The secret of Iron was known to the kingdom of Men. They beat iron cold into crude swords and brittle breastplates and the Fae were afraid.
They could not win a war, so they sought appeasement. The rulers of the mortal Kingdom had been blessed with a child and so a delegation was sent from Faerie. Thirteen fae, each with gifts more splendid than the last. They presented their gifts each in turn, piling on the young girl wisdom and beauty, clever wits and nimble fingers and much more besides.
However the last of these was tall and proud and would not debase herself to crude and cruel humans who had hunted her kin for sport. She gave her gift last, for hers was the gift of foresight. "The Princess shall grow into all the gifts she has received with grace and splendor, but on her 18th Birthday a spinning wheel shall be her mortal bane" She pronounced and the hall was silent for a moment.
Then grew an outrage that was swift and brutal and the delegation were quickly slain or shackled with cruel iron. The fae seer who spoke was crushed to death beneath an iron weight for her cruel words.
The princess grew and the fair folk retreated before the advance of humans and her family perished at the hands of hobgoblin assassins for their disregard of hospitality. But the prophecy weighed heavily on the kingdom. The Princess matured more quickly than her peers and was speaking all manner of languages by the time she was five. By then she had learned of the curse against her and sought to undo it. So she took a guard and went up to the iron cages suspended from the heights of the bailey that held the captive fae. Seeking to fight the curse she forced them to revel the secrets of their magic and its workings. Learning its secrets from her prisoners and for 12 more years she grew, both wise and beautiful and powerful until the day of her 18th Birthday approached. She was not idle in this time. By her order all spinning wheels were removed from the Kingdom and she wove spells of vitality and protection into her bones, powerful magic and terrible sacrifices were woven to ward off her doom and keep her healthy.
However this would not be enough, so she cut the kingdom off, behind a wall of enchanted thorns and began to place a grand enchantment on her kingdom to cause every person to sleep until they day after her birthday.
In the center of her city, a grand marketplace she wove her grand magic, until an unsecured cart with a rotten axel came free and the cart wheel spun towards her. breaking her concentration as it struck her leg.
She and all her subjects fell into a deep sleep, but not for a day, but a hundred years.
The thorns and her magic preserved her land, but could give no sustenance to the sleepers. Without food and water they shriveled and died one by one. The princess herself shriveled and decayed, but the magic she had woven into her bones would not permit her demise nor diminish her beauty or vigour.
So after 100 years she awoke, little more than animate bones shrouded in a glamour of beauty and the gnawing hunger and thirst that could never be satiated to rule her kingdom of corpses.
Back to My Short Stories