I am really grateful for all the good friends I have in my life, as well as my hope and strength that got me through even the toughest of times. This is the story I wrote, inspired by that feeling. :D
She was running. From what, who, where, she didn’t know. Tiredness was taking over her
body and spirit, tossing her life carelessly through its sneaky fingers. Feeling powerless against
everything, she fell; her tiara tumbled to the ground, her silken clothes torn. Her last memory was the
deep blue of the starry night beyond the mass of tangled tree branches. She lay unconscious, breathing
shallow, as moonlight shone over her - just a vulnerable girl in the night, nearly dead.
As the first drops of the morning dew fell on her face, she awoke to the gentle rustling of the
wind, inhaling the sweet scent of pine trees. But some thing was wrong. The birds weren’t tweeting.
The bees weren’t buzzing. And faint footsteps were now thundering towards her. Panic swelled inside
her dry throat and she looked up. People. Masked people with knives.
A scream escaped her lips, and suddenly several of the armaments were hurled at her. She
sat there, paralyzed, her mind running wild. Then, suddenly a new power flowed through her. Now
was her moment to act, her only chance at survival. She ducked and wove through the maze of the
assassins’ knives, grabbed two of the flying weapons and slashed back. Cut and bloody, she ran, barely
coming away with her life, once again.
The girl had just enough energy left in her to stumble into a small wooden hut in the woods.
As she entered the doorway, she was transfixed by the radiance of the woman standing before her,
eyes blue as the ocean, with silky chocolate brown hair and dressed in a simple white gown. Then her
vision blurred and she lost consciousness once more. When she came to her senses, she was shaking
her head violently, pulling at her disheveled hair, muttering to herself.
The radiant woman smiled kindly, “ My name is Anne and yours is Emma. And I will show
you the way to your home and to your mommy and daddy.”
“Where is home?” She scratched her head and looked up at Anne expectantly.” “And I got
hurt,” whimpering she tried to show her all her cuts and bruises. But they were all gone, every last one.
Anne smiled. “I do think I did a good job healing you.”
Emma stared at her in wonder, “Hurt all gone? Home – I want to go home.”
Anne said, “Come, I will show you the way to get back to your home.”
Anne walked Emma to the edge of the forest and pointed to the far side of the city, all the way
to a little red house. “That right there is where you have to go. In that house is an old woman who has
broken her way into your home. You can recognize her by a golden lion’s paw that has replaced her
left hand. She is evil. You must drive her out. Then your home will become yours again and you will
find your family too.” Saying so, she placed near Emma a slender twig that had two soft green leaves
attached to it. Anne whispered, “These leaves will give you hope and friendship. The twig provides
you the strength to succeed. Use it well.” Then she transformed into a doe and sprinted away.
Emma picked up the twig and suddenly felt a jolt of energy surge through her body, clearing
all the fogginess in her mind. She said to herself, “Yes. I will reclaim my home and find my family.”
Then with fierce determination burning in her heart, she walked out of the forest and into the city.
Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Ashercroume lived a princess named Emma, the only child of
King William and Queen Isabel. She had an abundance of anything money could buy, but not freedom.
Her parents wouldn’t let her out of the palace for fear that she would be harmed by the Forbidden One.
Princess Emma didn’t believe in the Forbidden One. She didn’t remember one bit of her
grandmother’s story happening, even though she said it occurred only a year ago. But for the sake of a
good tale, here is what she said:
It all started when preparations were being made for Princess Emma’s eleventh birthday
celebrations. A tall, slender young woman with a pointy nose and thin lips had come to the palace
seeking work in the kitchen. Although she dressed like a normal citizen of Ashercroume, she had an
unearthly aura about her, with eyes that shimmered like icicles. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of
the birthday preparations, this woman sneaked into Princess Emma’s bedroom. A scream then echoed
throughout the palace. Some guards even claimed that they saw the woman fly past dragging Princess
Emma with her. Luckily, Princess Emma was found sleeping peacefully in her bedroom. The guards
were immediately banished from the kingdom for lying about the princess. However a note was found
in the kitchen. It said:
“King of Ashercroume, there is a lot of power in being a ruler. You don’t deserve the power or
wealth. I will make sure that your child too shall never ascend the throne. She will live, but driven
mad by my power. And when tomorrow comes, a worthy leader shall rule over Ashercroume. In other
words: me. Say goodbye to your rule.”
The next morning a blinding light emanated from a little red house on the far side of the city and
enveloped the kingdom of Ashercroume. The king sent his soldiers to investigate. But one by one, they
fell dead at the threshold of the little red house. Rumor had it that it was the home of an old woman
with supernatural powers. She did as she pleased, stealing cattle from the farmers, money from even
the poor and creating misunderstanding and havoc among the subjects of Ashecroume. The citizens,
in their fear had named her the Forbidden One. No one dared contradict her or oppose her magical
powers, so the land came under the Forbidden One’s control.
While the girl, Emma, set out for the city, Princess Emma had decided that she was going to go
out of the palace, regardless of the existence of the Forbidden One. She was tired of being cooped up
in the boring palace, so she smuggled herself out the palace gates to explore the city. The princess was
amazed by the city with its smell of baking bread, vendors hawking groceries, pots and pans, clothes
and all kinds of other goods. Children of all ages ran around playing and shouting in excitement.
Numerous carriages traversed the streets.
Among the hustling city crowd, Princess Emma noticed a girl about her age looking slightly
lost. This must be her first time seeing the city too, she thought. Princess Emma walked up to the girl.
“Hi! My name is Emma. What’s yours?”
“Oh!” The girl looked up in surprise. “My name is Emma too. I am looking for a little red house.
Do you have any idea where that is?”
“Little red house? Why would you want to go there? The Forbidden One lives there!”
“Forbidden One!” Emma felt an instinctive trust for Princess Emma, so she revealed
her mission to kill the Forbidden One in order to save her family.
“How will you ever manage to do this?” Princess Emma queried after thinking for a minute.
“I will succeed with hope, friendship, and strength.” She pulled the twig out of her pocket and
“Hope, friendship, and strength...what?” Emma narrated her experience with Anne to the
“Okay, then. Let’s go!”
“Let’s go? You don’t have to come with me. What if you got hurt?”
“Oh, I’ll be fine.” Princess Emma walked up to a boy and asked, “Do you know where the
Forbidden One’s lives? My friend and I are new in town and are curious. We’ve heard quite a
bit about her.”
“The Forbidden One controls Ashercroume from her little red house about fifteen miles
here. No one ever approaches her. I suggest you don’t try.”
“Oh, no, we are just curious,” lied the princess as she ran back to inform Emma.
The two girls started the long walk to the Forbidden One’s hut. The road south was dusty and
seemed endless. Hot, sweaty and tired, they did eventually get to their destination. Both Emma and the
princess stared at the house they were to break into. It was a small cottage, with two windows lit up by
the glow of the setting sun. The two stared in wonder, thinking about what was ahead...
“Looking for someone?” An old woman stood before them, smiling a twisted smile. She was
wearing a patched brown dress and shoes of the same color. A paw peeked out of her long left sleeve.
Emma was quick to act, drawing out her two knives, tossing one to the princess. They both held
their knives high, ready to attack.
"Why are we being violent, friends? Let us go inside." With a lazy flick of her wrinkly, gnarled
hand she paralyzed both the girls and pulled them into her hut. With an evil cackle she tied them up
tight and threw them against the wall. As they lay bloody and unconscious, the Forbidden One pried
the knives out of their hands and poised each above each girl's heart. Then with a thundering force she
plunged both knives. And when she pressed her ear against each of their hearts, she chuckled knowing
there wouldn't be any heartbeat.
But there was. The power of hope, friendship, and strength had saved the girls from death.
Disappointed, The Forbidden One raised her knife high in the air once again.
"Wait!” commanded a woman’s voice.
"Anne?" The Forbidden One fixated her gaze on Anne’s ocean blue eyes. Then she lunged
toward Anne, and a new battle started.
Meanwhile, Emma and the princess began to gain consciousness. Finally when their eyes
opened, they saw the Forbidden One with her back to them – fighting!
"Oh my! Is that Anne?!" Emma stared in surprise. The two girls then crept into the Forbidden
One's kitchen and grabbed the largest knives they could find. Then they ran up and hacked at the
Forbidden One from behind. Arms flailing around, she collapsed, leaving Anne standing before the
"Come, I have a lot to explain to you." Anne led Emma outside, leaving the princess in the hut.
"Emma, I had told you that when you defeated the Forbidden One, you would be free to go back
home to your parents. The truth is, you don't have ordinary parents. You were born to the king and
"The king and queen?! But..."
"Once you hear the whole story, you will understand all."
"The Forbidden One knew that you were the next in line to be the ruler of Ashercroume. She
coveted power and Ashercroume's wealth. So, in order to usurp the throne, she transformed into a
young woman, kidnapped you from the palace and wiped out your memory. As she was flying over the
forest dragging you with her, you bit her hand and broke free, falling to the forest floor. Fearing that
you would be recaptured, you ran until you fell unconscious. The masked people who attacked you
were servants of the Forbidden One. Luckily you escaped and made your way to me. I gave you the
twig with the leaves, and you know what happened next."
"Then I went to the city!"
"Yes. So you see, you would not be have been safe with your parents until the Forbidden One
was dead. So now, my child, you may go back home."
"But..my memory...just to be sure..."
Anne seemed to understand. "Here we go then,” she said chanting some magical words. With
that Emma's memory was fully recovered.
Smiling widely, Emma said," Now lets go inside to Emma!"
"Emma, your friend was just an orphan named Lily, pretending to be a princess until I got you
back home, with no idea that she was doing it. The king would have been mad at her for masquerading
as you even though it was by my magic, so I had to send her away."
"Send her away? Please bring her back! She was my only friend!"
"Okay... I can try, Emma."
After a few more chants, Emma, I mean Lily was back, her memory revived too. After learning
the truth, she felt very, bad, but the real Princess Emma insisted she come back to the palace with her.
Laughing and skipping, they ran back home, carefree and happy, with Anne walking behind them.
"May hope, strength and friendship stay with you both."