“I’m leaving.” Johannes announced one morning over breakfast.
Exclamations of disbelief arose across the table.
“Please brothers, let me explain.” Johannes held up his hands for quiet. “I know you are shocked and confused, but it was always my intention to set out to find a way to break the curse some day. I held back out of concern and fear that leaving the forest would activate the curse, or bring danger to you, but now that our sister is here- I can no longer delay. I want us to be a family without fear.”
Looks of shock turned to faces of resolution and understanding as each brother digested the news.
“I will come with you.” Emil, the second prince of Rabenreich replied.
One by one, the brothers of Rabenreich pledged their support and allegiance to their cause.
“I will go too!” Felicie shouted over the chorus of her brothers’ voices.
Twelve pairs of eyes turned to the determined princess at the foot of the table.
“No, Felicie. We cannot bring you.” Johannes answered gentle but firm.
“But why? Am I not a Rabenreich?”
“You are too young, and it is too dangerous.”
“I’m not afraid. It’s my curse!”
“Sister, we do not doubt your bravery.” Emil attempted to sooth his sister’s riled temper. “But we are all of age. Even little Franz 20 last week! Mother and Father would never forgive us if we brought our kid-sister on such a perilous mission.”
Little Franz, now a strapping young man of 6 feet in height, reached over to take his sister in a one armed hug for comfort.
“Someone has to tell Mum and Pop where we all went!” He said, already excited for the journey.
“But I just found you all! I don’t wish to be separated from you all so soon!” Felicie held back her tears, certain that crying would only further cement her status of ‘delicate little sister in need of protection’ in their eyes.
“We will return, Felicie. We will not leave you forever.” Johannes promised. “I wish to do this so that we will never be separated again.”
That night Felicie went to bed early, angry and upset that she was being forced to stay home while her brothers went on an adventure. For their part, the brothers talked late into the night about their journey and the preparations they would need to make in the coming weeks.
“We cannot let Mother and Father know before we leave. They will try to stop us if they knew.”
“They’s have Grandmother create a barrier that even we couldn’t cross-”
“We will need to leave quickly, before they catch on, and before the snow starts to fall-”
“We’ll need to make sure to leave Felicie with enough firewood to last a few weeks at least-”
“I’ll have to teach her how to set the rabbit snares-”
The next two weeks passed in a flurry of activity. At first Felicie continued to try to convince her brothers to bring her along. Then she resorted to begging. When that didn’t work, she threw the bag she was packing for one of the younger boys on the floor in anger.
“I don’t care if you don’t come back!” She shouted before running out the door into the woods.