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“We have to assume she spoke the truth,” Heinrik says with a frown. “I can feel that evil beast inside me. What did the witch say will break the spell?”

“Finding love, Your Highness.”

Heinrik smiles coldly. “Well, that won’t be hard.”

Before either man can ask what he means, another horse appears, pulling a cart. An older man drives it. He slows and stops as the prince’s men wave him down.

“You there,” the prince says. “Do you know who I am?”

“Yes Sire.” The man bows from his seat.

“Have you any daughters?”

All three men give the prince questioning looks. “Y-yes, Sire, I have three daughters.”

The prince turns to the taller of his companions. “Karl, return to this man’s home with him. Bring one of his daughters to my hunting lodge.”

The older man’s face pales. “One of my daughters? But Sire-”

The prince’s eyes narrow. “You can either allow Karl to escort you and choose which one of your daughters will go with him, or I can have you arrested for disobeying me and take all of your daughters. I can make sure you never see any of them again. Am I clear?”

“Yes Sire.” The man’s shoulders fall and her turns his horse and cart around. The two other riders exchange looks, but obey without questions. The one called Karl mounts his horse and follows the horse and cart.

Aurora finally turns to me. “You let your anger get the better of you.”

“Does this mean I’ve failed?”

“Not yet. You are responsible for him, and now this girl he’s taken. If you can see this to a satisfactory ending, you will pass your test. Otherwise you will fail and be stripped of your powers. You may not use your magic to break the curse. You will let the spell run it’s natural course. And you will spend as much time as you need. Am I understood?”

“Yes Aurora. I’ll be in touch.”

She vanishes and I kick a nearby rock. It startles the two horses and their riders look around warily as they remount and ride off.


If you’re enjoying this story, don’t forget that I’m running a contest for an idea for a new short story. You have until one more week to enter! Keep those entries coming, word nerds!

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