The mirror was rather dull with an age-worn frame with numerous cracks. However, the woman gazing into the mirror was gorgeous. She was Venus in human form. Her eyes were two blazing pits of emerald fire. Her hair is charcoal-black as a raven’s soul. The lush waves cascaded down her pale shoulders of perfection. Despite a silver streak, she was flawless.
The woman’s brow knitted in repugnance as she twirled her finger around the silver strand, her eyes consumed with fury. She huffed in exasperation as she tried to hide it underneath the piceous curls but to no avail. The silver seemed to defy her every attempt to hide it.
Finally, giving up, she ran her hand through her silky locks, wishing she had the power to reverse her aging. She had the power to compel and seduce men to their knees before her. She could call upon the ocean to swallow whole armies. Sirens had nothing compared to her looks or her enthralling voice. She commanded hundreds of thousands of subjects in her kingdom. She could command her entire kingdom to march to her bell and tear themselves apart with their bare hands if she desired so.
However, the woman in the mirror did not possess the power to stop her aging, much less stall it.
“Whatever can I do?” The Queen thought to herself miserably.
Then the idea came to her. She would ask the Mirror. The Mirror must know. The dark magic concealed within could answer her every question.
She stood firm and commanded the Mirror.
“Mirror, Mirror on the wall,” she said relishing her own curvaceous figure in the Mirror’s reflection, “who is the fairest of them all?”
Then the large mirror then came to life, the fractures were fading and the wear disappeared, the once eroded and chipped gold hands clasping the sides of the mirror came to life, steadying itself in all its glimmering golden glory. The Queen’s reflection changed before her and soon she was staring at herself whose eyes were pure ebony, eyes of mysterious black magic.
Her reflection then spoke in an eerie whisper and reverberated faintly off the stone walls, “Thou art quite fair, however, someone else is more so...”
At those words, the Queen’s beautiful visage turned sour, her voice hissed like a serpent’s. She was so sure the Mirror could lighten her dour spirit.
“What do thou mean that someone is more so? Am I not the fairest of them all!?”
The Mirror grew silent, the Queen’s reflection faded as the image of a young maiden’s emerged. Her creamy, lustrous skin and the maiden’s lips crimson. Her long, curled raven hair ornamented around her heart-shaped face perfectly. The girl was simply ravishing, her dense eyelashes boasted two dark coals; eyes too angelic to be real. The girl was a wide-eyed doe in a world far too cruel for such innocence.
As the Queen's face contorted in rage and her voice became hoarse. Her throat flushed red and the air around her felt charged as if mimicking her growing abhorrence for the maiden.
“Who is she?”
“She is the fairest of them all,” the Mirror replied, “you are no longer the loveliest, your Excellence.”
The Queen whirled away from the Mirror, her hands were quivering as glimmering tears slid down her high cheekbones. Returning to its state before, the Mirror’s cracks and ragged edges appear as they were before.
“I am not the fairest,” the Queen stammered shakily in pure skepticism, “I-I am not the fairest.”
Her legs trembled beneath her, the stone walls spun around her. The Queen fell to her knees and cradled herself in her arms.
“I am not the fairest? This cannot be true,” she repeated to herself.
The Queen walked down her desolate halls with dried tears and the recurring nightmare of truth. The dusty drapes hung carelessly, the scones unlit, and the paintings weathered.
At the end of a dusty, cobwebbed hall in the deserted west wing stood a worn yet stout wooden door, its hinges corroded but still substantial. The wood was a diluted gray and chipped. The Queen produced a key from her waist pouch and unlocked the door as soundlessly as she could and shuffled in before discreetly locking the door again.
It had been some time since her last visit to this solitary room, last she was here her grandmother was torched at the stake leaving her the throne. She almost thanked the villagers and those pesky witch hunters for disposing of her rival.
The Queen’s slender hands traced over the alchemy instruments encased in layers of dust by years of idleness. Her collection consisted of mortars, pestles, and larger alchemy utensils. She had ingredients known and unknown by mankind. She knew so much about magic, yet she knew so little of the night and its wondrous mysteries she yearned to unveil. Such secrets would reveal themselves in time.
On one of the creaky shelves, she unearthed a grimy tome bound by blistered human skin. She browsed through it until she found it, the one page that called to her. The words were of Latin and written in babe's blood, the pages infused with the tears of innocence and nightshade.
“Ah, this one,” she said to herself and began to toss the required ingredients in a rusty iron cauldron.
“A formula to transform my undeniable beauty into pure ugliness and change this queenly raiment into a peddler’s cloak.”
The Queen searched for the required ingredients and chuckled gleefully, “I’ll require mummy dust to make me old and haggard. Shroud my clothes, the black of night; and my voice, an old hag’s cackle. Then my hair whitened.”
The Queen stopped uncertain of the required components, she sauntered back to the book and read more of the spell’s contents.
“Ah! A scream of fright! And a blast of wind to fan my hate.”
The queen stood firmly and pointed at the mixture, green lightning sprouted from her sable fingertips, “A thunderbolt to mix it well.”
With a commanding tone, she stood over her creation, “Now, begin thy spell!”
The Queen covered her eyes as the mixture surged in a blinding light and then abruptly plunged down into dark smoke. With a smirk, the Queen waved the slithering smoke away to reveal the most sumptuous apple she ever saw, as burgundy as the maiden’s lips. The apple shimmered under the dim candlelight.
The Queen seized the fruit from the bottom of the cauldron and held it up to her lips, “When she breaks the tender peel, to taste the apple in my hand, her breath will still and her blood will congeal.”
Then the Queen gave the apple a kiss, “I will be the fairest of them all,” her appearance changed into that of a hag’s.
With quivering hands, the Queen returned to the Mirror to admire her new form, the thrill she felt was too much to contain.
When she finally arrived at the Mirror and examined her image the Queen gasped in astonishment.
“It worked,” the Queen croaked, surprised by her own voice. The face before her was splotchy and gaunt, her lips cracked and thin. The once beautiful cheekbones everyone adored were saggy. Her fingers were thin and the nails yellowed with fungus and caked with dirt and grime. The various brown-stained rags she wore were reeking of sweat and urine.
She was utterly hideous.
She beamed and admired her gummy, viscid mouth of rotting teeth like a child receiving a delicious treat, “I will be the fairest of them all for I cannot fail.”
Then she tossed her head back and twirled around with her arms outstretched. Into the night she cackled.