Enchanted Twelve 1byRedHairedandFriendly©
Author's Note: The following is the first chapter to a new chain story. If you recall the fairy tale Twelve Dancing Princesses then you may like this naughty twist of that childhood story. If you're not familiar with it, then I do hope you still enjoy the story. This chapter is the opening of the chain. Other writers will follow; their chapters will reflect the three nights concerning their Princess. Have fun and take time to comment. We, the writers, appreciate your feedback. Thanks! ~ Red
25 years ... Danielle
24 years ... Mandy (twin to Millay)
24 years ... Millay (twin to Mandy)
23 years ... Angelina
22 years ... Quinn
21 years ... Robin (triplet to Hazel/Violet)
21 years ... Hazel (triplet to Robin/Violet)
21 years ... Violet (triplet to Hazel/Robin)
20 years ... Merry
19 years ... Aurelia (twin to #11)
19 years ... Ariel (twin to #10)
18 years ... Cecilia
Angora stared at the sleeping girls; all twelve rested peacefully in their various chambers. The orb she used to keep track of her sister and her offspring, grew brighter as another powerful being swept into the room where the older girls slept. Angora's lip rose in a sneer as she watched her sister move from one child to the next, though in reality they were not mere children anymore; they were adults, full grown ladies, all unwed yet some were far from innocent. She cackled as she thought of some of the things the Ladies of Westingfield Kingdom did behind their parents' back.
One Princess had slept with the majority of the royal guard, another was a bumbling fool, and yet there were some that were as innocent now as they were the day they were born. She thought back over the years, remembering how she was denied the life she had dreamed of, one where she could take her magic and her power and mold a world that she would command. But no...instead Bartholomew had chosen Andrea.
Her sister's appeared again inside the orb and Angora concentrated her powers on tracking the woman's movements. She watched as the mirror image of herself moved from the Princesses'
chambers and toward her own. There she gazed at the man that Angora still hungered for. Her orb continued to glow as the power of Andrea was used inside the room that she watched. Her sister disrobed, pelts of fur fell easily to the floor and the man, the King of Westingfield, gazed hungrily at his now naked wife. Angora's eyes grew slated as she watched the couple move into each others arms. She longed to be the one Bartholomew touched and made cry out in pleasure, but alas, she could not, she was banned. She was stuck in her world, banned from visiting others.
She could not take Andrea's happiness, but she could make her life more difficult. For years her spells had crossed over. Nightmares were given to the girls; forcing them to stay awake. She sent wild beasts through the portal, in hopes that they would devour the young Princesses. The magical beings never lasted long inside the air of Westingfield; Andrea had protected it as best she could with what magic she had maintained when she left Oarthland, yet it wasn't enough and Angora did her utmost to take what leeway she could and torment her sister and those she loved.
Angora laughed as she ran her hands back over the glimmering ball of magic. The images changed to those of the sleeping Princesses. A smile rested on her pink lips as she whispered words that would bring confusion to the Kingdom that graced the other side of space. Her grin grew wider as she watched, first one, then another and another, toss sleeplessly in their beds. She'd failed over the last several years to bring the girls to her side, but now because they doubted the forces of magic they were easy to manipulate. Come morning all twelve Princesses would awaken exhausted from a night of play that only their dreams told them were true.
The orb dimmed as Angora rose from her chair and moved to stare out her chamber window. The stars flickered to life and she heard the revelry from below as music began to stir in the night. They would come; the men of Oarthland; the women of Westingfield. They would dance, sing, parade themselves all night, then return to their beds, tired and perhaps a bit less innocent, and then over time as their nightly parading and frolicking took their toll on their bodies, each child of Bartholomew and Andrea would collapse; their lives would be over, for their hearts would not be able to continue beating indefinitely once they supped on the foods and wines that Angora would poison each night they visited.
Weeks later in Westingfield
Bartholomew's voice echoed through the dining hall, bouncing off various works of art. The thick tapestries did little to absorb the gruffness in the King's voice, so his irritation over his eldest daughter's unladylike display was not lost on any of the young women that sat around his table.
Danielle shook her head, wiped at her tired eyes and glanced up at her mother, before turning her attentions to her father. "Yes?" she asked before lifting her hand to cover yet another yawn that was trying to escape.
Her father stared hard back at the woman who had finally acknowledged him. "I was asking how you fared this morning. But I can see that once again you are too exhausted to speak to me."
"Father, I apologize. I am just tired and did not hear you."
"Daydreaming again?" Bartholomew muttered. He slapped his hand down on the table, causing the dishes to shake and the goblets to quiver. The other occupants of the room, jumped slightly in their seats or at their stations, depending on their rank in life, glancing nervously back and forth between each other.
"Dear; she is just tired. There is no harm in that."
Bartholomew turned to the soft voice that had spoken to him. He felt her hand on his arm and glanced down at it, covering it with his own. "No there is no harm in one being tired, if one knows the cause. But your daughters have been displaying this appalling behavior for several weeks and even now they still can barely keep their eyes open; even after I have yelled at them!"
He shouted the last words hoping to get some sort of reaction from his twelve children. He did, though it was not one he had wanted; some jumped, some simply stared back at him with glassy eyes and a few yawned as if his tirade installed no fear in them at all.
"Danielle, are you ill?" Andrea asked her daughter, a look of concern etched on her face. She too had noted how her children had become simple shells of themselves during the morning hours. They had once risen before the sun, well...some of them had. Others quite enjoyed lounging in bed until they were pulled from under the thick blankets by another sibling. But now, every morning was a battle to get them dressed and ready for the day. Andrea feared she knew the cause behind the weaknesses she saw, but tried hard to not believe it. Years had passed since the last beast had threatened her daughters' dreams. Surely Angora had not returned to her mischievous ways.
Danielle rolled her shoulders, tucked a few strands of blond curls behind her ear and then swallowed another yawn before answering. "Nay. I'm simply tired. I feel well enough. I just...," she paused and thought if revealing her dreams were a wise decision. Her mother had fretted for years over her and her sisters; she recalled the fear in her face when they would describe the creatures in their dreams. She did not want to reinstall the demons inside her mother's eyes. "I just am not resting well."
"None of you are," Bartholomew interjected, "I demand you each retire to your beds two hours earlier than you have been."
The girls mumbled to themselves; a few agreed it was a fine idea, others whined that to do so would mean they would lose precious hours of daylight and thus would not be able to accomplish all they longed to do during the day. Bartholomew rose from the table, pushing his plate away. "You accomplish nothing now, so another loss of a couple hours will not harm you. In bed you will be and in bed you will stay!"
As he turned away he noted that one of the maids had stepped into the dining hall. He glanced at her and then down at the basket she carried. "Do not tell me that you have again found my girls to be lacking in suitable foot ware."
The maid looked down at the basket and then back to the girls and their father. Her face was slightly pale as she shook her head. She knew that every morning she was asked to bring the shoes to the King and he would examine them, shout and curse, then order the cobbler to make an appearance to the castle.
The girls would claim innocence, not knowing or understanding why they had holes in their new slippers, nor could they explain that on some mornings their nightdresses were on the floor of their room and they had fallen asleep in evening gowns or worse...naked. Those discoveries however were ones only their mother knew of. If their father had known that the girls were wearing out dresses as well as shoes his fury would know no end. Bartholomew was a kind father; a great leader, but he was also quite frugal and found wasting money on frivolous things harmful to the economy. The dressmakers and the cobbler, however were quite happy with their ever-increasing income.
Danielle and the others watched as their King made his way toward the maid. The eldest daughter's blue gaze shifted nervously back to her mother and she saw the unspoken question in the woman's knowing gaze. "We will speak of this later," Andrea whispered, just before Bartholomew cursed and gave the now-reoccurring order for Andrew, the village cobbler, to be called upon. He stormed out of the room, tossing his hands up and yelling for Andrea to deal with her children.
Andrea sighed and waved off the maid, who would dispose of the slippers to the orphanage; they would be mended and used again by those less fortunate. "Girls this has to stop. You must tell me what is ailing you." She looked at each of her children, pausing to take in their tired expressions and the lack of life that had once shown so brightly in their eyes each morning. Granted, by midday they were again their mischievous or quiet selves, but that was only because they returned to bed after breakfast and slept a few more hours. "Have the dreams returned?" she asked bluntly and waited for one of the Princesses to confess.
Danielle said nothing, only gave knowing looks to her sisters. They had all agreed that whatever dreams they were having they would not share them with their mother. All of them knew how she behaved when they were children. For years she would hound them with stories of witches, dragons, fairies and secret worlds that were dangerous. They drempt of those places as children, believing their mother's stories because they were young and impressionable; They enjoyed getting lost in the fairy tales.
Over time though, the dreams became more heinous and more terrifying. Eventually they begged and pleaded with their mother to stop her story telling, refusing to listen to her musings and pushing away the childhood belief of magical words and powerful beings. Now, several years later the dreams had returned and it seemed to circle around the same time that Cecilia, the youngest Princess, had celebrated her eighteenth birthday.
Andrea couldn't help but notice the passing glances each girl sent the others; they all had the same look of refusal. She would get no answers and so she too left the room, a look of determination on her face.
The Queen of Westingfield swore under her breath as she made her way to her chambers. Once there she opened a worn chest, plowed her way through its contents until she reached the bottom. Her fingers searched out a worn book, eventually finding it and pulling it from the depths of the old trunk. She sat on her knees, her dress billowing around her and opened the onion skin pages. "I know you are behind this sister, but remember, just because I don't have the power anymore, doesn't mean I'm completely helpless."
She scanned the pages of the book, eventually closing it and returning it to its hiding place. She rifled through the various linens that were stored in the chest, smiling when her fingers found the silk cloak that she had not used since crossing from Oarthland into Westingfield some twenty-five years ago. Andrea rose from the floor and placed the cloak on a bench that rested under one of her chamber windows. Her gaze swept out across the lands she had come to love and respect. The tiny village below her was alive with activity; she knew that in the heart of it was the one man that would save the lives of her children...if he were cunning enough to remain true to the cause.
Andrew held a pair of worn slippers in his hand, studied the stitching as well as the fabric that shown use and tear normally seen on shoes that were aged by months of use. These as well as the others he had examined, were not months old. They were less than a day old. He scratched his head, sighed, and replaced the shoes in the basket. "Thank you, Rita," he said and nodded to the young maid, "tell the Sister that I will be at the church tomorrow to help with the repairs."
Rita giggled. "The children are very happy the Princesses have small feet."
The young cobbler smirked, grabbed another pair and lifted them up. "Most do," he winked, then dropped the threadbare slipper, "Enjoy your journey and give my regards to the Sisters. Come along Robert."
Andrew watched the young maid leave and then turned with his apprentice to make his way through the castle; her words made him smile. He would enjoy his day, though the labor would be not as rewarding as the company.
The two villagers walked with familiarity, leaving the servant's entrance, passing several intricately carved doors. They reached the sitting room, where another servant greeted them. He took them into the gardens where they were presented to the eldest Princess.
"Excuse my Your Highness," the servant whispered, bowing low and then turning to move out of Andrew's way.
He stepped forward, bowed in greeting and then looked up at Danielle. "Your father sent a messenger. It seems you are in need of shoes...again?" He swept his gaze down her form, doing his best to make the journey back up as swift as possible, though he longed to take a few moments to enjoy every feminine curve she possessed.
Danielle bit down on her lower lip, remaining still as the cobbler took a quick appraisal of her form. When his eyes met hers, she lifted one brow and then turned, finding a place to rest. The sound of laughter pulled her attention toward several of the stone benches, that littered the garden grounds.
She smiled as she watched her siblings in their various states of recreation. One openly flirted with a guardsman, another was tucked under a blanket; her nose hidden in a book. A daisy chain was being made with some of her mother's precious flowers. In fact, all seemed to be consumed with their own thoughts. Danielle had been too, her thoughts however had been on the dreams, dreams she had begun to fear more than the ones she had as a child.
Andrew's voice drew her back and she sighed. "Just get on with it. Surely this should not take long." She lifted her dress's hem just enough for her foot and ankle to show. Andrew slipped to the ground and snapped a finger. His assistant, a small boy less than twelve summers old quickly made his way over to the cobbler.
"No. I've learned to come prepared."
Danielle couldn't help but notice the sound of his voice. She lifted a brow, concentrating on his face instead of the sensation of his fingers on her silky flesh. In her mind she knew that during the day, when Andrew visited it was the only thing that kept her worry at bay. Danielle refused to ask herself why; instead she simply allowed his presence to comfort her.
"You seem distracted."
She glanced up, blushing because her eyes had traveled to his hands, which ran slowly over her foot. "I was just day dreaming. Are you almost done?"
Andrew sighed, released her foot and pulled one of the partially constructed slippers from the basket that Robert had placed on the ground. "Aye. As you said, this won't take long. Still no clue as to why you and your sisters' shoes look aged?"
"No. Perhaps it is the workmanship?"
"Princess, you wound me to the core." Andrew held up a fist and pressed it against his chest, before rising.
The Princess chuckled to herself as she took in his faux appearance of shock and hurt. Andrew winked, turned away and motioned for his assistant to follow him. Danielle watched as the cobbler and the boy, moved from one Princess to the next, examining each ones' foot, placing a partially sewn set of slippers on their feet, having them stand and walk several yards before returning to him. Once he was satisfied he would move on to the next.
"Why do you not waste all that time on me?" she asked when he returned to her side.
Andrew shrugged his shoulders. "Over time a cobbler need not study every client to know their form."
Danielle's lips made a pout, one she didn't realize had appeared. Andrew did however; he wondered why the thought of him not watching her would make her annoyed. He locked the information in a corner of his mind and readied himself to leave the woman's company. "Your shoes will be ready by the evening hour."
"Good day Master Cobbler," Danielle said with a quick nod of her regal head.
He bowed, stepped back and turned to leave, colliding into Bartholomew's chest. "Excuse me, Your Majesty!"
Andrew again swept the ground, showing his respect to his liege lord.
"Quite alright, young cobbler. How fare you?"
"I'm well Sire, thank you for your concern."
"Queen Andrea has come to me with a suggestion and I would like to hear your opinion on the matter," Bartholomew said, moving to stand beside the young man.
Danielle's interest perked and she moved closer, hoping to catch a few tidbits of her father and the cobbler's conversation. Bartholomew muttered something about nosy children, but said nothing to steer himself or Andrew away from prying ears.
"I'm touched Sire that you would seek the opinion of a lowly man such as myself."
"You may just be a common man, but we all know you are most talented and the way my daughters go through slippers these days, you'll not be a poor man for long."
Andrea laughed, then quickly coughed, hoping to cover his amusement once he saw the annoying look Bartholomew passed over him. "I am sorry Sir. What is this suggestion that our beautiful Queen has voiced?"
The king cleared his throat. "She has cleared one of the rooms near the girls, not right beside them mind you, but a few doors down. Her suggestion is that you move into the castle."
Danielle's gasp made Andrew and Bartholomew turn as one. "Father, we can not ask Andr... our cobbler, to take up residence inside the keep. He has his shop in the village; who will take care of those that need his services?" She didn't like the idea of the man living within her walls. He made her uneasy, a feeling she did not care for.
"Danielle, return to your daydreaming. I will discuss this with no other but our Queen and our cobbler." Bartholomew turned his attention back to the man, placing one hand on his shoulder and leading him back toward the sitting room and out of the garden. "What say you? Could that young apprentice deal with the daily chores of your village shop?"
Andrew shrugged his shoulder and glanced back at the young lad that had silently picked up their supplies and followed them. He could see the excitement in the boy's face and knew that the child, a local whore's bastard son, would make a good cobbler and had indeed shown great promise over the last several weeks. He had chosen the boy two years ago and had taught him much. The increased jobs, coming from the worn Princesses' slippers, had certainly sharpened and honed the young child's skills. With a quick nod of his head, Andrew saw glee appear in Robert's eyes.