Frankish Vision V: Fantôme

There is a ghost in this house

 

There is a ghost in this house

There is a ghost in this castle

It can be heard when no one opens their mouth

It can be felt when no one speaks at the dinner table

 

There is a haunting presence

 

It is felt in the blooming flowers of the printemps

It is felt in the miserable, burning été, without stop

It is felt in the splendour of l’automne

But it is especially felt in l’hiver, when you thought it was gone

 

It does not want vengeance

 

I see her sitting on the empty chair

In the kitchen, I see her fretting with her hair

I see her playing with her childern, the memory

Through the fields and streets, I feel the lingering energy

 

She wants justice, closure

That you will never give her

So I am haunted, in your stead

And so shall I be, to this injustice,

wed

This universe that exists spans the bredth of that which will make you burn

You will be taught to unlearn

I yearn for that which I must learn

To God I go, sword in hand, to Carolingian graves, to make me turn

Amen

The Princess, The Tiger & The Pear

Chapter 8

For the next few days, Aline and Beau had been inseparable. The first night had been strained, for Aline had not forgiven king Grande for striking at his son. But Beau was a kind young man and in his own way, knew exactly how to defuse the situation. Aline watched Beau curiously at the long grand table, as many servants took care of the king and his family. The salad and bread she was eating may as well have come from heaven, it was so good compared to what she had eaten in Brute’s prison.

“Father, how goes the construction of your wall?” Beau asked, politeness spicing his voice. Aline’s eyes widened in curiosity, as this was the first time she had heard of any wall, and in fact she remembered that she had not seen any such thing when she looked out from her room’s window. She then looked at King Grande who was slouched in his chair in red velvet robes. He had a toothpick between his teeth and was in deep concentration.

“It has been fully planned, the resources fully gathered and my villagers have each been paid their proper allotment,” the king spoke in reserved measure. He looked up to gaze at his son with a hint of doubt. “This shall be a big experiment for you, my son,” the king said.

Beau looked to Aline. “It is not just that we have promised their town a bit of money. It is not just that we have promised to give them our protection should an army attack us. Now, we will be promising them an education; from our walls, our scribes and scholars shall create houses of public education. We shall teach their children how to read and write.”

“My son has convinced me to at least try it, that these gifts will make the people who inhabit my land more capable. If I feel that they are becoming a threat, as I believe in my gut, then I will cease these opportunities.”

Aline straightened her neck and thought about this. Then, with a smile, she looked at the king. “Your son will not let you down, King.” Grande guffawed but otherwise held his tongue. Then she looked at Beau. “I believe this is a wonderful idea.”

Beau smiled back at her happily, a longing look in his eyes. Suddenly, he straightened his expression and busily returned to eating his soup, cheeks flushed. Aline wasn’t sure what had just happened, but from across the table, Henriette, who was attending the King, smiled knowingly.

Later, they retired to their sleeping chambers, and Aline rested wonderfully. But in the middle of the night, she suddenly awoke. In a fit, she looked at the iron chest that she had placed on the part of the bed she was not sleeping on.

She thought she had heard a beat. Or two. But then the room had gone quiet again, and eventually her eyes closed and she slept wonderfully until the morning.

The next day, after having put on a silk, forest green dress with comfortable wood soled slippers, she walked with Prince Beau as he took her on a tour through the village. He was wearing a fine yellow vest and well sewn pants and slippers, and Aline was worried that his clothes spoke too highly of his status. But every peasant they met greeted Beau with respect and hospitality.

“Beau, how does everyone know you here so,” Aline asked, noticing for the first time that she was a a bit taller than him, even though they were both fourteen.

“Oh, I just stroll through here often, I’m sure they are familiar with my appearance” Beau replied. “And, also, I’m sure they remember my mother, Queen Belle. She was very gentle with them.”

“Oh, how wonderful. Where is she, the good Queen?”

Beau’s expression became terse. Then, he looked up at the sky.

Aline gasped, covering her mouth. “Oh, my fair Beau, I’m so sorry.”

“Oh, it’s fine, dear Aline. It was during my birth, so I can’t say I remember much. But the people here tell me she would come through here and sing beautiful songs with her harp before the crowd, giving free concerts, wearing a loop of beautiful flowers upon her brow. And if children came to her during the show, she would pluck a flower and give it to them. These flowers would give those children joy and heal them of terrible sickness.

“They tell me that my father had her buried atop the mountains, the loop of flowers upon her coffin. They will never hold ill will to me.”

Aline listened to all this thoughtfully. From the corner of her gaze, she saw a few random villagers wave to Prince Beau, and he sweetly waved back.

“One day, I will reach the top of those mountains,” she said suddenly. Beau looked at her, rolling the thought in his mind, but he said nothing.

The two of them were eventually drawn to a commotion, that a large number of the villagers were heading towards. They went with them, and to a great showing of strength. Adroit to several large piles of bricks, the villagers were laying down cement and beginning the building of an immense wall. A few guards were posted but, otherwise, the villagers were working to their own accord, a nearby band playing jumpy music to keep the energy constant. When they noticed the prince and Aline, they waved happily to the both of them, their laughing faces covered in sweat and specks of dirt.

Aline waved back to them, then regarded the brick pile a little bit longer. Then, her face beamed. With a smile, she walked over to a stack of bricks, reaching forwards and picking them up.

“What are you doing?” Beau asked.

“What does it look like I’m doing, I’m helping build the wall,” she responded, carrying the bricks in her strong arms. She walked forwards and one of the older gentlemen working pointed to where a little bit of cement was lathered on a shorter part of the wall. She then walked towards this spot and laid the bricks down. Grabbing a nearby scraping knife, she then wiped away some of the extra cement.

Aline turned her head and saw that Beau had also grabbed and was laying a few bricks along the wall, building it up. Aline smiled at him and the people around them cheered them on.

For Aline in particular, it felt good to be working outside. Though she had enjoyed resting in the luxurious castle, work such as this helped keep her strong and in shape, and she enjoyed breaking a good sweat. Scanning, her eyes caught a particularly large brick, one that only one of the true village toughs or guards could pick up with any real ease. But she bit her lip and walked towards it.

“Oh, I don’t mean to be rude, but that one might be too big for you, dear friend,” Beau called to her. But Aline more or less ignored him and reached down, clutching her fingers at the base. When she felt that she had a good grip, she went to lift it up. But to her surprise, it was indeed heavier than she thought.

“Oof!,” she grunted, unable to have picked it up more than an inch before it dropped from her hands.

“Do you need help?” Beau asked with a tinge of worry.

“No, it’s fine!”

Aline took a deep breath and tried to flex her arms, getting blood to pump into them. She grit her teeth, found the same good hold, and really tried to put some power into it. Indeed, she had picked it up to where she was holding it just above her chest.

“Ergh!,” Aline growled through the strain. She attempted to walk and reach for the fire in her gut when-all of a sudden, a familiar cold rush washed all over her body. The rage she had went for came back completely empty. Immediately, her strength gave out, and she felt the heavy stone falling from her hands.

“Huh!” she gasped in fear, attempting to step back from the falling weight. But from the corner of her eye, a friendly shape came darting to her side. With great reflexes, Beau reached out and caught the stone.

“Woah!” he shouted, helping her grab it just before it the ground. Aline barely was able to keep her grip, but her reflexes were just quick enough to hold on. She looked down and saw that, had it not been for Beau’s help, the weight surly would have fallen on her foot. She stepped back as another guard came up and took her place.

Aline stepped back, out of breath, only to be caught and held with care. She looked to her left and right and saw that two peasant girls, about her age, had kindly caught her.

“Mademoiselle, are you alright?” one of the girls asked. Aline pulled her arms away from them, holding herself.

“Quoi? No, I don’t think-,” Aline began, before Beau stepped forward, having offered his side of the stone to another large man, the two of whom then carried it to the wall.

“She’s alright, just a little scared,” Beau said while stepping forward and gingerly taking one of Aline’s tightly squeezed hands. “Aline, are you alright?”

Aline regarded her good friend, but in her mind, all she could think of was a sea of red flowers, and the shadow of a large tiger. Then, her eyes flashed to Beau’s kind and concerned face.

“Oh, Beau,” she exclaimed before reaching out and wrapping her arms around him. And he supported her as much as he could.

The Princess, The Tiger & The Pear

Chapter 7

The room was musty.

The room was musty, for the air was thick with innumerable dust particles, heavy enough to make most people cough with a violence, and retreat to the outside and fresher air.

Perhaps some of the mustiness came from the old swamp wood that was used to line the dark chamber, the beams of which were marked with images of impish characters dancing in dreadful mischief. Perhaps, but it was much more likely that all of it was coming from the somber throne of the goblin king.

What once was a solid iron chair was now covered top to bottom in mold. Mold made up of vile swaths of dark green, spotted with patches of black dots, some of which were tipped with white spores. Mushrooms appeared here and there, and the whole thing reeked with the smell of rotted food. Indeed, there were many piles of molded over plates and other accoutrements next to the throne. And many little beetles, worms and parasites scurried between the covering jungles of fungus that made it’s disgusting shape.

And upon the throne, in solemn contemplation, was the goblin king, sighing mournfully.

He was actually quite tall and handsome; his face was chiseled, his jaw was square, and his frame solid, suggesting he was of fine build. Yet his features were rather boyish in appearance; his mosslike hair, coiffured, his cheeks, clean of stubble, and his eyes were wide, but still gleaming with darkness like twin pieces of coal, balancing out his eternally pale, sickly green complexion. He was frowning, in his clean clothes which were finely sewn with good linen. His long, pointed ears twitched with agitation.

This throne-room was dark, all light blocked out by high, mottled, rotted curtains, which once had images of past goblin kings upon them, eternally hidden by thick mold. Yet, even such encompassing shadow, all of the room’s features could still be perceived. Soft light poured across the entire circumference of the place, so that nothing could be hidden. Light that was of a gentle kind, sweet and pretty.

All of this light emanated from one source.

In the center of the room was the shape of a beautiful woman, carved from diamond, laying upon a mossy altar. She was beautiful and womanly, with a look that was immortal, swept up in a silver dress inlaid with diamonds that were arranged in ornate spirals. She lay still.

But she was not dead.

The kindly light that poured from her, evidence of a powerful magic, was proof that somewhere in her deep slumber, a remnant of vitality softly glared.

“Aurore,” whispered Mathieu, his voice baritone and measured. He got up from his seat, and as he did, moths flew out from his collar and sleeves, and he adjusted the rapier he kept on his side. In his gray slippers, he strode to her side, overlooking her resting face. Her eyes were closed, yet he could see through her features and onto the pillow he had laid beneath her head.

From somewhere outside of this foul chamber, a slight breeze went through the room and rustled her bangs. Mathieu raised a clawed hand and fixed the hairs on her brow. But closed, her eyes remained.

She might as well be dead. Mathieu felt the anger boiling in himself, and he growled, wincing in deeply bored-in frustration. He had scoured the land, far and wide, robbing, stabbing and stealing every piece of her shattered body.

“You are mine,” Mathieu hissed with an intense lividness. “You are mine, Aurore. Your body is mine, your beauty is mine, your love is mine, your great magic, your wealth, your daughter and everything else that constitutes your being and success, is all mine.

“All. Mine.

But without her missing diamond heart, she would be this inert piece of useless periphery. Nothing but gaudy furniture, unwanted in such an unwelcoming kingdom. He wanted her magic, to expand,to burn the wretched fungus that covered his palace. To expand his borders and take great leagues of land from the human world. And to fight back against the fairy queen, who insisted on justice, peace, and love for the innocent. To have some of her own magic, to fight against her.

The only way to fight against her. Mathieu reached to his left shoulder, where beneath his shirt lay a deep sear of a scar. A mark from the last time he had tried to fight against the fairy queen, and he had been lucky this was the only mark he had received.

He growled.

As the moths that escaped earlier from his clothes continued to flutter about his head, Mathieu’s agitation continued to mount, and mount, and mount until it was insurmountable.

“Ergh!,” he screamed, drawing his rapier. In a flashing circle of steel, he cut all of them from the air in a broad, clean arc. As the blade caught them, their bodies exploded in a horrific puff of severed legs and wings.

Mathieu barely noticed.

“Aurore, you selfish woman.”

He remembered when the shining stone that once was skin wasn’t cold rock, but warmth. Pure, pure warmth. Warmth that he could hoard and keep to himself. Warmth that he could control, that was like a good hunting dog that could always be depended upon to come back.

It happened like that time and time again. When she would mess up the stew, she could be counted on to try again until she made it right. When she refused to give him her own gold for maintaining the castle, she would always pay him the right amount. And every time they had a vicious, vicious argument, and she could show that she could be so nasty and cruel herself, she would always, always come back to him.

That was why he loved her so.

“Curse you, fairy queen. Curse you, curse you, you wretch.” Mathieu’s eyes were suddenly drawn to some movement on the floor. One of the moths was on the ground, still alive, but missing a wing, which was actually close to it. It was trying to make it’s way to this phantom appendage which used to grant it freedom-and Mathieu suddenly thought of Aline, Aurore’s horrid daughter.

The daughter had always been in the way.

He raised a slipper covered foot and ceased the poor nuisance. He then smeared his shoe across the stone.

The diamond heart. That’s all he was missing, all he needed.

And the goblin king stirred. He left the throne room and meandered his way to the grand hall. It was listless, empty, it’s blue stone walls moist and oozing with damp earth. All about, bugs stirred, spiders crawled and worms writhed and slimed amongst its many crevices. A musty breeze wheezed its way through the length.

Mathieu suddenly fell to his knees. He felt dizzy, as his mind spiraled around and around with his want of Aurore and all the comforts she would bring him once he had her back.

“Aurore, I made you fall in love with me once, I will make you fall in love with again. Again and again and again. Again, you are mine. You are mine, you are mine, you are mine.

“I will play this game as long as I have to. You are the prize that was taken from me and I will have you back.

“For you are mine and mine alone.”

So consumed with greed for Aurore was he, he did not notice his goblin minions-small, vile, fanged and wretched things-lift their king up. They held his hands and kept him sturdy as they took him along the rest of the hallway and into the ballroom. Their, many goblin seigneurs and their goblin ladies were partaking in grog and other wretched sundries. They were naked and dancing around in crazed, evil states. But when their king entered, they all stopped and stared.

Mathieu seemed shaken but steady. Then, a noise was heard from up above the rafters.

They watched as a crow flew in from a high window up with a poisonous agility. It dropped and landed upon the floor in a hectic prattle, cawing shrilly. For a moment it seemed to be more bug than bird.

Then, it’s back arched up and snapped. It’s wings suddenly shriveled and twisted, audibly breaking in many places as it fell to the floor. The bird twitched a few times and was still with shattered death.

From it’s beak, a black fog, slow and heavily viscous, emerged. It rose from the dead bird as a small cloud.

Mathieu was slowly coming to from his daze. His gaze centered on this perforating fog. “A splinter of mind has returned,” he spoke to himself.

A few of the other goblins in the room leapt upon the bird carcass and pulled it apart, before eating it in a flurry of blood and feathers. At the same time, the fog suddenly shot out at Mathieu with great speed-like a viper striking at it’s prey.

Mathieu’s eyes rolled back as the fog forced it’s way into his body through the corners of his eyes, which began to bleed green blood at their edge. A few wisps forced their way into his body through his fingernails, breaking them.

Their was a hiss, as eventually all the smoke entered his body. He gasped as his eyes rolled back into place.

Then, he smiled a sick, twisted goblin smile. One most befitting of his rank.

“I’ve found it.”

The goblin parties in the ballroom roared in triumph, excited at this news. They jumped back into their festive orgies and continued to slog in swaths of spores, preparing for whatever their king planned next in the only way they knew how.

Behind the goblin king, a few yards away was a bespectacled goblin stroking his chin in contemplation. He was standing before a few birdcages, each holding one or two crows. After a moment, he reached for one in particular. The bird inside it jumped around frantically.

 

Update 2

5/24/2017

Bienvenue, mes amis. This is a minor update, just wanted to say I’m back from a little week of hecticness. Expect more writing, some editing on previous posts, and those other updates I mentioned soon.

-Reese

Frankish Vision IV: Flourish

To emerge from war,

Scarred

To feel petrifying fear,

Barred

To feel mine life,

Waste

To detest my own,

Face

To be consumed,

Sloth

To be a thief,

Goth

To be a Merovingian,

Lust

To hate where once was none,

Rust

To lose all hope,

Void

To paint the walls black,

Destroyed

To continue this journey,

Rough

To flourish, is to say,

Enough

For I have had my mother hold me and in tears, beg me to live

And I am tired of being held back from hearth I miss

So, enough of this childish nonsense

Enough of this fattening redundence

Break these ashened pillars of apathy

My body painted in the new math of me

My sight, returned

Flourish, the new word

A marriage to my own kingdom

Pax Francorum, forever ringing

Frankish angels, sweetly singing

Frankish angels forever singing

This universe that exists spans the bredth of that which will make you burn

You will be taught to unlearn

I yearn for that which I must learn

To God I go, sword in hand, to Carolingian graves, to make me turn

Amen

The Princess, The Tiger & The Pear

Chapter 6

She had been dreaming, that she was in a place other than the deep, dark dungeon of the ogre. It had been another room of darkness, but of a gentler kind.

Then there had been a light.

Geometric lines and edges, that were soft.

A sweet hum, melodic.

Then her eyes opened.

She took in her surroundings; the first thing she saw was a spacious ceiling made of clean stone, painted white with the black points of many tiny stars.

She blinked a few times, moving her sore neck to her left and right.

She had awoken in a fine, restful bed with silken sheets, comfortable pillows and blankets. More than that, she was in a cozy room with walls painted in gentle blues and other lulling colors. Next to her bed on the opposite wall was a tall window, which overlooked to an expansive forest and clear sky.

Maybe her dream hadn’t been a dream at all.

She pulled the blankets off of her and stiffly stood up. As she moved her blonde waves, she saw that she was wearing a long, silken night gown. She gently moved to the window and looked out and saw besides a forest, a small town, bustling in the afternoon light. People were strolling between stalls, carrying goods, dressed in simple clothes and busily talking to each other and the merchants they encountered.

Truth.

Truth, it wasn’t a dream!

“Wooh!” Aline cried, throwing her arms in the air and jumping up in excitement. She went back to her bed and rolled around on top of it, clutching the pillow and laughing hysterically. Tears of happiness were welling up in her eyes. For the first time in a long time, she was smiling and so, so happy.

She was free!

She slowed her excitement though and stopped rolling on the bed as she started putting her memories back together.

Wait, where was she and how had she gotten here?

She remembered running from the burning house and-

Aline’s senses were suddenly alerted as she heard the door to this room suddenly open. She quickly turned her head and saw an older woman, dressed in the outfit of an attendant staring in at her.

“Oh my goodness!” the lady cried while Aline jumped out of her bed. “Don’t be afraid, cherie!” said the attendant.

“Who are you?” Aline asked.

“I am Henriette, handmaid to King Grande and his son, Prince Beau, the young man you rescued. Do you remember?” The woman’s voice was as sweet as rose petals dipped in honey.

Aline calmed herself, but still looked at the woman warily. Then she remembered her run through the forest, a deep pool and a young boy at it’s bottom. She remembered diving in cold water and seeing nothing but dark depths and the distant shape of the boy.

That was it.

“I… I remember some.”

“Good, good. Now, stay where you are, the prince would like to see you very much.” Henriette gave a big, sweet smile, while moving a gray bang from her eye. “Don’t worry dear, you are safe here. Oh, and there are fresh clothes for you in that cabinet there. We’ll knock before we come in.” And with that, Henriette closed the door, and Aline heard a few shuffled footsteps of the old lady walking away.

Aline stood there for a moment, swaying. She turned her head and saw a mirror, and saw that she was still in her sleeping gown. Next to the mirror was a large dresser, which after she opened revealed many fine clothes. She grabbed a turqoise dress, an additional cloak and fixed her hair before sitting on an adjacent chair.

Yes, she remembered much now.

She remembered her encounter with the tiger and the promise of her rage for a way out.

She remembered the ogre exploding in a wreathe of fire before her.

And she remembered carrying with her the chest that held her mother Aurore’s heart.

Immediately, she began furiously searching the room for the chest. She had carried nothing else with her during her escape, but had the prince left the chest back in the forest?

“Are you looking for this, cherie?”

Aline, who had been looking under the pillows she had just been sleeping on, turned her head to the doorway. There before her was the boy from the forest that she had saved from drowning, dry and dressed in fine accoutrements. And in his hands was the chest. Behind him was an exasperated Henriette.

Aline eyed him carefully. He was handsome, with dark hair that fell in fine bangs. He had somewhat small eyes, and his cheekbones were well shaped. Once she was sure of him, she remembered some of Aurore’s points on civility. Aline smiled and gave a tiny curtsy.

“Um, bonjour my dear. My name is Beau.”

“The prince of these lands,” chimed Henriette spoke behind him. Beau looked back at his handmaid, cheeks slightly blushed. “Yes, Henriette, I just didn’t want that to be the first thing I said.”

Henriette swatted the young man’s ears, causing him to flinch in pain. “Prince Beau, your cheeks should be redder than that! Cherie, I’m so sorry, I told you we would knock first but this young man was so excited to see you that he barged right in!” Henriette’s frown at the young man was scarier than the kindness of her face would have led you to believe.

Aline giggled, for she found this exchange humorous and a relief compared to what she had just been through.

“It’s fine, sweet Henriette, I had already changed. Then, Aline’s gaze became strong and her attitude serious. “Prince,” she began while clearing her throat. “May I take my chest back?”

“Oh, of course,” said Beau, as he actually stepped towards Aline and placed the chest before her. Aline took it and as she did so, Beau reached into his pocket and gave her a familiar dark key. Aline took both, walking back and putting them under her pillows. That would have to do for now. After this, she looked at Beau.

“Did you?,” and as she spoke, she motioned to the spot that hid the treasures. Beau shook his head.

“No, of course not, and I kept chest and key with me at all times. No one else but me and Henriette know of it.” Aline’s shoulders dropped in relief, deeply exhaling.

“Merci beaucoup,” was all she could say.

There was a moment’s pause.

Beau stepped forward. “My good friend, what is your name?” Aline blinked, then gasped as she realized she had not introduced herself yet to anyone here. She immediately stepped forward, taking the prince’s hand and looking him in his dark eyes.

“Je m’appelle Aline,” she said, her naturally melodic voice sounding lyrical as she spoke her name. Behind her eyes, she thought about how long it had been since she had heard, let alone spoken her name.

Aline.

The prince looked into her eyes, then squeezed her hand. “My pleasure,” he whispered.

They barely had a moment to say anything more before loud, angry footsteps could be heard. Aline and Beau turned around to see a tall, broad-shouldered man dressed in splendid garments suddenly in the doorway. He had long, dark hair, a long beard and the same eyes as Beau. Aline could immediately tell that this man was Beau’s father. But whereas Beau’s light eyes held a gentle incandescent shine to them, his father’s eyes radiated fury.

“Boy!” he roared like a wyrm. “Why are you here right now? Why aren’t you hunting right now?”

“Grande, please,” Henriette began before the king looked down at her, swords of impatience stinging into her vision. Henriette, now forcibly humbled, then meekly silenced herself. Beau then stepped forward.

“Father, please, I was just coming to check on the girl who saved me. Remember? I had my guards bring her up here. Her name is Aline.”

The king huffily regarded Aline, but he managed to take a single, calming breath, his cheeks losing only a hint of their red sheen.

“Yes. Yes, thank you. Sincerely, I thank you. Please, come to dinner tonight.” He didn’t necessarily sound sincere, but Aline graciously nodded in acceptance. The king immediately returned his attention to his son.

“As I said, you should have been hunting by now! Our handmaids would have taken care of this vagabonde, and you could have met her in the evening once you were done.”

“Father, I couldn’t wait until then, I owe her too much. And as I’ve told you before I-”

“You what?” the king growled menacingly, interrupting his son. Beau suddenly stopped any action. Gulping, he quickly flicked his head to look at Aline before returning his attention to the king, straightening himself.

“I hate hunting!”

With a surge of speed, the king stepped forward and slapped Beau across his face. The smack was loud and Beau immediately clutched the cheek that had received the blow. He stared at the ground, trying to fight back the sting he felt before it brought on his tears.

“My prince!” Henriette yelled as she rushed over and gently reached down to inspect the spot. Aline walked to Beau, resting a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it to let him know he was all right.

“Go down, get your musket and make up for the time you’ve lost,” the king hissed. “No son of mine will be allowed to be weak,” he said before turning around, his robes trailing behind him like a lizard’s tail. But as he walked away, Aline turned her attention to, stabbing at his back with her coldest, iciest stare.

“King Grande!” she roared a challenge with so much bravada, the king did stop and turn to face her, his visage belying a crease of open surprise. Though he was much bigger than her, Aline walked forward with no fear felt at all to impede her steps. How dare this man strike his own family! She stepped to him, to let him know this fact. But when she had summoned the breath-

Nothing.

She felt nothing.

Aline gasped, suddenly short for air as a cold rush crashed across her spine, chest and forehead. A sliding feeling was felt in her gut, for in her mind, she had reached forth from there to pull out her own fury. But where there should have been a fire, a heat, there was an emptiness that brought a feeling of weightlessness to her entire frame.

The consternation of the tiger prince.

She stumbled, and the king’s gaze regained it’s edge. Aline looked up at him, and he now seemed immensely intimidating to her. And his blooming rage felt as though a hot desert wind had blasted her in the face, causing her to stumble back.

“I said you were invited to dinner. Don’t make me take my invitation back,” the king spoke, grabbing and ruffling the hem of his robes. “Boy, follow me.”

Aline could only wobbily stand there, as she felt Beau walk past her. She saw he was still clutching his face. But he briefly turned to look at her. Somehow, he was smiling.

“Let’s talk later,” he managed to quietly squeak out before he followed his father out and down the hall.

Aline was still weak, but she felt the kind grip of Henriette lead her to sit at the edge of the bed, touching Aline’s forehead to check her temperature, wiping away beads of cold sweat. So distraught was Aline, and in a cold daze, she didn’t even hear Henriette say she would come back with some cold water for her to drink.

The Princess, The Tiger & The Pear

Chapter 5

The ogre’s lair was nothing but ashes.

The orchards, a smoldering ruin.

The barrier that had hid this foul estate for many years, dissipated, burned away by the fires of Aline’s rage. All of this had been burned away by her rage. The rage of a young woman seeking freedom, collecting the light of one who loved her so much.

And overhead in the clouds, a raven, somber and as dark as rotted licorice, quickly flew by. It was scanning the area, looking for details and drawn to this site by some unhearable calling. Now, it seemed to be hunting for a scent.

It’s curiosity had brought it firstly to the remnants of the ogre’s shack. From the air, it payed attention to the way the soft breeze that was rushing through this place was rustling the thick layer of ashes that lined where poorly made floorboards had once been. With it’s sharp eyes, it soon spotted the outline of Aline’s deep prison.

Yes, yes! Something powerful resided here, yes!

It then caught an updraft that lifted it up smoothly, without it having to make the exertion of having to flap it’s wings. From there, it’s head seemed to take notice of an invisible trail that meandered through the burnt branches of the orchard. It then hurriedly proceeded to follow that trail.

Then, it ran through here. Whatever it was, it ran through here!

The trail took it out of the husk of an orchard and into the deep forest. Through the leagues of deciduous shade it darted, flying through the thick expanse with skill and speed that only a predator is capable of. It was getting closer, it knew, for the trail was thickening, congealing into a more solid form.

The trail brought the bird to a certain calm forest pool, it’s surface pleasantly littered with petals and leaves. There on the shore, it landed with a sickening pitter and a patter. On the ground, it hopped around like a large bug as it’s eyes followed and traced traced a lingering outline, an impression that was left in the moist dirt.

A person-no, a girl-person lay here. I can tell, it was a girl-person!

Then, it fluttered and hopped, cawing in shrill excitement. It had spotted the flat and square impression of where a small and heavy chest had been. From this spot was a brilliant glare, and the raven was turning it’s head as if having to protect it’s dark eyes.

Yes, yes! The power, the power! The power had been here, yes!

It then flew with renewed energy straight up to a spot high in the darkening, twilight sky. Refocusing it’s gaze, it followed the trail which was now more powerful than it had ever been before. For many miles it followed this invisible yet hotly blazing path. For in the raven’s eyes, the trail wasn’t invisible, but dotted with the pulsing sparks of a powerful magic. The raven was cawing in a way that sounded like pain inducing laughter; it was going to find the treasure, tonight and for sure!

Then, it stopped.

In it’s tracks, between the cool of a lingering cloud.

For though the path was clear, where it was taking the raven, it had not expected. For there, not too far in the distance, was a settlement. There were many simple houses, those that belonged to villagers, many of whom the raven could see were retiring for the night, calling in their little ones and closing their doors. Some were making final checks on their livestock, and a few of the houses had smoke pluming forth from there chimneys. A few young men and women were making their way back from the village tavern, from which loud accordions could be heard when the door opened. Additionally, from the taverns halls, bawdy and cheerful laughter could also be heard-which seemed to be painful to the raven.

The beastie turned it’s attention away from the village and to a grander sight. Up on a nearby hill, overlooking them all, was a tall and mighty chateau. Its towers and windows were high, outlined with a blue frame. It was large and it’s craftsmanship spoke of finery, it’s tiled roof the sort built to keep warmth in despite the bleakest cold. But above all else, its ramparts and walls said that it was capable of strength and military defense. And patrolling its walls, carrying small lanterns, guards could be seen patrolling, carrying swords and muskets. Despite the setting sun, their eyes were bright with alertness.

The raven screamed and fluttered in piercing aggravation.

No, no! I was so close! There will be too many guards for me!

The raven was thrashing about, swatting at the clouds, lashing and viciously stirring at the air with it’s small but sharp talons. Eventually though, its fit had ceased. Its chest began to not puff out so much.

Still, still. I know where the power is. Yes, yes. I know where it is!

The raven’s eyes suddenly glowed an eerie brightness, a color indescribable and that spoke to mischief most vile. And then, a spiraling flame spewed from it’s beak with a shuttering cough, flying before it in the air. At first, the flame was a chaotic mess. But it then formed into the shape of a window, all the while glowing the same strange light as the raven’s eyes had but a moment ago. A window whose purview bespoke of a place frought with ill intentions and wickedness.

Oh, Matthieu will be most pleased with me! Yes, yes he will.

The raven then flew into this portal, disappearing suddenly. The flames quickly dissolved, as if neither flame nor bird had ever been there to begin with, leaving only the wisps of clouds to bear any witness.

Frankish Vision III: Clothilda

This moment is her glory

She shines bright in the morning

Giving arms to the radiance around her

Giving alms to the daughters that found her

For seven years, she has worked to destroy

The shadow tower you tried to build over her joy

Every brick a cruelty, every wall, lain with her stress

And yet now she stands before you in golden dress

An address;

The tower has been illumined away

The knowledge and prosperity made the mortar sway

Until all your groomed evil’s weight collapsed

You cannot escape from your new Tolbiacs

Yet, still she comes to you and raises an offering, open hand

And you remember the moment’s stare, in distant land

When the both of you sat across from each other

And pleadingly, she sought truth you would not offer

Please, please be my lover;

It was difficult, to escape the lie of your wing

To unchain herself from your taunts and stings

But she persevered against your relentless sneer

All the courage of the archangels to free from fear

And yet, she understands the power of forgiveness

And for those she shelters, a light through the mists

You kneel to her now, as all will at St. Genevive

Married now to a new, beautiful light and eve

She is the bride of courageous peace

This universe that exists spans the bredth of that which will make you burn

You will be taught to unlearn

I yearn for that which I must learn

To God I go, sword in hand, to Carolingian graves, to make me turn

Amen

The Princess, The Tiger & The Pear

Chapter 4

Aline could feel the heat of the flames against her feet, and she felt the breeze of flying for but a moment before the hard slam of the ground against the pillow and her body.

“Ooph!,” she shouted as she landed, rolling on the ground and trying to absorb as much of the blow as she could. She looked up to see that the cabin was completely on fire, and some of the nearby pear trees were also beginning to catch fire as well. Quickly getting up and holding the key and box as tightly as she could to herself, she proceeded to run as long and as hard as she could, out of the orchard and into the forest.

How long she ran, she could not say. Barefoot and with but her working dress, she felt the stabs of the forest floor and the slashes of the tree branches against her face and shoulders. Pollen, thick and annoying, infiltrated her nostrils, making her sneeze.

But she was free.

“Wooh!,” she began to scream in joy, ignoring the pain she felt. She was smiling and felt more joy than she had in a long time. The dirt on the forest floor had a clean feel to it against her feet, the branches provided great swaths of cool shade and the air was thick with the smell of blooming flowers. She laughed loudly, over and over again.

The monster was gone and she felt no pity for him.

Eventually, as darkness began to descend, she eventually found a small, woodland pool. Stopping by it’s banks, she rested the key and small treasure chest on the shores and took a few steps in. The water was brisk but felt good. There, she took a few deep drinks from the clean mountain water and cleaned her feet and arms, washing the sap and dirt away from her face and hair, occasionally letting out a small laugh and smile. Everything just seemed bigger and more open than it ever had before. When she was done cleaning herself off, she began twirling and dancing in the shallows, kicking water and splashing nearby fern plants.

“Yaaaaaay!” she yelled, letting the positive energy flow through her. She was so, so happy.

She was resting.

Which is why she did not immediately notice the boy.

Looking down in the water, she followed the silver swimming of a tiny fish by her feet. As the fish swam into the deeper part, she saw a shape she did not immediately recognize. At first she thought it might have been a small statue deep in the pool. But when she looked closer she saw that some twenty feet away from her was the shape of a young man who looked like he had lost conscious underwater and was drowning.

“Oh mon dieu!,” Aline cried when she finally realized what it was. She looked around the shore and saw no other evidence that the boy had left any belongings on the shore. She bit her lip, panicking.

Seeing no other options but not being much of a swimmer herself, she took a few steps forward and a deep breath before she dove down to where the boy was as best as she could. Here, the water was cold and the depths were making her head pound as she dove as best as she could. Her head was ringing like a bell from the pressure and she herself was running out of air. But she finally grabbed the boy by his shirt and just as she began having to gulp water, they made it to the surface.

She was coughing, sputtering with water.

“Poor, poor heavy boy” Aline grunted as she held him as close as she could. Using all of her strength, she carried the well dressed young man to the shore and over to her belongings, laying him on his back. Exhausted and without energy, she could feel herself passing out. But squeezing her hand into a fist, she slammed it against the young man’s chest as hard as she could.

Once.

Twice.

Thrice before he sat up and began sputtering and coughing great amounts of water from his lungs.

“What, no!,” he shouted while looking around himself, appearing unsure of his surroundings. Wiping a few black hairs from his handsome face, he found himself looking into the wet, exhausted face of Aline, blinking from fatigue.

“You, you saved me,” he whispered politely.

Aline tried to weakly smile before she passed out on the spot, her head falling on a soft, comforting pile of red leaves, that had not been on that shore but a second ago. Not far from her head was the key and the iron chest. And for a moment, inside, the heart beated for but a moment.

 

The Princess, The Tiger & The Pear

Chapter 3

She was trying to think.

She was trying to think about the moment and not what it would soon be like to be free of the hell she had lived in for a year.

She was trying to think about what she would say to try and get the wicked ogre to eat the fruit that would spell his ultimate doom.

But most of all she was focusing on being calm and being natural, trying to harness whatever rage still flowed in her veins into this, her final mission, if she was not careful. And as she walked into the entrance, holding the pear behind her in her hands, she felt the disgusting cool of the wooden cabin welcome her like a vulture’s claws wrapping themselves around a mouse. And of course, there was that ugly ogre, Brute, sitting by his gross living-room table on his chair, looking smugly expectant as rivers of anger flowed through the squelches in his brow.

Aline tilted her head down, looking at him with unflinching intensity, breathing with hard anger.

For a moment, neither said anything.

“Don’t just stand there girl!,” Brute roared, clearly uncomfortable with the vicious stare Aline was destroying him with. “Get over here now!”

But Aline stood as still as as the mountain; only a slight breeze rustled her hair.

Brute blinked in stupid confusion; ‘did this scrawny human girl just disobey me?’ But that was impossible, he would kill her immediately if she disobeyed him.

He immediately stood up, hoping that his eight-foot height and bulky frame would scare her back to her senses but this too was ineffective. So he began walking towards her, raising his hand to strike her across her stubborn face. But before he could, she raised her right hand in front of her, holding the red pear in front of her.

“Un moment, monsieur,” she said aloud and Brute did stop for a brief moment to eye the oddity in her hand, only to smack it out of her grasp. The moment was fast but she saw the pear fly across the air and hit the nearby wall.

No!, she thought to herself as she focused her gaze back on Brute who had now wrapped his ugly claws on her shoulders and was shaking her with great, angry strength. Aline heard inconsolable and unintelligible anger in his voice as she saw her hair whipping all around her. She was being shaken so hard and with such force that she thought that if she didn’t keep her neck straight she thought it might break, before he forcefully threw her hard on the ground, causing her to hit her forehead against the floor.

“Ugh!,” Aline coughed in pain as she began massaging her forehead, all the while Brute roared so hard, dust in the air was pushed all around him. Aline didn’t pay attention to him for she knew that he was just blabbering on about how she could never disobey him like that without punishment. And yet, in that moment, the only thing she found herself doing was being angry; not at the ogre but instead at Aurore, of all people. How is it that her mother, the most beautiful and gentle woman Aline had ever met had not just let herself become shattered but had also left her daughter in the dregs of a hideous, unstoppable, offensive beast like this monster?

Aurore.

Why?

How could you do this? How could you do this to yourself and to your daughter?

“Hate,” Aline whispered to herself, spitting a tiny bit of blood onto the floor in front of her while trying to get up. “I hate you, Aurore.”

Pardon?,” came the deep voice of Brute, confusion swathing through his anger. Aline looked back up at him.

“How did my mother shatter? How is it that I am here, and have only memories of living with my mother and then suddenly being here?

“I have no idea why I’m here right now.”

There was a moment’s pause from Brute before he made a quiet chuckle which of course quickly turned into a belly grabbing, full forced laughter.

“Who the hell are you?,” she demanded.

“Stupid girl, it looks like I shook you into idiocy,” he said, while looking down at her coyly. “But as I told you once before, your mother lost a bet with the king of the goblins.”

“What bet?”

“The bet that she could not fall in love with him or else she would turn into diamonds. But Matthieu, the king of the goblins is shrewd and cunning; he courted her the way all men who want a woman only for the sake of a game court them.

“Do you know how men court women only for the sake of a game?”

Aline shook her head and Brute smiled smugly.

“Some find those with little self-confidence and force themselves into their lives by way of sweet blessings. Others find those who have a little more confidence and let them think they are in charge of the relationship and the situation, even when they are clearly not. But your mother, well, she was not either of those types of women. She is the strong and mystical type, the type of woman that is the hardest and most satisfying to conquer. To conquer strong women like Aurore is hard.

“But Matthieu is patient. And so, by using his charms, his magics, his cleverness and his vernacular she could not help but fall in love with him. And when she did, in a gasp, she turned into diamond; all according to his plan, his plan to steal her magic.

“But,” said Brute, looking disgruntled and angry, stopping himself. His already angry brow suddenly became more intense.“But the queen of the fairies was watching over your mother. And when Aurore fell into pieces, she shattered her to protect her from falling into his clutches.

“Yet, fortunately, I was lucky enough to have claimed Aurore’s heart. Even now, Matthieu looks all across the kingdom for me.”

Aline listened intently, while memories of Aurore flooded her vision, cold goosebumps creeping across her arms. Looking up at Brute, she asked him plainly, “Why am I in your clutches then?”

And for the first time, Brute looked at her with but the slightest hint of something other than cruelty and malice. It was a look of condescension tinged with a small balance of respect, as if this is something his young prisoner should know herself. And yet, even this was laced with sarcasm and credulence. Still, his answer was honest.

“Because you are closest to her heart,” he replied.

For a moment, he kept looking down at her while Aline, dirty and calloused, covered her mouth with her hand and let out a small tear. Any sympathy Brute may have had had quickly left his senses. But he turned around to where the red pear had landed, went over and picked it up. It was small in his massive claw.

“A red pear?,” he asked the air. “And it is warm with the softness of a slight magic.” Looking over to her, he said, “Once I eat it, you will go back to work immediately.” Aline then looked up to see Brute, without anymore hesitation, throw the fruit into his mouth and swallow it with a loud, juicy crunch.

Then, nothing.

“What a strange flavor,” Brute said. “Hot, with an Earthy flavor. Like a heavier, darker cinnamon flavor.”

Aline watched expectantly from her corner on the floor. Had the magic failed?

Then, Brute went to say something when he suddenly stopped, a horrified expression on his face. He made a few puzzled, painful gasps as tears began to flow from his eyes and smoke began to pour from his mouth in lengthy plumes.

“Aaaah!,” he loudly screamed, clutching his throat and falling onto the floor. Aline stood up, watching in horror as Brute’s entire body soon began smoking and sparking, his dirty clothes quickly catching fire while he rolled in agony and futility.

What have you done to me?!!,” he roared as the fire consuming his body from the inside began to fume from his bubbling skin and start igniting the entire cabin on fire. He was in such pain, he was destroying the floor with his bare hands as he pounded them in painful vain.

In but a moment, Aline was beginning to find herself in an inferno.

But still, she was paying attention.

Brute, who was writhing on his back, quickly turned onto his gut and was trying to crawl out to the back porch door when Aline saw her opportunity finally before her. She ran over to the struggling ogre and while his back pocket was undefended, she pulled the iron key from his pocket, surprisingly cool in her hand.

Without a moment to lose, she ran up the stairs to Brute’s room and let herself in to the poorly maintained room that consisted of a lone mattress in the corner, several piles of trash and next to a little stand, the ornate box that held her mother’s diamond heart.

She had just grabbed the box when she heard the heavy stomps of the ogre coming up the stairs. Knowing that he was in a rage and no longer had any patience for her to be alive, she noticed his long window, the one he had used to watch her work in his orchard with for several months.

“That has to be it,” she told herself. Looking around the room that also had smoke breaking through the cracks in it’s walls, she put the heart’s box on the ground, grabbed Brute’s little nightstand and threw it against the glass of the window, shattering it. She picked the heart’s box again and noticed a clear bottle that messily read ‘alcool‘ next to the nightstand when the door to the room opened and Brute came in, practically nothing more than a flaming, angry skeleton.

“Give me back your mother’s heart!,” he roared with fury, running over to where Aline stood. With few options left, Aline picked up the bottle, pulled out the cork that sealed it and threw it against the monster that had enslaved her for a year of her life. At the same time, she picked up the massive pillow Brute slept with, a hard and disgusting thing. And with the ornate box still underneath her arm, she leapt out the window with the pillow underneath her while the explosion that once was Brute followed behind her like a shadow.

Of fire.