A Fairy Tale Derailed Part 2
The princess felt a force jolting her forward and backward.
From an inestimable distance a voice pleaded, “Wake up! Please wake up!”
As she tried to open her eyes, she felt that boulders sat upon her eyelids. She let out a feeble sound. There were hands on her shoulders pulling her into an upright position.
“We have to help her!” the voice yelped desperately.
“Who?” the princess barely let out the word, eyes still nailed shut.
“The girl…I mean the dragon…I don’t know! She’s hurt… I hurt her… There’s so much blood!”
She pried her eyes open just enough to make out the form of a young man staring intently at her.
“I’m so tired,” she mumbled. “Who are you?”
The man stuttered, “I am Damien, Prince of Trout.”
“If you’re the prince, why don’t you just wake me up with true love’s kiss,” she slurred, puckering her lips.
“It’s very awkward to kiss an unconscious woman,” the prince moaned, exasperated, “and to be frank, I don’t think I love you, so it likely won’t work. I didn’t quite have a ‘wow’ moment upon laying eyes on your snoring figure splayed on this bed.”
His voice became even more serious, “Please. We don’t have time for conversation. I’m afraid she might die, and I don’t want to be a killer.”
“You’ll have to drape me over your shoulders, I think, and carry me down the ladder,” the princess replied.
“Oh god. We’re all going to die today,” Damien moaned.
The princess scrunched up her face, “You complain quite a bit for a prince.”
She squinted at him, extending her arms. “This is the thinnest I have ever been, so you are most welcome.”
Prince Damien sighed and succumbed to his fate. He draped her over his shoulder and proceeded carefully down the long and tedious ladder outside of the princess’s window.
“If you had this ladder all along, then why didn’t you just escape?,” the Prince asked.
“Escape,” the princess whispered, “and go where?”
With each step downward, the Violet came increasingly back to her senses.
When they miraculously made it to the ground, he set her down. She opened her eyes and focused on the scene in front of her. Before her was a form turned facedown with a bloody laceration on its back. Orange hair covered the ground. Something about it seemed eerily familiar to the princess.
She ran to the figure and turned it over enough to see the face.
“What did you do!” she cried.
“I-I’m so sorry,” the prince responded with a shaky voice, “Once I managed to stab the dragon, it transformed into a person, into her.”
Violet ferociously tore the bottom of her dress and made a makeshift tourniquet out of it. She tied it around June’s gash, trying not to faint at the sight of her friend’s blood covering her own hands.
“I know someone who may be able to save her,” the prince said, through eyes glistening with tears. “We have to move now.”
The princess calmed herself at the thought that something could be done, and they both lifted the unconscious girl onto the prince’s horse.
“My companions are waiting outside of the forest. They have more horses. I’ll send someone for you,” Prince Damien told the princess.
“You had better be telling the truth Prince Damien,” she responded, “I will slice you open if this is even the slightest deception.”
“You have my word.”
And with that, he was gone, leaving the princess to examine the empty field where the dragon used to lay, shackled to the castle. The princess had never considered her parents particularly altruistic people, but this extent of cruelty was beyond her comprehension. They had turned her only friend into an animal and chained her.
All she could do now was hope that June survived.
After what seemed like days of waiting, Violet heard the trotting approach of horses. A small army of soldiers faced her, and she was hoisted onto a white stallion belonging to someone covered in armor from head to toe.
“Hello, Princess,” said a solemn voice behind a metal helmet. “I am here to escort you.”
“Hello,” Violet responded, “do you have any food on you by chance? I could eat a horse.”
The metal helmet angled its head toward her. “Not this one I hope,” he responded.
Violet thought she heard a small laugh. He pulled out an apple and handed it to her.
“There’s more where that came from. Just don’t sink your teeth into my noble steed,” he said, as Violet ravenously bit into the apple’s red skin.
They made their way through the forest, and Violet reminisced on the unfinished strategies she and June had designed to keep them alive on their hypothetical journey. The forest was much more complicated than Violet could have imagined. This was certainly a setback of growing up in the lap of luxury, isolated from the chaos of the world outside. Even in this protected interaction, each unfamiliar shriek made Violet tighten her grip around her escort’s plackart.
“What’s your name,” she asked the man, hoping to use conversation as a distraction from her new anxieties.
“Roberto,” he responded, followed by nothing.
“Oh, okay. Where are we going exactly?”
“To Prince Damien.”
Violet sighed. The apple had not provided enough energy to pull information out of this man’s vocal chords.
“Can I have another apple?”
Wordlessly, Roberto pulled it out and handed it to her.
After replenishing her energetic resources, Violet continued, “I was beginning to get the impression that you were a talker. How am I to trust you if you share nothing with me?”
“It’s not going to sound good,” Roberto warned.
Violet scoffed. “You do realize that for over a year I have been isolated in essentially the attic of a castle with a dragon as my only living companion.”
“That’s fair. It really can’t get much worse than that, can it?”
“Another apple could mitigate my woes.”
He wordlessly handed her another one.
After a pregnant pause, Roberto spoke. “Our destination is a hidden enclave of witches. They are ruthless traders, but Prince Damien insists that he cannot have blood on his hands.”
“What will they want in return for saving her?”
“I’m not sure. We could all walk away with one less kidney.”
Violet spent the rest of the journey contemplating how bad things could get until Roberto compelled his horse to stop.
“Do you think they’ll have something to eat?,” Violet asked.
“As long as you enjoy the taste of human flesh,” he responded.
Roberto ordered the rest of his group to remain in place. He jumped down and lifted Violet onto the ground.
“Do not leave my side,” he ordered her.
They entered what seemed to be the entrance of a tunnel. Violet heard a deafening rush as they made their way through the darkness.
“What is that!” she loudly exclaimed.
“It’s the water. Listen to me! Hold my hand. We’ll have to jump in a moment!”, Roberto yelled back.
“What?” Violet asked, utterly confused. She suddenly saw what seemed to be light around a corner. They walked on until they were outside of the tunnel. Light immersed them. She understood now what Roberto had meant by jumping. Before them was a precipice, and below that, a tumultuous body of water.
“Roberto, no,” she gasped, “There’s no one here. I see zero witches down below. We’ll die if we jump. You don’t even know me! why am I your companion in this murder-suicide?”
“You’ll have to trust me. This is the witches’ magic to prevent intruders from infiltrating their home.”
Fear penetrated the entirety of Violet’s body. “Is this some trick of the Prince’s?”
“No, Princess! Why would I jump with you if that was the truth?”
“Why don’t you go first then? I’ll follow once I look below and watch you not die,” Violet responded.
Roberto shook his head. “The witches have thought of this. In order to prevent more uninvited guests, the onlooker will see the jumper fall to their death.”
Violet thought of June. June the girl who had been her only friend, who had been brave enough to ask Violet’s mother for her freedom. Then there was June the dragon who had been the only other heartbeat in that horrid castle. Had it not been for Violet, none of this would even be necessary.
“Remove your glove,” Violet demanded. Roberto complied, and Violet intertwined her fingers tightly with his. She felt the warmth of his skin, and something about his touch compelled her to trust him. Even if she was wrong, she’d make sure that he went down with her.
“Let’s do this,” she said.
On three he said. She nodded her head, terror sending shocks up her spine.
She gripped his hand tighter. He returned the increased strength.
“Three!” she yelled with him as their feet left solid ground and they plummeted toward either magic or death.