Cinderella Dressed in Ashes ( Book #2 in the Grimm Diaries ) (4 page)

BOOK: Cinderella Dressed in Ashes ( Book #2 in the Grimm Diaries )
8.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“Oh—” she relaxed. “Behave, Loki,” she patted him playfully on the chest of his armor.

“This is me behaving,” he said, leaning forward in his heavy armor, looking adorable. “Trust me.”

Snow White fought the blushing this time. He seemed to enjoy it, anyway, leaning forward to tempt her.

“I can send you to jail,” she warned him with a lying finger. “I am the princess.”

Loki laughed that stargazing, sun-sucking, radiating laugh. “And I shall go to jail,” he bowed his head obediently. “If my princess so wishes.”

Snow White shied away, giggling with a hand over her mouth.

“I am all yours, princess,” Loki brushed a blooming flower over her nose.

“Stop calling me princess,
huntsman
,” she said.

“I can’t,” he stuck the white flower into the curls of her hair. “You’ll always be
my
princess.”

“Always?” she asked.

“Always,” Loki nodded and pulled her nearer and kissed her.

Snow White couldn’t breathe. Loki’s move was abrupt and forceful. She could not resist his lips though, not even in a dream. She gave in and kissed him back, eyes closed. He took her hand and placed something in it. A silver necklace with a round pendant.

Snow White felt him close her fingers on it like a guarding seashell, and then he squeezed her hand. She complied almost hypnotically. Whatever that necklace was, she was sure it was worth invading his lips.

Unexpectedly, his lips tasted different; bitter, salty and even … smelled of blood.

Snow White pulled away and saw Loki’s face had saddened, his eyes gazed into hers. He pressed on the necklace one more time and nodded toward it as if not wanting anyone to know he gave it to her.

What was going on? Is the Schloss watching this dream? Is he afraid to tell me something, again?

The dream had felt strange from the beginning and now Loki’s silence worried her even more. His green eyes filled with terror. No, not terror, it was more of regret. He was afraid, but of what?

“One of us is going to do something terrible very soon,” he said.

“What are you talking about?

“When the time comes, do it,” he whispered in her ear. “Choose wisely, and remember that whatever happens, however evil I look, I love you,” he clamped his hand over her mouth as the sun began to fade away from behind the veiled blue sky, dimming the world the way curtains are pulled down to keep the light out of rooms. The poppy field around her paled and died on its own, slowly, the plants fell to their knees as if they were drunk.

“This isn’t the dream yet,” Loki whispered. “It’s the World Between Dreams. This is the real me calling for you, Shew, before things go wrong. This might be the last time we meet the way I am now before the Huntsman in me takes hold.”

Suddenly, some of the plants around Loki glided like snakes all over his body and pulled him down.

“Loki!” Snow White screamed.

“Read it,” he said before the plants covered his mouth, rendering him unable to talk.

As the dream turned into a nightmare all around her, she opened her palm and examined the necklace. What was he trying to tell her?

The necklace was made of wood, shaped in the form of a circle fixed on a horizontal access. Its design looked like a circle from afar. She looked harder and saw some engravings. They looked like letters, but they were undecipherable.  What use was it if she couldn’t decipher it?

She looked back at Loki, pulled by the snakiest poppies down until the earth almost swallowed him. The plants had started wrapping around her legs as well.

This is the World Between Dreams.
He had said. It explained why this place seemed so lovely. It was a mental bridge in Loki’s conscious before they descendent down the Dreamworld. He used it to tell her something through a necklace she couldn’t read.

Snow White stared at the skies above, feeling dizzy. It was time to enter the real dream, or rather nightmare. She took one last look at the curious engravings on the necklace. They looked like this:

 

3

The Slave Maiden

 

Finally, Snow White woke up in her own dream.

She was standing in front of a mirror in her chamber, alone with blood dripping from her lips. This Dreamory, influenced by the word ‘Phoenix’ was taking place two centuries ago. Her reflection in the mirror was a seven-year-old Snow White.

She had no time to think about whom she had just bitten or whose blood dripped from her lips. What mattered now was that Loki hadn’t appeared yet, and she had an eerie feeling she had no control over this dream. She tried focusing, her tips of her fingers on her forehead, trying to shift the dream to another time or place of her choosing, but she failed.

Of course, whatever Carmilla sent Loki for in this dream, she wouldn’t risk Snow having control over it. Loki must have used another kind of Baby Tears or a different spell that prevented the dreamer from manipulating the dream. Right now, Snow White was another spectator in this dream like anyone else, and the consequences could be dire.

“Shew!” Carmilla burst into the room toward her daughter. Tabula Rasa, her servant, followed her. “How could you?” Carmilla said.

Stiffened, Snow White stared back at her. The golden hue in Carmilla’s eyes reminded Snow White that Angel had turned her into a vampire already.

“And who brought that damn awful mirror in the room?” Carmilla stopped in her tracks, shying away.

Tabula Rasa hurried and adjusted the mirror to face the wall. Snow White assumed that Carmilla hadn’t met Bloody Mary yet in this memory.

“Didn’t we talk about you biting people?” Carmilla shook her daughter violently. “Do you have any idea how important it is for our kingdom to have their kingdom as an ally?”

“What did I do?” Snow White said reluctantly. She felt like an actress dressed for the part, but not having read the script.

Carmilla rolled her eyes and sighed.

“She’s talking about you biting the prince, Princess Shew,” Tabula said, lowering her head with respect.

Oh, we’re back again to when I bit the prince?

“And don’t tell me he was yummy,” Carmilla stabbed a warning finger in the air.

“But he was yummy,
mummy
,” Snow White tapped her feet, trying to play the part, and trying not to laugh at the coincidental rhyme.

“Mummy?” Carmilla blinked her eyes, illuminating her long eyelashes. “Where did you hear that word? Don’t ever mention mummies around here.”

“Oh,” Snow White put a hand on her blood-dripping lips.

“I don’t care. I want my yummy prince,” Snow White distracted them by playing bratty little princess.

Carmilla stood up again, impatient and disapproving of her daughter’s behavior as if she hadn’t been turned into a half-vampire herself. “Clean her up,” she told Tabula. “I will deal with her later.”

“But I’m afraid she’ll bite me, my majesty,” Tabula said. “I don’t want to end up like the prince.”

 Tabula knew our family’s secrets?

Carmilla stared back at the door for a moment as if she wondered what really happened to the prince. Had he been turned into a vampire?  Was he cured or dead?

“I understand,” Carmilla said. “Send one of the Slave Maidens to clean her up.”

Snow White didn’t know what a Slave Maiden was.

“Thank you, my majesty,” Tabula said. “I will send one of the girls to wash the princess.”

“And you, darling, control your cravings,” Carmilla told Snow White. “A prince for dinner should be enough,” Carmilla smirked and looked away. It was as if she were making fun of her. Like mother like daughter, both of them were bloodsuckers.

Tabula followed Carmilla.

Snow White tried to use her powers again to shift from one scene to another in the dream, but all was in vein. She wondered what kind of dream this was. It felt like being stuck in a movie theatre, not allowed to leave your seat until the credits rolled.

It confused her why the word ‘Phoenix’ sent her back to this part in her life. What did the Phoenix stand for?

She decided to look around for a clue, but stopped when the beauty of the dresses in her wardrobe caught her attention. As she rummaged through the wardrobe, she wondered why she had no recollection of the events in this dream. Was this a part of her past life, or was it some kind of a hallucination?

“Princess?” a sweet voice knocked on the door.

A young girl, a year or two older than Snow, entered the chamber. She had blonde hair, tinged fiery red. Shew squinted. The red in the girl’s hair was more of an aura than a highlight. It was almost not there, like some kind of ghost waving around the girl’s head.

The girl was tiny. She wore ragged clothes, which seemed like they had been blue once, now smeared with ashes. She had a reluctant smile, one that would have been beautiful if not wrinkled by the tension and fear showing on her face. She took small and careful steps toward Shew as if she were a Geisha, her head lowered, hands laced with a towel dangling from them. It was obvious she feared the princess.

“I’m here to help you wash, princess,” she knelt on the floor.

Snow White patted her and pulled her up to her feet. Even then, she still had to pull the girl’s chin up so she’d look her in the eyes. An inevitable sadness lurked there.

“Call me Shew,” she said.

“Could I ask you to walk to the bathroom so I can take off your clothes and wash you, Princess Shew?” the girl asked.

Shew complied, almost hypnotically. The girl began wetting the towel and cleaning the blood dripping from her lips.

Something inside Shew told her she knew the girl from before. It was like Déjà vu or a repressed memory. She could almost swear this was a real memory that had been blocked from her somehow.

“What’s your name?” Shew said.

“Cerené,” the girl said proudly as if it was the only thing she owned. Her blue eyes glittered while she explained the proper pronunciation of her name, “Chi-re-ney. You could add a light ‘h’ sound at the end if you like. It makes my name sound like a sigh,” she blinked her eyes once.

“Nice to meet you, Cerené,” Shew said. “I’m—”

“The Princess of Sorrow,” Cerené said with a thin smile. She still looked worried. “I heard the Queen call you Shew like you just asked me to, but I always think of you as Joy.”

“Joy?” Snow White asked.

“It’s a nickname I’ve heard your father use to describe you to noblemen. I heard him say you’re the
joy
of the Sorrows. I like it.”

“Oh,” Shew actually liked the name, although she hadn’t heard her father call her that. The Joy of the Sorrows was ironically destined to kill all the Sorrows someday. “I don’t think you still believe I’m the joy of the Sorrows, do you?” Shew pointed at the blood on the towel.

“Well, you’re rather monstrous,” Cerené stopped with a hand on her mouth, looking apologetic, the towel slipping to the floor. What had she just said? “I—didn’t’ mean…”

“Don’t fear me, Cerené,” Shew said. “You said nothing wrong. I
am
monstrous,” she glimpsed at her blood-dripping image in the bathroom mirror.

Cerené backed up toward the wall, “please don’t hurt me.”

“I told you I’m not going to,” Shew said.

“You just said you’re monstrous, and I heard you just bit the prince,” Cerené plastered her cheek against he cold walls of the royal bathroom, which must have been bigger than the size of the small cottage where she lived.

“I’m a beautiful monster,” Shew smiled. She was aware she wasn’t acting like a seven year old, but she tried her best.

So this is Dreamory of me, which I am living all over again from the mind of my older self. I wonder if I changed something from this past, if something would change in the future?

Cerené smiled and eased back when Shew stretched out her hand. There was something about Cerené. She came across as too pure to live among the evil lurking in the Kingdom of Sorrow. Shew watched Cerené pick up the towel and begin washing her again.

“So why do they call you a Slave Maiden?” Shew asked.

“Because I am one,” Cerené said, unashamed. “I’m an orphan. I work for a family with a stepmother and two stepdaughters for a place to stay.  I also work as a maid in the Schloss whenever they send for me, and I clean the School of Sorrow in exchange for bread.”

“What you just said only explains you’re a poor girl, not a slave,” Shew said.

“Girls like me are disposable. We are sent to do jobs that might kill us because we have no family to care when we die. They don’t even bury us properly in a graveyard,” Cerené said casually. “Some of us are used as bait for vampires on the borders. They send us to lure out vampires so your father’s army can kill them. They don’t care about us.”

“My father does that?”

“I like the King of Sorrow a lot more than the Queen but I heard he is heartless when it comes to war,” Cerené said, feeling she was allowed to speak her mind in front of an understanding princess. Shew knew nobody had ever granted her such a privilege before.

“So you were sent to me because if I bite you or kill you—”

BOOK: Cinderella Dressed in Ashes ( Book #2 in the Grimm Diaries )
8.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Winner Takes All by Jenny Santana
The Mystery of the Stolen Music by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Will's Galactic Adventure by Edwin Pearson
Lennox by Craig Russell
April Fool by William Deverell
Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de Los Santos
Ivy Takes Care by Rosemary Wells