Queen Rulianna looked in the mirror.
‘Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?’
The mirror spoke.
‘My queen my queen it once was you
But now there’s one more fair, tis true.’
What the queen gasped, ‘Okay mirror, cut out this rhyming couplet crap. It’s not necessary and we both know it. So, if there is one fairer than me, I can no longer be queen?’
The mirror was silent. Ruliana spoke again. ‘Who is the fairest?’
‘Young Snow White has now grown to adulthood and I am afraid she is better looking than you.’
The image in the mirror cleared and then showed a beautiful young girl doing housework in a building of some sort in the company of a group of small muscular men with long beards.
‘Gnomes,’ hissed the queen. ‘I knew there were some in the Wessel Wood. Zoom out mirror.’
‘What am I a camera? And a “please” wouldn’t hurt.’ None the less it obeyed.
As the image moved out the queen recognised roughly where the cottage, they were in was located.
‘Thank you mirror,’ she said, and the mirror turned back to a normal reflection.
‘Chancellor,’ she shouted. The man came. ‘What do you know about gnomes? Have they any magic?’
‘Very minor,’ your majesty. He frowned. ‘Strange. I don’t feel quite the need to obey you that I normally do.’
The queen also frowned. ‘Then favour me a boon and call a squad of men. You will be rewarded and so will they.’
The man nodded and ten guardsmen in three jeeps waited in the castle courtyard.
They drove into the wood to the cottage but were unable to enter. ‘It is magic,’ said the chancellor. ‘And more powerful than any I can produce. It does not feel like gnome magic.’
‘We need to talk to them,’ said the queen. ‘Show them a flag of truce,’ she said to the captain, who did so.
The oldest looking of the gnomes came out.
He bowed to the queen but not to the depth that her position required.
None the less, the queen approached him.
‘What can a humble group of miners do for your majesty,’ he said with a sneer.
‘You have a servant girl working in your cottage.’
‘Yes, Snow White.’
‘I wish to employ her myself.’
‘Can’t be done your queenliness. She was given to me by your predecessor the late queen. She is under a spell put on her by the old chancellor – better wizard he was, than that idiot,’ pointing to the current chancellor.
The chancellor moved to approach him, but the queen pointed to the truce flag.
‘She is my slave and she can’t leave me unless I give her to someone.’ Continued the gnome.
‘I can give you gold.’
He laughed. ‘We are gold miners. All your gold comes from us and our kin.’ He waved in the general direction of the woods around.
The queen retreated to consult with the chancellor.
‘This is a tricky situation,’ he said. ‘You are no longer queen, as you are not the fairest in the land, but the real queen is under a thrall so is ruled by the lead gnome in there.’ He pointed to the cottage.’ It seems we have no choice but to be ruled by the gnomes.’
‘I doubt if they know the situation,’ said Rulianna. So, she won’t be coming out to give direction. I suppose that puts you in charge of the kingdom.’
The chancellor looked panicked. ‘I don’t want to rule the kingdom. I hereby appoint you as chief advisor to me,’ he said hurriedly.
She spoke to the captain. ‘Can we lay siege to the cottage? Not allow them out to mine or anyone in to trade.’
‘Easily your Maj … your advisorship.’
‘Okay,’ she said. ‘Call the leader out again.’ The captain did.
The queen told him they would be under siege until he agreed a deal to give the girl to her.
‘But she does all our work, cooks all our meals.’
‘We can send servants to do that said the queen. Servants mind, not slaves but we will meet their wages.’
‘What else?’ said the gnome.
‘You will receive food from the castle without having to trade. We will supply clothing and furnishing for the cottage and you will be under our protection. You won’t need to work if you don’t want to.’
The chancellor was frantically counting the cost of all this.
‘Very well,’ said the gnome, ‘I think retirement will suit us.’
A magical contract was drawn up and signed.
‘I suppose even he can manage one of those,’ the gnome nodded at the chancellor.
The girl was gifted to the queen and they drove back to the castle.
‘Very clever,’ said the chancellor. ‘Now Snow White is queen but under your thrall, so nothing changes.’
‘Perhaps,’ said Rulianna. ‘But as the gnome said, I think retirement may suit me.’
In the mirror room she explained the role of the glass to the girl. She then gave the girl a chest containing various beauty potions. Right then, she said, ‘Snow White, I give you to the current queen of the kingdom.’
‘But isn’t that me?’
‘Yes, I think that makes you free.’
‘But what about you?’
The queen smiled. ‘There is a dower house in the grounds that retired queens are traditionally given. I think that will suit me fine.’
In the dower house, she sat in an armchair, much more comfortable than a throne. She poured herself a large glass of red wine and cut a slice of chocolate cake.
Yes, she thought, now to grow old disgracefully.
All The Stories
- The Salem Witch Trials and What We Can Learn From Them by Amaliz Tenner, Class 4c, by Katharina Gerlach
- The Fairest, by Nic Steven
- Something About Mary, by Bill Bush
- Grumpy Old Harpies, by Juneta Key
- The Goddess of Wine, by Vanessa Wells
- A Melody in A Grotto, by S S Prince
- Say Hello to Chris Bridges, Supporting Storytime Quarterly Blog Hop
- Tears and Toil, by Barbara Lund
- Coming Soon:, by Karen Lynn
- Home Repairs, by Jason Gallagher
- The Robot Accomplice, by Janna Willard
- I – The Magician, by Raven O’Fiernan
- Evening Update, by Elizabeth McCleary
- Allies, by Eli Winfield