In an ivory castle in a faraway land, a beautiful queen with pale, pale skin and dark hair sat in her bathtub, large brown eyes gazing out the window as she ran her bath sponge up one of her slender arms, leaving in its wake a trail of rose-scented bubbles. She and her husband, the king, had wanted a child of their own for years, but they were not blessed with the sound of a little one in the castle. Sighing, she lowered her hands to the water and sniffled softly. "Am I to be cursed to never know the joy of having a child? What have I done to displease God?"
Looking down at the water, she squeezed the sponge and rinsed the suds from her body. She heard the sound of wings flapping and quickly turned her attention to the open window beside the antique clawfoot bathtub. She watched as a dove flew to, and landed gracefully on, the sill, its eyes seeming to take in the woman staring at it. As she reached out to touch the bird, it flapped its wings and flew away, leaving behind a single white feather.
The queen, taking the visit as a sign of good luck, immediately stood, ignoring the slight chill from the breeze. She grabbed her robe and slipped it on, tying the dark crimson material at her waist. She ran from the room to tell her husband of the dove.
A few weeks passed and, just as the queen suspected, the visit from the dove must have been an omen. She became pregnant with the child she and her husband so desired. Great care was taken with her during her pregnancy, as it was made known it might very well be the only time she would bear a child. Every morning, the king would awaken to find his wife sitting at the open window of their bedroom, her dainty hands resting on her belly while she spoke softly and sang to the baby steadily growing within her.
At last, the day came--the child was ready to be born. The entire kingdom waited outside the castle to hear of the new prince or princess. For an entire day, the queen labored in a room, surrounded by attendants, her priest, and her husband until at last, in the wee hours of the morning, a baby's cry was heard throughout the second floor of the large, stone structure.
When news reached the subjects of the kingdom, a loud cheer rose and floated through the window to the happy couple, while they gazed down at their newborn son lying peacefully in his mother's arms. The child had a small, pouty mouth and the pale, pale complexion of his mother, along with her dark hair. They would find, as the weeks passed, the baby had inherited the bright, clear green eyes of his father.
* * * *
Three months had passed when the king and queen planned to throw the largest party the kingdom had ever seen. The castle was decked out completely. The finest china, cutlery, and crystal goblets lined the many tables in the large banquet hall, and the best invitations were sent to the most important members of society. The king and queen dressed in their best finery and commissioned clothes to be specially made for their little bundle of joy.
The night came and the entire castle was full of laughter, chatter, and coos as people passed by the bassinet holding the tiny prince. The king reached over and held his wife's hand, the proud fatherly smile on his face hard to miss. He and his wife moved to the center of the room, followed by the nanny pushing the ornate bassinet behind them. The couple and the young woman smiled when three men walked into the room. The men, known to be mystics, made their way to the couple, all eyes on them as the queen took the baby into her arms to await the blessings that would be bestowed upon the prince.
The first mystic stepped forward, his eyes soft when he looked upon the child and rested his hand on the baby's head. "Prince Tristen, I am Connor. I give to you the blessing of music. May you have the voice of an angel and the talent of any of the great musicians in the land." With a smile and a kiss to the child's forehead, he stepped away from the family to allow another to take his place.
The next man stepped forward, smiling at the king and queen and placing his hand on the child's head. "Prince Tristen, I am Blaze. I give to you the blessing of strength. Not just physical strength, but that of the mind and spirit." He placed a kiss on the child's head and stepped away to allow the other mystic to step forward.
As the third mystic stepped forward, a loud crash of thunder sounded outside and a flash of lightening sparked across the sky, lighting every stained glass window in the room. People gasped and a few women screamed as the doors of the banquet hall flew open and a small man walked into the room. This mystic held a long, thick staff in his left hand, tapping the end on the stone floor as he advanced toward the family in the center of the room. His gaze drifted over the assembled party and he relished the way the guests seemed to shrink from his very presence as he passed.
He stopped in front of the royal family, casting his eyes from the king and queen to the baby, still sleeping peacefully.
"All of the most esteemed in the kingdom have been invited here for this... most joyous of celebrations," the man said, as he turned around in a full circle. "All my brethren"--he gestured to the three men standing to the side--"why is it I was overlooked? Am I not one of the most esteemed in the kingdom? Do I not deserve to bestow my blessing upon the new prince?"
"But, we did invite you," the queen said, fear clearly evident in her voice. "Why would we have not invited all of the mystics to bless our child?" She tried to smile, but found it increasingly difficult as the man drew closer to her and her son. "Bernard, please set a place for the most esteemed of the mystics," she said, waving the servant off to find another place setting.
"Oh, no, it is far too late for that," the mystic said, as he put his hand on the baby's head. "Prince Tristen, I am Adoni. And I bestow on you the blessing"--he paused and chuckled menacingly before continuing--"no, I bestow on you the curse of death. On your eighteenth birthday, you will be pricked with a needle and fall dead, due to the poison held within."
At the last word he uttered, thunder rumbled and lightning crashed once more. Adoni cackled loudly, tapping the end of his stick on the ground. He looked down at the baby and the fear-filled couple.
"With that, I will take my leave of you. Eighteen years you will have with him. Enjoy them," he said, as he walked away from the room.
The queen looked up at her husband, her dark eyes filled with tears. "What are we going to do? What can we do?"
The third mystic stepped forward with a soft smile tugging at his lips as he drew closer to the family. "I-I cannot reverse his curse. It's far too powerful. But I will see if I can help." He looked down at the baby and placed his hand on his forehead. "Prince Tristen, I am Justin. I bestow upon you the blessing, not of death, but of sleep. The prick of the needle will not cause your death, but a sleep of one hundred years. You and the kingdom will sleep as though time has frozen. At the end of that century, one will come to you, giving you a kiss, which will awaken you. You will not age, nor will you remember what transpired prior to the needle prick." He placed a kiss on the child's head and smiled at the king and queen. "I am truly sorry, but that is all I can do," he whispered, shaking the king's hand.
"We thank you, Justin," he said, looking down at his wife and son. "All of us."
Justin nodded and stepped away from the family to the table where Connor and Blaze sat watching the scene playing out in front of them.