FROM CURSIVE TO CURSES- PART V
Wilhelm regretted his decision to bring the women as they traveled. He was duty-bound to continue to help them to the next kingdom. Wilhelm groaned as they requested to stop for lunch. Before all this, he would ride through the day without trouble. Now, he stopped at their whims. The messenger had not helped the matter either. The boy sided with the women as if the chivalry within him demanded it. Maid Maleen rode on Wilhelm’s horse, and the other woman rode with the messenger.
They found a grassy glen off the path and stopped for lunch. They each partook in of the remaining bread from the saddlebags. The horses grazed on the glossy grass as they munched on the bread.
“We should reach the village outside the castle by this afternoon,” the messenger said.
“That’s good to hear! I cannot wait to rest in a regular bed. Do you think we will find work in the village, Rafe?” Maid Maleen asked.
The messenger smiled at the sound of his name. Wilhelm ignored it and ate his bread. He had always been terrible with names.
“This kingdom is blossoming with opportunities! There will be work,” The messenger reassured.
Wilhelm hoped that proved true. They finished their bread and were back on the road.
They reached the village without further delays. The village was well off with stone paths, well-built houses, and structures. Wilhelm wondered if other places rival the advancements. He had only seen villages with dirt paths and houses thrown together. His eyes traveled over the structures and took in the details. Part of him craved to talk to a mason that built even one of these houses.
They reached the tavern and made their way in. A barmaid tended to the patrons and smiled when they walked in. She tossed her braid over her shoulder and made her way over.
“Welcome! Are ye here for a room? Some food to warm yer belly?”
“A room would do. Also, these two seek work.” Wilhelm gestured to the ladies behind him.
The barmaid glanced over the women and shrugged.
“Try the castle. Last, I heard they were looking for a scullery maid and a maid to the soon to be queen.” Wilhelm caught the flash of horror on Maid Maleen’s face, but she schooled her features almost at once.
“We’ll head there now. Thank you for your help,” the black-haired woman beside Maid Maleen said.
Wilhelm couldn’t remember her name. He supposed it didn’t matter as the two women scurried out the door towards the castle. The messenger’s face betrayed his sadness with the absence of the women. Wilhelm ran a hand over his beard.
“Have you seen anyone come through here lately that resembles me?” Wilhelm asked as the barmaid walked away.
She arched a brow and shook her head. “Why don’t you take a seat? I’ll bring you out some warm food.”
They took a seat at a table. A bard played the lute off in the corner. The bard was talented, Wilhelm thought as he listened. His father hadn’t come through here. It discouraged him. The world was vast. It proved to be larger than his life on the farm. He reached into his bag and took out his carving. The wooden tower had come quite well.
Rafe watched as Wilhelm chiseled away at the wood. How Wilhelm could see the picture he wanted to carve in a blank slate of wood left the boy baffled. The barmaid returned with a slice of shepherd’s pie for both. Wilhelm dug in, and the messenger picked at the food. Rafe hoped the women would be alright. Laughter from the table beside them caught Rafe’s attention.
“The prince is set to marry tonight to a bride he’s never seen. Can you imagine that?” one of the men asked.
His companion laughed.
“I hear that she is the ugliest thing. Not that he would know.” He took a large swig of the ale.
“There will be a parade when she goes to church. Show the people their new queen, I would assume. Want to make a bet? She’ll be beautiful.”
“I’ll take that bet!” the other laughed.
Rafe looked back to Wilhelm. Wilhelm sighed and knew what he was going to suggest.
“If you want to see some princess paraded around like some grand pig, that’s your prerogative. Don’t drag me into it,” Wilhelm scoffed.
“It could be interesting,” Rafe suggested.
“It won’t be. I will finish my dinner in my room. I am not your keeper; do what you will.” Wilhelm stood. He took his plate and moved towards the rooms.
From where Wilhelm sat, he watched the sun begin to set. Wedding bells rang out in the distance. Spirals of wood shavings fell and landed on the floor where a pile sat. He had finished the tower and placed it beside the one he had done of two children who stood outside an odd house. Carving was always something that Wilhelm had enjoyed. Jacob nor his father saw any point in it and left him to his own devices. That’s how it always had been, his father and Jacob. He gazed down at his latest carving. It resembled a frog with a small crown on top of his head. Wilhelm growled and tossed the carving into the fireplace. The fire licked and devoured the frog within moments.
He wasn’t sure why his thoughts kept returning to his brother and his father. He stood and paced around the small room. He ran a hand over his beard. Every time he set his mind to either forget or forgive, it changed an hour later. Wilhelm groaned and sat on the edge of the bed. Jacob left them. His father knew best. Jacob was the favorite son. By instructing Wilhelm to forget Jacob, his father also forgot a son. Who was Wilhelm to question his father?
Footsteps bounded up the steps outside his room. Less than a second later, someone pounded on his door. Wilhelm furrowed his brows and opened it. Rafe tumbled in with a panicked expression.
“What is it, boy? Why are you-” Wilhelm began, but Rafe interrupted him.
“It’s Maid Maleen! She’s in trouble. We have to go!” Rafe exclaimed.
Wilhelm jumped to his feet.
They rushed from the tavern and towards the castle. After a few moments, they ran into the marriage processional as it left the church. Maid Maleen sat beside the prince as a carriage carried them back towards the castle. She wore a veil over her face, but it was her without a doubt.
Wilhelm turned to the messenger. “She married the prince. How is this a bad thing? What happened?” he demanded.
Rafe raised his hands and shook his head.
“We need to see Clarissa. She will tell us what happened,” Rafe said and started towards the castle.
“Who is Clarissa?” He asked as they weaved through the cheering crowd. Rafe laughed.
“You are awful at names. She is Maid Maleen’s companion.”
They headed around the castle and towards the servants’ entrance. The guards caught them at the door. Rafe told them they were friends of Clarissa’s. A guard left and returned with Clarissa. She shook like a leaf but nodded to the guards.
As soon as they entered the castle, she sobbed. Rafe caught her arms and held her steady. Wilhelm watched as the woman babbled.
“Maid Maleen became a servant to the bride of the prince. S-she’s a-awful,” she sobbed. “The bride thought the prince wouldn’t have her because of her hideous features. She forced Maid Maleen to take her place to ensnare the prince! If the prince finds out, he will kill Maleen.”
“Take us to Maid Maleen, we will straighten this out,” Wilhelm said.
She nodded and walked down the narrow servants’ hall. As they neared the bride’s chambers, a scream pierced the silence. It sounded as if someone released a banshee.
“I am your true bride! The servant took my spot out of hatred. She wanted to be queen! You must believe me.” The woman screeched.
A guard stood in the hall. His hand wrapped around Maid Maleen’s arm. The guard’s grip held the girl on her feet. She still wore the white dress and turned when she saw Wilhelm and Rafe.
“I am a princess; you should take my word for what it is!”
The door swung open. A woman stormed into the hall. Rafe shuddered at the sight. The woman’s face was screwed into a twisted scowl and her hair resembled mud. She waddled into the hall, dressed in some gown that Wilhelm assumed she thought was lovely. Wilhelm stared at the ugly woman.
The woman grabbed Maleen by her hair with her fat fingers, throwing the veil from Maleen’s face. “I demand you have this woman killed.”
Wilhelm moved forward, but Rafe stopped him. He glanced down at the boy. Rafe ignored him. His eyes were on the door. The prince stepped into the hall and stared at the girl in the white dress. He was awestruck. Not a trace of anger lingered on his face.
“Release her this instant or I will have your hand removed,” the prince demanded.
The woman released Maleen.
“What is your name?” The prince asked as Maleen backed away from the banshee.
Maleen shook her head. “I am no one. You do not know me. This is your true bride,” she said as she gestured to the woman beside her.
The woman’s face turned a shade of red as the prince ignored her.
“I did not ask that. I want your name,” he stressed.
She slumped in defeat. “Maleen. My name is Maleen,” she whispered.
He shuddered as he breathed.
“My Maleen. Your father told me you were dead. How do you live?” he asked.
He walked towards her as if she were a ghost.
“He locked me in a tower with my handmaidens. I have lived for seven years within the dark tower because I would not marry another,” she sobbed as he took her hands.
The woman smacked Maid Maleen’s hands away from the prince.
“You married me! This harlot is an impostor! I demand-” the woman screeched and stopped as the prince turned to her, fury on his face.
“Maid Maleen would never lie and is nothing but a kind soul. You will leave or I will have you killed. I have taken vows before God, not to you but to this lovely creature!” he yelled as he pulled Maid Maleen from the screaming woman’s reach.
The woman roared in rage and stormed back into the room. The door slammed shut behind her.
“I will fight to restore your kingdom to you. When you were dead, I saw no point. Now, I will restore your home as a wedding gift,” he declared as he hugged her.
The messenger nudged Wilhelm. “Looks like everything worked out. What are the odds that we would be the ones to unite the two lovers just in time?” Rafe asked with a smile.
Wilhelm stared. She waited for seven years, imprisoned in a tower for this moment. Her father trapped her, and she still achieved her dream regardless of her father’s efforts. The messenger nudged him again, and Wilhelm ignored him. What were the odds that he would deliver the girl to this ending? If Maleen’s father, a king, could be wrong… could his father be wrong? Wilhelm watched the two lovers embrace. Maid Maleen looked over the prince’s shoulder and smiled at Wilhelm. It was as if she knew exactly what he was thinking. He shook his head and ran a hand down his beard. He had a lot to think about.
***Disclaimer: This is a work of Fan Fiction.
It is an adaptation of the characters created and owned by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
This story is not associated with Disney’s adaptations, their added characters, or story elements. ***