Rose and Dust

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Historical Fantasy
How the forest became cursed... Prologue to The Curse of Torro

Submitted: August 16, 2018

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Submitted: August 16, 2018

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Once there was a small kingdom nestled along Mount Rehu. Queen Aura and King Hete were kind people, but conservative and traditional. They ascended to royalty in their practical skills of healing, medicine and prowess in hunting.The people of Rehu lived in quiet simplicity and having no need of imports were not familiar with outsiders. 

They strictly limited their trade to payment in gold, yet their exports abounded in tea, metal, rice and artisan crafts. 

The lack of emphasis on trade was further implemented in that the foreign powers could only trade with a special group of Rehu merchants who would carefully purchase goods for import that would not negatively impact the prices of domestic Rehu goods.

It was with this piqued frustration that the Prince of Torro asked an entrance with the king and queen. The inequality in trade frustrated the Prince of Torro as Rehu racked in Torro gold but didn’t purchase Torro goods. 

When the Prince refused their customary ritual of disarming and robing in Rehu garb, they refused an entrance with the Prince. He used his small group of men in arms, demanding an entrance with the Royals.

With no desire to fight, King Hete allowed the men to enter, but insisted on their disarming. The Prince of Torro refused again, accusing the Rehus of hoarding precious stones and monopolizing trade. He turned back to their ships, swearing revenge on their denial to meet him.

The Prince of Torro was second in line to inherit the Torro Throne. His father was approaching old age, and unwilling to see his two sons bicker over who would be king, he divided his kingdom into two separate realms. Torro and Knoro.

The Prince of Torro was eager to see his kingdom prosperous and paced many days and nights in his castle trying to come up with a plan to break the Rehu trade inequality.

Frustrated, he took to the streets of Hoyd, which cobbled and vibrant with live music and entertainment, do not match the Prince’s somber mood.

He and several of his officers worked in customs, checking the imports from their territory of Indo. It disgusts him to find dust among the imports, an illegal narcotic banned throughout the united empire.

It had destroyed families and disrupted enterprise and work. Any found selling or using were thrown into jail or fined. He threatened the trader, and the merchant stutters he had sent the dust to the wrong route; that he intended the dust to Rehu. 

The Prince of Torro raised his baton to strike the man at his lie, but then thinks perhaps sending the dust to Rehu was not such a bad idea. For while the residents did not need dust, the addictive nature of the powder would produce it. The Prince freed the tradesman, instructing him to sell all of his dust to Rehu, and to instruct the other merchants to do the same. 

Queen Aura and Hete took no initial interest in the dust trade, in fact, they tolerated it as the Rehu subjects would use gold to buy dust which the foreigners would use again to purchase Rehu goods.

By the time the addictive and destructive nature of the substance reached the king and queen, it was too late. It left families indigent as fathers spent their entire wages on dust, violence increased as people fought over the best prices and concentrations, and the side effects of dust left its users paranoid and aggressive. A ban was issued on the import of dust, but smugglers still found their way in.

Death was declared the punishment to traffickers. This stemmed foreign outcry by importers who were filling their pockets with gold from addicts. Queen Aura, frustrated with the deterioration of her country, closed the Rehu doors to all imports and trade. She believed the quarantine would flush out the addiction. The foreign trade ships were insolent and defensive; they depended solely on Rehu merchants for food and water while stranded without business in the ports. An insidious rumor spread that the Rehu royals had poisoned the wells the merchants replenished their water from. 

It is then that the Prince of Torro stepped in. The prince returned with a fleet of ships to defend the Torro merchants. Using cannons and gunfire he destroyed the costal towns. The royal family, with their young son, considered in panic whether to flee to the forest as their castle fell under attack.
The young couple hesitate to part, but Queen Aura insisted she stay and command the troops. The Prince of Torro’s attack was a direct insult to her authority. She knew that her husband was better suited to protect their child in fleeing, ascending the mountain weakened her. Her place was here, fighting. 
The king and queen embrace in parting, knowing it could be the last time.

Queen Aura, with tears in her eyes, kissed her small son goodbye, and blessed him with a long and happy life. She promised to defend his inheritance with her life.

The father and son flee for the mountains, where there at the top dwells a fairy who would protect the child to maturity. The king ran in full stealth, the baby snug around his back in a basket. He hoped that the murderers are not close at hand. 
But riders on horseback spot him from the hills above leading towards the fairy’s habitation. He retreats from safety, wishing the night would darken further to protect them. The Torro men whooped and holler in chase, bright torches revealed their path.

The king scaled down an incline, a waterfall shined in the moonlight. Out of sight of the men, he dared not show a weeping face to his child as he opened the basket. He promised it not to be a casket, cradled the child with warmth before he sent him floating down the Ra River. He ran, for he felt his demise close upon him. He hoped the river a path to safety. 
He headed through the night due north, away from where the river would stow the child. He did not seek escape.
A streak of silver adorned his neck. His eyes widen. The darkness of his pupils brighten to blue for just an instant. His left hand shot up to another, his neck bathed red as his mouth opened to cry out.

So instant did blood pour, it was as if a trick of the light had revealed the wound and not a slip of a hand. He strained to stop the advance of the kukuri through his neck. His hands slip from the blood. His eyes gasp in the blue webbed bowie that reaches for his chest. His last breath, a scaring curse to the forest against them. His last defense of his child.

Two Whiteria. His ribs buckle under the blunt edge of the bowie. They wanted to be certain he was killed.  Scorching pain twisted into his frame as the bowie slips into his heart, then left all at once.

His grip loosens on the hand of the man holding the kukuri, the subtle click of vertebrae shift to make room for the thin blade breaking his resolve. 
With no other support, his body dropped, the bowie jarred in his flesh as it hardens.
The assassin yanked at the weapon, flakes of skin peel gray.
But they do not venture far, the forest turned against them. Thorns ensnare their bodies, painfully impale their limbs, the protrusions too thick and gnarly to be detoured by sword.

 

~

 

Queen Aura did her best to rally their defenses, but their walls were no match to the cannons that flatten their homes and walls. The concept of gunpowder was foreign to them, and thus unknown from their lack of trade. They thought none would attack their precious home. She calls for a retreat, knowing the Prince of Torro wanted her head, and as many of her people as possible captured.

But she had promised her son to fight with her life, and so she gathered her dirks and heads upon his cruel ship. 

She dared for the prince to fight her himself.

He refused, and sent men and dogs from the ships to detain her life. 

She fought bravely, stealing her way onto the deck the Prince occupies. He sat at a lavish dining set, admiring the destruction of their home with Rehu tea. He was impeccably clean, unsullied by his own war. His scowl considered her bloody and bruised as unworthy of his presence. 

She screams at him, raised her sword to kill, but she is deftly hit over the head and chained. He demanded to know the location of her son. He mused aloud that he would make a fitting and accepting ruler than his predecessors with his guidance.

Now, she refused, even through torture. She could only hope he was safe as they drag her to the dungeons of the ship. Upon arrival to the Prince of Torro’s castle, they present her to the assembly a token prisoner of war. A hideous storm brewed over the castle, thunder and dark clouds.

The elderly King of Torro was quite pleased with his son’s accomplishment but all’s attention fell on the woman as she wept. She speaks that they curse themselves in bringing her there, for the Rehu mountain and the good fairy atop it kept her true power contained. She was once a hideous witch but her love for Hete and their kingdom had softened her, all of which was destroyed.

She screamed a curse on the prince, the castle, the entire forest, the sheer power in her words rend rifts between the earth and first realm. Evil ministered to her fury.  It transforms the Prince of Torro, in much pain and agony, into a hideous beast. Statues of cupids and angels are demeaned to those of living goblins and ghouls. 

Warriors and civilians scatter from the castle, the especially perturbed lock the Prince within his home, seeking to preserve their own lives.

The sorcerer herself disintegrated into dust, but she does not die.
She wandered the confines of the forest of Rehu to the remains of her husband. She wept for him, charges his corpse to reveal the location of their child. She knows he is dead, consumed by wildlife, or strangled by the elements.

She wished for death, but knew that she must live for her enemies to be cursed still.

After many days of travel, she found solace in the ice caves. She sleeps without aging.

 


© Copyright 2020 Keke Serene. All rights reserved.

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