The story of Snow White, told from the mirror's point of view.
|Moira paced, biting her lip and nervously twisting a lock of golden hair around her finger. Ulrich promised he would return from the Queen’s palace in three days. A week had come and passed with no sign of Moira’s husband. Moira had waited long enough. She could no longer sit idly by hoping that her husband would return to her. She crossed the small dirt floor to her cabinet of potions and poultices, burned the herbs that would make the threads of her magic visible and chanted the old language of the forest that would bring Ulrich to her mind’s eye. When her closed eyes beheld him, she began her work. She created the first knot of magic, tied it to herself and Ulrich, then wove the spell that would bind him to her.
Moira felt a chill as she realized hers was not the only spell that held him. Dark magic swirled around her husband, bathing him in shadow. She saw the dark threads that surrounded him, wound angrily together around a large knot of magic. She tugged at the threads, trying to undo the mess left by a powerful but careless witch. She labored so long and hard on those threads, pulling and pinching, winding and weaving, that the world turned to night without Moira once glancing up from her work. The harder she pulled on the threads, the more tangled around Ulrich they became.
Only when someone entered her garden, disturbing the threads of a protective spell she had woven, did her attention waiver. Moira jumped to her feet and nervously glanced about her, disoriented from hours of focused effort. She felt them, just outside, several intruders who wore the threads of black magic as thick as woolen cloaks. She dove for her mattress and reached underneath the straw pallet for the engraved bone knife Ulrich had given her as a wedding gift. She reached for the protective spells, pulled them to her and knotted them together to create a more powerful barrier. As she wove her magic, she noticed a black thread hanging from her fingertip, a remnant of the black magic tied to Ulrich. She shook the thread off in an attempt to protect her spells from its dark influence but the thread would not leave her. As if the magic had a life of its own, the thread wound about her hand, pulling her own threads with it, corrupting the white magic.
Moira wove every spell she knew to counter the dark magic, but the black threads knotted around her wrist, pulsing red hot. She grasped her knife, hoping to use the blade to cut at the spell but a wave of light-headedness overwhelmed her as the magic worked its way further up her arm. Moira’s vision blurred and she sank to the ground. Through teary eyes she saw a figure enter her small cottage and bend down to inspect her arm. Ulrich had returned to her. Her husband rolled up his sleeve and glowered at her.
“We finally have our wedding bands, wife.” He spat. Just as Moira’s vision darkened, she saw the mass of black thread wound about Ulrich’s wrist.
Moira struggled to open her eyes. A blinding pain pulsed in her temple and something warm and sticky ran down her cheek. She tried to lift her arm to wipe her face only to discover her hands were bound to the cold stone beneath her. Moira pried her eyes open far enough to see that she was in a dark stone room. The only light illuminating the dim cell came from 4 tallow candles placed at each corner of the stone table on which she lay. Moira studied her cell, searching for an exit or at least a thread of magic she could work to her advantage when a flash of light from across the room caught her eye. She glanced to her right, expecting to find a small window, but was shocked to discover that a large ornate mirror reflected the light from the candles. While the rest of the cell was built from rough- hewn stone, the mirror was magnificent, rimmed in a mosaic of colored glass.
Moira stared at her reflection, golden hair and blood splayed across the stone altar, blue eyes wide with shock and fear. She could see a fine web of interwoven threads across the mirror’s surface. This magic was silver, almost translucent, like the fragile work of a spider. Moira could tell at first glance the mirror was the work of old magic, done long ago by a mage untainted. Unlike the queen’s spells, these were untouched by the evils of greed, power, or envy.
The large wooden door at the far side of the cell creaked open. Moira’s fingers instinctively searched the air for a thread of magic, but found none. Ulrich entered, carrying a pail of water. Moira called to him but he ignored her pleas. Ulrich dipped a ladle into the bucket, filling it with water. Moira attempted to raise her head to drink but a stab of pain prevented her from reaching it. The water soaked her hair and face. Bloody water dripped from the table and collected at Ulrich’s feet.
As Ulrich stood over her, Moira took the opportunity to study the threads the Queen had woven around him. The magic appeared to be a powerful binding spell. Moira glanced at her wrist and saw a similar pattern woven there. She and Ulrich were at the mercy of the Queen and strapped in the dungeon, Moira realized there was little she could do to improve their situation. Moira turned towards the door as it creaked open once again. The queen entered, hooded and cloaked, flanked by two guards in black armor bearing the queen’s sigil; a black raven on a field of red. The Queen lowered her hood and smiled, revealing perfect teeth and supple lips. The queen’s beauty was renowned far and wide. She was tall and thin, just like Moira, with long golden curls and clear blue eyes rimmed with long, dark lashes.
“Moira,” purred the Queen.
“Your Highness,” Moira said.
“Sweet sister, I am sorry to cause you such discomfort, but I have urgent need of you. I did not think you would answer a simple invitation.” The Queen ran her long fingers through her twin’s hair.
“After our last meeting, Millicent? No, I think not.” The Queen’s jaw tightened, as did her grip on Moira’s hair.
“My husband’s death was a tragedy, nothing more than an unfortunate hunting accident. After all, if anyone is to blame it is your husband. He was responsible for the king’s safety. He failed. He is lucky that handsome head of his still rests atop his shoulders.” said the Queen.
Moira jerked her head away, ignoring the strands of hair left in her sister’s hand. “Your mercy surprises me, your Highness. If, as you say, my husband is to blame, his forgiveness has been swiftly earned.”
The Queen glanced at the mirror and smiled, her composure regained. “I am giving you and your husband a gift, Moira, an honor really. Proof of my love and gratitude for your faithful service to the late king. You see, you and Ulrich are now bound to me. Ulrich to love and protect me,” The Queen offered Ulrich her hand. With a look full of love and devotion, he took it and gently placed a kiss upon it, “and you will be my eyes, my ears, and my most trusted advisor, as you once were.” The Queen motioned to one of her guards. The man stepped forward and offered her Moira’s own bone knife.
“Be careful with that knife, sister. The runes are old and unpredictable.” Moira warned.
“Yes, the runes are powerful. I never studied the old forest magic as you did, but I do know that a bond formed with this will be more powerful than any spell I might make alone.” The Queen slashed open her own palm, laughing as the blood ran through her fingers. The Queen brought her hand to her lips, smearing her own blood across them. She bent her face only inches from Moira’s.
“We will be bound once more, as in the womb, your magic to mine.” The Queen forcefully kissed her sister, biting her lip until blood welled and mingled with the Queen’s own. The Queen pulled away, licking the blood from her lips.
“Now to find you a new home, twin.” The Queen wove a length of black magic in the air, connecting it to the black mass around Moira’s wrist. Again the Queen’s spell seemed to take on a life of its own, spinning in the air, reaching towards the mirror that rested against the wall.
Moira’s heart raced in her chest as she witnessed the magic of the mirror come to life. The black threads multiplied, twisting and spinning around Moira, drawing her towards the glass. The dim cell grew foggy around her. Ulrich and the guards faded away. The Queen remained, watching her and cackling as blood ran down her chin and pooled in the cleft between her breasts.
Moira looked back and screamed in fright when she saw her body lying on the bloodstained stone, still as death. She was pulled against the glass. Her hands pushed the surface and sank through to the other side. Moira’s arms entered the mirror as she fought to free herself from the threads of the queen’s spell. Moira turned, tears streaming down her face and met the awe struck gaze of her sister one last time before the mirror closed around her.
Moira dreamt of the princess, Eirwyn. She stared at her pale reflection in a clear, still pool of water. Her black hair danced in the wind and her blue eyes were alight with amusement. Eirwyn laughed, a musical sound like the ringing of bells, as a minnow surfaced, disturbing her reflection. Her laughter stopped when she noticed the approaching reflection of a glowering Ulrich.
“Princess,” He said with a stiff bow. Eirwyn’s smile returned, all the brighter to help lift Ulrich’s sour mood.
“Ulrich, I am surprised to see you. I thought you would have returned to my aunt by now.” said the Princess. Ulrich smirked.
“The Queen had further need of me, my lady. She has a surprise for you. I’m to take you to see her gift tomorrow.”
Eirwyn’s smile faltered. “How generous of my mother, may I know what occasion warrants this gift?”
“No, my lady, I may only tell you it lies in a secluded glade deep within the forest.” Ulrich said.
Eirwyn rose from her seat beside the pool. “Well, I am relieved you have yet to return home. I will feel safe with you as my guide.”
Ulrich bowed and walked away from her niece. Moira awoke in a cold sweat as a cruel smile spread across Ulrich’s face.
Moira’s eyes shot open and her chest heaved with labored breath. The dread that filled her dream quickly dissipated as she looked upon her prison. She sat on an altar of glass, a mirror image of the blood soaked stone altar in the Queen’s dungeon. The glass beneath her shimmered as a bright and unnatural light filtered through the strange trees around her. Moira moved from the altar, cautiously lowering her feet to the ground. The ground was cold and hard, a pale green color, like autumn grass. Moira bent and ran her hand along its rough surface. The floor was crystalline, like the rocks that Moira and Millicent collected from the caves when they were children.
Moira slowly walked to the nearest tree, staring in awe at the impossible sight that met her eyes. The trees surrounding her were made of the same crystal as the ground. Most of them were colored a pale cream, lined with veins of green and brown. The leaves were magnificent, a rainbow of pale, translucent glass that greeted her with her own reflection. Moira strolled through her glass forest, studying the trees and the silver threads of magic around her. The threads filled the air, like thousands of fragile spider webs, flashing as the light caressed them. Moira crossed a stream where she knelt to drink from the ice cold water. She gasped as a tiny yellow fish swam by, tail and fins like shining and flowing cloth of gold.
Moira crossed the stream and found herself in a clearing. In the center of the crystal glade stood an enormous tree. As she neared the tree she realized a mirror, just like the one in the dungeon, stood in the center of the truck. She cautiously approached, her reflection shining back at her, and placed her palm against the glass. Her image disappeared, replaced with swirling fog that soon faded, revealing the interior of the Queen’s chambers.
The Queen sat in an ornate throne, a raven perched on the arm of the chair. Ulrich stood against the wall, frowning at his wife’s image. The Queen smiled wickedly and fed her raven a small strip of bloody meat.
“How do you like your new home?” said the Queen, licking blood from her fingertips.
“Where did you find this mirror, Millicent?”
“I am sure you have your theories, you always do.” The Queen snapped her fingers and Ulrich placed a crystal goblet of dark red wine in her hand.
“This is old magic. Only the forest folk still imbed spells in objects. If I had to hazard a guess, I would assume this mirror is Goblin craft.”
“Clever, clever girl,” the Queen paused to drink, “Yes, I have servants among the creatures of the forest. One of them was kind enough to bring me this extraordinary gift.”
“Why did you imprison me here, Millicent?” Moira said as her hands formed fists at her sides, fingernails digging into the palms of her hands.
“I already told you. Within the mirror I can trust you to be my eyes and ears.” The Queen stood and placed her hand on the glass, atop
“I know about your dreams. You inherited them from our mother, I did not. You see things that have not yet come to pass. I need you to look ahead for me, to tell me what decisions to make in order to keep my throne secure. You are bound to me, magic to magic and blood to blood. You will see what I command you to see.” The Queen said.
Moira laughed at the absurdity of her request.“I have dreams that come unbidden in fragments that are rarely useful, I cannot actively seek answers.”
“That is why you are in the mirror. The old magic woven through this glass is more powerful than any magic I have seen.” The Queen said with a smile. She turned, scarlet robes dragging the floor behind her, and paced the room.
“There are those who doubt my right to rule, those who say my daughter is old enough to be queen, that she should take my throne. Tell me Moira, does my daughter threaten my reign?” said the Queen with a terrible glean in her eyes.
Moira’s eyes closed as vertigo washed over her. She stood in her glade as fog swirled about her. Slowly a breeze blew the fog away, revealing Eirwyn astride a great white horse, crowned with an ornate tiara of silver and glass leaves. A nobleman approached her on a black horse. The man wore a white tabard adorned with a red rose over his shining armor. When he reached the princess he took her hand and laid a gentle kiss upon it.
“Victory is ours, my Queen.” said the stranger. Eirwyn smiled sadly and turned to face the company of men who rode behind her.
“My noble champions,” rang her voice, clear and strong, “Today marks the end of my mother’s tyranny. While I celebrate the end to her reign for the sake of my people, my heart is heavy with grief for the woman who gave me life. Tonight we feast, both in victory and in sadness.”
Moira was pulled away from her niece, back to her glass forest and the magic mirror. The Queen stood on the other side, impatiently awaiting her answer.
The words came unbidden to Moira’s lips, “Eirwyn will soon be queen, crowned in silver and enchanted glass.”
The queen’s features darkened. She let out a feral scream, smashing her goblet against the wall and staining her scarlet robes an even deeper red. She pulled her hair and wildly crossed the room, flinging glass and overturning furniture. In Moira’s forest, the sky grew dark and the glass leaves tinkled as a strong wind blew. The Queen’s guards fussed about her, trying to calm her rage.
“My Queen,” rang Ulrich’s deep voice. The queen spun, eyes alight in fury.
“Let me remove this obstacle. The child will not stand between you and your throne.” said Ulrich.
Moira was filled with a terrible dread at his words. She remembered Ulrich’s cruel smile from her dream.
The queen pulled a tassel hanging from the wall. Curtains fell, covering the mirror and blocking the chamber from view. Soon the fog returned, covering the red fabric and ending Moira’s hopes of dissuading her husband.
Moira sank to her knees, frightened and defeated. Ulrich was the king’s loyal huntsman. He trained the dogs and Hawks, lead the King’s royal hunts, and provided meat for the royal table. Ulrich even taught Eirwyn to hawk and shoot a bow. He took great joy in teaching her sweet niece, as did Moira. Moira had tended the child when she was sick, told her stories of the forest folk, she had even taught the girl some simple magic. She had done her best by Eirwyn, attempting to fill the gaps in her life that were left by her own mother’s indifference. Before the King’s death, he had requested that Moira come to the castle to teach Eirwyn every day. Tragically, the King died before Moira could accept the invitation.
Moira trekked through the glass forest, returning to the glass altar on which she awoke. She lay upon it, curling up like a child, hugging her knees to her chest. Tears spilled from her eyes as she cried herself into a fitful sleep.
Moira dreamt that she walked through the forest toward a small hovel with a thatched roof. She pushed through a curtain of leather strips that served as a door and entered the smoky one room building. 7 straw pallets lay strewn across the floor and a low table stood against the wall, stacked high with vials of herbs, potions, and poultices. On the wall above it, Moira spotted a mirror, smaller and simpler than hers. She placed her palm against the glass. The familiar fog swirled at her touch, blowing away to reveal her glass forest.
When Moira woke, she made the short walk back to the mirror, stopping to refresh herself at the small spring. Moira approached the glass and performed the familiar ritual that brought the mirror to life. The fog appeared, followed by the hovel from her dream. A face came into view, wrinkled and angry, fussing at her in the old language of the forest.
“It is you!” the creature said, finger waggling before the glass, “You are the one who stole the sacred looking glass!” Moira could not help but smile at her good fortune.
“No, not I Master Goblin, but another of my kind. The queen of the big folk. You may know her by word of her beauty.”
“Aye, beauty and cruelty and cunning.” said the goblin.
“Then help me sir, I am bound to her through blood and magic. Help me defeat her and you will have your mirror.” said Moira.
The goblin studied her a moment with shrewd, dark eyes, “What would you have of me and mine?”
“There is someone who needs protecting. Keep her safe and I will keep my word.” Moira said
“Then you are bound by old magic and honor, witch of the wood. How will I know this one who needs protecting?”
“Search your forest. Her hair is black as ebony, lips red as blood, and skin as white as snow. A huntsman may be with her. Do not harm him if it can be avoided.” Moira instructed.
“It will be done.” The Goblin bowed as he gave his word. Moira began to remove her hand from the glass, but paused when the goblin called to her.
“A word of advice, witch. The silver thread is of old magic. Master it and little is out of reach.”
Moira stared in confusion as the fog engulfed the hovel, leaving her alone in her glass forest. She paced through the trees, thinking over the Goblin’s last words. She thought back to the spell Millicent used to imprison her. Her sister had entwined her black threads with the silver from the mirror.
Moira sprinted back to the mirror and studied the mass of threads there. She placed her hand against the glass, calling Ulrich into focus.
When Ulrich appeared, walking through the forest with Eirwyn trailing behind, so did the black threads that bound him to the queen. Moira hesitated a moment, remembering what happened the last time she tried to undo the queen’s work. She gazed through the mirror and realized where Ulrich and Eirwyn were. They were approaching the glade, the mirror image of the glass glade in which Moira stood. Moira picked at Ulrich’s thread furiously, frightened at what she feared Eirwyn would face when they reached their destination. Moira unwound bits of the black spell, searching for the source of the queen’s hold.
Ulrich pushed through a curtain of brush, ushering Eirwyn into the sunny meadow. She smiled, her eyes full of joy as she strolled through grass and bent to examine the wild flowers. Ulrich leaned against a tree, pulling his knife and whet stone from his pocket. He sat, sharpening his blade and watching the princess with a cruel smirk.
Moira worked faster as her heart raced and fingers trembled. Eirwyn picked flowers by the handful, oblivious to Ulrich’s sudden approach. Moira sobbed as she tried her best to break the queen’s hold on her husband. She tugged the thread hard in one last desperate attempt to stay Ulrich’s hand. A mass of dark thread fell into her hand, the heart of the queen’s spell. Ulrich raised his knife, slowly approaching the distracted princess.
“Ulrich, why do you think my mother…” Eirwyn turned. Her expression changed from innocent curiosity to horror as she beheld Ulrich’s raised knife. She screamed and backed away. Ulrich reached for her, covering her mouth with one large, calloused hand and holding the knife to her throat with the other.
With a final quick stroke, Moira collapsed the spell, releasing Ulrich from the terrible bond. Ulrich’s hard eyes widened in horror as he realized the terrible deed he had very nearly committed. He threw his blade to the ground and pulled the frightened girl into his arms.
“Forgive me,” he sobbed into her ebony hair as she stood trembling in his embrace. Moira sat with her back against the tree. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, attempting to calm her heart. As her pulse slowed and her breath evened, Moira realized that, in her arrogance, Millicent had failed to appreciate the power of the old magic within the mirror. Moira also thought of Ulrich’s bond. Without the black spell around his wrist, Ulrich could not return to the castle. She stood and placed her hand against the glass of the mirror, calling out to the Goblin in the hovel.
The room was empty. Moira stood for hours, loitering by the tree, checking every few moments for any sign of the goblin or Eirwyn. As night fell in the old forest, Moira finally met with relief. The hovel was cramped, as 7 goblins, Eirwyn, and Ulrich crowded around the small hearth.
“Ulrich,” Moira called.
Ulrich, shocked, looked around the tiny place for the source of Moira’s voice. When their eyes met, Ulrich rushed to the mirror, palms pressed against the glass.
“Moira,” he said, “What black craft is this?”
“Your witch is bound with blood and magic to your queen. A much trickier situation than your own bond, much more difficult to sever.” said the goblin who had answered Moira’s call.
Ulrich turned to him, “Help her then! What can be done to free her?”
“Millicent must die, else I am trapped forever and Eirwyn is never safe,” Moira said.
Eirwyn raised her head, blue eyes wide and filled with tears.“There must be another way.” she whispered.
Moira smiled sadly at her beautiful young niece, “My love, you must stay with the goblin and his kin. They will protect you while Ulrich and I deal with my sister. I dreamt of your mother’s end long ago and, until the death of your father, I strove to prevent it. My sister must die. Her tyranny must end.” Moira turned to the goblin.
“Bind Ulrich’s wrist with an illusion. Make the Queen believe that he still belongs to her.” The goblin nodded.
“Ulrich,” Moira continued, “You must take the Queen proof that the deed is done. I’ve dreamt of a prince astride a black horse, wearing a red rose. You must take him and Eirwyn back to the castle when you meet him.”
Ulrich shook his head in confusion, sandy blond hair falling across his blue eyes, “I don’t understand.”
“The time will come when all of our paths will be clear. I’ve seen her end but I cannot know how she meets it. All I can be sure of is that the future must be just as I have seen it.” Moira explained in a poor attempt to convince Ulrich and the goblin to trust in her sight. After a moment of thought Ulrich nodded his assent and took a seat by the fire.
Moira and the goblin urged Ulrich to return to the queen with proof of Eirwyn’s death, afraid that his long absence would raise the queen’s suspicions. Ulrich finally took his leave and Eirwyn and the other goblins retired for the night. Moira sat alone with the goblin that was quickly becoming her ally.
“A young man comes for the princess.” Moira whispered.
“I have seen him. He rides towards her as we speak. Each moment brings him closer.” The goblin said
“Good,” Moira breathed as fog spread across the glass.
That night Moira followed Ulrich in her dreams. She watched as he presented the Queen with the heart of a pig, false proof of the Princess’ death. The Queen smiled and laughed, grasping the bloody organ in her hand and pulling Ulrich to her for a deep kiss. Moira was pulled from her sleep by the Queen’s summons.
“Good Morning, sister. You and your husband have pleased me.” The Queen said.
“Yes, your Highness.”
“I’ve sent Ulrich to track a party of foreign men coming to threaten my right to rule.” said the Queen
“Yes, from the South. The Vardinons of Rosewude, along with their bannermen.” said the Queen.
“A rose on a field of white, but that isn’t important. I have more pressing matters I wish to speak of.” The Queen stood in her dressing gown, absentmindedly brushing out her long blond hair.
“Of course.” said Moira.
“I wish to know whether or not I can trust the members of my small council. They are soft old men, each of them. I begin to doubt their love for me.” said the Queen.
Moira felt the fear of the councilors. They knew what horrors awaited them if they betrayed their queen.
“Each councilor fears your power. They will not betray you.” Moira answered truthfully. The Queen smiled the most genuine smile Moira had seen grace her features in years.
“Well, it is a day for good news then.” Millicent picked up a small golden hand mirror and admired her flawless features. Millicent keep herself beautiful with potions and creams. Moira could even see a few thin threads of magic that she suspected hide wrinkles.
“Tell me Moira, am I not the fairest woman in all the land?” said the Queen. Moira fought the bond, but try as she might to keep it hidden, the truth passed her lips.
“Your beauty is renowned far and wide but a girl exists that outshines you. Her hair is of ebony, her lips like blood, and her skin as white as snow. She is fairest in all the land.”
The Queens eyes flashed towards Moira, her jaw clenched and she gripped the sides of the mirror with both hands.
“Name her!” she screamed.
The Queen shrieked, ripping the mirror from the wall and throwing it to the floor, shattering the glass. Moira cried out as tiny fissures spread across her mirror. She laid her palms against the glass in a desperate attempt to warn the Goblin and Ulrich of the Queen’s rage. Only the fog appeared, swirling uselessly inside of the glass. Moira cried out in fear and anguish. The mirror was her connection to the outside world, without it Moira was trapped in the glass forest and those who needed her sight would fight the Queen blindly.
Moira stood and gazed at the broken remnants of the magic mirror. She looked around her glass forest, the prison in which she would most likely live out the rest of her days, when something curious caught her eye. Moira had glimpsed something on the large glass leaf of an oak tree. She approached the tree and studied the leaf. The image flashed once more. It was a vague shape, gone before she could make it out. Moira pulled a silver thread of magic and wound it about the leaf, focusing on Eirwyn. Her niece’s face appeared before her. Moira called out to her, but Eirwyn could not hear her cry. Moira gathered a few threads and attached them to one already hanging from the girl, weaving a spell of protection, hoping that the old magic in the silver thread would keep her safe. Satisfied for the moment that she had provided all the help she could, Moira leaned against the tree and closed her eyes, drifting into a dream.
An old woman walked through the forest, carrying a basket of apples with a noisy raven following her. She was wrinkled and stooped, with a hunched back and more teeth missing than left in her mouth. The crone approached a hovel with a thatched roof. The windows were shuttered closed and no smoke came from the chimney. The only indication that the house was inhabited was a soft song that floated from the hovel. The crone made her way to the door, pausing to catch her breath and pull her hood more tightly around her. Rain fell as thunder rumbled in the distance. The woman rapped at the doorframe with her cane.
“Is there anyone here? I require shelter until the storm passes.”
Eirwyn cautiously opened the shutter and studied the old woman with pity, ignoring her protectors warning to hide from strangers.
“I was told to let no one in…” Eirwyn said softly.
“But I am just an old grandmother. I have been out selling my apples and I was caught in the storm. I just need a place to sit and dry off.” said the old woman.
Eirwyn chewed her lip in hesitation. “Alright,” she said, “You may rest here until the storm passes, then you must be on your way.”
The woman expressed her gratitude as she hobbled through the doorway. Eirwyn started a fire and wrapped a woolen blanket around the crone’s shoulders. They sat talking and telling stories of the forest folk until the rains passed. As the old woman took her leave, she pressed a bright red apple into Eirwyn’s hands.
“Take this, my dear, as a small token of my thanks.” Eirwyn tried to refuse the gift but the crone insisted.
“It is all an old woman can offer such a pretty young girl. Take it and enjoy. My apples are famous in these parts for their color and sweetness.”
“Thank you and take care on your journey home,” Eirwyn said in parting.
Eirwyn watched from the window until the crone faded from sight. She sat by the fire, drumming her fingers against the wooden arm of her chair. She sighed in boredom as she stared at the dancing flames.
The apple sat atop the hearth and reflected the soft light of the fire. Eirwyn stood and grasped the apple, admiring its smooth red surface. She brought it to her lips and took a bite, juice running down her chin. Surprised by the truth of the old woman’s words, she took another. Moments later, Eirwyn’s head spun and her heart fluttered as her face contorted into a mask of confusion. She reached out and grabbed the hearth in an attempt to steady herself. As her vision blurred, she dropped her hand and backed away, searching for a chair. She tripped over a stack of books and fell to the ground. Within moments she lay in the dirt floor of the hovel, her eyes closed as if in sleep.
Moments later, Moira heard the sounds of men’s voices and horses approaching the hovel. Ulric entered, followed by a goblin and the prince Moira had seen kiss Eirwyn’s hand in her vision. This prince wore the red rose of the Vardinons. Ulrich stood in the doorway shocked by the scene that lay before him. Eirwyn lay, still as death with an apple lying beside her outstretched arm.
The Prince yelled to his squire, “Saddle the horses, we take the princess back to the palace.” He gently cradled Eirwyn in his arms and carried her to his horse. Ulrich rode with the Prince and his company through the forest and into the castle walls.
“Take the Princess to the throne room and wait for me there.” Ulrich instructed.
“Where are you going?” said the Prince.
“To take care of the Queen!” Ulrich yelled over his shoulder as he sprinted towards the Queen’s tower.
Ulrich bounded up the steps, taking them three at a time and burst through the Queen’s door. He found her abed; her raven perched on her headboard.
Ulrich bowed low, “You Highness,” he said, breathless.
“Ulrich,” she smirked, “I hear you brought me my Prince.”
“Yes, my Queen, he awaits you in the throne room.” Ulrich reached behind his back grasped the hilt of Moira’s bone knife.
“Very good. Leave me.” She said, turning her back to the huntsman.
“Your Highness?” He slowly approached her.
“Yes?” She gazed at her reflection in a hand mirror.
“Where is the mirror? The one with the colored glass.”
The Queen laughed, a cold a hollow sound, “Broken, little more than dust now.”
The Queen turned. Ulrich lunged, plunging the knife deep into the Queen’s stomach. Her eyes widened in terror and rage as Ulrich twisted the blade, driving it even deeper. Blood seeped from the Queen’s perfect lips as she sank to the floor. Ulrich backed away, knocking over a chair and sending the raven fleeing out the window. Ulrich ran down the stairs, through the courtyard and into the throne room. He collapsed to his knees in relief when he witnessed Eirwyn smiling weakly at the Prince’s side.
“Ulrich,” she said, weak with the effort
“Princess, a miracle!” Ulrich said.
“No, you saved me. When you killed the Queen, you ended her curse.” Eirwyn reached for Ulrich, pulling him into an embrace.
Moira’s dreams faded and her eyes slowly opened. She glanced around at the stone walls in confusion. Moira opened her mouth to call for help but her voice was barely more than a whisper. She collapsed against the stone in exhaustion, struggling to keep her eyes open. She drifted and dreamt of mirrors, blood, and a forest of glass.
“Moira,” came a distant voice on the wind. Moira turned from it, preferring to drift away.
“Moira,” it called again. This time hard arms grasped her, pulling her away from her magic forest.
“Moira!” Moira’s eyes opened. Brilliant blue eyes full of relief stared back at her green ones and she smiled sleepily. Her Ulrich had finally returned.