Prologue: Child's Play

"One…. Two… Three…"

The Prince's voice rang clearly throughout the gardens as the girl dashed along the beds of flowers and bushes. Her lightly shod feet pounded the soft dirt and she giggled playfully as she fled.

"Four… Five… Seven…"

"I heard that Wendell!" the girl cried, stopping in the tracks to shout back at him

"Fine, fine! Six… Seven…"

The girl smiled slightly then continued to run again, diving beneath a bush covered in thorns and vines. Wendell could never find her here! He was too snobbish to get on all fours like a dog to crawl in and find her!

Prince Wendell Walter Winceton White couldn't believe that he'd let Jordanna talk him into playing hide-and-go-seek, on his birthday no less. The seven-year-old king-to-be was posh and spoiled, something Wendell himself would never admit until fourteen years later. But for some reason Jordanna had always been his best friend and put up with him.

Jordanna was an orphan, a kitchen rat in reality, who was only employed by the court-jester since she was a shape-shifter and could help entertain the king and queen. Wendell's grandmother, Snow White, had taken pity on the poor girl and bought her off the jester to become Wendell's playmate. They'd been inseparable ever since. The golden-haired prince, being royalty and not really having any real friends was delighted to have Jordanna and appreciated her company far more than he'd ever let on.

"Ninety-nine… One-Hundred! Ready or not, here I come!" Wendell set off in the direction he had heard her voice come from when he had cheated. This cheating had been a trick to trap her that he had learned hunting with his father. "Trick your prey into revealing their location, and they're as good as dinner." His father had said.

He made his way through the garden and to about where Jordanna was hiding when suddenly from out of nowhere came on of the palace servants.

"Prince Wendell? Prince Wendell!" he called in an annoyingly pompous way.

"Yes?" Jordanna heard the Prince reply, "What is it?"

"Your parents request that you come right away… they said it was urgent."

"I'll be right there!" he called back, "Jordanna!" He whispered to the bush Jordanna was hiding in. "Come on something is up!"

With that the Prince sped off back to the castle. Jordanna meanwhile had the horrible task of getting out of the bush. Once untangled from the bush, she inspected the damage to her dress, several tears had developed and the hem was hanging off it dangerously low. Then she too sped off towards the castle hiking up her skirt to keep from tripping over the loose hem.

While dashing through the garden Jordanna did not see a root that was sticking up out of the ground, and promptly tripped over it, hitting the ground with an "Oof!" As she rose and dusted herself off she heard voices from over the wall of the garden. Being a curious being she jumped into the air and before her feet struck the earth again she had taken wing as a small yellow bird, and she flew up to the top of the wall to listen.

"Here is the toad the King ordered sir, I guarantee you, he will serve you well…" A female voice said.

"Thank you my lady," replied a servant, different from the one who had called in Wendell. "The King and Queen will be quite pleased. I'm sure your business will be even more profitable when you tell your customers you helped to fortify the castle of the Fourth Kingdom."

"Yes… they will be delighted I'm sure." She said with almost a hiss.

"Good day to you my lady, safe travels back to the Third Kingdom…"

"Good day." The servant bowed and holding the parcel that the woman had delivered closed the small door into the castle.

Jordanna couldn't look away from this woman; she had the longest, blackest hair Jordanna had ever seen. It was all beautifully piled on top of her head and was held by an ornate silver cage. After the servant closed the door the woman raised the hood to her black-velvet cloak so it draped gracefully over her hair. She outstretched one delicate porcelain arm and a raven perched itself on one black-gloved hand, cawing harshly.

"Yes Ambrosia…" she whispered, "Someday, we will live in this castle, and the House of White will be nothing more than toads…"

As she spoke the woman's eyes moved to Jordanna and as their eyes locked Jordanna's heart rate increased a hundred fold. It pounded so hard it hurt. Jordanna wanted to rip her eyes away from this terrible woman but she couldn't she was paralyzed, and still her heart beat faster. Jordanna would dream of this woman's eyes for the rest of her life, dream of them in nightmares.

Finally the woman blinked and Jordanna ripped her eyes away and began to stumble over to the edge of the wall on her tiny bird feet. Her vision had begun to tunnel as she reached the edge of the wall. Over she plummeted using the last of her strength to turn back. Everything went black before she hit the ground.

It had only been a few foot fall but Jordanna still hurt all over when she woke. Jordanna sat up, and then stood slowly, rubbing the back of her neck. But as she made her way back inside the castle, she couldn't seem to remember what she was doing on top of the wall in the first place, or what had been so important that she just had to tell Wendell right away. Well, it couldn't have been that important for her to forget so easily… she thought uneasily.

Upon entering the castle what greeted her was a sober sight. The great Snow White in all her glory was standing before her crying grandson Wendell.

"Don't cry Wendell," Snow White said softly, "you will meet me again, though I will never return…" With that she hugged Wendell tightly, then the King and Queen, then she bade farewell to the servants and made her way to the door, there was not a dry eye in the room, save for Jordanna who still had no idea what was going on.

As Snow White passed Jordanna on the way out she stopped looked down at the puzzled girl, reached out a hand to touch her cheek and said, "Take care of him Jordanna… because no one else can…" Then Snow White left, and never returned.

A/N: So I hope you enjoyed the prologue. The first chapter should be up shortly. Please review, your ideas, comments, criticism, everything is appreciated!