Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Flash Fiction: The Prince and The Rose

Came across this on Google+, all credit goes to the original artist on DeviantArt

"That is a beautiful rose," thought Prince Raul. "Surely the fairy cannot refuse the will of the Prince. Just one rose will not spoil the entire enchanted garden!" So saying, he lifted the glass cover. 

Instantly, the blossom began to wither in the open air. Raul replaced the cover in haste, but it was too late.
The fairy stood before him, in all of her majestic fury.
"My prince," she said, "why have you sought to take that which is not yours?"
Raul scowled defiantly. "I know not what you mean, Sylph! This garden lies within the bounds of my father's kingdom. Thus it is the King's land!"
The fairy watched him sadly. "I see that none of the grace that prompted your father to freely apportion this land to the Fae has passed on to you, his heir. You have laid hands to seize the property of another in the name of the crown which you prize so highly, thus, in consequence, you are hereby condemned to live in isolation for the rest of your days."
Tenderly as a summer breeze, the fairy replaced the cover, restoring the rose to its full vitality. She returned her gaze to the prince.
"You are young, Your Highness, and there is yet time to mend your ways and avert this terrible consequence. On the eve of your twenty-first birthday I will again visit you, and if you show me the same courtesy afforded by your father, you will yet escape the punishment you have incurred."
Prince Raul, stricken to his heart with guilt and anger that the fairy would presume to punish him for just wanting a rose, only nodded and seemed to accept his fate.
But the fairy had not finished. "Have care, Prince Raul," she warned. "The form with which I greet you ten years hence may not be the same one in which you see me now."
"How will I know it is you, then?" The Prince demanded.
"I will give no warning," she replied, "save this: when I come, I will bring you this very rose, that you might see it and remember. Are we agreed?"
"Yes," said Raul, and ran out of the Fairy's garden.

As time passed, the Prince quite forgot the fairy, the rose, and the warning. He carried on in his foolish ways, using his money and his status to garner the adulation of the crowd every bit as vain and selfish as he was. Many fair young damsels greatly desired to become his bride, but Prince Raul would always find some flaw, however small. Nothing but the very best would ever satisfy him.
At long last, the Prince came of age, and he welcomed only the kingdom's richest nobles to celebrate with him. There was drinking and dancing and singing and the Prince reveled the most. At the stroke of midnight, a knock sounded at the door. A servant discretely made his way to the center of the party to inform the Prince that a visitor awaited him. Annoyed at being interrupted, and only the smallest bit curious, Raul reluctantly followed the woman. A few of his guests followed blindly, for of course, wherever the Prince went, some kind of entertainment was sure to happen.

Standing upon the threshold of the palace was a hunched, wrinkled form. A beggar woman, dressed in nothing stronger than a rough woolen cloak patched many times over.
"Well?" the Prince demanded. "I am here; what do you want?"
"May the gods smile upon Your Majesty," croaked the woman. "I only mean to give the young Prince a gift on his birthday." She held out her hand. In it was a magnificent rose in full bloom.
The Prince scoffed, "You would give me a flower? I have all the gardens I want!"
The old woman didn't waver. "This single rose is the most precious thing that I have, and I would give it to you freely, my Prince."
The prince laughed. "Oh, freely, eh?" He turned and winked broadly at the crowd gathering behind him. "There is nothing you want from the Prince of the realm in return for your most precious flower?"
The woman persisted, inching closer. "Please accept this," she rasped.
"No!" Prince Raul thundered. He shoved the woman back out into the snow. "Begone, beggar! I'll have nothing from your hand!" He turned his back on her and made to close the door.
The crowd behind him cheered, and prepared to get back to their revelry.
Before the door had quite shut, the Prince heard a single word.


A strange sensation, borne of a distant memory, came over the prince, and he stopped and turned again to face the woman. She had risen to her feet with far more grace than he expected for a woman of her age.
"You will have something from my hand," the woman said, her voice stronger and fuller than before, "but it will no longer be your choice to accept it."
She reached up with pure-white hands as smooth as glass and threw off her cloak.
Instantly, the old crone was no more, and in her place stood the fairy from the garden he had raided when a boy. As the last stroke of midnight echoed through the frozen night, Prince Raul remembered the warning, and knew that his time had come.
"Young Prince," said the Fairy, "Did I not tell you I would come? Did you not recognize the rose that I brought?"
The Prince watched as she picked up the wilted rose, and it restored to the large, healthy bloom in her hand. He fell to his knees before her.
"I am sorry!" he begged. "Please, do not smite me! I only saw the cloak, but I realize my mistake now! See, I will invite you in--"
"You only saw the cloak," the Fairy repeated his words. "You were so intent on the outward appearance of another that you failed to see what a valuable gift she could offer. Now you will pay the price."
"Please!" In desperation, the Prince reached out to seize the rose--but only succeeded in pricking his finger on one of the thorns. His blood shone bright red on the green stem.
"Here now is the sentence," the Fairy declared quietly. "Since you could not see past my tattered cloak, I will give you a skin which shall repulse anyone who looks on it!"
The Prince could only watch in horror as hair and claws sprouted from his hands. Very soon, he was wholly transformed into a hideous beast.
The Fairy continued, "Since you are so adamant to have this rose, that you would snatch it from my very hand--then I will make your fate and the fate of this rose entwined! See, the petals begin to fall." She produced a glass cover like the ones that had been in her garden. "Outside the cover it wilts quickly, as you know, thus you may preserve it for a while longer under the cover--for as soon as the last petal falls, this form will be permanent upon you."
The prince moaned in agony at the thought, and his voice came as a mighty roar that struck terror in all of his guests. He could hear them screaming and running to escape this castle and the ferocious monster, just as eagerly as they had flocked to the door of the handsome prince.
"There is only one way for this spell to be broken," said the Fairy. "If you can find someone who does not make the same mistake you have, someone who can see beyond a hideous face and see the value of the person within--then, and only then, will this form leave you, and you will regain your human appearance."

So saying, she left the Beast Prince inside the castle empty of all others, and she was never seen again.