Chapters 1-3 edited as of 10/29/11. The prologue and chapter one have been separated to add clarity to the story format. Sincere apologizes for any confusion the reader may experience.


Title: Heart of the Tanglewood

Author: ninedaysaqueen

Betas: openedlocket & earthstarmoon – Always a pleasure.

Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings, nor of any characters, locations, and elephants contained within. All rights of the Queen's Thief series belong exclusively to Megan Whalen Turner and her respective publishers.

Spoilers: Books 1-2

Rating: PG/K+

Genre: AU/Romance/Adventure/Mystery

Word Count: 20,000?

Summary: Forests are full of danger and deep at its roots, the Tanglewood hides many secrets. What happens to young boys who never learn to stay out of the woods?

Author's Notes: My title, Heart of the Tanglewood, is a small homage paid to Meredith Ann Pierce's fantasy novel, Treasure at the Heart of the Tangelwood. I've adapted a few plot concepts from Pierce's novel, but nothing specific and nothing that requires prior knowledge.

Enjoy!


When they came closer, they saw that the house was made of bread, and the roof was made of cake and the windows of sparkling sugar.

-The Brothers Grimm


Heart of the Tanglewood

Prologue

It was often told in dark corners of the village ham during long winters nights as the fire flickered to sound of the speaker's voice, that there was a woman who lived in the Tanglewood. Not just any woman, but one born of magic and potions and dark creatures that crawled through the mud to stand by windowsills and scare children.

It was said that she had sable dark hair, hard eyes, and skin paler than stale porridge. Some said she was a benevolent creature—a simple hermit who chose to live alone; away from the noise and bustle of the mountain villages. Some said she had once been married to a king. Had once been rich and bedecked in jewels and fancy dresses and ate roast boar and strawberries with every meal. More said she was a witch—a dark creature who brewed stinking herbs and animal tongues in great big pots and cursed her enemies to their deaths with hexes and charms.

So they said.

He said that they were all wild tales and fancies, warping the simple events of a normal mountain ham with half-lights and shadow ridden airs of legend and mystery. Wives's tales to warn children away from the dangers of the Tangelwood, and the true wonder, he knew was hidden deep at its center–far beneath the roots of the pines; yet... Despite the pessimism he held for the stories of his youth, Eugenides had always been curious. Curious as to how a creature could be so strange as to live, alone and separate at the very heart of the Tanglewood; and as his relations often said–well... screamed in fury–it was his curiosity that would someday be his undoing.