A fairytale begins… 

Annabelle did not care that it was a hot summer night or that her farm was destroyed or that Light had forever left the kingdom of Belator. She did not care about anything or anyone save for her current situation and how she would manage to get out of it. Scraping her pale, delicate fingers across the stone wall, Annabelle tried to find something – anything – that would get her out of her prison. She grumbled in frustration when she merely felt cold stone and nothing else. No hidden doors, no rogue nails, not even the shards from the glass she had broken that morning.

Annabelle knew the entire fortress was practically submerged in Dark Magic.

Even if the prison guards left the prison key behind by accident, the magic in the fortress would make sure that Annabelle never found it. Such was the power of Van Denholm, the tyrant who now ruled the kingdom.

Van Denholm’s reign of terror had begun but not a few moons ago after a vicious and long overdue battle between the residents of Belator and the wolf that lived in the surrounding woods. The memory of that battle was forever imprinted in Annabelle’s mind. Whenever she closed her eyes, she felt the wolf’s hot breath on her face and she remembered how close she had come to being killed by the beast. It was no normal wolf. It was huge, almost as big as an average human and when it howled, even the bravest of knights trembled with fear. It was near the end of the battle when winning against the beast had seemed like a distant hope that Van Denholm had materialized and sworn to rid Belator of the beast in return for the kingdom’s rule.

Eyes snapping open, Annabelle looked around in the darkness of the dungeon she was trapped in. She wondered what had broken her train of thought when she heard it again.

A faint laugh… and a noise that sounded like scratching of fingernails on wall. Annabelle immediately clapped a hand to her mouth and tried to disappear in the shadows. There were all kinds of things lurking around in that fortress and she did not want to risk her life merely because she was breathing too loudly.

“Dear, dear Annabelle, come out of the shadows so that I may look upon your lovely face.”

Annabelle gasped. She could recognize that unctuous drawl anywhere. It was Van Denholm.

He sneered when she stepped out of the shadows. “I come to you with a proposal I think you shall benefit from.”

Annabelle threw him a look of scepticism. “What kind of a proposal?”

“Oh, merely that I am willing to let you go.”

Annabelle stared at him, her heart beating faster. She would be free, she would go back to her little brother. He was letting her go… but why?

“What’s the catch?” she asked warily.

“Ah, smart, aren’t we?” grinned Van Denholm, showing her his rotten teeth.

“I’ve learnt that all magic comes at a price.” She thought of the wolf and of the hundreds it had killed. “So what’s it to be?”

Van Denholm looked almost gleeful as he replied, “I want you to follow tradition, Annabelle.”

“What tradition?”

“The wolf.”

Annabelle sucked in a sharp breath. “What exactly do you want from me?”

“It’s rather simple, dear,” drawled Van Denholm. “I came to power because I defeated the big bad wolf. Belator would never have accepted me as their king otherwise. For years, I had been waiting for the day Belator would fall… but do you know at what price?” Annabelle held her breath. She somehow felt that she would not like his answer. Van Denholm continued, “Belator fell at the price of my beloved wolf. And now, I have to create another so as not to break tradition.”

“No!” came unbidden to her lips as she stumbled back from the sheer force of the secret he had just revealed to her. “No,” she said again and suddenly all pieces of the puzzle fell into place. “You!” she screamed, lunging at the iron bars trying to grab hold of his throat. “You foul, evil –”

“Do you want to see your brother again or not?” asked Van Denholm calmly.

It had the desired effect. Annabelle instantly ceased her violence and gaped at him with wet, bloodshot eyes. “What?” she whispered.

A wicked smile spread across Van Denholm’s face. Just a few more words of sympathy and encouragement… and then Belator would be his forever!

In that instant, another fairytale was born.