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The Black Curse

dragon

Carried along by the weight of her loss; the crest of her storm seemed so shallow now; barely breaking on her shattered shores.

The fires smoldered still in places throughout the manor; every so often, a fire quickly and silently went out only smoke to show where life had been or flames danced higher as new fuel was found and greedily consumed.

She sat on her blackened steps; beyond weeping.  Defeat filled the very air around her dancing on her frame like an old lover. Loss, betrayal and exhaustion eroded her domain from beneath her feet – this tiny kingdom that was hers alone out in the real world.

The decisive battle took place inside her very walls and she had woefully lost…seemingly everything.  The singed steps bore testament to the final conflict waged here at this once hallowed hall.  Now the scorching hid the sigils and incantations she had carved herself first to protect then to burn.

As a last resort, she herself uttered the profane words that brought down her house; for in true dragon fashion if she was to burn then those who sought her destruction would burn with her.

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Gone was the once cherished husband, chosen of the Younger God now driven to insanity into the night.  He had been tainted by the Dark One long ago.

The Queen had sought a pact with the Nyt Wytch and on the dark of the scorpion moon; she had summoned Her and her winged attendants.  This was ancient magic to call this One from the Void – magic from before time.  But, this way of removing all evil from her halls was the only option.

Of course the Nyt Wytch came, she came with her winged avengers driving all the evil from the keep. As the Queen sealed the pact in blood uttering the forbidden words over and over again great power condensed.  Even her oldest son was driven into the night with only the clothes on his back.

As the deep enchantments drove off all who were in the employ of the Dark One, and there were many, the Nyt Wytch’s feathered punishers laid waste to the manor – all objects infected with the brand of the Dark One were demolished.  Righteous fire sprang up in every quarter of the small keep.  Those objects filled with the unholy blasphemy of the Dark One were consumed with purifying light.

A deep fire burned in the Queen’s belly and she knew now, here in mid-life, a being clung for existence in her womb.  A daughter sired by the now fled King and despair enveloped the Queen completely.

The Dark One had all but defeated the Queen.  His assault had patience and cunning; working its evilness into her sanctified halls.  All the while, the youngest son looked on in horror as his mother the Queen sank into madness.  A black pit yawned for her soul as her mind was already gone.

For days, the young Prince never left her side – fearful for her life.  Riders came in from neighboring kingdoms bearing token gifts wrapped in cold condolences.  Then the warlords from the frontier descended on her borders; power hungry mercenaries who longed for her body and throne.  Word had gone out to the far corners that the once viral King – chosen priest of the Younger God had vacated his Queen and throne.  Several barbarians marched nigh unto her gates suing for entrance – which was summarily denied.  How dare they the Queen fumed in one of her lucid moments desire this small empire she had forged with her hands and her magics neither she nor her realm were for such as they.

And the demons from the Otherworld came in the full light of day under glare of a yellow sun to feast on her decay.

The safety of her desert fortress was far behind her – vanished into those enchanted sands.  That holy demesne where her true strength flowed from; that dreamlike place where she had crooned the moon into enchanted pools of silver, danced with the sun at midnight and bewitched the Father of Dragons from his cosmic skies – that realm was gone forever.

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Fire then mounted up in her like a tempest on a far off sun.  On a hallowed night when the stars fell like rain in her oak forest, the Queen called forth all manner of enchantments to fend off those who thought to rule her land and body. In the deep of night with the witch fires blazing; her magic rose up like a cosmic storm and she was at one with the elements and arcane forces of the universe.  Swords were broken and war banners shriveled like old fruit on the vine. Those who dared her halls fled into the night leaving no token of their presence.  Yet the darkness soon leaked away and the sun rose again to reveal that her heart was still shattered, her madness returned and two lives in one body fought for life.  For the now hated sun was the shield emblem of her fled priest King and she – – was once the moon.

In mad distraction she took hallowed stones and carved symbols on her main gates.  She would let those who rode to her door know the strange madness that filled her, for she wrote in her own blood:

For the Sun has forsaken this land forever and now the moon is alone”

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The few friends she retained sent well wishes and frequent riders to check on her yet on the edge of civilization the Queen knew she and her son were alone.  She could not bear to think of the tiny daughter that should be growing in her womb.  For as the weeks passed she knew to her horror that her womb would soon entomb the dead.

Weeks turned to months and her madness increased.  Only her obsessive roamings once the sun vacated heavens vault allowed the Queen to maintain her tiny kingdom for some semblance of sanity would return while darkness reigned.  Many had deserted her borders for the flames of her ancient magic culled from worlds dead before this world took life struck fear in the outliers of her tiny domain. Truly she and her son were alone.

Reports came in from neighboring kingdoms of the former King’s escapades – now a man possessed; under a heavy strain.  King no more but a vagabond with nowhere to lay his head now consumed with fear, guilt and the drink.  It was a demon that was his constant lover now.

As her madness deepened an old friend living beyond the borders of the known world in the deep old forest took matters into her own hands.  This cunning woman sought out the once chosen King sending flying messengers to find him – to tell him of his Queen, sending strong cleansing magic.  Calling on the All Mother she petitioned for help for the exiled King and his expectant Queen. The former King was shocked from the evil grasp of the demon – mostly. He was ravaged beyond recognition yet slowing did he realize what had befallen him – pride.

Conquest had come too easy for he had come in the name of the Younger God – lifting the standard and symbol of his patron deity over the land.  In pride he had risen above all. The Younger God himself personally chose him and espoused his quest to Kingship, was not a beauteous princess his queen she who was high priestess to the All Mother, she who was the very descendant of the dragon lord himself – the world was his oyster.

Yet the spiritual warfare that came after the conquering he was ill prepared for and the Dark One took aim taking him down all too easily. For the sake of his God and his Queen he began the climb back to his feet, his dignity and his rightful throne.

Her loss was total, her destruction almost as complete; a shell of her former self.  Yet the light that shown in her seemed brighter and unreal.  It was a mad light – the unhindered light of the All Mother.  For the great Goddess waited as she always did; waited for her sight was long and her patience longer.

This troubled child who had a destiny would need the All Mother in her madness; for the All Mother was all too acquainted with madness; the kind caused by tragic love.

The light shown desperately through this once and now cursed again child of the dragon.  The ancient gift of humanity bestowed to the First Daughter of the Dragon Lord was now a malediction visited upon this several times removed granddaughter of the Great Dragon.

Once this dragon child turned her face back to the All Mother she would show her how to harness her power – teach her how to use the dragon blood. There was potential in this human dragon child – this tragic beauty with a drop of the fae.  So much she could accomplish glories of spirit beyond that desert fortress she longed to return to.

The ragged king clung to this new hope of a new life even with the crushing blow of the dead child in his Queen womb.  He knew the Younger God had not forsaken him.

Again the Queen turned her face to the All Mother for she would never abandon her and the Queen knew this. The Nyt Wytch had been all consuming and demanding – commanding adherence to rituals from the void.  A strict obedience if her favor were to be curried which the Queen had complied with; now the works had been done and a leveling of the field was accomplished.  The Nyt Wytch cared naught for collateral damage.  The power she commanded affected all.  While the Queen knew this in her mind her heart and soul were unprepared for the devastation this tower falling would encompass – that was the resolution the Nyt Wytch gifted a complete leveling.

Yes, though her kingdom was in flaming ruins there were no obstacles in her way; all had been swept away; it was this fallout that the Queen must cope with now. This lack of knowledge and planning; this was the other side of the coin the backhanded gift of the Nyt Wytch – the madness.

Now it was the All Mother’s time again.  As her priestess descended to do battle in the ‘Otherworld’ the All Mother would show her the way; for it was the Lord of the Dead that would remove the madness, lift the curse and restore the dragon gift to its rightful place.  The Queen as yet only knew the temple fires needs be lit again for only the All Mother’s temple had escaped the ravages to her kingdom – this itself was a sign.

With love and guilt, the Queen made herself ready.  Alone, as it should be, for her attendants had fled the cataclysm; she purified herself in water and oil – lighting the sacred incense favored by the All Mother.

With much reverence, she began the oldest of priestly tasks – cleansing the temple, lighting her fires, singing her praises – praises to She Who Would Never Abandon Me.

isis

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Ghost Coyote

Old Elm

She lay under the old Elm trying to ignore the red and grey squirrels; they were arguing again about her she was completely sure. Well arguing over who was going to break the ‘oh so important’ news to her – whatever squirrels deemed important news anyway.

She wasn’t supposed to be this far away from the main house.  She wasn’t supposed to be in the forest either. Ghost coyotes had been seen roaming the hillsides again; in the day time no less.  Grandfather had sternly forbidden her from coming past the mirror pond.

But the Princess loved the old Elm and she knew he the old Elm had a soft spot her.  She wasn’t specifically in the forest, though she was past the mirror pond.  The old Elm stood just outside the forest, couple of hundred feet from the tree line like a sentinel for the forest creatures.  Besides today the sun was warm and the Elm was telling her stories from ages past before the ghost coyotes bled through from ‘beyond’.

The old Elm was really old and really huge with a colossal trunk and titanic limbs; a mountain of wood, a leviathan of solid protection.  The old Elm spoke deep in a loamy whisper that soothed her heart almost like a green lullaby.  As Grandfather Elm whispered in her mind, she dozed; seeing images of a forgotten time when in this very spot had been tall soft rolling hills, full of wonderful strange trees and beautiful sparkly rocks jutting proudly everywhere.

Grandfather Elm unfolded fantastical scenes of huge hawks that nested in the boughs of the strange trees taller than any hill, of the huge dragonflies large enough to carry her away and of course he showed her naughtier squirrels that scampered through the branches of these mountainous trees.

The Princess came to herself suddenly for not only had Grandfather Elm grown silent she felt two sets of eyes peering from anxious furry faces peeping over her reclining form.  Finally the smaller grey squirrel piped up, “Your highness, you must attend quickly.  We are sure a great ghost coyote approaches from the east and he cannot be dissuaded from his direction,” the poor squirrel chattered in her skin.

“Hurry, Hurry Princess, up in Grandfather’s boughs.  There is no time to run” the red squirrel squeaked.

“Yes child” Grandfather Elm boomed in everyone’s mind “up quick, the Cold One approaches”.

In almost comical haste the two squirrels attempted to help the Princess up into the great Elm.  Fear abounded in the squirrels as one sought to push and the other to pull.  Yet the Princess was calm seeking a foot hold on the rough old bark.  Suddenly Grandfather Elm lowered a mighty branch, scooping the Princess up higher.  She was not too high that she could not see into the forest or jump down with injury, yet she was high enough no ghost coyote no matter how great could reach her.

The squirrels scurried higher up in Grandfather Elm; fear was not the only reason.  The sentry crows always had their best lookouts in the very top branches of Grandfather Elm.  Sentry crows meant information.

Curiosity stirred in the Princess as she rested her back against the great trunk of the old Elm. She knew she was safe from everything, even the lightning from the sky feared Grandfather Elm.  She had seen much in her short life and had much done to her when in the silver cages; no she was not afraid and yes she definitely wanted to see this ‘Cold One’. Grandfather Elm chuckled in her mind ‘You will dear one you will!”

The grey squirrel scampered down to the branch above her whispering “he comes, he comes Princess.  Gisella the rookery lookout says he is alone, a ronin.  This makes him more dangerous – be careful and don’t let her fall Grandfather.”  This last warning was leveled at the great Elm, as if he would let the tiny human fall from his great boughs.

The forest became suddenly very still, a small deer flitted through the underbrush followed by a skunk and rabbit scurrying from the east. In fear a small flock of quail fluttered up barely missing the trees in their desire to flee.

The silence pressed on the forest and the fearless child like a relentless weight. Through the trees the Princess glimpsed movement, like a fog or mist keeping pace with the force pressing on her mind and heart unchallenged.

Suddenly the sound of a cracked whip snapped through her small frame; with the rapidity of thought the pressure on her mind and heart were gone, vanished completely. Grandfather Elm was crooning an ancient hymn, feeding her strength.

A ghostly voice strong yet silky echoed through the trees “excellent Highness, excellent control.  I am very pleased to meet you.”

ghost coyote

A magnificent snowy coyote seemed to materialize around the base of the nearest tree at the edge of the forest.  Taller, much taller than a normal coyote he was yet slim and sleek with an elegant head and tapered muzzle. Eyes like liquid silver sought he eyes of the Princess in the branches of the ancient Elm.

“Allow me to introduce myself. I am Sagura Ronin, Shadow Iron Clan soldier from the Land of Painful Illumination,” clipped the ghost coyote with exaggerated elegance as he executed a mock bow.

As Sagura brought his head back up the Princess spied a pale metallic chain nestled in the snowy ruff of this ronin ghost.  An etched medallion hung from this ghostly metal with just a flash of impossible blue streaking for a moment then was hidden again.

The granddaughter of the Dragon Lord flashed her black eyes and sparks danced around her fingers unbeknownst to her as she demanded imperiously “What dost though want of me Sagura of the Shadow Iron Clan?”

“Just a word your highness, just a word – advice for your young self and perhaps to help you,” Sagura responded.

“Careful Dragon Princess” the warning came from the old forest Badger who had been secretly watching the approach of Sagura.

“All the land knows the ghost coyotes are mercenaries conjured to this realm to do the dirty work of other spirits and evil humans.  This one must be particularly evil for he is an admitted ronin.”

The Princess had heard the term before she had always figured it mean alone.  The Badger moved further from his hole as if reading the Princess’ mind he spoke again “it means he is clan-less, homeless and without a leader!”

“Now, now great Badger father,” Sagura corrected “true we hire out to those who need our particular set of skills. However we have rules, traditions and yes honor. ”

“Ha honor,” rumbled Badger “Honor is not a term the other creatures use for your kind, honor among yourselves I even doubt that as well.”

“Don’t worry your highness, master Badger makes it sound like we are hideous fiends. However, we are very loyal to those who employ us.”

“Yes” sneered Badger “honor among cutthroats and thieves ha!” Badger came further from his freshly dug hole, “and you did style yourself as a ronin did you not whelp?”

Sagura went all still and looked Badger deep in the eye. Sagura noted Badger’s stiff hair and legs splayed, Badger was ready for a charge.

Badger was an old hand in the forest and knew exactly what the coyote was thinking.

“You are welcome to try ronin” Badger whispered.

Sagura chuckled deep in his chest almost like a budding growl, “Not today Sir Badger you have the advantage.”

Sagura smoothness returned.  “Besides” he continued “I am here to converse with the cursed one.”

The Princess’s attention was fully riveted on this ghost coyote, an ugly old feeling rose up in her. Her agile mind and useful memory clicked, she had seen a ghost coyote before outside that terrible dungeon. A slimmer more petite version used to sit outside the door to the dungeon waiting like her father’s guards.

Sagura could tell the Princess had just put some information together, yes she had seen his kind before.

Eyes narrow to slits for the now angry Princess spoke loudly, “cursed one? Be gone foul one or the daughter of the Dragon Lord will show you what she is made of!”

Sagura liked her despite his mission and knowledge.

“Bravery too, Sagura nodded, I’m impressed little Dragon yet I think not today. I come with the message and an offer.”

“What do you wish of me?” The Princess asked.

“Come to the gathering tonight when the moon rises” Sagura instructed.

“Why should I put myself in your hands or those of your people” asked the Princess?

“Like Badger pointed out I am now clan-less” Sagura stiffly answered. “I am clan-less because I could not hunt you. I know who cursed you and the evil that did that wants to swallow all of creation whole but he needs you first.”

“There are a few of us your highness from all creation across the universe; who are working to destroy the evil one.”

“Pretty words,” rumbled the Badger. “Yet where is your proof? Too many of your kind serves only the highest bidder.”

Sagura growled deeply “ENOUGH” he barked. “Aged father true we sell our skills yet we are honorable and loyal.”

Badger persisted “still . . . Proof?”

In the distance a growing growling could be heard as though for many coyotes. Sagura looked back through the forest over his shoulder.

“Proof, you want proof” Asked Sagura?

“There is your proof I am being hunted by my own kind” Sagura stated.

A hush fell over the forest. The squirrels and Badger all cocked their heads to hear; no birds singing, bees buzzing or animal bustling. All that could be heard it is the growling mingled with howling.

They were getting closer.

Sagura took a step closer to the tree this time Badger made no comment. “Well your highness, will you meet tonight?”

“And what of those that chase you” asked Badger?

“I will draw them off.  The Fox will come tonight to escort Her Highness.”

“Not alone she won’t” warned Badger.

“By all means father” Sagura conceded almost cynically “you may come as well.”

The red squirrel at the top of the great Elm began to chatter and the Crow to caw.

“Go” instructed Badger hurriedly “they are close, the Princess will be there.”

Looking over his left shoulder Sagura could see several shadowy shapes slip through the trees. They had gone silent now that they could clearly smell and see him.

The great Elm whispered in the Princess’ mind “keep quite Your Highness, not a peep.”

Sagura bounded past the great Elm angling across open pasture to the field where the old bull lived; across the road where the old forest continued.

Badger had remained outside his home; the Princess looked on quietly as the cohort of ghost coyotes glided to a stop at the edge of the forest.

There were five in the pack, all but one was young too young almost. An older, more grizzled silver coyote stepped forward; clearly the leader.

“Our quarrel is not with you father. My name is Tanaka.  My squad and I were hunting the traitor, Sagura, which way did he go Old One?”

Badger looked over the five ghost coyotes; this was a young pack for their line of work and Badger had heard of Tanaka.

Tanaka was a cunning trickster whose claim to fame was he never lost a bounty. He was wily this old ghost coyote and to be feared. Even though he had never failed, hubris was not part of his makeup. He was careful, too careful.

Badger weighed all of this “your business is your own Tanaka we will neither help nor hinder.”

Tanaka knew the Old One and while he felt confident they could dispatch the old Badger Tanaka knew Badger was as cunning, wily, and fierce as himself. He could not afford to lose any member of his squad.

The two gazed at each other both old fighters, both old enough to know better, and to know how.

The squad of young coyotes was getting restless clearly undisciplined too young Badger noted; as well as Tanaka. Badger unexpectedly relaxed his aggressive stance and kicked back on his haunches “today is a good day is it not Tanaka” asked Badger?

“Indeed Badger it is” agreed Tanaka.

This position was pointless; Badger was neither the quarry nor would he impart what he knew. As Tanaka chuffed at his squad getting their attention; he dipped his head to Badger, acknowledging an equal.

Clearly Sagura scent led across the open field. Tanaka was too wily to be caught in the old bull’s pasture without leave; especially with a young untrained squad under him. Silently they melted back into the forest.

The old Elm tree whispered to the Princess “hurry now your mother comes and she is angry.”

Sure enough back across the field toward the house came her mother and her grandmother. Both carrying weapons for the Queen had heard the coyotes and could not find her daughter.

In a panic she had set out weapon in hand to find her eldest child.

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Demon Cave

1 castle

In the five years since the princess defiantly left the castle many adventures in neighboring kingdoms befell her. There were fantastic parties, secret alleys, mysterious potions and dark magic’s from hidden realms.  The Dark One sent his assassins time and again with no success.  She seemed to slip through their fingers. Just as the young Princess newly emerged to womanhood was getting a grasp on grownup life beyond the protective walls of her father’s kingdom the Dark One grew inspired.

The Princess was learning  quickly the hard way; she grew tired of the frivolity, endless parties, insincerity and the deadly arts that crawled the shadows.  She was tired of being courted for her beauty or stalked for it.  Worse was when some sniveling waster learned her true identity, many a suitor sought her hand seeking to claim a handsome dowry as well as her loveliness.

Deep inside this young woman of royal birth was growing a desire for the same things girls all over the world yearned for; her own domain, her own castle, her own king who would love her for herself.  She desired the stability to be who she wanted to be.  She returned to her father’s kingdom but she came with the determination and expectation she would be earning a living and making her own mark.

The King understood for he had forged his kingdom with his own two hands, the seventh son of a seventh son.  Born without expectation other than to seek his fortune and he had done so fighting his own battles and carving out his own lands.  For had he not married the daughter of a Dragon Lord?  After all he was a child of the fae oh yes he understood this eldest daughters deep desire to make her own way.

The Dark One always seeking a way to mark this girl, control her path and lead her to him now whispered in the dark dreams of a water demon from another world.  Wondrous visions he gave to this demon showing him the riches never before imagined and power untapped.  All the demon needed was this eldest daughter of a small insignificant southern kingdom, whispered the Dark One.

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This water demon was intrigued with his visions and dream-time.  The promise he saw dangled in his nose sweet like perfume from his home world.  With little thought other than the vision in his eyes of power and riches he put himself in the Princess’ path and there he snared her with demonic charm.  He appeared nice and stable but her senses told her something stirred under the surface, being so young this intrigued the naive woman child.  Her heart was elated for she had performed an ancient spell in the depths of her chamber; a spell  learned in a neighboring kingdom to bring her one true love.

With dark arts gleaned from a millennium on another world the water demon enticed her.  He wove enchantments in the very air and altered her path little by little. In her journey she was enchanted with this new road she traveled all in the name of making her own way.  Surely as a spider weaves a web for the fly the demon pulled the princess deeper into his small underground realm.  She wondered into the darkness and such was the magic she was enchanted with the shadows.  Willingly she came into his lair.

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Here was a rare turn of fate for this water demon; exiled from his own realm, in the shape of this lovely fresh daughter of a King.  He had made many miscalculations on this new world and was frustrated with his own desire to return from whence he had come.  For to return to his infernal realm he needed power and glory, power to repay those who had outcast him and glory to exult him over the weak who stood by.  Seemed his luck was finally turning.  Never once did he question the origin of the dreams or visions.  Hubris would not consider an outside source, only his secret ego could have found him a way back, in this princess of royal blood.  The Dark One never entered the demon’s mind, just as the Dark One wished it.

The demon at first thought only of her beauty and her strong clean spirit, the fire of her soul he would harness for years.  His seed with her dragon’s blood would insure strong sons; son’s who would stand with him armed with demon power and dragons blood.  Cuckolded by his primary wife with his older brother he needed the leverage of a powerful rightful heir; for surely he would destroy his elder brother.  Many would pay for his exile and this beautiful princess from this mortal world was his tool.  The arrogance in never questioning the source of the dreams or visions would lay the foundation for his failure and underestimating the dragon magic in this dark beauty would ensure his fate was doomed.

He wove infernal enchantments in the very air of his demons cave.  He sang to her of strange magics that tied her to him as sure as the oxen are yoked to the plow.  At first she was content, the demon was not always home and there were no demonic fits of rage.  She reveled in building her own home here in this magical realm.  He seemed to adore her beauty and showered her with gifts.  He sang to her of ancient places, talked with her of beings long dead on outlawed worlds and their forbidden writings protected by enchanted creatures that neither breathed air nor required sustenance.  Yes she was content for now.

The only mar on her happiness it seemed was the elder wife.  She was kept in a home far away yet she knew they spoke.  He swore she was the past they only held some things in common – things she could not understand of infernal bonds forged ages ago in another time.  She basked in the lie.  This time when something stirred under the surface it was not intriguing, it was disturbing.

Yet she chose the bigger lie, the one she told herself.  As her time in the demon’s cave went from weeks to years the demon was finally rewarded.  She began to increase from his seed.

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Once the eldest child was delivered everything changed.  She found herself fast bound to the demon, her moves were questioned and as surely as if she was in chains she could not leave; for the life of her only son was threatened by this demon that and utter despair for he promised to send her far from any who claimed to love her with infernal magics –  if she left him – he would find her.  Now she was truly at the mercy of the elder wife and this demon from another world for his true face was showing through.

In her despair she drew on the magic inside her and the All Mother answered; teaching her the Great Enchantments of the Elder Gods in secret.  The All Mother shaped her future again.  The demon was absent most nights; traveling abroad in his small realm.  Then the All Mother would come, filling the imprisoned Princess with her knowledge and hope.

The demon’s true self showed more and more, cold fits of rage were the norm now.  He never wore the mask of humanity or feigned mortal behavior when in his cavern mansion. She saw him for all his unworldliness and the ugliness that only comes from a dark evil spirit.  The demon sensing the strength in his royal wife wove new enchantments aimed at eroding her very mind.  A mindless pawn would be so much more controllable back home.  Stronger and stronger magics he strove to weave in her mind yet always something thwarted him just short of pushing her into the abyss of madness.

The only bright spot in the Princess’ life was time with the All Mother and her son.  The fae had gifted her beyond measure for one of their own had chosen to be born to her; in honor of her father who came of ancient elven bloodlines.  The eldest son was a beautiful child so like his mother in face even though colored like his father.

The Princess would sing to him of faraway places, her own grandfather and nana.  She opened small doors for him and the faerie came to play with him daily as they had played with her.  She lifted his spirit and strove to present a better image of his father so he would be clean and straight inside.

The King and Queen made weekly visits to see their only grandchild.  Fearing the elven blood for it was strange and immune to his infernal spells and seemed to bind with the dragon blood to make a fearless child the demon tolerated their visits, always being absent when they arrived.  Hoping to benefit from the King’s coffers he never demurred when his son wished to visit the King and Queen.  For it was rumored that more than gold was held in the King’s vaults a man who had roved far and wide belonging to secret ancient sects before building his realm.  After all, the king’s throne would be a boon to the demon back home.

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And by weaving more enchantments sang to the Princess while she slept the demon kept her chained to his cave as surely as if she wore irons. A magic beyond the demon’s ken worked here to his detriment though.  His time away, his continued dealings with the elder wife and his lack of interest in his son continued laying the road to his ruination.

This only son while of demon blood on his father’s side was also a child of the fae and the dragon.  A pure fae spirit inhabited his form.  Thus the bond of elven blood between this child and the King grew strong and pure.  Fed by the dragon fire of the Queen this first born child of the Princess grew straight and tall, with a pure heart – the heart of a warrior.

More years screamed passed and the princess grew despondent and unwell.  She knew through her time with the All Mother and her own powerful divinations that she was slowly being driven mad.  Toxic magics were fed to her spirit and mind to gnaw it away.

Eventually a second child was conceived.  The Great Hawk Lord himself devised the coming of this child.  Using power beyond the portal of time he conveyed the spirit of one who did his bidding in another land; a young man dedicated to the Younger God.  This chosen knight whose body lay imprisoned in a foreign land was to be the instrument of the Hawk Lords.  The Hawk Lord gave him part of his power and disguised him as the demon.  Bringing this savior by celestial means through infernal pathways he delivered him to the Princess in the deep of the night.  In the sweetness of a love yet unborn a child was conceived; even though the Hawk Lord knew the Princess would suffer more, the child was called forth.

The Princess knew that night that the divine had visited her and another special child would be born to her.  She knew her demon captor had no part in the creation of this new life; for never had the demon been so tender or loving.
The demon enraged at finding his wife increasing yet again knew this was not from his seed.  Yet just as surely he knew none could reach her for she was trapped beyond all hope. The Dark One looked on from afar and laughed for things were progressing just as he had foreseen.

Torture now came in earnest of the mind, spirit and body.  The demon knew this child must not be born or all his plans would come to dust.  He besought  her to remove the child letting him use arcane means.  Lying that that the child was an evil growing insider her.   He raged against the Princess to rid herself of this unwanted life threatening to leave and take the elder child.  But she had grown too strong in her own magic, she could see his corrupt heart with the all seeing eye of the Hawk Lord.  Next he tried cunning means to slip her deadly drinks or cloud her mind with such evil she would fall from great heights; always was she snatched from death.  The Lord of the Dead had sent his herald to watch over this favored child of the All Mother, Wife of the Lord of the Dead.

Day by day he showed his true form for torture rained on her from all sides and truly her heart was in shadow, yet a glimmer of light was growing the All Mother had shown her the way. Once the child was born it would matter not what means the demon and his elder wife used.

Then came the day when the child was delivered, the day after the Elder wife had sought through evil pacts made with their dark triple deity to kill the child before birth.  It but hastened his arrival.  Arrive he did, in pain and blood he drew his first breath, a child of the dragon and the fae – a pure spirit blessed by the Hawk Lord himself.  Twice now the Elder Gods had snatched victory from the demon who now understood beyond all hope his elder son would never be the tool he had hoped for.  The younger child he feared for he was created outside the world.

The Princess grew strong in her magics, a great sorceress and conjurer she had become in secret. Fear began to gnaw at the demon’s heart.  Then the Princess dealt a swift cunning blow to the elder wife and the hideous seed she had spawned from the demon’s elder brother. Her magic removed them from her plane of existence – forever.

Now the demon indeed feared for his life, yet he could not leave; his enchantments on the Princess snared him as well.  Magic has a price and the demon was loathe to give up the only plan he had to storm his own realm.

So he searched for more diver forms to serve him, calling to him venomous creations from across time and space bearing poisons unheard.  He contracted with nameless fearsome beasts to take from her those she loved best.

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The poison worked slowly, too slowly.  Their affects were never constant and always at odds with the power of the Princess herself.  Yet they ate away ever so slowly at her will to love and live.  Her two sons were protected.  The demon learned immediately that the fae protected their own and the Elder Gods themselves watched over the younger child, for the blood of the dragon ran strong in each child.  Every barb the demon threw was thwarted. For awhile he toyed with turning the boys against their mother yet he was not sure he had time to do this, for time was slipping away from him like sand under his feet.

Then the demon again in a dream seemingly was inspired with an idea that struck a most effective blow at the Princess and his eldest son.  He performed the most insidious of rituals under a moonless sky on a dead world that had perished from its own evil; its name had been erased from the annals of history by the Elder Gods themselves.  There on this world where the malevolence lingered in the very rocks the demon broke the soul of the King – removing his mind forever.  In the kings mind he planted a serpent of unholy appearance and lethal intelligence, whose very venom corroded the hearts of the vigilant.

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The Princess and her oldest son were devastated for the ruination of the King’s mind was utter and complete.    The King’s counselors had him removed to a place where none could find him and the evil was . . . contained.  The Queen was torn apart, as such she deferred her Kingdom to the care of a regent until her daughter was well enough or her grandson was grown.  For all knew the tragedy visited upon the King was evil devised by the demon.

Changed forever the Princess wove a deep spell on the eve of the new millennium.  She called from beyond the heavens and cemented to her soul and the soul of her sons a curse of fire and vengeance   Now the demon in his great fear sought more arcane poisons, milked from his own fluids to destroy her living flesh.  Small terrifying creatures he summoned under the cover of full sun to infect her heart.  She grew deeply ill; hovering on the edge of death the All Mother came to her and sustained her with her Elder arts.

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Now the demon thought of a heinous deed to rid himself of this weight around his neck, this royal beauty who would destroy him if he could not eradicate her first.  His hope of a glorious return to his realm was utterly ruined, now he only hoped to survive this battle of wills and power with his skin intact.  In a final desperate act the demon turned to the most infernal of enchantments to destroy this beautiful yet lethal nemesis.  It all came to naught when the demon was surprised in his pursuit of kidnapping and  murder most foul by the father of a virgin girl whose blood he needed.  He fled into the night –fearful for his very life.

The magical traps, snares and enchantments fell away from the Princess, blown to dust as surely as a windstorm sweeps the plains bare of life. This storm was the Princess’ storm, a storm of cleansing   The Princess though pained was free.  Her grief was real and deep, grief that someone so evil and manipulative had changed her.  This cursed child seemed to still be cursed.  Evil followed her into this world and had not left.  She wondered what it would take to be free.

She needed an enchanted place where none could enter.  A place in between spaces; created between the space of a breath and accessed only in that eternity between heartbeats.

Her own fortress where she controlled all and none could enter save at her behest.  The fae had gifted just such a place to her father.  It was hers now by right of birth, blood, death and spirit. Yes she would go there never to be cursed again.

Halfway around the world the imprisoned knight was suddenly free and crossed to new lands in search of the vision the Younger God had burned in his heart during captivity.  A deep peace was on his soul for he knew surely she whom he sought he would find.

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The dragons’ tears sang their song more clearly . . . for the fabled stones were awake and destiny danced to their tune.

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Dragon’s Blood

There was not so much a battle of wills between both pair of black eyes as there was of an objective analysis – a sizing up of each face where these two powerful pairs of eyes resided.

The first pair of eyes — black as night was very searching nothing stayed hidden from these dragon-like eyes, hard as diamonds from the underworld yet with a twinkle lurking in the depths of the man who owned them.  The other pair was just as black, almost identical to the man’s with the same searching look – almost scorching in their dragoness.  But no twinkle or humor lurked here just a wariness hard earned and was it curiosity as well – maybe just maybe.

The man possessed the same shape face and raven hair as his daughter the Queen.  Yet this was the first time the Princess had actually met her grandfather or even seen him since infancy.  She was not sure what to think as she searched his face; his frame was a bit unyielding.  She wasn’t precisely somewhere she shouldn’t be but instinct told her to tread carefully, this could go very wrong.

She was staying with her beloved Nana, this time at her estate out in the wide open country, miles away from the castle, the walls, the fluttering fake attendants.  Just wide open spaces and seemingly no rules.  The freedom was intoxicating as was the impossible blue sky, the green grass  . . . it went on forever.  While the Queen visited with her mother the Princess was encouraged to explore outside.  She couldn’t believe her ears but she didn’t wait for her mother to change her mind.

Out she shot as quickly as her young scarred legs could carry her.  She explored every nook and cranny around the house.  The building that housed the transportation, the storm shelter, and a small locked room held little interest.  But the large metal building near the gate, deeper into the property riveted her attention.  Strange noises and smells like a furnace emanated from its depths.  Off she crept.  As she peered through the partially open door into the inky blackness she saw sparks with jets of white fire shooting to the rafters from the hands of someone wearing a grotesque metal mask.

As she leaned in to get a better view her hand inadvertently pushed the door open wider.  Sparks arced in a sulphuric rainbow as the masked figure suddenly looked her way. The jet of white fire raged hotter for the span of 4 heartbeats before being suddenly and completely quenched as the metal faced figure moved out of the shadows toward the small child.  As the imposing figure reached the door with purposeful strides the mask was lifted and two pairs of eyes, black as the pits of the underworld met.  The now unmasked figure loomed over the frail girl who refused to give way as her wary eyes searched this face, not unlike her own.

As the man lifted his mask and advanced on the tiny girl his cold dark eyes searching; he felt a soft stirring in his heart and the ghost of a smile was threatening to curve his hard thin lips.  The man decided to open the conversation since the courageous girl, in more ways than one, was standing her ground.”Well young lady” he asked?

“Well?” she queried back half defiantly.

The man’s eyes hardened for a moment.  The twinkle lurking in his eyes grew very pronounced.  The man chuckled, squatting down to eye level.  In a bit softer tone he asked “Do you know who I am?”

The Princess, head tilted slightly peered even harder at the man, analyzing for a moment “Yes” she answered finally, offering nothing more.  The man a bit perplexed yet intrigued prepared to ask another question when this fearless daughter of the Queen asked “Do you know who I am?”

“Yes” he answered back, now thoroughly enjoying this exchange and the promise it offered.

At a stalemate again of searching eyes, the man prepared to break the stretching silence when again the frail child suddenly pushing her way past him into the darkness asked “Do you have a dragon in here?”

Totally won over with her forward manner and assured attitude the man erupted in laughter replying “Something like that.”

The Princess who had stepped further into the shadowy depths turned and looked at the man searching his face for deception.  The man said “How about if we see what your Nana has made us for lunch?”

Deeply pondering her next move, the Princess stepped back, then reached up and took the man’s hand asking “Can you show me the dragon after lunch grandfather?”

Yes his blood ran true in this oldest child of his oldest child.  While proud his family legacy had surfaced in this frail girl, he knew about the curse and feared the price his family owed would be rooted in this tiny daughter of his daughter, in whose veins dragons blood flowed.  Would it be enough?

They walked slowly back to the main house, the child enraptured by everything she saw.  She looked up at her grandfather “After the dragon can we stay outside please?”

“Of course honey, I have so much to show you” he replied, his heart now tied to hers as surely as it was tied to the Gods.

After lunch the Princess ran back outside yelling “Hurry Grandfather hurry!”  Her once cursed legs carried her quickly across the velvety lawn to the metal building. Bursting through the door into the almost stygian darkness she halted as her eyes adjusted to the deep shadows. But no dragon was to be found.  Just walls with tools, metal rods and books bound in strange hides with unfamiliar writing.

Crestfallen she searched the entire space even essaying the rickety ladder to the overhead loft.  Before she could get past the 3rd rung her grandfather reached the doorway, telling her to come down.   “But Grandfather where is the dragon?” she asked imperiously.

Her grandfather walked to the far wall and grasped a long, thin, dusty, metal rod.  As he half turned back toward the tiny child the metal rod erupted in flame, transfixed the Princess clung to the second rung.  “Grandfather” she whispered in awe.

“Now my daughter’s daughter, come outside with me.” He led the way to another doorway extinguishing the metal rod in a barrel of water.  Outside he walked toward an old blasted tree whose lower limbs swept a bare few feet off the ground like the coils of a dragon’s tail.

“I want to tell you the story of my mother, your great-grandmother.”

The young Princess skipped to the tree; naturally finding the lower curved limb to her liking.  While comfortably draped like some tree lemur with sparkling eyes, mouth forming in a perfect O she listened with the fire in her veins as her grandfather spoke of Dragons and how dragon’s blood shaped their destiny.  Singing of a race as old as the Elder Gods allied with the All Mother herself.

In another part of the world a wild boy embarking on manhood tempted death and won.  For the space of five cosmic breaths he saw with clarity gifted from the divine the girl, her name, her home, the stones and his fate.  He knew in that moment he had been chosen by the new Younger god fresh born to his ancient people in their new lands.

Far away, hidden in a secret temple, on a dead world, in another time the fabled dragons tears – the purple stones of fate stirred awake; harking to the Dragons song pouring from a young girl’s heart.  Time was dancing with fate and destiny rushed on this young child with swiftness of wings bound by ancient prophecy and curse.

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The Tea Set

The exotic teapot from the land of the Samurai was the last gift from the nervous Warden and his now distraught wife; for they could not conceive how each of their gifts could be used to harm the King’s daughter. Never was it their wish to cause or bring harm; surely someone else was bewitching the royal gifts unbeknownst to all.

The frail dark child, cursed before birth, was made of sterner stuff though.  Each attack had made her stronger and more curious if that was even possible –  and now wondering who and why.  Each new assault caused her to see and recognize the forces of evil that not only plagued her but seemed to encompass her small world.

In her perceptive agile mind she wondered greatly about the why and who and of course, the when; when it might happen again.  Out right suspicion was not forming in her character but definitely the ability to tread warily.

Life outside the silver cage seemed strange  – full of unknown beauty and horror side by side unlike the ceramic dungeon where it was waiting  – always and plain to see. Outside was full of contradictions; the monstrous walked inside beauty’s skin daily and sometimes the grotesque contained splendor. In her ancient childlike way she knew something hunted her – the same as when she was caged she always ‘knew’ when the men in stained robes were coming for her – to torture her  – and how bad it would be.  She viewed everything with alert, careful eyes.

The beautiful porcelain teapot with cups fashioned for tiny hands was exquisite. The petite creamer and sugar beckoned to be picked up.  But ever cautious the Princess watched as the warden’s wife artfully arranged the delicate tea set on the lacquered table; the beautiful table with strange gold writing was said to be a gift from the Elder Earth God appearing in the Princess’ bedroom the very morning she came home to the castle.

The delicate tea set looked so enchanting next to the plastic one the Princess had been using with her tablemates.  Yet she did not touch the tea set; instead she kept a hold of her brown bear that had a different name weekly.  The cloth doll with button eyes and yarn hair – a gift from the Queen’s mother sat in the play chair to her right.  Close by was the brick she like to keep with her – it had no name but large eyes were draw on it in crayon.  The Queen called it her brick baby since the princess would be inconsolable unless the brick was at hand.  Little did the Queen realize the purpose of that brick.

Pausing only to consider the tea set and the terrified look in the warden’s wife’s eyes for a moment the Princess went back to coloring the images of the delicate faeries she had drawn.

After much whispered conversation with the Queen the warden’s wife took her leave.  The Queen stayed behind watching her frail child for a silent moment; kissed her on the head then left the toy room leaving the door open just in case.  The Princess continued to color for she knew she was being watched – she always knew.  She could be a wordy talkative child when she chose to be or when she needed to keep the grown-ups from questioning her too closely.  For one so young she had a remarkable vocabulary and a lively imagination coupled with a promising ability to see things normally hidden from the eyes of the non-believers.

So she colored her faeries and held lively discussions with her playmates; the bear, the doll and the brick; giving each playmate a voice carrying a conversation about the faeries on the paper that were coming to life with fantastic paint pencils, another gift from her Nana.  After a few long moments the Princess felt the watching nervous eyes of the Queen retreat with her footsteps.

As soon as she was truly alone three tiny sprites burst out from under the yarn hair of the doll sitting at the table; exquisite faerie laughter filling the room and the tiny Princess followed suit.  The girl’s laughter reached the Queen in her parlor putting her more at ease.  She was expecting her second child now and worry had set in with earnest not, just for her eldest child but for the unborn one as well and the curse – was it truly gone, did it just concern the eldest?

The sprites, each adorned in shimmering pastel gowns that looked like confection spun from moonbeams and sunshine, pirouetted up to the porcelain tea pot, curious.  The tallest faerie arrayed in pale yellow flew to the top of the teapot and looked inside.  Shrugging delicately she came to rest on the spout peering deep inside the teapot.  She looked up at the Princess and shook her head; it was empty, there was no imp or miniature gnome lurking inside.

The plump blue pixie impulsively and courageously flew down inside the teapot giggling the whole time.  Her two companions zoomed inside and gleeful chatter ensued as the Princess leaned over carefully peering inside.  As she did the three faeries flew up and around her head.  Everyone collapsed in happy childish laughter which dissolved into magical chatter.

Later when the sprites bid the Princess good afternoon and flew out the upper window; the tiny child returned to the table looking warily at the teapot.  This time as she peered into the shadowy depths of the teapot it was not empty.

A tiny man sat inside the teapot.  The Princess thought he looked very funny.  His dark hair was pulled up on the top of his head like a short ponytail. He was dressed in a long white robe that was belted and strange wooden sandals completed his outfit.  As she caught sight of this funny looking man she audibly caught her breath which caused the man to look up.  A huge smile broke out on his strange face as he called out with an unfamiliar accent.  “Hello Your Highness, now that the faeries are gone perhaps you can help me out of this confounded teapot?”

The Queen’s daughter responded with a smile of her own; ever so gently she tipped the teapot on its side until the tiny man gaily strode out, adjusting his robes.  When he had cleared the teapot he bowed deeply “Thank you Princess allow me to introduce myself, we have much work you and I.”  The Princess was not surprised he was a tiny magical man but she was intrigued by his very unusual appearance.  There was definitely a twinkle in his eye as she caught sight of a tiny stick protruding from his belt, a miniature sword.

The strange man walked across the table and standing right in front of the Princess bowed again saying “My name is Jinn-San, I am a Samurai Magician from a land far away.  I will only appear when you are truly alone and no one else is around. I have been sent here to instruct you.”  Wide eyed the Princess asked in a hushed whisper “A samurai magician? Instruct me?  Why?”

“You have been cursed and blessed Your Highness.  To see within must be shaped to know light from shadow, when to stand and when to blend.  This must be done in secret; so you and I will work together to prepare you for what will come and to understand what has gone before.”

“Will I be afraid” asked the King’s daughter?  “Yes your highness but you will be ready, I will teach you how to conquer your fear and not let it conquer you” Jinn-San replied.

The Princess while slightly fearful had seen too much and been through more to be overly afraid.  But her young heart beat faster.  Back to that torture chamber she never wanted to go; images and memories rose up tightening her chest.  As if reading her mind this miniature Samurai Magician spoke softly “I will do my best your highness so that you never have to return to that horrid place again.”

A silence fell for the space of several heart beats.  The Princess’ eyes rose to meet those of Jinn-San “Ok Jinn-San” she agreed.

Jinn-San’s serous face broke into smiles “Great” he jovially shouted “So first I shall tell you the story of the Traveling Cricket” The Princess, chin cupped in her hands, elbows resting on the table drank in the fascinating story of the wandering cricket and his many adventures after being stranded  far from home.  When the story was over she cried, “Poor Michi the cricket do you think he ever wanted to go back home” asked the Princess?

Jinn-San laughed “The story does not say but I like to think Michi enjoyed his journey learning and sharing his special path as he went.”

Here Jinn-San became serious “Your Highness you must learn to not let the non-believers know what you see – you also must discern who is a believer and who is not.  Especially grownups – they know and believe deep inside but they don’t always know how to handle things.  Sometimes they won’t believe you – for they look at things with grown-up minds and want to fix things with grown-up ways.

“But aren’t you grown-up Jinn-San” queried the curious Princess?  “Why yes Your Highness, as much as a 2000 year old Samurai Magician can be grownup” he chuckled.

“As long as you remember and believe. In the coming days I will show you how to really see, how to hide, how to call for aid, how to mask you mind, how to strike a blow and how to bend with a blow given. There are darker things than the night and I know you know this, but I am here to see you through it for a time. I will only be here for a short time and only when no one is present but I will be here for you until my time is done.  Now let me show you how to trace the symbol of the All Mother for it will protect you in dark times and guide you when there is no light.”

Jinn-San didn’t let the King’s daughter notice that he had heard the movement outside her play room.  But the evil being that lurked; looking for an opening was out maneuvered yet again, as Jinn-San taught the Princess the secret sigil of the All Mother.  Jinn-San smiled knowing he had defeated the evil once again, unknowing the tiny princess returned his smile asking “is this the way to make the sign Jinn-San?”

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Gifts

She was home finally, well the King and Queen told her this was home but everything seemed so . . . well not normal.  They gave her a bedroom and playroom all her very own.  She was not sure if this new place was a good thing but one thing she knew for sure, it was better than a silver cage.

She was not home long before wonderful gifts came pouring in from subjects all over the land; lovely gifts for a tiny cursed princess.  As these gifts from outsiders were showered on the wary child the King and Queen watched her with nervous eyes.

Gifts, presented as if a sacrifice by some hoping the banished curse was truly gone and not contagious.  There was always pity in everyone’s eyes or veiled horror that she would turn back into that hideous monster all had witnessed.  A few felt sincerely sorry for the Kings eldest child; this skinny frail child with wild dark hair and her brown skin so unlike the ruddy fairness of the King or like the alabaster skin and raven waves of the Queen.

The latest gifts came from the warden of the land and his tall reserved wife.  They had traveled the world far and wide to bring back exotic toys and trifles to entertain the Kings daughter.   The first gift presented was a set of enchanted bath crystals, bought with leprechaun gold and enchanted by the faerie.

The crystals when dispensed in water would turn the water colors only seen in the faerie realm and send faerie shimmers all around the room which would magically turn into huge bubbles the shapes of flowers and animals; a fitting gift for the Queen’s daughter.

The sparkly pink crystals once dispensed in the bath water however burned the body of the tiny princess damaging her scars even further.

The Queen horrified at this new pain inflicted on her child was sure it was another curse; she threw out the glimmering gold and iridescent green powders disposing of them herself to ensure they would not find their way back to the princess.  The court healer was called from his  warm bed in the middle of the night and the screams of the tiny child could be heard beyond the castle walls as the cursed dust was scrubbed from her frail form with vile, healing tinctures.

The perturbed warden’s wife went on an expedition seeking a new gift, traveling to the far side of the world, returning with three tiny bottles of magical mixtures secretly brewed by the mountain dwarves.

Though wary the princess did not know what to think of these bottles, small even for her hands, that sparked and shimmered in enchanted glass and the smells of each bottle was heavenly.  The deep blue bottle held the most intoxicating bouquet of the sweetest fruits.


The bottle that was greener than the forest contained the spicy aroma of breads from exotic places; while the blood red bottle was perfumed of the most heavenly confection only devised by pixies.  The red bottle simply begged to be drunk as it sparked and popped with dwarven magic.

This time it seemed personal when the Queen’s daughter fell sick, retching into the night.  Even at this young age she felt she would always be tormented, always be cursed, always feel pain.

Deep in the night as she shivered under her covers her eyes were glued to the high window on the wall, for there a terrible shape swayed just outside sending its aggression in waves through the castle walls – she knew for sure she was cursed.

She screamed once before clenching in terror.  The Queen came running from the next room; scared and anxious she gathered her daughter to her bosom.  The tiny princess clutched the Queen’s night gown “Mama something’s outside the window” she whispered.  Both sets of terrified eyes flew to the window, but all that danced in the midnight wind was the tall tree in the outer courtyard; planted when the King had first brought home his new bride.

The Queen relaxed “it’s nothing my love just The Great Tree” she soothed. “Mama I saw him” the princess stammered through chattering teeth, obviously still terrified.  The Queen laid her daughter back down and rose from the bed.  Making her way across the room she pulled a lacey blue blanket from a drawer and carefully tacked it across the window.

The princess seemed to realize deep in her heart that she was alone, never to be free, the curse was still with her and the world was a haunted place even outside of her ceramic dungeon.  She knew that treacherous ogres and malicious imps were normal; some looked to be monstrous but could hide their appearance from most people; while others had beautiful visages that concealed gruesome creatures.  Wishing she could run away and hide in true childlike fashion she chose to hide underneath her covers instead.

After a time the Queen left the room.  The shadow of the tree was barely discernable through the blue blanket.  After a time the princess came out from under her covers. There now appeared to be a muted light in the courtyard and the shadow of the Great Tree shook and swayed.

Suddenly in between the blink of an eye the monster was back at the window all shaking gone.  He seemed to be hugging the window, seeking to peer in at the Princess; piercing the lacy veil – seeing her clearly she felt.  Frozen and mesmerized the cursed child refused to call out again.  There were no eyes to be seen but the girl child knew it was watching her nonetheless; this foul creature from beyond time seemed to compel her forward.  It called to the vile mixture running through her veins for not all had been expelled.

Slowly she pulled back the covers and swung her legs over the edge of the bed.  As her scarred legs reached for the floor a beautiful woman clothed in blue slipped out of the shadows.  The princess brought to her senses thought the woman was one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting.  This beautiful woman adorned in blue with wild black hair made soothing noise as she came to the Princess’ bedside. She convinced the girl child to lie back down.  Smoothing her hair she crooned to her a magical song.  As she covered her up she told the princess not to worry the sickness was over, the evil had gone and now it was time to sleep.

Sure enough when the princess looked back at the window the shadow of the Great Tree had returned and she felt not so ill anymore.  Unbeknownst to the Queen’s daughter the evil shape was not gone it had simply moved away from the window.  As the evil slipped around the side of the castle it pondered ‘Why was The All Mother here protecting this girl child herself for she was his by right of prophecy?’

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Impossible Blue Sky

Impossibly blue that sky, magically blue.  Unlike other heroines in their own stories who didn’t believe, she believed, looking at that blue sky, she knew she believed all too well.  This was her very own story, her very own fairytale complete with castles and dungeons, curses and torture, dragons and saviors, kings and queens.  She always believed, she had been born cursed – oh yes she believed.  The blue-blue sky; she remembered a sky this blue . . . so long ago.

Exile can be glamorous when exiled by King and Queen for secret services to the Crown.  Exile can be deadly when forced to flee due to crimes against the throne, like Deondor the Dark Imp who cursed the expectant Queen, he who had fled in the night, magicked away some said.  His exile could not adequately foreshadow the horrifying events that unfolded beneath blue, blue skies.

Confined in a magical silver cage housed in a ceramic dungeon was her fate.  True the King and Queen visited, albeit weekly, stroking her hand through the silver bars; telling her one day things would be better.  Then hurriedly slipping away to converse with her tormentors; evil men in white robes covered in stains.  They conversed in blanketed angry whispers, then hastily leaving with anxious glances cast behind them as if the dungeon goblins had appeared.  HA she thought the dungeon goblins never appeared when it was day or when the men in white robes were present.

Unbidden the thought slipped in her memory stream, breaking her reverie if only for a moment ‘just maybe those silver bars did more than imprison me’ she mused to herself.  But that blue sky held sway once more and the anguished search through memory continued.

She lay there in her silver cage, legs entombed in white stone.  The wicked dungeon master had slipped her an evil drink forcing her to sleep again. The stone encasing her legs had changed once more, it wasn’t all white after this forced sleep; parts were red, blood red like the Queens roses and the pain again- worse!  Her tiny body wracked with the tortures devised by the keeper of this hellish place and pain from the curse she could only lay in her small silver cage.  Even so small she was silent refusing to cry out.

There were other silver cages lined up one after the other against the wall in grisly order; each occupant with their own suffering.  Children from all over the land were imprisoned here and tormented – some unwanted, others forgotten, all cursed.  Most of the other cages were silent, a few whimpered and cried softly; but all learned quick that screams and cries unleashed the house trolls.  There were a couple of children who had screamed incessantly . . .  until they had to be removed.

She could barely remember anything but this ceramic room, this silver cage with its nightmarish keepers.  Sometimes she was removed from the cage while awake for very short spaces of time, always in this porcelain room never leaving this prison.

She wondered, even at this young age, would she ever be free?  The perils she fought in the dark were draining on her frail form, with only the blue sky as companion and hope.  This sliver of blue thrusting through the small crack of a window, the only window in the dungeon, high on the ceramic wall offered hope that one day the curse would be over and she would be free to know that sliver of blue.

Ripping her mind away from that dark ceramic past she looked down at her legs, scrutinizing relentlessly.  Free of their stony tomb they looked almost perfect, straight and tan – except for the scars.  To her eagle eye the scars stood out like tired roads leading into the past.  Roads engraved by her tormentor at the behest of the King and Queen; her parents no less. Seeing her legs she believed, she knew there was magic.  She remembered the darkness, battles fought alone, the deception of her tormentors, the nightly attacks, poisoned foods and she even remembered the unlooked for help that danced on the edge of her nightmare – a blue glimmer.

The glimmer was always blue like the blue sky she gazed upon now.  Magic fluttered for life inside her, she could feel it, why had she denied it – starved it into a hollow thing struggling for freedom.

How in her wild skittering had she roamed so far from that Impossible Blue Sky

The Journey On the Road of Belief Continues . . .