Come now, gather around.
Behold such a saddening tale.
Come now, leave not behind your handkerchief.
It may keep you well.
One time, long, long ago.
There lived a young witch in the lands.
Ah, yes, she came to love a young prince.
So the story goes...
Once, there was a kingdom. The kingdom, not unlike any other, was ruled by a prince and his subjects, the people. The prince was a kind and humble man, the townspeople were friendly. The stone streets were always filled with people. Every one of them would greet each other.
However, now... The streets were empty.
Most of the townspeople had gathered on the town square. Their expressions, once caring and companionable, were filled with wrath as they threw rocks to the center of the square. They yelled curses to the one who stood there.
“Vile creature! Burn for your sins!”
“Repent for your crimes!”
“How dare you chose to live here?!”
All the while, the woman who stood in the center of the square. She was tied to the cross made of wood, dry hay piled around her bare feet. Her light brown hair used to be long and beautiful, but now locks of short hair hung limply against the wind. With her head bowed down, she began to wonder where had she gone wrong. Was this punishment for her sins?
“God..” She murmured, staring longingly at the sky. More and more pebbles were thrown at her, causing her to wince. “Please.. Forgive me for my sins..”
“Miss! Miss Jeanne!”
Curious, the woman in question turned around and her gaze met a familiar pair of eyes. The prince stood there, a soft grin stretched his lips. She smiled graciously and bowed politely as he approached closer to her.
“Good morning, your highness.” Jeanne curtsied. “How are you faring on this fine day?”
“Blissfully pleasant.” He took her gloved hand and kissed the back of the palm. The woman giggled as he stood up straight, her brown locks shaking lightly. “And how are you faring?”
“Just perfectly fine. I have to get some ingredients for the stew tonight.” She replied, marroon eyes twinkling. “Would your highness like to accompany me to the towns square?”
“I have told you countless times that you should call me by my name, did I not?”
“Indeed you have.” The petite young woman smiled. “But I do not have such right to refer you that.”
“Your words injure me when you said that, Jeanne.” He jested, shaking his head in mock disappointment. “I refer to you by your first name. Why is it that you cannot do the same?”
“I have told you before, I do not have the right to call you that.” Jeanne adjusted her grip on the woven basket that she brought along. “I am just a maiden, your highness. One of your subjects.”
“Yet you have managed to catch my eye. No ordinary maiden can achieve that.” He chuckled when he saw the red blush lightly dusting her cheeks. “Please? Just this once.”
“Fine... Prince Francis.” She huffed and looked away. “If I may, your highness, I would like to go to the market so I can cook the meal for tonight.”
“Then I shall assist you. Allow me to lead the way.”
“You need not to do that, your highness.”
Despite that, the prince insisted that he would help out with her trip. The two started walking along the path, one began describing how his morning went whilst the other listened. The people greeted as they walked past them.
Unbeknownst to the pair, a woman stood a distance away from them, observing. Her white hood covered most of her facial features, leaving only her dark chocolate hair that flowed out of the hood and frown etched on her lips.
It got only worse as time go on.
“Burn, you filthy wretch!”
“Burn for your sins!”
“You do not deserve to live!”
“Penitence for your crime!”
Her body was becoming more bruised from the amount of rocks they had thrown. Her clothes, replaced by a ragged dress, were torn and bloody. Tears streamed her cheeks as she looked at the faces of the ones that she had found companion in. Ahead of them, Prince Francis walked up the stone platform, accompanied by a familiar figure.
Blue eyes filled with sadness met marroon eyes filled with desperation.
He looked away immediately. The woman who had followed him removed her white hood, revealing a veil of chocolate hair and a pair of almond eyes.
The hooded woman walked up to the prince, her hands gripping a piece of paper.
Prince Francis turned around, blue eyes staring at the figure who approached him. He smiled kindly, recognising that she was from the church from the white veil they wore. The smile faded, however, as he looked at her expression.
“What is it that you need?”
“This is about Jeanne.” She answered, her underlying tone contained a hint of anger. “You must not trust that woman, your highness.”
“...Why is that?” He asked cautiously. The woman unrolled the piece of paper she brought, revealing the silhoulette of a familiar person. Taking a step back in shock, the prince demanded. “What is the meaning of this?”
“That woman is a witch.” The hooded woman said. “She had been bewitching you with magic. I know, I have seen it. Her house contained a secret compartment where she placed her potions into.”
“You were caught in her alluring magic, your highness. All of us were. She planned to put this kingdom into ruins before going to the next. We must stop her before she succeed this.”
With a single call, the yelling ceased and glanced at her. The woman, Alice, stood tall as she began to list the accused’s crimes.
“We have gathered here today to witness the death of the accused.” She said, her voice loud and clear. “The woman had enchanted us with her magic, used forbidden spells to keep her beauty and increase her long life, attempted to seduce the prince with dark magic-”
“No, no, that’s not true!” Jeanne cried out. “None of that is true!”
“Silence! You will not bewitch us any longer. With your source of magic cut, we will not be swayed by your dark spells. Any last words?”
“How dare you accuse me of such things when I had done none of it?!” Her voice was cracking as she screamed. She glared at the angry faces for the townspeople. “And you believed her?! The words of a woman with no evidence? Your highness, surely you did not believe her?”
He did not reply and only looked away. Feeling disbelief, the accused scoffed. “I cannot believe all the fools I see! You fed them dirty lies!”
“Enough! We shall light the sacred flames before the day ends! Everyone! Prepare the torches.”
Loud pounding resounded in the hallway before the entrance door burst open. Men wearing metal armor flooded in, searching the individual rooms before they found who they were looking for. Jeanne was slicing a carrot before she felt hard, cold metal hands gripped her arms.
“What? What are you doing?! Where are you taking me?!”
“You will be escorted to the prison this instant.”
“Why- Ah!” A cry escaped her lips when a hand slapped her cheeks hard. Tears prickled the corners of her eyes as she was dragged away to the towns square, where the entrance of the palace was. A massive crowd stood there, waiting. As soon as they saw her, they began to yell curses, accusing her of being a witch.
But she was confused and remained in that state as the guards continued to drag her away. When had she ever done anything to offend them?
They came to a stop at the prison, where she was thrown to the ground into a jail cell. However, they did not leave her when they locked the door. Nervously twisting her hair with her fingers, Jeanne glanced around. Her gaze met blue familiar eyes that belonged to a man who approached them. He glanced at the men and nodded.
They opened the door. One of the guards forced her up and held her hands roughly at her back.
“Prince Francis, what is ha-”
“You do not have the right to call me that.” His voice trembled as he took his sword out of its sheath. She was startled to see tears streaming the corner of his eyes and down his cheeks. The prince stared at her, eyes pleading a silent question. “How could you trick me like this?”
“What do you m-”
“Silence. I have heard enough of your bewitching words.” He grasped a large clump of her hair and cut it as he believed it was the source of their power.
The people lighted their torches and threw at the hay. It did not take long before a roaring fire emerged into the sky. Jeanne, with all her disbelief and hatred within her, screamed. A whoosh was heard as the wind blew strongly when something grew attached to her back, distinguishing the flames.
It was a pair of wings, as black as midnight.
With a great flap of wings, the ropes tying her to the cross snapped loose. The townspeople watched, aghast, as she flew into the sky. Dark feathers floated to the ground.
One feather reached the palms of the prince himself.