A prince becomes ill after a fall - A mysterious enchantress his only hope of a cure
Two Hearts Entwined - Remember me
Prince Michael of Carponol lay in bed his whole body soaked in sweat. He tossed and turned in a fever filled delirium. He had remained in a semi-comatose state ever since being thrown from his horse two weeks prior to the announcement of his engagement to Princess Amelia for Valantia. The Queen's personal physicians said his injuries healed successfully. They couldn’t understand why he hadn’t made a full recovery by now. Queen Phoebe sat at her son's bedside her face drawn and tear-stained his yet to be fiancée sat by the bedside also. Head bowed her eyes covered with a pretty lace kerchief. princess Amelia's eyes were not red-rimmed; however nor her cheeks wet with tears of sorrow; instead, her expression hidden one of frustration and anger. She waited and schemed for so long to become prince Michael’s wife, a step nearer her ultimate goal of becoming the queen of all Carponol and Valantia. Now it seemed with the prince on the cusp of death her ambition would be denied to her. Queen Phoebe sent word to all the physicians throughout Carponol and Valantia all who came couldn’t explain why the prince had not recovered; his condition only worsened by the day. The Queen stood reaching a decision she left the prince’s bedchamber to find the general of her army
“Send men out to find the old mystic Nathanial,” the queen commanded. Queen Phoebe didn’t believe in the mystics and their magic, but this was the last resort. She was desperate enough to try anything she could to help her poor son recover from his malady. The following day the mystic arrived the queen led him into prince’s bedchamber.
“Please help my son. I beg you I will reward you with anything you want, only please help him.” Queen Phoebe pleaded
Nathanial nodded, stroking his white beard as he looked over the prone prince with a careful eye. He touched his fevered brow and held his limp hand finally checking the healed wound in the prince’s side. The mystic frowned, for several minutes he stood over the bed observing the prince who moaned and tossed fitfully in his delirium. “I cannot help the prince,” the mystic said finally
The queen distraught pleaded, “Please, there must be something you can do I beg you.” The queen held the mystic’s hands tears blinding her vision.
Nathanial raised a hand, sympathy showing in his wrinkled, aged face, "I know someone who may be able to help.”
A glimmer of hope shone in the queen’s eyes, “Who? Who can help I’ll send men to bring this person here at once.”
The mystic’s eyes narrowed, “In the vale forest that separates Carponol from Valantia lives the enchantress Melina find her, and if you can persuade her. She may be able to help cure the prince. But be aware she may exact a heavy price for her assistance.”
The queen sent all the men she could spare to search the forest for the enchantress. While the scheming princess sent her own men hoping to find the enchantress first. The soldiers searched for many days in vain. Finally, one day the enchantress came to the castle herself wearing a grey cloak and hood under which she wore a white dress. The hood covered her head and hid most of her face from view. Long straw-coloured hair hung loosely around her shoulders. Many believed the enchantress to be a wizened old crone. Others said she was was hideously disfigured, and that's why she always hid her face. Anyone who met her only got a fleeting glimpse of her face. None truly knew what the enchantress looked like. Melina walked up to the castle gates with a natural grace and confidant air. “I am Melina; I believe the Queen has been looking for me,” she announced
At that moment, the queen sat at her son’s bedside; a soldier rushed to inform the queen that the enchantress stood at the castle gates awaiting entrance. Queen Phoebe rose to her feet, commanding that Melina be allowed in immediately, and rushed to greet her as did the princess as soon as she heard the news.
“Enchantress welcome to my home you are my last hope,” the queen humbly beseeched.
The princess finally arriving a little later she stood beside the queen breathless; giving the enchantress a frosty look as she tried to peer under the hood covering Melina’s face. “I hope you will be able to cure my poor husband,” the princess said.
The enchantress gave the princess a questioning look, “Husband? I am not aware the prince is already married.”
The princess huffed her tone indifferent, “Oh, it is only a formality isn't it, Your Majesty,” the princess began turning to the queen,” who nodded absently in agreement. She turned back to face the enchantress again as she continued in a condescending tone. Once you hopefully cure him, we will be married eventually. You can cure him, can't you?”
“The answer to both your questions is, nothing is for certain,” Melina said enigmatically.
The princess batted her eyelashes and frowned puzzled by Melina’s answer. “I thought I only asked if you can cure him.”
Melina nodded, “You did.” She turned to face the queen, ignoring any further comment from the now vexed princess, “Now if can you take me to the prince Your Majesty so that I can see what is required of me.”
The queen led the way to the prince’s bedchamber with the princess following close behind. Melina entered the bedchamber looking around the room before letting her eyes rest on the prince. She turned to face the queen and princess stood by the door. “I need to be alone with him Your Majesty; none may enter until I leave,” Melina said.
The queen looked troubled,”Well, I’m not sure... can you really cure what ails him?”
“How do we know you won't bewitch him or do something to make him worse,” the princess put in petulantly as the queen hesitated.
Melina ignored the princess and addressed the queen, “Queen Phoebe, I can cure the prince, but if you can’t trust me alone with him, then I’ll be on my way,” Melina bowed.
“No wait, all right, are sure you can cure him?”
Melina nodded, “I’m certain, but there will be consequences.”
The queen frowned, “consequences?”
Melina shrugged her shoulders, “As I said, Majesty you would have to trust me. I cannot say yet what the consequences maybe I will know better when I’m done.”
The queen pursed her lips, considering as Melina waited patiently. “Very well we will wait outside, but I’ll post guards on the door just in case.”
Melina gave a deep bow, “Thank you for trusting me Your Majesty now if you, please leave me alone with him so that I can do my work.” Melina knew the queen didn’t really trust her but was left with no choice if she wanted her son cured.
The queen nodded she took the princess’s arm and they both left before Amelia could say anything more to upset the enchantress. Queen Phoebe did not look happy with leaving Melina alone with her son. She surmised the enchantress wanted to keep the secret of her art; thus, the need to be alone with the prince. She hoped that was the case and that there was no other disreputable motive; she couldn’t help but worry for her son. There was much at stake for herself and the prince he was after all the future heir to the throne.
Alone in the room, Melina once more looked around she could learn something about the prince by how he kept his room. The bedchamber was spacious, neat and tidy. A fire burned in the hearth at the far side of the room — the bed situated on the opposite side. To the right and arched window, Melina went the window unlatching and opening it slightly cold air wafted in. It was near mid-winter snow lay in the courtyard below and fell from a grey sky. Melina went to the now dying fire only embers remained she past her hand over the fire, and it flared into life again. Finally, she took off her cloak and hood going to the prince. Melina opened a small bag tied to her waist and retrieved a dagger with strange twisted markings engraved on the hilt. She held the dagger in both hands above the prince passing it over the length of the prince’s body; then undoing her bodice, she made a shallow cut on her breast above her heart. She repeated the same for the prince, letting the blood from both their cuts mix together; wiping the dagger clean she replaced it in her bag and fastened her bodice.
Melina placed a hand on prince’s fevered brow a glow emitted between her fingers. She kept her hand on the prince’s brow for several minutes. She could not help but look at the prince studying his features though his face was a little thinner and paler than she would expect him to look when at full health. He still looked handsome with slick black hair, blue eyes, a well-formed nose his chin covered in several weeks stubble. She moved her hand to his side. As she did, his eyes fluttered open, and he gazed up into the face he thought to be an angel. A face white as snow yet with the slightest touch of red in the cheeks with eyes as green as emeralds and long blonde hair.
“Who...” he rasped before falling unconscious again.
“Hush now, sleep all will be well soon... Remember me,” the enchantress whispered. She noted the wound on the prince's breast had gone. Melina sat by his bed, exhausted, she waited and slept. She woke to a knock on the door glancing at the prince, barely making out his features in the fading light. Seeing his colour return and fever gone, she rose to don her cloak and hood once more and went to open the door.
The queen waited anxiously wringing her hands there was no sign of the princess the hour being late she had retired to her bed. "How is he did your magic work?"
The enchantress nodded, "Yes, he will be well enough to be up and about soon, it was harder than I expected, though."
"What do you mean? Is it about the consequences."
The enchantress nodded gravely, "It did not work fully; however, he will regain his health quickly though it won't last."
The queen frowned her face creased in worry lines, "I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me?"
“He will stay well for a time then the malady will return.”
“For how long... I thought you said you could cure him all you’re offering him is a stay of execution.” The queen said, in accusing tone her anger rising.
“He has a year before it returns unless...”
The queen took a breath to control herself as she glared at Melina, “What! Unless what,” she demanded.
“He must find his true love by the year's end, or he will begin to fall ill once more, and this time he will die,” the enchantress said solemnly.
The queen stood dumbfounded for a moment then raised her arms in exasperation, “Well, that isn’t a problem he is to marry the princess she is his true love.”
“If that is so then you have nothing to worry about Your Majesty I bid you farewell,” with that the enchantress left. Once outside the castle, she stood looking back for a moment. A chill wind blew Melina wrapped her cloak tight around herself. Snow still fell from a darkened sky. Melina retrieved a small crystal orb from her bag, passing her free hand over the orb while chanting --- The enchantress vanished.
Prince Michael sat up in bed colour returning to his cheeks though his face still gaunt. “I feel much better now stop fussing so much mother.”
The queen sat at his bedside the strain of the past few weeks not entirely gone though she breathed a little easier. “I hope you ate all the food I sent to you,” she paused a faint smile crossing her face. “You need to build your strength up again, doesn't he Your Highness... He is so pale and thin.”
Princess Amelia smiled demurely, “My poor prince has indeed lost weight, Your Majesty. We must be sure to feed him well from now on.”
The prince frowned, a faraway look in his eyes and appeared not to notice what the princess said, “I keep seeing a face like an angel hovering over me,” He paused as if trying to remember something. “I’m not sure if it was just a fever filled dream, but she was so beautiful... it... it... seemed so real.”
The queen and the princess looked at each other knowingly, “It was probably me you saw, after all, I attended you every day as did your mother isn’t that right Your Majesty,” the princess put in.
The queen nodded several times, "Yes, Yes, that was it. The princess had been very supportive and a great help to both of us during your illness.”
The prince seemed unsure he frowned, “Well, thank you Amelia and you mother for standing by me. By the way, how did I become so gravely ill from a mere fall and how I did so suddenly get cured from what you tell me I was at death's door?”
The queen looked flustered, Oh, well...erm I’m not really sure about the fall I guess it was just a complication resulting from it as to your cure. Well, I had the best physicians in our two countries to attend you they were bound to find a cure eventually.”
The prince nodded thinking something yet still nagged at him feeling tired he let the matter drop, “Oh, well I suppose that’s it.”
The queen and princess left the prince to rest a while. While the queen went to attend to the day’s court affairs princess Amelia headed for her chambers; her mind racing, she paid little attention to those around her. Entering her chambers, she confronted a mysterious man in black. “I’m surprised you have the nerve to show your face here again after the last debacle,” The princess snapped angerly.
Your highness I wasn’t to know there would be such a complication,” the man said.
Princess Amelia pouted at him, nostrils flaring, “So how do propose redeeming yourself?”
The man smiled unpleasantly he held out a vial containing a blueish coloured liquid for the princess, “Here Your Highness this time I promise it will work.”
The princess snatched the vial giving the man a meaningful look, “It better work this time for your sake.”
He bowed still smiling and left the princess alone to her thoughts; stealthily keeping to the shadows he made his way out of the castle unseen.
The spring ball saw the announcement of betrothal of prince Mickael of Carponol to princess Amelia of Valantia. The peoples of both countries rejoiced and celebrated the forthcoming wedding which was to be held later in the year. The couple seemed happy and content, yet something still troubled the prince. He had given up asking about the time he was ill and about the woman in his dream every time he tried to bring it up both his mother and Amelia changed the subject. He felt sure now it wasn’t Amelia. The woman in his dream was far more beautiful than Amelia in his eyes, and she seemed warmer, more caring and compassionate than anyone he ever met before. He wondered if he was deluding himself making up some fantastic romantic fantasy in his mind at the same time he wondered why he would need to make up such a grand fantasy. He loved Amelia, and that should be enough for him; he needed to rid himself of such fanciful nonsense and concentrate on more important matters. Why then did he feel he was missing something and why did that make him feel sad when he should be deliriously happy.
The engaged couple sat in a horse-drawn carriage as it drove through the streets of the city. They both smiled and waved to the crowds who waved back cheering them and offering their congratulations. Prince Michael even caught one or two lewd remarks of advice for his wedding night which he took with good grace. Suddenly he caught a glimpse of woman in the crowd hauntingly familiar. Though he only got a fleeting glance, somehow her beauty was etched in his head as if he had known her before. Amelia noticed the strange look in the prince's eyes.
“What is wrong Michael, are you not feeling well? Should we return to the castle?
The prince shook himself as if coming out of a trance and smiled at the princess, “No, its nothing my dear... I just thought I saw someone I knew, in the crowd but I must have been mistaken.”
The masked autumn ball was the last event before the planned wedding many guests attended the ball including the aged king of Valantia who proudly accompanied his daughter. It was the first time king Marcus left his palace for some time; being in poor health. He did not want to miss this chance to show off his daughter before she wed prince Michael. The wedding would cement both countries into one great country; a goal the king had worked for most of his life. The wedding would be his crowning achievement. He could finally retire knowing his daughter was in good hands. The two monarchs danced together and talked about the forthcoming wedding. The evening drew on, and the prince danced first with the princess then they changed partners. Even though they were masked the royal dress of both monarchs and their respected offspring made it so they could not be mistaken for anyone else. It was the last dance of the evening and Michael changed partners once again. Taking the lady by the hand, he found himself caught up in the dance. There was something about the lady she seemed so poised and graceful and her perfume overpowered his senses. he found himself wishing he could dance longer with her. As the dance ended the lady briefly lowered her mask and smiled
“Remember me,” she said.
Something about the women and the words she spoke, “Remember me.” Struck a chord with the prince his head started to throb, and he suddenly felt dizzy most of all, his heart ached so much as if a great weight pressed on it; the pain almost unbearable. He staggered, holding a hand to his head. He looked for the woman, sure she knew what was wrong with him, but she had vanished. Everyone stared at him with concern wondering if the malady they almost forgot about returned to plague the prince once more. The queen rushed to help the prince removing her mask so that she could see more clearly what was wrong with her son.
A few days after the ball king Marcus sat on the throne, his brow creased with worry his head resting on the palm of his hand. He looked up as the knight captain approached the throne.
The knight captain bowed, “Sire,”
“What news Sir Derwin has the prince recovered?”
“Yes Sire he has recovered enough, for now, the wedding will go ahead as planned.”
The king sighed with relief and nodded,” Good, Good, all is well then.”
“About that other matter, you asked for me to look into Sire,” the knight captain said.
“Yes , have you found anything yet?” The king scratched his chin, giving the knight captain a curious look.
“I believe the girl was not murdered as intended; she may yet live. The soldier who was supposed dispose of her is dead now, but his wife still lives. I took the liberty of bringing her here she awaits without Sire.” The knight captain said at length.
The king’s eyes widened, and his hand trembled ever so slightly, "Show her in at once I will question her myself.”
The knight captain bowed, “At once, Sire.” He turned and called for his men to show the woman in.
The king studied the woman carefully as she entered the throne room, accompanied by two soldiers. She was old with a weathered face and white hair; her dress was not too shabby and showed that she took some care in her appearance. She looked overwhelmed to be in the presence of the king.
She bowed several times, shaking, her eyes wide, her voice trembled as she spoke, “Your Majesty... I … I’m honoured to be here what is it you want from me?” she said apprehensively
The king was not unsympathetic as he regarded the woman, “Calm yourself you’re not in any trouble I only want to ask you if you remember what happened to the girl you late husband was ordered to kill twenty years ago. You can be honest I won't hold anything against you.” The woman looked uncertain still. The king sighed, “No harm will come to you if the girl was spared and lives. I simply wish to know was she killed or not. Nor do I wish to harm her if she is alive,” the king explained at length.
The woman frowned she kept looking down not at the king. Still shaking slightly, she sighed coming to a decision, “She lives, my Sam didn’t have the heart to kill the poor girl. We hid her away at our home for a few days when it was safe we took to the forester’s home.”
The king nodded digesting the information a few moments, “The forester’s home?”
“Yes, Your Majesty, we visited a few times for the first few years, and she seemed to be growing up well; eventually, we lost touch. I doubt that she will still there after all this time.”
Again the king nodded scratching his chin absently, Very well, before you go, I will say one thing to you now,” the king paused his expression grave. “Its a little late but I want to thank you. Both you and your husband for saving the girl. It was an evil deed my late wife planned. One which I or anyone knowing the difference between right and wrong can not forgive, "the king paused again sighing. “You may go,” he finished. The king ordered the knight captain to see that the woman was fed first, then given coin for her trouble before seeing her safely home.
Midwinter dawned a special day for the citizens of Carponol it marked the turning of the year. A time that is traditionally celebrated by everyone in Carponol and in Valantia. This year was more special than usual; the royal wedding was about to take place. Guests came from both countries to take part in the wedding and witness the historic occasion — the uniting of their two countries through the wedding of prince Michael and princess Amelia; the great hall was packed. Soldiers from both countries immaculately dressed, and with ceremonial swords lined either side of the red carpet which ran the full of the centre aisle. Queen Phoebe sat in her royal finery smiling serenely.
Prince Michael stood nervously waiting for his bride to enter looking pale and gaunt ever since the night of the ball he felt unwell and had several relapses since. He kept seeing the same face in his dreams. He had never been able to get to the bottom of who the woman was or if she was real or just a figment of his imagination. He wondered why it bothered him so much; he put such thoughts behind him and smiled in anticipation of his forthcoming nuptials. King Marcus entered with his daughter on his arm. Music played as the king and the princess slowly walked up the aisle with two bridesmaids helping to hold the long train aloft. Finally, they mounted the few steps onto the podium. King Marcus left his daughter with her intended to sit on the right next to Queen Phoebe . The princess smiled, looking enchanting in a dazzling full-length white gown with sequences. The couple stood at last next to one and other. They smiled at each other like a devoted couple — the ceremony about to begin.
Suddenly the enchantress appeared cloaked and hooded as usual startling everyone present! In one hand she held the dagger she used previously when treating the prince the markings on the dagger clearly seen now of two hearts entwined. The prince fell ill, staggering his face going deathly pale as before his head hurt his heart ached unbearably. As the enchantress strode up the aisle, ignoring the confusion around her as the guests trying to understand what was happening. Princess Amelia spotted the dagger in the enchantress's hand, “She has a dagger she aims to kill us,” she exclaimed pointing at the enchantress.
Queen Phoebe stood alarmed, her eyes going wide she struggled to gather her thoughts,”This is all your fault enchantress you bewitched my son --- look he has fallen ill again now you are here,” she shouted accusingly. “ Stop her, Stop her now I command it.”
The enchantress stopped a moment her face rigid as she stared at the queen, “Not so, I tried my best to cure him I told you this would happen, and how-to completely cure him, but you ignored my warning,” The soldiers rushed to stop the enchantress but all fell unconscious before getting anywhere near her as she continued up the aisle
“But the princess is his one true love is she not?” the king finally spoke out getting to his feet.
The enchantress shook her head slowly, “No, she is not,” she began. “She is the one bewitching the prince with the concoctions she had brewed for her to make him forget and fall in love with her,” the enchantress explained.
“No, that cant be she wouldn’t not Amelia,” the king said disbelievingly.
The enchantress finally stood on the podium facing the prince and the monarchs while the princess shrunk back, fearful of the enchantress's wrath. Melina pulled back her hood, revealing her face — the similarity between the enchantress and the princess could not go unnoticed for all there to see. “Yes, father, I’m the daughter mother tried to have killed... You now face the consequences!” She turned to face the princess, “Sister your scheming led o the prince’s malady in the first place... Consequences!” Then turning to Queen Phoebe. “You ignored my warning and insisted Amelia was the prince’s, true love... Consequences!”
All went quiet and still in the great hall as they all listened enrapt in what the enchantress had to say. She held the dagger aloft once more, and a blinding light emitting from it, “Remember me,” she said. Finally, the prince remembered. He remembered that he had known Melina when he was just a boy. Time and the princess’s scheming made him forget until now, and he knew that Melina was his one true love.