Victoria only saw beauty in slicing through her palms. She dropped her knife to the floor and scarlet filling poured from her hands. The blood trickled onto her white nightdress which blew like a sail, catching the wind in its fabric as she danced.
The trees bowed to her, almost as if they knew she was a princess. The blades of grass parted for her toes, making imprints in the dirt to mark her steps. Her blonde hair shone in the moonlight like fairy dust on her head.
Letting the blood stream, Victoria drew a circle around herself with it. It was her little secret, no one would ever know.
Her brother, the King, did not come to this part of the forest. If the King did not go there, no one else would.
Victoria read from the pages of a book, reciting an incantation in a foreign language. Smooth sounds glided off her tongue.
In front of her, was the essence of her beloved Arthur, a small collection of his hair. She took a chunk of it and tied it around the wounds on her hands, stopping the steady flow. Thick clots of blood fell from Arthur’s hair on to the book.
Victoria’s maid, Mary, had used the book herself which resulted in her marriage mere months later.
‘Page 109,’ Mary had said, ‘that is where you will find the best love spell. But avoid any other page, there are some dark things in there.’
Just as Victoria finished the incantation and stopped spinning, a faint snapping sound reached her ears. Hot, wet air hit the back of her neck, warming her dry throat.
Hardly daring to breathe, she turned around and standing behind her was reality in all its glory.
It was a man in a coat the same colour as her blood. A King’s guard, frozen in his position, mouth gaped open.
Victoria knew the soldier wouldn’t understand the beauty of it. She had only intentions for love, but the laws of reality had been so distant in her mind. She knew what happened to people who chanted incantations. She knew what girls who danced alone in the forest were labelled.
‘Witch,’ the soldier said as his mouth defrosted, ‘you will hang for this’.
No one could be saved from that word, not even a princess.
Just as Victoria was filled with the strength to plead for his forgiveness, a low rumbling noise escaped from the spell book and the soldier ran into the maze of trees.
The number ‘110’, flashed before Victoria’s eyes so quickly she could not believe she had seen it. The perspiration of her breath disintegrated into the night air.
The book began to bubble and thwart its shape, growing larger by the second. Slowly the beauty of the spell faded away. This was something very ugly. It was hatred, not love.
Victoria rubbed her eyes in disbelief as the book came to life. However, when she had opened them again, the book was gone.
In its place were two flesh-coloured objects that were fat and bruised. As soon as they appeared, almost as if Victoria’s thoughts triggered it, the objects began to grow.
A shrunken leg morphed out of one, and an arm out of the other. Victoria had hardly blinked before in front of her stood a body, or something of the sort.
As she started towards the figure to see it clearly, it spun around. Her heart jumped out of her chest, and then plummeted into her stomach.
The creature’s face, was nothing like Arthur’s sharp, defined structure, but was deformed and featureless. The figure had no eyes. Limp, wrinkled skin folded over the two eye sockets that were devilishly deep. Blood dripped from its rows of bared teeth like drool.
Victoria bent down, feeling the night air rush up her legs and collected her knife from the ground. Though there was something about the creature that told her not to attack.
A cut was engrained into the creature’s skin, bone protruded from within it. It ran from the side of the figures jaw to its opposite ear.
It brought back a distant memory that felt like it was held in someone else’s mind or another existence.
‘Edward?’ Victoria said but she need not ask. She lowered her knife as she spoke.
The scar told the story of how Arthur’s sword cut off King Edward’s ear and sliced his face in two. Oxygen burned Victoria’s lungs, and her knuckles turned white from squeezing them.
A stranger’s corpse may have no motive to kill a princess, but this corpse did. She loved her brother’s murderer, and he would take her life for it.
Only after the thought escaped Victoria’s mind did Edward’s corpse realise who stood before him. It was as if his brain had only just grown back.
‘Sister,’ the dead King said licking the blood from his jaw. The word leaked like poison from his mouth.
A lump formed in Victoria’s throat; how could she be the sister of such a monster? ‘You are dead, Edward,’ she said, ‘this is not real.’
‘This is how real I am,’ he said stepping to the side. The moon slid out from behind a cloud and illuminated the scene. There was a person lying on the ground behind him.
The man was colourless apart from the blood leaking from his ear and the red coat that lay over his body.
The scene split Victoria’s mind in two. She was filled with relief for the soldier’s accusation of witchcraft died with him. Then there was the guilt hanging on her heart for she had reincarnated his murderer.
Though, the one feeling that flooded Victoria’s soul was fear. ‘You cannot mean to kill me too,’ she said, her voice shaking. Edward’s heart had not become any colder in death.
‘There is a thin balance between life and death, sister,’ Edward said licking his teeth again. ‘Watch how his chest rises and falls. See how he is under my control.’
‘What do you want from me?’, Victoria said, swallowing her fear.
‘I need you alive,’ he said, ‘for you will obtain Henry’s inheritance.’
The image of her younger brother’s lifeless body flashed before Victoria’s eyes. ‘It would only pass to me if he died,’ Victoria said. Just after the words escaped her lips, she noticed the corpses eye sockets contract. ‘No,’ she said, ‘you cannot kill the King.’
‘Dear sister, I will not kill Henry,’ he said. ‘You will, or I will wake the soldier.’
Victoria imagined her brother’s blood dripping from her fingertips. She then imagined a noose around her neck. While Henry was alive, she would hang.
She saw the soldier again, lying helplessly. She could plunge her knife into the Redcoat’s heart, twisting it to ensure he was dead. How easy it would be to save her neck.
She just lifted her knife into the air when a sudden high-pitched sound abused her ears. She began convulsing, her muscles tensed, and her lungs were empty as she strained for air.
The dead King knew Victoria had realised the power he held, for his teeth formed a slight grin, and his sockets widened again.
It was not long before he ended the torture, and the princess fell to the ground.