Red Riding Hood and the Tower of the Glass Coffin


Released on December 31, 2021



This was it.

After all this time and after so many encounters, I finally had what I needed.

If my information was correct, I would be one step closer to getting my revenge after this.

I hid in the shadows of the trees, close to the well-worn dirt path that my target would be riding through.

As I laid in wait, I suddenly thought back to what my grandmother had said to me, just before I began my journey for vengeance.

"Please," she had said, "stay with me, child. I know it's hard, but you can move on from this - you can start anew here!"

I shook my head, and said, "No, grandma, I can't. The queen needs to answer for what she did to my parents and the princess!"

My grandma sighed, and held my hand, "I can see that you won't change your mind."

I squeeze my grandmother's hand in return.

"Be careful, my child," she said, "The queen is very powerful."

"I will," I had said.

And then, I left.

Suddenly, my wolves brought me back to the present.

Through our connection, they told me that they had picked up the familiar scent of our target.

Quickly, I unsummoned them from the edge of the forest, and began to get ready.

And soon enough, I could hear the sound of galloping horses approaching.

I took out my spyglass, and used it to confirm my target - the prince was fast approaching, flanked by two of his guards.

"Three," I said to myself, as I counted the number of approaching riders, "Perfect."

I put away my spyglass.

Then, with my red riding hood billowing behind me, I stepped out onto the path, and prepared to strike.

This was going to have to be quick and true.

The trio approached, and we were now within eyesight of each other.

"Out of the way!" one of the guards yelled.

Without hesitation, I summoned my two wolves - one in front of the prince, and the other in front of the left guard.

Taken by surprised, the prince and the guard were quickly knocked off their horses by my wolves.

Quickly, I ran past the remaining guard and drew my rapier.

As the remaining guard desperately tried to halt his horse and turn around, I unsummoned the wolf that had been holding down the prince.

In my wolf's place, I thrust my rapier at the prince, barely stopping the blade before his throat.

"My prin-" the remaining guard had tried to yell.

But my resummoned wolf knocked him down as well.

And now, with my wolves growling and holding down the guards, I finally had my target, the prince, in my grasp.

However, before I could say anything, the prince looked at my face, and gasped, "It's you!"

I narrowed my eyes at the prince - I was not expecting him to talk first.

"And to think, you're Red Riding Hood!" the prince continued, "I've been looking for you, hoping that you'd still be alive! It's so good to see you-"

Angrily, I stopped him from saying my name, "Don't you dare say that name!"

The prince finally stopped talking.

"Your family robbed me of that name long ago," I said, "you don't get to say it now!"

I held my rapier closer to the prince's throat, threatening to pierce through it.

"W-Wait!" the prince yelled, "My sister is still alive!"

His words shocked me to my core.

Stunned, I could only say, "What?"

"My sister, Snow White!" he said, "She's still alive, at the Tower of the Glass Coffin!"

"Alive? At the Tower of the..." I repeated, confused. "That's impossible! Your mother framed me for poisoning the princess - with the apples that she had given me, no less!"

"The queen then had my parents executed for the princess's death!" I said, with anger and confusion beginning to take hold of me, "And I've been hunted ever since I barely escaped from the castle!"

"And now you're telling me that Princess Snow White is still alive?!" I yelled, as I thrust my rapier closer towards the prince's throat again.

The prince instinctively backed away from my rapier, but I moved forward to close the gap.

"Y-Yes," the prince said, stammering, "she's still alive! Please, just let me explain!"

"Then explain!" I yelled.

"A-After you escaped," the prince began, "a fairy-"

"A fairy?" I asked, "The small magical creatures with wings?"

"Yes," the prince said, "although this one was able to change her size as she wished."

"Alright, what about this fairy?" I said, keeping my rapier at the prince's throat.

The prince gulped nervously, before continuing, "Right, t-this fairy, she was a friend of one of the nobles, and she was staying in the city at the time. When word had spread about what had happened, she was brought to the castle, and she was able to use her magic to stop the poison from killing my sister."

"However," the prince said, "because the poison was magic in nature, the fairy's magic was only able to halt the poison's progress - the poison is still inside of my sister."

"In order to spare my sister from the pain, the fairy put her into a deep sleep," he continued, "And in order to keep her alive and healthy while we searched for an antidote, the fairy enchanted a glass case to protect her with - that's the Glass Coffin."

"To keep her safe, my father arranged for Snow White and the Glass Coffin to be kept at a guarded tower, in a secluded location," the prince said, "We were-"

I interrupted him, "If she really is still alive, then why tell everyone that she's dead?! Why were my parents executed for her death?!"

The prince looked at me nervously before answering, "Because my mother had convinced my father that it would be safer for my sister if everyone thought that she had died, and that you and your parents deserved to be executed for poisoning my sister."

I glared at the prince.

"I'm sorry," the prince said, "I didn't know what to believe back then, I didn't... I didn't understand what was happening, so I didn't help. I'm sorry."

I relented a little, and shook my head, "You were just a kid back then."

The prince nodded, "But now, I think I understand what's happening - and we need to hurry to the Tower, my sister is in danger!"

"Danger?" I asked.

"Yes," the prince said, "I believe that my mother is on her way there to kill my sister!"

"Come with us," he said, "we could use your help! Please-"

I glared at the prince before he could say my name.

"S-Sorry," the prince said, as he looked down at the blade by his throat, "um..."

I sighed, "Just Red is fine."

"Right, Red," the prince repeated, still shaken. "So, will you come with us?"

A silence grew between us, as I paused to think about all that he had said, while still keeping my rapier at the his throat.

Finally, I said, "I'll go with you, but only you."

I gestured my head at the two guards, "They stay behind."

Surprised, the prince said, "But, if I am right, and my mother is planning on-"

"I know," I said, interrupting him, "But, I still don't fully trust you or your guards. You alone would be easier to deal with, if it turns out that you're lying to me."

After some consideration, the prince nodded, "Alright, just you and me then."

I studied the prince, trying to find any sign of deceit.

Unable to find any, I reluctantly sheathed my sword.

As I held out my hand to the prince, I unsummoned my wolves.

"Thank you," the prince said, as I helped him up.

He turned to his two guards, "Well, you heard her."

"But, my prince!" one of the guards started to protest.

"It's alright," the prince said, holding up his hand, "She won't harm me. She's an old friend."

I scoffed at that.

Ignoring me, the prince continued, "Please, head back to town and wait for me there. And do not breathe a word of this to anyone - we don't want the queen to know."

One of the guards sighed, before saying, "I don't like this. Please be careful, my prince."

The prince nodded, "Of course. Thank you - the both of you."

Then, the prince and I took a horse each and rode off, leaving the two guards to travel back to town with the remaining horse.

***

"So, uh, what was the original plan?" the prince asked.

I looked over at him.

We had set up camp for the night, and had gathered around the campfire, as the forest around us began to be enveloped by darkness.

"The original plan?" I asked.

"For when you got hold of me," the prince said, "Were you going to... kill me?"

I laughed a little, "No, I was just going to hold you hostage, so that I could lure out the queen."

"I wanted to ask her why she had done all those things to me, to my family, and to the princess," I said, continuing. Then, my tone became dark, and maybe even tinged with a little bit of guilt, "And then... I was probably going to kill her afterwards, no matter what she said."

The fire crackled as an awkward silence grew between us.

"Well," the prince said, finally breaking the silence, "I'm glad that you weren't planning on killing me."

"I wasn't," I said, and then I turned to the prince, "But if you're lying to me abou-"

"I'm not lying," the prince said, sterner than I had ever seen him before, "I wouldn't. Not about her."

We glared at each other for a moment, before turning back to the fire.

"Alright," I said.

Moments passed before the prince struck up conversation again.

"So," he said, "the famous Red Riding Hood..."

"I'm not that famous," I said.

"You are!" the prince replied, with a laugh, "Or, at least, with certain crowds, you are. I've heard many a tale of you helping out people throughout the kingdom."

I scoffed, "I only helped them, so that I could get the information that I needed to plan my revenge."

The prince paused to think, before saying, "I don't think that's all there is to that."

"Maybe you did help some people to get more information," he said, "but if what I've heard is true, then you've also helped many people who couldn't have possibly been of any use to your quest."

Now it was my turn to pause, and all that I could think of to say in response was, "Think of it as you like."

The prince laughed, "You always were a bit too modest."

My face turned red with embarrassment.

I had nearly forgotten how charming the prince could be.

"You know," the prince said, his tone turning somber, "I'm still not sure that I understand or believe what happened."

He picked up a stick, and poked at the campfire with it, "I don't believe that you poisoned my sister. But, I also really don't want to believe that my mother did it either." I stared at the campfire, silently.

"Over the last few years," the prince said, "my father has been sending out his most trusted people everywhere in search for a cure for Snow White."

"But, my mother," he paused, before reluctantly continuing, "she began to devote more and more time and resources to researching fairy magic instead."

"As I grew more suspicious, I had my own scouts tail her," he said, "and they reported to me that she had been dealing with... some shadowy figures who dabbled in the darker magics."

"When I heard that she was travelling towards the Tower, I feared the worst and started to travel there as well."

The prince paused to poke at the campfire again.

He sighed, sadly, "I really hope that I'm wrong."

Not knowing what to say, I sat there, silently.

We watched as the fire burned and crackled.

"Did you love her?" the prince asked, "My sister, I mean."

"Of course I did," I said, "we all did."

"Yes, of course," he said, "but... you know what I mean."

I paused for a moment, before saying, "Yes, I did. And I still do - very much."

"And did she...?" the prince asked, trailing off.

I sighed, "I would like to think that she did, but I never got to find out."

"Well," the prince said, with sincerity in his voice, "I hope that you do get to find out, someday."

And as the fire continued burning in the night, I said, "Me too."

***

I dismounted from my horse, and walked towards the cliff's edge.

"There it is," the prince said, as he walked up next to me, "the Tower of the Glass Coffin."

And there, in the forest down below, was a tower that was hidden amongst the trees.

I summoned my wolves, and told them to sniff around.

Through our connection, my wolves warned me of a familiar scent.

Quickly, I unsummoned my wolves, and headed back towards my horse.

"Come, we must hurry!" I said to the prince, "The queen has already made her way through here!"

***

We had finally arrived at the Tower.

The first thing that we noticed were the unmoving guards on the ground.

After dismounting, the prince and I hurried over towards them.

"They're dead," the prince said, after checking on them, "Did my mother...?"

Noticing the prince's distress, I said, "Stay out here, I'll deal with whatever is inside."

The prince got up, and shook his head.

"No," he said, "This is something that I must do."

I looked at him, and saw his conviction for the task.

"Alright," I said, "but be careful."

The prince nodded, "You too."

We entered the Tower, and the prince quickly led us towards the chamber where the Glass Coffin had been placed.

As we neared the chamber, strange noises could be heard coming from inside.

We rushed in.

In the middle of the room was the Glass Coffin, and lying inside of it was Princess Snow White.

The sight of my beloved princess, after so long, stunned me for a moment.

However, I quickly snapped back to my senses - the queen was also here.

She loomed over the princess, as magic from her staff poured onto the closed Coffin and seeped inside, covering the princess in her spell.

"Mother!" the prince shouted.

The queen looked up. Surprised, she began to say, "My son, what are you-"

I drew my rapier and lunged forward, "Get away from her!"

The queen broke off whatever spell she had been casting on the princess, ending the sounds that we had heard from outside.

Quickly, she cast an another spell, and a shield of mana appeared before her.

My blade deflected off the shield and missed its mark.

The queen stepped back as her shield dissipated. Snarling at me, she said, "I don't know who you are, but this is a family matter!"

I pulled my hood down.

The queen stared at me for moment, before recognizing me.

"You!" she snarled, with hatred dripping from her voice.

We glared at each other, waiting to see who would make the first move.

The prince interjected, "Mother, please stop!"

The queen's face softened as she looked at her son, "You misunderstand, my child - I'm only here to cure the princess!"

"Then why isn't the Coffin opened?" the prince asked.

"Why isn't...?" the queen trailed off.

"The Coffin," the prince said, "the fairy said that it would only unseal itself for someone who brings what they truly believe is the cure."

"And yet," he pointed at the Coffin, "it's still closed!"

"W-Well," the queen stammered, "maybe the fairy did the seal wrong, or perhaps the-"

"Mother," the prince said, "I know about your research and dealings into darker magic."

For once, the queen was speechless.

"Did you poison her?" the prince asked.

The room was still.

Reluctantly, the queen answered, "Yes, I did. But, my son, you have to understand, I was do-"

Unable to contain my anger for any longer, I cried out, "How dare you?!"

I charged towards the queen, with my rapier ready to strike. By my side, my two wolves appeared, charging alongside me.

My grey wolf ran ahead and lunged at the queen.

Suddenly, a magical portal appeared in front of the queen, and my wolf fall into it.

The other end of the portal opened ahead of me.

I barely managed to dodge out of the way, as my wolf flew out of the portal at me.

My white wolf leapt at the queen.

She smirked as a bolt of magic shot out from the orb on the tip of her staff, blasting my wolf away.

I thrust my rapier forward, hoping that my wolves had distracted her enough.

But, with a wave of her hand, that damn shield appeared again, and deflected my blade away.

Without wasting a moment, she fired another magic bolt at me, sending me into the air.

I yelled in pain as I crashed into the ground.

The queen scoffed at me, "My magic was learned! It took me years of study and practice to hone and perfect!"

"Did you think that your petty wolf magic and your puny blade could defeat me?!" she yelled.

As I struggled up, I could see the mana gathering inside her orb, waiting to be unleashed.

I charged forward desperately, hoping to stop whatever spell she was casting.

"Now, die," she yelled, "in my Mirror World!"

Suddenly, mirrors appeared all around me, as the queen disappeared from view.

The room darkened as the mirrors blocked whatever light there was.

I managed to stop myself, just before I crashed into a mirror that appeared before me.

"Damn it!" I yelled.

I was now trapped inside a dimly lit dome of mirrors.

I looked around, only able to see reflections of me and my wolves.

Suddenly, a glowing bolt of magic came flying at me.

I jumped out of the way, but...

Nothing came past me - I had been tricked by a reflection!

My white wolf yelp in pain, as a magic bolt struck it.

Without warning, another bolt struck me in the back as well.

I yelled in pain as I was launched forward, crashing into a mirror.

I hit the ground as shards of mirror shattered around me.

Suddenly, more magic bolts were launched into the dome.

I dodged one of the bolts, only to watch as it bounced off a mirror.

The bolts bounced around in the dome, threatening to hit me and my wolves.

From the corner of my eye, I spotted a bolt that was flying towards me from above.

Barely managing to dodge it, I watched as the bolt hit the ground and finally dissipated.

Only to be struck by another bolt.

"Augh!" I yelled out in pain.

"Still alive?" the queen's smug voice echoed throughout the dome.

More magic bolts flew in.

However, this time, I saw it - I saw where the bolts were coming from.

Through our connection, I directed my wolves towards the bolts' origin, and we charged.

As we ran, the reflecting bolts threatened to strike us. But, by some combination of skill, timing, and luck, we miraculously managed to just barely dodge all of the bolts.

My wolves took the lead, crashing through the mirrors that were in our way.

Each shattered mirror was a step closer to the outside world - a step closer to where our prey was.

"W-What?!" the queen yelled, as the last mirror between us was shattered.

In quick succession, she managed to blast away my two wolves with her bolts.

Without any mana left to heal them, my wolves disappeared.

Now, it was just me, running down the tunnel that we had created.

The queen prepared to fire a bolt at me, and I had nowhere left to run.

But this wasn't just any bolt that she was preparing - unlike the quick ones that she had fired, she was taking the time to gather her mana.

This was to be her killing blow.

Either I would reach her in time, or she would kill me with that bolt.

I ran, as fast as I could, with my rapier ready to kill.

I saw the queen smirk, ready to fire.

I wouldn't be quick enough.

"Mother, no!"

Suddenly, the prince appeared.

He grabbed the staff and tried to wrest it away from his mother.

"No!" the queen yelled, as she tried to steady her staff.

As I made it out of the tunnel, the bolt fired from the orb.

It streaked past me, missing me by mere centimetres.

Without hesitation, I plunged my blade into the queen's chest.

The world became silent, as the three of us stared at the blade.

Suddenly, from behind, the mirrors shattered as they fell onto the floor.

The queen became weak, and she started to crumple to the ground.

Her son caught her before she hit the ground.

Gently, the prince laid his mother on the ground, holding her head with one hand, and her hand with his other.

"M-Mother," the prince managed to say, in between his tears.

"I...," the queen reached up, and weakly touched her son's face, "I did it for you."

"For me?" the prince asked, incredulous.

"Yes," the queen said, "so that you could become the next ruler, and not-"

"I never asked for this!" the prince yelled.

The queen's eyes widened.

Then, with a guilty realization, she said, "I've... I've done something horrible, haven't I?"

"You're right, my son," she said, "I didn't do it for you."

"I did it because I was envious," the queen said, "I was envious of her beauty, of how much she reminded my husband of his first wife."

"I hated how everyone would compare me to the first queen," she continued, "'If only she hadn't die of illness,' they would say, 'then we would have a better queen.'"

The queen coughed in pain, "And Snow White was a constant reminder of that."

"So I said to myself that you would make a better ruler," she said, as she stroked her son's cheek, "and that was my excuse."

"And then I did a horrible thing, and so many more after that."

The queen laughed bitterly, and blood came out of her mouth, "What a fool I've been."

"I even used a concoction to aggravate your father's distress," the queen said, with tears in her eyes, "so that I could control what was happening."

The prince gasped, "You did that to father?"

The queen nodded, "I'm afraid so."

"Mother..."

"I know," the queen said, "I am so sorry. I am so, very, very sorry."

"Please tell him that I'm sorry," she said, "and that I love him."

The prince nodded sadly, "I will, mother."

"And you...," the queen said, looking at me, "I am sorry, for what I did to you and your family."

I turned away, angry and resentful.

"I'm sorry, my son," the queen said, weakly, "know that I love you, forever and for always."

The prince could only cry as his mother died.

***

"I hereby declare that you and your family are not guilty of poisoning Princess Snow White," the king said, "and I fully exonerate you and your family."

"Thank you, my king," I said.

I bowed, now fully exonerated, in the same throne room where my family and I had been convicted.

The court around me applauded, as did the king and the prince.

"And as a reward for saving the kingdom from further manipulation," the king said, from his throne, "I would be delighted to make you a full-fledged knight, and welcome you back to the castle, Lady-"

"I'm sorry, Your Highness," I said, "but I must decline."

The court gasped.

"If you would," I said, "please allow me to explain to you in private."

The king nodded, and commanded the court to disperse.

When we were finally alone - with just the king, the prince, and me - I explained.

"I would like to continue travelling the land," I said, "so that I may find a cure for Princess Snow White."

The king hesitated, but the prince spoke up, "We couldn't possibly ask you to do more than you already have. You've suffered-"

"I want to do this," I said, "because I love her."

The prince and the king looked at each other.

The prince gave his father a nod.

The king nodded back, and turned to me, "Then we wish you luck and fortune on your travels. And know that you go as a knight of the kingdom, Lady-"

"Red Riding Hood," I said, before adding, "Your Highness."

The king and the prince looked at me, puzzled.

Conceding, the prince said, "Thank you, Lady Red, for taking on this mission. I hope that you will return soon, with a cure for my sister."

"As do I," the king said.

"Thank you, Your Highnesses," I said, giving them both a bow.

I walked out of the throne room, to prepare for my travels and to rest for the evening.

When morning came, I left the capital once again and took off on my journey, as my red riding hood billowed in the wind behind me.


---


Epilogue - My Sleeping Beauty


This was it.

After all this time and after so many adventures, I finally had the cure.

Or, at least, what I hoped was the cure.

The Coffin had opened for me, and I had administered the cure.

Now, all I could do was wait and see, and hoped that it worked.

I anxiously watched Snow White's barely-alive body, looking for any sign of movement or change.

Suddenly, a cough came out of her.

And slowly, the princess's eyes began to open.

Her hand reached up, and I grabbed it.

"Whe... Where am-"

I reached down and pulled her up into a hug.

"Ar-Are you alright?" she asked, "What happened?"

"You... You were sick, for a long time," I managed to say, as the tears welled up in my eyes, "and I missed you, so much."

I felt the princess's arms around me, as she returned my embrace.

"I missed you too," she said, "I love you..."

And then she said my name.



Commentary:
And with that, the Red Riding Hood Saga trilogy is finally over!
I hope that you enjoyed my trilogy mash-up of Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty.
Because there were so many changes to the fairy tales this time (indeed, this trilogy was more 'inspired by the fairy tales', rather than retelling them), it'd be easier to just list what hadn't been changed. So, here we go:
  • Jack and the Beanstalk - there was a boy named Jack, some magic beans, and the initial trading of the cow for the beans
  • Little Red Riding Hood - there was a red riding hood, a grandma, and wolves were involved (thought not in the same way, at all)
  • Snow White - there was a jealous queen who poisoned her stepdaughter with an apple (though she wasn't jealous for the exact same reasons), seven dwarfs, mirrors, and a glass coffin
  • Sleeping Beauty - there was a princess who was saved from death by a fairy, but only enough to fall into a deep sleep instead
Funny enough, when the idea came to me years ago, I had thought of doing this story as a full-length novel or as a video game, with a lot more fairy tales involved. Serendipitously, after I started the Retelling Myths series, I decided that this story would work very well with this format instead.
There might still be more stories set in this world, but we shall see...


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