Friday, 4 November 2016
Princess Bronwyn, tall and beautiful, with green eyes and golden hair. Her skin was a shade of olive and her lips honey coloured. "She is Summer" queen Penelope, her mother, would often say to her husband King Lear. "Our daughter is like the sun. She's warm and sweet."
The queen was heard saying this when Bronwyn was growing up in the castle.
"Ah yes, but our son is deformed!" King Lear replied in sadness.
The king and queen had a young son, a small boy with disfigurements. The king was sorry for him but the queen pretended that he didn't exist. She had him cared for by a nurse, and kept well away from her in the other end of the castle so that she could never see him again. What pride she felt for her daughter was pain she felt about her son.
"What son? I have no son?" She said bitterly.
"Olwen is our son. You forget, because you can't bare to look at him!"
The queen always left the arguement by walking away.
She turned round, as she did time and time again, to make another stab at king Lear.
"You taunt me with that creature of ours! But your other daughter is evil!"
"Because you made her so. She's a child!"
The other daughter was hidden in a tower. She was King Lear's eldest daughter with his first wife.
"Snow-White is innocent. You are so cruel and jealous of her."
Soon, Bronwyn heard news that Snow-White was dead. She knew that it was her mother's doing. Her mother, Penelope, hated Snow-White.
Bronwyn was fourteen then, and she was learning how to use a bow and arrow while riding on horseback. She was good at archery and skilled at athletics. All the traits that King Lear and queen Penelope wanted in a son, Bronwyn had. It was a shame that her poor brother, Olwyn, couldn't walk to go out with her. Penelope hated Olwyn more than she hated Snow-White. Yet she loved Bronwyn.
Snow-White was a very different princess to Bronwyn. She was Winter, with skin that sparkled like snow and frost. Her hair was like black ravens and her lips blood red. She resembled a lovely corpse.
Bronwyn and Snow-White were playmates as children. As teenagers, they grew apart. Snow-White enjoyed playing in the garden, amongst flowers and animals. She was always charitable and helping villagers. Bronwyn sought adventures, climbing trees, rowing, riding horses, hunting and training with swords. Then news of Snow-White being dead.
"Snow-White was killed in the forest!" everyone said in the castle. There was no investigation. No one brought to trial. Her mother seemed happy! She had a jewellry box containing Snow-White's heart. Bronwyn opened it, and found it was most vile.
"That?" Bronwyn said in her mother's earshot. "It's a stag's heart! I should know. I've killed many! That isn't a human's heart!"
Bronwyn relished telling her mother that. Her mother was vain, jealous but also stupid. The look of grave disappointed on Penelope's face was almost funny. Penelope screamed when she looked closely at the heart. She was angry and demanded guards sieze the hunter and execute him for betrayal.
Bronwyn was glad her big half sister was still alive.
When Bronwyn turned sixteen, she discovered that her mother Penelope was dead. And her long lost sister Snow-White was just married to Prince Ragnar. She heard that her mother tried to poison Snow-White but all failed. She learnt of Snow-White living in a ruined temple in the forest with seven goblins for the past two years.
Bronwyn was ready to look for the goblins and do some supernatural hunting...
One morning she rode her beloved horse Amber, a graceful yellow Haflinger mare that was a birthday gift from King Lear. Whenever she trained in the fields with bow and arrow, or went hunting, she rode one of the stable horses but kept her beautiful Amber in the garden. Amber stayed in her very own stable in an enclosed garden near Bronwyn's chambers.
She rode Amber on trips to the forest with her friends (the guards who were keen to train with her). Today, she was leaving the castle for good. King Lear remained in the castle, now a widower, with his staff, and her brother who was never allowed out.
She journed South, towards the mountains. It was there that Snow-White lived with goblins and entered a fake death.
She didn't play with magical tools as her mother used to do. Bronwyn tracked down the dwelling of the goblins by late afternoon. It was a ruined mess, with broken scattered fallen pillars. The foundation was still there, the roof not fully caved in. The place was inhabited by someone else, for each window had drapes made from dyed animal skins. It stank.
Amber was frightened.
"Cool down, Amber, please."
She dismounted from the horse, and then Amber bolted and ran away into the forest. Bronwyn cried and knew that her dear beloved horse would be forever lost to her.
Her distress turned into anger. She entered the ruined temple and found nothing but seven statues of ugly creatures that were neither human or animal. She missed her chance to talk to them. These goblins were caught in the daylight that filtered into the temple through gaps blown in. She was so upset that she kicked each statue and made them crack.
Without her horse, Bronwyn was vulnerable and decided to put on her hard boots. These were inside her travel pack, along with her green velvet cloak, golden dagger, some provisions to eat, keys and pair of laced trousers. Bronwyn had to travel on foot all the way to Snow-White's new home.
She was not invited to the wedding.
Bronwyn remembered the story of how her mother died.
She needed answers, and to find out if this was true....
((Tales of Shadow-Bright are fictiona stories written by Rayne))
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Copyright © 2016 Rayne Herbert.