A/N- Okay, so long wait. And I had no answers on the character list, so there still no list on my profile. However, thanks to a particularly boring class discussion, I was able to begin this chapter. Please let me know what you think!
Finding the fairies' master was not going to prove difficult. She was emitting a loud, shrill series of shrieks that echoed all around. If Snow White and Cinderella had not known that this girl was in dire peril, they would have turned up their noses at the puerile screams. However, they found it understandable at the moment. Somewhat.
Snow and Cin pushed their horses hard—the three fairies following—as they tore through the forest.
"Hurry! Hurry!" Lily shouted in Cin's ear.
"Hush, Lily!" scolded the blue one, who had introduced herself moments ago as Goodrain. "They are going as fast as they can!"
It was becoming obvious the chain of command within the three fairies. Goodrain was clearly the leader, followed by Rabbit—the green one who only spoke when she had something of value to say—and then Lily. Lily, for her part, appeared to be young in age and attitude. It had been only moments since Snow and Cin had taken off to save the fairies' master, but Goodrain had already scolded Lily several times.
Their pace had slowed now. The ground had grown steep as they neared the entrance to the Shadowed Forest that defined the boarder between Mystopia, Radishia, and many other country-kingdoms. Snow pulled back on her Belgium's reins. Then, casting her eyes upward, she shouted, "I see her!"
Roughly fifty yards ahead, a figure in pink had climbed atop a boulder at least five times her size and was shooting—what looked like—colored lights from her fingertips. Her target was a large grizzly, roaring up at her in anger and then in pain when one of her shots hit its mark.
"Princess!" Lily shouted. However, being the tiny fairy that she was, it sounded only barely above a human's normal speaking voice.
"What are we going to do?" Cin asked, reaching for her needles.
But Snow White had beaten her to it. She had set her bow and arrow and had let it fly. The arrow landed in the bear's shoulder, and the animal had turned toward its source. However, Cin was now ready. A tiny flash of silver, and a needle had planted itself firmly in the bear's skull—right between its eyes. The princess atop the rock had paused for a moment; however, she had now regained her focus. The bear snarled and stumbled toward Snow and Cin. Snow pulled back another arrow, and Cin readied another needle to fly. But the princess in pink called a great magic to her hands and launched it towards the bear, yelling with the force of pushing it from her. The bright white light found its target. Hitting the bear in the rear, it cried out in pain and began to freeze. In seconds, the bear was no longer a living thing. Forever caught in an expression of pain and anger, the bear was a plain-stone statue.
"Huh," Cin said, putting away her unused needle. "She's good."
Snow nodded as she too put away her weapon.
"Princess Briar! Princess Briar Rose!" the three fairies cried at the figure as she turned to slide down the boulder.
As the fairies rushed towards her, Cin glanced at Snow—who had gone sullen.
"What?" Cin asked.
"I know her," Snow answered.
Cin followed her example, patting Bunny's flanks as soon as her feet were on the ground.
"You've met her?"
"Only at a distance. She's the kingdom of Aurora's princess."
Cin stopped. Her mouth was agape. Princess Briar Rose had come closer into view. She was smiling, a waist-length mane of bright blonde hair billowing behind her as she rushed towards her rescuers. She was wearing a bright pink robe that fell straight down—and well past—her feet, flattering none and showing none of her figure. It was apparently adorned by pulling it over one's head, as no other fastening device was visible. As Briar Rose neared, Snow and Cin could see that silver runes hemmed the sleeves, bottom, and barely visible hood that folded up at the girl's shoulders, apparently to fall down her back.
"That's the great sorceress princess of Aurora? The Sleeping Beauty?" Cin asked. "She's just a kid! Seventeen, eighteen at the oldest!"
Briar Rose stopped, ten or fifteen feet from her fellow princesses. Her fairy familiars rested upon her—one on each shoulder and one hanging herself over her head. The Sleeping Beauty's eyes locked onto Snow White. Snow returned her gaze. Both were equally as fierce, almost challenging. Finally, the younger princess cocked her head to the right, placing her hands on her hip, and knocking the fairy on the right—Lily—off her shoulder. Lily rose and hung in the air.
"I would thank you for saving me, Highness Snow, but I think that it is only a small duty compared to what your mother and yourself owe my country!" Briar hissed, somehow a funny noise coming from the young woman.
"Oh," Cin muttered, as if suddenly remembering the relationship between Mystopia and Aurora.
Snow sighed, remembering her dealings with Briar and her country well. The meeting between them had been anything but social. Snow had rode into the country-kingdom of Aurora for the first time at Malice's side, bearing the colors of Mystopia. Malice had just conquered Aurora. Smartly, the royal family of that defeated country had agreed to submit—to stop the bloodshed. Briar had been standing at her father's side as he handed over his crown to a smug and triumphant Malice. She had been crying, but she still stood firmly by her family.
"What are you doing here?!" Briar was now shrieking. It was really quite shrill.
"Now, now—" Cin began, but she went unheard by Princess Briar Rose.
"Come to conquer another country? Ruin more lives! Torture more prin--"
"I'm sorry," Snow cut in. "I don't know anything more to say."
"'Sorry'?" Briar said, a strange fire brewing in her eyes. "You think 'sorry' is going to cover it? After what your mother, your brother, YOU, have done to my country, my people, my family, my prince?"
"Princess…" Rabbit whispered.
All three fairies had moved farther back from her. Light that held all the colors of flames gathered at her hands. Snow pulled her right foot behind her and began to reach for her bow.
"After what your brother did to my beloved prince!" she cried, light traveling up her arms.
"Briar, listen to me!" Snow said, sounding as if she was scolding her against eating sweets before her supper rather than trying to calm a mad sorceress for her life's sake.
However, Cin chose to deal with this girl a different way. In a flash, she was behind Briar with a needle held dangerously close to her throat.
"This needle, Princess, is laced with a poison that even magic can't heal. Back down, or you'll gain nothing but a quick death. Calm yourself, and listen to what Snow White has to say!"
"Princess, please!" Briar's fairies pleaded in chorus.
The young princess's breathing grew deep and laborious. The light, after a few breaths, began to recede down her arm until it was no more. With a final shuddering breath, she nodded. With another tiny flash of silver, Cin had put away the needle and was back at Snow's side, who was putting away her bow. Briar straightened her ruffled robes and hair, then, eyes narrowed, huffed, "Well, Highness Snow, I'm listening."
All eyes turned to Snow White, who looked sadly at Aurora's princess. However, she still chose to lock eyes with her. Any lesser being would be trying desperately to flail about for help in an explanation such as the one Snow was going to have to give. However, she knew the responsibility to explain herself was hers alone. She also knew that explaining was not going to cut it. She would have to do more…she would have to convince. To convince the younger princess, this child, that she was telling the truth. To make her believe.
"I know your pain," Snow chose to begin simply.
"How could you possi—" Briar Rose interjected, but Snow cut across her and kept going.
"What did she do to your prince?" Snow asked. "Because I know what she's done to mine…and Cin's."
Briar's forehead crinkled, fighting between anger and deep thought. Finally, she murmured something unintelligible.
"What? Answer clearly…do not be afraid!" Snow demanded, stomping one foot towards the girl.
"He's missing. I don't know what Malice has done with him. Your brother came and took him…No. He beat him and then took him away. I don't know where he is. That's why I'm all the way out in the middle of nowhere. I don't even know where to look."
Snow nodded pensively, while Cin crossed her arms and shook her head.
"My prince is being tortured in a dungeon somewhere in Malice's castle, and Snow's is in an enchanted death-like sleep," Cinderella explained, glancing at Snow.
When she looked back at the youngest princess, she made sure to lock eyes with the girl. Now was not a time for misunderstanding.
"We're here looking for allies to aid us in the defeat of Malice."
At this, Briar gasped and looked to Snow. Snow made no movement. Instead, she merely looked off into air above her.
"Your own mother? You are turning against your own mother?" she asked in breathless disbelief.
"If your mother was Malice…" Snow said slowly and deliberately, "wouldn't you?"
Heavy silence—except for the deceitfully cheerful chirping of the birds surrounding the princesses—fell. Finally, Briar nodded once.
"I've decided," she announced, as if that had been the reason for the quiet.
Cin arched an eyebrow.
"I'm coming with you to help defeat Malice," Briar Rose completed. "We can go to Aurora. I know of a wise-man there, Snow White, that may know a way to aid us."
Snow smirked. "That's all well and good, but, right now, we're going to Radishia. We can go to Aurora when we make our way back that way. Three is not a number high enough to defeat my mother."
"What number will be?" Cinderella asked, mounting her horse.
Snow chose not to reply as she also mounted her own stallion. Briar stepped forward awkwardly, shuffling her feet. Looking up at Snow, she batted her eyes a couple of times.
"What?" Snow growled, rolling her eyes.
"Um…I don't have a horse. It ran away. Could I…?" she began.
However, she never finished her question as Cinderella reached down and pulled the girl up behind her. Briar made a shrill cry of shock, then immediately wrapped her arms around Cin's waist. Her fairy familiars each found seats of their own within Bunny's saddlebags.
"Better ride with me than her, kid," Cin said, kicking her horse into motion.
Snow had already sped on ahead into the dark forest.
End Notes: So, what did we think? Please review!