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The Stone Princess: Prologue

A heart corrupted by vengeance and lies shall harden to stone and meet its demise...

By Morgan Rhianna BlandPublished 2 years ago 7 min read
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The Stone Princess: Prologue
Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

There were many rumors about The Stone Kingdom. Some said its ruler went mad and turned her subjects into stone. Some said her most trusted advisor framed her. Some said her incompetence brought a curse upon the kingdom. Some said she tried to stop a great threat but wasn’t strong enough. Whatever the truth was, every version of the tale could agree on three things. There was a kingdom in which the inhabitants, including its ruler, turned to stone. The ruins of The Stone Kingdom were located in the woods outside the small town, and no one who entered The Stone Kingdom ever came back.

Phoebe had heard the stories since she could remember, but now she wanted to know more. She tried the library, but the books told her nothing new. She tried asking the townspeople, but nobody wanted to talk about The Stone Kingdom. Undeterred, she waited until her parents had gone to market, packed a small basket of food, and set off to find The Stone Kingdom herself.

“Phoebe! Where are you going?” her brother Phillip called after her.

“To find The Stone Kingdom.”

We’re coming with you!” said her other brother, Phelan.

“Fine, just don’t slow me down.”

The two boys fell in step as Phoebe led the way into the woods through thicket and bramble, over rock and stream. The sun dipped low in the sky, but the three siblings still hadn’t found The Stone Kingdom. “I’m hungry!” whined Phelan.

Phoebe reached into the basket and tossed Phelan an apple. “I’m tired!” Phillip complained, plopping down on a fallen log. “Let’s just turn back.”

“What are you looking at me for? She brought us here!”

“Yeah, Phoebe. Why can’t you be normal for-?”

“QUIET!” Phoebe held a finger to her lips.

A mournful song pierced the silence, the raw anguish in the voice like a knife sharp enough to cut even the hardest heart. Phelan burst into hysterical sobs. Tears streamed down Phillip's face. Even Phoebe had to wipe her eyes before exchanging a look with her brothers. If they followed the voice, they might find The Stone Kingdom. The voice led them deeper into the woods until they came to a copse of low hanging trees. A dead end… or was it?

Phoebe parted the branches to reveal a narrow street paved with broken cobblestones. Derelict cottages with shattered windows and caved in roofs lined the street. There was a bakery barren of all sweet treats, a smithy with equipment left untouched and idle, and a bookshop with volumes left to gather dust and cobwebs on the shelves. But there was no sign of any people, stone or otherwise! “Now what?” said Phelan.

“Where’s that voice coming from?” asked Phillip.

Phoebe’s eyes darted in the direction she last heard the sound to a towering structure in the distance, the only building left intact. “It’s coming from the castle. Let’s go!”

********

They approached to find a mob of stone figures outside the rusted wrought iron castle gate. Some clutched broken pitchforks and axes, others torches long burned out. Some were missing fingers, hands, or arms. All were cracked and covered in moss and overgrown vines… except three. Dodging and weaving through the statues, the siblings made their way through the gate to find the statue of a young woman gripping a staff that had not turned to stone with its owner, an angry expression frozen on her face. But it was where the staff pointed that filled the trio with dread.

Another stone woman even younger than the first knelt at the foot of the castle steps, fallen, vanquished. Her hand forever outstretched to touch the stone cheek of the man holding her. The man’s figure was a different type of stone than the woman and the other stone people, and his eyes, unlike the stony gray of the others', were inlaid with aquamarine. Looking closer, Phoebe noticed gaps between his arms and the woman’s body and a gap between her hand and his cheek. There was only one explanation! His statue had been placed after the fact. So that meant... Did someone actually survive?

Taking an automatic step back in shock, she saw the plaque at the base of the two figures. It bore the crest of a long-forgotten royal family and the following inscription:

A heart corrupted

By vengeance and lies

Shall harden to stone

And meet its demise

What did that mean? Was this woman the Stone Princess? And who was he?

"See? I told you she cursed the kingdom!” Phelan said triumphantly.

“She’s not the princess, you idiot! That’s the Stone Princess!” said Phillip, pointing to the fallen woman.

“The one with the staff must be the witch who cursed her…”

“What kind of ruler can’t fight off a stupid curse?”

“Can we go now? You’ve got your answers!”

“Yeah, this place is- AAAAAHHH!”

Phoebe didn’t lend her brothers’ bickering an ear until the yelp from Phelan. She turned just in time to see him back into a statue, a statue that bore an uncanny resemblance to a teenage boy who’d disappeared from their town two years prior. A shiver ran down her spine, and she suddenly realized the heartbroken song that brought them there had stopped. All was eerily quiet until a low rumble shook the ground, throwing the siblings backwards.

“ALL OF YOU, GET OUT!!!” a strange voice boomed. “Go now before you turn to stone like the others!”

A hand pulled Phoebe back to her feet, and she looked up into a pair of eyes the exact color of the statue’s. A figure appeared from behind the statues, his dark hair and dark cloak billowing behind him with every movement of the ground. His gaunt face and shadowed, lifeless eyes gave him the appearance of a ghost. In fact, Phoebe would've thought he was a ghost, had the firm grip on her hand not convinced her that he was very much alive.

She had no sooner let go of the stranger's hand that Phillip and Phelan rushed to her side. Each took one of her hands, and she had to run to keep up with them as they yanked her away. “Wait!” she cried, resisting her brothers' grip with all her strength. She looked back, searching the stranger's eyes for answers. “The song, the statue… is that you? Do you know what happened to the Stone Princess?”

Suddenly the shaking and rumbling stopped. The stranger sighed sadly, his graying dark hair falling into his eyes as he bowed his head. “Fine. Gather ‘round and hear the real story of the Stone Princess.”

Phoebe, Phillip, and Phelan listened with rapt attention as the stranger wove a tragic tale of doubt, deception, betrayal, war, and death. A disbelieving king, a wicked enchantress, a conniving duke, a reactionary society, and an unbreakable bond that outlasted all of them.

They were two kindred souls marked by fate as equals, united in intellect and in suffering. She was the lonely princess cursed to slowly turn to stone as punishment for her father’s arrogance. He was the misunderstood balladeer falsely accused of bringing the curse upon her. His songs changed her mind, and her sculptures changed his heart. She won his empathy, and he won her loyalty. He gave her a reason to live. She gave him a reason to fight.

He became her closest ally, and she became his fiercest protector from the moment their paths crossed to the moment the witch brought the mob through the castle gates to finish a job started long ago.

Fable
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About the Creator

Morgan Rhianna Bland

I'm an aroace brain AVM survivor from Tennessee. My illness left me unable to live a normal life with a normal job, so I write stories to earn money.

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