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Posts tagged “Red Snow

Twin Blood ( A Red Snow Fairy Tale)

After their music lessons ended the twins decided to play in the gardens. They were running around throwing snow at each other, laughing wildly when Cristof saw a little child peering out from behind the crooked tree. She was laughing and she waved at him.

“Did you see that?” Cristof asked his twin.

Petya looked up but the little girl was gone. “See what?” he asked.

“Never mind,” Cristof moaned, dismissing the sight as just being his imagination. They carried on playing and Cristof saw her again. This time she appeared to be angry with him.

“There she is again!” Cristof called pointing to the tree. Petya still saw nothing. “Wait here,” Cristof ordered and made his way to the tree.

Petya watched in silence as his brother neared the great dark trunk. He disappeared behind one side but didn’t emerge from the other.

“Cristof!” he called a couple of times before plucking up his own courage and following his brothers footsteps. He followed the small prints, much like his own, around the tree where they stopped suddenly right at the base. A boy with pale skin and ebony hair was seated in the snow with his head in his hands.

“Have you seen my brother? He looks just like me,” Petya asked sensing Cristof was playing a game with him.

“I haven’t seen anything,” said the boy. He raised his head, opened his eyes and showed empty sockets. “I am blind,” he explained.

“Who are you? Where do you come from?” Petya asked.

“My name is Baldasarre,” said the boy. “I am from a land far from here.”

“What happened to your eyes?”

Baldasarre told him, “They were taken from me. That is why I am here. I am going to retrieve them but I can’t get inside the castle. Will you help me?”

Petya hesitated, “I really need to find my brother.”

Baldasarre sighed, “If you help me get inside the castle I will help you find your brother.”

Petya, sweet, trusting, naïve soul, asked, “What do you need me to do?”

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As with all good fairy tales it all started with a curse. This particular one was brought on by the clash of egos between two powerful witches.

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Diaries of a Cursed Kingdom: A Red Snow Tale

Dearest Brother,

Since boyhood I have enjoyed taking the horses and hounds into Mendelov woods. The bounty of animals to hunt there is wide and varied. It is a tradition passed to me by my father that the meat and fur we find there be shared among the people as much as possible. The nights can be long and cold so the kingdom appreciates the warmth.

Today was different though. There were scarcely any animals to be found save one rabbit which the hounds slaughtered for their own supper. There was a fire in the distance. Some celebration of sorts seemed to be happening in the nearby village. Singing and chanting filled the air. I had just about given up hope of ever finding a deer or elk. The noise had most likely scared them off. I was preparing to turn away when I stumbled across a clearance. My bow was prepared. My straining arms had all but fired a shot. I was startled. Before me was the most beautiful woman my eyes had ever beheld. She was seated upon a white horse. Her long black locks were so dark they almost shone blue in the fading light. Her skin was as white as the freshly fallen snow.

“Aren’t you frightened?” she asked me. Why, in all my heart and soul, would I be frightened by an image so fair? That was when she did the strangest thing. She threw to me a trinket, a macabre symbol. I held the skull of a cat in my hands.

“It will help aid success in your hunts,” she explained. Her voice trailed from her lips like fine silk threads.

Her name was Francesca. She was from a village far from here but I would scour the known map to find her again. I know nothing of this woman and yet I know I will have no other as my queen. I can’t erase her presence from my mind, nor her voice from my ears. I can’t explain it. We have met only once and yet I will offer her everything I have.

King Roman


My Dearest,

It has been done. I have left it all behind. The last sight I had of my kin was of them burning, begging for the pain to be ended. Even after it all those who could still pleaded for me to stay with them.

The man with the black eyes still claimed be me to as his love until I removed his heart from his chest. The blood was still warm as I devoured it. Great was my fury that they tried to stop me and greater was my horror at what the love of Roman has made me see.

The eternal child, was the last to speak. A curse she warned me of. That was laughable. Her power could never match mine for I was Queen of our people and none of them could match me. She quipped about a plague that would follow me to my new land and infect all those who crossed my path. My husband would be driven insane as images of my deeds flooded his fragile mind. Any children produced from the marriage would suffer from cradle until they begged for death. The girl doesn’t frighten me.

The village was reduced to ashes in my wake. The evil of its people banished. Annabelle followed me. My first reaction was to kill her too. She stared at me with those pitiful green eyes of hers. I’m not one to hold sympathy but she had been loyal to me. She is the only one who could rival me and yet she is too dim to realise.

On our way to kingdom, I on horseback, she on foot beside me, we came across one of the strangest creatures known in my black circles. We were met by a Hangram. It was creeping to the water, gasping for whatever pity the world could spare it. They are fierce yet wretched creatures. It’s finger tips flamed with the heat of redemption.

Annabelle and I knew the Hangram immediately but a ‘dweller’ may have been alarmed. Not many are seen by the dweller folk and fewer leave the unfortunate alive to tell the tale. It looked up at us from its contemplation over life and death. It approached. It recognised the blackness within me. It had softened since meeting Roman but still burned in my chest. Hanram are drawn to malevolence like thirsty men to a pond.

“You are evil, quite unlike any I have known and yet you roam this land without hinderance. Today is the day you answer for your evil,” said the creature.

“I am sorry for all I have committed!” I said knowing the proper way to address a Hangram.

“I’m not,” Annabelle interjected.

The flames from the Hangram raged. It’s eyes began to glow. Annabelle showed no fear. Truthfully she had little patience for such creatures and I wished to be on my way.

“Francesca!” the Hangram raged. “There is a special place in Hell reserved for you.”

“If you are waiting on my repentance I will not give it to you,” I told it.

The Hangram closed in on us. “I don’t expect contrition from the likes of you.” It’s burned face contorted into an unsettling smile. “You will have to find comfort on a bed of blades if you do not appease your conscience.”

This particular Hangram was not to be fooled. It knew me, although in its form I couldn’t quite place the haggard frame. I had seen so many Hangram over the years. “The kingdom do well for you,” it said. “The King’s love will save you but only if you accept the punishment you deserve. End your life here and now, save the kingdom and the generations to follow. There is not a sin so great that a single act of selfless sacrifice can’t save you from,”

Before I could make my response Annabelle stepped forward. She threw dust at the Hangram’s feet. The Hangram emitted a high pitched, pained shriek. The form began change in a swirl of black and red energy. The colours cleared. The body of a little boy of nine years old lay where the Hangram had been. I remembered him. His name was Dale and he had come from a village, deep in the woods. My brother Julian loved to toy with Hangram. There were countless of them wandering the land because of him. The soul purpose of these creatures was to seek out sin and evil and vanquish it. My people would absorb the energy left behind, strengthening our own macarbe magic. This was our way. When the Hangram had fulfilled its duty it would be disposed of. Formidable to the ‘dwellers’ but a mere pet – a blood hound in many ways – to us. To create a Hangram required the body of an innocent, someone who had led a pure life. This was often difficult to find in an adult so most of the time children served the purpose. Julian sought them out like an avid hunter. With his handsome face and bright, kindly eyes they flocked to him. Dale had been one such trusting soul.

Annabelle removed a dagger from her boot. She meant to cut his throat while he lay asleep on the forest floor.

“No wait,” I stopped her. I had been thinking of what the Hangram had said. I left him. When he awoke from his slumber he would have enough provisions to keep him until he found a way back to his family. When I left Vorelia Julian had burned with all the others so Dale needn’t fear him any more.

So here I am in the arms of the King, in the beautiful kingdom. The curse and all the others have been left behind. I will defy them, to be happy, to live.

Francesca

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A Prisoner in The Old king’s Castle

Sonya couldn’t count the days she had been held behind bars. The sun had risen and fallen but since her prison allowed no light she couldn’t tell how many times. What had been her crime? The beloved King Roman had fallen ill. Since then, the Kingdom of Navaria had fallen into anarchy. Cries of witchcraft spread panic throughout the snow covered land like untamed fires blazing through a dry forest. General Drenisov of the Navarian Guard had taken a firm grasp of the people. He held them in fear. He allowed the rumours of the cursed kingdom to circulate unhindered because the more frightened the people were, the more they turned to him for leadership. The sick king had been falling further and further into madness. His second wife, Annabelle, had retired from public view without explanation.

Sonya had been expressing her views.

“We’re being treated like animals,” she said. At first she had only whispered this to a few friends in the marketplace but before long more and more had gathered to hear what she had to say. She stood on top of a box to voice her opinion further. She lifted her skirts as she climbed to the new height. The hem was muddied from the ground where the snow had been trodden into filthy slush.

“We are stronger than they and they know it. We have had no word from the castle because they don’t deem us important enough.”

A merchant cried, “Here, here!” from behind his stall. Some of the gathering nodded in agreement with a firm shade of anger across their brows. There were others who hunched their shoulders and cowed away for fear that they would be seen listening to such thoughts.

“We demand to know what ails our beloved king. There are no such things as witches in Navaria, merely a symbol of fear designed to keep us under the control of the Guard.”

As she said this, the crowd began to part. Through the ragged clothing of sombre peasant colours charged a group of tall, young guards wearing the vibrant red and gold that was their signature uniform. Word of her malcontent must have reached The General at the grey, brooding castle that sat high on the mountain looking down on its subjects below.

Two guards snatched Sonya by the ruffled collar of her dress. She fell onto her knees in the mud. No one moved to help her, not even the grey haired, doe eyed merchant who had been cheering her on moments before.

“Don’t let them silence you!” she shrieked. “We are stronger than they.”

Sonya was taken to the castle and locked away in the dungeon. Word reached her that King Roman had been murdered. She heard two guards discuss it as they brought in a new prisoner. She even heard it from The General himself.

“You have murdered the king and doomed this land with your witchcraft,” Drenisov barked. She heard heavy footsteps on the stone floor. She pressed herself against the small window to the outside corridor on the door of her prison. She could only see the red of The General’s coat. There was no reply from the prisoner. The guards departed and all fell silent.

“Stay strong, comrade,” she said, not sure if her fellow prisoner would hear her.

“Is someone there?” The voice that returned to her was that of an adolescent boy. Sonya guessed him young enough to be her son.

“They can’t keep us here forever,” she assured.

The boy’s voice was eerily calm for the horror that he had no doubt just endured. “The king is dead,” he stated. Although youthful, the voice carried the wisdom of age. It’s owner must have been well educated. The son of a nobleman.

A deep motherly instinct that Sonya possessed looked past the obvious maturity of the boy and sought to lay comfort at his young feet.

“It’s a terrible tragedy. I heard The General say you are the murderer but I don’t think that is so. When the eldest prince, James, is granted the throne Drenisov will have no choice but to release us.”

The boy gave a laugh, the kind that bordered on hysterical. It held no real humour.

“I salute your optimism, my dear woman, I truly do. I fear that here in this darkness is where we will live out our last days.”

Sonya was chilled by the youth’s acceptance of fate. “Prince James…” she began.

“The prince can do nothing to help,” the boy interjected.

Sonya could feel tears on her brittle eyelashes. “He will …” Now it was she who was needing comfort.

“Take solace in knowing that soon it will all be over,” said the boy softly.

“I will get word to the Prince,” Sonya offered. “He is much like his father. He will help us.”

“He already knows your plight. My lady, I am Prince James and any chance I ever had of helping my people died with the king.”

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Happy Birthday to the Snow that turned Red

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Four years ago today RED SNOW was published and Vivika Widow officially became … Well, Vivika Widow. Anyways, to celebrate the arrival of the first born we are taking a look at how Red Snow developed over the years.

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The short story RED SNOW fairy tale DUST AND DEVOTION is available now!

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A Kingdom Torn (A Red Snow Fairy Tale)

The land of Susiname lies the south. It takes a strong minded adventurer to wander along the silver coastlines. To delve further into the deep forests Is a quest not for the faint of heart.

It was a land of monsters. Giants, trolls and other monsters of the unspeakable variety roamed deep inland.

Susiname was also a kingdom of great division. King Desmond died. It is told that he faced the great Malwock Beast in protection of his kingdom but the beast had the better. With it’s poison the king was turned to stone. A monument was erected in his memory at the gate of the Genya Estate (home of the Susiname royalty). Some say it is merely a monument. Other’s believe that it is the petrified king himself who lies beneath.

The kingdom erupted into a civil war. A new king could not be chosen. Desmond’s daughter, Asana, was but a child of six. Blood was shed but before a full scale war was declared among the Dukes, King Roman of Navaria, a powerful neighbouring kingdom to the North and King Benjamin of Elgany, another powerful neighbour stepped in and brought peace to the troubled land.

Control of Susiname was given to those who owned the respective lands within the kingdom. It kept peace for a time. Beneath the glorious sun kissed surface, beneath the noses of the powerful benefactors, lay a horrific injustice. The Counts were unsatisfied with their gains. They wanted more. They needed labour to toil their lands and the labour was expensive. A trade began in human lives. Sold into slavery were those who had nowhere else to go, those deemed lower in caste and those who had no means of paying their debts.

Susiname had its monsters, but for each new child born into slavery there was a desire to escape into the unknown, no matter what they would be up against.

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Monster Hunter (A Red Snow Fairy Tale)

Another dead and the town had gathered. Set deep in the Mendelov Woods the village of Caster was hidden from the wider world. The timid people had presumed themselves safe until recently when bodies began to be found, torn apart as though from wild animals.

A bear or a wolf,” a recently widowed woman cried, clutching onto her children. “What ever it was it ripped poor Frank to pieces.”

The town mayor raised his hands to try to calm them. They were frightened. They hadn’t seen anything like it before. Frank Islay was the most recent but it had been happening more and more lately. Frank had been found close to the village entrance. He had been torn limb from limb. His eyeballs were ripped from his skull and what remained of his face was shredded beyond recognition. Only a lvoing note from his wife that he carried in his pocket had identified him.

It was no bear!” one of the village elders called. “I’ve read about this kind of thing. It used to happen all the time. It is some kind of monster.”

The town erupted into a frenzy.

We’ll have no talk of monsters,” said the mayor sternly. “There are no monsters in these parts,” he grumbled. His twinkling blue eyes met the gaze of his grandchildren. He didn’t want them to be frightened.

There are monsters. I have seen them!”

The gathering acknowledged as a stranger amongst them. He had been with them ever since the killings began. He had sat quietly in the tavern every evening before retiring to the small room he rented. No one had conversed with him. Strangers were always welcome in Caster but since he didn’t seem willing to share they left him be. Now they turned to him as though he had answers to life itself.

My name is Edgar Scholtz,” he announced. “I have seen attacks like these before.”

Edgar had a captive audience so he continued.

They prey on the evil amongst us. The liars, cheats and thieves.

The widow sobbed. “My Frank was none of those things,” she protested. He was a good man.”

Edgar thought about it for a few moments.

None of us are without misdeeds to our names. A stern word at the dinner table could be enough to invoke the wrath of this creature.”

The mayor himself was now intrigued. “You say you have faced these monsters before?”

Edgar nodded. He smiled just enough to be charming but not so much to seem as though he wasn’t taking the situation seriously.

They are of an ancient magic that is the blackest ever found. They are drawn from pure souls and sent in search of sinners like hounds on the blood trail,” Edgar explained.

The crowd gave a collective gasp. They considered themselves good people but there were misdeeds they had committed. If we take a closer look, haven’t we all?

The creature you face is called a Hangram and I will stop them.”

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The Silhouette (A Red Snow tale)

There were no features on the image, just the outline of a woman’s frame. Black and white except for the prominent red rose that the silhouette held in her hand. Helena had only been a maid at Castle Kroestov, in the snow covered land of Navaria, but a few weeks so she was still acquainting herself with the many paintings that graced the walls.

The silhouette didn’t look towards the artist. Instead she offered a delicate profile with a soft outlined nose, long elegant neck and slender, statuesque frame. She reminded Helena of the old queen – Francesca. Having been dead many years Helena had only seen her in pictures but the resemblance to the silhouette was incredible. A title beneath the mahogany frame read ‘Dust and Devotion’. No artist laid claim to the work.

Helena smiled. Never before coming to Castle Kroestov had she been surrounded by so much beauty. She reached out and graced the intricate pattern carved in the frame before wiping it with her dusting cloth. She then drew her finger softly over the head of the silhouette and down the face. She felt a sharp pain fire from her fingertips to her head. In her mind’s eye she saw Francesca. She was on horseback, her long flowing black hair caught in the wind. Her blue eyes raged with anger but her lips held a serene smile. The scene appeared to be set on the outskirts of a village, at the very edge of the forest. Francesca was surrounded by adoring villagers but a man was before her who didn’t share their admiration. A thick rope was tied around his neck. His hands and feet were bound and the ropes were harnessed to three horses. He said nothing but his eyes were leaking emotion.

“Declare your dedication to me,” spat Francesca. “Or be returned to the dust of the earth.”

The prisoner shook his head. “I will never devote myself to a witch.”

Francesca removed herself from her horse. She pushed into the crowd and drew a little girl from amongst them.

“Eleanor!?” gasped the prisoner, recognising his daughter.

Francesca gripped the girl close to her side with one hand and wove the long fingers of the other through the girl’s fair hair. “Daddy thinks he is above the rules I have set forth,” said Francesca to the girl. “Isn’t that rather naughty?”

Eleanor nodded her head in agreement.

“Do you think I should have him torn apart for such defiance?”

This time the child did not answer. She stared at her father with a torrent stupefaction only a child unschooled in the cruelty of the world could muster. “I don’t want my daddy to die!” she sobbed.

Francesca tightened the fingers that were in the girls hair and pulled at it. “What did you say?” she asked with a severe snarl.

The little girl began to cry. She tried to pull away but Francesca’s grip was too strong. The tearing at her hair was a numb pain compared to seeing her father captive.

“You will watch the horses tear your father to pieces and then you will be next.” Francesca looked behind to her people. “Pistol!” she barked the order. One stepped forward without hesitation, placing a pistol in the hand Francesca had freed. She thrust it towards the little girl. “Horses don’t like the sound of gunshot. It frightens them and when they are frightened they run with all their might. You can pull the trigger.”

Annabelle, Francesca’s closest friend, had been standing close by watching the scene unfold. Becoming frustrated she snatched the gun and fired it into the air. The horses that the prisoner was tied to screamed. They reared and dashed in opposite directions. The prisoner was dragged across the rocky floor briefly before his body was torn. Francesca’s supporters held her horse as tightly as they could so he wouldn’t run too.

Francesca threw the little girl to the ground, sobbing in horror at what she had just bore witness to. Francesca’s lip curled as she stared at Annabelle. Annabelle could feel her breath struggle to gather in her chest. “How dare you interfere like that,” said Francesca. “I was amusing myself.”

Annabelle could feel a tight grip from inside her chest. Her heart pushed against it as best it could. “That man was never going to change his mind. We were wasting a beautiful morning,” she gasped.

Francesca’s nose crinkled. The pain in Annabelle’s chest seared. Blood began to pool in her mouth. “One way or another he was ending this day a corpse. You still have the daughter. She is ready for a lifetime of torment,” Annabelle managed. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

Francesca looked at the Eleanor still sobbing on the ground. She laughed and released her hold on Annabelle. The little girl was dragged onto her feet by an invisible force that Francesca summoned. Her face was awash with tears. “I’m going to take you to a new home,” Francesca warned the little girl with venom. “Perhaps I will eat you slowly. One little bit of flesh at a time.” She pushed Eleanor back into the arms of Annabelle. “Bring her with us,” ordered Francesca. She turned her gaze to Annabelle and spat, “I’m not done with you yet!” She climbed back onto her horse. Her followers lingered behind as they made their way back home.

Annabelle pushed Eleanor in front of her. “Move!” she barked.

Helena stumbled back from the silhouette. She couldn’t decipher whether the scene she had relayed in her mind had been real or if the gloomy castle was causing her to imagine things. She stumbled from the dream. She looked at the silhouette again. It was serene, silent. Black and white except the blood red rose. The silhouette had quite a tale to tell…

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