It was a normal day for Belle. She woke up early, fixing her hair in a single braid that fell over her shoulder. Threading a dark blue ribbon in her dark brown hair, Belle thought about her father's words from the night before. She knew that the kingdom was crumbling. The ogre wars were draining the kingdom's coffers of their gold at a steady rate, and the resources for the community of the kingdom were beginning to dwindle. The rest of the small population were losing hope in their authority, and she could feel it within her heart. Every night, she had been going out to attempt to bring some kind of light back into the lives of the dulled people of her kingdom. Her father always had a plan, but he was constantly in the throne room, attempting to find some way out of the hard times they were experiencing. That night, Belle remembered his gruff voice, and she knew something was wrong. The problem was urgent, and Belle hurried into the throne room, looking to her father for his request.
The woman had the utmost respect for her father, and she would do anything to help him and the rest of their kingdom. [b "I need you to do something for me sweetheart. I know this is confusing right now, but I need you to say yes after I say the words 'you're here.' You need to make sure that you're convincing, and you will be. That is all. I must go."] With that, the King finished his speech and walked off. Belle hadn't heard much from him, but she memorized his speech. Walking out into the throne room to say goodbye to her father before making her way to town, Belle stopped short as the guards began to race past her. [#9900ff "What's going on? Are there more ogres?"] Belle asked, but she didn't get an answer. The guards seemed more serious, but they were also afraid. Unsure what to do, Belle stayed in place. That's when he showed up in front of them.
There was a small man, almost impish in nature, with a small grin that contrasted to his unusually dark and scaly skin. Belle widened her eyes for a moment as he began to talk about protecting the kingdom for some kind of price, and she looked to her father. Was he looking to use black magic? She knew how dangerous it was... They didn't even have that much to pay for magic anyway even if it had been pure. Before she could speak, the words of the Dark One took her breath away. [i "My price is her."] His finger pointed in the direction of the princess, and she couldn't quite function for a moment. She couldn't go with him, but the kingdom counted on her. Her mind was racing, and she opened her mouth to say no before her father spoke once more. [b "I knew I would see you soon Dark One. Now that you're here..."] The second that Belle heard her father say the two words, she cut him off. She took a little breath as she contemplated going back on her father's promise, but she trusted him.
[#9900ff "Yes... yes I'll go with you."] Her words were soft, and she met his eyes for a moment before one of the guards came up behind him, snapping magical chains made from binding ink onto his hands and feet. The king laughed in a bellowing roar, hopping to his feet. [b "You foolish man! I know what you were thinking, and I trapped you. You will end this ogre war, and I will end you."] Belle widened her eyes, completely taken by surprise. Her father was so menacing in nature to the man teeming with black magic, and she didn't know what to say. His demeanor shifted in a strangely cruel way. [#9900ff "Father..."] She began as Rumpelstiltskin was dragged away. [b "Thank you Belle. You are my most prized child. I want you to give him food and water every day. You will be the reason our kingdom thrives."] Belle couldn't say much more, thinking about the entire shocking ordeal before realizing how late it was and that the man hadn't even had dinner.
Making her way down the dimly-lit stone staircase to the old dungeon, Belle held a plate of bread and a small amount of water, holding up a lantern to aid with the light of the torches. Stepping softly to the occupied cell, Belle felt her heart beating faster due to her nervousness. Gently placing the food in the small hole at the bottom of the cell, Belle pushed it forward. [#9900ff "I apologize for the wait..."] She said tentatively, without the normal sincerity in her voice. Pulling her hand back quickly, Belle got to her feet and began walking away. She didn't want to spend time in the dark prison especially with the one person with the most evil power in the world.
The Dark One had been summoned by a king to rid himself of an ogre problem. At first he had debated on even appearing for the desperate man, having had enough of the ogres and their war, but the thoughts of a good deal, as well as lingering thoughts of the past, brought him to the kingdom of Avonlea. The palace looked in disarray when he arrived, most likely due to the ravages of war...
The town in which the castle lay had not yet been attacked, but it was obvious that all the kingdom's resources and time had been spent on this war, not on upkeep of a castle. Rumpelstiltskin allowed himself a little giggle as he used his magic to appear in the hall outside the room the king and his advisors waited. He was in the mood for a grand and showy entrance, and so he used his magic to eavesdrop before he arrived.
He could hear them squirming in the next room over, questioning if he would even arrive, and he let himself delight in their despair for a beat more, before he made his entrance.
"you sent me a message... Something about 'Help! Help! We're dying! Can you save us?'" He said as all eyes in the room turned to him. He batted the sword pointed at him away with ease, and continued on, turning his sights on the king.
"Yes, I can protect your little town... For a price"
And of course the king mentioned gold, as if it wasn't something so easily spun from straw. Magical gold aside, he highly doubted the king even had substantial coffers at the moment. He was in a war, on the losing side at that. The kingdom was too focused on saving itself to truly have such a luxurious offer.
"My price is her..." He finally named, after belittling the king for offering gold. Of course that caused an uproar, and he steeled himself from giggling impishly at the chaotic clamoring he had caused so easily with only four words.
How would the king and lovely princess react to his price? Would they turn him away, or would the great king sacrifice his only daughter for the good of his kingdom?