From Cursive To Curses- Part VIII
Wilhelm walked among the trees. His brother had slammed the door in his face. Jacob had always been strong-willed, but it stung to see his reaction. He clenched his fists. He should have known better than to expect a warm welcome. Still, he hoped, and it crumbled in his chest like the crackle of faded fire. His heart ached with a pained beat. Wilhelm wasn’t sure what else he expected when it came to his brother.
Princess Aledia suggested that he tour the kingdom. In the meantime, she would talk sense into his brother. A walk sounded like the cure to his clouded mind. He left his chambers hours ago. Each step taking him farther from the castle and into the forest beyond. Something about nature that soothed him. The bustle of villages piqued his interest, but the gentle sway of the tree branches calmed his heart.
As he weaved around the lush oaks of the woods, he noticed a girl. She wore a splendid gown of gold and white. She turned as he approached. Wilhelm couldn’t think of a reason why she would be in the woods alone. A dove swooped down at this head. He ducked just in time for the bird to miss.
“My dove, please stop! We don’t know what he wants!” the girl yelled as she ran towards him.
The dove swooped again before landing on the low branch of an aging oak.
“That’s your bird?” Wilhelm asked, confused as he stared down the dove.
“Well, it’s complicated. The dove keeps me company in this enchanted glen,” she said with a smile.
The dove fluttered down from the branches to land on the girl’s shoulder.
Wilhelm looked between the two, and the sense of familiarity tugged at him. This was another odd situation. He felt it in his bones in a way that he couldn’t explain. Why did these things keep happening around him? Did he step on fairy?
“Do you need any assistance?” he asked. Curiosity prickled at his mind. If he was right, then…
“My dove has asked for my assistance. Perhaps you could help?” the girl asked. Wilhelm bit his cheek. It was another one of those odd situations.
“What can I do?”
“My dove provided this glen for me. It provides food, shelter, clothing, anything I need. Today The dove asked for something in return,” she trailed. She tapped on a tree, and the trunk fell open. Within sat a table overflowing with jewels and precious stones. The girl tapped the wood, and it slid shut with a soft hiss.
“Out with it, girl. I am expected back at the castle before nightfall.”
“The dove wants me to go to a witch’s house and steal a ring,” she sputtered out. Wilhelm blinked. It wanted… what?
“How to propose to steal this ring?” he asked as she twisted her hands.
“I don’t know…” she muttered under her breath. Wilhelm sighed and looked between the two. His eyes landed on the bird.
“Is this ring important? Is it life or death? To steal from a witch might just be death for her.” He didn’t expect the bird to answer. Although, a talking frog came to mind.
“Yes,” the bird whispered.
Wilhelm ran a hand down his beard and nodded. What were the odds that he would run into this girl and bird? He scoffed. It was about as good his stumbling on Hansel and Gretel or Maid Maleen. There was a reason this was happening.
“I will help. Lead the way, girl,” Wilhelm said.
The girl smiled and walked ahead of him. She prattled about the forest and how she stumbled on it. Robbers killed the family she served. It was by sheer luck alone that she escaped with her life. Once in the woods, she thought she would starve. The dove had come to the girl’s rescue, as did the forest. She lived sheltered in the trees.
They weaved through the trees and stopped short of shouting distance of a small cottage. Wilhelm’s heart stopped. The grass that surrounded the cottage was a darkened grey. The smell of decay reached their noses. It was the same as Hansel & Gretel. However, this one looked as though this witch’s curse had only begun.
“I’ll go in through the back and look for the ring. Do you think you could distract her?” she asked as she covered her nose with her voluminous sleeves.
He looked over her black hair and small frame. The girl wouldn’t stand a chance if the witch caught her. Wilhelm did not want to do this.
“Fine, go around back and be quick. Send the dove as a signal when you’re out,” Wilhelm said as he walked towards the door. What was he doing? Why was he helping this random girl? He did not want to help anyone that wouldn’t lead to his father.
Something in his heart ached. He rubbed his chest as he moved towards the door. It was as though he was being pulled in the cottage’s direction. This was the right step. Whatever was throwing these odd circumstances in his way, it directed him towards the door. He glanced over his shoulder and found the girl gone.
With a deep breath, he knocked on the bright blue door. It was a thick door. After a moment, the sound of several locks opened. A woman with bright green eyes that pierced his soul stared at him. She was short and portly. Wilhelm tilted his head. She looked familiar.
“What can I help you with, son?” she asked.
He blinked, jolted out of his stupor. “I have some carvings to sell,” he said as he dug into the satchel at his side.
The woman brightened.
“I do adore trinkets! Let’s have a look,” she said, stepping to the side to allow him in.
Past her, Wilhelm saw the small girl looking around as quickly as she could. He smiled at the witch.
“They are much more pleasing in the light. Come outside, and I will show you each. Each also has an extraordinary tale,” he said, pulling one out.
“Oh, I do love stories. You have won me over.” She stepped outside and shut the door behind her.
Wilhelm took out the carving of the tower and held it up in the sun. The woman’s green eyes sparkled as she looked over its ridges. Her grin widened as he placed it in her hand. She turned it over and ran fat fingers over his loving work.
“That is a carving of Maid Maleen’s Tower. Her father trapped her for seven years for refusing to marry his groom of choice. She escaped and found her love. They got married,” Wilhelm explained, and the woman beamed at him.
“Did you have a hand in this story, lad?” she asked.
He shrugged and pulled out another carving.
“This is the Hansel and Gretel. Their parents abandoned them in the woods. They used wits to save themselves,” he said. There was no need to mention a witch almost ate them. After all, this witch was in good humor—no need to change because of a slip of the tongue.
“My, my such fine work. What else do you have,” she asked, seizing the satchel. Her hands dug about the bag as he tried to pull it away. Her fingers wrapped around a sculpture, and she pulled it out.
The wooden carving was of two small boys. One sat carving and the other reading under a tree. It was his best work. Wilhelm had done before he left home. The sculpture always stayed with him. Even though it pained him, he couldn’t burn the thing like he had intended to.
The dove caught Wilhelm’s eye as it soared overhead. Wilhelm handed over the carving. She took it in her hands and froze. Her happy gaze morphed into one of shock and then rage. The grass around her cottage started to brighten to a shimmering green.
“You have been a naughty boy. Have you been distracting me? Someone has stolen my ring,” she hissed.
Wilhelm’s heart stopped. Was she going to attack him?
The woman whirled, running towards the house. Wilhelm glanced back up towards the dove. That was the signal. He backed away towards the forest. The dove flew between the trees as he ran. It led him back towards the mystical glen that provided for the girl. In the distance, he could hear the witch’s screams of rage.
Wilhelm sighed as he saw the girl standing by a large tree. From within its trunk, her home. On the bed sat a plain golden ring. The girl smiled at Wilhelm as he entered the glen. The dove fluttered down towards the girl. She placed the ring in its small talons.
A flash of light blinded them. It faded, and a prince stood in fine silk robes of gold. The girl stared in awe. Wilhelm stared in disbelief. This was happening to him again? He turned and walked back towards the castle. Hurried steps sounded behind him.
“Wait! I must thank you for your help,” the girl cried as the prince trailed after them.
“Yes, Sir, please let us thank you. Without your distraction, we would not have been able to free me from my bonds,” the prince declared.
“Let me guess. The witch cursed you. By stealing the ring, the curse was broken?” Wilhelm asked.
“How did you know?” the prince asked as his brows furrowed.
“This is not my first go-around with these things. Keep your reward. I want nothing,” Wilhelm scoffed.
The girl picked up her skirts and ran in front of him.
“Please, keep this enchanted glen as my gift to you. Use or forget it. The glen is yours,” she demanded.
He nodded and walked back to the castle. He didn’t care about the couple or the witch. The girl and her prince laughed as they embraced behind Wilhelm. Both merry at their newfound love and freedom.
The walk should have cleared his head. Instead, he found that he had something else to speak to his brother about. These otherworldly events continued to fall in their laps. It must have been clear to Jacob there was something off about that. Wilhelm ran a hand through his hair as he sighed. First, he had to get his brother to talk to him. This quest was proving complicated. Wilhelm hoped that Princess Aledia made some progress on his brother’s stubborn behavior. His brother was smart. Jacob would have to admit there was a connection. Only then could he get back to finding his father.
***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. ***