|To Sleep Perchance to Dream
Author: Faithless Juliet PM
COMPLETE. Queen Aurorette, the 'Beloved Lady' is dead, her daughter Aurelia left in the care of Brynhild, who will stop at nothing to gain the Kings love. Meanwhile the villagers are slowly succumbing to Brynhild's dream poison, and the days are growing longer, and darker. Sleeping Beauty retelling.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Fantasy/Romance - Chapters: 41 - Words: 81,145 - Reviews: 317 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 03-16-13 - Published: 09-03-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3055508
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Aurora woke up early, long before daylight, and placed the wolf-pelt hat on her father's throne as a sign to her mother that she had gone out.
She packed her satchel full of rolled yarn and wool. She also filled another with their first harvest of vegetables to trade with the huntsman.
Leaving through the old entryway she was careful not to open the door too wide, knowing that it would creak loudly when the hinge was pulled too taut. Once she was outside she closed it again, weary of any drafts getting into the old castle. She passed the garden, and the old barn that had collapsed in on itself when Aurora was a girl. Most of its foundation had been used as firewood and now only the hollow shell remained. When passing though the gate she zigzagged carefully to avoid the overgrown thorn bushes that she needed to cut back seasonally. The open fields were wet and soggy; her feet sunk into the mud with each step.
Once she made it past the tree line and into the woods she moved quickly. Her muscles flexed and stretched into a slow jog. She was thrilled to be free in the open spaces of the forest after being cooped up for so many months during the winter. It had been one of the coldest, darkest winters Aurora could remember and now she flung herself against the direction of the sun. Feeling the hot tendrils spread across her face and her body. After some time she unfolded the shawl from around her shoulders; her blood pumping fast and her limbs warmed.
The huntsman lived far away from Aurora's castle; so far that had she not wandered in this direction years ago they may never had encountered each other. She had been trying in vain to hunt but she had never possessed any skill for it. Taking the far route that she had never traveled before she had hoped to find small game that she could take down, but instead she found herself eyelevel with the huntsman's drawn bow. She had traded with him ever since.
"Dmitri!" She hollered when she was nearly there. The huntsman was often about in the woods and she wanted to alert him to her approach long before she got there so as not to be mistaken for a deer, as she had been before. "Dmitri!" She called again closer now to his tiny wooden cabin.
"O'rora," he yelled back in greeting, his Slavic dialect had never truly been able to pronounce her name as she and her mother did.
"My friend," she said, finally seeing him as a form perfectly blended into the scenery of the greenwood. "I've come to trade with you." She held up both satchels for him to see and examine.
She watched the huntsman's sons scurry from inside the cabin. They were always careful to walk behind their father and never ahead of him. When he got close enough Dmitri explored the contents of her bags. Aurora knew they may not need the vegetables, but the yarn and wool was something that had no way of getting on their own.
One of the boys sauntered up to her and clutched her leg in a soft embrace.
"How did you find the winter?" The huntsman asked, still eyeing the wool.
"Harsh," she admitted, "you?"
"The same," he said simply, but she could see dark memories cloud behind his eyes.
Aurora noticed that they all looked more lean then she remembered them being, and she suddenly worried that he may not have anything to trade with her.
"What is it that you want for this?" He asked, indicating that he would take the satchel of wool.
"Meat," she said slowly, "if you have enough to spare." She could see too much bone exposed on the boys; it sent a chill down her spine. The winter had been dark for all on the mountain.
Dmitri nodded to her, accepting her offer, and gestured to the oldest boy to go and fetch what they had.
When he came back it was as she had hoped. He carried a long stick with dead rabbits and birds and squirrels hanging on short leather strings. The animals exposed bones mirrored their hunter's thinness. Aurora saw very little meat on them.
"I'll give you these," Dmitri said, indicating that she could have the whole stick with all of the attached kills, for the duffle of wool. Dmitri was a friend, and being most generous in that the wool did not account for so many animals.
"I agree," she said, "but" she pulled up the other sack of vegetables and began to pile them into the arms of the waiting children. "Takes some of these are well." The boys eyed the onions greedily, their pupils wide with anticipation.
"Not all." Dmitri insisted.
"Not all," she agreed, but she piled a few more into each child's arms.
They both shock hands, agreeing with the outcome of the trade, and the boys asked her if she would stay for a while and read to them, but she smiled sadly and told them that she had to return to her mother.
"I will come back soon with more wool. In a fortnight?"
"Yes," he agreed, and followed her half way down the hill as though he wanted to tell her something more but he did not.
"I shall come again soon," she pressed.
"Yes. Goodbye O'rora."
She made her way back down the mountain with the stick slung across her shoulders. The tiny bodies slapped against her back and neck with each step.
When she heard the first signs of heavy moment in the trees beside her she stopped to listen. She was more curious than afraid. She heard the slap of tree branches slamming aside and the heavy pulse of hoofs falling to the ground in quick succession. An animal was running, and from the sound of it, it was headed right for her. Aurora moved aside quickly until a branch jabbed her in the back and she had to stop. She dropped the stick with the hanging carcasses as a horse with a mounted rider appeared before her through the trees. Aurora realized as he approached her that he had seen her long before she heard him. He reigned in the animal to a slow jaunt and stopped several feet away from her.
He was young and lean, his face looked calm and serine and she found herself unable to tell if he was friend or foe.
"Milady." He bowed his head in greeting; his voice was so calm while she could not catch her breath. She hesitated, her tongue felt too thick in her throat to form words.
"Dirk?" She heard another voice shout from the trees, "Dirk? Where the devil are you Dirk?"
"Here my Prince," the man – Dirk – responded, but his voice was low, as if only for her benefit.
Another horse and rider emerged from the woods. The rider was taller and broader across the shoulders. He wore metal armor that had dulled with time was still ornate in fashion. His hair was long and he had a thin beard across his cheeks.
"Dirk-" the stranger kicked the horse further onward, and in that moment he saw Aurora for the first time and stopped beside Dirk, who was still mounted on his horse and staring at her with his strangely calm and transfixed gaze.
"Maiden," he spoke off-handedly, but when his horse trotted closer and he got a better look at her face his eyes widened. "It's you," he said, he was looking at Aurora but it was Dirk who answered.
"Is it my Prince?"
The Prince dismounted in one smooth gesture and Aurora took a quick step back in fear, unsure how she would protect herself from this man. The Prince held his hands up in a signal for peace, but it was his eyes that convinced her that he meant her no harm.
"Maiden," he said again, more formally, bowing to her as he spoke. "I am Prince Kaspar of Manorbriar," he rose up from his bow and filled the space between them until he was standing before her, searching her eyes with his own. "It is you..."
Finally she found the words to speak, "who is it that you think I am?"
Kaspar's eyebrows furrowed, "are you not the trapped Princess, held captive by an evil witch in a crumbling castle? Did you not sleep for a hundred years?"
"My name is Aurora," she admitted to fill the silence.
"My Prince," Dirk interrupted, "we must continue on, the day is almost spent."
"Maiden," he beseeched her, "I know it is you. You have her face, the long golden hair." He fingered a few stray strands that were exposed from her long braid, but they were copper colored, not golden. "This is very strange," he told her, "but you do live in a crumbling castle."
She did, but she didn't want to admit it. "I live with my mother."
"My Prince," Dirk cut in again, "we must be on our way. The Duke of Anhalt and his men will be approaching; we must make the army ready for our assault."
"Assault?" The word stung at the back of Aurora's throat.
Karpar turned away from her, mounting his horse, and did not look back at her as he rode further into the tree line, eventually obscured by the dark shadows.
"Milady," Dirk implored her sympathetically, "take heed, the Prince's army is on its way to destroy the witch who keeps the Princess captive. Do you know of such a creature? Are we close to the castle of legend?"
Aurora shook her head, "I do not know what you are asking."
Dirk sighed again, "stay indoors tonight," he instructed, "keep your husband in your bed if you have one and be sure he does not find himself at odds with the Prince or the Duke of Anhalt. They are both fierce advisories, and have traveled long and hard to break this curse. War is coming Milady, keep your babes close to your breast and say a prayer that we will be delivered."
"What do they plan to do to this Princess?" She asked.
"The Prince will take her as his bride, and the witch—" he let her fate hang heavy in the air before turning his horse and following Kaspar into the shadows.