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Chapter 10: Eight Years

Eight years passed since the King first woke up on the cold soil deep within the dark forest. His castle had been overrun by Greedy Fool’s army of the dead quickly and seemingly with little effort.

Greedy Fool greeted his dark Kingdom everyday atop of the castle. He enjoyed the view of his wealth and inheritance. Still, it was more enjoyable watching his army instill fear into his subjects. It reminded him of his power and his control.

All items and statues built for and by his predecessor were torn down. Larger, gold statues of the new King had taken their place. The King’s throne and crown belonged to Greedy Fool.

“While I take joy in my inheritance as a Fool, a Fool I am no longer. Although, I must say, ‘Greedy’ suits me just fine. And all the lands will forever know the name of King Greedy!”

The witch had taken great physical care of Princess Elise to ensure her body was strong. She had taken care of her body but cared not for her mind. As the child grew, the witch kept her as a prisoner in a dark room. She had made no secret to the child she was orphaned and held for a later purpose. She educated her enough to understand what it meant to be unloved.

Being alone, the Princess found comfort by experimenting with the sounds of her voice. She first took to humming, imitating birds of the forest, which eventually led to singing. However, the witch did not take too kindly to it. Using her power in anger, she uttered, “No more words, none.” Immediately; the mouth of the Princess was sewn shut, only to unravel when it was time for her to eat.

Princess Elise was alone and scared. She had never known happiness nor had she ever seen a smile. And yet, nothing was more frightening to her than the first moment she started hearing voices.

During the eight years, the King had endured much. He was driven mad. His life had been in danger many times trapped within the vast and mystical forest. He had faced creatures he had never seen before, had to withstand temperatures of extreme heat and cold, and had seen horrific visions of his dead wife. The forest used her image to torture him in the moments he wanted to think of her. He had seen images of her dead corpse roaming aimlessly while her body slowly deteriorated. He had also seen her holding her severed head as it cried hysterically.

His quest to rescue his daughter had been his last source of strength, but the forest had taken its toll on him. He had questioned his sanity many times, even his purpose to find the witch. After eight years of surviving, of searching, he had grown tired and full of despair. He considered taking his own life, or simply allowing the evils in the forest to swallow him up.

Regardless, his body was weak, and he laid down for what he expected to be his final rest. He cried out one last time in agony,

“There is no hope! There is no hope!”

Exhausted, he fell asleep.

Out of the woods, a rabbit raced to his side. It sat by him and waited. It waited for him to wake up so it could show him the way to Hope.

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