The Witch and the Carriage

My spouse Morgan Lemmer-Webber and I came up with this little story when she was assigned to write a fairy tale for her German class. She translated it into a much shorter German version… you get the long rambly version here. We used Fate dice to decide the outcome of the characters… which you get to read below! I thought it nicely followed the fairly tale format, for all that entails. (It's mostly a friendly bedtime story… less gruesome than original German folklore anyway…) Enjoy!

PS: You can read the German version too! It's a bit shorter.

Once upon a time there was a witch named Hilda who lived in the woods. She was a good-hearted witch, though she had a bad reputation, for so many of her well-intended spells, being miscast, were misinterpreted as curses. Poor Hilda was driven into seclusion and poverty in a small hut in the middle of the forest where she lived alone.

Nearby the forest was a city, and in the castle of this city lived a newly married prince and princess. They were very much in love and adored each other to no end. They, however, were not well loved by their people. Princess Primla was vain, selfish, and cruel. Aside from her prince, she cared for no-one, and was bossy to everyone. Prince Prisley, on the other hand, was much nicer, but he was absolutely useless. He lacked any significant skills and tried to get by on his charm and good looks alone. Unfortunately, though he was reasonably handsome and charming, that was impossible… the gulf was just too large. No one looked forward to them inheriting the kingdom.

Just after their wedding, the prince and princess loaded up many of their favorite belongings into a carriage for their honeymoon. They left the castle and drove into the woods. It was not long into their journey that the wooden wheel on their carriage broke. The princess was furious. She stomped her feet and demanded that the driver fix the carriage, but he did not know how. The prince got out, looked at the wheel, and scratched his head. He did not know either. After much fussing, the prince and princess agreed to send the driver back to the castle on foot to seek help.

Not far away from them was Hilda. Hilda was desparate and hungry… she had not eaten for days. She had been in her cottage when she heard the commotion, and went out and hid behind a bush. As the driver walked away, it struck her that here was a chance for her to finally eat again. Perhaps she could even earn some coin from the royalty… by the size of their purses, she guessed they could afford to have their load lightened a bit!

Hilda was a rather plain looking woman, and she decided that in order to impress the royalty she would need to put on her best appearance. She cast a spell to make her look as if she were a beautiful fairy. In her rush to prepare, and since she had no mirror hidden behind a bush as she was, she did not realize that she had miscast the spell and had instead made herself look to be a hideous old crone.

Hilda walked into the clearing and addressed the prince and princess. "Please, prince and princess! I can fix your carriage, and you can be on your way back to the castle in time for supper. All I ask is that you take some pity on a poor woman and give her some food to eat, or some money to buy some food with."

The prince and princess were first surprised by the crone's appearance. Where did she come from? No matter. They looked at each other. The prince shrugged. What did he know whether or not to trust this old hag? But the princess had a different reaction. "Finally!" she thought to herself. "Peasants such as these learn all sorts of crafty things… and we are stuck already, so what does it hurt to try? Besides, the more desparate she is, the better deal we can get out of her, surely."

The princess nodded at the old woman, gesturing towards the wheel. "There is the broken wheel! See what you can do!"

Hilda shuffled out of sight to examine the damage. It was quite bad… an entire piece had splintered off, and there was no clear way to reattach the fragments. But she had an idea. The wheel was made of wood, and she knew a growing spell.

The witch hummed quietly to herself and waved her hands, making small gestures. She did not want to give away that she was using magic… magic users were sometimes feared, good or evil, and she was wary of her poor reputation to catch up with her. She meant well. She could do well! She would do well by these people, and then, perhaps, her problems would be over.

Hilda stepped back and to her delight saw shoots sprout out of the wood. They grew and wove themselves together, then melded into one whole and complete piece. It looked so solid when it was done. And so craftily! You would have never guessed just to look the finished work that she had used magic, or that it had ever been broken at all!

Hilda made a small, self-satisfied chuckle to herself. But her look of amusement turned to fear as she turned around and saw the princess behind her.

"Aha, what is this, you are casting magic? You must be a witch!" The princess narrowed her eyes and grinned menacingly.

"Please!" pleaded Hilda. "I have done all you have asked of me. I am so hungry. Please take pity on me… anything you can spare… food, or just a few coins… I cannot go hungry again!"

"Witch!" cried Primla, spitting at Hilda's feet. "I owe you nothing. I should have my father hunt you down and kill you for your evil spellcasting. Be gone. Be gone you old crone, before I have my prince kill you now on this spot!"

Hilda looked wide eyed at Primla. She then looked down at her hands and saw they were not beautiful and fair but old and wrinkled. She was overwhelmed with a feeling of despair and self-pity. But then she saw the prince step out of the carriage and unsheathe his sword. Despair turned to fear and she ran, ran away, as fast as she could.

"Why did you scare her away? She fixed the carriage. It looked like she did a good job," said Prisley.

"Oh, my foolhardy prince," sighed the princess. "Yes of course, she did an excellent job. But why should we give something away when we do not have to at all? We must make the most for ourselves out of every situation, and here, a larger success was so easy. Why not reap the profits for free while we have the chance?"

"Oh, I suppose that is true. You are so smart, my princess. Anyway, I am glad she ran away," said Prisley, sheathing his sword. "I did not want to go through all the effort of trying to kill her."

"Come! Into the carriage with you, my sweet darling," cooed the princess to her prince. They both climbed in and relaxed as the carriage began to drive away.

So used were they to being chauffeured about that they did not realize for some time that there was no one driving the carriage but the carriage itself. What neither they nor the witch knew just yet was that not only had she healed the carriage, she had imbued it with life itself.

The prince and princess did realize that the carriage was self-driving eventually though, just as the carriage was pulling out of the woods and into a hilly area.

"Imagine the luck!" chuckled Primla to herself. "Not only did we get our carriage fixed for nothing, we got a magic carriage out of it too!" She laughed. "Simply everyone will be jealous of us. Can you imagine our entrance at the next costume ball, to ride up in a self driving carriage? What will people think?"

"They will be amazed, I am sure," yawned Prisley. "My, it is a beautiful day out." He stretched out his feet and draped one leg out the window.

"Prisley, that is disgusting!" cried Primla.

"What? Who is out here to care but just us two?" grinned Prisley.

"Keep your feet off the upholstery!" said a voice that seemed to come from all around them.

Both the princess and the prince looked around astounded. "Who said that?" demanded Primla. "Speak up!"

"I told you to keep your feet off the upholstery!" growled the voice. The prince and princess were astounded as the door handled seemed to grow into a long vine, wrapped itself around the prince's foot, and forced it back into the interior of the carriage.

The princess gasped. "I do believe that was the carriage itself!" She turned to Prisley. "That rotten witch must have put some curse on this carriage. Oh! I won't have it talking back to me like that. Prisley! Do not allow it to talk back to us like that!"

They argued with the carriage. The prince protested, demanding an apology. The carriage demanded that they be quiet so it could focus on its drive. The fighting got louder and louder.

"Now see here carriage, I want no more speaking and no more touching us. I want you to just drive us. Drive us home, or I'll have my father's men chop you into firewood!"

The carriage grew quiet.

"Now that is much better. I swear, that terrible witch, giving us a faulty magical carriage! I will send my father's men after her to do her in. We will make an example of her and spike her head over the city's gate!"

At this the carriage began to sob quietly. It suddenly remembered the woman who had given it life. How could it let them do this to her… after all, she was its mother!

"Look Prisley, the sun is beginning to set just over the horizon! Isn't it beautiful?" the princess said into the deep blue eyes of her lovely prince.

"Oh, is it ever. Carriage, do you see that cliff over there? Bring us to it so we may look over its edge," demanded Prisley.

The carriage pulled up so smoothly, the vines moved so quietly, that it wasn't until the princess and prince were on their long fall that it occurred to the prince that he had gotten exactly what he had asked for. They really couldn't have gotten a better view over the edge of cliff than the one they were getting.

Hilda was packing up her belongings to run away (a sad activity… there was almost nothing to pack!) when she heard the carriage pull in. But there was no one in it!

"Mother!" cried the carriage. "I have come home for you, away from those terrible people. Let us leave together and start a new life!"

Hilda's jaw dropped. She suddenly realized the mistake she made in her casting, and all the unintentional properties that came along with bringing self-healing to the carriage.

"Oh my goodness!" cried Hilda. "Where are the prince and princess?"

"They wanted to hurt you mother, so I have gotten rid of them. But they left a lot of things! Can you use them?"

Hilda looked in the carriage, wide eyed. The prince and princess had spared no luxury packing for their honeymoon… it was filled with food and valuable trinkets and gold, silver, and jewelry! She would never go hungry again!

She dropped everything she was packing… it was all worthless anyway!… and hopped in the carriage. They rode off into the sunset, and since they are not dead, they lived happily ever after.

This story is released under CC BY-SA 4.0 International. Have fun!

Author: Christopher Allan Webber

Created: 2014-04-11 Fri 08:52

Emacs (Org mode 8.2.5h)