They say a man doesn’t appreciate what he has until it is too late. This might very well be the case, or at least it was for Renaldo and Cristobel. It seems no matter what level of society you live at the same blindness exists.
Renaldo began life in the poorest sections of Stamali. His parents were not able to afford all the children they had and as each became old enough they were quickly found an apprenticeship. Renaldo was lucky in that he found himself apprenticed to a great chef. The chef showed him every food, spice, and cooking technique and it wasn’t long till Renaldo was out performing his master in the kitchen. Soon Renaldo began searching for better and better foods and positions. It seemed to take him no time at all until he was hired as the chef to the King of Stamali. Having come up from barely having enough food to a position where he was the top chef of all those in the kingdom never seemed to make him happy. He often looked at what the king had and desired it. For him it was a life of hungering for ever better things in life.
Cristobel was born in the lap of luxury. As first the son of King Ramon, and later as King he never had to ask for anything. He led a golden life of ease and comfort. When his father decided he should marry the most beautiful women of all the local courts and nearby kingdoms were brought before him as choices. He married the stunningly attractive Cecilia, who was sweet, quiet, and very chaste. Even with this prize as a wife he never paid attention to life around him. He just existed, not really enjoying his life.
Things for both men changed after Queen Cecilia began wishing for a child. Cristobel and Cecilia were married for over a year and still no child had been conceived. Renaldo had been called on to make stronger and stronger aphrodisiacs in the hope this would solve the problem. However, one day the Queen was in her garden about to cut flowers for her room when she found a fairy sitting amongst them.
“Do not cut these flowers and I shall grand you a boon.” The exotic beauty stood up languidly and let her dark brown hair fall about her like a cape.
“Is there a reason you wish for the garden to remain as it is?” Cecilia watched in awe at the grace with which the fairy creature moved.
“It brings me great joy to see the abundance of flora here. Your kind has stripped so much of the land that this simple place brings me joy.”
The Queen blushed as she thought of how the fairy talked of humanity. She nodded and put her scissors away.
“I shall ensure that no flowers are disturbed this season. That instead, the garden is neatly tended and looked after.”
“If you keep your word at the end of the year you shall have your fondest wish.” The Fairy captured the Queens full attention as her words wrapped around her like gossamer strings, invisible but stronger than steel. “You shall have a child, one with a special gift. When they reach the age of speech, whatever it is they speak of shall become reality. I will grant the gift of wishing.”
The Queen’s heart skipped a beat at this news. She bowed her head to keep from allowing the fairy to see how badly she was blushing.
“The garden shall be kept as I have said. In this matter, my word is law. Have no fear, My Lady, that the bargain shall be kept.”
The fairy nodded and seemed to melt behind a tree. Queen Cecilia rushed after the fairy to ask another question but found she was now alone in the garden.
Later that evening Renaldo created new meals of veal with rose petals, caviar on a bed of endive leaves, and various desserts of chocolate for the royal couple. He found himself wishing that the food being cooked was for him and his wife, which was a dream in itself. For while Renaldo had become a great chef, there was no one in his life. He came to envy the beauty and grace Queen Cecilia had, desiring her for himself.
That evening his best food was carried before the King and Queen and he stood by to make sure it was all served and enjoyed perfectly. It was by this manner that he came to hear the Queen’s discussion with her husband.
“Cristobel,” Cecilia began softly, catching his attention. “I wish to ask a favor of you.” She could barely gaze at her husband, dropping her eyes as a blush crept up her cheeks.
“Yes, dear, what is it?”
“I want the finest gardeners brought in to take care of my private garden. I don’t want any flowers cut from it, but I want it maintained perfectly for the rest of the year.”
“Well, that is an odd request.” Cristobel slowly scratched his beard to hide his confusion. “What brought that on?”
So blushing shyly the Queen explained the deal she had made with the fairy. The King nodded, figuring this was just a fancy of his young bride, but ordered that the garden be well tended for his wife.
Even as the garden was kept in perfect shape, the young Queen seemed to blossom. Her skin became the glowing example of health, with peaches and cream coloring. Her hair hung in loose curls and there seemed to be nothing to compare to her easy grace as she walked. King Cristobel only seemed to note that his bride seemed more and more of a catch.
Winter eventually came to the kingdom. With the turning of the season, Renaldo was sure his food would bring about the desired effect on the royal couple, but still there was no news of a pregnancy. Instead with every meal prepared he wished the fairy’s promise would not come to pass. If there was to be a pregnancy, he wanted it to be because of the delicious food he had cooked brought the King and Queen together.
On the Winter Solstice a ball was to be given to help celebrate the end of another year. The Queen sat in her private chambers brushing out her hair and preparing for the coming ball. She looked up into the mirror only to find she was no longer alone. Again the fairy creature stood behind her. Now she was stunning in a gown of shimmering frost, her long brown hair seemed to move in a breeze that touched only her. Cecelia turned to find the fairy carefully examining her.
“You have kept your word. Unusual for a human, but I can do no less.”
The fairy walked to the Queen’s side and carefully set a wooden cup beside her.
“What is that?” Cecelia’s voice caught as she stared at the simple cup.
“Drink and all I have promised you will come to pass - a child born to you and a blessing shall be cast upon them.”
Queen Cecilia looked into the haunting beauty of the fairy and nodded slowly. She looked down into the dark forest green fluid that lay within the cup. She closed her eyes and drank it all. The dark green fluid tasted of mint and something sour, while it smelled of swamp and woods. When she opened her eyes again the fairy was gone. When she turned to look into the mirror her skin seemed to shine and even her hair appeared to glow.
The royal couple was the talk of the ball. No one could ever remember Queen Cecelia looking more stunning or King Cristobel seeming more attentive to his wife. Chef Renaldo arrived to the ball later with special treats he created just for the royal couple, only to see the way they looked at each other and the glow the Queen seemed to have. Before his food could be brought for them, the royal couple vanished from their own ball.
Nine months later Queen Cecilia gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. The kingdom celebrated the birth of their prince and King Cristobel took a momentary interest in the fact he now had an heir. It wasn’t long though before it too passed into the realm of things he took to looking at but not truly enjoying.
Renaldo grew more and more jealous of the child that had been born. Here was yet another person born into luxury that would know nothing of the hardships of life and would be given everything. He wouldn’t have to fight to get recognition from people. Even there, Renaldo found his spotlight was fading. The incredible food he cooked was barely commented on any longer, as people cooed and looked at the baby that always seemed to be in the arms of Queen Cecelia. Cecelia remembered gratefully that the bundle of joy in her arms was due to the creature from Faerie so she ordered that the garden always be kept up, no flowers be cut from it, but that it must always be free from ruin.
A year passed in what seemed to be a moment for the Queen. The daily ruling of the country was taken care of by King Cristobel, who seemed to withdraw into a world filled with the concerns of his realm and barely remembering his family. Renaldo’s jealousy grew with each passing day, hating the King for what he had, desiring Cecelia and secretly wishing that the young prince would vanish into the night.
However all things have their season. The time had come for the child to be blessed, recognized as the next heir to the throne, and a ball had been proclaimed for the occasion.
The ladies in waiting had left the room while the Queen finished dressing, her son asleep in the cradle by her side. She sat before her mirror carefully arranging her hair when a movement in the mirror caught her eye. She looked up to find the fairy once more in her room. This time her dress was a gentle tone of green like the new growth of spring time. Her dark brown hair was arranged in an elaborate wave down her back and a diadem was nestled at her hairline. She stood regally watching Queen Cecelia in the mirror.
“You kept your promise for more than one season.” The fairy woman tilted her head as spoke. “That was not part of what I asked of you.”
“No, you did not ask that of me.” The Queen smiled and glanced at her child. “It is a small thing for the trade you made me, for you have given me my son.”
The fairy almost appeared to float to where the cradle sat beside her. The child lay curled on his side content, a small smile upon his lips, cooing even in his sleep.
“He will be talking soon. Is he yet named?”
“He is named Cadeum. We call him Cade, mainly.”
The fairy smiled, intuitively understanding where the name had derived from.
“You possess so many words that come to mean the same thing or shades of it. It makes dealing with you humans,” the fairy paused and her multihued eyes focused again on the queen as she smiled, “interesting to say the least. Time, however, is short.”
Leaning over the cradle the fairy lifted the young prince into her arms. She leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the child’s forehead, then whispered gently into his ear. Queen Cecelia was unable to hear what the fairy said and breathed much easier when her son was placed into her own arms.
“For your added kindness, I will return the favor to you one day.”
Queen Cecelia was startled when her son turned in her arms and as Cecelia glanced back she found she was alone again.
That evening the prince was introduced to the kingdom and as King Cristobel held his son closely, he was surprised to hear his son say clearly, “Papa play with me.”
With the first words spoken heard by the entire court, Chef Renaldo grew sullen. Nothing he would ever do would be enough. The fairy had made the opportunity for the prince to be born, not his aphrodisiacs. The food he slaved over was barely noticed any longer. The young prince was barely a year old and now he spoke in full sentences the first time he opened his mouth. Renaldo frowned and paced in anger. No one seemed to care whether his work shined any longer. He needed the attention. If he couldn’t have Queen Cecelia, and Prince Cadeum would only grow to become more beloved, then he would find a way to erase both of them. Perhaps he would even find a new place to allow his glory to shine.
Renaldo watched Queen Cecelia carefully. She did the same things day in and out. While the rest of the kingdom grew cold and covered in snow, her private garden seemed to be forever now in eternal spring. Wild animals seemed to appear in the garden often but never did anyone any harm in the coming or going. She took the young prince into the garden to play, alone, each afternoon. After a meal she curled up beside him on a blanket to nap. Later she would take him back inside and the two would go about with her ladies in waiting completing different tasks. Renaldo smiled as he watched in the garden the first time Prince Cade’s powers were used.
“Momma, I’m hungry.”
“Well, I’m sorry, but I forgot to bring a meal for us today. We will play and then go get something from the kitchen.”
Cade pouted and rubbed his little stomach.
“But, Momma,” his little voice rose in volume as only a toddler’s can, “I’m hungry!”
Queen Cecelia laughed as her son stood and pouted. Then she stopped when she heard his next words.
“I wish for food.”
Before the two of them suddenly were piles and piles of food. Roast mutton, Sheppard’s pie, a whole roasted boar, dishes filled with fruits, pots of stews, cauldrons of soups. There were piles of breads of every shape, style, and texture. The smells of the food were achingly delicious.
The surprise wore off quickly and a true understanding of what her son could do now lay before her. She knew she would have to teach him to use his gift wisely. She gently took her son into her lap and had him look out upon the piles of food that were far too much for the two of them.
“Cade, you must always be careful what you do. The things you say will have more meaning than other people’s. You are the son of a king.”
Cade looked at his mother and nodded.
The young Queen was unsure how she would make him understand, but she planned to begin working with him daily in her garden till he understood how to control his gift.
Renaldo smiled as he too realized just what the young prince could do. If he couldn’t have what he had dreamed of, he would have something better. A wicked plan soon came to mind and he couldn’t wait to put it into action.
The Queen was careful from then on to always take food with them into her garden. She worked on making Cadeum speak clearer and began to build his vocabulary slowly. She also worked hard at making him understand that he mustn’t wish for everything. Only in times of extreme danger should he wish. The prince even once wished for his father to come to him and Cristobel had been in the middle of bathing. He had found himself leaving his tub and walking toward his son with no thoughts of drying off or clothing himself. The Queen had heard Cade’s wish and made him wish his father to continue what he had been doing. Then she made him promise that he would never wish for his parents to come to him because that could hurt them if they were doing something important. Unknowingly this would be her undoing.
Renaldo waited for a week and then carefully packed a special lunch for the Queen and her son. He had a large piglet brought to his kitchen and had his staff out to do some much needed cleaning of the larger pots and pans. He took the piglet, slid it into a bag, and waited just inside the garden wall. The Queen arrived with Cade and set up their lunch. She sat teaching him about the world outside the garden wall before finally stopping to eat.
“Momma, the food tastes funny. I,” yawned Cade, “feel sleepy.”
The Queen reached out for her son and had him sleep beside her. Moments later she too fell into a deep sleep.
Renaldo then crept away from the wall. He pulled the prince away from his mother and placed him on a piece of cloth near where he had hidden. He took the piglet from his bag, carried it over to where the Queen lay sleeping, and sliced it open. The blood flowed over the queen’s snow white outfit and the blanket she sat on. Then he tossed the piglet back in the bag.
Renaldo looked back over the scene. Blood had been splattered all over the ground and grass. The queen herself lay covered in the blood. It looked like a massacre had occurred here in the garden. Renaldo smiled as he turned to finish his trickery. He carried the young prince to a small crate he had hidden in the garden days before. He slipped a knife down the backside of the prince’s shirt and then tore the clothing off his body. Then he dropped the sleeping child into the crate and sealed it.
Renaldo took the time to dip the shredded shirt into the pig’s carcass, covering it in blood. Then he further ripped up the shirt leaving scraps all around the garden leading to the wall. He even left one bloody piece stuck to the Queen’s gown. This task complete, he then took the bag with the carcass of the piglet back to his kitchen. Off to one side he had hidden a change of clothes and large barrel of fresh water. Quickly he cleaned up and redressed. Then he personally finished chopping up the carcass and putting it into various pots and stations. As his staff arrived back inside from their chores, he had another boar slaughtered and the beast roasted for the royal table. Once his kitchen was busy taking care of their tasks he quickly slipped back to the garden and carted off the crate that held the royal prince asleep within. The crate he had taken to the house he kept just on the outskirts of the kingdom. Now all he had to do was wait.
King Cristobel found it odd that his wife and son had not come to see him that afternoon. They always stopped to see him whether he had time for them or not. However, it was now approaching dinner time and no one had seen either one. King Cristobel was a man of schedules and manners. He simply wouldn’t tolerate his wife and son not being in place for dinner.
Immediately, ten guards appeared in two rows before the King.
“Find my wife and son! I want them brought before me now.”
The guards bowed and passed rapidly outside the royal dining room. The men quickly discussed where the queen and young prince might be found. The men divided themselves up and spread out to search for the missing royalty.
Queen Cecelia was found unconscious and soaked in blood. The guards immediately began searching for the young prince but could only find more blood and scraps of his clothing. The royal physician was sent for and so was King Cristobel.
The queen finally woke only to scream.
“Where is he? Where is my son?”
King Cristobel stood in silence as he looked over his wife’s bloody clothing.
A few of the most trusted members of the court soon arrived in the garden, among them stood Renaldo. There were no words offered the queen as she looked over the gruesome scene before her.
“Where is my baby?”
Renaldo smiled and whispered just loudly enough for the guards and a few of the court to hear him.
“She must have slept through it. She must have just let one of those wild animals eat her son.” Then he covered his mouth and tried hard to look embarrassed that someone might have heard him.
The whispers began and soon everyone was of the same thought. Queen Cecelia was responsible for the death of her son.
King Cristobel stood stock still in the center of it all. What could he do? His son was evidently dead and his wife had allowed it to happen. He was the law here.
“What … what is the law concerning the murder of a royal family member?” Cristobel managed to croak out.
An old man, looking much like a bundle of sticks held together by his robe, slowly approached the king.
“Your majesty, it is the law that the one who has committed such an act is to be put to death.”
Queen Cecelia paled as she realized what was happening.
“I didn’t murder our child. He was our baby and the answer to our prayers.”
Cristobel looked over at his wife. His heart grew cold and while he found that he couldn’t kill her outright he planned to leave it in the hands of fate.
“My wife has always loved this garden. Therefore there will be a tower built with one window that will overlook this garden. She will pass the next five years alone in there with no one and nothing to comfort her, but what is placed inside that room upon its completion. Till then she is to be confined to the cell near the church walls.”
The members of the court fell into total silence. There was a tower already being built but now they realized its purpose had been altered. Instead of another tower for defense it had just become the queen’s tomb.
Queen Cecelia’s hands shook but she forced them to grip the edge of her bloody gown. She could feel the tremors in her arms as she stepped toward her husband.
“If I am to live out my life in the tower I ask only for two things then.”
Cristobel stared into his wife’s eyes and nodded.
“The garden is to remain well taken care of.”
Cristobel’s lip curled into a snarl, but he nodded.
Cecelia took a deep breath. She hadn’t expected him to agree, however she wasn’t going to back down now for she still had one other thing she desired.
“I want all of mine and Cadeum’s things brought into that tower before I am locked in.”
“It shall be as you asked. Only you shall not be locked in. You shall be walled in. As I said, all that you will have to survive on will be within that tower before you enter. So room for other things will have to be given up to make your wish a reality.”
The king turned his back and stormed out followed by two of his guards. The others surrounded Cecelia and led her to the cell that would be her new home until the tower was complete.
Many of the courtesans, other members of the court, and some of the royal servants left the castle that night not to return. Among those who retired from royal service was Renaldo, who fled that evening back to his house where a young boy lay asleep in a box.
The young prince found himself in a strange bed far from anything he knew when he awoke. The only one he recognized at all was Renaldo. He cowered afraid on the corner of his bed.
“Calm yourself young prince. There was an emergency back at the palace and your parents sent you with me for safe keeping. When it is safe for us to return to them we shall go.”
Cadeum looked around the small dirty room and was still scared. He wanted his mother or his father. He wanted the things that comforted him, but mostly he wanted to be safe. Renaldo frightened him though he had seen the man all of his life.
“Okay,” Cade said trying to stay curled up on the bed. He found he was dressed in scratchy clothing and didn’t like the bed he was on either.
“Why don’t you wish that we were somewhere far away from this trouble, with a beautiful place to live in?”
Cade bit his lip. He remembered what his mother said about being careful what he said and wished for. She wasn’t with him and he was scared. He just wanted to be safe so he looked up and carefully thought about what Renaldo was asking.
“I wish we had a safe place to live, far away from trouble.”
Renaldo held his breath as the two of them seemed to suddenly find themselves somewhere else. They were in mountains now. There before him was a splendid castle that overlooked a sumptuous waterfall. There were trees and flowers Renaldo had never seen before that seemed to cover everything within his view. Moments later servants poured out of the castle bowing to him. He smiled as he realized that they thought he was the one with power.
“You should wish for someone to be your playmate as well Cade. It must be someone that can take care of you while I am busy. It should be someone beautiful and kind for you to spend time with.”
So Cade thought about it and smiled.
“I wish for a playmate.”
A moment later there stood a young boy. Renaldo would have guessed he was about twelve years old. The boy was almost pretty. He had thick brown hair that hung down his back, dark brown eyes, and a small delicate mouth. His features were fine and almost feminine. He wore strange pants and a small vest over his bare chest.
“I thought you would wish for a girl, but he will do. What is your name boy?”
“Your job Yamon is to keep Cade happy.”
“Yes, Sire.” Yamon bowed and took Cade by the hand, leading him into the palace.
The servants immediately fawned over Renaldo and he allowed himself to be brought into the castle and he entered acting as if this was the life he was always entitled to.
Time passed quickly and Queen Cecelia was finally brought to the completed tower. The king didn’t even bother to be there but watched the whole thing from afar. The queen was taken from her cell to her former rooms. She was shown that every piece of furniture was taken from it as well as every rug. Then she was led to Cadeum’s room and was again shown that no trace of her son remained in his suite either. Then she was finally marched to the tower. As she approached it was clear that the sides of the tower were completely smooth and there were no openings. It was only as she finally came around the side where the entrance was that she noted there were two windows on two different floors. Both overlooked the garden and were above the entrance.
“By order of King Cristobel, her highness Queen Cecelia is to spend the next five years alone within the tower overlooking her garden. Fate is to see to her care and her life. At the end of that time she shall be freed to return to her family.”
The proclamation was read by the old man who was the royal record keeper. He looked sympathetically at her but the guards marched her inside and watched as she climbed to the first level. Here she found boxes of candles, yarn, and dried fruits. On the other side of the large room was another ascending stair. On the second floor she found all of her son’s belongings and a window that over looked the garden. Here there was a wall that nearly concealed the final set of stairs. She marched on by herself to find the top floor had been remade into her suite. There was a fireplace, a huge window overlooking the garden and all of her belongings were placed almost as they had been back in her rooms. Cecelia collapsed into a chair and cried. She hadn’t realized how long she had been there till the shadows crept across the room and nearly reached her feet.
“Cristobel,” she whispered, “don’t you know what a fool you’ve been.”
Cecelia wiped the tears and began to make her way back to the doorway. She planned to thank the guards and watch the men as they sealed the door. As she went back down she grabbed a candle to light her way. When she arrived back at the ground floor, instead she found a basket of fresh food and the doorway through which she had entered already bricked over. She fell to the floor in tears realizing her final moments to spend with anyone were now gone.
Cristobel ordered that all mention of Queen Cecelia or Prince Cadeum were forbidden. Everyone who remained near the king pretended that he had never been married.
On the second day of her imprisonment Cecelia rose to find company in her room. At the window staring down into the garden stood the Fairy.
“You? I hadn’t expected to see you again.”
The fairy turned. Her dress was still in shades of green but now there were shades of red all along the base of it.
“Blood was spilled in the garden.”
Cecelia found she couldn’t bring herself to look the Fairy in the eyes. All she could think of was the blood that coated her clothing when she awoke to find Cade gone forever.
“I was told a beast killed my son.” Cecelia’s voice rose as she gripped the blanket on her bed tightly.
“It wasn’t human blood, but that of an animal.”
Cecelia looked up. Could her son be alive?
“My life is tied to your garden. Nothing happens there that doesn’t find its way back to me. A man took your son and killed a poor pig in his place. Why has the man not been punished?”
The Fairy’s strange eyes bored into Cecelia’s. Punished? A man had her son and she was trapped. What could she do?
“The man must have blamed me for his murder. I have no way to leave and no way to defend myself. I am trapped here. I shall have no food or water for five years.”
The fairy woman walked slowly around the room. Then she walked back and noted how men still cleaned and kept the garden as it had been since the two women had met.
“For as long as that garden is up kept, so too shall food and water be brought by my subjects to you here.”
Cecelia nearly collapsed at the Fairy Queen’s feet.
“You are too kind.”
“I only keep up my end of the bargain, Cecelia.”
Cecelia watched as the beautiful Fairy Queen began down the stairs. Rising quickly to her feet Cecelia went to follow her but as she reached the level that was Cade’s the Fairy Queen had vanished from the tower.
Years passed quickly. It seemed one piled onto the next in the twinkling of an eye. Four years had come and gone. Changes had come to everyone.
Cristobel no longer ruled coldly. Having lost everything he seemed now to be involved in every aspect of his kingdom. People no longer knew what to think of him. They knew he had imprisoned the queen for the loss of their child, but he now seemed to take every child he met and did his best to make sure their lives were better. The kingdom slowly seemed to become a paradise but for the dark tower that overlooked a lush and beautiful garden kept as a promise to what everyone now thought of as the former queen.
Cecelia did not fade away inside the tower however. She watched as the garden was taken care of daily from her window. She rarely left the top floor any longer. Twice a day a tray appeared on her staircase. On it were rich foods, fruits, vegetables, and pitchers of sweet cold water. During the winter there appeared a basket as well with each tray full of twigs and branches to be burned to keep her warm. It was solitary but Cecelia survived.
Renaldo grew fat and happy leading the life he felt he deserved. People listened and did exactly as he asked all the time. He had all he could ask for but there was one thing he feared, Cadeum. The boy grew older and wiser each day. He expected the boy to demand to go home to his parents any moment. Finally unable to withstand the pressure any longer he commanded that Yamon be brought before him.
“You asked to see me, Sire?”
“I have a task for you boy.”
“Yes. What do you wish of me?”
“Tonight, while Cadeum is taking his bath, I want you to slip this vial of poison into his food. He will die quickly and that will end all my problems.”
The color drained from Yamon. He loved his playmate and did not wish to see him harmed in anyway.
“Why must he die, Sire?”
Renaldo slung himself out of his throne and scowled down at the muscular youth.
“Because if he is not dead by midnight, I shall have both of your hearts cut out.”
Yamon shivered and had no doubt that Lord Renaldo would do exactly as he said. Renaldo shoved a large vial into Yamon’s hand then pushed him toward the door.
“Deliver the whole vial into his food tonight boy.”
Cade sat waiting patiently for Yamon to appear. When his playmate didn’t come looking for him, he went in search of Yamon.
Yamon had curled up under a tree just outside Cade’s quarters and was crying hysterically. Cade had never seen Yamon cry like that before. The sixteen year old bawled like a little child. His face was covered in tears. Cade was suddenly afraid that Yamon had been seriously hurt and rushed to his friend’s side looking for whatever was causing his friend such pain.
“What is wrong, Yamon? Why are you crying?”
“I can’t,” sputtered Yamon as he wiped the snot from his face. “I can’t do it, Cade.”
“Can’t do what?”
Yamon looked at the vial in his hand then back at Cade and began to shake.
“Kill me? Why would you kill me?” Cade sat stunned on the floor. He knew what death was. He had seen the scullery maids kill animals before to make their meals. Why would someone want to kill him?
“Lord Renaldo ordered me to kill you,” whimpered Yamon. He seemed to curl up and his legs were pulled up tight against his chest. His face was red and swollen from crying and his long hair hung loose around his shoulders.
“But Lord Renaldo is just waiting to find out my parents are alright before we return home. You must have heard him wrong.”
Yamon and Cade sat talking late into the night till Cade came up with a plan to prove Yamon had to be mistaken.
That night Cade lay perfectly still in his bed. When Renaldo came in to check on him like he always did, Cade held his breath and pretended to be dead.
Renaldo held a candle high over Cade’s body and then finally turned to Yamon.
“Good you killed him. Now if the king or queen ever found out the prince was killed you can be blamed, but really I shouldn’t care anymore. This whole place is now mine. I am King Renaldo and I shall rule forever more.”
Cade lay on the bed a moment more in shock. Yamon had gotten it right. Renaldo wanted to kill him and his parents would never have known. Anger coursed through his young body.
“So you wanted me dead! You, you beast.”
Renaldo looked back in shock. His hand shook as the candle flickered in his hand.
“Oh, my parents will learn of your treachery you beast. In fact, that is what you should be. I wish you were a dog, a poodle. I wish you could do nothing but eat hot coals and cry fiery tears.”
Renaldo looked terrified but for a moment. Slowly his body shrank and grew fur. Where once Renaldo stood confessing his murderous schemes there now stood a poodle in a golden leash.
“We are all going home. Yamon you will come with me and be my playmate still?”
Yamon shook his head as he looked at Cadeum.
“I came from magic and wouldn’t survive a trip to your home as I am.”
“Is that all? If you cannot go as you are then I shall make sure you can travel in another form.”
Cade closed his eyes and wished.
When he opened them before him lay a beautiful pink flower. Gingerly he picked it up and carefully placed it inside his shirt next to his heart. He then took the leash and wished them home to his parent’s kingdom.
Arriving just at the edge of the kingdom Cade realized he would be stopped for traveling alone with a dog. He wished himself to age to be Yamon’s age. He looked around now, and sighed. He had wasted time he could have spent with his parents, especially his mother. He glared at the dog that cowered at his feet. However the anger was tempered with the thought that if he had just wished himself home four years ago he would never have met Yamon. Carefully he checked on the flower where it was tucked inside his clothing. Then he began to walk.
Cade wandered through the odd kingdom. There seemed to be a strange sort of sadness in the land and he couldn’t figure out why. Eventually he found his way to the castle where he was greeted by, of all people, his father, King Cristobel.
“Welcome my boy. What brings you here to our kingdom on such a day?”
Cade looked for his mother but could find no trace of her. Until he knew what had happened due to Renaldo’s lies he decided he would wait to announce who he was.
“I’m traveling with my miraculous dog. We perform a special trick for worthy audiences.”
The king smiled figuring the boy to be poor and in need of a meal. He did look the boy over and he appeared to be well dressed but Cristobel wanted to make sure the boy was well fed and had a place to sleep that night.
“Well then come with me. Tonight you will dine well and show the court this trick of yours.”
Cade smiled and followed his father into the castle.
That night all the court turned out. Cade looked everywhere for his mother but could find no trace of her. Not even the scullery maids mentioned her when he asked. Finally he had had enough.
“I wish someone would mention what happened to my mother,” Cade softly whispered.
An ancient man who was snoring at the end of the table nearly fell out of his chair.
“Your majesty, I wonder how the queen is. I mean after four years being locked up in the tower with nothing for murdering your son. She has to be dead by now I’m sure.”
All the color drained from Cristobel’s face. No one had mentioned the queen in years by royal decree, yet here was perhaps the oldest member of the court not only talking about her, but telling the country’s worst actions to a young boy.
“But I wasn’t murdered. I was taken by him,” Cadeum cried pointing to the poodle.
“What are you talking about boy?”
“I wish for hot coals to be brought to me and I will explain. I promise.”
The king looked doubtful but ordered the coals brought. The poodle was marched over to the pail of burning coals and the creature began to eat them. When the whole pail was empty it turned and faced the room as it cried fiery tears and howled mournfully.
Cadeum explained what he knew of the night he disappeared. As he finished his story a hush fell over the court. Then he turned to the poodle with disgust.
“I wish Renaldo would return to his true form but could only speak the truth.”
Renaldo suddenly appeared looking as he did the day he kidnapped Cade from the castle. He looked with panic at the king and Cade.
“Tell them what really happened!” Cade commanded while Renaldo twisted in anger and then began to tell everything.
The king sat listening in growing horror as Renaldo told of his lust for the queen, his hatred of the king, and how he loathed the very birth of Cade. The king dug his nails into his seat as he listened to how Renaldo planned Cade’s kidnapping, framed the queen, and went to live as a king himself.
“May all the heaven forgive me?” Cristobel quickly called over all his men and began to make plans to have the queen liberated from her tower.
“I’m sorry father but I just can’t wait any longer. I wish my mother were with me now.”
The queen suddenly appeared before the entire court. She was much paler than she had been and a bit thinner too but she was still healthy.
“Well, I was beginning to wonder if anyone would ever think to come and get me.”
Cecelia looked around the room. She moved from person to person but paused only when her eyes came to Cade.
Cade shook his head. “I wish I looked as I always did.” Immediately Cade became his true size and age.
Cecelia stood with a smile and looked over at her son. When he smiled back she raised her arms and he ran into her welcoming embrace.
“Mommy, I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too, Cade. I’m so happy you are home now baby.”
Cristobel stood unsure what to say or do. He had been a fool. He hadn’t taken a real interest in his family or his kingdom until he had lost those most important to him. Now that they stood before him again, he wasn’t sure if he would be welcomed.
Cecelia turned and stared at her husband. Cristobel walked toward her and then fell on his knees before her, sobbing.
Cade looked from his mother to his father. Both had been hurt by Renaldo’s treachery. He had been taken from them, and they had been taken from each other. He wanted to wish this away but he knew this was something that had to be settled between them.
“You never checked on me, Cristobel. You never offered forgiveness. You made your choice and hardened your heart against me, when I was innocent of all crimes.”
Cristobel felt each word she said like a knife. He had no defense and he was here on his knees before his wife in front of his full court.
“Now our son is home, safely. The lessons I taught him gave him strength. He is here showing my innocence and by his grace I am free. Why should I forgive you?”
Cristobel looked at his son and then his wife. His son stood like she did and resembled her so much more as he had grown. Before things could become any worse there was a rush of wind into the dining hall.
“I see the man has been brought back for justice.”
The Fairy Queen stood in a dress of orange, red and gold like the fallen leaves. Her crown sparkled with bits of amber, rubies, gold, and diamonds.
Cristobel gaped from his spot on the floor. Slowly he rose and realized she had ignored him in favor of his wife.
“Yes, Cade has brought the villain home.”
“I claim him by right. He spilled blood in my domain.”
Cecelia looked at Cade and then Cristobel. Both nodded their heads.
“He is yours then. Take him.”
Renaldo shook and tried to scream but the Fairy Queen walked over and pressed her finger over his mouth and it sealed shut. Then she turned and cocked her head as she looked over Cade.
“Yes, ma’am. I have.”
“I believe you have one of my servants.”
Cade looked at her for moment then realized he still carried Yamon.
“Mother, Father, I want you to meet someone very important to me. He has been my playmate the entire time I was gone. If not for him, I would have never known of Renaldo’s treachery. He was my guard and my friend.”
Cecelia looked around quickly but could find no one who was not of the court. Finally, Cade reached into his shirt and pulled out the pink flower.
“Why that is just a flower? Where is your playmate?” Cristobel looked shocked as he looked on.
“I wish for Yamon to return to his form.”
Suddenly Yamon stood before them all. His dark hair, deep tan, and silver clothing still made him look human, which all helped hide the small points of his ears.
“So that is where you have been, Yamon. I expected you to return to my court long ago!” The Fairy Queen stood looking down at the young fairy.
“But I was bound to him, Your Majesty.”
“Were?” The Fairy Queen stared momentarily at Cade and shook her head. “No, you still are and always will be now, Yamon.”
Yamon looked surprised. Then he glanced at Cade and blushed.
“Yes, I see it now.” The multifaceted colors of her eyes swirled. She turned and looked at Cecelia and Cristobel. “This won’t do.”
She reached out and touched both of them on the forehead. The minds of both filled with all the other had experienced allowing them to finally put everything to rest.
“This gift to you I give not for the garden but to ensure you protect and keep Yamon safe. He is,” The Fairy Queen looked momentarily at the young fairy, “important to me. I would not look kindly on anyone who hurt him.” Her final words were directed at Cade.
Cade smiled and held his hand out to Yamon, whose cheeks colored a deep pink.
“Behave all of you. I will be watching.”
With that the Fairy Queen exited the dining room, while life for everyone else prepared to begin again.
So that is my retelling of The Pink by the Grimm's. If you enjoyed please let me know. If you really liked it feel free to click like. Thanks as always for taking the time to read.