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?’