Tiny, female feet tread faintly through the newly fallen autumn leaves of the Carpathian forest. A young Dacian witch moved quiescently through the ancient woods, her dark cloak like liquid Tokay lux Sapphire, causing her body to melt into the moonless night like a shadow. Her curly brunette locks whipped about her from under her hood with each gust of air and from her oval face gazed a pair of deep brown eyes which accented her olive complexion.

For all her beauty, the young witch did not share the vanity of her father's people. She was half Dacian on her mother's side and half Roman from her father's side. Her father had raised her until she grew into womanhood and demanded to join her mother and learn about her mother's people. It was many years until she could escape her father's grip and when she was reunited with her mother, she learned about her pagan heritage. Her mother was a witch as her mother before her. This was the destiny her father feared she would follow. Well, now I have my own path and it has led me into the heart of this elapsed forest.

Rumors from her journey along the Danube River through the Roman inhabited lands of Pannonia had brought her to this primeval forest which rest on the foothills of the Carpathian mountains so close to her homeland. Tales of a vice royal who subsisted locked away in his castle had reached her ears. Long lost cousin of the King, some proclaimed, other said it was the King's son, but no one knew for sure. She did not care for either of the latter, but rather the former. She had set out on a quest of sorts to locate this wicked prince. By law, according to her sacred sect, she was inclined to bring this sinful man to justice for his debaucheries and avarice. Even though she had been banished many years ago by the Order of the Ostrogoth witches, she had every intention of reclaiming her seat amongst her sisters.

"They will forever rue the day they cast me aside like some dull-witted child," the witch grumbled to herself, visibly seething under the hood of her cloak.

Her anger over such an insulting indignity was still simmering afresh in her mind, but she would have her retribution in the end. This decadent prince would attest to be her redeemer and the Order's bane. Ah, but what curse to use this time?, the witch pondered, Maybe a trial of tribulation? Or a test of potential moral erudition? It has to be something to change him. But what would be strong enough to change this man's iniquitous ways? Lost in her thoughts, the witch missed the fist-size rock embedded in the ground before her and she tripped over it into the leaf and mud ridden ground.

"Damnation!" she spat.

Suddenly, something caught her eyes. Not but a few paces away, a lonely tombstone marred by time sat quietly in the dark, three roses at its base. The witch had to squint her eyes before her vision adjusted enough for her to identify the colors of the roses. One rose was crimson, one alabaster, and the other claret. Was this a Godsign? the witch wondered when the symbolism of the three roses struck her.

"Ah! A burgundy rose for beauty, a white rose for innocence, and a red rose for love. A girl, beautiful yet innocent to tame this brutish man and in order to break the curse, she must willingly fall in love with this wicked man. Perfetto!...But which curse shall befall him?" As the last words fell from her lips, a harsh gust carrying winter's cruel bite wisped by the witch and stripped the dark red rose of its petals. The witched peered up towards the heavens with a smile dancing upon her lips. "Thank you," she whispered.

She would make him ugly just as his champion would be beautiful. His outside will match his inside, the witch mused. She laughed maniacally at her own jest as she continued down the muddy path, towards the castle she knew lie deeper in the forest, closer to the mountains.

"I am coming for you," she whispered into the wind and her words rode the breeze to places unknown.