Fawn sat in her rocker, sipping the lavender tea that Mazarine so diligently whipped up.

“A good herbal shouldn’t be too hot, nor should it be too cold.”
Mazarine scrunched her nose at the quip, as Fawn had often repeated it.

As Mazarine took her seat on the front porch of the cottage in the woods,  broke through the trees, sailing so quickly on the air that the flowers bent to the ground and leaves were ripped from their branches. She rushed into the cottage, a blur of pink. Mazarine and Cora worried that she may break the door again.

“What do you suppose has her worked up again, Mazzie?” Asked Fawn.

“Probably another dead-end prophecy. You know, sometimes I feel like she’s not happy unless the end of the kingdom is upon us.”

“I suppose there may be truth to that…. So many prophecies, it’s hard to know if any of them will come about in our lifetimes.”

Cora could be heard in the study, rifling through pages of tomes older than this forest – the women had seen this kingdom grow from seedlings, seedlings that they had planted.

“How long before she comes to sqwak at us?” Mazarine adjusted her shawl. It had been a gift from the land’s first queen, though she couldn’t remember her name. Oh, but she was quite talented with wool and dyes. The green was as vibrant as the day she was given it.

They both sipped their tea and rocked a bit, taking in the sounds of the birds and bugs and branches of their little homestead. At a glance, the cottage was much like any other – lumber and thatch and mud. A close look, though, would show that the cottage was not cut lumber, but was actually a hedge of bushes, grown so tightly together that the had woven themselves into walls, and the roof was a thick patch of mosses and mushrooms.

Cora burst out of the door, red-faced and panting, holding an aged book encased in a glass box.

“Do either of you remember how to open this damnable thing?!”

Fawn and Mazarine looked at each other, quite worried. That book was the oldest, most powerful, and serious in the collection. Even at her most panicked, Cora would NEVER reach for it.

Her voice shaking, Mazarine answered, “All three of us need to open it.”

“You better come inside.” Cora wiped the sweat from her brow – which was still quite furrowed. Fawn had often cautioned her that wrinkles would stick if she kept making that face, but today was not the day to warn Cora about her aging.

“Cora, dear, what is going on?” Fawn set her teacup down on a small stump that doubled as a side table. Mazarine did the same, and smoothed out her dress as they all walked into the drawing room.

“Ladies, we have a situation.
The darkness that we have feared has grown and is about to rear it’s ugly head.
We’ve known this day would come, but Heavens help me, I never thought it would happen so soon.”

Still a bit dazed, each woman set a hand on the glass case, focusing their special “talents”, as they liked to call it. Soft lights emanated from them – green, red, and blue – and the case seemed to melt away.

They looked at the book, sitting there on table. It was just so….  unobtrusive. There was nothing on the cover, no title on the spine. It was brown (which, frankly, they all agreed was an ugly color when it wasn’t out in the woods) and boring.

They all took a deep breath, hoping that which they feared would not come to be.

After a moment, they looked at each other, slightly relieved. The book just sat there.
Doing nothing.

“Well,” said Mazarine, “all that for nothing. You need to learn to rela—-”

A gust of wind blew through the cottage, flipping the pages of the book. When it stopped, Fawn’s heart sank.
Mazarine crinkled her nose, upset that she had spoken too soon.
And Cora…

Cora stared down at the page, a tear rolling down her cheek. It is as we have feared.

Before them was what amounted to a yearbook. Every witch, magician, wizard, and warlock to ever live would have a portion in the book. Some would have a paragraph, others a chapter. As new mages were born, pages were entered into the book.

This page was one of many; it was filled with legends, stories from around the world, of great evils. It hadn’t always been this way, there were many pages of wonderful things.
Melody had such promise. She could speak to the wind and rain; she could heal the land and help crops grow.
She had helped create this kingdom.

The fairies recalled the dark day when things changed.

A wizard, quite mad, had come upon their little cottage. He demanded that they teach him how to manipulate the Earth.
Trying to explain to a madman that you do not manipulate, but simply ask nicely, was impossible.

So he burned it to the ground – all of it.
Cora guessed it was because he wanted to see a new cottage spring forth from the remains or some such nonsense.

Melody was devastated. She had spoken to the walls. She knew every animal and insect that burrowed within the walls and floors and roof.
She could feel the ones that did not make it out. She tended the ones that barely did.

And then she tracked him down.
The forest was angry, and she began to feed off that anger.

Rage boiled in her blood.

Her once shimmery, lavender aura blackened. Her hair twisted and knotted as burnt branches.

And when she found him, she devoured his magic – which she found quite appealing. The power flowed through her, and she could harness it.
He was a shape-shifter…. dragonkind.

She gave his wasted body to the ground, where a small rose bush rose up. The thorns were quite large and very sharp.
Here, she grew her fortress.
Never again would the forest, her forest, be ravaged by men.

Cora, Fawn, and Mazarine had tracked her for months; the tower of thorns had become impressive.

They found her, dirtied and bloodied and burned. Tears had caked the mud to her face.
Fawn tried to hug her, to heal her, but she recoiled.

“Don’t come near me; I fear I will devour you, too.”

“Let us help you.” Fawn sang gently.
“We’ll get you cleaned up and back home.” Whispered Cora.

Before Mazarine could speak, Melody stood up.

“There will never be a home for us. These humans no longer revere us; they fear us. They attack for no reason, they kill without regard, they burn and chop and destroy. Just like the mad wizard.

Now leave, before I take your powers, too.”

“Take our powers?” Mazarine trembled, astonished at what she heard.

“I have been threatened, beaten, and bruised. But in the end, I am strong. Warlocks and druids have come to me, seeking to destroy me. I am a threat, they say!

And they are right. I drain them of their magic and throw their bodies to the rose bushes. My tower feeds and grows.”

Cora dropped her gaze a bit. “Sweetie, you know that it’s wrong to take another’s power.”

“I was defending myself!”

“It’s still wrong, and we can’t let you do it. Come home with us. The trees miss you. The chipmunks are in a tizzy.”

“NO! Now leave!”

Melody was so angry, so sad, so frightened, that she hadn’t noticed the three fairies weaving their spell. The faint lights from their hands wrapping the room like ribbons.
By the time she realized what was happening, it was too late – she was trapped.

Mazarine stepped forward.

“We took you in as a child because you had such potential, such love. We taught you everything we could about kindness and generosity.

You know this is wrong, and it is our duty to stopped you if you cannot stop yourself. You’ve lost control.”

She straightened her skirt and continued, “There will come a day when you are clearer in your head. When that day comes, you will free yourself from this prison. Until then, know that we love you, and always will.”

Fawn looked to her.
“The birds and animals will see to your well-being. Do not worry.”

They left, hearts filled with sadness and regret.

Looking in the book, Cora saw what they dreaded: A dragon, slain by a magic sword. They knew she had the power to free herself now, and they must put things in motion.

“Mazzie, you hop next door and make sure the blood line continues. We’re going to need a prince in a few years.

Fawn, get us an invite to the baby’s party.”

“What baby, what party?”

“Oh, I took care of that last night.” She smiled wryly. “Just get us in the good graces of Their Majesties. Now, go, the both of you! I have work to do.”

When Mazzie and Fawn had left the cottage, Cora got straight to work. This would be the most beautiful sword ever created. It’s powers would remain dormant until the right prince at the right time needed to battle a dragon.

“Maybe I should leave it lodged in a stone somewhere. Only he of pure heart can draw it or some such nonsense…. No, that’d never work.”

“Sleeping Beauty” by Thomas Spence

 

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