It was only a matter of time before she broke me. That’s an occupational hazard of delivering bad news to an evil queen when you feel bound not to sugarcoat it.
I did warn her. After two unsuccessful assassination attempts, I ventured an opinion that Snow White had her own magic. Not appreciated. Evil zapped me, electric charge flowing from her fingers until the glass fought back. Magic glass does that. It exploded leaving her a bloody mess and me a disembodied spirit. Now that I’m free, I’ll find a way to dislodge the poison apple from Snow White’s throat.
Cleaning the many mirrors in the castle was a full time job. The blind lass, hired by the queen, felt her way up and down the craggy stones of the winding staircases. Doors opened into lighter shades of gray filled with solid shadows. She found her way through every room but one. That door was always locked. The mirror inside was magical.
Dreaming, she turned a key and entered the forbidden room. Blindsight rendered the planes of the walls a darker gray. The mirror, the room’s only tangible shape, beckoned. A grayscale world of touch emerged from behind the glass.
“Why do you fear the dark?”
“It’s too quiet. It blocks my sight.” Dagny’s bright yellow hair contrasted with Lilith’s dark curls.
“Close your eyes,” she said.
He did. Reluctantly.
“What do you see?” Lilith moved a hand across his shuttered gaze.
“A flash, dark, flash.”
She dropped her hand to her lap. “Then gather the light that is left behind your lids and see my form in your mind’s eye.”
To begin, Lilith was a shadow. Her hair was the first to differentiate itself. Then her lips and her eyes, and once her face appeared, Dagny had no fear.
Inspired by Jane Yolen’s The Moon Child.
A desperate hag stood on the step.
As Hezbella opened the door, children spilled outside in a game of chase. “Can I help you?” Hezbella, a generous person, really meant this.
“Take her back. Please.”
“Do I know you?” Tugging at Hezbella’s skirts, a small child made a hiding place.
“I have your first born.”
Hezbella tried hard to remember, but so much had happened. “That was ages ago. Something about arugula?”
“I can’t keep up with her.”
“Teenagers can be tough. But you have so many advantages, being a witch and all.”
“Wicked young crushes wicked old every time.”
They were headed for the south pasture. Turning hairy faces to each other, they rode horses alongside the herd.
Eyes searching, one pointed a claw. “He’s over there, my boy. I can smell him. See that movement. At the edge of the trees.”
“He’s left?” A concerned look.
“Didn’t come back from the last prowl.”
“Like so many of ‘em.”
They both looked down. They remembered staying home from school when the moon turned full. They tasted fear at the thought of werewolf hunters.
“Wolf packs, they’re more accepting.”
“Probably. But who’s going to take over when we’re gone?”
With minutes left, Mädchen found the crook’s password. “Bingo, Rumplestiltskin.” Using his name, she cast a cheater’s spell to bind his Alchemist Account.
Once she had access to his vault, she could see his transactions. Straw to silver, straw to gold, gold to straw; all typed in neat rows alongside the names of infamous drug lords and traffickers.
Mädchen sniffed brimstone in the air.
The wizard stood in front of her, hand outstretched. “The gold.”
“I don’t have it.”
He grabbed her. Once they touched, she ensnared him and worked a shrinking spell. His soul evaporated until nothing was left.
“She won’t wake up.” A harried looking Queen sat on the edge of her daughter’s bed while the royal physician poked, prodded and tested the Princess.
“Anything unusual to report,” he asked.
“Her birthday. Yesterday. She had a lie down after she’d opened her presents.”
“I see.” He peered at the child’s finger. “Something sharp, a sewing kit? Knitting needles?”
“She got a spindle from her godmother. And merino wool.”
“Tried it right away?”
The queen nodded.
“A witch practitioner is what you need.”
The queen frowned. “Magic, what kind of medicine is that?”
“Only a spell cures a spell.”
Sherlock Wolff tracked the notorious hacker, Lorelei, to the Rhine Club. Concealing himself at the back, he scoped out the exits. She sang. Too late, he noticed his cocoa turning wolfsbane blue. The arrest warrant in his hand wavered like a timepiece in a Dali painting. He found himself on stage.
Instead of serving the warrant, he was served. Instead of arresting Lorelei, she handcuffed him. Wolff’s supervisor appeared. “Good work, Detective Wolff.” He shook Lorelei’s hand.
Wolff couldn’t find his tongue.
He woke up in a Bavarian jail. The woodcutter in the next cell said, “Don’t I know you?”
“Sherlock Wolff, ma’am. National Narrative Crimes.” He held a promotional photo. “Have you seen this blond chanteuse?”
Mrs. Bear dried her paws . “Lorelei’s gone, I’m afraid.”
“Did she leave anything?”
“ A mess.” Mrs. Bear ushered the detective in.
“We’re looking for a first edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and a laptop. Seen anything?”
Mrs. Bear shook her head. She called her son in.
Babyface said, “Lori’s not a reader.”
“She’s a hacker. Breaking into physical books, shortening them, changing plots. Her ex-boyfriend reported her.”
“She told me about him. The beast.”
Detective Wolff said, “He’s a wolf. There’s a difference.”
Bavarian Boots had a storied history. Now the elves wanted to change the company name to Iberian Soles.
“We’ve voted to relocate to the Canary Islands.” The elf twisted his beard into a white knot that rested on his collar.
Shoemaker’s father had been right. What a mistake to encourage a union. First it was holidays, then four weeks vacation. Now this. “I’ll consider it,” Shoemaker said.
“When you’re two centuries old, you’ll want a warm place to live,” the elf said. “Visit. You’ll see.”
Shoemaker booked a trip for three days. A month later, the relocation plan was complete.