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This is from an unnamed, just-started WIP, with the placeholder name of “Bluebeard,” because it’s very loosely based on that fairy tale. Every year on the Winter Solstice, a sorcerer takes a sixteen-year-old girl as his bride, divorcing her and exiling her before he takes a new bride the next year.
Summary: The sorcerer has just chosen the narrator as his bride, and demanded she hurry up. I’ve skipped over some guards leading her to a tent, and helping her tidy herself up for the wedding, and escorting her to her groom.
Once again, the sorcerer’s remarkable green eyes held me transfixed, and I stumbled over my responses to the priest’s questions. The sorcerer’s responses were smooth and curt, his expression distant. We joined hands, the priest tied our wrists in ribbon, and pronounced us married. My husband’s fingers tightened on mine, and suddenly we stood in a kitchen, with a curved stone wall surrounding us, and a smaller stone-walled cylinder in the center, a door set into its side.
I let out a strangled squeak that had my husband glancing at me in annoyance, but instead of speaking, he pulled the ribbon free without ceremony, letting it fall to the floor.
“I expect dinner at six, and we will eat in the first room up the stairs.” He disappeared out the door, and I heard his footsteps climbing stairs. After a time, I went to the door, and opened it to see winding staircase that spiraled up out of sight, broken by rays of light stabbing through the narrow windows.
Perhaps it’s all the stairs that makes him so annoyed, I thought, I’m not looking forward to climbing them for a year.
* * *
This story is very loosely based on Bluebeard. The sorcerer is cursed, and the brides are caught up in the curse, though the nearby villagers don’t know how or why. He keeps the kingdom safe with his magic, and his brides tie him to a land he couldn’t otherwise protect. There are other ways to do this tying–but his curse demands a bride.