Tales from the Kingdom of Grim

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White Cape

Nose sniffing...bloody claws...the stench of death...searching for me....If I move...I die.

There once was an elderly woman who lived in a cottage deep in the Grim Woods. The woman's son was a hunter who had died long ago. The son's wife perished giving birth to their daughter, and so the elderly grandmother to care of the child in their place.

The grandmother was a kind, wise woman who raised her granddaughter well and the little girl loved her very much. The grandmother kept several sheep, and with their white wool, fashioned a white cape to keep the granddaughter warm during the winter. The girl loved her grandmother's gift so much so that she rarely took it off. All those who saw her in it took to calling her White Cape.

The old woman taught her grandchild on how to take care of herself. Not far from where they lived, the grandmother knew, was a hollow in which lived a pack of Wyres. These wolf-human hybrids could live for many years and loved to devour the flesh of humans. It was known that the evil Ash Queen often sent people into that very hollow to be eaten alive, earning her the loyalty of the Wyres. It hurt the old woman's heart to think of her precious granddaughter to ever meet such foul beasts. White Cape heeded the warnings of her grandmother and so took great care to avoid the hollow and the Wyres within.

One day, as White Cape tended to the sheep, one of her favorite lambs escaped. The girl told her grandmother what had happened and that she would set out to find the lamb. The lamb was wearing a bell, she explained, and she'd track it down by hearing where it was going. The old woman agreed, for the could not afford to lose any of their livestock, but said that if the lamb went anywhere near the hollow, she was to abandon the creature.

White Cape agreed and set out to find the lamb. She traveled deep into the woods, off the path, yet keeping her distance from the hollow. After an hour of searching, she finally heard the sound of the lamb's bell. She was surprised to see the lamb run past her, back towards the cottage. Something must have frightened it, White Cape supposed. She took off after the lamb, heading home all at once.

As she went back, however, a terrible thought struck her. If the lamb had run into a Wyre, it surely would have eaten it. Unless it could smell a more preferable meat, human meat, from off the lamb itself. Wyre noses could track a scent for miles, through the woods...

...and right back to the cottage.

Terrified, White Cape hurried home and found the door had been ripped clean off the hinges. Chomping noises filled the air, blood ran in floods, and the Wyre was standing in the corner, licking its chops over the remains of the old woman.

The poor girl screamed in terror and the Wyre turned at the sound. It growled and swung its claws at her, flecks of blood splashing onto her. The girl turned to run, but the beasts claws grabbed her white cape and drew her back inside. She fell back, landing in pools of yet more blood.

The horrified girl drew her hood up over her head and tucked her legs under the cape, now brilliantly stained red. She crouched low, waiting for her own grisly death to take place.

Yet, it did not. While Wyre noses can pick up scents wonderfully, they were dreadfully colorblind and had little in the way of depth perception, relying instead on their ears and noses. The Wyre sniffed and sniffed, yet all he could smell was the blood of the grandmother. It looked and looked, but could not see the once-white cape, now it had been stained in unseeable red.

The Wyre let out a howl of frustration and bounded out of the cottage towards its home in the hollows, disappointed despite its already full belly.

It is unclear how long the girl lay there tucked under her cape, the last protection her grandmother had given her. She stayed frozen, blood-soaked, and silent for a long, long time. When the will to move finally returned, her cries of horror and sorrow echoed across the woods.

After some time, she managed to bury what was left of her grandmother behind the cottage. She ventured into the woods and found a patch of red berries, which she took home and made a dye from. As she couldn't wash away the blood from her precious cape, she proceeded to dip it into the dye, forever staining it a brilliant red.

She freed the sheep, leaving them to fend for themselves, and left her childhood home, never to return. She made weapons of wood and rocks so she could defend herself, swearing she'd one day make the Wyres pay for destroying her life.

She met a trio of lost children wandering the woods and agreed to help them find their way and keep them safe from the Wyres. They were glad to accept the help, calling the girl by her new name...

...Red Riding Hood.

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