Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chapter Fifty-Six

Up, up, up the Forbidden Mountain sits a dark and beautiful castle - this is the Queen’s destination. But before she can undertake such a steep and treacherous climb, first she must pass a forest most twisted and cruel.

Many of the dead have been caught amidst its enchanted thorns and thistles. They groan and reach out helplessly, but the Queen ignores their pleas. Let them struggle until the end of days.

Every now and then she comes across a true corpse, and they catch her attention more than the undead. Here was once a handsome young lad in the fine silks and silver of a nobleman. How he must have suffered in these thorns, trapped for hours, days, before starving alone.

There are worse fates, she thinks, and she looks again at her wounded hand. How much time remains?

Soon the Queen cannot step any closer - the twisted thorns are too full of groping arms and groaning bodies. To enter further would be literally walking into an open, hungry mouth.

How many, she wonders idly, have made it past these demonic thorns?

One, perhaps? One would be enough. And, roaming aimlessly, it might soon encounter a fawn, weak and helpless. And the fawn would bite and kill throughout the wilderness. And from the forests would come death. And that death would never stop, never stop, never stop, until none remained.

She surveys the Forbidden Mountain with some respect. An impossible journey for a mere mortal, except perhaps the true of heart. But for one skilled in the blackest of magic, it’s a simple matter. With silver knife and raven’s feather, she prepares the painful transformation.

It started here, spoke the Mirror. This is where the death began, in the castle of the uninvited enchantress. And, on her dying day, before she, too, can be claimed by the curse, the Queen intends to undo the spell.