Hello lovely creatures and welcome to a different Blue Monday! A day that will say goodbye to the old and get you ready for the new; all those new stuff that will be added here from May onwards!
Back in February, a few super talented writers agreed to write some Valentine’s Day stories for the Collab of Love. Now, here we are again, with some amazing stories, inspired by my all-time-favourite villain; Maleficent!
So, I suggest you sit back comfortably and enjoy a journey into fantasy! ✨
The Diaries of Diaval
By Lynn S.
They say you need to be kind, be patient, and most of all, that you’ll need to believe in the magic within, to be able to summon a fairy. None of this is true. At least not if you want to meet Maleficent.
I know better than most. I’m her sidekick, her favorite bird, onyx feathers on the black of her cape. And it’s been like this since the beginning. That doesn’t mean I’m above gossiping about her. Gossip is as entertaining to birds as it is to humans. Whenever you hear a happy chirp, we are judging and dishing, you know.
I will tell you a story and I know odds are against me because ravens are tricksters and liars and what nots. But I don’t care. You can always count on good old Diaval giving you at least one or two truths to flavor the lies.
But this, I swear. She is not as bad as she seems. When it comes to Maleficent’s reputation, there is always some sort of misunderstanding. That will be your fault, never hers.
In the world of the Fae, things work at a different pace. Fairies are people of ritual, which give the humans the impression they are complicated. But no. When it comes to answering a summons, their responses are absolute. Yes. No. Never maybe. That makes them dangerous, because humans live in a world of endless possibilities, in which their minds dare wish for stuff their bodies can’t handle.
Case and point, Andre, the boy who dared ask. I call him boy, not to make him less. If you care for such things, this was a man of twenty and so years of age, which is not much over a child, for a raven, or a Fae.
Hmmm, where was I? Yeah, the story. I’ll even get into my serious narrator mood and all. Here it goes…
He walked into the depth of the forest, away from the dying light of dusk.
Barefooted, at first the wetness of the grass after an early September shower was a welcomed sensation. He understood how leaving shoes aside when walking on sacred soil could be so inviting. However, as Andre walked further from the human realm into the unknown, the earth beneath his feet turned cracked and dry. Thin branches snapped, cutting his soles and ankles, as if possessed by hunger or thirst.
He was willing, coming as far as the old wives had warned not to, and then, a little further down the road.
Even without shoes, the young man wore his best clothes. Courtship clothes, the finery worn by one that knows that sometimes love enters through the eyes before being uncovered by the soul.
The clothes were not meant to impress the fairy, but another. Yet, it didn’t hurt. Courtesy is key, or so they said. People had tried to persuade him not to go ahead with his crazed schemes, but if he was ever to do it, then he should follow all protocols. For one, he was instructed not to step into the dark realm without a gift. It was enough of an affront to venture uninvited.
He brought with him a bouquet of the best roses. Thick, fully opened petals of an immaculate white that mimicked crisp velvet. Andre took a deep breath. There was still a little left of stubborn summer in the air. He wished whatever apprehension he had brought, to die in an exhale.
The incantation parted his lips; word after word consigned to memory, repeated with a cadence inspired by faith. He trusted to have it right. He could summon the Queen of Evil by her true name, her Fae name, the one she had forsaken to be known to the world as Maleficent.
It was a difficult find, but one that was worth the effort. The name had been long forgotten, banished to obscurity long before King Stefan even dreamed of the throne. It was spoken but once in complete trust, in good faith and the then farm boy didn’t have a clue how powerful a weapon he wielded. He was content to scribble it away and sealed it into the vault of a library to be forgotten, along with any other memory of the fae who once gave him her very soul.
Having uncovered this secret, and the circumstances in which it was revealed, Andre believed the fairy would have a reason to listen to his plea. So, he whispered, and he gave.
Few things please solitary fairies as much as humans knowing their rightful place in the scheme of things. Wretched creatures; lesser than anything that was ever touched by magic.
Andre knew nothing short of blood would do. He cut deep, forearm to wrist. If his summons were not answered, he’d die unable to contain the self inflicted wound. There were only so many heartbeats before a definite goodbye. Andre made an effort to pick up one of the roses, dressing the white on the red of his own essence.
“White of death, red of life. Take to the Gates this sacrifice.”
Minutes passed. For those who bleed in agony, it might as well be an eternity. His blood spreaded thick and dark on the roses, lazily dripping on to the forest floor.
Andre drifted, his soul a little lost, trying to hold on to that last hope of warmth. He thought he had imagined it; a delicate hand held onto his with a strength that jolted him back. Her touch meant everything. He felt her before he could see her.
“You have summoned me, using my true name. A name spoken but once, whispered in our ear at the moment of birth. The one word that can send me home, or turn me into a tithe to Hell.”
The young man was not ready for what he saw. The fairy had an odd brand of beauty. Not what one would expect from a Daughter of the Far Dorcha, the Shadow Men the Court. The dark of her hair was there, the paleness of skin as well. But her cheekbones were high, her brows a perfect arch; eyes of emerald green looked at him with curious fascination. Her lips were perfect, as if carved out of sin and oh, so red. Andre wondered if she had kissed his wounds, to sanctify them. After all, his cuts were healed. The black bird that perched upon her shoulder took flight and cawed from a branch above. Andre swore the bird had said: “Speak! You are trying her patience!”
“There are so many of us, walking in the Twilight Realms. Did you come here looking for a boon? I must warn you, not all of us are gentle. But I have an inclination to believe you know it, otherwise you would have brought bland bread, or milk and honey. That’s the stuff of trooping fairies.”
Maleficent held him by the chin, beckoning the young man to rise and meet her. A fairy never lowers herself to human needs. Her long fingers brushed against his neck, they didn’t rest until she found that pulse of fear.
“You wear your mask quite well, but don’t be ashamed. Fear is good. Fear will keep you alive. I see now you are old enough to have heard of fairies that can kill a human on a whim. We have all kinds of misfits among us. Blood drinkers, moon chasers, children of nightmare. Why? Why summon a solitary Fae? Me, in particular? And, who gave you the right to speak my name?”
“No one, my lady. But it struck me that you might be able to help me. It is said that of all of your kind, you have known true love, and deeper sorrow.”
It was not Andre’s intention, but the words damaged. Maleficent was mortified, humiliated, and there is no greater transgression. This boy knew. This petty human knew what she had been keeping from mortals and Fae. He was privy to her dirty little secret, her shame, the reason she had turned her back upon the Seelie and Unseelie Courts to walk a path solely of her making. Anger rose, tightening her chest, making her eyes burn bright. And yet, this mortal boy was so ignorant of the hurt inflicted, he might have mistaken her pause for nostalgic contemplation. Andre smiled at her, and Maleficent averted her eyes.
“What do you want?”
“I met a girl.”
The fairy chuckled. “Isn’t that the beginning of every story?”
“But they tell me, my lady, that is girl is like no other. And perhaps you know her. Her name is Riannon, and her hair is as dark as yours, but her eyes are the purple of first light and her voice…”
“Say no more, child! The more you think about her, the more embellished it will become, the more beautiful she’ll grow until you’ll pine and die in dread knowing, in all certainty that she has left you. I know who you speak of. She is my sister, another bastard child of the Faerie Queen and her many lovers.”
Maleficent had not addressed her lineage, ever. When her enemies called her The Queen of Evils, they snickered as much as they trembled. She’d never be a true queen, even if her mother was, because someone other than Finvarra, the High King, had rocked between her mother’s thighs.
“It is not wise to remind a fae of being a bastard, let alone sic her on the hunt for one of their blood. If you have come to ask me to strike her down and break her spell, if knowing my true name you have come to bind and force me to reveal hers, it just won’t happen.”
“No mistress. You do not understand, I just want to see her.”
Maleficent’s eyebrows knitted, but soon her doubts were dispelled. She had simply forgotten how it felt to cherish another the way this boy did Riannon. She wanted to tell him, that is was not love, but a glamour, a perfectly crafted mirage of a feeling. Her sister was a hell bound acolyte, this much she knew. What had she taken? For how long? Had she deprived him of his innocence, his life force, his very will to live? After all, he had been willing to shed blood just for a chance at an answer.
Where are you, Riannon?– Maleficent thought- Have you grown tired? I doubt it. You are probably waiting, knowing that he has only so many nights left to give you. Soon enough you will show your true face and cut his eyes out of their sockets with sharp, yellow teeth, finish his days on Earth and drag his soul into Hell to pay one of your many debts.
“Do you trust me?” She asked the boy. He took a while to answer, but in the end, his head shook in an affirmative. She was pleased. Not all of his innocence was gone. “Then you must do as I say. Kiss me, and in kissing me, you’ll be kissing her, for we are both daughters of the same mother, and my kiss will lead you to that magic realm you need to be a part of, if you ever want to understand who she is, and what she asks of you to be with her.”
“Is is true then, my lady?” Andre’s breathing increased. That one born a human can be turned into a fae by the Far Dorcha? Have I touched your heart, my lady, enough to grant me a kindness?”
Maleficent didn’t answer. Her lips captured his, soft and tender at first, and then demanding, seducing him out of his wits until he no longer could think straight. Riannon was forgotten, and so was the world beyond that once enchanted forest. Maleficent might have been a bastard, but there was half of her that was light, and one could kill in so many sweet ways. She drank his soul in a kiss and regaled him a dream instead.
It is said that if a fairy gives a mortal a pair of shoes, said mortal will be able to freely cross into otherworldly realms. Andre’s last dream was of a pair of black leather boots. So fine and perfect an illusion, he thought he had crossed the Gates of Elphame, home to fairies, without noticing his feet never touched the ground…
Don’t give me that look. What did you expect? A happy ending? Have you been paying attention? These are fairies we are talking about. They are wicked as they come. Even the good ones!
Be smart. Be a blackbird. Accept this as truth boys and girls and you might make it out of life without been fooled by pretty, magical wenches. Trust me, I know. I live perched on the shoulder of The Queen of Evils, remember?
Care to know what happened to Andre? She killed him, with no other silver lining. Riannon was not happy. It takes a lot of play for a netherbound to find the right one to feed on, and Miss Far Dorcha here, snuffed him before she could get her sharp little claws on what was left, to be turned into Hellhound chow.
Maleficent kept his soul, though. It glows, mixed with her primal magic, forming spirals on the crowning piece of her staff. She draws from him, once in a while, for a special type of sustenance. You see, she had lost her sense of wonder, and sometimes she feeds off his dreams just to gather that strength that children of mortal flesh can provide. It has rectified her status among fairies and whatever she lost for being once a human lover, she regained for harnessing the soul of an innocent. Fairies favor a quick kill. Those that play with their food are considered cold, even for the Unseelie. Mal’s having a good time riding her evil wave, but even the mightiest of tides crash down and turns to froth.
Considering I’m just a raven, it’s not my place to warn her, that even for the fae, magic comes at a price. I told you, as of late, she is not as bad as she seems and this you must believe, because it is the type of turn that she is not noticing. He changed her, as she shifted him into something other.
Today I saw her curse a child, King Stefan’s baby girl. And you will say… Crazy, silver-tongued, obfuscating birdie, how is that for good? Well, when she hit her staff, hard and seemingly unforgiving against the floor, that crystal crown cracked just a little and I think something went wrong-or right, depending on how you see it- because there was a pause that might or not have been regret. I could hear Andre’s simple suggestion about second chances escape that world of glass, and it ruffled my feathers.
Maleficent didn’t look affected. She barely even noticed. But I believe something happened tonight. As her staff cracked, my favorite bad girl started mending. A raven can see what others cannot and I’ve noticed how her dreams and those of Andre are slowly intertwining. And sure, she might have offed him worried that loose lips sink fairy queens; after all, he knew her real name… But as of late she has been engaging him in way she couldn’t conceive before, as one would talk a friend. He’s become a tiny little voice inside her head, not far from what you’d call conscience. His dreams of love and his illusions of a family, of someone to come home to have been infecting her.
Should I be worried? Neh. I’m a bird after all, I’ll fly away on the first sign of anything that might cost a shiny feather off my back. But in the meantime, I’ll keep my beak shut, my talons sharp, my muse awake, and record this story…
True Loves First Kiss
By Christine Bottas
Out of the corner of her eye, Maleficent watched Diaval twirling around in a sea of pastel blues and greens. The hem of Diaval’s long gown fanned before the girl like the feathers of an exotic bird.
“I may become ill if you keep doing that,” Maleficent said dryly.
Both girls were dressed in soft, delicate hues. Maleficence’s cat-like eyes shifted back to her mirror and she scowled. She detested the gown she had on, a long, flowey thing that shimmered like pink gossamer, like those horrid butterfly things she’d once heard about.
“Isn’t this how Ladies dance?” Diaval giggled but stopped her twirling. She fell to the floor with a chuckle, her full skirt fanning before her beautifully.
“I do not know how they can wear such clothing.” Maleficent looked over to where the girls’ dark clothing hung. Long hems ended in rich points and touched the floor. Sleeves as black as night. Material that did not shimmer or itch or squeeze you free of breath.
“It’s only for a few hours. How else would we be able to slip into the castle?” Diaval reached up and touched her hair. The once ebony locks were kissed by magic, turning them into a fair golden blonde. Maleficent watched herself though the looking glass.
Mirror, mirror on the wall –
“How else could we kill the Prince?”
I’m the fairest of them all.
Maleficent did not answer her cherished friend. Skin as white as snow. Lips as red as wine. Hair as sterling as silver. Shimmering mites swirled around Maleficent, crackling with tiny flashes of light as her magic transformed her skin whiter, her lips redder, her midnight hair into spun silver. When the magic settled, Maleficent reached onto her vanity table, took a golden tiara and placed it upon her head.
“Do we look like fine Ladies now, Dia?”
Diaval clapped her hands and let out a mighty whoop of delight. “If those so-called Lords and Kings do not fall at our feet tonight, then I’m a crow.” The girl rose and with a flourish curtsied before her friend.
“You’d make a fine crow, Dia.” Maleficent rose, slipped her arm though her friend’s and hurried out the door.
The Wyrm Woods had always been home to the Dark Faeries. With its protective wall of Herculean trees sprouting thick from the stony ground, it boasted an air of darkness. Tall branches created a leafy umbrella over the whole of the Woods, keeping the sun’s bright light from touching the ground below. The Dark Faeries preferred to roam during the nighttime when the moon hung like a pearl in the sky. The sun was always too hot, too bright, too happy for any of the faeiries to enjoy. The woodland creatures living in the Wyrm Woods were scarce. Large bat with leathery wings rested in the hollows of caves. Slippery snakes roamed over the cracked ground. Sly foxes with pointy ears darted from behind the trees hunting for a vast variety of rodents. Maleficent and Diaval had never seen a fawn. They had never heard the cooing of a dove or the howling of a wolf calling to its pack. Neither Dark Fae had ever felt the soft fur of a cat, had never seen the majesty of a horse. All these creatures belonged outside their woods to the silly humans that cared for animals that did not snarl or hiss.
The pair exited the woods. They stood on the edge looking at the vast land of the Kingdom before them. Grass as green as emerald greeted them. There were no trees to hide out the sky. Beneath their feet, tiny flowers in orange and blue bowed their heads as they slept. It would take the faeries hours to walk to the castle were they mere mortals. The two fae, still young in age, had yet to acquire all the magic and power a Dark Faery ought to have. Waiting for them at the edge of the woods was Great Aunt, Mab, to assist them in their journey.
Mab stood hunched over, had she not been wearing a black cloak, she may have resembled the sleeping flowers. Nine hundred years had made the Great Aunt wrinkled, made her voice a whispered croak. When she walked to the two younger ones, it was as slow as a tortoise but the two youngsters waited patiently. When Mab neared them, she uttered a spell under her breath creating a swirl of wind around Maleficence’s and Diaval’s feet. The swirl grew around the pair, moving from their ankles to their waists until it engulfed them. Inside the cocoon of wind, Maleficent heard Mab’s voice loud and clear.
“Kill the handsome Prince and bring back his heart.”
In the bodice of her gown, Maleficent had hidden a dagger. The handle was made of black leather. The blade was forged glass, made strong by dark magic and sharper than any metal man had ever known. This was what she would use to kill the Prince and cut out his heart.
In her pocket, Diaval carried a small wooden box carved with vines and serpents. A box in which they would place the Prince’s heart to carry back to the woods.
Maleficent closed her eyes, when she opened them, they were standing outside the castle doors.
“Have you ever seen anything so bright and so big?” Diaval shielded her eyes when they entered the castle. The gold interior of the ballroom was covered in elaborate paintings, boasting the work of the finest artists. From the ceiling hung many candle chandeliers, each one bright from the light dancing on the wicks.
An orchestra played music. Lords and Ladies danced. Maleficent felt her head spinning.
Scented wrists reached for a partner. Powdered cheeks and perfumed necks were drowning Maleficent in too many unfamiliarities Diaval looked not to be bothered, but the taller faerie began to turn a whiter shade of pale.
Diaval nudged her friend, “Are you all right?”
Maleficent straightened up, tried to hold her breath. “What is that stench?”
Dia laughed then leaned into Maleficence’s ear. “It’s called perfume.”
“It’s ridiculous.” The fae wrinkled her nose. Just as she was about to state that it smelt worse that anything she’d ever smelled in her life, Dia tugged on her sleeve.
“Look!” Dia said in a loud whisper and diverted Maleficence’s attention from the perfume to a young man entering the ballroom via a long staircase.
The music stopped and trumpets blared. A man dressed lavishly stood at the bottom of the stairs announcing Prince Edward’s arrival.
The sound of the trumpets stung Maleficence’s ear, yet when she caught sight of the Prince, the whole world around her vanished.
His hair was blacker than any hell she’d ever known. His eyes were orbs of deep brown that one could get lost in. His skin was fair, nearly sickly. Where others were clad in happy, pastel hues, the Prince wore clothing of deep purple and black. The crown upon his head was his only shimmer of light. When the Prince bowed to his guests and welcomed them, Maleficent realized that her heart had stopped beating.
“It’s him,” Dia hissed. “Tonight, he dies.”
At that moment, the world around Maleficent came back to life. The music began and people started to talk and dance again. The dark faerie covered her mouth with her hand, feigning perfume-induced sickness and excused herself.
Maleficent found herself wandering though the vast hallways. The castle was like a labyrinth. Soon she found a door and exited into a lush garden. Dainty cherry blossoms dotted the garden. Bushes boasting bright red flowers were placed around tall marble statues of Cupid. When Maleficent reached to touch a flower, her finger grazed along a thorn and drew blood. She pulled back with a gasp, never having seen a flower as perfect as this, both beautiful and painful. A bead of blood crowned her finger. Maleficent felt the coldness of the dagger against her skin, her mind consumed with the thought of the Prince’s beautiful face. How could she kill him now? Now that she felt this odd ache in her heart, a longing to see him again. What this what mortals called Love?
A window above the garden opened. Maleficent darted behind a tree and hid. She peeked out, saw a shadow walking to the open window and leaning sadly against the frame.
“Whoever said I wanted a bride.”
Maleficent jumped when he began to speak. The figure leaned out of the window, his face coming into view.
“I wish I could flee from here, run off into the forest and forget I was ever Prince Edward.”
Maleficent looked around and noticed he was talking to himself. She had stumbled upon his thoughts and she wanted to hear them all.
“I would set up court in the darkness of the woods. Create my own castle in the caves. Among the trees I would be King of Nothingness and that would be just fine.” The melancholy prince sighed and when he did, Maleficent took a step back and fell right into the bush.
“Who goes there?” The Prince demanded as the fae scrambled to rise. Thorns tore at her dress, weaved themselves into her hair. She could use her magic on him, paralyze him so she could escape. But she wanted to hear his voice again.
“It is I, my Prince.” Maleficent rose. She lifted her gaze to the window and caught his. When he looked down she curtsied. Moths crashed into her ribcage. She could hear her heart in her ears, loud and wild.
“You should not be in my garden.” Maleficent heard him run out of his room and tear down the stairs. With his hand on the hilt of his sword, he entered the garden and came face to face with her.
The fae bowed her head at his beauty. “Never have I seen –” she uttered under her breath.
When the Prince curved a finger under her chin and lifted her eyes to his level, he asked. “Who are you?”
His touch was warm. Perhaps this is what summer felt like. “I heard what you said. That you want to run away.”
For a moment, he looked cross, but quickly he nodded. “I do not belong here among all this happiness and light. Nothing in this grand place has ever given me joy.”
“Would darkness bring you joy?”
The Prince looked at her questioningly. “Perhaps.”
Maleficent thought of the blade. Death is darkness. She could kill him in one fluid gesture, take away his light. His heart would become a treasure, a sacred spoil of war in the battle between faery and man. Maleficent touched the spot by breast and bone where the dagger rested. Above, the moon shone rays of light upon Prince Edward, making him look ethereal.
Maleficent needed to know for sure, so she asked again. “Would darkness bring you joy?”
The Prince’s eyes were so full of sorrow, he didn’t need to reply. The storms in his orbs spoke to Maleficent, telling her the truth.
“Let me kiss you,” she whispered and touched her lips to his. Her fingers curled around the blade and soon she sunk it into his chest. The Prince let out a tiny cry, blood dripping from his lips, then fell to his knees.
“Kiss me again,” he whispered with the last of his breath and Maleficent did.
The two fairies did not have Mab’s power to return home quickly, but the night was still young, and the moon would keep them company.
Maleficent insisted she carry the small box back to the woods. Inside, the Prince’s heart rested. He had given it to her. Malificent knew that this was what love was.
A Faechild Story
By Katrin Hollister
Leffi tried to save them. She really did.
The nature whispered to Leffi from beneath the soil, whistling through the wilting leaves of the trees overhead. The songs in the wind had long grown hoarse and quiet. The magics of nature all bore the same message: help us.
“I’m sorry,” Leffi whispered, caressing the cracked, grey bark of the nearest oak. The lives continued to drain away. “I will fix this.”
Her bare feet trembled with the groan of the ground beneath, the agony and despair rumbling through her bones, the darkness thrashing in her core. Power corrupted. For thousands of years, the fae of the kingdom had looked after its inhabitants, from the trees to the insects to the boars to the people. Her sisters were kind, hardworking, and optimistic, but Leffi could see the effects their protection had upon the place they called home. As the humans flourished, they became more courageous, venturing further and further out into the wild, bringing back hunted animals for food and chunks of ore for weapons. Her sisters were thrilled, seeing the humans evolve and pass onto their offspring generation after generation, evolving from fire torch-clutching, animal skin-wearing creatures to well-spoken individuals with elegant clothing and a passion for knowledge. But still, they struggled amongst each other, waging wars, felling their own, devolving into savages for the sake of control and power. The fae sisters did not interfere in the affairs of humans, but neither could they stay away completely.
Leffi held onto hope for a better future and helped as much as she could in the background. Finding Briar Rose, a faechild of darkness, during her wanders in the woods one day, she’d resolved to keep her for her own. The world was dark, the people toxic. Such a dark faechild would flourish in human greed and destroy what her sisters had created. She was beautiful, mesmerising, with curls the shade of midnight and eyes darker than the deepest well. Leffi gave Briar some of her magic, hoping to suppress the darkness within the faechild. Briar’s black hair turned golden, her fae features turning human-like, her cheeks pink. Leffi would be happy with Briar, living in their own world away from humans. But that happiness, too, didn’t last. When her sister Melda learnt of the king and queen’s inability to conceive a child, she’d taken Briar away.
“It is for the best,” she tried to reassure Leffi. “It wouldn’t be right, raising a human child in our world. We were always meant to help, not to partake. She would be happier with her own kind.”
But it was wrong. So wrong. Leffi watched the humans fawn around her child, who they’d renamed Aurora. A human name. In her sisters’ eagerness to please the humans they’d spent so much effort raising, none realised the devastation left with Leffi. Today was Briar’s christening when the king and queen pretended Briar was their own child, rather than a faechild.
“We also wish to announce dear Aurora’s betrothal to Prince Philip, son of King Hubert. This will unite our two kingdoms and pave the way for prosperity,” said the king in a husky voice, blinking back false tears. His words radiated out of the court into the garden where Leffi stood, frozen. Her blood ran cold. How dare they? She was an infant, a faechild, not to be used as political leverage. Briar’s cheeks were pink as fresh blossoms and eyes blue as the midsummer sky, her curls golden as ears of corn. Leffi gripped the branch of the tree she leant against. She could almost see the fae beneath Briar’s human exterior rippling, sucking in the humans’ selfishness and malice.
“Won’t the fae bless our child with gifts?” said the queen, greedy for magic as always. Leffi seethed. Humans always took but never gave. Once more, they held their hands out with expectation. But, once more, her sweet but gullible sisters flocked as commanded. Briar gurgled.
“With beauty rivalled by none,” sang Melda, throwing sparks over Briar. There is no need for that, Leffi thought to herself. She is fae. Such magic has no effect.
“With a voice a blessing for all to hear,” trilled Esme, adding her own magic. Briar already had that gift. Fire coursing down her veins, Leffi found her feet flying over the grass. Briar didn’t need blessing or fae magic to change who she was. None of them had any idea how much danger they were in. One wave of Leffi’s hand sent the alarmed guards flying, their metal armour clanging against the stone walls and their weapons clattering to the ground.
A terrified gasp rippled through the crowd. Leffi knew she must look a sight, her black hair wild and green magic crackling at her fingertips, but all she could see was little Briar Rose, gurgling happily in her cot, surrounded by human cloths of all colours and dressed in uncomfortable layers of pale blue and white.
“Leffi!” hissed Saffron, her third sister. “You shouldn’t be here! You weren’t invited!”
“She’s mine,” whispered Leffi.
“I said—” Leffi’s words were cut off when Saffon grasped her by the upper arm.
“Don’t ruin this, Leffi,” Saffron said vehemently in her ear. “Don’t you see? The humans need this child, or the kingdom will perish.”
Then perish, thought Leffi, her guts twisting. They were rotten to the core. They should all burn. Her body tingled. The magic in the air whispered, yielding to her call. Her three sisters gave her steely glares, silently ordering her to step down. Tears prickling in her ears, Leffi took in a shuddering breath, giving Briar a last look.
“Dear fae… are you offended?” said the queen tentatively. Her eyes might be demure and downcast, but the greedy upturn of her lips was all too obvious to Leffi, whose resolve solidified.
“Not at all,” Leffi said, scowling and drawing herself up to her full height.
“Leffi—” Melda began.
“I shall bless your child, too.” Leffi waved her hand. Green light gathered around her long fingers, glittering and mesmerising. She could not bring herself to kill baby Briar, but she and her sisters must protect the humans. “This child shall grow to be healthy, strong, and with a beauty beyond imagination both outside and in—” She locked eyes with the gleeful queen. “—and when she turns sixteen, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die.”
The crowd broke out into horrified whispers. The king and queen turned pale as marble. Melda and Esme’s expressions changed immediately; their sweet, beguiling expressions contorted into hatred and fury. Leffi spun, dissolving herself into shadows and disappearing from the castle.
For sixteen years, the world around the castle decayed, wilting at the expense of Leffi’s magic upon the royal family. She knew her sisters would protect Briar and continue to mollycoddle the humans. Exhausted, Leffi kept all to herself. Sleep came as a welcome bliss to her anguished heart and all she knew was darkness.
One day, deep within her cave, Leffi stirred, her consciousness finally rearing once more.
Briar. The single name was all that remained on her mind as she sat up, layers of dust and dirt cascading off her back, cobwebs stretching like thin, white fingers from her hair to the ground. Her aged heart, dull with despair and aching from her long slumber, beat against her chest. She could feel Briar. She was not dead.
Her feet trembled with fatigue. Each breath ached to her bones, but she forced herself on. Her wrinkled hands trailed over the wet stone cave walls, nails skimming over the moss. The air was heavy, moist from a recent rain, but the ground remained grey and barren, the soil sinking beneath her feet and the dried trees bowing with anguish.
So much had changed since she rested to regain her magic. The gates were taller, grander, the battlements decorated with flags of scarlets and emeralds. Banners stretched from wall to wall. Despite the colourful decorations as though prepared for celebrations, the world behind the glistening bronze gates was quiet, like a flame snuffed in the wind, the heavy silence humming like the hint of residual smoke.
Leffi stepped foot into the kingdom for the first time in over a decade. Her bare feet pressed against the uneven stone-strewn ground, her tattered dress trailing behind her. Soft wind breezed through her limp black hair. The city was once bustling with life, filled with chatter and movement. Now, everything stood still as if abandoned by the residents. Stalls stood empty. Posters scattered the ground. Leffi paused to pick one up. ‘Royal Wedding!’ screamed the letters above two portraits: one of a bearded young man with a haughty look and one of a young girl with blonde curls and dazzling eyes. Her beauty took Leffi’s breath away. Briar. Her beautiful girl.
Clutching the poster to her chest, Leffi ambled on. The castle came into sight, but still, nobody crossed her path. Stalls stood open to her left and right, boasting goods related to the royal marriage: dolls of the prince and princess, paper flags of the two kingdoms, small banners and streamers. But there were no storekeepers, no children, no customers.
The sensation of Briar’s presence drew closer the more Leffi neared the castle. The drawbridge was down. The double wooden doors wide open. Within the entrance hall, heaps of bodies and the thick stench of blood welcomed her. Leffi’s bare feet continued to step over the smooth stone floor. She passed the bodies lying in pools of their own congealed blood, glassy eyes staring unseeingly at her. Another grand hall with cherubic paintings stretching over the ceiling and walls and more corpses decorating the ground.
Leffi entered the ceremonial hall. This was the same chamber used for the christening when Briar was but a small bundle in Leffi’s arms. Sat upon every bench row were slumped corpses, blood trickling from their wounds, heads limp. Leffi’s eyes swept along the stone floor, rising over the stairs leading up to the thrones, and took in the figure sitting on the topmost step, sandwiched between the two gilded chairs. The king and queen, both dead, slumped on their thrones. Both of them, dressed in their finest, had greyer hair since Leffi had last seen them.
The lone figure stood up. She was beautiful, despite the blood smeared across her face and drenching her snow-white wedding dress. Crusted blood covered her forearms. A bloodied sword clattered to the ground with her movement. Long, curly blonde locks bouncing over her shoulders and blue eyes glistening with warmth, Briar made her way down, a sweet smile stretching across her dimpled cheeks.
Greed, hunger, and callousness glowed in her eyes. The faechild had drunk in every last drop of the darkest facets of humanity. Briar paused before Leffi, who touched her cheek with a gentle finger, the blue eyes giving way to pools of midnight and the blonde curls turning ebony before her.
“Mother,” Briar whispered. Her eyes were long and arched at the edges, the lashes thicker than a human’s. Leffi’s heart surged with love. Her faechild. She kissed Briar’s cheek. Briar’s face was cold as ice.
“Leffi…” a hoarse voice croaked from somewhere to her left. Lying in a limp pile, Melda stared up at her, weak and dying. There was barely any colour left to her cheeks. “What have you done?”
“I tried, dear sister,” Leffi said sadly, slipping a hand to Briar’s lower back. Her daughter nuzzled her neck, mewing. “Let’s go, my darling.”
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Thank you all, you wonderful creatures for being here once again!
I hope you enjoyed the stories my dear friends so kindly agreed to write for my humble blog!
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Till next time… Toodles!