1 The Spell
...And as a punishment and to never forget the hurt you bestowed on me, I will mark your unborn child in a way that will make you remember me, every time you will look at him. The only way his spell will be broken, is by true love's first kiss...
The wicked witch cast a spell and the room filled with fog. The smell was pleasant, but everyone present knew about the evil happening before their eyes. The fog bundled into a shapeless cloud and dove like a spear into the protruding belly of the queen. The evil witch barked out a laugh, and when the guards tried to arrest her, she disappeared into thin air. The Queen gasped and fell back on her throne, holding both of her hands over her belly. She shook her head in disbelief and told the baby that it was safe in her body, but she knew it was a lie. Her heart sank and she looked for the kind eyes of her husband. The guests murmured words the queen didn't understand, and the king hasted to kneel at his woman's side. He put his hands on his wife's and looked into her eyes. She looked fearful and for once he couldn't reassure her.
The guests were ushered outside and the king and the queen tried to reason that the spell wasn't as bad and maybe the witch wasn't as powerful as she had tried to make them believe. Both of them knew that they were wrong and worried in their own way.
During the next days, magicians and healers were invited to the castle to ease the spell, but no one could be sure if it had worked or not. The queen's love of the growing life inside of her grew as well and out of protectiveness she retreated and refused to see another healer, magician or another person who wanted to fix her with horrendous medicines. She began to decorate the child's room and knitted clothes for the baby, and wondered if she would hold a boy or a girl in her arms soon.
One day, a terrible thunderstorm shook the castle and in the light of the full moon and lightning, and to the sound of thunder the queen gave birth to a little boy. He cried loudly when he was pulled out of his mother's womb but as soon as he lay in her arms, he calmed down. The midwives were appalled to look at the little creature. His face was mutilated with scars and the veins on his left arm were painted black. His eyes were of a deep brown. Almost as dark as the devil's soul, they imagined.The queen kissed her son's head with a pointed look at the woman and was happy to have survived the ordeal of giving birth. The father, however, had heard the whispers of the midwives and declared that everyone who spoke ill of his heir would be banned from this castle.Word traveled fast in the kingdom. The king and the queen had become parents to a boy and the witch's spell had become a reality. It was told that the boy was defaced and had the devil's eyes. His name was Taryn.
Taryn grew up to be a boy with a hunger for knowledge, and his questions were a challenge for his teachers and his parents alike. As soon as he knew how to read, he made use of his father's extensive library to still his hunger and feed his mind. Whatever book he grabbed was devoured within days, without making a difference between study books about the human body or fairytales from lands far away. The boy didn't have a care in the world and was often seen laughing, and when he wasn't seen reading, he was chasing his dog through the garden where he learned to explore the world on his own. He liked to know how things worked, how they were taken apart and put back together. Logic came easily to him, as well as an understanding of the world that showed wisdom beyond his years. Despite his peaceful and carefree life, the young prince Taryn was lonely because there were no other children around, and the king decided to invite the guards' and servants' children to the castle as a gift for his son's birthday. Taryn was excited and made plans to show this to the children and play that with them. But alas, everything turned out different to what the prince and his parents had expected.
The king had not known how cruel children could be until he heard them chant evil words at his son. He regretted the hurt he had brought upon his son when they had mocked his face and the scars it had. They had chased the young prince and had thrown rocks and stones at him and he saw no other way out than to run to his room and hide.
Until that day, he had never known how different he was. Everyone had always treated him well and with respect. But not those children. They didn't know how to look past something as blatant as appearances. They said what they saw, unaware of the hurt and sadness they spread. The King was livid and forbid the children to step inside his halls again until they were old enough to apologize to the prince.
The queen tried to offer solace to her son, but he was devastated and couldn't believe a word she said when she told him about the magical spell that had been cast on him.
He had heard the children's words and they were burned in his brain. For them, he was a monster and Prince Taryn's careless ways came to an abrupt end. His twelfth birthday had changed him and left him with one sad certainty; he would forever be ugly and alone. A monster.
Prince Taryn restlessly wandered the corridors of the castle with a lowered head, hiding his face behind a curtain of long hair. His entire demeanor spoke of a haunted and defeated soul. New years had come and gone and the child became a teenage boy. His dark eyes held a pain unlike anything his parents had ever felt and they worried about their son's health. As an attempt to bring back some normalcy to the castle, and lightness to their child's heart, they arranged a ball for his sixteenth birthday. Princesses from near and far had been invited in the hopes that if he found a beautiful girl to kiss, his spell might be lifted, and he would be free, but they couldn't be sure. How many times had the queen kissed her son in the hopes to break the spell? Motherly love was love too, she had reasoned, but every kiss had been in vain. It made her act even more solicitously towards her only child.The once happy prince was now known to have a bad temper. Little things made him snap. The light he had once carried in his heart had been replaced by pain, and in the high walls of the castle rumor had it that the prince's soul was becoming as ugly as his face and as dark as his eyes.Taryn looked at his reflection in the mirror. He didn't do it often, but he knew that he was a man now. He looked it too, being tall and build. He let his frustrations out by chopping wood or helping out in the staples. At first it, the king had not been pleased, but he soon saw that those earthly jobs were giving the grieving prince some peace at heart. He turned to look at his shoulder. The veins were dark and swollen, but at least he was in no physical pain. Part of his face was hidden behind a leather mask. The material chaffed his tender skin and the scar was red and uglier than ever. The Prince took a deep breath, squaring his shoulders. Deflating, he turned away and put his shirt and mask back on. He needed some more physical exercise before he was ready for that night's spectacle. He was anxious to see so many people. And to be seen by them.
Gone were the times when Taryn was only ever seen with his nose buried in a book. Times had changed. He trotted downstairs, where his mother was giving instructions to the servants and made last adjustments to the flower arrangements. When the queen saw her son in a dirty shirt, she scolded him, but now without a smile on the lips. She reminded him of the ball and tried to ease her son's nerves. She saw how tense he was. She was too. Reluctant to leave his mother, the prince went to get properly dressed for his birthday party.
To his surprise, a young man waited in his apartments and not his beloved nurse. The valet held out a letter to Taryn who broke the seal and read:
You are a man now, beloved son. And that is why we have a special gift for you. Meet Tiernan. He is your age and from now on he will be your personal valet. He is to help you getting dressed for the ball and will be at your side the entire time to fulfill any wishes and cravings that might arise. Your loving parents, the King and the Queen.
Taryn blinked a couple of times and looked back at his door. How long had he been gone from his rooms? Certainly not more than ten minutes. He didn't know what to do. The valet did the same, but then he cracked a smile at the Prince and introduced himself: "My name is Tiernan," was what he said in a deep hoarse voice. Taryn was confused but took the proffered hand. For the first time in a long while the prince's thirst for knowledge roared in the back of his mind and he wanted to know more about his new servant. Tiernan.