An Adult Fairy Tale
Pinpricks of pain and pungent smells compelled me to pry my eyes open. Then I wished I hadn’t when the face of a hag, hairy warts and all, filled my vision.
The hag spoke, assaulting me with her foul breath. “Ah. There you are, Prince. You must have dreamed well. It took hours for my potion to wear off, so I’ll jump right in. You have two choices that come with two questions. First, how important to you is staying on the path you set for yourself? Second, are you capable of changing the inflexible nature you’re renowned for and opening yourself to other possibilities?”
Her dubious tone and the cackle that followed brought more awareness to the throbbing in my head and the stinging down my body, which helped me focus on the three wrinkled and warty faces peering intently at me.
Other discomforts became apparent. My wrists were lashed in front of me, and vines wrapped around my shoulders and hips, securing me to a tree, biting deeper when I tried to move. Not a stitch of clothing was left to shield me from the gleam in three sets of black eyes. Was it avariciousness? That would be the obvious notion, but when I looked deeper, something like hope flashed in each face.
Delaying my answer and ignoring the pain, I struggled to think how I came to be in this predicament. My last memory was of three females enticing me into the gardens at my engagement ball. I would lose one only to be beckoned by another, until we reached the willow tree.
The clear choice was to pursue them, and I was eager because I was due to be married in seven days. After that, no more dalliances.
There was a moment of triumph when I found the beauties waiting with hot eyes under the drooping fronds before one tossed a shiny powder in my face, and everything went black.
Now I wondered where it was they had brought me. An icy dread filled my heart when it seemed we were in a clearing deep in the woods. The early morning sun tried to punch through thick boughs of ancient yews bending over us with gnarled branches like so many reaching arms. An old white horse stood in a swatch of light nibbling grass.
They waited patiently while I pondered over their challenge. Lady Farahline would not care who she married so long as it was a prince. The same could be said for me. All I wanted was to occupy my days doing what I loved best, participating in the games, and breeding the finest horses. Her dowry offered me that, as well as freeing me from my father’s constant scrutiny.
The dread sank deeper. My father was not a patient man. If I failed to show, he had another son who could take my place at the altar. This thought brought my anger. Who were these witches that dared kidnap a prince?
I gave the leathery, toothless face my royal frown and spoke, even as my croaky voice made me wince. “What are these choices?”
Another cackle. “We seek voluntary gifts.”
Pinpricks crawled over my neck at the implications, as I had nothing with me to give, but I maintained my princely tone. “Which are?”
“A small swatch of skin from your scrotum.” When my brows arched, she went on. “You must simply lay next to the cauldron, spread those glorious equestrian thighs, and expose your manhood to the three of us. We’ll perform a ceremony and excise the skin. It will be painful but brief, then we will send you back in time for your wedding.”
“You will lay with us in turn for three days, so that we might gain more permanent benefits from your royal…” the gleam brightened… “offerings. You’ll miss your wedding, but I promise it will not be a miserable experience, and you might discover unexpected rewards.” Were any rewards worth suffering such repulsiveness? Their smell alone put me off.
“If I refuse?” This wasn’t an option because we were so deep in Shang Thorn woods, my only means of returning safely was their magic.
Confirming my theory, she said, “You can return on your own, but you must follow the Black River to find your way.”
It was the least repugnant option, and the deadliest. Few survived the river road, and those who did appeared decades later, broken, never speaking of their missing years. It was getting harder to curb my frustration, and I tugged on my bindings. The sharp pain humbled me.
“Why do you require my flesh?”
“Tonight, there is a hunter’s moon, you’re the right age, and your skin is royal.” She squinted an eye and cocked her head. “I can see you’re thinking hard. Now which will it be?”
“Allow me to rephrase my question. What will my offerings do for you?”
“We are prevented from giving you that information. You must be the one to see your way.”
“What makes you think I will cooperate once I’m free from these bonds?”
“You’re not stupid. Quit fighting it and make the hard choice for once.”
Her belittling tone freed me from my hesitation. Leaving a piece of me behind was no skin off my… Well, it would literally be my skin, but I could endure the humiliation if it meant getting back to my plans.
Still, clarification was in order. “I assume I’ll need to choose before learning of your rewards.” All eyes grew darker, then flickered with a mysterious light. A separate flash drew me to the horse still chomping away. For a second, it looked like one of the legendary Paladin stallions. Then I blinked, and it was swaybacked again.
Apparently, these signs were my only answer, so I gave them mine. “Since I must be present for my wedding, I’ll opt for the short sacrifice.” The vines loosened, and I wanted to yell from the pain as they peeled away.
The second sister approached and sounding disappointed, said, “Come lay on the pallet. I will heal you first.” Tiny critters flitted along her scalp, and my skin crawled. But I needed assistance after the hours lashed to a tree and allowed them to prop me up.
They surprised me with their care, and when she handed me a flask of water, I drank deeply. In the moments it took to hydrate, the witches seemed different, softer. The horse raised its head and stared at me. Again, a handsomer face flickered beneath the surface. Intrigued, I couldn’t help staring back as they laid me out on a woven mat.
She smoothed her ointment over the raw places, then proceeded to bathe me with a scented cloth, and my skin was renewed even as it turned flush from her thoroughness. My body’s reaction alarmed me. The third sister laid my head in her lap and stroked my temples. Her soft hands were nothing like the gnarled claws my eyes had flinched from earlier. Her voice was soothing. “Relax. This will be over quickly.”
All eyes, now luminous, roamed over me in approval, turning up the heat inside me another degree. But I made the mistake of blinking. The wrinkled faces were back.
The second sister knelt at my side to sweep a bundle of incense over me, which masked their smell. At least that was my first impression. But my senses were confused, and I detected the scent of roses, mingling with the fragrant herbs. The first sister perched between my thighs. My instinct was to draw my knees together, even as dread and arousal coursed through me in equal doses, but she pushed them to the mat as they began chanting in an ancient tongue. Beautiful words flowed around the clearing.
Their clothes disappeared, exposing perfect breasts as they swayed. Was I hallucinating? I struggled not to lick my lips. These were the faces from the willow tree. It must be the wavering incense, which also made me drowsy, and I couldn’t help doing the one thing you should never do with witches. “What are your names? It’s the least you can give me in exchange for what you’re about to do.”
The horse neighed from its place under a yew, and tinkling laughter drifted over my head along with a sultry voice. “You do not need our names, lovely prince.” Their faces drifted disconcertingly between dewy youth and aged paper, then settled into the beauties I remembered.
My breath hitched when fingers trailed up the inside of my leg, then wrapped around my embarrassingly rigid shaft to stroke it, briefly, though it was enough to make me shudder as she gathered the beads of my fluid on a young leaf. Trying to sound like this happened every day, I said, “I thought my skin was all you required.”
“We cannot refuse these precious drops when you offer them willingly. They will go into our potion along with your skin.” She paused. “This is going to hurt, but if you move, you might end up castrated. Understand?”
I nodded but held my breath when she flashed a blade near my groin, then I let the vision of mouthwatering breasts distract me. But that only brought the deflating thought that coupling with them might have been the better option. If just their touch stirred me... I frowned and put that thought away when once again they looked like the soles of my boots.
Searing pain had me clamping my jaw. The “brief” sacrifice seemed endless. One sister blotted the sweat from my forehead, while the other held me still. Then it was over. My clothes were back as if I’d never been naked, and I faced three stunning females as I rose to my feet and said, even as I struggled not gape, “Is this the result of my… um… gift?”
The first sister said, “You are seeing glimpses of us without our curse. After tonight, the hated punishment will be interrupted for a time thanks to your sacrifice, giving us longer to find a permanent solution.”
My throat was a little dryer. “Are these the versions of you I would have lain with?”
She waved the bloody blade at me, and her face turned sly. “You made your choice, Prince. You have a wedding to get to. Lady Farahline’s stable will have to do, because we hear she’s as frigid as the river from its icy source high up the mountain. My sisters and I are grateful and wish you true happiness...”
Pinpricks of pain and familiar smells compelled me to pry my eyes open. I was in my bed at the castle. My crotch stung, and I cupped it as I remembered the hand that stroked me and three black-haired beauties who administered to me so warmly.
Seven days later, I stood at the altar saying my vows. My crotch still smarted from the memories. The cold face under the veil studied me. When it was done, our hands were grasped by endless dignitaries bestowing their felicitations in the receiving line. Halfway through, visions of my loveless future plagued me. Then, even dreams of contentment with my horses and games were squashed when my brother, missing for several days, appeared with three elegant women, clothed in finery and glittering jewels.
His flashing teeth nearly blinded me as he said, “May I present the Ladies of Paladin.”
Fathomless black eyes crinkled in three familiar and smiling faces as they curtsied. My stomach churned with irony as I bowed back, my unsuspecting bride, doing the same. I couldn’t stop the catch in my throat any more than the words. “Legends say the lands of Paladin are as splendid as you three and flow across endless grassy plains until reaching the western sea where the finest stallions roam.”
The sultry voice I would never forget, said, “You must know then that we seek a worthy prince to rule with us.”
My brother gave me a wink of conquest along with his congratulations and laying possessive hands on the sisters, led them down the line.
About the author
I enjoy life and writing from my high desert valley on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There is nothing better than these stunning backdrops for creating fantasy worlds and inspiring the diverse characters in my fiction.
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
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Arguments were carefully researched and presented
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions