Queen Jocelyn stared at the drops of crimson blood on the crisp white snow, and then at her still bleeding finger. She put down the needle she had pricked her finger on and sighed. She had been sitting at a open window, sewing, and had become distracted by the beauty of her kingdom. Oh, how she loved the way the snow sat atop the rooftops. How the fires in the cottages lit up the streets, illuminating the people who walked through them.
She looked back to her finger, and then to her stomach, feeling a wave of love and adoration for the child within. "How I wish that I had a daughter that had skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony," She said to herself. The queen was three months pregnant, and already loved her unborn child more than anything. She would have died for her baby.
And she did.
The queen passed away while giving birth to the child. A baby girl by the name of Snow White.
But there was something wrong with her.
Just as the queen had wished, Snow White had skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony. But the child was hideous. She was a monster.
The king loved her, regardless. He tried to look past her appearance, to see the beautiful princess beneath her horribly pale skin, but the child's soul was just as hideous as the rest of her. She was a thing of chaos. And still, the king loved her. He tried to teach her to be good, to be kind and gentle, but she only became worse and worse. By her eighth birthday, she had killed five servants, and fatally wounded another eleven. The king had no choice but to lock her up.
Even that didn't work.
No matter where he sent her, no matter how many guards he had stationed around her various prisons, she would always break free, leaving a trail of corpses in her wake, until one day, the king had enough. He sought out help from a beautiful queen and enchantress, Calypso, whom he later married. The new queen and the king found a new prison, and this time, they were sure that Snow White would not escape.
The prison was hidden deep in the heart of the forest. Although it seemed like just regular cottage from the outside, it gave off an aura of power. It had just seven guards; dwarfs who had been trained in both magic and combat all of their immortal lives. Seven guards was all the prison really needed.
The prison, from a distance, looked like a normal cottage. Once you got closer, however, the powerful wards around it cancelled out the glamour, and one could see the true prison in all of its horrible glory. The very bricks it was made of were infused with magic. The dwarves assured the king and queen that the prison had held much more powerful beings that Snow White. That there was no way she could escape.
The king and queen tried to believe them.
Eventually, the king and queen settled down and had two more children. Twins, a boy and a girl, with their mother's auburn hair, their father's bright green eyes and high, sharp cheekbones. The king and queen forbade the royal household from ever even talking about Snow White again.
It was decided that Snow White was a name too beautiful for the beast it belonged to, and so she was given the name Eris.
And so, the twins, Lillian and Alexander, grew up without ever hearing of their sibling locked away in the forest. They had a happy childhood, although they never understood why their parents were so overprotective. They were taught to fight, to lead, to rule.
But more than anything, they were taught to be good.
Sixteen years later
"Lillian!" Alexander's voice called from the other side of Lillian's bedroom door. "Are you ready yet? We're going to be late!"
Lillian scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Seeing as you almost always make me late, brother, I am sure that you can handle me making you late this one time." Lillian could practically hear her brother's eyes rolling as a response.
Lillian had always hated the idea of having someone else dress her, so she was alone in her bedroom as she fought to pull on her training gear. She had overheard a servant saying that she shouldn't be learning to fight, once. The remark had only made her train harder, out of pure spite. The servant had had a point, she supposed. No other princesses were taught how to fight. But then again, no other princess lived in a kingdom as strange and as wonderful as Elysium.
Lillian pulled finished lacing up her boots and stepped out of her bedroom where her brother was waiting.
"Took you long enough," he muttered as they walked down the long corridor to the courtyard. She gave him a sharp jab in the ribs, and he smirked.
It was late autumn and the sky was grey and cloudy. The twins shivered slightly as they joined Kratos, their weapons traiiner, in the courtyard.
"Good morning, Kratos," The twins said in unison.
Kratos sighed. "I still find that creepy, you know. I honesty have no idea how anyone else finds it cute." The twins smirked. They knew very well how he felt about it. That was the main reason they did it.
"Oh, stop smirking. You have training to be doing." Kratos tossed them both wooden swords. "I've been thinking about how your swordsmanship can be improved, and I realized that you've both only been training with your more dominant hands."
"Yes, Kratos," Lillian said sarcastically, "That is why it's called my dominant hand."
Kratos scowled at her. Over the years, he had become one of their best and only friends. He was a handsome man, with raven black hair and amber-brown eyes. He was one of the few that weren't afraid scowl at her at all.
"I-" Kratos stopped, wide eyed and stared at a spot directly over her head. Lillian spun around to see her father, the king, enter the courtyard. Kratos bowed.
"Rise, Kratos," The king said. He had a booming, powerful voice that needed not shout to make itself heard. "I must speak with you privately."
Kratos stood and nodded immediately. "Of course, your Majesty."
Immediately after Kratos and the king were out of earshot, Lillian turned to Alexander. "What do you think they are talking about?" She asked him.
He sighed. "Murder?"
"I was thinking more like the dragons that they obviously have locked up under the castle."
"Or the rebel movement to overthrow the king and replace the royal family with the dragons that they have locked under the castle."
"Or something completely normal," The queen said. The twins both jumped, startled. "Such as your progress in sword fighting, for example."
The queen's movements were always graceful and silent, allowing her to sneak up on people effortlessly.
"But why interrupt our lesson just to discuss our progress?" Lillian asked. Her mother sighed. Lillian knew that she hated being questioned.
"If you both are so curious, why not simply ask your father yourselves?" The queen suggested.
"Because," Alexander muttered as their mother walked away, "we know that he won't tell us the truth."
Lillian stared at her brother. He was rarely so straightforward about such thoughts. He was right, of course. Their father was hiding something huge, but they had never been able to get it out of him. Or out of any of the other servents, for that matter. The king had a way of twisting his words so that he did not lie, but made certain that he was not telling the complete truth. Lillian glanced over at Kratos and her father. Kratos had paled considerably. She frowned.
"Really, though," She said to her brother, "What could they be discussing that has Kratos so nervous?" Alex shrugged.
"Maybe it is murder."
He was very nearly right.