Title: In Pursuit of Knowledge
Fandom: Snow White: A beautiful princess is forced to take up residence with seven short guys in the forest after the Queen (her wicked stepmother) seeks to have her killed for daring to be more beautiful. That whole thing about an apple a day keeping the doctor away? Doesn't quite work here.
Taunt: My fandom was the first of its kind!
Once upon a time, as all good stories begin, there was a man who sought to know. He drank up knowledge as most would drink water. He wished to know all that there was in the world, and possibly to discover things that were not yet known. Knowing was more important than food, than drink, than rest, than friends. Company disrupted his pursuit; solitude encouraged it.
He was a scholar by trade and by common reference, but the name displeased him because of its simplicity. To him, the pursuit of knowledge was not a mere interest or hobby, but a higher calling, a vocation as pure as any religious undertaking. The name "scholar" was common, and he was not a common man.
But there was far more than the simple knowledge to be found in books. His intellectual pursuits had shown him a realm beyond that of science and numbers. That was the realm of magic. It held to an entirely different set of rules and laws than those of the physical world, and was incredibly difficult to master. But his goal was to know all that there was, and so he sought to learn of this magic as well.
For he had a very true goal: he wished to learn the secret of eternal life, and he was convinced that he could discover this in books, or as he was increasingly growing to believe, the realm of magic. Having seen his father waste away from a horrific illness as a child, he feared death and the pain that it brought, and was desperate and determined to find a way to avoid that terrifying fate.
It was for this that he studied, reading every book on every subject in as many languages as possible. He learned of sciences and history and languages and math and countless other things, too many to name. And he studied magic, with its wide variety of spells and potions. His first teacher in the magical arts, a wizened old woman with more years to her name than he cared to imagine, told him that he did have the gift for magic. And she told him to train and learn it well, for it would serve him greatly.
He took her advice to heart not as solid book-learning, but as common sense and the wisdom of the old. He was intelligent enough to know that there were a handful of things in this world that could not be learned in books, but only by age and the experience of a lifetime. Still, he tended to prefer the company of pages and scrolls to the lectures of the elderly.
His mind grew, his knowledge grew, and his powers of magic grew. He became aware of many spells. There were ones that could heal even the most devastating injuries, and ones that could destroy entire nations. There were spells that could raise a crop overnight, and ones that could lay waste to acres in minutes. And there were ones that were not to be used. Forbidden spells.
In keeping with his determination, he sought to know them all, and so acquired a book that spoke of those forbidden spells. He read it eagerly, and finally found what it was that he had so been seeking. A spell that would grant its caster eternal life. The one who cast this spell would never know death, and would see the ages as they passed.
It was a difficult spell, far beyond what he had learned in his magical studies thus far. But he was convinced that he could manage it. The instructions for the casting were all laid out there on the page, in an archaic tongue. He simply had to follow them carefully, and he would finally achieve his goal.
The preparations took him nearly a fortnight. It was the longest he had ever set aside his scrolls and books in favor of other pursuits, but at the end of the thirteenth night after finding that fateful spell, he was ready to proceed. He took to a clearing in the woods in the dead of night, with the light of a fire in a pit in the center for illumination. This was part of the spell.
With the ancient tome open beside him, he began to cast, following every word as best he could, though there were a few things that he did not completely understand. But he had been unable to ask about those things. The spell was not to be used, and to ask could have cost him this chance had anyone with magic known that he was to attempt it.
The magic flowed as the spell progressed, and by the end of it he looked up, unsure of what to expect.
Whatever was supposed to happen, he was sure that this was not it. The magic reacted somehow, and returned upon its caster, flooding him and filling him like liquid fire.
It was unlike any pain he had ever known before in his life. His entire body seized up, and his knees no longer supported him as he fell to the ground, thrashing and trying desperately to scream as he clawed at the dirt. It felt like every bone in his body was breaking, his insides melting, his skin ablaze…
What had he done wrong?
He was going die. His pursuit of eternal life would cost him his life…
As another strangled scream tore itself from his inflamed throat, he became aware of a presence nearby. He looked at the person through hazy, watery eyes, unable to ascertain if the person beneath the black hooded cloak was male or female. No longer caring for dignity, he managed to reach a hand out towards the person.
He thought he choked out a plea for help, but he was not entirely sure.
The person moved towards him, his or her feet moving noiselessly across the forest floor. The figure bent. "You will die if this continues," the person said, and he now knew it to be a woman, her voice low and as smooth as silk. "Do you wish to live?"
He tried to gasp out an affirmative.
"I can give you life," she said. "I can save you. And I can give you what you want most. Eternal life. Eternal knowledge. But there will be a price to pay. Will you pay that price?" She held out a hand to him, offering him the chance to take the chance she was offering.
He cared not a whit for what the price she mentioned was. He knew only that he wished to live, and her words filled him with great hope. It took nearly all of his remaining strength, but he managed to lift that hand again, and clasp it with hers.
There was a final spasm of pain, followed by a blessed coolness and a tumble downwards into the unfeeling depths of darkness. Strange, though—as he fell into that place without pain or pleasure, he was almost certain that he heard a satisfied female laugh.
When he awoke again, he was in a room he had never seen before. It was decorated in a way that implied that the person who frequented this place was the possessor of considerable wealth and probably considerable status. The furnishings were rich, fancy, elegant.
As he further came back to himself, he realized that he was having difficulty moving. No, that was not right. He could not move at all. His body was held immobile by some force he could not see. To be honest, he could not see his body. He almost felt like he was floating, somehow.
What had happened to him?
But his mind…his mind was free and unfettered, and oh, how it raced. He knew things he had never dared dream of before, as he mentally raced through the wisdom and knowledge of century upon century. Was it possible that he now knew everything, as he had dreamed?
That woman in the forest…she had told him that she would grant him the two things he desired. She seemed to know what it was that he wanted: eternal knowledge, and eternal life. In his desperate fear of the pain of death, he had not thought to question how she knew this, but had merely accepted her offer to save his own life without asking what she wished in return.
Had she done this somehow?
As if the thought had worked a magic of its own, the heavy wooden door opened and a woman swept into the room. She was dressed as richly as the room that surrounded them, and carried herself with an air that spoke volumes of breeding and refinement. This woman was no mere noble.
She was royalty.
And somehow, without even asking or hearing her speak, he knew that she was the woman who had come to him in the forest and offered to save him and give him that which he so desired. And in that same flash of insight, he realized what it was that was his price to pay for knowledge and for life.
But he did not realize what form that would take until she opened her mouth and spoke. Her voice was, indeed, one and the same with the woman who had spared him in the woods, that smooth tone almost a purr as she addressed him. And her first words would have sent a chill down his spine, had she left him with a body. For with his eternal knowledge, he now understood the form his eternal life would take.
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall…"
PS. This was an idea I had back in college. I revamped the idea a bit, and rewrote it to continue with my odd obsession with characters that no one else thinks about. Thanks for reading, all! Much love!