Prologue, The Sleeping Beauty: A story from “Tales of the Big Bad Wolf”

A time long ago, when the world was young…

The wind moved upon a vast golden field of wheat.  It circled about like a snake, gliding around a young man lost in the grass.

Below him the blue sky shimmered like an endless lake upon which clouds glided like leaves.

The dream, although beautiful, was a meaningless one.  The man could not see. His tied hands could not move to tear off the blindfold upon his face.

He did not know that he was lost in sleep.

In the world from which he came, a wooden door sighed as it swung on metal hinges.  For many years this wonderfully carved door had had no visitors and no one to marvel at its beauty.  The castle to which it belonged to had long been forgotten and ignored.

But today a hand greeted it, pressing it forward to allow someone to pass. And the door made a cheerful noise, one that startled the human who had discovered it.

The soldier silently scolded the door before continuing inside the castle, sword in hand.  The knight clung to the sword, aware it would be the only means of protection against the unknown things that might lurk in the dark tunnels and halls of an abandoned castle.

All the blade cut were cobwebs and clouds of dust.   The castle was eerily empty, with no sleeping courtiers, rotting food, or a sign that would testify that anything lived inside.

The stories that had been passed down over time said that long ago at the time of the Banishing, the entire castle had been put asleep.  The young king was supposed to be lying somewhere in this labyrinth of a castle, waiting to have fate’s curse reversed either by a kiss of true love or by the blade of a holy sword.

It was the sword the knight would use today – a fine blade the dragon outside said would cut through anything.   The soldier came to avenge the deaths of thousands of refugees scattered by the negligence of a corrupt and greedy dynasty to which the young king belonged. His death would mean the people no longer had to wait for his summons to return to the land that was theirs. Their nation could be reborn this time without a king.

The dragon had told the soldier where to find the forgotten king.  Up the stairs, the knight moved, sword still drawn, waiting to pierce the king’s heart.

And by the window, the king was found — hand draped over one side of the wooden chair that had served as his bed for years, his face hidden from view.

The knight advanced to look at this terrible monster asleep in his chair.

As she did so, the sword in her hand quivered.

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