The Curse of 13: A 12 brothers re-telling Part 5

Part 5:

The King and Queen visited the forest cottage in secret whenever they could, bearing gifts and news of their little sister; a little girl named Felicie, they never met.

“If she knows about you, the curse may come to pass. We cannot risk that. We cannot risk any of our children getting hurt.”

The King and Queen ached for their family to be together again. Every sorcerer in the Kingdom, and the sorcerers from allied states searched in vain for a way to break the curse, but Raol’s dark magic was too strong. 

“The princess must be the one to break the spell.” The scholars concluded, but how, they did not know. 

“It is best that she not know the truth until she is older.” The royal family decided. “Putting such a heavy burden of guilt on such a young child could only cause harm.” And thus, the princess continued to grow, unaware of the dark fate she carried until her 13th birthday.

A large bat flew into the Princess’s window at midnight. Princess Felicie lay frozen in bed as the bat circled over her bed and dropped a scroll onto her lap before it flew back out the open window. Once the bat had gone, she gingerly reached for the parchment, and carefully broke a black wax seal, bearing the letter “R”. 

No lies or reassurances could convince the princess that the scroll’s contents were untrue, for deep in her heart she knew it was true. She had always known that there was a secret that her parents worked relentlessly to hide from her. She had heard the whispers as she passed in the corridor. She had seen her Mother and Father stare longingly at locked doors to empty rooms in their family quarters, and wondered where they went when they walked into the forest without guards or servants. 

“My brothers live in exile because of me, don’t they?” She cried. “They suffer because of my birth.” For 3 days the princess was inconsolable from guilt for the pain her existence had caused. She neither ate nor slept as the tears fell. She refused all luxuries of her station, choosing to don a servant’s rough homespun and wooden shoes. 

“I cannot continue to live in a castle, sleeping on soft furs, eating off silver plates, and wearing fine clothes while my brothers dwindle away in the forest.” She confided in her Grandmother. “I must suffer for what I have brought upon my family.”

The King, Queen, and Queen-mother worried for the Princess’s wellbeing, but that worry escalated to fear when the young girl was found holding a dagger to her own throat in an attempt to end the curse the only way she knew how.

“That damned sorcerer, I’ll see him in Hell!” King Barnim spit in anger as he watched his youngest child continue to punish herself for a crime she hadn’t committed.  For 13 years he and Maya lived in anguish and fear for their children, each day a purgatory.

“We must do something.” Queen Maya whispered, her face gray and gaunt as the years of worry finally caught up with her. “We cannot let her carry on this way.” 

The Princess had been temporarily confined to her room, with all items she could use to harm herself removed. 

“We cannot keep her locked away, and we cannot carry on as before. Now that she knows the truth, she will stop at nothing to end it.” Odine spoke softly, vocalizing her thoughts as a plan formed.  “If we cannot break the curse, and we cannot prevent it, perhaps we must let the curse run its course, but with precautions in place.”

“Let the curse run its course?” Maya gasped at the same time the Barnim shouted that he wouldn’t allow it. 

“Please, be calm, and listen to my plan. Am I not their grandmother? Would I idly suggest a plan that would bring harm to my own kin?” She took a deep breath, stealing herself for what was to come. “It is true that my plan is not without risk. There is no way of knowing how the magic will flow, but even magic has limitations.” 

Maya nodded, familiar with her mother’s lessons, and Barnim stood in rapt attention. 

“My suggestion is this: take Felicie to her brothers. It will ease her soul to share in their lot, and will take her away from prying eyes.”

The King made a sound of protest, but it died in his throat as he considered his Mother-in-law’s advice.

“My plan is not without risk, for if she meets her brothers she will come to love them, and if she loves them, the curse will awaken- but the protective magic of the forest is strong. It should prevent the worst of fates.”

And so, one week after the Princess’s 13th birthday that she was escorted to the forest by her mother, father, and grandmother. With pale, tear-stained faces, they guided their daughter toward her brothers. Not knowing when any of their children could return home. 

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