Monday, February 14, 2011

Grimmer Fairy Tales-- Part the Fourteenth

Catalena lovingly placed the bouquet of wildflowers at the base of the intricate wrought iron cross marking her mother's final resting place, forged by her father in his grief after the death of his wife. A fortnight passed since she returned to their quiet house near the blacksmith's shop. In that time, she had done her best to put the experience out of her mind, but Prince Dragos' enigmatic eyes haunted her dreams. There was little doubt of his cruelty and pride, but she had seen sadness and suffering as well. He was as lonely as he was angry leaving Catalena conflicted and confused. If only her mother was here, she would know what to do. The leaves and grass near the headstone rustled, a tiny figure dressed in a red leather tunic emerging from his hiding spot. Although no bigger than he palm, the imp confidently stared up at her, his butter blond locks shimmering in the sunlight and a puckish grin on his face.
"Wish us here and here we will be," he spoke in an ethereal cadence.
"I did not wish you here," Catalena responded, wondering why the tiny sprite appeared.
"Oh but you did. You did wish for little me," he replied with a giggle. He climbed up the cross until he reached a perch on one of the arms where he plunked himself down, his legs dangling playfully as his emerald eyes met Catalena's. "Trust is earned if their face you can see. Trust is rare, as rare can be. Like icicles in a coconut tree." Catalena couldn't help but grin as the sprite laughed at his own joke, his good humor infectious.
"Why have you appeared to me, fairy?"
"You assist those who come in search of aid, it is custom for me to do the same."
Catalena considered the prospect of accepting the help of the fae. Fairies were notorious tricksters, but it was rumored they could glimpse the future as well, a future they would relate if the compensation was right.
"What will happen if I refuse the prince's offer?"
"Though wise, my words are never free. A price must yet be paid to me." Catalena was at a momentary loss for what to give the fairy, finally settling on one of the turquoise silk ribbons in her hair, shiny and pure as a calm sea. The fairy clapped his hands in gleeful acceptance of her payment. "Your father one day will retire and you, my dear, will tend the fire. Simple and pleasant your life will be, but no husband or children do I see."
"I will never marry, but I will become blacksmith in my father's stead. What of the kingdom?"
"The king is fated to sit alone beside an eternally empty throne. Misfortune on both sea and land as warring nobles get out of hand. Refuse your place in the great hall, and the royal family's banner falls."
"And what do you see if I am queen?"
"While you experience great joy and misery, easy your life will never be. I see children playing in the hall and peace outside the castle walls. Though the king remains a mystery, you change the course of history."
Before she could ask anything more, the little fairy scampered down and disappeared, his reverberating laugh echoing like the tinkling of sleigh bells. In many ways, Catalena was more confused, by the fairy's prediction could not be ignored. The blacksmith's daughter had a choice to make which would alter the course of the kingdom. From out of nowhere the fairy's voice wafted through her ears, calling her to action. Beautiful maiden, do not tarry. Consider if you are meant to marry. A decision ultimately must be reached before the prince's birthday feast.

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