An unashamedly overwritten and purple piece for the pantomime season.
Splinters of light broke away, shards of iridescence in the velvet darkness. The room was bejewelled and made magic, mist formed and spiralled, a veil of brightness drawn on the gloom. A black clad figure emerged from the miasma, moving forward. She glanced behind, the draperies of her outfit gleamed, dark sequins woven into the midnight fabric captured the enchanted light, absorbing and subsuming it into her very being. The door was closed, the drapes were drawn. She approached the mirror.
“Spirit, spirit, speak to me. I demand you present yourself.”
A deep glow formed at the centre of the glass, it pulsed and spun, a vortex of blood. A low humming throbbed in the silence growing in intensity until it filled the night.
“Show me spirit, show me where she lies.”
Darkness and mist painted the rippling glass. The woods, trees dripping with rain, wet grass gleaming in the moonlight. The scene shifted and changed, a tiny house, well kept, a wooden gate guarding a swept path, mowed lawns and rose bushes. The dark blossoms black blooms melding with the night the white ones tiny nodding torches under the moon. Polished windows were curtained, flickering light gave small illumination behind the fabric and an owl blinked on the chimney pot.
Yet again the picture reformed, now the inside of the cottage, a small,warm living room, floral wallpaper, bright rugs, shining brasses, and there in the middle of the room, surrounded by blooms and candles a glass casket. Seven small figures, huddled beside the bier, despair rounding their shoulders, lowering the bearded heads. Seven hearts breaking and seven good beings asking why.
“Spirit, is she dead. Tell me, is she truly dead?”
The picture in the glass faded, the light changed, golden beams flooded outward, glittering mist whirled and twisted in the air.
“She is dead then.” The woman could read the messages from the mirror as if they had been spoken aloud, the change in colour, the mist, the shades in the magic glass were as clear to her as any of the ancient writings in her grimoires and so she smiled and turned away.
Deep in the woods a lone rider ducked beneath low hanging branches, his dark horse moving smoothly along the sodden path. He tugged at his hat pulling it closer, deeper over the dark brow, it was cold and wet, it was almost midnight, it was almost time. He felt the thrill shoot through him. Many years he had waited for this night, now it was here and his cold heart fluttered with excitement. She was waiting for him, there was but one more mile to travel and then she would be his.
Back at the castle the dark queen could find no rest. How could this be, the spirit of the glass had shown her, had told her, the girl was dead, lying in the cottage, those stupid woodland creatures weeping and wailing around her, it was over and again she reigned supreme, the most beautiful, the most powerful, the most feared, why then did she feel uneasy.
At first she had not recognised it for what it was, so long it had been since she had experienced the emotion and now it grew, her stomach clenched and soured, her heart quivered and her hands shook. She had taken the scrying bowl from the shelf and gazed into the liquid depths, all that she had seen was the reflection of her own eyes and the vague and rippling picture of the girl in her glass cocoon, surrounded by flowers, golden hair cascading around pale shoulders, the quiet eyelids closed and locked in death.
She had questioned the cards, they told her nothing, the crystal ball held its own council. Still she felt the fear, a formidable creature writhing at the centre of her soul. With a great cry she hurled the goblet of wine across the room to shatter against the old stones. What was wrong, why was she afraid?
The little gate rattled as it swung back against the hinges, startling the grieving party. They turned to one another, heads shaking, eyes puzzled. Who would travel on this dreadful night, who would disturb their misery. Thunder sounded on the door. Petulous reached for the rifle hanging above the fireplace, Jovialous hefted the club as Timorous held a taper to the lantern.
The door cracked open.
“Who is there, who knocks on such a night?”
“A traveller, lost in the rain. Please could you help me, my horse is in need of water and I seeking directions?”
“Tis a bad night traveller, move onward, the village is but a half mile further on, leave us we have troubles aplenty this night.”
“But sir, would you refuse my horse, I have ridden hard, just a pail of water from your well, surely you won’t refuse a dumb animal. I am sorry if you have troubles but ‘tis a foul and evil night, will you not help a pilgrim.”
The gathered mourners glanced at each other, decency and tradition dictated their actions and Petulous pulled open the heavy door.
“Sire, you find a house in mourning, forgive us our reticence. There is water in the trough your horse is welcome to drink.”
“And me sir, will you not offer me a glass of porter to warm me this cold night.”
“Of course, of course. Please step inside, but Sire, we crave your indulgence, we are holding vigil. Please forgive us if we ask that you sit in the kitchen, some bread and cheese perhaps and ale, we have no wine, it has soured.”
The dripping figure stepped over the innocent threshold and there he beheld her. She was more beautiful than he had dared to hope, more glorious in death than anything he could have imagined, he was spell bound as he stepped across the flagstones to kneel in wonder beside the coffin.
In the castle the Black Queen railed at the mirror.
“Spirit I demand you show me, show me!”
No light spiralled, no glittering shards sparkled, the glass was dead, the spirit departed, the magic flown.
As he lifted the great lid the petrified dwarfs could only watch, he had taken their ability to move, had made their muscles ignorant of the messages from their brains. In kindness he let them live, had they not delivered his heart’s desire. He leaned forward, took hold of her hand, ice cold and lifeless, he swept the hair from where it lay across the white throat and his great fangs pierced the virgin skin.
As her eyelids flickered and the small stains formed on her neck the princess smiled into the deep black eyes of her prince, he helped her from her resting place. She glanced around at the immobilised figures of her friends and spared one small tear for their generous spirits and then she ran with her beau out to the great black stallion where it pawed and fretted in the rain, eyes wild, great nostrils flaring. He leapt to the saddle pulling her up to sit before him.
“To the castle, to the castle and my stepmother.”
The night screamed its fury as lightning struck the tower, the glass shattered and the dark queen turned to face her destiny.