From Cursive To Curses- Part VI
Roses of the deepest red and carnations of the purest white decorated the castle halls. Jacob had to admire their attention to the detail. The fabric hung from the halls towards the courtyard and seemed to shimmer. He walked beside Princess Aledia.
His young apprentice had volunteered them both to go to a wedding as emissaries to the King. Jacob was the first to refuse as it would take him away from teaching his young apprentice. It was fruitless. There was no way to refuse the king.
“The ceremony was spectacular, was it not?” Aledia asked wistfully as she wrung her hands together.
“It was lovely. That’s expected from such events. After the wedding, we will need to review the last lesson. You must understand it if you are to teach it one day,” Jacob said as he arched his brow. She rubbed her hands together.
“Yes, of course!” she said as a burst of nervous laughter bubbled out of her. “Do you think we will meet anyone interesting at the reception? It is always surprising who could turn up at a wedding.”
Jacob eyed his apprentice. “Do you think we will? You are not acting like yourself, princess.”
Princess Aledia stopped mid-step. The pearls tied in her golden hair clinked together as she shook her head. “I’m fine. I was curious; you could never tell with these things.”
Jacob nodded in agreement. Although, his brow continued to arch as he walked forward. The princess scurried forward to catch up, her navy blue gown billowed behind her. Jacob walked with his hands behind his back towards the courtyard. It was odd that they did not have the reception in the ballroom.
Looped through his arm were both his cloak and Princess Aledia’s cloak. The air was too chilled to venture out without some protection. Princess Aledia was humming a tune as they rounded a corner into the courtyard.
The courtyard was a vision. Lanterns hung from the gossamer fabric and shimmered with the faint glow. The tablecloths more resembled moonlight than fabric. Flowers were everywhere, except for a large fire in the center stone floor. Princess Aledia’s breath caught at the sight of it all.
“It is magnificent. I knew that Snow always had such good taste, but she has outdone herself,” she breathed. Jacob passed the light blue cloak to his apprentice. The chill seeped into his cloaks and clawed at his skin. He snapped his cloak on as she did the same.
“I’d forgotten that you know the young bride,” Jacob muttered as he escorted her to their seats. They were sitting on the table to the left on the bride’s side. He briefly recalled the bride. Her ivory skin matched her dress. The red of her lips resembled the roses around them. The girl’s hair, although covered with a veil, was the darkest shade of night. It was a wonder that no one had snatched her up for marriage before this.
“Snow was always a quiet girl once her father died,” Princess Aledia said as she sat down. She smoothed the fabric of her cloak and gown.
“I can only imagine. Losing one’s father…” he paused and forced his own father’s image out of his head, “is difficult,” he finished after a moment. There were those pesky memories once more. He refused to linger on them.
Jacob glanced back to the marriage table as the rest of the guests filed in.
Why was his family a constant topic on his mind? He was a scholar! He dealt with logic and knowledge. He would master these thoughts and emotions.
“She was until her stepmother dressed her in rags and treated her as a maid. After that, I didn’t hear from her for such a long while,” Princess Aledia thought aloud. The woman who sat beside them, a portly woman in a gold dress, cleared her throat.
“Did you not hear? Snow White’s stepmother sent a huntsman to kill her. She had been forced to flee her own kingdom,” she whispered to Princess Aledia and Jacob. Jacob arched a brow at such gossip. Princess Aledia gasped.
“How did she survive such an attack?” Princess Aledia asked as horror etched on her face.
“The huntsman and several dwarfs took pity on her. The huntsman lets her go, and the dwarfs took her in. Alas, it was not enough. That evil woman of a stepmother went after the poor girl herself. She poisoned by an apple and proclaimed dead!” The woman exclaimed in a hushed whisper. Jacob looked between the woman and Princess Aledia.
“If she were dead, how could she stand before an altar today? The bride, if I recall, was very much alive this morning,” Jacob interjected. The woman turned her eyes to meet Jacob’s. Jacob started as a sense of unease, wormed its way into his bones. Her green catlike eyes stared him down for a moment longer before she looked away.
“The prince stumbled upon her as she lay dead in a glass coffin. He pleaded with the dwarfs to allow him to take her home and give her a proper ceremony. As they traveled back to his castle, the coffin fell as it hit a road bump. That poisoned apple popped straight out of her mouth!” She exclaimed with a laugh that caught the attention of several other guests.
Princess Aledia sighed and placed a hand on her heart. Her dear friend had been through such peril. If only she had known. Not that she could have done much. She had been cursed to dance with goblins in an underground kingdom during it all.
“What of the queen? She must have received punishment for such an offense,” Jacob asked. Princess Aledia tried to control the wave of emotions that hit her at the distress of her friend. The woman shrugged and turned back to the guest she had come with.
Jacob glanced back at his apprentice. She had gone pale from the distressing news. Her eyes gazed across the room as she sat tense in her chair. He shook his head and placed his hand upon hers. Princess Aledia jumped and looked back at Jacob.
“You heard it yourself. Your friend is fine, and she is happy with her new groom. There is no reason for such a dismal face,” he said with a smile as he tried to pull her from the depths of her despair. She nodded and grinned back at him.
Her eyes moved back to the marriage table as the final quest filed into the courtyard. Her friend’s plight was not the only cause of her distress. Across the courtyard sat Wilhelm and Rafe. She had not even warned Jacob that his brother was here. How would he react? Could she distract him enough not to notice?
Trumpets sounded, and everyone stood. Snow White and her groom entered the courtyard with large smiles on their faces. All the guests in the room clapped as they entered. She was still wearing her ivory dress with gold trimmings. Her groom led her to the table at the courtyard’s head and held up a hand to everyone to call for silence.
“I thank you for coming to our wedding. This is a glorious day for us and our kingdoms. We invite you to eat and be merry!” the groom called. Servants entered the courtyard with silver trays laden with food for the guests.
Conversation struck up around them. Jacob listened as he tucked into his roast. The woman beside Aledia chattered about another piece of gossip. “Did you hear that a king vanished from his kingdom. He went out in search of riches and never returned,” the woman asked Princess Aledia.
Princess Aledia listened politely as she took a bite from her vegetables. Jacob had to give her credit; the princess had more patience than he did for such small talk. Princess Aledia tugged his sleeve and caused him to look back to her.
She was pointing at the doorway. A woman was dragged into the courtyard by a set of guards. Her disheveled black hair was everywhere, and the gown was an orange monstrosity. The bride stood with a smile. It appeared wicked on her face on her otherwise flawless face. A silence descended on the courtyard.
“Stepmother, you have tried to kill three times in these past months. Therefore, you will be tonight’s entertainment for my guests. You have always wanted all eyes on you, and now you will get your wish,” she said, waving to the guards.
A guard walked towards the roaring fire and took a pair of tongs. Princess Aledia wrapped a hand around Jacob’s sleeve. Sudden apprehension filling her as she stared at the scene before her. Jacob put a reassuring hand on hers. The guard pulled a set of iron shoes from the fire. They glowed red from the heat.
The woman screamed as a guard pulled her towards the shoes. She kicked, bucked, and thrashed in hopes of escaping. The guards dragged her forward, despite her effort. Her orange dress was pulled up to reveal her bare feet. Princess Aledia buried her face in Jacob’s shoulder as the woman’s screams changed from rage to pain. They forced her into the shoes and backed away.
“Dance for us, stepmother,” Snow White purred from her seat. The bride lifted a goblet of wine, as did her husband. Jacob thought the motion was the picture of ice-cold solidary and cruelty. They toasted the screaming woman as the bards played a cheerful tune. The courtyard was silent as a guard walked towards the woman and pushed the woman.
She screamed in pain as the guards forced her to move about the courtyard. Jacob’s hand tightened as he watched the scene before him. The horror had made the food he’d eaten turn to lead within his stomach. Princess Aledia’s face as pressed tight to his shoulder as if to block out the scene. He placed his hand to her head to comfort her. They forced her around the massive fire in the center of the courtyard. The screams shook him to his core.
She did another lap around the room. The hem of her dress caught fire as it touched the shoes. Snow White and her husband clapped in time with the bards’ tune. A few other guests clapped along. Jacob could only stare in shock. He was unable to look away from the scene. He wanted nothing more to flee this courtyard and take his young apprentice away from this brutal scene.
Jacob’s eyes stopped as the woman dragged herself around the massive fire. Across the courtyard, his eyes met someone else’s. Jacob felt his heart stop, and his breath caught even as the horrific scene played out before him. The stepmother fell to the ground, dead. Cheers from the marriage table and from other guests filled the courtyard. To Jacob, they faded into a dull buzz as he stared at his brother.
***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. ***