The Little Mermaid: Chapter ThreeThe Little Mermaid: Chapter threeThe Little Mermaid: Chapter Three by MinorFiction
Merida And The Princess DollMerida and the Princess Doll
By John Paul Dodds
As the cameras stopped rolling, Mickey Mouse came dancing out of the eponymously named House of Mouse.
Some primal mouse instinct warned him and he jumped back a second before a pair of hands reached out of the bush to grab him. “C'mere ye lying wee rodent, ye”. The heavy Scots brogue was instantly recognisable. Mickey backed up as a rather peeved looking Merida clambered out of the bush she'd been hiding in. “Errr... Hi... M...M...Merida”, Mickey mumbled, trying and failing to sound his normal, cheery self. “Err... What can I do for you”, he sounded brighter, but it was a brittle, false brightness. As if he already knew why she was here.
“Whit d' ye call this?!”, she demanded, thrusting the foot long cardboard box into his hands. Mickey looked down at the box, and through the clear plastic window, at it's contents. “H-heh”, mickey laughed nervously, “Well, it's y
Carefully, under the soft light of the pale blue moon, Cinderella made her way through the muck and mud on the far end of the family property. She had to be careful, very careful. The wolf traps her step-mother had set out were made of sturdy, heavy iron. If they weren’t tended to every so often they would sink into the marshy muck. The pig iron was all but impossible to see in the middle of the night. Three times so far she had stumbled across the traps the hard way and had the cuts to prove it.
Still she was very grateful that she did not have to face the dark of night on an empty stomach. Her step-sister Leonore had slipped her something to eat before the family slipped off for the Ball. Leonore was like that. She had the heart that neither, her sister or her mother had. Whenever she stood up for Cinderella, whenever she pleaded on behalf of her half-sister Leonore would taste the sting of the lash.
The putrid, fetid smell of decay brought yet another trap into view. The barely recognizable remains of a she wolf were caught in the trap. It was a…difficult task, but Cinderella buried the she wolf. She had only just finished burying the animal when she heard a pain-filled cry in the distance. It only took a moment for her to realize what had happened.
“The traps!” Cinderella exclaimed. “Someone is caught in one of the traps!”
Caution aside Cinderella hurried through the night. She followed the pitiful screams towards a field by the stream. A withered old woman in an extravagantly lavish blue dress sat hunched over in the muck, whimpering. She didn’t have the look of a farmer, or of the peasant class. She approached the woman with great caution. The jaws of the trap had clamped down on her left leg, and had clamped down hard.
Though it was dark Cinderella could still see that the wound was deep.
“Forgive me my Lady…” Cinderella pleaded as she approached the old woman. “…I only mean to help.”
The old woman nodded and Cinderella went right to work. She struggled and she strained, she was cut and she was pricked, but with a rusty squeal she opened the jaws of the trap. The old woman hobbled free and Cinderella hurried to her side.
“Oh Heavens…” Cinderella gasped. “It’s bad, really bad!” Through the dark of night she could see shattered bone and a river of blood. It looked bad but Cinderella knew what to do, she had treated enough wounded animals and her own injuries to know what to do.
“Please,” Cinderella pleaded. “come with me to my…to the family barn. There are bandages there, I can…”
“No, please.” The old woman pleaded with a whimper. “Just take me to the stream! Please help me to the stream!”
Cinderella tried and tried again to get the old woman onto her one good leg. She tried and failed. She failed but she was not about to give up just yet. She got down upon her knees, and lifted the old woman upon her back. She struggled against the added weight and against the pain aching muscles and injured bones. The pain tore into her like a ravenous lion as her muscles screamed under the strain. Each step was agony but she made not a sound and spoke not a word. At the waters’ edge she gently lowered the old woman down upon the ground.
Kneeling down beside the waters’ edge Cinderella watched as the elderly woman plunged her mangled limb beneath the water’s surface. Cinderella’s eyes widened as the waters of the stream washed away the blood and made whole the leg once more. And she watched as the old woman was transformed. Changed as the kiss of youth softened her skin, enlivened her eyes, turned golden her whitened hair, and the hues of the rose upon her cheeks.
The woman rose to her feet and Cinderella stared up at her in awestruck wonder. When the strange woman spoke there was a regal air about her voice:
“Do you not know who I am child?”
Cinderella, too stunned to speak, simply shook her head.
“I am of Avalon and long lost Camelot- I am Morgan Le Fey!”
Cinderella bowed low before the enchantress.
“Have you not heard of me stable-girl?” The enchantress asked. “Do you not understand what I am?”
“My father tells,” she paused and corrected herself. “…he used to tell me stories. We used to read together.” She somberly added. “Mostly legends. The tales of Perseus and Medusa was my one of my favorites! And then there were the adventures of Arthur and his round table…”
“And so you know what they say about me?” the fairy Queen asked. “The things they say that I have done? The terrible things they say that I’ve done?”
“I am just a lowly peasant girl,” Cinderella humbly replied. “…but my father once told me not to trust in the scandals of history. And…” she thoughtfully added. “He told me…a different version. A different Morgan Le Fey.”
The enchantress knelt down beside her a tender smile on her face.
“Oh child,” she sighed as she placed a warm hand on the young woman’s shoulder. “You know slander and brutality unearned more than most. My dear sweat child! My dear sweat Cinderella!”
Cinderella stared up at the enchantress with wide eyes.
“My dear child,” Moran Le Fey continued, a smile on her gentle face. “I have been watching you for some time. It was for your sake that I left the shores of Avalon. It is for you that I have come.”
Tears welled up beneath the young woman’s eyes.
“I have heard your cries young Cinderella. I have seen you work and suffer. Suffer hoping, praying that somehow they will change. Change will come my dear,” the enchantress promised. “But that change will come at a price.”
Though Cinderella didn’t really understand what the enchantress meant she nodded her head all the same.
“Silent friend, echo of light,
serve me as I have served tonight.” Say this,” Morgan Le Fey instructed. “And help will come your way.”
Without saying another words the queen of the fairies vanished from sight.
The shrill cry of the tyrannical step-mother echoed throughout the forlorn mansion.
Her finger cracked and bleeding, her back sore and aching, Cinderella slowly rose to her feet. For the past three hours she had been working against futility, scrubbing the cobblestone stable floor. Before that she had been tasked with rearranging the heavy oaken furniture in the library...
…only to be told to move each piece back where it came from. Her young body bore the bruises of many a falls and far too many a beatings. Like last nights. Just one of many beatings she had received over her lifetime. Twisted ankles, pulled shoulders, several cracked ribs, fractured wrists, a broken femur, five burns, and a list of injuries far too long to mention.
It wasn’t always that way. Cinderella could recall a time when things were better. She could remember a time when were much better. Before her step-mother came. Before her mother had lost her fight with the fever. Her father cared then. Looked out for her then.
Cinderella hurried as quickly as her sore and weary legs would take her. Upstairs, down hallway after hallway, from room to room, she followed the spiteful voice, until at last she found her step-mother in the family parlor. She wore a new dress, dark emerald satin, laced with gold trim. A crown of pearls was upon her head and a wicked smile upon her thin painted lips.
“Cinderella, Cinderella!” the Step-mother clucked as she shook her head. “What a mess you are! My, my, my! Now where have you been to come out as such a mess?!”
Cinderella knew better than to answer her step-mother’s question. Experience, painful experience, had taught her the safest way to respond.
“I am so sorry mistress” Cinderella replied with a genuinely humble bow. “It was my fault! I have failed…”
“Tut, tut, tut!” her step-mother interjected in a faux motherly tone. “You haven’t failed me!” she continued with a sigh. “With your…status in life, I never really expected much from you.”
Cinderella felt a heavy weight upon her heart. No matter how hard she tried, no matter how much she suffered, Cinderella had been unable to reach her step-mother. Unable to touch her heart, or even understand why she was so unnaturally cruel.
“Still,” her step-mother added in a remorseful sort of attitude. “I thought…I had, perhaps foolishly hoped, that you would have tried to…
…look better,” she paused and placed her left hand very loosely over her heart. “…as much as you can anyway! I guess that you really can’t guild a swine!” Again she shook her head and sighed. “Well your loss I guess! You’ll just have to miss out on the ball.”
For Cinderella it felt like someone had just pulled the floorboards out from beneath her feet. Her step-mother had never, not even once, mentioned anything about a ball. Even so Cinderella did not say a thing, she try and argue the point.
“But not all is lost!” the step-mother cheerfully added. “Your step-sister Cyrilla might come home the princes’ bride!”
Cinderella bowed her head.
“Such…such wonderful news mistress.”
Her step-mother glared down at her, a broad toothy smile on her pale face, and a gleefully ravenous gleam in her wide open eyes.
“While we’re gone to the royal ball,” She continued in a much sterner tone. “Do…look in on the traps. We simply must have a vermin free property upon our return!”
With a swoosh of her fine new dress the step-mother strode out of the room leaving a mournful Cinderella in her wake.
They stood before an undersized door. A door cast in heavy iron plates braced with beams of bronze. Five sturdy locks ensured that the door remained sealed.
“Behind this door,” The king whispered as he kept a cautious eye looking over his shoulder. “Lies a wealth of treasures that must be guarded.” He pulled a ring of olden keys from within his fur trimmed robes. He inserted the first key into the first lock…But did not turn it. He glared at John. “Now can I trust you Sir? Trust you to keep these…treasures secret? Trust you to keep them safe?”
“By my word your majesty,” Eric boldly and honestly replied. “They would remain secret, and safe.”
The king smiled broadly and begun to undo the locks one at a time. The king stepped aside and gestured toward the door. Eric understood and took hold of the door with both hands. He struggled against the weight, he heaved, and he pulled and with a rusty squeal the door slowly opened. A hallway as low and as narrow as the door itself, stood before them. It stretched out a good thirty feet before it ended in another iron door.
Stooped low Eric, under the king’s command, went first. The door ahead was not locked. Eric pushed it open and the sight that greeted him was unlike any he had ever seen before.
The room beyond door was bright and the light reflected off of the old trimmed walls. The room was large, the room was impressive, lavishly decorated, but the room itself wasn’t what interested Eric.
The treasury wasn’t what Eric had expected. There were no riches, no gems, or jewels. There was instead a menagerie. Caged creatures, fantastical creatures. One cage held a pair of snow white foxes each one bore a set of seven tails. Another cage held a bird with long fiery red plumage, and a third cage held a massive snake. Large enough to ensnare two men and was covered all over with glistening scales that were as colorful as the most vibrant of rainbows.
“Amazing aren’t they!” The king asked “My true crown jewels!”
“I’ve never…how…? Where…”
“Do you remember Jovanni De Turin?”
Eric turned to face the king.
“The explorer?” Eric replied. “He had ventured to…the orient some time ago.” Eric thoughtfully admitted. “However I thought that he had been lost, perhaps somewhere along his journey.”
The king chortled, snickered, and shook his head.
“He returned.” The king announced with dramatic flair. “And these…” he said as he stretched out his arms. “…these are the fruits of his voyage!”
Eric gazed about the room in awe struck wonder.
“And these,” Eric carefully added. “…these are the treasures that I am to guard?”
“And care for!” The king corrected “I can not risk harm to any of these!” The king pulled Eric close to him once more. “The commoners would react out of fearful superstition! They would quickly take up torch and blade! And the nobles…” The king glanced from right then to the left. “…they would only find good sport in these…creatures! A good hunt! Surely you know that to be true?”
Eric nodded, for he knew that there was nothing that the gentry liked more than a good hunt.
“My king,” Eric determinedly announced. “These shall never see harm as long as my blade serves to protect them.”
The king rubbed his hands together and clapped the knight on the back.
“Then come my brave servant!” the king enthusiastically exclaimed. “Come and see the rest of my menagerie!”
|He's more machine now than man...No one knows from whence he came. He is an enigma, to all who have met him, and few can recall having done so. No one knows just who...or what he is. man? Machine? Or something else entirely?|