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This is from a WIP, with the placeholder name of “Bluebeard,” 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 Aamir “Mire” has married the narrator, Gwyn, spelled them into his tower, suggested rather rudely that she can visit his bedroom if she gets lonely, and she stormed off. She snooped around his floor, got caught–and asks about the balcony, which makes him angry. He demands “Stay off the balcony.”


“Why?” I didn’t understand this sudden hostility.

He stared not quite at me, almost through me, his remarkable eyes haunted. “No matter how unhappy you are with this marriage, you leave this tower at the end of the year, with me. Alive.”

I pressed my hand to my mouth, wishing I could take back the words. People whispered that he killed his brides, but I knew some brides had flung themselves from the tower.
“I’m not given to such permanent actions, you’ll see.” I made my escape.

*    *    *

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.

About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

35 responses »

  1. Yikes! That is some husband, gosh the girls fling themselves to their death. I’ve heard of people jumping out of moving vehicles but this is a whole new extreme. I’m hoping Gwynn hangs in there.

    • Some 16-year-old girls, when facing exile (in a time when people hardly traveled) would make this unfortunate choice, I think. Even though they’re fictional, I feel quite sorry for them. Gwynn is made of pretty tough stuff.

  2. Kim Magennis says:

    Again you manage to make me feel sympathy for Aamir!! Nicely done, Caitlin. You are building a delicious depth in your characters, almost incidently, like a master.

  3. Ed Hoornaert says:

    At least he isn’t trying to make his wives commit suicide. Isn’t that a teensy weensy step in the direction of loving them?

  4. Okay, so he leaves with them alive, but do they stay that way? (Yes, I’m a suspicious sort.) At least she was able to extricate herself from that bedroom!

  5. I look forward to reading what “exiling her” means …

    • I skipped over the bit that explains it–but the day before the next wedding, the current bride is divorced, loaded on a cart with her stuff, and shipped off. (With some guards to make sure she goes.)

  6. Gemma Parkes says:

    This story just pulls me in, I just can’t tell what will happen with these two!

  7. I’m starting to feel sorry for him. But why are brides jumping from the balcony? This sounds like an unhappy, cursed-type situation all around.

  8. Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. This is a wondrous tangled web you’ve woven. Brilliant.

  9. Millie Burns says:

    I’m liking this. She might just be the one who’ll break the curse. Spunky thing.

  10. Alexis Duran says:

    Hmmm, I guess having brides flinging themselves off the balcony might give the poor guy a complex. I agree with Kim M. – you’re doing a great job of giving these characters depth.

    • There’s a reason the windows are narrow and barred, and there’s only one balcony–but the tower didn’t always look like that.

      Over 6o+ years, I figure a handful of brides must have tried and sadly succeeded.

  11. I think those eyes will haunt me, too! Let’s hope she stays strong.

  12. Love all the mystery about the darn balcony, and what goes on during the year they’re married. Excellent excerpt!

  13. elainecsc2013 says:

    I believe she is different, but that balcony is a mystery.

  14. Remarkable eyes… I don’t think that’s the spell at work. But it must be a pretty terrible spell if his brides have jumped from the balcony. He really doesn’t seem all that terrible. Great writing, Caitlin!

  15. chellecordero says:

    I have to wonder if the brides have flung themselves off or if they had help… and not necessarily from the groom? Very mysterious.

  16. E.D. Martin says:

    Hasn’t he realized by now that telling her not to do something will pretty much guarantee she’ll want to do it? Great character development so far!

    • He’s so used to being obeyed, it will probably take him a couple days to realize that she won’t listen so well. Even though this is has been weeks of snippets, it’s all one day–their wedding day.

  17. Karen Michelle Nutt says:

    I’m glad he’s at least concerned with her welfare. Let’s hope things never become so dire.

    • I doubt more than a few brides were so desperate–but even one would make quite an impression.
      Gwyn might do something drastic, if she thinks it would break the curse, but she won’t be leaping off balconies.

  18. Carrie-Anne says:

    I love all the twists and turns this story is taking. If things don’t work out so well, at least she’s guaranteed of leaving alive.

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