Mac stared out of the window at a small, medieval cottage, but all he can see is the flurry of white sheet that makes up a big snow storm. He could see his reflection and sees signs of stress-his normally neat black hair had gotten frayed and hinted of gray, his pale skin looked sallow, and his gray eyes were clouded with red. He turned around and saw the maiden, Amberline, combing her glossy blonde hair and admiring her red lips, strong cheekbones, and winking green eyes. He turned to the other side of the room to see her cousin, Sir Anthony, doing similar poses with his hand mirror. He rolled his eyes and turned away to a small sitting area where his wife, Holly, was nursing their young baby, Preston. In his opinion, his wife was the most beautiful woman in the world. He loved the way her red hair always seemed to bounce, and her freckled cheeks had a dimple when she smiled. However, taking care of Preston was a full time job, and now he felt sad that no one was really contributing to the cause. He sighed.
Mac knelt by the window and prayed, ” Oh Lord, is the Rebellion against the Blood Warriors going to work? It seemed like a brilliant cause, but now our hopes are as bleak as the weather! Should we keep on with the resistance? Send me a sign!”
At that moment, as if on cue, the door flew open, letting in the cold wind as well as a mysterious figure. Everyone in the cottage stopped what they were doing and either prepared to fight or run for their lives. They found that it was a young, peasant woman whose brunette hair was laced in snow, golden brown eyes covered in frozen tears, and thin clothes apparently failed to keep her warm. She would’ve been beautiful if she wasn’t so obviously miserable. Holly put her baby down in its crib and instinctively wrapped a warm blanket around the visitor. Anthony shut the door while Amberline poured her some freshly made tea. Mac stood up and greeted her, “Welcome, weary traveler!”
She replied, “My name is Kasmira. I believe in your cause, but I’ve hesitated coming here. I didn’t want you to share my family’s curse.”
“Family curse?” Holly responded, “What do you mean?”
Kasmira explained, “My grandmother, Rosalynn, grew up in a wealthy merchant’s home. She was mostly raised by her nurse since her parents were too involved with their own affairs to pay attention to her. It wasn’t an ideal family, but she was content. When she was around sixteen, her parents had told her they had been coerced into giving her away in marriage to the foreboding wizard, Garlord. Rosalynn argued against the idea, but her parents wouldn’t be swayed. When Garlord doesn’t get his way, those who caused his rage would feel a terrible wrath. They were perfectly willing to sacrifice their daughter’s happiness to keep Garlord appeased. My grandmother was stunned; she knew they were too busy to really care for her, but to condemn her life like this was too much for her to bear. In the middle of the night, while her parents slept, Rosalynn ran away from that place and hid so they couldn’t find her. That morning, Garlord came to collect his bride, and my great grandparents fearfully informed him that their daughter was nowhere to be found. Garlord was enraged because he needed a male heir so he could finally enter the Spirit World. He then put a curse of misfortune on all females in my family in punishment for what my grandmother did.”
“That’s awful!” Amberline replied.
Anthony inquired, “What happened to your grandmother?”
Kasmira continued, “After Garlord left, they immediately feared my mother’s curse. They coveted most their wealth, so they took all of their assets into their home and kept it all in a trunk under their bed to keep an eye on it. After a year of hiding among peasants, the nurse found Rosalynn and informed her that some thieves had heard about her parent’s hidden fortune, sneaked into house, slit their throats, and made off with their goods. Worst of all, Garlord still sought Rosalynn as his bride. Rosalynn tried to flee the country, but Garlord found her and forced her to marry him!”
“Oh no!” Holly reacted.
Kasmira went on, “It was horrible. He always treated her like a disobedient servant and forced her to fornicate every night until they conceived a child. When they finally had a baby, Rosalynn hoped for a boy so the nightmare could be over, and she was heartbroken to see she had given birth to a girl. Garlord was angry but he promised he would spare the baby’s life if they would continue to try for his heir as long as she lived. Rosalynn was grateful that her daughter, whom she named Bernadette, would get to live, but she now hated the idea of bearing the next generation of evil. So, once again, she ran away, only this time Garlord could never retrieve her. She ran into a lake and never came out!”
“What happened to Bernadette?” Amberline asked.
Kasmira narrated, “My mother was raised by Garlord, who was cruel and abusive to her. She spent day and night doing the wizard’s bidding. She would be beaten if she got it wrong. She only got enough food to barely survive. Bernadette knew that she didn’t have a choice since she was legally his property, but she longed for a better life. One day, when she saw a wedding procession go by, it dawned on her-if she got married, she would belong to another man and Garlord couldn’t do a thing about it. When she ran errands in town, she stole conversations with local men. Finally, a young page named Donovan took interest in her. She dropped everything and eloped with him. When Garlord found out, he was extremely angry and sought revenge. When he found Donovan, they fought hard. Somehow, my father managed to banish Garlord to the Spirit World.”
“So, your father broke the curse, right?” Anthony asked Kasmira.
Kasmira shook her head. “Defeating Garlord was the only noble thing Donovan managed to do. The fight shook up his senses, and he couldn’t handle it anymore. He became addicted to alcohol and would beat my mother whenever he was drunk. I was born in the middle of this chaos. He never beat me, but he certainly didn’t give a damn that I was around. I tried to convince my mother that what he was doing wasn’t right, but she wouldn’t listen. She always thought of him like a tragic little hero and was alright when he was sober. She made feeble attempts to keep him from the mead, but things stayed exactly the same. I grew up making vain attempts to have a normal life, but the curse haunted me. Every time I came close to happiness, some misfortune thwarted me. I knew there must be some way to get a better life, but I grew less and less optimistic. I didn’t think it could get worse, but then the Blood Warriors formed. I watched them hunt down people with traces of magical lineage, and I always wondered if they’d find out about our relation to Garlord. I never wanted us to be like those poor souls who were enslaved, tortured, executed…Then one day, while my father was at a pub, his drunken violence got him into a fight, and he ended up killing a Blood Warrior. King Davidson decreed that since he took one of their own’s life, he now owed them his life. He became a Blood Warrior. My mother and I went into hiding. Recently, while I was out gathering firewood, I saw that they found my mother and turned her in.”
Kasmira began to weep. Holly gave her a comforting pat on the back. Kasmira talked through her tears, “I heard about this small group of rogues that want to end King Davidson’s reign of terror, but I was so afraid of my family’s curse ruining things for you. But as time goes on, the horrors get worse. Tonight, I decided it was worth the risk. At least, if I die here, I would die like a hero. That is, if you’ll let me.”
Everyone looked at Mac. Mac kneeled down so he could look her in the eye. “I formed this group because we believe not only that we could rid the world of a terrible evil but that we deserve to live a happy life. If you want to fight, you have to believe that you are capable of such an existence. Do you think you could?”
Kasmira felt a little bewildered. “Be happy? I read fairy tales where the damsel in distress finds her prince and lives happily ever after. I once faniced that I could lead such a life, but now I doubt a prince would even talk to me!”
“Well, a prince will talk to you, technically, since we have Prince Orlando as a mole,” Mac said to her, “However, I see a brave young lady willing to fight for what she believes in. You may not believe in yourself, but I see a lot of potential.” Kasmira was pleasantly surprised. Mac smiled warmly and stood up. “As leader of this brigade, I bid you welcome! Kasmira smiled.