“You did not deserve this fate, curse my mother for being so cruel. On my life, I will find your family, I will protect them. The curse cannot be broken without your blood.” Keeping to a whisper, the witch pulls out a knife. She moved the pieces of armor still attached to the dead man. Seeing his deep black hair sprawled over his lifeless face made her soul ache. “This should not have happened,” she whined to herself just before finding a clean piece of skin to graze the knife over. “I just need a little to seal it,” she told him never expecting a response.
The knife was quick to draw a line of scarlet blood. It wasn’t deep, she didn’t need much, as she told him. Using the blood catching on the knife, she held it over the cover of the book.
“May you find the next knight with the blood of the slain,” her words were stronger this time. She was more sure of herself. Having never practice something so complicated, everything was riding on her getting this absolutely right. With shaking hands, she dripped the last few drops on the cover. Watching it slowly sink into the leather of the book, the words began to appear.
“The Curse of the Black Knight,” she read aloud. “It was the only way,” she told herself.
Jolting upright she heard a sharp noise entered the dark stone hall, she listened for any signs of an intruder. Pressing up against the dank, slightly slimy wall across from her, she held her breath as to not tell anyone she was standing there. When the sight of a shadow coming down the stairs was seen, she held her hand over her heart for safe keeping.
“Sanda, you little rat, where did you get off to?” The sound of her mother’s voice gave her chills. The sound of her solid footsteps getting closer made her heart hammer. Gulping down her fear, she slowly slid the book down the wall and behind her leg for safe keeping.
“I am over here, mother. I apologize, I did not mean to run off. I wanted to see if it was true.” She confessed. “Of course, it is true, what possible reason would the king have to lie?” She asked in a harsh tone making Sanda flinch. With the book still pressed against the wall, her leg began to grow tired, her muscles strained and started to cramp. “So, the prince is really dead, he killed all those people?” She asked her mother in a near whisper. “Yes, that wicked boy finally snapped. With the death of his mother so long ago, there are inquiries into what may have even happened that night. If he is able to kill young ones and their parents in their homes, why not his own mother?” So, caught up in her own thoughts, Sanda barely registered the hint of glee in her mother’s voice.
Sanda thought about it for a moment. The prince she knew, the one she watched from afar, wouldn’t do something like this. She only had a single question on her mind.
“Why?” She asked.
“Why indeed,” her mother responded and when their eyes finally met, she felt the cold, dead stare, fill her body with dread. “What will they do with him?” She asked again, arms crossed over her chest for warmth. She watched her mother turn to the door one stall down from the cell they stood at now. This one wasn’t made of bars like the others, it had a door and a hole for a key. If she squinted hard enough, the flames from the staff her mother held just barely allowed her to see what was in the keyhole.
“He will be locked in there. Who ordered it?” With a newfound courage she stood up straighter and found her chest to be filled with a new air of confidence. “I did, it was the only way to stop a killer, darling. His father agreed, it was for the best.” She glided over to the door, reached for the silver key, and twisted it. Hearing the turn and groan of the lock, Sanda knew it wouldn’t open for anyone but that key in her mother’s hand.
“Now, I must leave this town, nothing here but the dead and a king with no future.”
“But, what about me?” Sanda asked as her voice fell to a soft whisper again. “What about you?” Her mother’s cold eyes fell on her again, making a shudder go through her. “The spell has enacted; you will be here for the rest of your life. I cannot have something like that with me.” She spoke as if her daughter was the heaviest of burdens. Remembering the weight of the spell placed on her at the start of the season, Sanda could only hand her head low while her mother passed her.
“Do well, child, maybe I will return. If that spell, I put on you is ever activated, know that everything you love will come to a crashing finish.” She watched as her mother ascended the stairs, leaving her with the dead knight near her feet and her last hope pressed against the wall behind her leg.
With the knowledge her mother didn’t know about her own spell preformed seconds before she came down there, Sanda drew in a breath of renewed will to live. She would rebuild the town, bring in people to populate it, maybe then her immortality wouldn’t be so bad. If she had people around her. Taking the book from behind her legs, she walked to the newly locked dungeon door. Pressing a cold hand against it, she felt the warmth of the magic used to incase him in there.
“Do not fret, we will share the immortality until our knight comes again,” she spoke to the door, believing her words would carry to the prince behind the door. When a boisterous scream came as a reply, she jumped away from the iron and silver door. After calming down, she turned to the main door with her book in tow and set off for a possibly lifetime of waiting.
“They will come, I have to believe that,” speaking only to herself, she followed the stairs to the world above.
Henrietta woke with a start.
The sight of piercing green eyes filled her vision. She pressed the palms of her hands into her eyes until she saw nothing but a deep purpling blackness. Taking in a deep breath, she looked to her left and found her sister gently sleeping. Nearly twice her length, Henri’s feet hit just at her sister’s knees when they slept together. Pushing into the dirty, thin mattress they used, she turned over and tried to shut her eyes, hoping she didn’t have the same dream again.
“At least it’s better than nightmares,” she mumbled to herself.
When a loud crash startled them both awake, Henri couldn’t help her heart start beating again. Her sister quickly pulled her away from the door and covered them with the blanket. Taking in the stench of dirt and sweat, she stayed under the used cloth until Olivia told her the coast was clear.
After a few minutes of nothing else happening, Olivia slowly brought the blanket away from Henri’s face and relaxed her muscles ever so slightly.
“I think we’re safe for now,” she told her in a whispered voice. “What do you think that sound was?” Henri asked as she looked up at her big sister’s face. Olivia pressed her head gently to her chest and rested her chin on top of her head. “Whatever it was, it isn’t coming for us,” she assured her.
Just as their renewed sense of safety began, another crashing sound made them hold tighter to each other. Holding their breaths, they both jumped when the bedroom door slammed open.
“Up. Now.” He commanded. The look on his face didn’t give them room for an argument and neither one of them wanted to see how far their arm would bend behind their backs again. Henri’s was still healing from the last time. They quickly stood and gathered their blankets and the little bit of clothing they owned. When it was ripped out of their hands, Henri had to hold her breath to keep from yelping.
“Not enough time. Get in the car. Now.” His demanding voice sent chills down their spines. He turned and walked out of the room and soon after his form was replaced by a woman Henri looked a lot like. “Listen to your father, you don’t want to get in trouble again. Do you?” “No, mother,” they told her in unison. She asked them, venom laced in her words. They both shook their heads and followed her. They started to get into the back seat when Olivia’s arm was roughly grabbed and twisted behind her back. Yelping, she looked up at the eyes of their father, with whom she took after in looks alone.
“Trunk. Both of you.” He demanded and when she was released Olivia gently took Henri and guided her to the open trunk. Lifting the top further, they both laid on the scratchy mat that wasn’t meant for passengers. Once the trunk was closed and they felt the car roar to life, Olivia grabbed her gently in her cold arms and whispered calming words in her ear.
“Two more years, I promise you,” she whispered in her ears about their plans. If they could survive two more years, they would leave and never look back. Henri held tight to this story, along with the ones Olivia told her at bedtime, it was the only thing that got her through days like this.