Updated: Dec 21, 2020
Once upon a time, there was a fair maiden who was taken to be the wife of a lonely king from a faraway land. She became fat with child, but she was unhappy in the strange kingdom. As the child within her grew, she fell further into depression. On the coldest day of winter the land had ever seen, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl with skin as white as the raging snow, hair as black as pitch, and lips as red as blood. Much to the dismay of the king, the queen died shortly after naming the child Snow White.
Snow White grew to be as fair as her late mother, and the king loved her dearly. She was favoured by the people as well. As the child grew, the land fell into a state of unrest as children began to mysteriously disappear. As the king was not able to care for his daughter and the kingdom, he remarried. His new queen was a great beauty like the first. None knew where she came from, just that she had shown up as if by magic. Shortly after marrying her, however, the king died suddenly.
The new queen took over rule of the kingdom, as Snow White was not yet old enough to ascend the throne. The people were not pleased, for the queen raised taxes and locked their beloved princess away in the palace. Rumour spread that she had been the one to kidnap their children and place a spell on the king in order to become queen.
Though she lived like a prisoner in her own home, Snow White continued to mature in beauty until not even the walls of the palace could keep it hidden. The servants spread the word of her loveliness in hushed tones until all the kingdom had heard. One and all longed for the day their beloved princess would become queen.
One day, Snow White escape from her room. She found her way to the garden where her father had built a wishing well in honour of her mother. As she dipped her finger in the water, she sang a song of longing. Her voice was so pure that even the birds stopped to listen.
Now, as it happened, a visiting prince was passing along the wall that surrounded the garden. He heard the song and immediately scaled the wall to see who was singing. His gaze met that of Snow White’s, and he instantly fell in love, mesmerized by her beauty. His heart beat furiously in his chest as the princess smiled at him.
Unbeknownst to the two of them, the queen was watching. She was horrified by what she saw and called secretly for her huntsman.
“How may I serve you, my queen?” the huntsman asked.
“I need you to do something for me.”
The queen pulled out an ornate box of stunning craftsmanship. The lock was shaped to look like a heart pierced by a knife. “You will kill Snow White and bring me her heart in this.”
The huntsman gasped. “The princess? But, why?”
“She is a danger to all I’ve worked for, and that is all you need to remember. Take this and go.”
With shaking hands, the huntsman took the box and pardoned himself from the queen’s presence. He found Snow White on her way back from the garden. “Excuse me, princess,” he said, shocked to see her out of her room. “What are you doing out?”
“Would you keep me a prisoner?” she asked.
He bowed his head. “I meant no insult, princess. If I may be so bold, as you are already here, would you care to join me on a stroll through the woods?” He asked this in hopes of finding a secret place to carry out the queen’s orders.
Snow White smiled at him. “I would be delighted,” she said almost too sweetly.
He led her into the forest where no one would see. Then, he pulled out his knife to kill her, but he could not bring himself to harm her. “Forgive me, princess,” he wailed, crumpling to his knees. “The queen ordered your death. She wants me to bring back your heart. I would that you run far away from here that she may never find you.”
“Thank you,” Snow White said, stepping into the shadows of the forest. She watched the huntsman from the darkness until he left. Smiling to herself, she made her way deeper and deeper, until she came upon a small cottage. “It’s perfect,” she said to herself, and allowed herself inside. It did not look lived in. After some exploration, she found that there were seven of everything; seven chairs, seven bowls, seven cups, seven beds, and seven of everything else. And it was all small. “Fit for a child,” she murmured.
Dust covered the place, and cobwebs cluttered the corners. “This gives me an idea.” Singing a song to call on the nearby animals, she had them help her clean the place until not a speck of dust remained.
Satisfied, she looked out the window and saw that it was night.
“I’d say it’s about time for dwarves to return to this place.”
A few days later, the huntsman returned to the palace, the heart of a pig safely placed inside the box. “My queen,” he said offering her the box.
“What took you so long?”
“I was afraid.”
She took the box from him and peered inside. Her smiled quickly faded as she studied what lay within. “What is this?” she asked.
The huntsman gulped nervously.
“What have you done? You do not realize what this means, fool!”
“I could not harm one of such purity.”
“Purity? That creature is far from pure. You will see. The disappearances will soon begin again, if they haven’t already.”
The queen glared at the useless huntsman. “Get out of my sight,” she ordered angrily. “I’ll have to take care of things myself,” she said scowling. Fuming, she locked herself in her room and forced out all the servants. “Snow White will not trust me,” she mused. “This will require trickery.”
What the peasantry had only guessed at was true. The queen was a witch, but not the sort of witch they believed her to be. Pulling out her spell book, she flipped through the page in search of something.
“No!” she snarled. “There is nothing that will stop the likes of her. Nothing subtle, at any rate. This kingdom doesn’t possess the amount of silver it would take, and a stake is messy at best.”
She stopped as one spell caught her eye. “I don’t like the loophole,” she said in a grumble, “but this just might do the trick. For the sake of the kingdom, I hope it does.”
Snow White licked her lips, the last of the red juices on her tongue. “Delicious,” she sighed in satisfaction. “It’s such a pity,” she said looking around the empty room. “The dwarves have gone again.”
A knock sounded on the door and she frowned. “Who could that be?” She looked down at the mess on the floor only briefly before peeking out the window. Her frown deepened at the sight of the old woman hunched over a large basket just outside. “Who is it?” she called.
The old woman shakily turned to look at the window. “Ah,” she said in a cracked voice. Slowly, she shuffled awkwardly to the window. “My, what a pretty thing. All alone?”
“Quite,” Snow White said. “What brings you to these parts?”
“I was passing by when I noticed your cottage. Would you care for an apple?” She pulled out the largest, reddest apple from her basket.
“I don’t eat apples,” Snow White said a bit tartly.
The old woman smiled. “Ah, but this is no ordinary apple. This is a magic apple. With a single bite, you will be granted the deepest yearning of your heart.”
Snow White stared at the apple, a flashing desire in her eyes. “It’s a wishing apple?”
“Exactly. Go on dear. There must be something you long for.”
With a slow nod, Snow White reached for the apple. She brought the fruit up to her blood-red lips and took a bite. Her face contorted in a sour expression at the taste. The apple fell from her hand as she began to cough “Foul witch!” Snow White cursed.
The disguise faded, and the old woman became the queen. “Your hunting days have come to an end, beast.”
With an angry glare, Snow White fell.
The queen sighed and braced herself before stepping into the cottage. She could smell the stench of death from outside, and it made her stomach churn. What she saw within nearly made her retch. The mangled, bloodless corpses of seven children lay strewn about the floor. “The seven dwarves,” she murmured in disgust. She had heard talk of dwarves being seen in the forest when passing through the village. That was how she had found out about the cottage that most had thought to be long abandoned.
And there was Snow White; an immaculate beauty caught in the throes of an eternal sleep. Under the influence of the poison, she looked anything but like the monster she was. It was easy to see why the whole kingdom had fallen for her. She was bewitching.
“The fairest in all the land,” the queen said in disgust. “Just like her mother.”
There was a cough at the door and she whirled around in shock. Standing wide-eyed and white-faced was the huntsman.
“Wh-what is that?” he asked pointing a trembling finger at the carcasses.
“More children disappeared after you let Snow White go,” the queen said simply. “Those are them.”
“I don’t understand,” the man quavered. “You were the one who was supposed to be the cause of it all. You put a spell on the king to make him fall in love with you, then you killed him and locked away the princess in order to make yourself queen.”
The queen watched him patiently. She had heard the rumours. “The king was just a man,” the queen said quietly. “On his travels he saw the fairest maiden his eyes had ever beheld, and entranced by her, he made her his queen. But she was not just any woman. She was a creature of the dark, living solely on the blood of innocents. Her daughter inherited that insatiable thirst. It was she who killed the king, in hopes that she might have free access to the lives she so desperately craved to feed upon. “
“But you were in the way.”
“Why didn’t you kill her yourself?”
She sighed. “Because I cannot. It is something of a curse she and I share. Neither can destroy the other.”
The queen looked down at Snow White’s sleeping form. “We must make sure none can wake her.”
“Right. I will spread word to the villagers and─”
“And that will do no good,” the queen said cutting him off. “Do you think the people will believe their beloved princess to be a monster?”
The huntsman looked down at his feet in embarrassment. “No. You are right. I’ll cut her heart out like you asked me to. Or we can burn the body.”
The queen smiled at his enthusiasm. “You may cut out her heart but understand that it will not kill her.”
“Why did you want me to cut it out in the first place?”
“With her heart, I can control her; make it so she can never hurt anyone again. Eventually, she would go mad with hunger and destroy herself. That would be the best way. Any other form of death may not be permanent. Not even burning. That’s how the late queen died.”
“You took her heart?” the huntsman asked, eyes wide.
“My previous huntsman managed to take it from her before the king found her. Sadly, he died shortly after battling her. She was long in years and quite a formidable force. When I heard news of her child, I knew I had to do something.”
“So you married the king and locked the princess away.”
“Until I could find a huntsman to do what I could not.”
The huntsman looked at Snow White, but quickly averted his gaze. “I fear looking upon her. I feel a longing to help her stir in my heart.” His hands clenched into fists. “But if there is still a chance that she might wake, I will fight that impulse and rip her heart from her chest.”
With a nod of understanding, the queen stepped aside.
Doing his best not to look at the maiden’s face, the huntsman drew his knife. Each cut felt like a stab in his own chest. He pulled out the gently beating heart and offered it to the queen who held open the ornate box. Wanting to get rid of the heart as quickly as possible, he dropped it in the box and ran outside to vomit.
“You’ve done well. You may leave now if you wish. All that’s left is finding a place to safely conceal the body.”
“No. I will stay. At least for now, I shall act as your huntsman until you find a suitable replacement.”
“That is very noble of you. Very well. Build a bed that we may lay her in, something that blends into the forest.”
“Yes, my queen.” The huntsman ran to do as he’d been bidden.
The queen turned back to Snow White. “Now for you. We must make sure no man may touch those pretty lips of yours, mustn’t we?” She waved her hand over the body until it became stiff, as though made of glass. This was because a layer of glass encased her form, preserving and protecting it against would-be heroes.
With the help of the huntsman, the queen hid Snow White’s body in the forest.
“You will speak of this to no one,” she charged him.
“As you command,” the huntsman said with a bow.
The queen returned to the palace. The disappearances ended, but the people mourned the loss of their beloved Snow White.
A full year passed. The people continued to mourn their beloved princess, convincing themselves the vile queen had found some way to conceal her from them. They sought out heroes and princes secretly, in hopes that one of them might be the one to restore Snow White to them. But none could fulfill the impossible request.
One day, a handsome stranger was spotted coming up the road. The people who lived on the edge of the city flocked to greet him.
“Hello, good people,” the stranger said with a dazzling smile. “I have travelled from far because disturbing news reached my ears. Is it true that the fair princess of this land has gone missing?”
“Not missing,” one of the townsmen said in a quavering voice. “Vanished. Disappeared. Stolen. Disposed of.”
“Disposed of?” the stranger said in shock.
The townspeople looked at each other and whispered to one another in hushed tones.
“Aye,” one woman said in saddened anger. “T’was the queen’s doing. May I ask if you have come to rescue her?”
“I have. One year ago, I happened upon the princess in her garden when I came as a visiting dignitary on behalf of my father. I will not rest until she is restored to you, even if it takes me one hundred years.”
The people were pleased by his words and cheered for their new hero mightily.
“Are there any clues as to where the queen might have hidden her?” the prince asked.
There were uncertain murmurings from the townspeople.
“Others have searched,” someone from within the crowd said. “No trace of her was found. But if I had to guess, I would try the forest. It is vast and dangerous, and there are any number of places that could remain hidden for centuries.”
“Then the forest it is,” the stranger, whom they now knew was a prince decreed. “Take heart. Snow White will be found.” With those brave words, he spurred his mount back down the road and disappeared into the forest.
Though they praised his bravery and cheered loudly, some shook their heads, unable to believe that this one might succeed. Others simply returned to their homes and forgot that there was any hope at all.
The prince, however, was determined. A year ago, he had fallen for the princess. Now, he knew his heart would guide him to his one true love. He could feel her.
For three days he sought the fair Snow White. At the end of the three days, when his energy was spent, he collapsed in exhaustion. He fell upon a mound of brambles that was much denser than he thought it would be. His head hit something hard and he yelped at the shock of pain.
“What is this?” he asked aloud, rubbing the back of his head.
His horse clearly didn’t care, for it was busy eating.
Surveying the foliage, the prince noticed that there was something very odd about the brambles indeed. At first glance, they blended in perfectly with their surroundings. But taking a closer look told him that this was man’s doing. “Why would anyone pile up branches like this?” he asked looking at his horse. “What do you think?”
He received a snort as his answer.
“That was my thinking. Someone must have wanted to hide something. Shall we find out what?” He didn’t wait for an answer before tearing at the bush. What he found beneath all the leaves and twigs made him jump back in horror. He had not expected what was hidden. “It’s her,” he breathed. Slowly, he reached out to touch the sleeping beauty, but her skin felt like neither flesh, nor death.
Taking a step back, he pondered this quandary. “It felt smooth,” he said to his horse. “Like . . . glass. I wonder.”
Pulling out his knife, he bent over the princess and tapped lightly on her arm with the jewelled pommel. It made a beautiful ringing sound, like a pure chime. “It is glass,” he concluded. “Don’t you worry, Princess. I’ll get you out.” He looked upon her face as he spoke. Immediately, he was filled with a desire stronger than anything he’d ever experienced before. Like a mad person or a starving animal, he worked feverously at the glass.
His knife broke. Stones were shattered. Yet still he worked. He either didn’t care or didn’t notice his body growing weaker. Days passed without him realizing. His hands bled from their tireless effort and his face grew wan. Until at last, a crack began to form.
“I’ve done it,” he said in a hoarse whisper.
Stepping away from the princess, he watched with hungry eyes as the crack webbed across her body. Then, the glass shattered as the magic dissolved. Breath abated, he watched, waiting for her to rise. But she did not.
Kneeling beside her, he bent over her to see if she was dead. Her chest was still. This was unacceptable to him, so he did the only thing he could think of. He placed his lips over hers and breathed. He felt her lips heat beneath his and her body twitched. Lifting his face, he bowed his head to the waking princess.
Snow White opened her eyes and sat up slowly. Her gaze fell on the prince who was kneeling. His hands were covered in blood and he appeared thin. She recognized him and smiled. “You freed me,” she said quietly.
“Yes,” he said. He must have been crying for it came out as a sob. “From the moment I set eyes on you, I knew I loved you. When I heard of your disappearance, I left my father and came to find you. But when I discovered your body, it was encased in glass. Though I knew not whether you lived, I worked without rest.”
Her smile deepened with approval. “Lift your face,” she said to him.
He did as she asked. Though his face was gaunt and streaked by both blood and forest filth, he was certainly handsome. His eyes were filled with adoration on the brink of obsession.
This pleased her. She held out her hand to him.
He took it, placed a gentle kiss on her knuckles, then stood, drawing her to her feet.
Dizziness took her instantly and she collapsed into his arms. Dazed, she breathed deeply trying to figure out what was wrong. Then, she felt it. There was an emptiness within her. She clutched at her chest, horror gripping her as she realized what had happened. “It’s gone,” she said in shock.
“It’s gone!” she hissed pushing herself away from the prince. How could this have happened? She couldn’t remember anything.
She glared at the place where her body had lain. Whoever had done this thing would suffer her fury. It was time they learned who she truly was. “Take me to the village,” she said.
“Shouldn’t we find you something to eat first?” the prince asked worriedly. “I can go hunting.”
“The hunt has already begun,” she said darkly. “I shall eat soon enough. Take me to the village.”
“Of course,” the prince said with a bow. He let out a whistle, summoning his horse to his side. Mounting, he pulled her up behind himself. “The people were worried sick about you. Won’t they be glad to see your safe return!”
She said nothing. The rage welling within her could not be contained for long. Though the people would indeed be glad to see her, it would not last long. But she didn’t care. After what had been done to her, they all deserved to suffer. She would see to it herself that they did until what had been stolen from her was returned. “Make haste,” she commanded.
Before the prince could protest or agree, the horse spurred into a reckless and dangerous run.
The sun was nearing the western horizon when they reached the forest’s edge.
“How?” the prince asked in amazement. “Could we truly have been so close?”
“A straight line is faster than endless circles,” Snow White said studying the houses in the distance. She could see people going about their business between them and she licked her lips. “Your horse is dead. We’ll have to go on foot.” It was without emotion that she said this.
She slid gracefully to the earth. Only then did the horse topple.
The prince yelped as he dropped together with his stead.
“If you wish to stay behind to mourn for the creature, you may do so,” she said walking to the road. Had she not been so consumed with anger and hatred, she would have been more pleased to have him falling into step beside her. As it was, she was too focused on the taste of the revenge she would soon have in her mouth. Such sweet, delicious revenge.
As they neared the town, a few of the people began to gather at the sight of two strangers on foot. Such a thing was uncommon, especially when one of the strangers was female. When they recognized her, shouting lifted into the air. A few people ran into the town to spread the news. The rest ran toward her in greeting.
“Princess Snow White!” one woman exclaimed with tears streaming down her cheeks. “Can it truly be? You’re alive!”
“Yes,” Snow White said eyeing all those gathering around her. Her gaze fell on a child hiding behind another woman’s skirts shyly.
“You’ve come back to us,” the mother said happily.
“Is this your child?” Snow White asked.
“Yes,” the woman said proudly. “She admires you so.”
“Does she? Good. Then she can be the first.” She took the little girl by the hand and pulled her forward. Then, unable to hold herself back any longer, she fell upon the child with ravenous appetite. Within seconds, she held only the empty husk. She was aware of the people screaming around her, but she only inhaled the scent of blood in satisfaction. “Much better,” she sighed. “Now. Who’s next?”
The queen looked up as a group of soldiers burst suddenly into her private chambers.
“How dare you come in here without proper announcement!” the lady-in-waiting gasped in horror.
Raising her hand, the queen silenced the frightened woman. What she also noticed was the just as clear fear of the men. “What’s happened?” she demanded to know.
“Something terrible is happening,” one soldier said his voice shaking.
“The villagers are being massacred.”
Her heart dropped. She was afraid to ask. “By whom?”
The soldiers looked at each other nervously.
Their hesitation told her all she needed to know. “Snow White,” she said.
They looked at her in shock.
“Make ready my horse,” she said ignoring the question that had not been asked. She walked over to her desk, removing the key she kept on a chain around her neck. Opening the drawer, she saw the perfectly ornate box. “We ride immediately.”
Snow White revelled in the ecstasy she felt. The bodies of the dead lay shriveled in the streets all around her. Some had tried to stop her, but they had learned that her strength far exceeded theirs, no matter what weapons they used or how many came against her. But all this death could not appease her anger. What she sought did not lie in this village. “I will leave this kingdom a valley of ghosts if I must,” she said.
The prince stood by her side. He alone had not run, but that was mostly due to the enchantment he had wound up under. It wasn’t her fault he had willingly shared his life with her. Though he was disgusted by what he was witnessing, he would not run or turn away.
“Why?” one shaking voice quavered.
Snow White stepped slowly to the man who had spoken. He was young, barely having reached full manhood at all. “Why has your beloved princess done such a terrible thing?” she said in a voice that sounded too beautiful for one so vile.
“It was you who killed them. The children.” It wasn’t a question.
She smiled at him.
“All this time, we thought it was the queen who was evil.”
“She is,” Snow White said. “But not for the reasons you think.” She was about to drain the lifeblood from the young man when a voice made her freeze.
Hatred burning in her eyes, she glared at the woman who had spoken. “Step-mother,” she spat venomously.
The queen sat atop a beautiful gelding, her face impassive. “You will not harm another living soul,” she commanded.
Snow White laughed. It was an oddly twinkling sound that seemed misplaced amidst so much death. “You sound so sure of yourself. But you see, I’m just getting started. If you value your life, you’ll run as far and as fast as you can from me.”
“You will obey me,” the queen said confidently.
“And what makes you so sure?”
The queen revealed an ornate box and drew open the lid.
Snow White gasped. Inside lay that which she had been seeking; her heart.
“As you see, I can give you whatever command I choose.” She grasped the heart in her hand.
At the touch, Snow White trembled with fear and loathing.
“You are not to harm another living soul.”
The command was spoken with magic like a chain that wrapped around the heart, binding it. Snow White could feel those chains squeezing her, bending her to the curse that had been laid on her. “No,” she said feeling the air being drawn from her lungs. This could not be happening. “No!” she screamed loudly, clutching at her head.
“Your time of terror has come to an end,” the queen said. “Your mother’s heritage ends with you.”
Snow White, still clutching herself, began to laugh. It was a crazed sound that made the soldiers shuffle uncomfortably where they stood. “So saith the witch queen.” Then she called upon all the powers she possessed and destroyed herself. That was to say, she disintegrated in a cloud of black ash.
The prince shook himself from his trance, horrified at what he’d done.
“This is what I was trying to prevent,” the queen said sadly.
“You knew about her all along,” one of the guards said.
“Why didn’t you tell us?”
She looked at the guard with understanding in her eyes. “Would you have believed the evil queen if she told you your beloved princess was a monster?”
“Forgive me,” the prince said, interjecting into the exchange. “This was my fault.”
The queen eyed him. “You and I are both to blame,” she said. “But what’s done is done. I’m sure you will want to return home as soon as possible to forget all this.”
He shook his head. “Are there more like her?”
“Then I cannot return until I have atoned for my mistakes. Will you accept my sword as a weapon for you to command against others of her nature?”
The queen considered his offer. “Show the prince to the palace,” she said to the guards. “Make sure all his needs are seen to. He’s going to be with us for a time.” It seemed she had finally found an appropriate replacement for her late huntsman.
The massacred town was burned along with its dead. Those who survived refused to speak of the horrors they bore witness to that day. Even with the passing of years, those who had heard of the disappearance of the fair princess knew nothing of what had become of her. And so, her story faded into a legend that was told all wrong.