Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood
Released on October 30, 2021
The campfire that I had made burned brightly, lighting up the dark of the forest night.
As I sat on the grass next to the fire, I pulled the red riding hood that I had on around me, trying to make myself more comfortable.
Feeling lonely, I concentrated and allowed the mana to flow through my body.
My two wolves, one grey and one white, appeared before me.
Reaching out, I gently rubbed my wolves' heads.
They seemed to enjoy it.
As they curled up next to me by the fire, I found myself remembering things from long ago.
And before I knew it, I was lost in my memories of the past.
~~~Many years ago, when I was younger - when I was 'Little Red Riding Hood', as some might say - I lived in a castle.
Not as a princess, or as a noble, or as anything of the sort.
Instead, I was merely a lady-in-waiting to my beloved Princess Snow White.
My father, a soldier, had saved the king's life on the battlefield. As a reward, my father was granted a knighthood, while I was given the honour of becoming the princess's court lady.
I still remember the day when we left our small village behind to move into the castle.
My grandmother, who lived in a small cottage in the forest just outside of the village, came to bid us farewell.
I hugged my grandmother, my head not even reaching her waist at the time.
"Now, you be good, dear," she said to me, "Learn what you can, and listen to your parents."
"Yes, grandma," I said, "but will you be okay all by yourself?"
The local woodcutter, a family friend, laughed and said, "Don't you worry, kid! I can take care of granny here while you're gone!"
"Oh, not you too," my grandmother said to the woodcutter, "I can take care of myself!"
"Besides," she continued, "You're still young. You might not want to be a woodcutter anymore after a while. I wouldn't want to be the one to hold you back if that happens."
The woodcutter laughed: "Me, not a woodcutter? I can't imagine that!"
Funny enough, grandma would turn out to be right.
"Come now, my dear," my mother said to me, placing her hand on my shoulder, "we have to start on our journey soon - finish saying goodbye to your grandma."
I nodded, and squeezed my grandmother again, "Bye, grandma."
In response, my grandmother gave me a gentle pat on my head.
Finally letting go, I walked over to my parents, who had been getting the wagon ready.
With one final goodbye, my family bid farewell to my grandmother and the village where I born, and we began our journey to the royal castle.
***Princess Snow White was a kind and beautiful person.
To me, she was as pure as the white snow that she was named after.
We had met when we were both little children.
And although I was her lady-in-waiting, the two of us grew to become quite close over the years.
That's not to say that we never fought or that we never got angry with each other.
But, she was my beloved princess, and I would like to think that I was hers.
As I grew up, in addition to being the princess's lady-in-waiting, I had decided that I wanted to take sword fighting lessons as well - I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a part of the princess's personal guard or not, but I decided that I would like to have the option, at least.
And so, I trained with Caliburn of the Band of Seven.
The Band of Seven were seven dwarfs who served as the princess's personal guard.
When the princess was very young, even younger than when I had met her, she and her mother's convoy had been attacked during their journey.
These seven dwarfs arrived, and helped fend off the attackers - saving the young princess and the previous queen from the would-be abductors.
The seven were rewarded with knighthoods and positions as the princess's personal guard by the king, and their efforts over the years would earn them the name, the Band of Seven.
When I had approached them about training, it was Caliburn who took me in as her student. Later, when she felt that I had earned it, she would gift me with my rapier.
Those years that I had spent with my beloved Snow White were the happiest years of my life, and I will never forget her.
However, that would all come to an abrupt end, when Snow White died.
***Snow White's mother, the previous queen, had died of an illness many years ago.
The king would soon remarry, and the new queen would give birth to a son.
Over the years that I had known her, while we weren't the closest of friends, the new queen had always treated me... without contempt, at the very least.
We got along well enough, as a queen and a lady-in-waiting to her stepdaughter would - nothing more, and nothing less.
Her son, the prince, was quite close with his half-sister, Snow White, and I could see nothing but love between them.
Towards me, the prince was quite friendly as well. He was growing up to be quite charming.
Which is why, I didn't suspect a thing when the queen gave me a basket of apples to take to Snow White.
"I just had these freshly picked," the queen had said to me, gesturing to a basket of apples on the table, "See that my stepdaughter gets a basket."
"Yes, Your Highness," I had said, as I dutifully picked up the basket.
I walked through the halls of the castle, and made my way to the princess's room.
"Princess," I said, as I entered the room, "the queen asked me to bring you these freshly picked apples."
"Ah, excellent!" Snow White said, as she looked up from her book. Giving me a smile, she said, "Why don't we enjoy these with some tea then?"
"That would be lovely," I said, "I will hurry back with the tea."
Snow White giggled and gave me another smile.
I left the room, not knowing that that would be the last smile that she would give me.
A short while later, I would reenter that room, and be greeted by a horrifying sight.
Snow White had collapsed on the floor, a bitten apple not far from her.
Stunned, I yelled out, "Princess!"
In my shock, I dropped the tray of tea and cups that I had been carrying, and I rushed over to her.
She was barely breathing, and her face had contorted into an expression of pain.
"Help!" I yelled, "Something's happened to the princess!"
***Snow White had been taken away, to be seen to by the doctors.
For hours, I waited for word on her condition.
Finally, my family and I were summoned into the throne room.
Strangely, the Band of Seven escorted us.
Even more unusual, as we entered the throne room, I began to notice that there was an abnormal amount of soldiers stationed there.
As the doors to the throne room closed, some of the soldiers moved in front of them, blocking the exit.
Ignoring all that, I rushed up to the king and queen, who were seated on their thrones.
"Please, Your Highnesses," I said, "what happened to Princess Snow White? Is she alright?!"
"Silence!" the queen shouted, "As if you don't already know."
I froze in place, "I-I beg your pardon, Your Highness?"
The queen made a motion, and one of the doctors stepped forward.
"Repeat what you told us," the queen said to the doctor.
"Y-Yes, Your Highness," the doctor said, nervously, "Princess Snow White has been poisoned, and she is in a dire condition. We were able to trace the poison back to an apple that she had eaten."
"Poisoned?" I said, "From the apple?"
"Yes," the queen said, pointing her finger at me, "Apples that I had given directly to you!"
There was an audible gasp throughout the courtroom.
By the queen's side, I could see that the prince had a horrified look on his face.
On the queen's other side, the king was in a state of distress.
Around the room, the soldiers and the court cast suspicious looks at me. Even the Band of Seven seemed to look at me with disgust.
"W-Wait!" I yelled out, "I didn't do anything to those apples, I swear!"
The queen looked at me angrily, "Then are you saying that I poisoned my own stepdaughter?!"
"N-No!" I tried to say, "Wait, Your Hi-"
"Arrest them!" the queen yelled, "They are to be interrogated and executed!"
"Wait!" my father shouted out, "Please, my queen, my king! Let there be an investigation first! Place us under arrest, but, I beg of you, don't execute us without having an investigation conducted first!"
The king looked at us.
He raised his hand, about to say something.
But, the queen stepped in.
"My love," she said to the king, "Princess Snow White is in a dire condition, we don't have time for an investigation - we must interrogate them now, so that we may learn of the poison's nature, and save our daughter!"
The king, seemingly overcome with distress, put his hand down, and simply said, "Do as the queen said."
The Band of Seven drew their weapons and closed in on us.
All seven of them - Gram, Durandal, Joyeuse, Ascalon, Dainsleif, Galatine, and even Caliburn - seemed to have no hesitation in doing this, despite our many years of friendship.
"Please," Caliburn said, "don't make this difficult."
"Mentor, please!" I said to her, "I am innocent!"
"We'll see about that!" Gram said, anger in his voice.
My father drew his sword, "Let us go! My daughter is innocent!"
Seeing that, I drew my rapier as well.
My mother could do nothing but try to hide between us.
"You see?" the queen yelled, from her throne, "Their resistance is proof of their guilt!"
"No!" my father yelled, "We are only ask for a fair investigation into this, before you execute us!"
"Get them!" the queen yelled. She pointed her finger at me again, "She poisoned the princess!"
Thoughts raced through my panicking mind, 'Why is she saying this?!'
'I would never hurt Snow White! Never!'
'Could it be... that the queen...?!'
Suddenly, I could feel my anger surging throughout my body.
But it was more than just that, there was a new sensation there too.
"I did not!" I yelled.
And with that, a grey wolf and a white wolf suddenly appeared from out of thin air, landing beside me.
That was the first time that my magic had manifested itself.
Before I could understand what was going on, the wolves angrily charged at the queen.
"You dare make an attempt on my life?!" the queen yelled.
A staff appeared in the queen's hand - this was her magic, rumoured to be one of the most powerful in the land.
With ease, the queen unleashed her magic bolts from the orb at the tip of her staff, blasting my wolves away.
"Run!" I heard my father yell.
Taking advantage of the wolves' sudden appearance, he had managed to fight off the guards, and had gotten the doors opened.
I looked back at the wolves - they had begun to disappear.
Quickly, I grabbed my mother's hand, and we ran out the door.
As we were about to leave, Ascalon swung his sword at my father.
My father was barely able to parry the sword away.
"Pa!" I yelled, about to rush back into the throne room.
But my mother pushed me away.
"Run!" she yelled.
Before I could stop her, she ran back into the throne room, and shoved Ascalon away with all of her might.
I wanted to rush back in, but the soldiers started to obscure my parents from my vision.
"Run!" I could hear my parents yelling to me again.
Seeing no other choice, I ran away as the soldiers started to pour out of the throne room.
***I had somehow managed to escape from the castle.
My knowledge of the castle's layout and secrets certainly helped, as did my new wolves.
However, I did find myself having trouble with controlling my new magic.
It was a hard-won escape.
But, now I was risking it all, by being so close to the royal family and their guards again.
I had no choice - it was the day of my father and my mother's execution.
In the middle of the city where the castle had stood on the side of, many had gathered in front of the execution stage. I had hidden amongst the crowd, using a red riding hood that I had hesitantly, but desperately, stolen off an unattended horse to hide my face.
In the middle of the stage, battered and beaten, were my parents.
A small gasp escaped me when I saw their condition.
The queen walked up to the stage, leaving the distraught king and the uneasy prince behind.
"My citizens," the queen said, "as you know, our dear Princess Snow White was poisoned by the daughter of these traitors!"
As the murmurs spread throughout the crowd, I gripped the hilt of my rapier tightly, trying to control myself so that my wolves wouldn't appear.
"I am sad to report," the queen continued, "that Princess Snow White... has died."
Upon hearing that, my heart broke.
Tears began to stream down my face, and I desperately tried to conceal myself.
The queen continued speaking, but I couldn't hear the words.
All I could think about, was how my beloved-
"Execute them!" the queen yelled.
And before I knew it, the queen had given the order.
I reached again for my rapier and prepared to summon my wolves, so that we could charge the stage.
Then, I saw my father locking his eyes with mine.
He shook his head.
And then the blades fell upon the necks of my parents.
The crowd cheered.
But I could only stand there, unable to move.
***They were hunting for me now.
I had to leave the city.
The night that my parents had been executed, I managed to sneak my way past the guards, and exited the city.
Before I left, I looked back at the castle one more time.
I had spent most of my childhood there, close to the ones that I had loved.
And now, barely an adult, I had been cast out of that castle, with my loved ones dead.
***I had managed to make my way back to the village where I was born.
I walked into the forest beside it, hoping to make my way to my grandmother.
If anyone could teach me how to control my newfound magic, it would be her.
Suddenly, a creature leaped out of the tree at me.
Jumping back, I barely managed to escape its grasp.
My hand flew to my rapier.
The creature growled at me - it was an abnormally huge wolf.
Seeing this, my hand released my rapier, and I held up both of my hands, "Wait! It's me, grandma!"
The wolf slowly approached me, baring its teeth.
"M-My, what big teeth you have...," I said, as the wolf sniffed me, "Please don't eat me, grandma!"
The wolf moved away from me a little, and began to shrink.
I breathed a sigh of relief, as the large wolf transformed back into my grandmother.
"Oh, child, it is you!" she said, "I'm so sorry, it's been so long that I can hardly recognize you!"
I reached over, and gave my grandmother a hug.
"My, you have grown," she said, "I was afraid that you were one of those soldiers, coming to arrest and execute me too."
I pulled back, "You heard about what happened to ma and pa?"
She nodded, sadly.
Before I could say anything more, my grandmother gestured down the road and said, "Come now, dear. We can discuss more in my cottage, after I get some clothes on."
***Over the next few months, I stayed with my grandmother.
She nursed me back to full health, and trained me in the use of my magic.
I practised over and over again, until I could summon and unsummon my wolves at will - until I had a perfect connection with them.
When I was ready, I headed out into the world again, armed with my rapier, my wolves, and my red riding hood.
I gave up my name, to avoid my hunters.
But, along the way, the people that I had encountered gave me a new appellation - Red Riding Hood, for the garment that had been with me since I had escaped and was forced out of my previous life.
To this day, I still don't know why the queen did what she did.
But, no matter the reason, I will get my revenge on her, for what she did to my beloved Snow White and to my beloved family.
~~~I patted my wolves' heads again.
They looked up at me, as if knowing that our time was up.
Then, as the last of my mana was exhausted, my wolves disappeared.
I stared at the fire, alone again.
I held my rapier close to the prince's throat, threatening to pierce through it.
This was it - soon, I would be another step closer to getting revenge on the queen.
"W-Wait!" the prince yelled, "My sister is still alive!"
Stunned, I could only say, "What?"
"My sister, Snow White!" he said, "She's still alive, at the Tower of the Glass Coffin!"
The second part of the Red Riding Hood Saga, and we're getting into Red's backstory this time - which is a retelling/reinterpretation/mash-up/what-have-you of Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood!
A fun tidbit - the Band of Seven are all named after famous swords!
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