Once upon a time, in a land far away, a young prince resided in a shining castle. Although the Prince had everything his heart could desire the Prince was spoiled, selfish, and sad. But then, one winter's night, an old beggar woman came to the castle and offered him a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold. However the Prince was unkind and repulsed by her haggard appearance, and with a deliberate sneer turned the old woman away. The woman looked at him with eyes of foretelling and warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for Beauty is found within.
"Within?" The Prince laughed, tossing his head at the woman as she sputtered out such nonsense. Her face uneven and scaly twisted in despair as she slapped him upon his crown filled head with her walking stick. He gasped rubbing his head as he stared down at the old woman whose eyes were etched with something that he couldn't place. Her grey hair fell over her shoulders as she stepped closer to him, her mud filled shoes sloshing onto his freshly cleaned floors.
"I would greatly urge you to reconsider your decision…Monsieur or everything you love…could be taken away...for although I am of old and harsh appearance, I am really the great mistress Renge. With power unconceivable to man. All I require is a place to sleep and a plate of food to quiet my hunger…" She whispered in a low and hoarse voice sending shivers up his spine. He spit down on her shoes making her take a step back as he stood tall, his glowing yellow eyes glinting with pride. Boasting his chest out, his stance harsh and proud he roared out at the woman-
"I have nothing that I love." He whispered lowly, the entire castle growling with his voice. The woman looked back up at him with a sadness he had never before seen. But it was sadness of being turned away, but pity, pity for him. This angered him and he threw out his hand slamming the old woman out into the cold. She gasped her body aching as he grabbed the door to slam on her. The old woman tried to stand, her muscles shaking as she shivered from the cold.
"You…you have made the biggest mistake of your life…" The woman whispered slowly, her shawl falling off her skinny frame as the old bag of bones attempted to get up once more. She lifted her arm with the rose, its' beautiful exterior glowing a light red only to be put out as fast as it had become when a young and melody like voice rang out from the castle. Footsteps tapped along the floor as the young Prince quickly turned around to view the young man adorned in royal garbs currently walking out towards him.
"Ah…who is this?" The old woman whispered as she eyed the small boy. As he walked closer she could see his face, identical, yet so different, from the Prince she had been caught with. A small smile came upon her face as she held the rose in her hands a bit tighter before slowly placing it back into her shawl. Perhaps it wouldn't be needed tonight after all. For this boy, though identical in body and mind, had eyes that loved and could love again. For as all good story tellers know, love is something that one cannot keep to himself.
"Brother what are you doing?!" He suddenly exclaimed as he found the woman now shivering and shaking in the snow, her face pale, her limbs frozen. The Prince could only watch as the young man ran out in the cold with no coat or protection towards the old woman. Her eyes looked to him, and then back at the Prince with an evil smirk of twisted imagination. His eyes widened as he felt a terrible fear. He watched her lips slowly move as his brother grabbed onto her hand. His heart stabbed at itself as he suddenly threw himself out the door and towards him.
"Kaoru don't!" He yelled out suddenly. The witch cackled horribly, ringing the night air with sorrow and fear as she gripped at the younger man's hand, pulling herself up as rags and hair fell off of her old body. Light brown locks fell from her scalp, and the old skin seemed to melt away to reveal a beautiful young face with large brown eyes that rang with disappointment.
"There is nothing…that you love young Prince?" She asked her voice now light and fulfilled with youth as she held the young man's hand in her own. The young boy flinched suddenly making the Prince stop in his tracks out of fear. His brother turned back, yellow eyes wide and withered with disbelief.
"Brother? What's going on?" He asked his skin becoming pale, the life draining from him as he became weak. The Prince yelled out to no avail, words not making themselves clear as he attempted to run to him. He felt his feet sticking in the floor with a gasp, no doubt yet another spell casted by the young woman.
"Let him go!" The Prince yelled, his pride, his selfishness, his evil soul seeming to melt with the snow that stood around his feet. He felt love, as any human would, but only love that he held for kin. Love that was planted in him as a child, not love that he learned. And for that, the witch bowed her head, and whispered a punishment. For every human, poor or rich, needed to know love. The Prince tried to apologize, but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart.
The witch slowly pulled out the rose, glowing so harshly that it shot out into the sky with a bright red. Both of the brothers looked at it with shock, trying not to yell out as the spell took over the entire castle. Time seemed to stop as she let go of the younger brother and walked slowly towards the Prince who was trapped within the icy snow. Her mouth whispered horrible curses keeping the rose strong and bitter as she closed her eyes to keep her focus strong.
"When the last petal falls from the last edge of this rose, your brother's life will end, unless you learn to love, and learn to be loved. Until then time will stop and you will be forced to stay here in this castle that you love so much. Every time you look in the mirror you will see what a horrid beast your inner soul really is. Your servants shall never feel happiness again so long as you are alone. You shall be kind to strangers that appear at your door dear prince, for one of them, shall bring you your true love. However…if you do not ask her to marry you each night she is here a petal will fall from this rose, and if, dearest Prince, you cannot get her to love you before the rose becomes wilted and gone…you shall suffer a pain worse than death…" She whispered slowly.
"Once you touch this rose…its power will overcome you, and you will fall…into a deep sleep…" She said in a low whisper as she slowly walked towards the younger brother who could now move about freely. He had the choice to run, but he stayed put, perhaps too frightened to move, perhaps just filled with so much love that it did not allow him to.
"Your sleep will be peaceful young man…" She assured him letting her forehead move against his own as she pressed the small rose against his chest. He gasped out of pain closing his eyes tightly as he groaned out. Miscellaneous yells could be heard from the Prince as he reached out for his younger brother, not able to believe what was happening. The young boys eyes flew open and turned white, glowing out as the spell took over his entire body, his limbs falling as his body threw itself into the air. The Prince gasped, specs of water stinging his eyes as the young boy's body went white as the snow below him, his eyes snapped shut, his body falling limp.
"K-Kaoru?" The Prince whispered watching the body fall slowly and with care, down into the snow. The ice that kept him put melted suddenly around his ankles allowing him to run in a hurry toward the dead looking body that now laid in the snowy ground. He looked up at the witch who bowed her head softly, her hair falling in the breeze as she sighed gently.
"What have you done?!" He gasped out slamming his hands into the ground before he wrapped them around his brothers soft frame. The Prince picked him up in his arms, holding onto him in protection of the wind and snow as the young witch smiled a gentle smile- disappearing into the night, the only evidence of her presence was the soft colored rose that laid in her shadow.