This is a sort of side-project of mine, based loosely on the tale of sleeping beauty. I didn't post this as fanfiction, because it is not. I am taking a premise, and making it my own - much as has been done by authors like Gregory Maguire. Although this prologue may seem much like some of the original stories, I promise you that all of this will change once I get into the actual story itself.
I had this idea a few days ago, when I wondered what it might be like if the people in the kingdom disagreed with the King and his policy of spinning-wheel burning... While will all come later. Anyway, please read on, and let me know what you think. I'd like to see some reviews for a change? It'll be good, I promise.
There was once a castle. Stately and glamorous with walls embedded with faux diamonds and twilight sparkles, it reached to pierce the sky; towered over the world below. Some said it was beautiful, many admired it's grandeur and unusual magnificence - some even thought it pompous but agreed that it was indeed a fete of engineering. The common opinion was that it was perfectly-suited to its occupants. For, of course, those living in the castle were of a royal line, said to have inherited power from the great settler Maleficius, who at once gave light, power, life and beauty to the Kingdom of Aal. A King now lived there - strong, intelligent and willful - and his comely Queen.
Night after night there were thrown great parties, celebrations of life and valour. People came from all over the land, nobles and peasantry alike, to glory in the festivities, to allow themselves one chance to feel free. The young and beautiful crowded the halls, a mesh of brightly coloured cloth and sequins, danced together and ate together. They held their heads high, laughed together in tones of sultry haughtiness, sipped at their wine and swapped stories of old, and often of new.
The King and Queen presided over their lives like angels, unable to be too harsh or too strict. Their statues were fair, their manner proud, and they loved each of their people like children of their own flesh and blood. And yet, though they were rich, and though they had a wonderful life both in the years in front and behind of them, they were not happy.
For years the couple had wished for a child. They had bent their heads, fallen to their knees in prayer to the goddess Arcaline, wanting nothing more than for a child to seed, to bring happiness to their lives. The food they ate was empty, their rooms cold and bare without the shouts of children to warm them. For many long years they prayed and prayed, until finally, their plight was heard in the Summer Lands above, and the sweet Lady Arcaline decided to grant them their wish.
On the seventeenth year of their royal reign a child was born. A child with beauty like no other, with hair like sunlight, carefully crafted gold, and lips as red as rubies. There was at once celebration throughout the land, and a party of magnificence never before recorded in the land of Aal. Everybody was to be invited - with the exception only of the wicked sorceress Nova Mcalina and the inhabitants of her household, for royal rumour had expressed this woman's distaste for children.
Guests travelled from all over the kingdom to be present at the celebration, the child barely even three weeks old receiving attention that her parents never thought would be possible. Nobles brought gifts of impeccible taste, unimaginable wealth, and bestowed them upon the Daughter of the Crown with pleasure. On that night the floor was paved with gold, littered with rubies and sapphies - perfectly matched to Her Grace's eyes and lips, and her parents could not have been more proud.
Three fairies, of wide recognition and honest goodness were present, their places at the table duely noted by the nobility, for they were also there to present the girl-child with a gift. One per fairy, they said with pride, waving small wands the colour of flowers, and moonlight and rainbows. The Nature Fairy offered the child the gift of song, and around the royal cot a swirl of dust the colour of rose petals fluttered and twirled in the light. The child giggled, and music filled the air, like an angelic chorus conducted by the Lady Arcaline herself. The Fairy of Faunae approached next, ready to wow the gathered crowed with her own gift. 'I shall give her the gift of beauty,' she said, her face alight with delight as a single stream of golden light began to shoot across the room, finally landing in the base of the cot; the wood glowed like gold. Many of the rich thought this to be a wasted gift, since what would it matter if their princess was pretty? However, the golden show of lights was more than enough excitement to quell a discussion.
The final fairy to step to the cradle was the fairy of weather, a meek little thing with nervous eyes and an unsteady hand. She teetered towards the child with nothing of her peers' grace or poise, and embarrassed herself further with the presentation of a wand that appeared to the people like a length of stick cut from the nearest Royal Oak. With a queasy cough she raised her wand and was about to speak-
A gust of wind filled the room, striking every occupant unawares. Chill seemed to wrap itself around their ankles, and when the glances of uneasiness began to show themselves, the lights flickered, went dim, and a crackle of magical lightening split the room. A gasp of shock rippled through the assembly as a figure awarded herself to them. She stood before the cradle of the child, the Queen gripping its side warily, and towered over the wooden creation.
'Ah, a party,' came the ripple of voice, a slither of ice. 'I'm glad to see you're all having such a wonderful time. - And, what's this - an invitation?' She waved her fingers elegantly, and a piece of paper presented itself in her grasp. 'All invited to the celebration,' she read. 'Does this mean that I wasn't invited, or was it simply an error of style?'
'Ms. Nova,' the Queen breathed, her calmness returning slowly. 'We did not think you would be interested - after all, you're often so busy-'
'So it was the former and not the latter, oh what a shame. Never mind, Queen, I do not mind. I do not hold a grudge as easily as some might expect...' She trailed off and bent closer to the baby, who squirmed but remained silent. 'No, I hold no grudges. Perhaps I might be permitted to give my own gift to the child? I should like to show my congratulations...' Without waiting for an adequate reponse she stiffened her spine at once, pulled her shoulders back and raised both hands before her.
'I would give this child a gift,' she said slowly, her voice dropping into the air like lead. 'The gift of eternal youth, I suppose. The beauty of one so young would be wasted if it were to wane, and so I decree that this child, of royal blood with royal intention, might achieve this gift before her sixteenth birthday.' She paused for dramatic effect, watched as the purple mist began to seep from her own fingers and surround the baby in her cradle, and then continued, taking many by surprise. 'Before the eve of her sixteenth birthday, this Princess of Unworldy Beauty will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel - and die.'
A stunned silence fell about the room and the purple haze enveloped the child. In double time, then, the Queen cried out in horror, reached for her child and her husband, and the inhabitants of the room found themselves in chaos. A cackle of laughter suited only to one with so much greed and desparation slipped from the lips of Nova Mcalina, and with a crackle of thunder and magic she was gone, back the way she had come.
When the panic had died down, the room fell once more into silence, until this was disturbed by the youngest fairy. Elbowed in the back by Nature she found herself once again before the cradle.
'Whatever are we going to do?" the Queen cried, holding her hand to her chest in pain.
'Please, Your Highness, I still have my gift.' She approached the cradle, took a deep breath and said, 'I will try my best for this child of royal blood, for she is the future of our land. Dear, dear child, for though you have been cursed with the looming worry of an untimely death, there is yet a ray of hope in this darkness. My gift to you, though I cannot undo this curse, is that you shall find your true love before this time.
'And he will be a man so wonderful, so brave and strong and bold, that when you shall fall to your knees, pricked by wickedness and evil magic, his kiss will awaken you from your spell, and you will once again be living and free. But only if this true love's kiss you do receive will you live for good; a sleep of many years will otherwise be your fate, and the kingdom of Aal will without you fall into darkness as decreed.'
She let the marvellous magic - the colours of the bluest of blue oceans - trickle from her wand and surround the poor child, and then she stepped back to admire her handy work. With a tiny proud smile she slid back into the crowd, engulfed by those who meant little to her and care for her even less. Little did she know that this moment of power would change her life for good, in more ways than she could ever have imagined.