By GamerChris (So that’s what he’s been doing…)
As some of you may know, I’m a student. Usually my days at school are filled with sitting around doing nothing, watching films and being questionably hilarious (That’s what you get when you’re heading for Media Studies) Then there was a couple of lessons where our teacher taught us about postmodern fairytales and got us to write our own.
Totally getting into it, I actually put my free periods to use and came up with this, a postmodern re-telling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. There are still a few typos, but if you see past them you can acknowledge that this piece of original writing is a novel take on both the Disney and original versions of the tale.
You can download it HERE, or if you are really optimistic, read it after the jump.
WARNING: Contains violent and sexual content. But you guys all love that stuff, don’t ya?
You’ve all heard the tale. Young princess has an evil Queen of a stepmother. Young princess is truly beautiful, the fairest of them all. Evil Queen gets jealous. She wants her out of the picture. Etc, etc, etc. The story is all wrong. Or at least, most of it is wrong. Like all stories, it’s been told over and over again, far and wide. And of course, the details change. They’re lost in translation. This is the real story.
In a distant kingdom a long time ago, the King remarried. His previous Queen died in childbirth. Complications. The mentally unstable midwife at the time crushed the Queen’s throat with his forceps. It was quite the tragedy.
But that’s a different story. What is needed to know is was what came out of the event. And what came out of the Queen for that matter- a beautiful baby girl who would grow up to be our main character. Emily.
Our tale picks up the day after her eighteenth birthday. She had raven black hair. She had green eyes that were richer than the richest jade in the world. On her pale white face lay luscious blood red lips bookmarked by her deep rose cheeks. Her body was shaping womanhood. Supple breasts, rounded hips, tight buttocks, legs that went on for miles, feet that…Okay I may be going off the point…
Emily was beginning to become a very upstanding, wonderful, conscientious woman. Pure. Or at least, that’s what her parents wanted her to be.
While her parents dressed always dressed in white, holding honourable family values, her mother embodying an image so pure only the Virgin Mary could compare, Emily was their polar opposite. She dressed in the most colourless black she could find, wearing the tightest bodices she could, flaunting the features that maturity was kind enough to grant her.
Obviously, her parents did not like this change puberty had brought. Not one bit. They believed she did not reflect well on the family. That she was bringing a bad name to the throne. And they were right. Young Emily was becoming notorious in the kingdom. Scared mothers kept their sons indoors whenever there was a public visit. They did not wish to see their offspring lust so highly over this corrupting princess.
The King had his spies. They were spread out throughout the kingdom, keeping tabs on what the princess was up to. It seems fair that he would want to do so. After all, she is who will take up the throne when tragedy strikes his life again. There is no-one else. While the new Queen was a godsend to the King, she could not give him another chance of an heir to the throne. She was barren. Touched or untouched, it did no good; the puritan mother could not deliver. In all senses of the word.
“My spies, my spies…What has my dear confused Emily been up to of late? Has she turned over a new leaf? Has she decided to become fair and just?” The King questioned his employees, his wife worrying beside him.
“Alas, no my lord,” said the leader of the spies with a bow of his head, “Emily grows more and more unjust as time goes on. She does not seem like she is going to change.”
The Queen sighed. “I feel I share the same sentiment. Our Emily is a disgrace to the throne. She does not seem fit to ascend to the throne in our eventual absence.”
The King looked from his wife, to his spies, and finally down to his hand where he spun his golden band around his ring finger. “I…may grow to regret this one day…but I think we must finally do something about her.”
“What did you have in mind?” asked the Queen. Curious of what plan the King was brewing in his mind.
“I think…we should kill her.”
Silence filled the throne room. And rightly so. Who would normally bring up the idea of killing our own flesh and blood? But strangely…They accepted it. They thought it would be a good idea. Why continue to have your child tarnish your image when you can stop them from doing so all together?
“How do you plan to do this my lord?” Asked the spy.
Midday came in the kingdom. The young Princess Emily was taking a walk through the castle grounds like she does every day since she can remember.
She always walked on her own. Not always because she wanted to, but because no-one would care to. Her father and stepmother rarely gave her the time of day. They were more concerned with the upkeep of the kingdom and their image.
And so with this rejection, she began to dress like she did, and act like she did. An impure, immoral embodiment of adolescent sexuality. She did it for attention. It was that or harming herself. And she was not exactly going down the same path of the helpless midwife who killed her mother in childbirth.
Today was different though. She was not alone this time. She was joined by the young helper of the groundkeeper, fresh from chopping wood for the palace fire.
He was quite handsome himself. Tall, dark and handsome if you want to go generic. Well-built from his time chopping wood and lifting heavy objects around the castle grounds. He did all the jobs the ageing groundkeeper could no longer do.
Emily was surprised and comforted by the sudden company she received. Living the last few years relatively alone- something surprising for someone of her status- Emily felt so much happier that someone was actually taking out time for her.
“Errm…Hello.” The groundkeeper’s helper said to break the silence between the two as they walked on.
“Hi!” Emily replied. Then she realised that maybe she was coming on too strongly. It’s forgivable; she hasn’t exactly had much experience talking to boys. Surprisingly.
The two talked a great length, the countless silent walks she had gone through finally being accounted for. Every subject and issue under the sun she’d been longing to discuss could finally be brought up, which she then continued to do.
Time swept by, as did the clouds, which gradually got darker and sadder until they began to cry- releasing the tears kept in them as they floated seamlessly in the sky.
The rain stuck them unaware. The groundkeeper’s helper pulled up his collar in an attempt to stop the rain dripping awkwardly down his back. Emily smiled at his attempt to fix himself, as the raindrops slid down her rounded cheeks and off them, her water soaked hair shining and her green eyes glowing.
The groundkeeper’s helper chuckled at Emily’s entertainment and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Emily blushed and looked down at the soaked grass. Her cheeks became bright red. A second or two passed and Emily quickly went up and returned the kiss.
Caught up in the moment, the groundkeeper’s helper dropped the bundle of wood he was carrying in the cradle of his right arm and full on kissed Emily under the pouring rain.
Emily felt warmth she had never felt before. The comfort of another human being in her personal space was something she had never experienced since the womb of her biological mother. Her parents when growing up had always been distant. Her escape was through herself, presenting and acting in a way to distance herself even more. If they were going to only care about her when in relation to the kingdom, then she felt that she shouldn’t care about them at all.
Her heart raced. Pumping at speeds it had never pumped before. The groundkeeper’s helper could feel it hit against his own chest. As they were showing their mutual affection, they continued to be showered by the rain. Until finally Emily took some initiative, took the groundkeeper’s hand and they took off.
She led him through to the other side of the castle grounds towards the stables. All of what Emily was thinking and doing at this moment of time was impulsive and spontaneous, she wasn’t thinking anything through. Taking him by the hand, she took him into one of the empty stalls.
They continued to kiss as they slowly went down to the floor of the stable. Emily let her hair down which slowly dropped to her shoulders. She lay underneath him, cushioned by the straw that was spread all across the room. The groundkeeper’s helper continued to kiss her, sliding his left hand up her leg, pulling up her dress along with it.
Emily whimpered to herself due to what was soon to come. However she may appear to other people. And however many acts she may have committed, she was still physically untouched. True, she may have done some acts of that nature, but she at this point still remained a virgin. The greatest gift she could ever give to a man still intact.
She began to work on undoing her black bodice. Little did she know, the groundkeeper’s helper was reaching for what lie in his waistband of these trousers- his woodcutting axe.
Frustrated by the act of taking off her complicated dress, Emily was entirely focused on the task at hand, unaware of the axe slowly being raised up ready to strike down and end her life. He was about to deal the final blow.
“Be gentle…It’s my first time.” Emily said up at him, as she looked down, still concentrating on undoing her bodice.
He froze. This information was striking to him. It caught him unaware. This was the princess who has been seen around town to dress very provocatively. The princess who had won every adolescent boy in the kingdom twice, maybe even thrice over. How could she possibly have no experience?
“You’re…You’re a virgin?”
“Why yes. I may not be the greatest princess in the world, but I still have my decency on that level. But I am of age now…Why have you stopped?” Emily said curiously, pausing undoing her bodice. She slowly looked up at him, and then she froze.
The groundkeeper’s helper was above her, in-between her legs that were wrapped around his back. He was holding the axe he used earlier to cut wood. Soon it would be cutting through flesh. Her hold slowly relinquished.
“Why…your once bright glowing face has changed to snow white…”
“Our daughter is an interesting one,” said the King to his solicited assassin “She shares next to no qualities me or my wife.”
It was mid-morning in the King’s private quarters. He had recently recruited an assassin to kill his daughter Emily. Before his assassin could do his bidding, he first had to brief him and set the terms of his contract.
“She is bringing a bad name to the kingdom and the throne. I would rather abdicate the throne and go into exile myself than see a slut take over.”
“I may be a servant who kills for money, but even I am shocked a man would want to kill his own child.” The assassin stated his own personal opinion. But of course, he’s not being paid to do that. He’s just paid to do one thing and one thing only.
“She is becoming too much like her mother.” The King explained.
“But her mother is a fine lady.”
“That’s not her real mother. Just her stepmother. Her birth mother was a lot like how the princess is now. Provocative, flirty, loose. Her mother stole my heart then went on to systematically break it piece by piece with each developing affair.” The King revealed.
He spat on the floor. “When I learnt she was pregnant, I knew that whore had to be put down. I was never confirmed as the father. It’s a very hard thing to do considering a woman like her.”
“So I had her killed,” the King confessed “I hired another one of your ranks to do my bidding. Infiltrate by being her midwife, then after the birth of the Princess Emily, crush her throat.”
The assassin gave a smile of mutual respect of the ability of the assassin who killed Emily’s mother. Only a true assassin could do such a thing. Your standard killer would be found out as soon as they knocked on the door.
“And in that vein I have called you here today. Your contract is for my daughter, Princess Emily. I want you to exploit her weakness and infiltrate as a handsome young man who can win her over. My spies report that she is quite easily swayed so you won’t have a problem, but you don’t have to worry about that anyway.” The King explained.
“Thank you, my lord for the compliment.” The assassin said with a bow of the head.
“She goes on walks around the grounds alone, that is the best time to find her. The groundkeeper is getting old, you could easily act as his assistant, doing manual jobs he can’t do anymore.”
“I think I have a plan in my head brewing already my liege.”
“Good. You may go.”
The assassin bowed and headed to the exit.
“Oh, and assassin?” The King said before he left. “I want to see proof that you did the job. I want her heart. Her cold, uncaring heart.”
“What did you ask of from the other assassin when she killed your love?”
“The one thing of her body that should have only been mine.”
Emily’s eyes widened as she continued to look at the axe held in front of her. She was completely caught off guard and was in anticipation for the blow. Her eyes shut as she prepared herself.
The axe swing however, never happened. The assassin who was ordered to kill the terrified Emily just stood there in consideration about what he was about to do. He had never done that before. Usually he would just follow what he had been told and take out his target. But this time was different.
“You’re…Not who they say you are…”
“The King’s spies. They report that you are a whore of a princess who sleeps around the kingdom.” The assassin divulged.
“Spies?! My father has spies?! He won’t spend time with me face to face but he will easily employ strangers to spy on me?” Emily shouted, doing up her bodice as she clambered back up in a scared hurry.
“He thinks you are a disgrace. He wanted me to kill you in order to remove your chance at the throne and plunge the kingdom into the dark ages.”
“My father wanted me dead?!”
“Then…he must have given up on me for good then. All love he had for me has gone.”
Emily came to terms with this realisation. A tear ran down her face. The warmth from the kisses she was receiving earlier was fading. Now she was becoming stone cold as she prepared herself for the conclusion to the assassin’s contract. “Fine. Do it.”
The assassin was surprised and hesitated at Emily preparing herself to be murdered. Emily stepped back towards the wall of the stable, eyes closed. The assassin stepped over to her, axe in hand, gleaming in the glow of lamps in the stable.
“Do it!” Emily screamed, trembling in her blind anticipation of death and the darkness that would follow.
Without another seconds notice, the assassin put Emily out of her misery, and swung.
The axe plunged into the wall above Emily’s right shoulder. Her eyes shot open, startled by the sound. Her heart leaped in the realisation that she was still alive, and then she nervously looked over at the axe that was now deep into the wall.
“Why…why didn’t you kill me?”
“I may be a retched murderer who is rewarded to kill, but I still have honour. I would not kill such a target based on false information. Your father’s briefing appears to be based on speculation and opinion about appearances with no real concrete facts. You are no black mark against the land. You’re just a woman growing up.”
“But my father will know. He will know I am still alive if you do not do so now! He won’t stop until he knows I am dead!”
“He does not need to see you dead if he does not see you at all,” the assassin said in a monotone voice, pulling the axe out of the stable wall “You must leave now. Run south, to the forest out of the kingdom. Go into exile. It is the only way.”
“But what about you? How will you deal with this complication?” Emily asked, nervously edging around to the door.
“I think I have a way of solving this problem.” The assassin replied, looking around the stable. A sleeping horse caught his eye. “That will work,” he said to himself. He looked over to Emily who was still standing at the door, still half-frozen from the fear of this ordeal. “GO!”
Emily bolted out of the stable faster than any of the horses there could ever gallop. The assassin watched her go into the distance, and then turned back towards the sleeping horse, carefully approaching it.
“Come on, you beauty…” He raised his axe. “You have something I need”
The rain was torrential. It had gone from romantic to horrendous during the time Emily was inside. She ran as fast away as she could. Her hair swaying behind her, her dress flapping in the wind, tears running down her face as she cried learning how her father wants her out of this world.
Her heel of her right shoe got stuck into the ground and she fell over. Pain hit her as she tumbled down onto her knees and arms. Mud covered her once untouched immaculate dress. She wiped away some tears as she pulled herself back up and continued her escape, her right shoe discarded.
How, how could my father do this? Emily kept asking in her mind. And how could my stepmother let him go along with it? It made no sense to her. She may not care enough for her parents due to the distance between them growing up, but she still held the belief that her parents were upstanding and righteous, but all her beliefs have now come into question with this recent realisation.
Maybe it was my fault. My outfitting to diversify and attention-seek away from my parents got the wrong idea. Emily was thinking dangerously. It was not the time or place to start placing blame on her.
She sniffed as the tears and the rain blended together as they slid down her face. The glow of fair cheeks was obscured in the lack of light and all her other features could not be easily seen as she ran. But she didn’t care about anything like that at that moment in time. All she was thinking about was what was important- survival.
The forest was finally visible to her and it was welcoming her with open arms. She smiled a little as she sought asylum. Emily continued to run, through thorns and nettles, over broken branches and stones. She tripped on a tree root and fell down, but she quickly got back up, still wanting to put distance between herself and the kingdom she once called home.
Strangely, she soon discovered the forest was opening out again, and the previous claustrophobia of the oaks and the other trees that surrounded her was being spread out. Until finally, she rested her eyes on an interesting and happy sight- a cottage.
Ecstatic at the sign of humanity in this distant place, she stumbled over to it, kicking off her other shoe that had been holding her back from getting to sanctuary sooner. Emily went over to the front door of the cottage, and collapsed through it, onto the dark, cold stone floor. Safety.
The King sat impatiently on his throne, tapping the arm rest as he waited for news from his assassin. He had sent him off so many hours before and was getting curious as to why he has had to wait for so long.
Finally, as the sun was beginning to set in the kingdom, there were three taps on the door to his throne room. The King smirked a little and called to the door.
“Come in.” The King ordered. He anticipated the good news that his assassin had done his bidding and killed the young princess. The door slowly pushed open as the assassin, still drying from his previous escapades with a wooden box clasped in his hands.
“I have done what you have asked for me to do.” The assassin said, box in hand. The King sat up.
“You…killed the princess?”
“Yes. I have, my lord.” The assassin confirmed, straightening up his stance.
“If I could ask…How did she die?” The King tried to hold back his excitement. His name had been cleared. The black mark had been wiped out.
“Not well.” The assassin disclosed. He did not reveal much to what had actually happened. He did not want the King to catch onto his lying scent.
“On her back I bet.” The King spat. Even in death he did not feel any remorse towards his own daughter. The assassin laughed along. The King’s focus was now on the container held in the assassin’s hands.
“Is that it? Is that…the heart of my daughter?” The King asked, still with glee over the good news.
“Yes it is my lord.” The assassin presented the King with the box as he knelt. The King happily accepted the gift. He smiled as he turned the box in his hand.
Inside of the box laid the dead cold heart of one of the horses from the stable. Of course, the King did not know this at this point in time, believing it to be the heart of his first and only child.
The assassin stared at the open box, quietly worried that his bluff would be called. The heart was obviously larger than that of an adolescent girl. A bead of sweat trickled down his face. It was a crazy idea, an idea just too crazy. He’d never get away with it. But at least he had bought Emily some time.
The King weighed the box up in his hands. It felt just a little bit too heavy. Maybe it was the box. Maybe it was the heart of something a lot bigger than a sixteen year old princess.
“This box feels a bit weighty on the hands if you don’t mind me saying.” The King inquired.
“She seemed to be a generous person. She did have a big heart in the moments of getting to know her.” The assassin defended, hoping the King wouldn’t look into it too much.
“If by generous you mean giving away her body to every boy who lay eyes on her, yes.”
The assassin sighed to himself. The King had not changed a single thought about the Princess. When faced with news of her death, he still believed her to be evil and wrong.
“I am afraid I must leave your presence, my liege.” The assassin stated, standing up and heading towards the door. “My services are needed elsewhere. An assassin cannot rest for long. People are in need of killing.”
“A true professional.” The King smiled, placing the wooden box beside his throne. “I must thank you for accepting my contract, assassin.”
“It is of no need to thank, my lord.” The assassin replied. “It’s just my job.” He opened the door, stepped through and slammed it shut behind him.
The King smiled and stood out of his throne, celebrating his victory. The box containing a heart remained unopened as he strode around his throne room. At this moment in time, the King was not just acting like he had always appeared to be to his loyal subjects. For the first time since his wife was killed in childbirth, he was, strangely, truly happy.
The floor was cold were Emily lay. The stone was rough and course. The door of the cottage she had stumbled into was swinging in the wind. None of that concerned her at that moment in time however. She was out like a log, exhausted from the ordeal she had just come from. Of course, while all of that didn’t concern her, the inhabitants of this sanctuary were concerned by the stranger lying on their cottage floor.
The people who resided in the place were dwarfs. Seven of them. Nature had been unkind to them by cursing them with stunted growth and other disadvantages in life. Even children were more able to survive on their own compared to them. All they had to fall upon when on tough times were each other. Until now.
None had the pleasure to be given names, instead being rejected by their parents from a young age. They all had different personalities, characters if you will. It could be said that when all of them are together they make up a whole person. They combined create a psychological structure as complex as any other human. 7 pieces to the same puzzle.
They spent their life in the mines, toiling away for coal that could then be brought back to the kingdom to be traded and used by the population for all their needs. Shunned by society, yet they are needed in order for society to thrive.
The dwarves had just returned from their most recent haul in the mines, when they discovered Emily, passed out on the floor of the cottage. One by one, they dropped their pickaxes in shock.
“It’s one of them!” Screamed one of the dwarves, scared of the threat the girl posed to him.
Generally, people of the kingdom stay away from the dwarves, who they find to be the freaks of the world, and the dwarves think likewise of the people. So the finding of one such person in their home was of both curiosity and fear.
“What do we do? What do we do?” Questioned another one rapidly, uptight at the prospect of Emily coming too at any moment.
Emily stirred a little, but still did not come back to reality. One of the dwarves yelped and lifted up his pickaxe again, then lifted it over his head to strike, but the weight of the pick made him fall backwards.
“Wait!” Said what appeared to be the leader of the pack. He cautiously stepped over to Emily. The dwarf looked her up and down to scan for any possible threats, but he found none. This girl had not come to attack them. Far from it.
“She doesn’t mean to do us harm.” He said confidently, moving to her head and turning back at the other cautious dwarves. “She is a beautiful woman. Probably kind too. She doesn’t want to bring anything on us.”
“That’s what you say, but I know these people!” Said a paranoid dwarf. “They all have it out for us! They see us as scum, as nothing but a cheap and easy way for them to put their feet up and live!” He spat at the ground near her. “I say we get rid of her, in any way possible. She’s dangerous.”
“No…No she can’t be dangerous.” Another dwarf entered the conversation. His gaze travelled softly up and down the person on the floor. He smiled a little to himself. “I think we should take her in. She seems to be down on her luck. Who knows? Maybe she could be of use to us?”
One of the silent dwarves chuckled a little and licked his lip, and was promptly hit on the back of the head by another dwarf.
“Alright it’s settled then.” The head dwarf said. “Now…Help me bring her to the bedroom.”
After this was said the dwarf who chuckled before got another hit on the head.
The King was still feeling fantastic the next day. His and his wife’s public image was saved thanks to his strategic planning.
He knew that in order to maintain a peaceful and submissive kingdom, without upraises or rioting, you have to feed them images of peace, and purity. Keep them away from sin and keep the light in their life. He and his Queen embodied that. Little did the people know how much sin and punishment was behind their royal masks.
His reasoning throughout all of his endeavours was to keep the kingdom in order. Too many times has he heard of peasant uprising, and wars that ravage once quiet kingdoms. He had made it his duty to make sure that would never happen to him, and went as far as he could to do this, even if his family would get into the way.
Some would call it crazy; others would call it fighting for the greater good. The King saw it as his god-given right. It was his destiny to do what he had been doing. The power had got to his mind.
He celebrated in his throne room with his wife, drinking the finest mulled wine. It was the finest liquid ever to touch his lips and was perfect cause for celebration.
“My Queen, I have done it. Our kingdom is saved from ruin with the dispatch of our little girl.” The King cheerfully said. He raised his glass. “I propose a toast. To this peaceful, perfect kingdom and all it’s glory, now and forever, amen.”
The King downed his glass in one. The Queen however, took it slow. She was happy of this event, obviously, but she still felt uneasy that she let an assassin murder someone who was part of the family.
“Please, do not mourn for our daughter.” The King said, as he put his glass down, noticing the Queen. “She was going to ruin everything for everybody. If she remained impure and immoral for longer, then this kingdom would see the darkness and plunge into civil war and the dark ages.”
The Queen nodded. She knew he was right. It is a good thing Emily was now dead to them. But it could be argued that she was dead to them the moment she was born.
A hurried knock was at the door. The King, curious, beckoned the guest in straight away.
“Come in, come in. Whatever is the matter?” He questioned. It was one of the ageing groundkeeper, the one whose helper the assassin posed as.
“The stables…Something’s happened…Something terrible!” The groundkeeper said with a puff. It could be seen he was getting older with the trouble he had speaking.
The King put on his worried face. He knew perfectly well what happened in the stables. The assassin had killed the Princess there just the day before.
“Oh my God. What has happened?” The King asked, pretending this was all new news to him.
“Blood. Death. Destruction.”
“What?!” The King exclaimed. “Wait…Don’t tell me…Emily…”
“No, my lord, not Emily.” The groundkeeper replied. The King’s face changed to one of confusion.
“Not…Emily?” The King’s eyes darted from side to side. Surely he was talking about the murder of my daughter…
“No! Not her! The horses!” The groundkeeper explained. “One of the horses has been killed…And the barbarian had ripped its heart out!”
At that moment, the King’s eyes bulged. A barbarian has ripped one of the horses’ hearts out. No…No, no, no.
“Well…I guess you should clear up the mess! You may leave.” The King ordered. The groundkeeper hesitated. “Leave! Out of my sight!”
The groundkeeper bowed then rushed out of the door just as fast as he rushed to the throne room in the first place. As soon as the door closed behind him, the King spun around on his heels and dashed towards the wooden box the assassin gave him just hours before. He was wide-eyed as he fumbled with the catch, and he lifted the lid up swiftly to discover what was inside the chest.
A heart rested inside sure enough, but it was not human. It was too large. The sheer size of it was suited for a much larger creature. Like a sheep, or a cow, or…
“A horse.” The King said with disbelief. “The assassin gave me a box containing not our Emily’s heart, but the heart of a horse.” His face grew angry and he slammed the box shut and chucked it across the room. “A pig’s heart would have been more suitable!”
Light broke through the trees in the forest. Shining golden beams penetrated the land, lighting up the cottage where Emily found salvation the night before. Birdsong rang throughout the forest as they woke up for a new day.
Emily finally came to after her whole ordeal the day before. In the distance she heard the tweeting of the birds as she slowly opened her eyes and wiped away whatever crust remained.
Instantly she knew something was different. For one, she was no longer laying face first on the cold, wet stone floor; instead, she looked down and found herself lying in bed.
Or in fact, she found herself in 4 beds pushed together. They were not the size of normal-sized beds; it could even be argued that they were smaller than beds for children.
Emily was curious as to why she was where she found herself. She smiled as she looked out the window. She was safe from her parents now and the entire kingdom was behind her. She could now relax. Maybe even start a new life. Her head turned away from the window and her eyes lay on another interesting sight. Seven dwarves were all looking up at her.
Instantly she leapt up in the bed. The sudden appearance of the child-sized adults was a surprise for her which she never would have seen coming. Her heart raced as she looked at these strangers. Emily had no idea if they were going to do her any harm, let alone what they could have done when she was passed out. The beds were all pushed together and were not very well kept. She felt just as vulnerable here now as she was when the assassin was after her blood.
The dwarf that was closest thing to being the leader of them moved up to her and offered his hand. Emily screamed, shuffled up the bed and curled up to try and protect herself.
“Ahh! No! Stay away from me!” Emily shouted, hiding behind her legs as she curled up more into a ball.
“Miss! No! You have it all wrong!” The dwarf defended. “We mean you no harm!”
Emily cautiously looked up at the dwarf. She had no idea who to trust any more. The dwarves could just as easily be another group of people employed by the King to finish the job and kill her. She couldn’t take the chance.
“Keep back!” Emily said, still withdrawing away from the little person. The dwarf looked back at his companions and gave a nod. They cleared the way for one of the dwarves who held a bowl and spoon in his hand. He walked over to Emily and presented it to her.
Inside was porridge. At least, something that looked vaguely like porridge. Emily had a look of disgust for a beat, and then reverted back to her previous expression.
“We found you exhausted and soaking last night as we came home.” The head dwarf said. “We brought you to somewhere to rest, but we did not do anything about the water, sorry”
Emily looked down at her dress and realised it was still a bit damp from the heavy rain the night before.
“We would have taken your dress off to dry it and give you replacement clothes, but obviously, we do not have anything big enough for you to wear, and we have the decency to not undress a member of the fairer sex when they are incapacitated.” The dwarf explained. “Well, most of us have decency” He added, casting a look over at one of the dwarfs who sneered then was promptly knocked back into reality by a neighbouring dwarf.
Emily’s hold on her legs as was she curled up eased a little. The realisation that these strangers had some respect for a vulnerable, nubile, sixteen year old girl was a bit more settling.
“Now please. You must be hungry after whatever it was you were doing yesterday. Have some porridge we made.” The dwarf requested, handing over the bowl and spoon to Emily.
Emily uncurled fully and sat back up, taking the bowl and spoon in hand. She looked around at the seven dwarves, gave a nervous smile and put the spoon into the mixture.
It was thick and sticky. So much more than porridge should be. It was more like glue or cement than a meal. She needed to use more force than usual to get a spoonful, and it was a task to retrieve the spoon after putting it in the bowl. Once she did, she lifted it to her mouth, looked at the dwarves who smiled in anticipation, gave a nervous laugh then put the spoon in her mouth and ate the concoction.
It had no taste. On its own porridge generally has no taste, but this was a whole new level of no taste. It was rough and lumpy, like rocks and pebbles, and it was an impossible job to swallow.
Emily spat it out and wiped her lips, trying to clear herself of the “porridge”. The dwarves looked surprised. They had been eating this mixture for years and they didn’t find any problems with it.
“This isn’t porridge! This is torture!” Emily said with disgust at what she just attempted to eat. The dwarves were offended.
“Are you too good for this porridge? Is that what you are trying to say?” The paranoid dwarf said. “Are you just so much better as a tall ‘normal’ person you can’t eat our midget porridge?!”
Emily was shocked at the outburst from the dwarf. She had no idea they would act so unfavourably towards her dislike of their porridge. She put the bowl and spoon down and looked at the dwarves.
“No! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Emily said, attempting to repent for her behaviour. “I didn’t mean to offend! It’s just…different from what I normally eat.”
The paranoid one opened his mouth to speak again, but the leader gave him a look for him to stand down. Of all the things to come into conflict about, porridge shouldn’t be one of them. Silence filled the room.
“I know who you are.”
One of the other dwarves had stepped forward. Emily and the other dwarves turned to look at him.
“What?” Emily asked. She was surprised. Was this dwarf telling the truth and he knew who she was? She didn’t fully believe him. It seemed unlikely that the dwarf would have entered the kingdom. He would have instantly been seen as out of place and the people would pick him out for it.
“I know who you are.” The dwarf said, embarrassed. He looked at the ground. “You’re the young Princess Emily.”
“Ha! Yeah right, like a princess would come to our territory.” One of the dwarfs snorted. “She doesn’t have time for her subjects, let alone us outcasts.”
“No. It’s true.” The dwarf said. “Whenever we take our latest order of coal into the kingdom, I see her around. She may not look or acts entirely like a princess, but I can tell that she is one. She’s just different.”
“Story of my life.” Emily muttered to herself and sighed.
The King was hysterical. The world was falling down around him as he paced around, trying to find a way out of his predicament. Emily was still alive, and the King was getting worried as to when his plans will come back to haunt him.
He assembled his spies once again. If the princess had truly escaped the assassin, then his spies would certainly find her again.
“My spies, my spies…” The King sighed, pacing up and down their ranks. “The Princess Emily it appears and is alive and well. And I hate that.”
The King was very bitter at the assassin’s ineptitude. His spies stood at attention. He could trust his spies. They would not hold anything back from him. They would never go into any ethical questions over what the King has ordered them to look for. They would answer to the King and the King alone, and would not falter and they would not fail in their quest to please him with their findings.
“What do you request of us, my King?” One of the spies said.
“I want you to comb the kingdom for any hint of the princess and report back to me directly. We do not need anyone else knowing about the princess at this moment in time, and we do not want to incite mass panic. If you go against this order consider it your last.” The King said bluntly. “Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes sir!” The spies said in unison.
“She may have left the kingdom entirely. We will not rule this possibility out. If your search goes dry in the kingdom, continue to spread out your search until you do find her.” The King added. “Do not report back to me until you finally found her. Do you understand?”
“Good. Now. You may leave.” The King ordered. The spies bowed to the King then left one by one, beginning their reconnaissance.
The King sighed and fell back into his chair. He rubbed his brow as he reflected on the last couple of days.
“It’s a hard job, keeping a kingdom in order.” The King said to himself, picking up his glass of wine. “It’s absolute murder.”
Emily was still sitting in the makeshift bed, surrounded by the dwarves. She was feeling a little more comfortable, aware that they were not likely to do her any more harm. Porridge and height discrimination aside.
The dwarves were captivated by her. They probably haven’t seen a grown woman since their mothers abandoned them. This girl was different than their mothers though. They had no more respect for their mothers.
“So…are you really the princess?” Asked one of the dwarves, still not sure if this was the truth. Emily played with her dress a little. Then she finally came out with it.
“Yes. I am actually the Princess Emily, from the kingdom outside this forest.” She said. The dwarves were amazed. Not only was a pretty young girl in their house, but they were in the presence of royalty as well.
“But why are you here? In our home? Especially in the state we found you in?” Asked the dwarf. It was a fair point. Royalty don’t care to be seen with what society would call ‘freaks’. It was also interesting why such a member of royalty would be found untidy, shoeless, soaking and mud covered.
Emily sighed and gazed out of the window again. The sun shone on her delicate face. Warmth and colour were coming back to her cheeks after the pale coldness of them following her escape from danger. She turned back towards the dwarves.
“Well…I am the Princess of the kingdom. My name is Emily. My father and stepmother are the King and Queen. They didn’t really care much for me as I grew up. I spent most of my time alone or with nannies. As I became a teenager I decided to diversify myself. I wore dark clothes. I flaunted the physical features I had. I made a reputation for myself. Maybe too much of a reputation for myself. One that did not go down favourably with my parents.” Emily explained. She looked down at her muddy dress. “My…father tried to have me killed.”
The dwarves shuffled a little with awkwardness. What can you say after hearing that?
“But…why? Why did your father want to have you killed? He’s your father for God’s sake!” Asked one of the dwarves.
“My father is very image conscious. He needs to present an image of purity as a monarch in order to inspire the rest of the kingdom to follow his idea. If there was a black mark against his name and the image of leadership in the kingdom, like me, his plans would fall to pieces.” Emily described. “There’s no room for a girl like me in his kingdom it seems. And I guess with my coming of age he believed that I would eventually destroy the kingdom he had built, so he had me taken out of the picture. Or so he believed.”
The dwarves looked nervously at each other. What had they gotten themselves into?
“How did he try to do it?” Asked another dwarf.
“An assassin. My father employed him to infiltrate and murder me.” Emily answered, looking down as the memories of the day before came to her again. “However, he stopped in the realisation that I was not exactly what people have speculated me to be. Said it would be wrong to kill me. And he let me go. To run. To hide. To come here.” She sighed and looked around the room, observing the details of a world to a half-scale of hers.
The leader of the dwarves called the others over for a group discussion about this new information. The huddle of seven little people quietly mulling over an issue together was a unique, and an unintentionally funny sight.
Eventually the talking was over, and they broke away from their previous huddle. The leader stepped forward and cleared his throat in preparation of sharing their verdict.
“We have discussed your situation, and over much thought and argument, we think you would be safest here, with us. You can make a new, fresh start and put your past behind you.” The leader told Emily.
“Oh. Errm…I don’t quite know what to say to that…” Emily said, surprised. She didn’t think these dwarves would allow her any hospitality. After all, she did end up there by breaking in the night before.
“You could say thank you.” Said one of the more bitter dwarves. The other dwarves hushed him.
“Ignore him. Please, welcome to our home.” The leader said, walking over to Emily and taking her hand. “What is ours is now yours.” He kissed her hand. Emily was a bit taken a back. Earlier she could have sworn they all despised her. Now they were showing her their hospitality.
“There must be a catch somewhere.” Emily said. Given what she’s been through she still was cautious of what was going on.
“We do not ask for much. All we ask is that you do a few things around the house while we are away working in the mines.” The dwarf said.
Emily pondered over the dwarves’ offer. She had never lifted a finger before in her life. She may have tried to distance herself from the crown, but she still exploited the advantages of being one.
“If that is what I have to do to guarantee my safety here. I’ll do it.” Emily said in response. She smiled and the dwarves smiled back, revealing their poor dental hygiene, causing Emily’s smile to shift into a grimace.
“In order to further guarantee your safety, I think it would be wise to not let anyone other than us into the house. Your father will eventually find out you are somewhere around here. He may employ another assassin to kill you properly next time.”
Emily understood that and nodded. “Okay.”
To be fair, earlier it was established that it was not just the King who disliked the presence of Emily. The Queen too, had raised the displeasure of her stepdaughter going around the kingdom and soiling their good name.
The Queen came from the west of the kingdom before she married. She was the seventh of seven beautiful daughters of the king in the western kingdom. Her other sisters all died young through unusual circumstances.
One drowned at sea one the way to discover the new world, one died jumping out of the tower she was kept hostage in, one died after being attacked by a beast in her castle, one died being mauled by bears while exploring the neighbouring woods, one was murdered after she refused given her child to a disillusioned servant, and one died after going comatose and her frustrated lover butchered her body.
The Queen, however, was not tied to any such a fate. She found and married the King of the kingdom east of hers to start a new life.
Emily was a year old when the Queen came into the family. Through those fifteen years in the monarchy, the Queen grew to despise what Emily was becoming. Emily was becoming more and more like her sisters.
She knew that one day Emily would have a horrible fate, but she didn’t realise she had a part to play in it. She agreed with her husbands reasoning and silently allowed him to order the death of the princess.
She was very concerned with her status and image, and the King’s image for that matter. In an attempt to scare away fate and threat, they maintained an image of purity, of justice, of order. She was determined not to die like her sisters did so early on in life.
The Queen was beginning to age, but she aged gracefully. As every day passed she did not count down how many more she had left, but instead took each new day as a gift.
They were in the throne room, the King and Queen, when the spies entered once again to give their report to them on their findings. There were 4 of them. One for each compass direction.
“There is nothing to the west, my lord.” Said the first.
“There is nothing to the north, my lord.” Said the second.
“There is nothing to the east, my lord.” Said the third.
“This is something to the south, my lord.” Said the fourth and final spy.
The King and Queen sat up. There was hope.
“Yes?” Asked the King.
“When searching the areas south in the kingdom, I managed to find tracks heading into the woods. Not animal tracks, human tracks. More specifically, the tracks of an adolescent girl. Princess Emily.” The spy answered. The King smiled.
“Ah…The woods…A fitting place for an animal like her.” The King said, taking a sip from his glass. “Do we have a location of where she is?”
“Not yet, my lord. But there are not many places for someone like the princess to hide. The only humans who live there in the woods are the-“
“Dwarves. Those mutant children.” The King finished. He was disgusted at the thought of them. They were not human as the spy described. They were freaks of nature. He spat on the ground.
“Thank you my spies.” The King said, placing down his glass and standing up. “You have done well to locate where the young princess has disappeared to. I shall reward you accordingly.” He patted them on the back. “Please, could you contact the assassin’s guild so I can give them a job?”
The spies nodded and bowed in unison. They left in single file and headed to the door.
The spies stopped in their tracks, and the King turned around. It was the Queen.
“No. The assassin’s guild failed us before, and they will not fail us again.” The Queen stood up and went to leave. “If you want something done right, you do it yourself.”
The next day came in the forest. Emily woke up alone, for the seven dwarves had gone to the mines early in the morning to start their day. She yawned and got out of the makeshift bed the dwarves made for her and walked around the house.
She smiled as she examined the place she would now call home. Everything was a miniature version of the things found in her previous life. It was like living in a doll’s house.
There was seven of everything. Seven beds, seven chests of drawers, seven chairs, seven sets of cutlery and even seven cupboards. For a brotherhood of dwarves, they still kept their effects to their own and didn’t share.
Emily checked the pantry for anything to eat and found some bread. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for Emily. She took it over to the table and awkwardly sat on one of the small chairs to eat it.
She bit into it and nearly cracked a tooth. It was rock solid. Emily wondered how on earth these dwarves survived for so long when their food is so impossible to eat and enjoy.
Emily sighed and surveyed the room. She was once the princess of a kingdom she would one day inherit and now she was in a cottage inhabited by dwarves who were shunned by society, making a new life for herself.
She went to sniff the fresh smell of the forest but was instead given in interesting odour instead. She looked down and realised she was still in her dress from a couple days ago. It was caked in mud, still slightly damp from the rain and was beginning to smell stale. She knew she had to do something.
Emily got up, went to the bed she had just got out of, collected the dirty sheets and whatever other washing she needed to do and she left the cottage for the nearby stream.
When she got there, she piled up the washing that needed to be done and began to clean them, one piece at a time. It was the first time she had to do anything of this sort by herself and initially found it hard to clean the dirt and grime away.
After what appeared to be hours, toiling away at cleaning, the pile eventually went down and she was finished. She wiped her brow and started to hang the clothing and other linen on a nearby tree.
She sang along with the birds that she could hear in the distance as she spread the sheets and hung them over the branches. Soon she was done hanging out the washing and she stepped back to admire her work. Then she looked down and frowned at her dirty dress.
She started to undo her bodice, in a much more relaxed and patient manner than the way she attempted to do so a few days before. Once she took her bodice off, she slid her arms out of her dress and dropped it to the ground.
Emily stood there, naked, illuminated by the glow of the sun. She sighed as she gathered up her dress and began to wash it. Inside her mind she thought over what had happen to her in recent times. She thought about her father, her stepmother and their plan to get rid of her. She thought of the dwarves who kindly allowed her to stay in the safety of their home. She thought about the assassin.
Ah yes, the assassin. She thought about how he had spared her life, how he did not kill her based on what turned out to be false pretences. She thought of how he had deceived her in the first place, and how she was so foolishly about to give him the thing of hers she can only give a man once.
She shook her head to get the assassin out of her mind. She stood up and held up her dress. No longer was it caked in mud, or smelt foul. It was cleansed of its impurities. The black fabric soaked in the light and did not reflect it back. Emily sighed as she took it over to the tree and hung it along with all the other things she had washed.
Emily smiled at her first triumph. As the sun began to dry the fabrics strung over the branches of the trees, Emily absent-mindedly sang and danced. In her head she thought of dancing in a ballroom, filled with eyes on her as she waltzed with an anonymous partner. The smiles and laughter that would fill the room as she graciously glided across the dance floor came into her mind.
She swayed from side to side in the forest, pretending she could hear the music as she sang along. Grass cushioned her bare feet underneath as she stepped around; until she stopped singing, marking the end of the song, became stationary, and bowed to an invisible audience.
Emily’s mother was not entirely as the King made her out to be. Before her life was cut so tragically short, Emily’s mother was the most beautiful woman in the land. All men vied for her, but only one won her over- the then prince at the time- Emily’s father, the King.
They enjoyed a long relationship, but the status of the prince scared her. She was not of royal blood and so was intimidated by the prospect of entering that life. Most women like her would have loved to become a princess, or even a queen, but not her.
She entered several affairs, with lesser people in the kingdom, people who she felt she actually could continue on with. It broke her heart that she couldn’t live on with the prince she had fallen in love with, knowing that she would become a different person if she was brought into the monarchy.
The prince knew about this the entire time. Even at a young age, he would send spies to watch over those close to him. He was paranoid that no-body really cared for him, and his heart and mind were broken down piece by piece with the influx of news of his lover’s affairs.
As days, months, passed on, Emily’s mother soon learnt she was pregnant. She was overjoyed by the news, and rushed to the young prince.
“I have great news! I am with child!” She said, smiling and glowing.
“That’s-That’s wonderful!” The prince said, with a mix of emotion. He was joyous that she was pregnant; however, he could never break from the thought that the child may not be his. Inside his mind he swelled with rage.
That night, he called for an assassin. He briefed him about how his lover is pregnant with another man’s child, and paid for him to kill her. He still wanted the child though, as his, so the contract would have to be honoured only after the child was born.
As seven more months passed, the nine months of Emily’s mother’s pregnancy were over and she went into labour. Her midwife to come deliver the young Emily was replaced by the assassin, who killed the original midwife just hours before.
The mother was happy that finally, the life that was growing in her was being born into the world. She imagined how her child could be: beautiful, head-strong and independent. She considered if her child could welcome the idea of becoming a member of royalty, something she herself still could not come to terms with and accept.
Her mind moved onto the prince, Emily’s father. She knew that he was the father, because she may have entered several affairs in an attempt to escape the idea of the monarchy, but her body still remained only with the one person whom she loved, the prince.
As the hours passed in her painful labour, eventually her child was born. Exhausted but happy, she watched her newborn daughter be picked up and cradled by the midwife. She held out her arms to take her child in her arms, but the midwife turned and handed it over to one of the servants, who hushed the crying child and left the room.
Emily’s mother was confused. She thought that she’d be able to hold her child. Her face shifted from an exhausted smile, to a confused look and then her eyes bulged as she saw the midwife. He was holding the forceps that minutes ago brought the young Emily into this world, and he was about to take Emily’s mother out of it.
The assassin opened the forceps and tightened them around her throat. Emily’s mother reached up and tried to free her neck from the grasp but she couldn’t. The assassin put more and more increasing force on the forceps, slowly crushing her windpipe. In her last breaths, she muttered one single sentence.
“She’s your child, please, look after her.”
Emily had returned to the cottage with the washing in tow. All were fresh and dry as the day they were made, and Emily smiled as she put the linen and spare clothes away.
She laid her dress out on her bed and looked at it. She reflected on how she used to dress to distance herself from her parents. There was no colour in her dress, it was all black. Normally the only occasion a dress like hers would be suited for would be a funeral. Albeit, a funeral with a dress code that barely takes mourning into consideration, but a funeral nevertheless.
She looked at what made up her dress- a tight, low cut bodice, a long ruffled skirt and a lack of sleeves which exposed her delicate, doll-like arms and hands. She thought about how her appearance was one of the factors that had got her in this situation in the first place, and considered if a change was in order.
Her mind went back to her dancing and her fantasy by the stream where she washed her dress. She longed for that to actually happen in real life. To be invited to dance in a ballroom full of people while an immaculate dress and moving gracefully as music played for them.
In her mind she began imagining a new dress. She could imagine the materials she needed and the tools she could put into use that were available for her in the house. She planned how she would make it and how she would look once the dress was finished. She smiled as her plan formulated in her head, and closed her eyes.
She revisited the ballroom in her head. She was now wearing the dress she would make and how everyone was in awe of her. They were no longer silently judging her, or silently lusting over her, they were accepting her as what she truly was, and that made her excited.
Emily gathered up her dress from off the bed, looked at it and did some measurements in her head. She smiled, looked around and went to work on her brand new dress.
The Queen was in her quarters, doing some planning of her own. She had to make sure that Emily could live no longer, for it would risk her returning and revealing the motives of her and the King.
She paced back and forth, thinking over the possible plans of how she could free them from the realisation that the princess was still alive. A knock wrapped upon the door.
“You may enter.” The Queen said, still pacing. It was one of the spies back to report more information to the Queen. The Queen stopped and wheeled around to face him. “Yes?”
“We now know exactly where the princess is in the forests to the south.” The spy said. The Queen smiled and paid attention.
“And where is she?” She asked.
“The speculation of her meeting the dwarves in the forest are correct. There is a small cottage near the deepest parts of the woods where the seven dwarves who mine in the mountains live.” The spy replied. “It appears that they have taken her in and let her live there.”
“Filthy creatures…” The Queen said. She started to pace again. She began to formulate a plan on how she would carry out the murder of her stepdaughter. When she finally came up with a plan, she stopped pacing, and turned to the spy once again.
“Thank you. You may leave now.” The Queen said to the spy. The spy nodded, bowed and left the room.
The Queen went over to her wardrobe, and looked for what she could use to disguise herself in her infiltration. Hidden behind her racks of gleaming white clothing rung duller, more common colours she once wore when she used to explore the kingdom she came from. She smiled at the memories she had as a young girl herself, then frowned as her mind went back to Emily.
She collected a selection of clothes, and experimented until she got the desired look of a pedlar-woman. She then used techniques to make her look older. Not like how an adolescent girl would try to make herself look older in order to be seen as an adult, the Queen tried to make herself look much older, she wanted to look indistinguishable.
When she finally got the desired effect from her disguise, she threw on a hood, grabbed a basket from her wardrobe and left, heading towards the forest to find and meet Emily for the last time.
As the days began to pass, Emily was beginning to adapt to life with the dwarves. She had learnt to do manual labour around the house, something she had normally left servants to do around the castle for her.
During the nights, and whenever she was not doing any work, she would continue to work on her new dress. What she first visualised in her mind all that time ago, she was finally beginning to manifest it in real life with the materials available to her.
She smiled as it began to take shape. The skirt, the ruffles, the bodice, slowly but surely she was beginning to build up her perfect dream dress. But she knew it needed something a little bit more.
One day she sighed as she looked at the progress of her dress, the results she had so far laid out on her bed. She placed her hands on her hips as she thought about what was missing. It was beautiful, but still needed more work.
“Hmm…” She said, pondering the development of her dress. There was a knock on the door. “That’s odd…The dwarves have left in order to do their day’s work in the mines. They’re never back that early…”
Emily remembered the promise she made to the dwarves. She promised that she wouldn’t let anyone other than them into the house, lest it be an assassin of the King, coming to kill her.
“Who is it?” She shouted.
“An old woman, just looking to sell some goods” Replied the voice from behind the front door. Emily cautiously made her way to the front door and opened it.
What she saw was an old pedlar woman, in her hand a basket full of different items. Little did Emily know that this woman was in fact the Queen, cunningly disguised. The Queen however did not show her true intentions straight away and stayed in character.
Emily stood outside and pulled the door closed beside her. She didn’t see a threat in this old woman, but she still thought it better safe than sorry and kept her outside.
“What do you have?” Emily asked the woman, curious to what goods she had to sell.
“Feel free to look for yourself.” The woman said, holding out the basket for Emily to examine. Emily looked through and found pots, pans, trinkets, useless objects and then her eyes fell on some laces.
The bodice for her new dress had no laces to hold it together. The laces from her old dress were not suitable; she needed new, fresh laces to go along with her beautiful new dress.
She picked a few up to examine. They were spun and braided from the most delicate and beautiful silk she’s ever seen. So rich and smooth to look at and touch. They were in many different colours: yellow, red, blue…but it was the white laces that caught her eye.
She smiled and held up the white laces. The pedlar woman smiled back and nodded.
“Would you like to try these wonderful laces first?” The woman asked. Taking the laces back from Emily.
“Oh please!” Emily said, smiling. She went back into the cottage and invited the pedlar woman in, completely forgetting the promise she made to the dwarves. She put the bodice of the dress she was making on and went over to the pedlar woman to lace it up.
The Queen smirked in her disguise as she took the laces and laced them into Emily’s body swiftly and tightly. Emily was caught by surprise by the speed and pressure from the woman as she laced up the bodice with the laces she picked out.
Her ribs felt like they were going to break under the pressure. Emily could hardly breathe as the woman pulled the laces tighter, and tighter, and tighter. The air was being punched out of her lungs and was not returning. Emily gasped and tried desperately to breathe in air as if she was underwater, trying to survive the pressure and the fluid entering her lungs.
The laces tightened around Emily’s chest like snakes squeezing life out of their prey. Emily looked up at the woman who seemed to be oblivious to the dangers of her actions. In fact she seemed to be enjoying her acts, sadistically laughing and smiling as she tightened the laces even more.
Colours changed in Emily’s face as she was running out of air. She began to lose consciousness, eyes flickering as she ran out of energy, until eventually her eyes completely shut and she collapsed, as if dead.
The woman smirked and dropped Emily onto the ground. There was a loud thud of her body striking the solid ground below.
“Heh. That was much easier than I thought.” The Queen said. She smiled and turned around. She picked up her basket of items and left the cottage, heading back to the kingdom to give the good news.
As she left, Emily lay. Lifeless on the cold ground of the dwarves’ cottage. It would not be until night time until the dwarves would return and find her there on their floor.
“Oh bugger.” Said the first dwarf to enter the house that night. Dropping his pickaxe on the floor.
The dwarves worried over the body on their floor. They paced around, they rambled on, some had to slap others to get them focused again. One of the dwarves checked Emily’s face. There seemed to be no life at all in her face. He frowned then looked down her body.
His eyes rested on the bodice she was wearing. He smiled at how beautiful it was on her, and how it was laced up in the finest silk he had ever seen. Then he paused, and had a closer look at the laces.
They looked like they were forced on tighter than they should have been. A lot tighter. Too tight for any person, child or otherwise, to possibly survive wearing.
“Foul play.” He muttered and looked back at Emily’s face. He got one of the other dwarves to get a knife from the kitchen. The dwarf came over to Emily’s bodice and sliced the laces one by one, slowly releasing Emily from the unnaturally tight clothing.
The dwarves stood in silence, wondering if that would do any good. Seconds passed without any disruption, until finally Emily leapt back to life, gasping and taking in all the breaths she had missed.
All the dwarves were pleased by Emily’s return to their world from what they were so certain was death. They circled around her, curious to what had happened that had caused her to be in the state they found her in.
“An old pedlar woman…She was selling laces and other items…I let her come in and lace my bodice up for the dress I was making…I forgot all about the promise I made not to let anyone other than you into this cottage…I am sorry.” Emily said, still trying to breathe in the air she lost over her ordeal.
“It must have been a subject of the King.” Said one of the dwarves. “Someone employed to kill you once and for good.”
Emily nodded. She knew she had been stupid and thoughtless when she invited the woman in to lace her up. She had been easily fooled into allowing a stranger to take advantage and nearly kill her. But she was determined never to do that again.
“Never will I allow another person to get the better of me, enter this house and try to kill me. I swear.” Emily said. Her eyes blinked as she was getting adjusted once again. The dwarves took pity on her.
“Please, you must rest.” Said one of the dwarves. “Let us do the housework for a while; you’ve been through a lot in recent days.” Emily nodded, and slowly stood up. The dwarves all led her to her bed. They took her developing dress off and put it to one side, and helped lay her down to rest. Emily smiled as she got comfortable.
“Thank you. Again.” Emily said, smiling as she closed her eyes. “Thank you.”
Later that night, as the new day came in, Emily and the dwarves were all fast asleep. All but one. He crept through the house, attempting to be quiet, not wanting to wake anyone up. He smirked as he went on, thinking over a plan of things in his mind.
He made his way to where Emily rested, on a bed made up of now all the beds that were once the dwarves’ put together. It was not what you would call Queen Size or even Princess size, but it was not a problem for the resting Emily.
The dwarf eyed up and down the girl’s body. He licked his lips as he scanned the delicate, yet attractive figure lying in the bed. He walked over to Emily in the bed and brushed her hair off her face and kissed her on the forehead.
He climbed onto the bed and pushed Emily over until she was lying on her back. He gave an unsettling laugh as he kissed all over Emily’s body. He moved down her and started to slide her skirt up when Emily came to.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Emily shouted; the dwarf ignorant of this outburst. She sat up in the bed and tried to shake the dwarf off her. She screamed, and kicked the dwarf off the bed.
The dwarf wiped his bottom lip with his sleeve, blood merging with the fabric.
“You little bitch.” He said and leapt back onto the bed, pushing Emily back down. She screamed and wailed as the dwarf tried to violate her. The dwarf just continued to do what he was doing, undoing his belt.
One of the other dwarves had entered. It was the dwarf who gazed delicately at Emily the night the dwarves found her, the one who helped argue that they should let Emily stay with them, the one who was madly in love with her.
The dwarf on Emily spun his head around and looked at him, giving him an evil grin.
“Come on, what are you going to do about it?” The dwarf said. Emily shook him off once again and pushed him off the bed onto the floor.
The dwarf who entered went over to the dwarf on the floor and began punching him in the face, blood splattering his hand, the floor and the face of the receiver of his blows.
“You. Grimy. Sleazy. Perverted. Bastard.” The dwarf said between punches. “How could I ever consider you a friend or brother if you do something like this?”
The other dwarf smirked behind the blood that covered his face. He kicked him off and ran for the forest, swinging the front door open and sprinting out of the house.
By now, the other dwarves were aroused from their slumber and were trying to learn what the commotion was all about. Sleepy-eyed, they went over to the front door, following the trail of blood from Emily’s bed.
The dwarf who came to Emily’s aid began to chase after the dwarf, picking up a pickaxe on his way out. The remaining dwarves began to follow as well, trying to stop the dwarf from making a huge mistake.
Emily jumped out of the bed, chasing after the seven dwarves who were running into the forest. Her bare feet once again travelled over rough cold stone, over grass and mud, as the rain poured and thunder cracked in the distance while in the woods.
She eventually found the dwarves in the forest. The one who just minutes ago tried to rape her was cornered by the dwarf who protected her and the five other dwarves.
“Why. Why did you do it?” Asked the dwarf who came to her aid.
“Come on, you would have done it too eventually.” The other dwarf said. “For years, we’ve lived together, we seven freaks of nature.” He spat on the ground. “When this whore of the kingdom came into our home, it was divine providence. She could be the one that could slake out burning desire.” The dwarf smiled. He had no real concept over what he had been doing.
“She is not a whore, and we are not freaks of nature.” The other dwarf said. “We are both…different than that.” The dwarf looked around at the other dwarves and Emily who were all looking at the scene.
“No. We are exactly who we say we are, no sugar coating or otherwise about it.” The disillusioned dwarf said. “I have no regrets. If I could do it again I would, and more.”
The two confrontational dwarves locked up with each other. They rolled around; dealing blows to each other, both out for blood. The dwarf who came to save Emily kicked the other one away to the ground and got up, pickaxe in hand.
Emily and the dwarves were shocked by the unfolding conflict. The dwarf on the floor smiled through his bloodied and bruised face, and spat out a tooth.
“Once a whore. Always a whore.” He said, laughing and feeling triumphant.
The other dwarf raised his pickaxe.
“NO!” Shouted the other dwarves but it was too late, the dwarf swung the pickaxe down.
It pierced through the dwarf’s smiling face, through his flesh, blood, bone, killing him in one. The dwarf pulled the pickaxe out of the dead dwarf’s head, now shining and stained with the blood of his fallen brother.
He took in deep breaths to calm himself over what he had just done. His eyes were wide as he stared at the deceased dwarf. The face was unrecognisable. Blood flooded from the wound in the dwarf’s face, bone and muscle floating up to the surface.
The dwarf dropped the pickaxe and fell backwards on the floor. He had no idea whether to laugh or cry over his actions.
“What have I done?” He said, shocked at the murder. He scrambled backwards as the other dwarves came over to help him up, and hugged him, the seventh dwarf lying there, dead behind them all.
Emily cried over the dwarves’ confrontation, and watched as they picked up their friend and brother, and carried him to where they could bury him, crying over their loss and how his stupid mistakes were the end of him. The dwarf that killed him remained in a living, comatose-like state, eyes wide open.
“What have I done?…”
As the sun rose in the kingdom for another new day, the Queen strode triumphant into the throne room, King and spies in conversation. She had removed her disguise and was once again dressed in her shining pure white dress, immaculate and not tainted by the blood of her stepdaughter’s she had on her hands.
“Good morning my King and his spies.” She said, beaming. The Queen glided over to her throne and sat down in it, relaxing, happy that things were now truly taken care of.
The King smiled at the Queen and came over and kissed her on the cheek, sitting down next to her.
“One of the servants told me when you arrived back in the kingdom, they said that you were looking the happiest you’ve been in a long while. I pray that you did what you set out to do?” The King asked, optimistically.
“Yes I did.” The Queen replied. The King laughed, smiled and kissed her again.
“That is most wonderful news!” He said. He chuckled at turned back to his spies.
They reformed their line in front of the King and Queen, bowed and stood to attention. Their spokesman stepped forward.
“Yes, as we were about to say, my lord…” The spy said, nervously looking around. “Before the Queen returned to the kingdom after her own, personal errand, we managed to get a final update and confirmation about the Princess Emily’s condition, and, well…”
The King sat up, looking at the spy. It could not be good news. He hoped it would not however be the news he had predicted in his mind. The King closed his eyes and whispered his wishes to himself that it would not be what he thought it would be.
“Sir…The princess…Emily…Survived. She is still alive and well.”
The King jumped up and smashed a glass filled with wine on the floor. Anger filled him once again at the realisation of Emily’s current fate and how she was still alive, despite the two attempts to kill her. He shouted incomprehensible words in his rage.
“If I weren’t more lenient I’d have your head for this latest news!” The King shouted at the spy. The spy nodded and stepped back to his fellow spies.
Thoughts entered the King’s mind. He had an idea of his own on how to better the situation once again. He rubbed his chin as he thought things over, until he finally patched up yet another plan.
“Okay. I know exactly what to do. No more middle men. Or women.” He said, looking over to his wife. “I will do this myself this time. I will take out the princess once and for all, and make sure that this time she is fully out of the picture. You mark my words.”
The Queen and the spies looked with interest at the King, wondering what this new plan was, but he did not share it. Instead, the King ordered the spies to leave and take up their positions around the kingdom once again, kissed the Queen once again and thanked her for her attempt, then left the throne room to do what he had in mind.
The days passed in the forest. Emily and the six remaining dwarves continued on with life, moving away from thoughts and memories to the dwarf they lost that fateful night.
The dwarves continued to mine and Emily continued to get into life in the forest. She still had no intention of returning to the kingdom, she was happy there, but in the absence of the dwarves she felt alone. More alone than when she lived as a princess in the kingdom.
She had finished her dress. It was made up of rich fabrics. The dress was yellow, blue and red. The finest colours for the finest dress. The bodice was not as low-cut as her previous one, and was on just tight enough. It was laced up by the laces from the pedlar woman who tried to kill her. She wore those laces as a reminder of her impulsiveness, and because they were the most beautifully made laces she had ever seen. The skirt went down to the floor, hiding her perfect legs from view and shone in the sunlight.
Emily was overjoyed with her dress. What once manifested in a fantasy had now become real, thanks to her efforts. She took pride in how she had done it all on her own, not falling back on the help of others like she would have in the kingdom. She was becoming independent, a freethinker, and the thought of that made her excited.
Emily was in the pantry, looking for something to eat while the dwarves toiled away in the mines. She looked and frowned as she could not find anything at all to eat. Her stomach rumbled and she held it, looking high and low for any morsel of food.
“I’m so hungry…” Emily moaned, and she stepped out of the pantry. She looked around and had an idea. The forest is full of trees that bear fruit; surely one of them could fulfil her needs. She smiled at the prospect and left the cottage with a basket, in search for more food that she could bring back and eat.
Emily walked through the forest, basket in hand. The forest was the most peaceful she had ever seen before, and it made a welcome change from the previous times she had been there.
As she walked deeper into the forest, birds of all kinds could be heard, as could the rustling of branches where other animals were travelling. She walked on, until finally she found trees and bushes of all sorts surrounding her.
She moved around from one to another, examining and picking berries and other fruit that the wildlife provided for her. Emily ate a few while picking, the sweet nectar from the fruit trickling down her throat. Her hunger slowly disappeared the more and more she ate.
She looked around for any more signs of fruit and her eyes lay on two things: a grand tree that stood before her; and the man leaning against it.
The man was the King, but Emily could not recognise him. He had disguised himself, very much like how the Queen disguised herself many days before. This time however, he appeared to be much younger than he actually was. As young, as could be seen, as how he looked when Emily’s mother first met him, as a prince.
Emily smiled, and blushed. Behind his disguise the King was disgusted. In his mind he thought she was attracted and interested in him. He restrained himself and smiled back.
“Hello, my lady.” He said with a bow. “It is a surprise to see someone such as yourself in these woods.
Emily nodded and approached him. “And it is a surprise to meet you sir.”
“May I ask where you come from?”
“I live in the k-…I live in the forest.” Emily said, looking down, avoiding eye contact.
“The forest? But it’s wild, and dangerous.” The man said, surprised.
“No, I love it here. It’s peaceful and wonderful. Not at all dangerous.”
The King looked Emily up and down. She seemed different to how he remembered, but still did not like her. His eyes rested on the basket, filled with a variety of wild fruit.
“Ah. So you are hungry.” He said. Emily followed his eyes and looked into the basket.
“Oh yes!” Emily said and laughed. “I ran out of food in the house so I came here to pick some fresh fruit to eat.”
“But those berries, they will not last long…Why not something that will last longer, like an apple.” The man said, producing one from his pocket, picked previously from the tree.
The apple was bright red, a shade comparable to that of Emily’s cheeks. Emily smiled as she looked at it. It looked like it would be very sweet and tasty. She hesitated though. She thought by now to not trust strangers who had no previous interest of her needs.
“That’s a very nice example of the fruit of this tree.” Emily said, looking up into the tree’s branches. “I think I’ll pick a few of these of my own.”
Many apples looked down at Emily as she gazed in the branches. She began to salivate as she examined them. They appeared so succulent and fulfilling to the eyes and she could only imagine how wonderful they would taste.
“It is dangerous for a woman of your stature to climb a tree like this in the search of its fruit. The earth will just bring you back to the ground, and it will hurt you. Please, take my apple.” The man said, following Emily’s line of sight. He held the apple out for Emily.
Emily hesitated. She did not take a chance and take the apple from him. It may be some trick he is playing before trying to kill her. The man holding the apple pulled his arm back.
“Are you afraid?” The man said. “I can understand, strangers don’t normally act kindly when you first meet them. But please, take my apple instead of trying to scale that tree yourself.”
The man took out a knife. Emily retreated instinctively. The man reassured her and cut the apple in half in his hands. He took one half and he bit into it. He then offered the other half to Emily so show there was no harm to be dealt. She stepped over and took it.
Little did she know that hidden in the palm of his hand has a small vial of poison. As the King cut the apple in half while in his disguise, he let the poison drop out of the vial and onto the half of the apple he would offer to Emily.
As Emily took it and put it to her mouth, the King smiled in anticipation. His plan was about to come to realisation. Emily smiled back, unaware of what was about to happen, and she bit into the apple.
Almost as soon as she took her first bite, her eyes shot open, then closed and she fell down to the floor, dead. The poison had worked perfectly for the King, who laughed in victory.
“And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil….
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Night once again came to the forest, and the dwarves headed back to their home. But when they got there, Emily was nowhere to be seen. They looked around the entire cottage, but still, no sign of Emily.
“She’s gone.” Said one of the dwarves.
“Thank you for the obvious.” Said another. They regrouped by the front door, noticing that their fruit basket was no longer there.
“She must have taken the basket and searched for fruit and other food!”
“Once again, thank you.”
The dwarves put their mining tools down and headed deep into the forest in search for Emily. The lights from their lamps illuminating their path. Twigs cracked underfoot as their pushed their way through the forest, until they finally found the fruit-bearing trees and plants, and Emily lying on the ground.
They rushed over to her, surrounding her body on the ground. They turned her over onto her back and looked around for any signs of mistreatment. She did not look like an axe had hit her, she did not look as though she had lost all breath, and she just looked the same way she had always been, except all the life had left her. She was dead.
The dwarves huddled together and cried. Emily had become part of their family. She was the only person outside their circle to show any love for them. They had accepted her for who she was just as she had accepted them for who they were. Their relationship was special, but the fates had taken that all away from them.
The dwarves picked her up, three dwarves on each side, and carried her back to the cottage. Tears flooded their faces, dripping of them and patting onto the floor. When they arrived back home, they could not bring themselves to bury her alongside their dwarf brother, murdered in retaliation for Emily all those days ago.
“We cannot bury her in the dark ground, where our disillusioned brother lay. The ground is for sinners, we must keep her above the earth. For all to see how much of a wonderful person she was.
They took Emily inside the cottage one last time, and together they helped change her clothes into the dress she had spent an age making. She was truly beautiful and immaculate in the dress, and served as a reminder for the changes she had made when she entered the dwarves’ lives.
The dwarves took her back outside, and found a stone slab near the cottage. They laid her down to rest in peace, with nature all around her. The dwarves each went over to her and kissed her softly on the cheek, wiping the tears away from their eyes. They bowed their heads in prayer, and then mournfully returned back inside.
Days passed, weeks passed, months passed. The King and Queen returned back to their normal form, presenting their image to the kingdom and their subjects of peace and prosperity. The kingdom would never know of what happened behind their closed doors.
The King summoned his spies once again for a report on the kingdom. He was the happiest he had ever been. Almost as happy as when he first met Emily’s mother. If he hadn’t repressed all his emotions and memories of those times, he would compare his feelings he felt to them.
“My spies, my spies. How is everything in the kingdom?”
The leader of the spies stepped forward, happy. He had been rewarded handsomely out of joy from the King.
“Everything is going swimmingly my lord. There is nothing negative at all to report.” The spy said.
“Splendid!” The King said, with a clap of his hands. He laughed and took a drink from his glass. “What of the Princess Emily.”
“Princess Emily? Well she is no more.” The spy replied. “She is dead, but the dwarves in the forest seemed to have idolised her and kept her corpse on display.”
“Those child-like monsters, they have no idea what is happening.” The King said, but he smiled. “Compensate them kindly.”
The King had no qualms any more. Emily was out of the picture for good. He could now just care about maintaining the kingdom in peace and live the rest of his life knowing all will be well.
He laughed and let his spies leave once again. They bowed in unison and left the throne room. They paused at the door in case they were to be stopped once again, but after a moment or two of silence, they nodded to each other and left the room, closing the door behind them.
Singing filled the forest. A man and his company were travelling though the forest on foot, peacefully. They came from the kingdom, exploring the lands for adventure and for riches.
The leader was familiar. It was the assassin who tried to kill Emily in the stables a long time ago. He had left that profession behind him after his encounter with Emily. He now focused on helping the poor, and slowly bringing down the rich.
As they passed through the forest, they went past the house of the dwarves, some of his company spat on the floor at the thought of diminutive creatures, but the former assassin did not.
His eyes focused on something, a body, dressed in the most astounding dress he had ever laid eyes on. He rushed over to take a closer look, his party following behind him.
As he made it to the stone slab, he made a shocking realisation. It was the Princess Emily, the girl he was once employed to kill. The girl he let free and saved from death. The girl who never left his dreams since then.
“This cannot be.” The man said, turning to his group. “This is the Princess Emily. Dead.”
The group took a look down at the body, and they also came to this realisation. Some bowed their heads to respect her dead body, others went into prayer. The former assassin however, went over to the body.
He brushed her hair with his hand, and delicately stroked his hand down the side of her face. He smiled to himself in memory of her, but frowned as the cold temperature of Emily’s face could be felt on his hand.
Night covered the forest, and the dwarves returned back home, singing and whistling as they went to put their pickaxes away. They stopped when they noticed the band of humans around where the body of Emily lay. The group turned to face the dwarves and one came over to them.
“Ah! People from the kingdom! I knew it! They’ve come to kill us!” Screamed one of the dwarves, running back for his pickaxe.
“No! No! We mean you no harm!” Shouted the man approaching them. It was the former assassin. “We had just discovered the body of this girl here and-“
“We didn’t do it!” Shouted one of the dwarves in retaliation, stepping back as the man reached them.
“No, I know that.” The man said. “But I was wondering if you would let me take this girl away with me and my men.”
The dwarves thought of those words negatively. They formed up a line and crossed their arms.
“We wouldn’t let you or your group of immoral men take our Emily away from us to fulfil whatever disgusting needs you have for all the gold in the world.” One of the dwarves said. The man looked confused, then realised what they were thinking.
“Oh no! Nothing like that!” The man reassured them. “This girl…” He said, turning back at the lifeless body of Emily, untouched by nature, or decay, still in the state she was when she was placed there. “This girl…Is the girl of my dreams. She never leaves my mind. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep…without her popping up in my head. My heart still leaps whenever the name is mentioned, believing its news about her whereabouts or something, but I’m always disappointed. And now I find her…and she’s gone. Stolen from this world so young. I love her…but she’ll never know…Please. Let me take her with me. I will honour and prize her over everything else in my life.”
The dwarves took into consideration this speech from the man. And one by one, they nodded and gave their blessing. The man smiled and thanked them, shaking each of their hands, slipping a gold coin stolen earlier that day into each of the dwarves’ palms.
The man rushed back to his friends and told them the good news. He instructed them to pick her up and carry her with them as they headed back to their hideout, away from danger and the rule of the King.
As they walked, Emily lifted on their shoulders; they bumped and jostled, traversing the forest. Eventually a bump caused a piece of apple, lodged in Emily’s throat dislodged. Emily’s eyes fluttered open.
“Where…Where am I?!” Emily said, surprised by the six grown men carrying her through the forest.
They nearly dropped her in their surprise, for a few moments they thought demons had reanimated her, but they were reassured by their leader. They slowly placed her back on the floor and she took a look at all of them.
“Who-Who are you?” Emily said, scared. “Where are the dwarves? Where’s the cottage?”
She turned around from the confused men surrounding her. It was the assassin. The man that her mind turned to when she was alone. Her heart leapt as she realised he was really there, and it was not just some fantasy.
“Please…Call me Robert.” The former assassin said. “Emily, I may be no king, or prince, but I am a fine man, dark history aside. You’ve invaded my dreams, my fantasies and my life, and I thank you for that. I love you.” He got down on one knee. “Will you marry me? You’ll never have to worry about your parents or being alone ever again.”
Emily was both surprised and excited with the outburst. She smiled, blushed and looked around. Her eyes wandered down and discovered she was in the dress she made. It was just like in her first idea. She twirled from side to side, admiring her handiwork and laughed. She then looked back at the man before her. She realised it was the man from her daydream, her dancing partner in the ballroom.
“Yes. I will marry you.”
In the castle in the kingdom, footsteps were heard through the corridors. They were rushed, like someone was in a hurry to deliver news of war, or of the arrival of someone of high interest.
Servants watched the figure stride across the halls, heading towards where they could find the King and Queen. By the look on the figure’s face, they frowned and went back to their own business, ignoring and forgetting what was happening.
It was the leader of the spies, coming to report to the King once more. It had been months since the confirmed death of Emily and peace was in the kingdom. At least there was for now.
He moved into a run, rushing along the final few halls and corridors until finally he made it to the throne room. He knocked three times on the door and stepped into the room.
He paced forwards toward the King and bowed. He swallowed nothingness and stood to attention. The spy took a breath or two before he delivered the brand new information to the King.
“Yes my spy?” The King asked, previously laughing with his Queen beside him.
“It’s the Princess Emily. She’s still alive. She’s still alive. She’s in the woods, and she’s planned to marry a former assassin.”
The King swore loud enough the entire kingdom could hear, and leapt out of his throne. He swiftly pulled a resting sword out of its scabbard and stabbed the spy in the heart with it.
“My Queen, we’re going to our daughter’s wedding.”
It was midday in the forest. Emily, Robert the former assassin, his company and the six dwarves were assembled by the stream, the very stream Emily first dreamt about the ballroom, her partner and her dress.
Emily and Robert stood before them, with one of his company acting as priest- a former monk. It was a joyous occasion. The dwarves and men sat together on logs that were chopped with Robert’s axe.
The wedding procession was coming to a close and Emily was the happiest she had ever been. She gazed up at Robert smiling as the priest came to the conclusion.
“Now if anyone here has a reason as to why these two should not be married, please speak now.”
Everyone wheeled around to where the source of the outburst came from. It was the King and Queen. The dwarves and the men leapt up in unison.
“She should be dead and buried in the ground like the dog she is!” The King shouted.
“Yes! She is a disgrace to everyone, not just her parents!” The Queen added.
“You men should be disgusted, associating yourselves with these dwarves and whores alike.” The King shouted. The couple stepped towards the congregation.
They were both shocked that all of this was true. Emily was still alive and she was getting married. Their plans had all failed and collapsed around them. They were defeated, but they dared not to admit it.
The Queen rushed forwards towards Emily, but was stopped by the men. They pushed her to the floor and the six men and six dwarves together ganged up and brutally killed the Queen where she lay. Screams filled the forest until they were finally silenced, and the body of the Queen was chucked into the stream, flushing away her evils and wrongdoings.
The King was shocked and dumbfounded. He stepped over to the stream where the body of his Queen was disposed of. He stared into the stream, his reflection shining back at him.
Instead of him falling in love with his reflection, and his image he created, like Narcissus before him, he saw a deeper reflection. A reflection of a man corrupted through paranoia and prejudice. All his evil was being projected right back at him and the realisation destroyed him on the inside. He realised he was a broken man, and these events broke him even more, beyond reconstruction.
As he stared mindlessly and blankly at his face, Emily stepped up behind him. She grasped at the axe used by Robert to cut down the seats for her wedding, held it above her head and swung it down, like an executioner.
The blow chopped the King’s head straight off. It smashed the reflection from the mirror that was the stream, and floated for a few seconds, staring lifelessly up into the heavens, then was sent deep into the stream along with the headless body. The stream turned to red from the blood of the fallen King and Queen, and Emily and the others paused, taking in their actions from before. They were all now safe and sound, free from the cruel intentions of the King and Queen. They could all start their life again.
“As I was saying.” Said the acting priest. “If no-one has any objections, you may now kiss the bride.”
Emily smiled and kissed Robert. She was safe. The dwarves and the men cheered and clapped as they continued to kiss, celebrating the unity between royalty and commoner, man and dwarf, husband and wife.
And that night, in the glow of the moon and the stars, the dwarves and the men laughed and applauded as they watched Emily and Robert, the married couple, waltzing around the ballroom that was the forest.