Thanks for coming back for part 2! Last week, Arabella discovered her fiancé is marrying another. She’s now trying to figure out what to do and will make a decision at the end of this section that will send her on her path to villainy.
Arabella was eager to return home to the solitude. She didn’t need anyone to comfort her. Comfort and pity were all she had received over the last couple years after the death of her father. No one really cared about her, but they did pity her. They pitied the daughter of the King’s dishonest, greedy tax collector. But pity was the last thing she wanted. She needed love and understanding. Now the only one who had ever offered her those things had betrayed her to marry another.
As Arabella trudged through the snow-covered path through the village to her home, she managed to avoid making eye contact with anyone.The closer she got to her house, the higher the tears rose in her eyes, blinding her to the point she could barely see the slushy path ahead. The snow and ice beginning to fall from dark, low-hanging clouds certainly wasn’t helping her get home either. Only after arriving at the small mansion and slamming the wooden door behind her against the biting cold did she allow the hot tears to spill out again over her pale, frozen cheeks. She didn’t even make it a step toward her room before sinking to the floor with her back pressed against the back of the front door and sobbing so hard that she soon found herself gasping for air and wincing at the terrible throbbing in her head. How had her life gone so horribly wrong? Only a couple years ago, she had possessed loving parents and kind friends. Even the heart of the man she loved. But now it was all gone. Taken from her. It would seem her mother had been blackmailing people to befriend her. Now that her parents were dead from a disease that had invaded the kingdom the winter before last, she was alone. Her last hope for companionship had been Rowan.
If she were to ever believe in love at first sight, she would claim that she herself had experienced it once upon a time. When she had first laid eyes on Rowan, she had thought her heart had stopped then come back to life, beating wildly from having received a simple wink from the most handsome man in the kingdom— at least that was how she saw him. She hadn’t said a word to him then, and yet somehow she had known just from the look on his face that his heart would be hers. And that was how she had believed it would remain. If there was such a thing as love at first sight, then surely “happily ever after” was not a myth. Perhaps there was still hope.
Sitting in that dark room, Arabella suddenly realized what she had to do. Her plan was probably risky and very foolish, but all reason in her mind had been crowded out by her jealousy and hatred of the lovely Anna who had ruined her life. Shaking the ice out of her raven curls and smearing away her tears, she quickly rose and ran upstairs to her room where she pulled out a heavy chest from underneath her bed. Unlocking the chest with the key she wore around her neck, she threw back the lid to reveal a stash of glittering gold coins. She gathered them into a velvet scarlet bag cinched at the opening with golden cords. Then changing her shoes from thin slippers to brown leather boots and pulling thick gloves over her icy fingers, Arabella ran out of her house with the bag of coins stashed inside a leather bag across her body and headed toward the dark forest.
All she had to do was follow the trail of smoke intertwined amongst the dead trees. That’s what the stories said. Despite everything within her screaming to turn back, she ignored the voice in her head and followed the first trail of smoke she found. The smoke that would lead her to her salvation. To discourage any doubts from resurfacing, she focused only on her hatred for the girl who had stolen her only remaining happiness. The more she thought about Anna, the more she excused her plan. The more she excused where she was going and who she was going to see. The King would have her exiled if anyone discovered her here, but she had no choice. At least that was what she continued to tell herself as she wildly tore through tree branches and stumbled through the darkening forest toward the cabin at the end of the smoke trail.
To the common passer, the cabin would have appeared to be only a mountain of wooden sticks. But she knew the stories. She knew what to look for. At first the cabin did look like a pile of wood, but it was only a trick of her mind. The longer she stared at it, the more distinct the shape of a cabin became as if her will and desperation caused it to form. This was without a doubt where he lived. The old sorcerer who had been banished to the forest.
No one knew his true story— only rumors about how he came to live like this. Some said he had murdered someone in an experiment. Some said that he was a terrible beast that would kill anyone who came near his cabin. Since Arabella was still alive standing there, she decided the latter story untrue. But perhaps he was only allowing her to get closer. The most commonly told tale of the sorcerer was of his trickery. He was said to be a horrible man to never be trusted. And yet at this point she hardly had any choice as to whom she could trust. She was desperate.
Determined not to allow these stories to frighten her away, Arabella stepped tentatively toward the cracked door of the cabin and tapped her knuckles lightly against it as if afraid someone might actually answer it. Before her hand could touch the wood a second time, the door swung open.
To Be Continued…
Wondering what’s about to happen inside the cabin? Come back next week to find out! Arabella is about to make a wish she’ll regret.