Do you ever wonder why so many died trying to rescue Brier Rose? It is because those foolish men were preyed on by pride. They wanted to be the heroes and them alone. It seems envy is not just contained to love.
But Till did not seek the fair haired beauty Brier Rose, for she had been awoken long ago. It was her lady in waiting he sought. It has been told that upon receiving true love's kiss Brier Rose and the rest of the castle awoke. All but her lady in waiting, who slumbered peacefully, sprawled across the hearth where she had been warming herself when Brier Rose's spell had been set into motion.
At first Brier Rose had thought it might be that the spell took sometime to wear off but as the days turned to weeks it was clear this was not so. She wept bitterly for her dear friend who lived but only in sleep. Young ladies tried to poison her with suggestions of killing Kimby, that shouldn't she let Kimby rest in peace? But she could not, her heart would not let her consider killing Kimby for she deserved a chance at life whenever it should arrive. So Brier Rose had Kimby bathed, groomed and dressed in a splendid black silk dress, the hem a startlingly vermillion. After these preparations Brier Rose had Kimby put into a glass coffin.
The years began to pass and though Brier Rose longed for Kimby, despite that she contently slept beside Brier Rose's bed, a jealousy began to creep over the Princess. She began to age and she had the tragic flaw of envy and pride. Could you blame the poor thing? It was the legend of her beauty that had brought forth "true love's" kiss and freed her. It was expected she keep it up and not be surpassed, especially by her close friend. She began to plot the ways to stash Kimby where no one would find her, at least not until Brier Rose herself was dead.
"Goodbye Kimby, sleep well." The Princess murmured as she watched the men lift the litter onto the wagon. The jolting caused Kimby's head to loll to the right, as if she was looking at Brier Rose even in sleep. The Princess was glad when one of the men draped an ebony blanket over the coffin, concealing her sleeping form and Brier Rose's shame.
Sixty years passed and at the age of eighty Brier Rose expired. It was then Till began his quest for Kimby, spurred on by his dreams.
A year before Brier Rose died he began to dream of wandering through a castle he did not know. At first he explored the castle eagerly wondering what secrets of his subconscious. But it didn't feel right, Till felt he had heard of this castle before, it didn't feel like something that his mind had randomly thought up. Thanks to his smithy in the growing town, he could easily inquire about the castle to those who came in to look at his wares. The younger generation were unfamiliar with the tale he was trying to recall and the older ones could not remember. The older blacksmith had questioned Olli, the young and amazingly tall man who worked with him, but he was of no help either.
"I'll come with you if you do find out about this castle." He answered as they washed the soot and sweat from their clothes and bodies in the stream. The older man smiled and thanked him, Olli was so quiet he at times forgot how sweet he could be. Till had taken Olli on five years ago when he had come to the older blacksmith to be an apprentice, and he did not regret it.
"Bakery?" Till offered as they dressed to which Olli nodded and followed after his mentor to their favorite place, besides their smithy.
"Till! Olli!" Paul hollered upon seeing them, a bright grin crinkling the edges of his eyes, just like the crimped edges of his pastries, his golden earring glittering in the sunlight. They both smiled at Paul and Till left Olli to the small baker while he went to find Flake. As usual Till found the wiry man kneading dough, content to be in the kitchen than out front.
"The bread is ready." He stated as he sprinkled a bit more flour to the dough. Till pulled at least a dozen loaves of bread from the oven but his nose was overjoyed at the delicious smell, even if his tired muscles disliked being made to work more. "Go ahead." Flake chuckled handing him dish of butter and knife.
"Olli, bread!" Till called, cutting into one of the loaves. Olli appeared a minute later and eagerly dug in with him.
"I heard you were asking around about a castle, is that true?" Flake inquired as he put the bread on the wide paddle for Paul to put in the large oven.
"Yes I've been dreaming about-"
"The castle you speak of belonged to Brier Rose it was where she was imprisoned." Richard interrupted from where he came in the back door of the bakery, Schneider in tow.
"How do you know that?" Till questioned offering them the warm slice of bread he had just buttered. Richard shook his head to which Schneider took it, thanking him before answering
"I remember a tale that Brier Rose imprisoned her close friend there because she would not wake and could not stand to be surpassed in beauty." Before he took a big bite of the warm fluffy slice.
"Why are you interested in an old castle?" Richard the clothier and friend to their strangely mixed group asked.
"I've been dreaming about exploring this castle for two months and..." Till gave them a look of surprised realization "Kimby, she's there. I need to rescue her."
His friends looked at each other, uncertainty flickering across their faces before Olli stated
"I will go with you."
The oldest man gave him a grateful smile before he looked to Flake. He glanced at the other four before he hesitantly said he would go, but he wasn't risking his life for some imaginary girl. Richard and Paul gave their consent and Schneider agreed but warned they must wait until Brier Rose died, otherwise their quest would be in vain. Till nodded though he longed to set out for Kimby this very moment, she needed him and he had to wait until the death of an envious woman.
In the months leading up to Brier Rose's death Till became restless as if both Kimby and him knew that the Princess's death was imminent. When the town crier gave the announcement Till could not dredge up true grief for her passing. Brier Rose had always seemed like a fable queen to him, and as so his sorrow was only out of respect. Once people began to disperse Olli and Till returned to the smithy, cleaning it up for the two stand in blacksmiths that would look over the shop while they were gone.
An hour passed and the rest of their group gathered. Paul and Flake had all the bread they could want along with other road fare, Richard had brought riding clothes, Olli and Till had provided the weapons and Schneider brought the horses his contacts had been willing to lend. In all they had eight horses, two of them being pack horses for the weapons and amour which Schneider had warned they would want. It would guard against the thorns and whatever else might be in Kimby's castle. When they were ready, their lies in place with the town people the men headed out.
Schneider proved to be a marvelous guide for he himself had come upon the castle a few times in his wanderings. The man had not dared to venture inside, no one would go into such a fortress alone he explained as they rode through the tall grass. Till's sense of restlessness eased they began their conquest, in its place was a fierce impatience, he must go to Kimby nothing else mattered until he had awoken her.
This need seeped into the other men spurring them on this wild chase of a dream.
A week and a half passed before the men could see the castle in the horizon. At this Schneider ordered that they would not travel at such a breakneck pace, they would need the strength for whatever was to come. The men did as directed but it was apparent even in Schneider that they wanted to continue pressing forward. They would look back and agree that it was a wise decision though, at the time it didn't feel like so.
Three days later they arrived.
The castle was a huge and sprawling thing, covered with thorns. It was not size that intimidated Till, it was what lay inside. He knew he could find Kimby, his dream exploring had helped him in that aspect, but it was foolish to think this castle was without protection. Envy could make just about anyone do something drastic.
"Suit up, we began at dawn." Paul stated, surprising Till with the quiet determination that had come to his eyes. He looked to his friends and saw they would all fight with him for Kimby. It warmed his heart. At dawn all six men put an armor to protect their chest and back, arms and legs and strapped on their swords on. Schneider had explained that full body armor would be more of a hindrance than help and they did not argue though Flake looked quite uneasy by this.
The first half of the day was simply spent hacking through the thorns to get across the drawbridge and into the courtyard.
The courtyard was a modest thing or would have been had the thorns not completely taken over. The plants snagged at their hair, clothes, and skin making it so that by the time they got into the castle the men were weary and cut up.
It was a great relief to see that the thorns had not pervaded the castle, though this gave way to the worrying thought of why that was so. Surely Brier Rose would not have made rescuing Kimby an easy thing to do. No one wanted to take the risk exploring for a room until they were rested, even Till who had walked these halls in specter form hundreds of times. They took off their chest and back armor but kept everything else on as they sat in close circle quietly accepting the bread and bruised apples Paul passed around the circle.
Till gazed at the spacious entry they were in, a grand staircase a little ways in front of them. He could imagine how lovely this place would be with lots of sunshine, the wood floors added a cheery feel despite the brooding skies and thorns choking the windows. He wondered if Kimby would miss her home or hate the place that had become her prison.
After the short meal the six laid their bedrolls close and tried to relax, to drift off to sleep they would need it. Till fell into a light doze but did not trust this castle in the least.
The sound of his name being called woke Till. He sat up and...again! His name was being called from one of the hallways.
"Till help! I'm scared." Kimby sobbed, just out of sight by the staircase.
"Ich warte hier." Till soothingly sang, falling into habit. The pounding of the hammer became a melody when one became lost in it's sound and Till found singing to be a pleasurable and time passing hobby. Olli teased that if a noble lady heard his voice that she would want him as her canary, as he fashioned her weapons of war Till would add with an amused smile and shake of the head.
"Please help! I'm lost." She begged which had the big man on his feet and following the sound of her voice.
"Kimby?" He said uncertainly upon seeing she was not beside the staircase.
"Help!" She yelped as a flash of ebony hair disappeared from Till's peripheral.
"Wo bist du?" The broad shouldered blacksmith sang as he followed the sound of her voice further and further from his friends.
He had failed to notice three of them were already gone.
It wasn't until two hours had passed and yet another hopeless dash to catch the flash at his peripheral as he softly sang to himself.
"Oh non rien de rien
Oh non je ne regrette rien..." Did he realize he had been tricked. He cursed himself for his stupidity. How had it not occurred to him that the sleeping maiden they were seeking should not be up and running about the castle. It was fortunate he knew the castle well, it made retracing his steps back to the entry hall much easier and quicker.
A sigh of relief escaped him when he saw Flake and Paul still there. The two looked worried, the agitation clear in their voices. Flake was the one to catch sight of Till and therefore question him where he had been, where had Olli, Richard and Schneider gone too, had he seen them? It was not hard to figure out the voice that had fooled Till had tricked the other three men. The blacksmith explained what had happened to him and inquired how Paul and Flake had resisted. Paul shrugged and said he was a heavy sleeper, probably why the voices had gotten to him.
"I only heard him singing and didn't think anything of it." Flake responded.
"No other voice? A girl's?" Till inquired brows raised in surprise when Flake shook his head.
"Well let's see if we can find Schneider, Richard and Olli." Paul suggested to which the two nodded and set off letting Till guide.
A day and a half was spent looking for three men. Schneider was found in the library murmuring a particular book title and it took Till and Paul hauling the thrashing, hollering man to remove him from the library. Once over the threshold and in the hall Schneider seem to come back to himself and asked why Till and Paul had his arms pinned behind his back.
"You were tricked by some type of voices, you were looking for some book and we had to drag you out for you to stop." Flake explained. Schneider rubbed his face and Till thought he might have been wiping away unshed tears.
"Where are Richard and Olli." He questioned upon noticing their group was diminished.
"Fell prey to the voices, we're looking for them now." Flake stated. Schneider nodded and again the group set off.
A couple of hours passed before they found the lanky blacksmith curled up in an obscure closet. Upon seeing them he said not a word, his face tear stained and put his forehead back on his hunched knees. He did not put up a fight when Till removed him from the closet simply hugged his fellow blacksmith tightly before he wiped away his tears and kept to his side. The older man wondered what poisoned lies the voices had told the young one.
Richard was the last one to be found. He sat at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the room, knitting what looked to be a....shroud.
"Dead all of them...dead." He brokenly murmured as his glassy eyes looked right through his knitting. This time Schneider and Till carried Richard, who as Olli had did not resist. Till shouldered open the wooden door and his heart fluttered upon seeing what they had been seeking.
"Till!" Paul cried out as a flash of fierce reddish orange attacked him for he had stepped onto the roof. The big man yelped as whatever it was raked its talons along his left cheek spilling blood. Instantly Olli cut down the creature as it swooped down for another attack. The two blacksmiths looked at what had attacked them, shocked to see it was a phoenix. A few moments later disintegrated into ash. Looking around they saw more of the fire birds settled on the edge of the roof and the room that Till knew held his girl.
"Till go ahead and get Kimby, call to me through the door when she's awake and the rest of us will cover you two." Olli stated to which he nodded before the two bolted, causing four more phoenixes to come diving at them. Olli managed to get one as another raked his back.
"Go!" He growled when Till hesitated, wanting to help him, and the older one did as told barreling through the door and slamming it shut behind himself. The sound of wings immediately quieted when Till closed the door. He hoped it was because he was in and not that Olli had fallen.
He turned from the door and took in the dim room, everything covered in a layer of dust. His heart gave an excited leap seeing the glass coffin that was covered with a black blanket. He strode across the room, his cloak billowing before he knelt down, pushed the dusty blanket away and for a few moments marveled at the maiden who had guided him here. Looking at the edges he saw there were clasps on both sides to hold it shut and quickly undid these before carefully laying the glass coffin lid on the ground.
Again he had to take a few moments as he knelt at her side. She was lovely, but looked agitated as if she knew Till was beside her and was impatient to be awoken. He didn't blame her, being asleep for sixty years would wear quickly upon anyone. But still...he reached out and ran his fingers through her ebony hair, soft as the silk gown she wore. When he cupped her cheek she gave a soft sigh. Till hesitated for a moment before he leaned down and placed a kiss upon her mouth. It was a chaste kiss, nothing overly dramatic, and after a few moments he sat back on his haunches waiting.
Kimby reached up and rubbed her eyes before she bolted upright and stared at her hands as if shocked she had them. She touched her cheeks, her almond shaped eyes, her hair before she looked over at Till.
It made his heart ache when he saw she was crying
"Am I dreaming? I don't want to sleep anymore." She choked out allowing Till to settle beside her and pull her into his side. The blacksmith wrapped an arm around her, soothingly combing his fingers through her hair as she laid her head on his shoulder.
"You're safe now, don't cry you're awake." Till murmured lips brushing against her forehead. When she calmed Till told her that they must leave soon, his friends waited for them, but had to ask first why she had not awaken when Brier Rose's spell had been broken.
"It was not true love, his love was true but only to her beauty, and I am glad I waited." She explained gazing shyly up at him. The broad shouldered man gave a small smile before he leaned down and sweetly kissed her lips.
When they broke the kiss Till undid his cloak and knelt down, his back to her.
"We must go and you're likely too weak to walk, climb on my back."
Kimby did as told, locking her ankles together and holding onto her wrists as Till tied his cloak back on and pulled up the hood. Just before he called to Olli and pushed open the door he grasped his sweetheart's hand to assure himself that she was not a dream. The gentle squeeze back she gave reassured him that Kimby truly was his.