I seem to not have much to say today, so I'll just do something I haven't done in a while and stick up a portion of a story of mine. Here's the opening to my "Snow White"-inspired story, "What Happened To The Huntsman?", in which I explore, well, just what befell the Huntsman after he tricked the Evil Queen. Enjoy.
"You are clear on what you are to do, then?" asked the Queen, as she leaned forward on her throne.
"Yes, Your Majesty," the Huntsman replied.
"The girl’s heart," the Huntsman said. "In here." He held up the box in his hand.
"Good," said the Queen. "Then go." She rose and vanished through the doorway behind the throne. The Huntsman shuddered. Sometimes he had nightmares about where that door led.
He looked down at the box. Such a lovely thing – red cherry wood, impeccably carved and fitted together, with polished brass hinges and a clasp in the shape of…a heart. Her Majesty had been keeping this little trinket for years.
One of the guards cleared his throat, and the Huntsman turned to leave. In the anteroom, he stopped to check his reflection in the mirror.
"She’s going mad," the Huntsman said softly, so the other guards would not hear.
"’Tis true, I’m sad to say," the mirror replied, its ghostly face appearing in the center of the glass. "But she’s our Queen, come what may."
"She is our Queen," the Huntsman agreed. "But killing girls and keeping their hearts? This is dark madness. Far worse than usual."
"On this matter you seem conflicted," the mirror observed. "With what doubts are you afflicted?"
The Huntsman considered the box again. He also considered the gold the Queen paid him for each item he brought her, usually for a deer or boar, though. Being the Queen’s Huntsman was a good job, no question about that. It was certainly better than being one of the Prince’s guards. What a bunch of dullards they were…
"None, really," said the Huntsman. "I’m sure the girl’s blood runs as red as a stag’s."
"Skin of white and blood of red," said the mirror. "No matter, though – she’ll soon be dead."
The Huntsman stared at the mirror. "Why in God’s name are you speaking in rhymes?"
The mirror sighed, an odd sound for a mirror to make. "The Queen requires it. She thinks it makes me sound more mystical. But it’s not easy, rhyming everything, so I was practicing. But to return to the subject, you should do what is right."
"Does not the Queen decide what is right?"
"Her power rises," the mirror said. "But the Fates are beyond her. Wickedness shall fail." Suddenly the mirror’s face brightened. "Did you like that? It is called a haiku."
"It was wonderful," the Huntsman replied. The mirror is mad as well, he thought. And then: But I’m the one talking to a pane of polished glass. Who’s mad here?
"Fare you well," said the mirror.
"Thank you," the Huntsman said, and he took his leave. On his way outside, he passed by a window overlooking the courtyard. The girl was down there, singing away. She was always singing, just like that fool Prince. But not for long, he thought as he glanced yet again at the box.
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