace. “Do you think these people will know where Merlin is?”
“We can only-”
Her words lodged in her throat as she stared open-mouthed at Gwen, horror and fear written clearly on her face.
“Gwen,” she barely whispered. “Gwen, you’re necklace.”
She looked down to the crystal necklace Candace made for her and Robin gasped, ripping the thing off her neck with lightening sped. But the color didn’t fade. It glowed bright red, highlighting Robin’s features. We all knew what red meant. Danger. Warning. Cursed.
“Hurry! We have to get out of here!” Candace screamed, shoving us out the door in record time.
I grabbed Gwen’s hand and ran, not even sure what I was running from. But if someone like Candace was scared, we should be too. Something bad is about to happen.
I felt it again. Fear. The same kind that bored into my hear as I watched the genie place the spell. But this time, I was fighting it. I was fighting fear. I was fighting death. I grit my teeth together, focusing on placing one foot in front of the other, moving them in a blur as Finn only dragged me along faster. To where, I had yet to find out.
There was an ear-splitting roar, one that I had heard for the past 5 years of my life, one that I had become familiar with. I yanked Finn back to a startling stop, nearly toppling him over in the process as I turned the other way.
He shouted at me to stop, but I didn’t listen. I friend was in trouble. Never had I heard him sound so hurt. The stables came into sight, along with the looming fence that didn’t held in any way to keep Gunther in.
I bolted through the hole of the fence, stopping to take in the horror of the scene before me.
The hundreds of pictures Candace showed me proved to be more accurate then ever. There stood a shadow of a man who seemed to have no definite shape, the edges moving and twisting into tendrils that shockingly resembled flames emitted from his entire being. I watching as the shadow and it’s tentacles grew larger to match Gunther’s size and strength.
“Gunther!” I screamed as I caught sight of the giant gash on his cheek and shoulder, bleeding blue blood.
The shadow turned, revealing the only fixed thing about it: it’s blood red eyes that looked hungry for blood.
It had found it’s target and no longer needed Gunther. It lowered to the ground only a few feet away from me, the glint in it’s eye saying more than words can. It was laughing at me.
“Gwyneira White. I thought you would have put up a bigger fight, not run right into my grasps.” Nothing but the twisting flames moved, giving the appearance that it was speaking straight out of it’s thoughts. It leaned in closer and I shivered at an icy hot feeling against my skin, suffocating me in the cold to the point where in burned my skin. “You must be ready to die.”
My hand twitched for my bow, but I left it in Candace’s house. Now, I was defenseless against the thing that was handing me my death on a silver platter as a freezing tentacle twisted around my throat in a painfully show manner. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t even move.
The feeling vanished as the tentacle flinched away as Gunther rammed his shoulder into the shadow, sending it flying a few feet away. It stood back up straight as if nothing happened and retaliated.
“Gwen! Come on! Gunther can handle him!”
I looked over to see Finn waving at me from the outside of the fence, his eyes pleading me to run.
I gave one look at Gunther, struggling to hold the tendrils away. I had just made it back over the fence when a crack echoed through the air. The birds and woodlands creatures even fell silent as I paused and turned to face a picture that will forever burn in the back of my mind.
Gunther laid flat on his face, his head turned over so it seemed as if he was looking directly at me, only his eyes were empty and dead. A flaring on black flames was burning from the shadow, half of them gripping Gunther’s neck tightly.
“The first to die for you, Gwen.”
He released Gunther’s cold dead body and vanished into the shades without a trace.
From then on, everything was a blur. Words faded into vague sounds. People tugged on me, but I remained planted firmly in place staring back at Gunther with a matching dull look.
He died protecting me. He died to save me. He died and it’s all my fault. I tasted the salty tears as they freely poured down my face. Time sped up and everything snapped into perception. I yanked my arm away from Finn and dashed to Gunther, letting the tears fall and drop onto his face like he was sharing my sorrow.
“Gwen, gods, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. But we have to go. That-that thing will be back soon and we have to get you away. Come on,” Finn spoke to me in soft tones gently tugging my arm.
This time, I let him pull me up, away from Gunther, away from my home, away from everything I’ve ever known. I gave Gunther one last sad look.
I’m sorry, Gunther.