|The Princess, the Apple, and the Sacred Tree
Author: punkfarie PM
An evil queen's jealously forces a beautiful princess to flee for her life. ***Best Villain - Twisted Twilight Tales Contest***Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Romance - Bella & Edward - Words: 7,172 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 37 - Follows: 5 - Published: 01-31-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6704784
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Twisted Twilight Tales" O/S Contest
*Winner – Twirling Moustache Award (Best Villain)*
Fairy Tale Chosen: Snow White
Title: The Princess, the Apple, and the Sacred Tree
Word Count: 6,910
Summary: An evil queen's jealously forces a beautiful princess to flee for her life.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N - thank you to the judges/hosts of the Twisted Twilight Tales Contest, katiecav and mcgt, for hosting and for choosing this for Best Villain. Thank you to oscar519 for beta'ing this mess. (i'm pretty sure she thinks i'm an idiot, now lol) and thank you to MissSnazzy for making me finish this. =D
Once upon a time, in a small village set deep in the woods, there lived a beautiful maiden named Renee. She was very kindhearted, always smiling and willing to lend a helping hand.
One day, Prince Charles was out surveying his lands and discovered Renee assisting a neighbor on his farm. Even though she was covered in mud and her clothes were ragged, Prince Charles was stuck by her beauty and fell in love instantly.
They married quickly. Though she was a commoner, she easily won over the King and Queen. They only wanted their son to be happy. As a Princess, she was adored by her subjects, who welcomed her as their future Queen.
In many ways, Renee's life was perfect, but the one thing she longed for was a child. She wanted to give Charles and her kingdom a proper heir. Unfortunately, she suffered many miscarriages and mourned the loss of each one very deeply.
Finally, when the King fell ill, she knew she had to produce a child. Renee went out into the woods behind the castle to what was known as the Sacred Tree. The local legend was if you promised a gift, the spirit in the tree would give you anything you wished.
Renee knelt before the tree, drew a knife and made a deep cut in her forearm. As the blood dripped onto the roots of the tree she began to beg. "You can have anything you wish, please just give me a child." She sat there in silence for many hours, praying to the tree.
She realized her husband would be looking for her and made her way back to her castle, feeling dejected. What Renee did not know was that the tree had taken her blood as a promise.
By the next full moon Renee was pregnant. She and Prince Charles were overjoyed and when it lasted longer than all her previous pregnancies they threw a gigantic ball, inviting all the local townspeople—from noblemen to commoners.
On one dangerously cold winter's night, Renee went into labor. Close to the end, she lost consciousness. She dreamt she was back in front of the Sacred Tree and that it was speaking to her.
"The time has come to pay your debt for your wish," it said to her.
"My debt? But I shed my blood for you."
"The blood was just a portion of the price you must pay. A life for a life, my Queen."
"But my child! It needs a mother!" she cried.
"Your child is a gift to this world from ancient spirits. You have my solemn oath that it will always be protected." Renee believed the spirit of the Sacred Tree would watch over her child and she gracefully gave up her life as her daughter took her first breath.
When Prince Charles learned of his beloved wife's death, he locked himself in his room for three days. He too was visited by the spirit, which reminded him that part of his wife lived on in his daughter and that she must be cared for.
Prince Charles hurried to the nursery, scooped the swaddled baby up in his arms and finally gave her a name. "Isabella, a name fit for a Princess."
Isabella, or Bella, as her nurses liked to call her, was a much loved little Princess. Although her father spoiled her, she did not have the bad temper of some royal children. She was polite, shy and quite sweet – more willing to spend time with her father or helping the servants. She was very much like Renee in that respect and King Charles allowed it even though his advisors did not think a Princess should behave in such a manner.
The King's advisors felt that Bella needed a mother figure. They talked the King into marrying a young, vain noblewoman, named Victoria. She was a very selfish person and more concerned about her title of Queen than being a mother to Bella.
Victoria did not like the tiny Princess. She did not like children in general, but she was also jealous of all the attention the King lavished on Bella. She knew that the King only married her because he was told to for the sake of his daughter. Still Victoria was careful to hide her hostility towards Bella.
Even as a small child, Bella knew Victoria despised her. The more beautiful Bella grew to be, the more Victoria's jealously became obvious to those around her. The servants and other inhabitants of the castle took special care to keep Princess Bella safe and away from Victoria.
As Bella matured into a young woman, many people commented that Bella was even more breathtaking than her mother had been. She had flawless porcelain skin, the color of the snow the night she was born. Dark brown hair and eyes, the color of the Sacred Tree's bark, and red lips, the color of the blood her mother shed for her. This, along with the fact that she had been unable to produce a child, was very unsettling to Victoria. She knew something must be done or the King would send her away, which was often done to royal women that could not have children.
What no one knew but seriously suspected, was that Victoria was a practiced witch. Though she was unsuccessful at harming Bella for reasons she did not understand, she had been able to sway some political decisions her way. She also used her black magick to keep herself looking youthful.
Victoria decided to use magick to secure her future as Queen. In a secret room behind her Chambers, Victoria and her consort, James, plotted for the King to be struck down. Their plan worked—during the King's next hunting trip, he was killed by a wild boar.
The tragedy shook the whole kingdom. The King had been loved by all and many blamed Victoria and feared for Bella. Rumors spread far and wide that Bella would be the next to die.
But Victoria was smart. She knew getting rid of Bella so soon after the King's death would be highly suspicious.
She allowed Bella to live and remain in the castle, often surprising her with outlandish gifts. Bella was not fooled. She was very intelligent. The King had made sure his daughter was highly educated by the best. Bella knew her life was in danger. She was very cautious around Victoria and made sure to never go anywhere unescorted or to eat any food she had not personally seen prepared.
Victoria's patience ran out when Bella turned sixteen. She threw her a ball and was enraged when all the men paid more attention to Bella. When James ignored Victoria's invitation to her bed and instead spent the night flirting with Princess Bella, Victoria knew she must kill her.
"Why do you ignore me and watch Princess Bella, James?" Victoria hissed at her lover.
"Because, my Queen, your age is beginning to show. Princess Bella is by far the most beautiful girl in the kingdom. Any man would be extremely lucky to get his hands on her." His words sent Victoria into such a violent rage that she ripped out both of James's eyes with her bare hands.
"I am more beautiful than anyone!" she shrieked as James lay bleeding to death on her chamber floor. Victoria no longer cared if the whole world blamed her for Bella's death. She was Victoria. She could do as she wished.
Victoria rounded up several of her most trusted knights and went to the King's old friend and best huntsman, Carlisle. She banged on his door until he awoke. "Y-Your Majesty," Carlisle stammered as he bowed more out of fear than respect. He had never liked Victoria and had begged Charles not to marry her.
"I have a job for you." She barged in with several knights following her. Carlisle had not seen her men before and a chill crept down his spine. He noticed that Victoria was covered in blood and much disheveled.
"My Queen, it's the middle of the night. Was there an attack? Is Bella safe?" He loved Princess Bella very much, for she often played with his own daughter as a child.
"I am your ruler and you ask about that little twit first!" The rage in her voice made Carlisle back away until he almost fell against a chair. He was afraid for his life and the lives of his family.
"M-My Queen, you are s-standing in front me. I can s-see that you are alive and well."
"I have no patience for you. Bella is the reason I am here. I want you to kill her. I want you to take her deep into the woods, cut out her heart and bring it to me." She was so calm as she explained his task that Carlisle thought he must have been looking into the face of pure evil.
"I will not kill Bella!" he cried, forgetting his place. Victoria rushed forward, grabbed him by his hair, and twisted his head back.
"You will do as I command or I will have my men kill your entire family as you watch." He hesitated and Victoria waved her hand towards her knights. They entered the bedroom and dragged out the huntsman's wife, Esme. They tossed her on the ground and kicked her.
"Stop! Stop, stop. I'll do it. I'll do what you ask. Please don't hurt her." Carlisle was very distressed, and Victoria did not believe him.
"Take the girl," she instructed a knight and he went into the other bedroom and brought out the huntsman's daughter, Alice. She had been spying through a crack in the door and understood what was going on. She too, hated Victoria. Being friends with Princess Bella, she had warned Bella many times that Victoria was going to harm her.
"Don't do this Father! I would gladly die for my friend," she said defiantly.
"Alice, no!" Carlisle's tearful eyes met Victoria's. "I will kill Princess Bella. Please do not harm my family." She released him with a push and he stumbled to the floor.
"Very good. Bella's heart for your daughter's life. You have until tomorrow night." With a swirl of her cloak, she was out the door, her knights carrying Alice away before she could give a proper goodbye.
While Alice was taken to the Castle, Carlisle planned out what he must do. Esme did nothing to stop him. As much as she loved Bella, she was not willing to give up her daughter's life.
The next day, while the morning was still foggy, a servant went to fetch Bella. She dressed quickly thinking something had happened to Alice. Why else would Carlisle send for her so early in the morning? She ran down to his cottage, where he was waiting for her outside.
When Bella wrapped her arms around him for a hug, she noticed his bloodshot eyes and cold demeanor. "Bella, my dear, Alice is missing. She went into the woods yesterday and never came back." There was something in his voice that made her hair stand on end. She ignored it, thinking he was just upset about Alice having gone missing. "Will you help me look for her?"
"Yes! Of course I will." Quickly, they mounted Carlisle's horses and set out into the words. Bella could not shake the feeling that something terrible was going to happen. She hoped nothing had happened to her friend.
Deeper and deeper they rode into the woods. Carlisle pretended to search for his daughter while Princess Bella called out Alice's name. He led her into the darkest part of the forest, not far from the Sacred Tree. It was here where he would kill Bella and cut out her heart. This part of the forest was considered haunted and very few people traveled this far.
"Carlisle, I don't think Alice would have gone this far into the forest." Princess Bella said as she glanced around. While her back was turned, Carlisle reached out and grabbed her cloak. She fell to the forest floor, and saw her father's best friend standing over her with a knife in his hand.
"I am sorry, Bella," he said. "If I don't cut out your heart and take it to Victoria, she will kill Alice." Princess Bella saw tears streaming down his cheeks. She did not wish to die, but she also did not want Carlisleto lose his only child.
"Please, take my life so that Victoria may spare Alice. Do not feel sorry for me, for I will be with my family in the afterlife." Princess Bella removed her cloak and laid on the ground. Carlisle could not believe that she would be so willing to die for her friend.
He raised the knife to strike, but hesitated for a brief second. In the corner of his eye, he saw a young doe. She was hobbling along; her leg seemed to be broken.
Take the doe's heart instead. Victoria will not know the difference, a voice whispered in his ear. The doe will not survive with a broken leg. Carlisle knew what he should do.
"Run, Bella. Run far away from the kingdom and never come back," he told Princess Bella as he dropped the knife to his side.
"But Alice—" she protested.
"I have a plan, but you must leave now." Princess Bella gathered her cloak and took off running. She ran into the dark forest, far past the Sacred Tree.
The path became dark and the trees were leafless and gnarled. They almost seemed to jump out at her. The branches scratched her face and her arms.
Princess Bella would not stop though. Her legs ached and her lungs burned but she knew she wouldn't be safe until she was outside Victoria's lands.
After many hours of running, Princess Bella stumbled over a root and fell down a hill. She crashed into a fallen tree and was unable to move for several minutes. She was very tired and sore. Tears started forming as she thought about all her friends and family she would never see again. She hoped Alice was safe and that Carlisle and his family would be able to escape from Victoria. Exhausted, Princess Bella curled up closer to the tree, drew her cloak around her and she cried herself to sleep.
Back in the kingdom, Victoria waited for the Huntsman. Alice was sitting next to her, unharmed but scared. Time was running out for poor Alice. Her father had still not returned and the light was leaving the sky.
Alice hoped that her father had not actually harmed Bella. She would never forgive him for hurting her friend.
Victoria watched the setting sun with a twisted smile on her face. She was truly evil. The servants were already questioning where Princess Bella was. She wondered if she could just have them all murdered and tell her kingdom that they plotted against her to overthrow the throne. She believed the people were stupid enough to fall for it.
Just as the last bit of sun disappeared from her sight, she saw a horse galloping toward the castle. Victoria's smile grew even larger. Carlisle was returning, Princess Bella must certainly be dead.
"Just in time, sweet Alice." Victoria said.
Alice did not know whether to be relieved or terrified. Surely her life was now safe, but what of her friend? She couldn't believe her father could actually cut out the heart of Princess Bella.
Carlisle walked into the chamber covered in blood. He was carrying a dripping blanket. Alice's heart sank and she began to cry. Victoria, however, clapped her hands excitedly.
"Your Majesty." Carlisle muttered. He bowed as he handed over the blanket. He was shaking but no one noticed. Victoria grasped the bundle and let out a shrill laugh. Quickly she unwrapped the blanket and inside laid a heart, unmoving and gory.
Carlisle, watched Victoria study the heart, looking over every inch of it. He hoped that she did not know the difference between and animal's heart and a human's heart. He saw his daughter weeping in the corner. He wished he could console her but did not dare to do anything that would cause Victoria to be suspicious.
"This is Bella's heart?" Victoria asked.
"Yes, my Queen." Carlisle was prepared. He practiced his lie over and over as he killed the deer and on his trip back to the castle. "I tricked her into following me deep into the forest. I killed her while her back was turned. She was dead before she understood what was happening. I took her heart and buried her."
"How do I know this is Princess Bella's heart?" Victoria was stroking the heart with her bare hand and Carlisle was so disgusted, he had to look away. "You could be lying to me."
Again, he was prepared. After Princess Bella had run into the woods, he noticed a trinket she always had tied to her dresses had fallen on the ground. It was a lucky talisman that had been her mother's. Princess Bella was never seen without it.
"I have this." He handed the trinket to Victoria. "Your men also saw me leave with her this morning. I returned with two horses and no princess." Victoria did not respond. She was still fixated on the heart. "Please, your Majesty. I have done what you asked, let me have my daughter."
"Very well. You may go. You are to never speak of this to anyone, Carlisle. You are to properly mourn for Princess Bella in public. There will be many questions. You are not to answer any of them. You last saw Bella at her birthday ball. If I suspect that you told anyone, I will have your entire family gutted and hanged from my balcony for all to see. Do you understand?" Alice and her Father both quickly agreed. Victoria had her servants escort them back to their house.
"Father how could you!" Alice screamed as soon as they were alone. "She was my friend!"
"Alice." Carlisle grabbed his daughter and whispered in her ear. "Bella is alive. You must never tell anyone, not even your mother. As soon as Victoria is distracted, I'm sending you away. Bella can never come back here and neither can you."
"But Father-." Alice began to protest.
"Do not argue. You will leave and you will live a long, happy life in another kingdom." The young girl did not like this idea, but knew she could not change her father's mind.
Princess Bella was still sleeping when seven wolves found her hidden in the bushes the following morning. They sat and stared, curious as to why such a pretty young girl would be sleeping so deep in the woods.
These were not ordinary wolves. They were magical men, able to transform into wolves to protect their lands. They were able to communicate silently with each other in their wolf form, and they were very worried for the girl.
The leader of the pack, Jacob, went forward and nudged Princess Bella with his nose. She stirred but did not wake. He knew she was alive and could not smell any blood. He whined and nudged her again. She woke up with a gasp.
When Princess Bella awoke surrounded by seven very large wolves, she screamed and scrambled backward to try and get away. The wolves realized how terrifying they must appear to the girl and the knelt to the ground while their leader transformed into a man, wearing a simple robe.
Princess Bella watched, confused and still very frightened. She thought she must have been dreaming. The man smiled down at her and extended a hand to help her to her feet. She made no move to take it.
"I am sorry we scared you. We were out patrolling our borders and found you. Are you hurt? Lost?" Princess Bella did not respond. The man dropped to his knees to seem less intimidating. "We won't hurt you. It's our job to protect people."
He held out his hand again. This time Princess Bella took it and he helped her up. "I'm Jacob. These are my brothers." He gestured to the wolves around him and they all bowed their heads in greeting.
"M-my name is Bella." Princess Bella said shyly.
"Are you hurt? Are you able to walk?" Jacob asked.
"We live just a short walk from here. We can give you something to eat and a warmer cloak." Princess Bella hesitated. Normally she wouldn't go anywhere with seven strange men that could apparently turn into wolves, but she was very cold and hungry. A voice inside her head told her that she was safe with them. She gave a small nod.
Jacob's smile grew wide and he held out his arm for Princess Bella to take. The other wolves crowded around them and maintained a circle as they walked, while Jacob chatted happily with Princess Bella. Soon they came to a hilltop where there was a cluster of small cottages.
"This is our village. It's not much, but all the surrounding land is ours," Jacob said proudly. As he escorted Princess Bella into the largest cottage, the rest of the wolves also transformed into men. In the cottage there were three women in the kitchen cooking. As soon as the men explained how and where they had found Princess Bella, they quickly set about fixing her some food, wrapping blankets around her, and boiling water for her feet.
It wasn't until the plate of food was in front of her that Princess Bella realized just how hungry she really was. She hadn't eaten since before Carlisle sent for her. She dove into the food without caring that she wasn't using proper manners.
The men and women waited patiently for her to finish. As soon as she swallowed the last bite, she was bombarded with questions.
"Leave her be!" The oldest woman, who had introduced herself as Sue, yelled. "Bella, my dear, this is my home and you are welcome to stay here as long as you wish. It's not safe for a young girl past our borders."
"Thank you." Princess Bella was very grateful she did not have to spend another night in the woods. "May I ask….why do you turn into wolves?"
The men quickly launched into the history of their people. The Princess learned that they were the sworn protectors of the land, and that the ability to transform into a wolf was passed from father to son.
"Most of the forest is magical. There are ancient powers here that we must keep safe. The Sacred Tree is one of those things. Have you ever heard of it?" Jacob asked.
"Oh yes!" Princess Bella said, excitedly. "My father told me many stories of the Sacred Tree. He said it spoke to him in a dream once."
"We used to allow people to come and go freely to the Tree, because the spirit within the tree requires you to make a sacrifice but lately someone has been trying to steal it's magick. We've had to patrol our border more often, which is how we found you."
"Who would want to steal the Tree's magick?" Princess Bella asked. The pack exchanged such dark looks that it gave Princess Bella a chill.
"The redheaded witch. The one they call Victoria in the kingdom." Sue answered. Princess Bella felt her stomach twist into a knot. "She has been trying to take it's power for herself. We aren't quite sure how she's doing it but we can feel it. Our people are connected to the magick. If she succeeds in capturing the Tree's power our people will die."
Jacob reached out and squeezed Sue's hand. Princess Bella wondered if she should tell them that the redheaded witch was her stepmother. They seemed to have a common enemy and they might protect her if Victoria found out she was still alive.
But when she was asked again to share her story, she said her family had been killed and she simply got lost in the woods. The less they knew about her being Princess Bella, the better.
The pack introduced her to the others in the tiny village and soon she was like a part of the family. Sue was the village healer and after a few months, began to teach Princess Bella. She had a natural talent for it.
Though Princess Bella missed her friends and family, she felt happy and safe. She was gaining new friends that she loved, and she grew very close to the seven men that found her. They treated her like a little sister, often spoiling her. The Princess even spent time with them when they were in wolf form.
More than a year passed, while Princess Bella lived a peaceful life in the village, the people of kingdom lived under terror.
Victoria made an announcement saying Princess Bella had abdicated and gone off to live with family. Most people assumed she had murdered Princess Bella, as she had murdered the King. Victoria was a cruel leader. She had people hanged for minor offenses, usually without a proper trial.
Alice had managed to escape the kingdom, but when the Queen discovered her gone, she punished Carlisle and his wife by evicting them from their cottage and making them live and work as her servants. She tortured them often.
She took many consorts and mocked the King's memory by allowing them to sit alongside her on the King's throne. Her magick grew stronger as she drew power from the Sacred places deep in the woods. The Queen no longer practiced her magick in the secret rooms of the castle but out in the open.
Her vanity increased over the course of the year. She had acquired a magical mirror that was able to answer any question she asked of it. But the only question she ever asked was, "Who is the fairest of them all?" She always expected to see her own reflection but the mirror never pictured the Queen. The many young women the mirror thought to be more beautiful than the Queen mysteriously disappeared or met strange deaths. Everyone suspected her and families took to sending their daughters away.
One day, Victoria picked up the mirror, again expecting to see her face. This time what she saw threw her into such a rage that the whole castle heard her scream.
It showed Bella, alive and well, running through a field surrounded by seven hulking wolves. She slammed open her chamber door, startling the maids.
"Carlisle! Bring him to me now!" she screeched. knights immediately went in search of the Huntsman. One maid managed to slip away unnoticed and was able to warn him, and he knew that the Queen must have discovered his lie. Before the knights dragged him away he kissed his wife and begged her to hide.
"Go to Alice. Victoria cannot reach you there. Do not wait for me. I love you." The Huntsman's wife dropped everything and did as she was told. She ran away from the castle crying, knowing she would never see her husband alive again.
The knights dropped Carlisle at Victoria's feet. "Carlisle, do you remember the day you brought me the heart?"
"Yes, your Majesty." Carlisle whispered.
"And do you remember swearing to me that the heart was Bella's?"
"Yes, your Majesty." Carlisle hung his head in shame.
"Let us see what really happened that day." Victoria picked up her enchanted mirror. "Mirror, Mirror. Show me Carlisle's betrayal." The scene played out on the mirror. Carlisle letting Princess Bella go, while he killed the doe and practiced his lie to Victoria.
She moved fast and slit his throat, ear to ear. He was dead before he could say or do anything to defend himself. Victoria watched Princess Bella in the mirror as she devised a plan. Princess Bella must be killed. If she was discovered, Victoria would be hanged for her crimes.
Jealously roared to life deep inside her. It seemed Princess Bella had grown even more beautiful. Victoria watched Princess Bella throughout the day. When the young girl grabbed an apple off a tree and took a bite- Victoria was suddenly inspired.
An apple. A poisoned apple.
Victoria had some apples brought to her while she made her potion. She chose the reddest and shiniest apple to dip into the deadly poison.
The very next day she told no one she was leaving the castle as she set out to find the Princess. When she reached the edge of the boundary she transformed herself to look like an old beggar woman.
Victoria kept a close watch on Princess Bella through the mirror. She had to make sure the wolves were not protecting Princess Bella. Victoria was fully aware of the wolf-men and their hatred of her. They would tear her apart instantly if they caught her on their land.
Princess Bella was in a meadow, tending to a newborn calf when she saw an old woman stumble over the rough ground.
"Oh! Let me help you." Princess Bella called as she rushed to the old woman's side.
"Thank you, my dear." Victoria said sweetly. Princess Bella helped her walk to the barn and led her to a chair. "You are too kind. And so pretty."
"Thank you." Princess Bella blushed at the old woman's kind words. "Can I get you anything to eat or drink? Have you been traveling far? You must be tired."
"My, my. What an eager hostess you are. I just need to rest my old bones for a few minutes." Victoria forced out a small chuckle. Underneath her disguise she was fighting the urge to strike out at Princess Bella. She lifted the lid of her basket to show the apples inside. "Would you care for an apple? Freshly picked."
Victoria picked the poisoned apple off the top and handed it to Princess Bella. She was hesitant to take it. Jacob and the others had told her not to trust people from outside the borders. Many outsiders had tried to harm their people to try to take control of the magical forest.
"Oh no thank you, ma'am." She politely waved the apple away.
"It is just an apple. See?" Victoria twisted and turned the apple so Princess Bella could see there was nothing wrong with it. The apple did look quite delicious.
"Alright. Thank you." Princess Bella accepted the apple and took a large bite. It was the sweetest apple she had ever tasted. She smiled at the old lady and was going to thank her again but suddenly her throat started to close.
Princess Bella could not breathe. She dropped the apple and fell to her knees. She clawed at her throat, trying to convey to the old woman that she needed help.
Victoria smirked as she watched Princess Bella collapse and slowly die a painful death. She wanted Princess Bella to see her true identity; so as the light faded from her eyes, Victoria transformed back to her natural form.
"Oh Bella. I should have killed you much sooner. Goodbye, Princess." she said cruelly as Princess Bella grew still.
Suddenly a giant gust of wind blew across the whole village. The Queen felt that it was a warning, an alarm from the Sacred Tree she was stealing her power from. She heard a wolf howl, soon joined by six others. With a flash she disappeared, reappearing in her chambers and cackling like a mad woman.
The wolves felt the death of the Princess. The Sacred Tree was crying out in agony over the loss of its creation. The whole village went running at the sound of the howling. Sue discovered the Princess first, lying on the barn floor, an apple by her side.
"Bella!" Jacob screamed as he knelt beside her lifeless form. The others followed suit. "Who could have done this?"
"We need to move her, Jacob," Sue said gently. "We can lay her out tonight and bury her tomorrow."
"No! I will not put our precious Bella in the cold ground. We will create a memorial." The women of the village gathered hundreds of flowers for Princess Bella's memorial. They laid her down on a stone slab close to the center of the village. It had once been used for old rituals.
The seven wolf-men joined hands and circled the fallen Princess. They chanted an ancient spell and the ground broke at their feet. Water rose from the ground and entombed Princess Bella's body. As it froze, vines grew around the coffin.
For three days the villagers mourned their beloved Bella. Each of the seven wolf-men took turns standing guard over her; but life must go on. Though they never stopped their watch over her tomb, slowly things went back to normal in the tiny village.
Victoria took much pleasure in watching them through her mirror. Laughing hysterically every time someone shed a tear at Princess Bella's grave.
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and finally yet another year had passed since Victoria had first tried to kill Princess Bella. Two years of Victoria's tyrannical rule over the kingdom. More and more people fled from the kingdom every day, and news spread of her and her evil deeds.
A young prince, Edward, was sent by his father, King Edward, to see what was really happening in the far away kingdom. King Edward had known King Charles when they were young children while they had been fostered together for schooling. They had remained friendly as they grew into adulthood and had hoped that their children would someday get married.
Prince Edward had heard of the evil Queen and was saddened to hear of the disappearance of the Princess.
His travels brought him the tiny village hidden in the forest. He had been there many times before. His father was a very spiritual man and had a treaty with the wolf-men, which allowed him special access to the Sacred Forest. The King He was shocked to reach the border and not be greeted. It was customary for one of the wolf-men or one of elders in the village to greet a visitor and escort them.
As Prince Edward walked his horse to the center of the town, he noticed how quiet the village was. It was unsettling. He came close to the coffin where Princess Bella laid and saw Jacob on his knees before it.
"Jacob, my friend. What's happened here?"
"We lost our Bella." Jacob answered softly.
"Bella?" he mumbled to himself. He knew of only one person named Bella. Prince Edward peered inside the coffin. The magick the wolf-men had used to make her tomb preserved the Princess; she was frozen in death and looked exactly as she had when she was alive. The Prince recognized her immediately.
"Princess Isabella!" he shouted, startling Jacob. "That's Bella! The missing Princess!" Jacob jumped to his feet.
"Yes! This is – was – the daughter of King Charles. Queen Victoria was her stepmother. Everyone said the Queen had murdered Bella, but I had hoped it wasn't true and she was just in hiding." The Prince traced the outline of the Princess's face through the ice.
"Victoria has been trying to steal our power. She has been our enemy since before we discovered Bella lost in the woods. Now that I know she must have been the one to do this, we will not rest until she is dead."
Jacob howled to call the other wolves. He shared his new information with his brothers and they began to plan. The Prince, however, could not overcome the feeling that Bella was still alive somehow, and he could not leave her side.
The Sacred Tree was watching over Princess Bella's tomb. The ancient spirits in the forest had been waiting for this moment. What no one knew was the Tree had once again protected Princess Bella. She was a part of the forest and in it her soul lived on. She just needed true love's kiss.
Kiss her, a voice whispered in the Prince's ear. You must kiss her.
"I have to kiss her," Prince Edward said to himself. He drew his sword, raised it high above his head and brought it down against the ice. He struck the tomb again and again until the ice started to crumble away.
"What are you doing?" Jacob shouted. He and the others rushed to stop the Prince, but they were not fast enough. Just as they tackled the Prince, his lips brushed against the Princess's. "How dare you desecrate Bella's resting place!" Jacob screamed as he grabbed the Prince by his throat.
"No! Look!" Prince Edward pointed to Princess Bella. They all turned and watched as she slowly came to life.
Princess Bella blinked her eyes and took in her surroundings. She was alive! She could breathe. She could see the sky. She could see her friends.
"Jacob?" she spoke softly. Jacob released Prince Edward and rushed to Princess Bella.
"Bella! You're alive! But, I don't understand. How?" he asked as he hugged her tightly.
"True love. I thought I was a ghost. The spirits told me that when true love found me, I'd come back." She found Edward and smiled. "I always hoped it would be you." Princess Bella pulled out of Jacob's grasp and went to the Prince. "Thank you." Prince Edward and Princess Bella kissed until they were both breathless.
While most of the village celebrated the Princess's return, Bella, Edward, Sue, and the seven wolf-men plotted. Princess Bella confirmed it was the evil Queen that had poisoned the apple.
"I will let her think I have fallen in love with her. Then I will lead her out into the forest and let you kill her," Prince Edward told Jacob and the others.
"I must let her see me alive." Princess Bella interrupted.
"It's too dangerous." both Prince Edward and Jacob protested.
""No! She must know that she failed." Everyone tried to talk her out of being seen but Princess Bella stood firm. Finally when the plan was decided, Prince Edward kissed Princess Bella farewell and traveled to the castle to do his part.
Victoria, so insane with her vanity, had no doubt Prince Edward was in love with her and wished to marry her. She could think of no other reason for such a handsome young man to visit her kingdom. Only a few days passed before Victoria invited Prince Edward to her chambers at night.
"My beautiful Queen, the servants may talk. I cannot allow word to get back to my father that I was seen in your bed before a proper engagement was announced. We should go somewhere more private. I know of a meadow in the woods." It was surprisingly easy to convince her to sneak away with him. He wondered if she had somehow found out about the trap and was now luring him to his death. Prince Edward had a message sent to Jacob, letting him know to prepare.
Just after dark Prince Edward and the Queen went unseen into the forest. They had just made it to the meadow when a figure stepped out of the shadows.
"Hello, stepmother," Princess Bella said. At first Victoria thought she was looking at a ghost. As Princess Bella came closer, she realized that her stepdaughter was very much alive.
"No!" she screamed. "I killed you! I watched you die!"
"It is odd how a witch such as yourself could not recognize another magical being. My mother traded her life for me. She gave her life to the spirits of the forest. I am their child. My soul will live on forever." Victoria attempted to strike Princess Bella but Prince Edward grabbed her arms and twisted them behind her back. "You have committed murder and treason. You have stolen power that does not belong to you. You have stolen my kingdom from me. Now you must pay for your crimes."
Princess Bella stepped back, and seven pairs of yellow eyes appeared from behind the trees. Prince Edward released Victoria but before she could run far, the first wolf jumped and landed on her back. Prince Edward gathered Princess Bella in his arms and hid her face in his chest as the wolves ripped Victoria apart.
When the wolves were finished, they took her remains and laid them at the base of the Sacred Tree. The Tree's roots rose up around the remains and dragged them underground. Immediately, the dying trees around the forest came back to life. The magick had been returned to its rightful owners.
Princess Bella went back to the kingdom and took her place on the throne. The people of the kingdom were so glad to have their Princess back that they celebrated for a month. The people that fled during the evil Queen's rule returned, and Alice came back with her mother. Princess Bella and Alice were very happy to be finally reunited. She never forgot her wolf friends and gave Jacob a seat among her advisors.
After Princess Bella was properly crowned as Queen, she married the Prince. They invited everyone from her kingdom and his to the lavish ceremony.
And Queen Isabella and King Edward lived happily ever after.
thank you for reading!