The Killing of Wolves

Thief and (suspected) murderer Red Riding Hood joins with poor boy Pip on an unexpected journey to kill the Big Bad Wolf. Along the way, they run into a host of fairytale characters and dangerous challenges that they must overcome so Red can have her revenge on the wolf and Pip can go back to the life he used to live. But they uncover more than they thought they would, scandalous secrets straight from the heart of the Royal Family. All of a sudden, they realise the Wolf is not all it seems. Nothing will ever be the same again. Not once the truth is revealed, once and for all...

It's just a draft, so any tips or critisicm would be appreciated. Also, thanks to the Fuzz for making the amazing cover.

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5. Slumber

It was a shame, thought Red, that her Fairy Godmother had turned out to be little more than a fraud, a pawn in the far bigger game of trying to get her to do the Queen’s bidding because at this moment particularly, she was in dire need of a wish. To tell the truth, she was in need of quite a few wishes, but that might be pushing it a bit. She wanted to be freed of the responsibility of having to go and slaughter the most fearsome foe in the history of Grimm; she wanted not to have to protect Pip and what she dared ask for most of all was time.

   Time. It was running dangerously short. They didn’t have long to complete their task, yet they had only managed to go to the First Kingdom and from that visit they had gotten nothing worthwhile at the end. No information, some of which might have been very helpful, and no time. Red was used to shortages, however, and even more familiar with having to adapt to her situation. She would have to make time, or rather conserve it and use it productively. This meant that she would have to move onwards to the Second Kingdom, so after waking Pip they set off towards their next destination.

   The Second Kingdom was fairly near, and not too different to the First. The First Kingdom had been dreary and ever so quiet, whilst the Second Kingdom was marginally more colourful yet even quieter, if such a thing was possible. Nothing could be heard but the wind sifting through the buildings gently. The whole Kingdom was spaced out in a circular fashion, each house next to one another to form a barrier of protection for the palace that stood in the middle. All of the windows had been blacked out for some reason and no light got inside the palace apart from the dim glow that lit the tower that stood above all the other turrets.

   It was entwined with ivy and moss and looked as if no-one had been there for quite a while, but the slight brightness suggested otherwise. Pip was intrigued by the sight of it all and hurried onwards before being lurched backwards by Red’s tug of his patchy shirt (which was far too big for him in the first place.) She motioned for him to be quiet and with effort he took a few steps on the tips of his toes, before falling on his backside. Pip was not very agile or nimble, clumsy at the worst of times and this was why Red refused to take him hunting. He’d often begged and whined but she’d shake her head and tell him that he would probably scare all the game away (which he probably would.) In reality, Red treasured her hunting time as an hour or two of solace away from any other intrusions. And, unfortunately, Pip had ‘intrusion’ practically written all over him.

   His fall caused a commotion, which was exactly what Red had tried not to make. Now the only thing she wanted to make was haste, but by the time he’d gotten on his feet Pip felt rather dazed and couldn’t go anywhere for a while. A very mild concussion from the stumble was all, but he was in no fit state to move for a while. It wasn’t as if Red could carry him either; he was small and she was only slightly bigger. To carry him would take lots of effort, effort she reserved for hunting and running anyway from dangerous situations- both were her forte.

   She dragged him across the cobble stones and he bumped occasionally until they reached what seemed to be the town square. There she rested Pip on the floor and heaved a great sigh. Red’s hands flew to her mouth, covering them quickly. She’d completely forgotten how quiet this place was and after all this noise and upheaval she wouldn’t be surprised if the entire Kingdom would be disturbed. Thank goodness no-one heard her and she determined this after five long minutes of bending over Pip and covering his mouth whilst trying not to breathe too heavily or loudly.

   “Pip, get up!” she whispered desperately but he was out for the count. As she had nothing else to look to, Red decided to study her surroundings, the buildings which surrounded her, the engulfing silence… she craned her neck and saw what she thought she might. If this was the town centre, if the whole Kingdom was centric around the Palace and she was in the middle of it all then what would that mean? The palace looked far bigger now it was closer and loomed over Red ominously. She slapped Pip’s face over and over, praying to some indefinite deity for him to wake so that they could leave this place.

   Suddenly, she jumped at the knocking of a window above her head. It came from the highest tower in the Palace, the only one which radiated any light and Red was bemused to see a face staring down at her. The face beckoned for her to come into the Palace and in return she signalled that she did not know how. Before the face could send any more messages, the draw bridge swung open and then a door appeared on the side of a tower, open and revealing a number of steps for her to climb up.

   To take Pip or to leave him? Red had had enough now of his unconscious state, so she hit him over the back of his head to get him alert and responsive. It worked. He woke up, rubbing his head. She boxed his ears this time, whilst shushing him, which basically meant ‘shut up and pay attention otherwise I’ll hit you again.’ Pip seemed to understand this; he quickly sealed his lips and obeyed her beckon for him to follow her through the draw bridge and to begin climbing the stairs- while being as quiet as possible. Climbing the stairs was hard work but, finally, they reached the top and opened the door which hid the face and the light.

   The room was bathed in a warm glow and in the middle of it was a bed. Around it were a number of spectators who watched the sleeper and Red and Pip moved closer to get a better view. On the bed lay a young woman, no more than eighteen years of age, who was fast asleep whilst clasping a stray rose that rested on her breast. She looked pristine even in her stupor and her golden hair was spread out evenly on the sheets, wreathed with a variety of vivid flowers. Her scarlet lips were parted and the whole image of the sleeping girl was incredibly romantic. She really was very pretty. From her wafted a smell that was as sweet as perfume, but there was something terribly lonely about her slumber. Isolated, somehow, as if those who were crowded around her were no more than viewers of her catatonia.

     The face turned to them and Red thought it rather strange to see it attached to a body. He was an old man with a bent posture and haggard eyes and after everyone was quiet for a while, Pip spoke up. “Um, sir, I don’t mean to cause ay offence, but why exactly are we here?”

To which he replied, “You’re strangers here, aren’t you? Everyone in their turn gets a turn at waking Sleeping Beauty and if you are successful the King rewards you handsomely. It just so happens to be your turn.”

“I don’t understand. Why does she need to be woken?”

“She came here not too long ago, but soon fell into a deep sleep from which she cannot be woken. The kingdom has tried to be as quiet as they can to accommodate her but her awakening is a matter of importance. The King’s son, the Prince, is completely in love with her. This is why everyone has an opportunity to try, because someone is bound to be able to. Bound to be…”

   Pip looked back over at the girl. The Prince’s obsession with her was understandable, but love? To fall in love with someone you’d never even met seemed a little strange. And it didn’t seem like love at all. He’d heard of love at first sight, but Beauty had never seen the Prince. Wasn’t love at first sight meant to be mutual for it to be true love at first sight?

   Red was less interested in the feelings that surrounded the situation, so she stuck to the more technical side. By that she meant searching for a way to wake Beauty from her slumber, which was meant to be their reason for being there anyway. However, before her mind could start to piece together the mental jigsaw, the door burst open to reveal a man swathed in finery and a younger man who was probably his son standing next to him. It was obviously the King and the Prince and all of the spectators (including the old man) knelt before them, bowing their heads. Red didn’t.

    “Why don’t you kneel before me, girl?” he demanded. Red declared that it was because she had just realised something. She turned to the girl and looked her over once more, when suddenly her beliefs were confirmed. She walked over and picked the flower off her breast, throwing it over her shoulder and, sure enough, it worked. Beauty’s eyes flickered open and she gazed around with wide-eyed wonder. They stopped at the Prince and she leapt to her feet, throwing her arms around him in a loving embrace. He was surprised by this, but was thrilled by the idea that the woman he loved felt the same way, so he too wrapped his arms around her and held her tight.

   Red pondered the sincerity of this love, but decided to overlook it. They were happy and that was good. Grimm was a place full of so much misery that a little happiness was something to cherish. The King turned to Red.

“Thank you. You have brought happiness to my son and for that to you I am grateful. I promised a reward, if I remember rightly. What is it that you want?”

Red remembered her moans about scarcity of wishes before but now she found it hard to choose. Time was something that she could not ask for, for her companion to be less trusting was another. One thing they really did need was weapons. Red was running low on arrows and she was afraid that if she left Pip alone for ten short minutes he’d find himself murdered or robbed or something even worse, maybe.

   The king met her wish, supplying them with a number of weapons. She found five magic beans which were for planting in order to get to the Seventh Kingdom when the time would come. She found a blade that she might be able to teach Pip to use and then her mind wandered to Pip himself, and of the problem he posed when he accompanied her along the dangerous roads of Grimm. If only she had some way of sparing him some pain, for her to walk on alone and not to be responsible for the death of another human being apart from herself. And then she remembered the rose on Sleeping Beauty’s breast and of its power to induce a form of catatonia.

   She picked it up and passed it to Pip, who had no idea of the plan which she was silently concocting. He sniffed it once and then began to swoon, falling to the floor in a heap. As his eyes slowly shut, he pleaded with Red and a lingering tear began to form in his eye before they closed and he fell into a deep slumber. Red picked up the weapons and fled from the Second Kingdom. Red walked alone and then that way no-one got hurt except herself. That was the way it had always been and that was the way it would stay.   

 

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