Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Fairy Tale

I actually wrote this some time ago and just came across it, I thought I'd post for your (collective) reading pleasure. A (very) short story I wrote for a contest between myself and a friend. Enjoy!

A Fairy Tale
Miles Veritatis

Once upon a time in a shire of England there was a young boy born to a peasant family. He had thin blonde hair and bright blue eyes, a joy to behold, but not a joy to his parents. They had little money, and a new mouth to feed was more than they could handle. Their meals were sparse and housing was sparser, so when the Plague ravaged Europe, they had nowhere to hide. The disease claimed his mother first, then his father; however, when all seemed lost, he was found lying in a basket in the market by the servant of a Duke, who was filled with compassion and pity at his crying and carried him back to his master's manor. The Duke became angry at first at the audacity of this servant to bring the child of a peasant into his home, but the Duchess, upon sight of the boy, was struck by his beauty, and entreated the Duke to allow him to stay. The Duke begrudgingly agreed on the stipulation that he be raised as a stableboy. So the boy stayed with them, raised by the Duchess and her nursemaids until he was old enough to begin to work. As he grew, he was kept in the same nursery as the family's daughter, and became her playmate. The young Lady was beautiful from childhood, with thick hair that flowed in locks black as raven's feathers and glinting hazel eyes—radiant like the emeralds of her mother's jewelry. 
The two became quite fond of each other, and when the boy began his work in the stables at the age of ten, the girl would often go to “play with the horses” and spend time with her friend. She would visit him daily, and as the years passed and the two grew older and more mature, each began to discover the beauty of the other; however, upon the girl's eighteenth birthday, her father announced his plan to marry her to the son of a fellow Duke, a matter in which she had no choice. Her displeasure was obvious, and it was not difficult to discover why. The Duke was enraged at the stable boy, but he was well loved, so there was little that he could do openly. Secretly he began to devise ways to be rid of him, first by offering him ale tainted with hemlock; but the boy was not given to drink and so the temptation passed and the poison failed. Second, the Duke devised a treachery of sport, challenging him to fence but using a blade sharpened in secret; however, the boy proved to have skill with a sword and none of the Duke's blows fell true. Infuriated, the Duke made a third, more desperate scheme. He hired two assassins to kill the boy in his sleep; but the boy was wise, suspecting the Duke's foul play, and so the evening before the attack was to come, he crept from the manor in darkness, taking with him the young Lady, the love of his heart, and fled.
The two did not cease their flight until they were far from danger, fleeing to the East, to the strange countries of the Orient, where they would never be found by the Duke's men. Upon their arrival, they discovered the men of the land to be celebrating a recent victory against their Enemy from the Sea. There was to be a great feast upon the eve of their arrival, with promise of fireworks, and so the two requested to be married amidst the festivities. The night came and the feasting began. As the men became drunk and full of food, there came a shriek from the watchtower and a panic swept across the gathering. Men clamored for their weapons and women and children fled for their homes. Arrows from the dark seemed to suddenly sprout from the ground, the tables, and the bodies of men, sluggish with their drunken bewilderment.
As the chaos began, the young groom leapt to his feet, unsheathing his sword to defend his bride. He stood, eyes frantically searching the darkness, when he felt a small tap at the back of his heel. He whirled about, sword aloft to strike, and then sank to his knees as his heart shattered within him. Tears flooding his eyes, he grasped vainly at the shaft of the arrow sprung from the heart of his love, as though to wrest from it the life it had claimed. There were no fireworks that night.

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