Today is our last day of October Frights and to close off the Hop, I’m sharing an excerpt from my WIP, Fairy Tales and Nightmares, where I’m putting a dark fantasy and horror spin on classic fairy tales. The excerpt is from my take on Sleeping Beauty…
The Sleep of Death
Once, beyond reality and memory, within the confines of a strange forgotten kingdom, a princess was born. The land rejoiced in its grand fortune, delighted in the bounty of such a fair and beauteous child, and to her naming ceremony came nobles and princes, diplomats and courtiers, all to bestow upon her the finest gifts.
Yet one arrived to the festivities who was not invited: a darkling faerie. The air stilled at her entrance, frost circling the skin, and the light dimmed to a dusky hue. She strode across the marbled floor towards the throne, riveting the attention of all present with the swish of black silk and lace, uttering a prophecy frightful and foreboding…
“When this princess reaches her sixteenth year, a curse will fall upon this kingdom. Great evil stalks this girl, and will taint her life in blood and death. Beware the child of doom.”
With those words the faerie drew a shining sword and made to slaughter the babe in her mother’s arms. A valiant effort, but lost to a king’s guard who ran the faerie through with his own blade, killing her before she succeeded in her mission. With her final breaths, the faerie touched the edge of the baby’s forehead. A symbol of a thorn, of the briar rose, etched itself into the child’s skin.
As she died, the faerie whispered, “I did what I could. May it be enough…”
One bright spring morning, the old eastern tower beckoned to Princess Briar Rose and kindled her curiosity. The need to explore tickled her senses and prickled her skin, and she snuck away after breakfast to climb the stairs in the older part of the castle.
She coughed as her footsteps scraped against the stairs, ancient dust stirred by her passage, and grit filthied her skin as she steadied herself on the banister. Her impulse seemed less appealing the further she climbed, and subsequently she wandered into an unused sewing room in a final attempt at salvaging her adventure.
Sunlight spun against the stone walls from an arched window, casting a dim warm light to illuminate the nearly empty room. For no spinning wheels or spindles greeted her, just a man waiting in a plush chair by a table, next to an open bottle of wine and two glasses.
”Hello, my dear Briar Rose. I am Andrei. I’ve been expecting you.”
Briar Rose stared, fear and wonder warred in thoughts, and she remained rooted in the open doorway.
Who is he? How dare he address me without a proper introduction? How does he even know me?
She knew she should run, but his eyes held hers in a mesmer’s gaze, the deep ocean blue pulling her into the room as the door swung shut behind her. Andrei smiled at her and her breath caught in her throat. He poured the wine into the glasses.
“Come, sit, my sweet girl, and drink with me.”
She moved without conscious thought, her feet scuffing against the wood and settled in the chair opposite the stranger. She drank of the wine as if she were a puppet, her movements as a marionette on a string being guided by another. The sweet wine infused her with a warmth, a somnolent languor that banished any trace of fear. All she saw were Andrei’s sapphire eyes, and the fullness of his grinning lips.
He reached out, caressing her chin, tilting her head ever so slightly. “Will you allow me a kiss, Briar Rose?”
She nodded, leaning forward to taste his beckoning lips.
It would be her everlasting mistake.
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