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Once Upon a Dream: Journey to Fairybrook

Wind ripped past as Tara ran faster and faster into the forest. Trees blurred past her and the ground slammed against her feet. Feeling something behind her, she turned back, missing the root in front of her. Pain exploded through her as she slammed into the ground.

Tara turned back to see the figure behind her creeping closer and closer. She frantically began to attempt to crawl away but her arms gave out from under her. She turned around, defeated, and faced the creeping figure.

“You should've given up when you still had a chance,” the daunting figure before her hissed.

Tara wheezed out a laugh, “But that’s not a part of the story, is it?”

“It’s time for a new story deary,” the figure cackled, reaching its arms out for Tara.

Darkness erupted around Tara and she welcomed it with open arms.

Chapter 1: Thornview Academy

Tara awoke with a gasp as sweat dripped down her face. She tried to slow her ragged breaths as she looked at the simple black clock on the wall. 3:27.

With a groan, Tara fell back into her bed and her thoughts ensued her. Who was the figure? Tik. What are they always after? Tok. And what story? Tik.

Tara looked back at the clock. 3:29. She sighed and began to look around the room that had become her home for the past few years.

Room 214 could be described as simple. A simple grey wall wrapped around the room while four simple beds lined the walls with a simple nightstand beside each bed. A simple girl slept in each bed while their simple blue and white uniforms hung in their simple closets.

Simple was the one word that danced around Tara’s head as she thought of Thornview Academy. It was a simple old stoned building in the simple countryside that several children sought refuge in during the second world war. Those still left at the academy had either lost their parents during the war or were forgotten through the treacherous times.

3:46. Tara stilled and closed her eyes, willing herself to fall back asleep, but the remnants of her dream still flittered through her mind. For the sixth time in the past two months, this dream plagued her sleep. What did it all mean?

The clock read 4:42 by the time Tara finally slipped into a dreamless sleep.

Tara felt someone shaking her. She was startled awake to see the honey eyes of Marlene, a quaint and smiley blonde, looking down at her.

“Come on,” Marlene whispered, “We have to get going to breakfast.”

Tara moved sluggishly as she got ready. She began to tie her auburn locks back as Marlene spoke, “Did you have them again?”

Tara simply nodded as they began to slip into the hallway with the rest of the children.

Eight-year-old Tara had met Marlene when she first came to Thornview at the start of the war and now, six years later, the two girls had been thick as thieves ever since. Similar to Tara’s, Marlene’s parents had both gone to fight in the war but died shortly after.

“What do you think it means? Do you remember any of it? It is always the same?” Marlene questioned frantically.

Tara held up a hand to stop her rambling. “I don’t know,” Tara sluggishly replied as they entered the dining hall.

The dining hall at Thornview was just as simple as the rest of the academy. It was a long narrow room that consisted of two long, oak tables with a bench on each side. The benches held the simple children whose families had passed during the war.

Towards the end of the room, sat a long narrow table that faced the children. Behind the table sat the few professors that had stuck around at the academy after the war.

Towards the far right of the table sat Mr. and Mrs. Birch, a sweet elderly couple who taught science. Towards the left of the table sat Professor Hawthorne, a young and gentle man who had taught the children history. He had served in the RAF but left due to an injury on the battlefield. Beside him sat Ms.Lemmings, a crude and blunt maid who refused to teach anything other than maths.

And in the dead center, sat Headmistress Lillian Thornview, the academy’s literature professor. Her father had first founded Thornview during the beginning of the Great War and Lillian had since run the academy after her father’s death.

The Headmistress was by far, one of Tara’s favorite professors at the academy. She was a small woman who looked to be in her late thirties. She had chestnut hair that she wore braided back daily and startling eyes that were as green as grass. Tara thought that the Headmistress looked like she had stepped out of one of the many fairytales that she had taught about.

Tara sat down at one of the tables and began to fill her plate with some of Esmerelda’s, the academy’s chef, and many pastries, her mind still trying to recoup from the lack of sleep she had received the night before.

“Do any of you know who we have for first block today?” Katie, one of Tara’s roommates, questioned as she sat in front of Marlene.

“Professor Hawthorne and Ms.Lemmings before lunch and then we have Headmistress Thornview and Mr. and Mrs. Birch after,” Marlene answered between bites. “What fairytale do you think Headmistress will teach us about today?”

“I don’t see why she continues to teach us about measly fairy tales and not any classic literature like Jane Austen or Leo Tolstoy,” Katie scoffed, reaching for a blueberry scone. “I mean they’re childish if you ask me.”

“But that’s what’s so exciting about them,” Marlene argued back. “What about you Tara? What do you think them?”

“Tara. Tara!,” Marlene snapped her fingers in front of Tara’s face, breaking her away from her thoughts.

“Sorry,” Tara mumbled sheepishly. “What did you ask me?”

Marlene huffed. “I asked what you thought about Headmistress Thornview teaching us fairy tales for literature. Are you alright, you don’t seem yourself this morning?”

“I’m fine, just a little tired. And about Headmistress, I don’t mind her teaching the fairy tales. I mean, aren’t we always taught that there’s a lesson to be learned from each fairy tale?”

“I guess so,” Katie replied reluctantly. “I just wish that we could read something else other than fairy tales every once in a while.”

Tara simply nodded as she sank back into her thoughts about her dream from the night before.

The morning swirled around Tara as she danced between her thoughts and the history lesson before her. And soon lunch came and went and before Tara noticed, it was already the third block.

The first thing Tara noticed as she entered Headmistress Thornview’s room with Marlene was Where do Heroes and Villains come from? scrawled neatly across the chalkboard.

Tara made her way to her seat at the front of the class as the Headmistress stood by the board waiting to begin her lesson.

“Now, who can tell me the legend of Fairybrook?,” the Headmistress questioned looking around the room. “Tara?” she requested as her eyes settled on the girl before her.

Chapter 2: Down the Rabbit Hole

Tara began to race through the information in her mind, trying to recall a place called Fairybrook before accepting defeat. “I don’t ma’am.”

“That’s alright deary,” the Headmistress smiled warmly at her before addressing the class, “Today we are going to learn about the land of fairy tales, a place called Fairybrook.”

Whispers broke out amongst the class at the new information.

“Settle down class,” the Headmistress requested lightly as she lowered her hands the signal the request.

The class quieted quickly and the Headmistress smiled down at the eager students. “Now who is ready for a new story?”

Several students nodded their heads in response as Tara began to perk up, eager to hear a new fairy tale.

“Now, this fairy tale is not like the many others that I have told you before. You see, this is no fairy tale at all, but rather the story behind them.”

“Many years ago, long before England’s first monarch, another realm began to brew far, far away. Two men, Sir Dwayne Thornwell and King Alastor Blackwood saw what was occurring on the mainland, and realized that something must be done to create unity and peace amongst the people, so they created a land called Fairybrook. It was there that they created the foundation for all fairy tales. These fairy tales would go on to bring peace amongst the mainlands.”

“Thornwell and Blackwood decided that in order to maintain this peace, they would train the children of these heroes and villains to repeat their parents’ stories, allowing the ending to change as society evolved more and more. But peace is not always an easy thing to keep, as many of us know and soon the differences between Thornwell and Blackwood began to catch up to the two. Thornwell wanted to continue allowing for the good to win, for how else would the mainlanders know that the good path is the correct path to peace? But Alastor wanted chaos; he wanted evil to win. Alastor wanted to ensure that the peace in the Mainland would be broken, allowing for him to have total control of Fairybrooke and the Mainland.”

“Dwayne and Alastor’s arguments became more frequent as the years went by and soon war erupted amongst the land, pitting friend against friend and foe against foe. It wasn’t long before Dwayne and Alastor met face to face on the battlefield, and just as soon as the war had started, it ended once Sir Dwayne slayed Alastor. Since that fateful day, Sir Dwayne has ensured peace amongst Fairybrook by training the villains and heroes separately, preparing them for their future endings.”

“But legend has it that King Alastor is still out there, biding his time, waiting for the prophecy to take its course.”

Tara’s hand shot up. “Yes, Tara?,” the Headmistress questioned.

“What prophecy?”

“I’m glad you asked,” the Headmistress smiled before addressing the class once more. “One of the many legends surrounding Fairybrook is the prophecy of the Peace Keeper. Towards the beginning of Fairybrook’s creation, a withered woman visited Thornwell and Blackwood.

When good follows evil and evil follows good,’ she told them, ‘you shall meet someone from the Neverwoods. They shall bring peace to your lands by defeating the one with the wicked hands.’”

“The two men, confused by her words, began to search for the Peace Keeper, but they were never found. Today, many believe that the Peace Keeper may be a mainlander, while others believe it’s a hero whose story hasn’t been written yet.”

“But Headmistress, what will happen to Fairybrook if they never find the Peace Keeper?” Marlene blurted out.

“Oh come on Marlene,” Katie huffed. “Don’t tell me that you actually believe this nonsense. It is simply a story.”

The Headmistress chuckled at the exchange between the two before countering, “Is there not some truth to all stories my dear Katie?”

Katie simply responded, “Well if it is as true as you claim it to be, then how come we’ve never seen anything to suggest its truth?”

“My dear,” the Headmistress replied lightly, “Just because you cannot see it, does not mean that it’s not real. Perhaps, you are simply not looking close enough.” And with that sentence, the class ended and the students began to make their way outdoors to the Birches class.

While the academy itself was simple, the countryside that surrounded it was not. At least it wasn’t to Tara. Tara always loved the gardens and woods that surrounded the academy.

The gardens were filled with blooming red and white roses, while the jasmine-filled ivy clawed its way up the stone walls of Thornview. The woods that circled the academy were filled with majestic Birchwoods and handsome Oaks that honeysuckles dangled from.

Tara stopped at the edge of the woods with the rest of the class and the Birchs were waiting to begin the lesson.

“Good afternoon darlings,” Mrs. Birch called out with a warm voice that reminded Tara of the few fleeting memories she had of her mother before the war.

“Good afternoon Mrs. Birch,” several of the students responded.

“Now today,” Mrs. Birch addressed as she clapped her hands together excitedly. “I want you to get in pairs of two.”

The class began to erupt into excited whispers before Mrs. Birch spoke again. “Now, now. Before you all get started, let me tell you what today’s assignment is.” The students groaned in response.

“Yes, yes,” Mrs. Birch waved away as she grabbed the small stack of papers from Mr. Birch’s hands, “I know. But today’s assignment is quite simple. Each pair will receive a sheet of paper that has a list of plants on it. With this list, you and your partner will attempt a scavenger hunt to find all of the listed plants. The first group to find them all and report back to me will receive no homework for tonight.”

The students erupted into cheers as the elderly couple before them chuckled at their excitement.

“But before you go, understand that no students should wander into the forest. All of these plants can be found here in the garden. Now pair off,” Mrs. Birch stated as she began to make her way around the students, handing out papers.

Tara instantly gravitated toward Marlene, who did the same. The two girls received a paper from Mrs. Birch and began to make their way through the never-ending garden before them.

Hyacinth was the first plant listed on the sheet. “I know where that is,” Marlene declared as she began to lead Tara toward the stone benches near the rose garden at the back of the school.

Right below the worn-away stone benches, sat a small bed of vibrant purple flowers. Marlene checked the box off beside Hyacinth as Tara plucked one of the flowers from the bed of petals. The two girls glanced at the next plant listed: Lavender.

“I saw that just the other day,” Marlene exclaimed as she turned and began to head toward the woods.

Tara lept after her, worry etching her brows. “Marlene, you aren’t heading towards the woods are you? You know what Mrs. Birch told us about the woods.”

“Don’t worry Tara; it’s towards the edge so we’ll be alright,” Marlene replied, heading into the woods.

Tara glanced over her shoulder anxiously before mustering up her courage and following after Marlene. The two crept past the outskirts of the woods before spotting a singular stem of lavender near the bottom of one of the big oaks. Marlene ran forward and plucked the flower.

“Ok, now we’ve got the flower. Let’s head back to the school,” Tara spoke as Marlene checked the box. A quick rust came from one of the bushes, startling the girls into dropping their things.

“What was that?” Marlene questioned frantically.

“I don’t know, but I don’t want to stay long enough to find out,” Tara squeezed out.

Before either of the two girls could grab their things and head back, a white rabbit leaped from the bush and paused in front of them.

“Oh, Tara, we have nothing to be scared of, it’s only a little bunny,” Marlene cooed reaching down to pet the rabbit.

The white rabbit whipped its head up, almost as if offended by her words, and clamped its mouth shut on Marlene’s outstretched fingers.

Marlene yelped as the rabbit let go, grabbed the single stem of lavender, and began to make hast from the two girls.

“Oh you little-” Marlene snarled. “you come back here!” she yelled as she chased after the rabbit.

Tara hastily followed after Marlene, trying to keep up through the outstretched branches and roots. She stopped a few feet away from where Marlene lay belly first on the ground, reaching for something below her. “Marlene,” Tara called but received no answer. “Marlene,” she tried again.

This time Marlene responded feverously, “Come help me, Tara. This little sneak is done here and it has the lavender that we need.”

“Marlene, let’s just go. Doing tonight’s homework is better than having to do this week’s dishes.”

“No, come help me. We can win this if we just get the lavender back.”

Tara sighed before walking towards Marlene and laying beside her, reaching into the rabbit hole below them.

“Is it just me, or is this ground feel a little-,” Marlene began before the ground gave way below the two girls, and down, down, down they went down the rabbit hole.

Chapter 3: Fairybrook

A dim light surrounded the two girls as they tumbled down the rabbit hole that was seemingly filled with several objects.

Tara winced as a knight’s helm banged against the back of her head. She frantically clawed her arms out, reaching for anything to stop her from falling further down the rabbit hole, but alas, there was nothing to grab hold of.

“Marlene! Marlene!,” Tara called out, but no answer came from Marlene as she continued down the rabbit hole.

“Oww!,” Tara heard someone squeal as she was met with a light at the end of the tunnel. The end!

Tara grimaced as she toppled into a squishy surface at the bottom of the rabbit hole. Tara heard a loud yelp before she was thrown to the side.

“Oww! Really Tara?” Marlene winced, rubbing her ribs. “Where are we?” she asked as she looked around.

The two girls slowly rose, looking around the small plane in the woods that they had landed in. Tara stopped and froze, staring at a sign on the tree in front of her. Wonderland-15 miles east, Beast’s Castle-27 miles north, Nottingham Forest-8 miles south, Tirulia-15 miles west were scrawled across the wood plastered to the tree.

“We’re…we’re…we’re,” Tara started to squeak out.

“We’re in Fairybrook!,” Marlene exclaimed, bewildered.

“No; no we’re not,” Tara countered. “We are not in Fairybrook because Fairybrook does-,” she started before noticing that the ground beneath her moved. She paused, freezing in hopes that her mind was just playing tricks on her. But once more the ground waved beneath her feet, faster and higher than the time before.

Tara went to move from her spot before the ground sprung up and waved like a piano frizz and flung her feet out from underneath her. She yelped and went to stand, but the ground repeated its motion once again.

“Tara!,” Marlene cried, reaching out for her. But the ground had other plans as it rippled once more, separating the girls. They flung their hands out to one another, attempting to put an end to this madness but the ground had finally had enough. It whipped up and down, sending the two girls to opposite ends of the forest as they cried out for one another.

Tara began to feel the effects of the ground’s movement when it finally stopped, causing her to tumble before swirling metal gates.

The smell of salt water filled the air and swooped up Tara’s nose. Saltwater. Tara hadn’t smelt salt water since before the war when she and her parents still lived in their small cottage by the ocean. Oh, how she had missed it.

Tara was broken from her reminiscing as the gates before her swung open without as so much of a creak. Tara stood and began to cautiously make her way through the towering entrance before her.

A mist began to swirl around her as she made it through the gates. Tara went to leap back but found herself entrapped by the swirling mist that danced around her. Tara struggled against the mist until she found herself lying on the deck of a ship.

The wind whipped around her as the waves tossed the ship back and forth. Tara went to stand but found that where her feet once were, there was a fish tale instead.

Marlene would be lying if she said she wasn’t a bit excited by ending up in Fairybrook. She had dreamed of living out a fairytale ever since she was a child. And now, she had been given the opportunity to do so.

Marlene whirled around like a kid in a candy store as the ground rippled beneath her, before finally placing her in a luminous castle. She peered up, ogling at the gates before her.

Marlene eagerly stepped forward as the gates began to open. As she made her way through the gates, mist engulfed her. Marlene gleamed at the mist that danced around. The smell of sweet jasmine began to fill the cloud of mist and Marlene began to fight against the overwhelming feeling of sleep. She lost the battle as darkness welcomed her with open arms.

Tara began to panic as she still couldn’t move from her spot on the ship’s deck. Screams and cries for help whirled around her as a massive wave crashed into the ship, tossing her into the angry ocean before her.

Water filled Tara’s lungs as she clawed her way to the surface, fighting against the powerful current. But soon, something in her brain clicked and she began to whip her tail back and forth, back and forth. She rose to the surface and gasped in surprise at what she was met with.

The monstrous creature before her seemed familiar almost with its clamoring tentacles and the powerful, lumming trident in its hands. The monster cackled with glee as it swung at the abandoned ship before it.

Something moved. Tara realized it wasn’t an abandoned ship after all, but rather a jagged ship with a long captain. Tara began to piece together the pieces before her as the ship attempted to sail toward the monster. Monstrous octopus, a ship captain, and a fish tale. The Little Mermaid! The name clicked in her mind.

Tara whipped her head back towards the battle before her, her eyes dancing feverishly between Ursula and Eric, she guessed, on the ship.

Gut-wrenching cries filled the air as Eric’s ship crashed through Ursula’s heart, a different ending than she had remembered from the tale Headmistress Thornview had discussed.

Light erupted around Tara as the mist began to entwine her once more and this time she welcomed it, in hopes of leaving this daydream.

Marlene was met with darkness as she felt something soft flutter against her forehead. Her eyelids fluttered open and she was met with the sight of a boy, a gorgeous boy mind you, before her.

The boy was by far the most handsome boy she had ever seen, minding the fact that there weren’t many boys back at Thornview. The boy was tall and slender with a lean build and a chiseled jaw. He had a mop of bronze hair that was styled to perfection and his honey eyes crinkled in delight.

Marlene smiled back in anticipation of what was to come next.

The boy’s smile widened before he finally broke the silence between the two, “My dear Flora, you have no idea how delighted I am to finally see you.”

“Flora? Who’s Flora?” Marlene questioned, confused as to who the boy thought she was.

The boy’s eyebrows rose in surprise and it was then that he truly looked at Marlene. He leaped back in surprise before exclaiming, “Who are you?”

The mist finally moved away from Tara to reveal a gorgeous party before her. She went to move her legs and let out a sigh of relief when she realized she could move them once again.

Cake and salt water mixed together to create a strangely, sweet aroma that encaptured Tara. She whirled around, only to be met with a pair of piercing blue eyes and a messy mop of hair as black as midnight. She stumbled back surprised and tripped on the voluminous dress that surrounded her.

Tara braced herself for the harshness of the deck flooring but a hand reached around her wrist, stopping her fall. She peered back up to meet those piercing blue eyes once more, only this time they crinkled around the corners as though the boy’s eyes were the ones smiling.

“Thank you,” Tara squeaked.

“Of course darling,” the boy chirped. “I’m sorry dear. I didn’t mean to startle you, Anica.”

Tara paused before managing to squeeze out, “I’m not Anica.”

The boy before her blinked as if clearing out something from his eyes and let out a startled gasp. He released his hold on Tara, who winced once she met the harsh ship deck below her.

Chapter 4: A Never-ending Mistake

Shadows began to loom over Tara as more and more people joined to crowd around her. Frantic whispers surrounded her, spurring her mind into a state of panic.

Her eyes danced frantically at each new person who joined the crowd, before noticing someone kneeling before her.

She glanced and connected eyes with the boy from earlier. Tara began to scoot away frantically as the boy reached his hand out to her.

The boy paused, sensing her panic, and leaned into her to whisper something to the crab on his shoulder. “Yes, your highness,” the crab responded with a French twang and soon the crowd began to disperse.

He talked? Now Tara began to really consider mentally insane as a real possibility for what was happening here.

The boy fixed his gaze back on her, almost as if he were assessing who she really was. The boy slowly reached his hands out towards Tara, holding his open palms out to her a few inches from where she sat.

She hesitated for a moment before accepting the boy’s outstretched hand and allowing him to pull her up from the deck. The boy sent a gentle smile her way.

“Hello darling,” the boy started.

“Don’t call me darling,” Tara clipped out at him.

The boy ducked his head, blushing at his mistake before gaining enough composure to look back at Tara. “My apologies. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Prince Eric Jameson Finn the sixth, but please call me Jamie, everyone else does. I am the son of King Eric and Queen Ariel.”

Tara blanched at his statement. Eric and Ariel. This can’t be real. Tara’s mind swirled with questions but before she could ask any, Jamie filled the silence.

“Now if you don’t mind me asking, who exactly are you? I’m only asking because you see, you are not the girl that I was supposed to rescue. You’re not a part of this fairytale, or any fairytale, at the moment.”

Tara’s eyes widened as her mouth ran dry. “I, um, I’m not from this world.”

Gasps and startled elations erupted amongst the ship at Tara’s words as the boy stood, wide-eyed, staring at her.

“What do you mean you’re not from this world,” the boy questioned fervently.

“Well, um, you see. My friend and I sort of fell down a rabbit hole while trying to get a piece of lavender back from this white rabbit and we ended up here. And now, I really need to find my friend so that we can go about our way and go back home,” Tara briskly explained, avoiding eye contact with the bewildered boy in front of her.

Marlene and the boy stood across from one another as silence barred around them. Back and forth they looked at one another, trying to figure out who should speak up first. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. They stayed like this for what felt like a lifetime but was really only a few measly minutes before the boy spoke first.

“So since you obviously aren’t Flora, would you mind telling me your name?”

“Marlene,” Marlene spoke calmly, tightening her jaw as she continued to stare at the boy before her. “Alright, I’ve told you my name, the least you could do is tell me yours.”

“Corin,” the boy smoothly replied.

Marlene simply nodded in response and silence encased them once more. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. They continued playing their little game before Corin quizzed Marlene again.

“What fairytale are you supposed to be in?”

“Fairytale?” Marlene questioned.

“Yes, fairytale,” Corin answered back, confused by Marlene’s confusion.

“Oh, I’m not supposed to be in any fairytale.”

Corin choked on the air before squeezing out, “You’re a mainlander.”

Marlene was taken aback, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It’s the term we use here in Fairybrook for those who are not from this realm, but from the human lands, or the Mainland as we call it.”

Silenced rapped around them once more as Marlene began to process the new information. All this time. All these years. Headmistress Thornview was right, fairytales are real.

Corin continued his interrogation, “Who are your parents?”

Saddest swayed through Marlene’s mind as the question forced her to remember her fleeting memories of her parents. It had been so long since she had last seen them that she began to forget the exact pitch of her mother’s voices and which arm her father’s birthmark was on.

“My parents, um, they were Louise and Micheal Homes,” Marlene whispered, her voice thick with emotion.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Corin whispered back.

“No, no. It’s ok; you didn’t know. If you don’t mind me asking, who exactly are your parents,” Marlene hesitantly asked, afraid of whether she would like the answer or not.

Corin smiled sheepishly as he rubbed his neck before answering, “Well, um, my parents are Robin Hood and Maid Marian.”

Marlene’s jaw dropped.

The ticking of the worn clock in the captain’s quarters had been driving Tara mad from the moment she had been uprooted from her spot on the deck and thrown into the tight room. Tara’s claustrophobia began to settle in as she became antsier by each tick of the clock.

She tried the door handle again, but just like before, it remained locked. Frustrated, she threw herself into the worn leather chair that sat in contrast to the shiny, new oak desk that took up most of the room.

Tara’s eyes flitted around the room as she took in the different knick knacks that lined the walls and bookshelves that were stuffed to the brim with worn leather novels, whose embossings sparkled as the light from the small oval hit them.

Tara tensed as the door creaked open to reveal Jamie on the other side. Tara watched as he quietly closed the door and turned back to look at her before taking two long strides and opening the oval window.

Tara felt grateful as the tension in her chest began to ease a bit as the sweet aroma of the ocean filled the cabin.

Jameson slowly crept to the front of the desk, staring down at Tara. “What do I do with you,” Jamie tisked to himself.

“What do you mean?” Tara questioned, confused as to why Jamie wouldn’t just let her go.

“I mean what do I do with seeing as you broke the law, going through with an ending that was not your own? The only problem here is that I’m not sure you have any ending you’re supposed to go through with seeing as you are from the Mainland.”

Silence twisted itself between the two’s gazes at one another as neither was quite sure what to say next.

Tara was the first to speak up, “I don’t see what’s so important about ‘going through with an ending that’s not your own.’ Can’t you just, I don’t know, restart the fairytale and fix it?”

“What’s so important young lady,” a french accent clenched out.

Tara startled back in the chair as she noticed the crab from early on the desk before her, shaking its claw menacingly.

“Is the fact that the slightest change in the story throws everything off balance in Fairybrook? It’s so important because these fairytales are the very life source of those in Fairybrook and the Mainland.”

“The Mainland?” Tara asked quizzically.

“Yes, the Mainland. Young lady without Fairybrook, there is no peace in the Mainland,” the crab snipped at her.

“Sven please,” Jamie sighed as he rubbed in between his eyes in irritation. He looked back at Tara before talking again.

“The reason for this mix-up being as serious as it is has to do with the fact that each fairytale has a certain path that it must follow. When one follows the correct path, they maintain the peace within Fairybrook and, thus maintain the peace within the Mainland, but when they stray from that path it results in utter chaos waiting to ensue. And as for just ‘restarting the fairytale’, it doesn’t exactly work the way that you think it does. Each child in Fairybrook is born with a set path for the fairytale that they must follow. The oldest follow their parents’ footsteps, but the middle and the youngest children are set to become a love interest or side character within the story. We spend our entire lives training for the future and once the hero turns fourteen, we must perform the fairytale for the first time. If we pass the test, then we must take on our roles as the next heroes of our parents’ tales. If not, then we must wait to retest on the next birthday of the hero.”

“The problem here is that even though the correct heroine is nowhere to be found, I passed. We passed the test which means that we get no restart and redo.”

The crab began to pace back and forth, muttering to himself as Tara sat at a loss for words.

“This is very, very bad,” the crab, Sven as Jamie called him, spoke briskly.

“We understand that Sven,” Jamie uttered out, irritated. “What do you want us to do about all of this?”

The crab whirled to face his prince, “What do we do about all of this?! We’ll have to call a council meeting and report this to Sir Dwayne of course.”

Tara’s head snapped up at the name and she finally managed to muster out, “Sir Dwayne? As is Sir Dwayne Thornwell, the creator of Fairybrook?”

“Yes, Sir Dwayne. Don’t tell me you don’t know who he is,” Sven mocked, exasperated.

Tara remained silent as Sven blanched, “You’re right your highness, this girl is a mainlander.”

Chapter 5: This is a Predicament

Tara remained silent as she was led off the now-docked ship into the shipyard. The villagers of this kingdom, she guessed to be Jamie’s, stared at her. Some had wonder painted across their faces, while others displaced contempt for her and what had happened.

Dread filled Tara as Jaime moved her closer to the white stone castle that towered over the village near the ocean. His firm grip tightened as they made their way through a set of gates, identical to the ones that Tara had disappeared through earlier.

Tara tried to keep her head down as whispers surrounded her.

“Who is she?”

“Where did she come from?”

“Is it true that she could be the one to rescue us from this nightmare?”

Tara’s head snapped in the direction of the last question. She was met with a bewildered-looking woman who back away as if frightened by Tara’s stare.

Tara was met with a magnificent stone bridge as the group reached the end of the village. It seemed to serve as the connecting point between those of royal blood and those of common blood.

In the middle of the bridge stood a slightly older couple, one with hair as red as fire and the other with hair as black as coal. Ariel and Eric. It was them!

Jaime quickened his speed, dragging Tara behind him, before stopping before his parents.

His mother, Ariel, smiled as she reached out to embrace Jaime. She whispered something to him, causing him to blush as he stepped back and looked toward his father.

“I’m proud of you son,” Eric assessed before looking at the group as a whole once more. “We must hurry, the majority of the Council is already here and has been anticipating your arrival.”

With that, Eric turned and started for the castle, the group following suit.

Tara’s eyes swept side to side frantically as she tried to pinpoint an escape route through the sunlit hallways. Tara crashed into Jaime’s back as the group came to a stop. She mumbled an apology as the two mountainous doors before they swept open, unveiling Tara to the seated beasts.

Tara’s blood ran cold as they walked into the room. She glanced from famous face to famous face before finally settling on the one face she had been dying to see: Marlene. Tara began to struggle against Jaime’s grasp, calling out to Marlene, who wrestled against the arms of a boy their age.

Jaime jolted her before finally stopping before the largest throne within the circle. At the top, it sat a frail and wrinkled man. Tara became frozen under the man’s strong gaze. She felt Marlene brush against her arm but continued to stay frozen under the man’s stare.

Minutes passed before the man finally spoke, “Now as I have understood, we have a bit of a predicament on our hands.”

A woman with curly hair and olive skin scoffed, “If by a predicament, you mean the fact that all peace as we know it could very well be destroyed, then yes, this is a predicament.”

“What can we do to fix this?” a man draped in red called across the room.

The frail man smirked before declaring, “There is nothing we can do, for the trials have been passed and therefore the roles have been laid.”

Chaos ensued as the people within the room broke out in outrage. How can you risk our children’s lives? What of the balance of peace, is it not now unbalanced? This is madness!

“I think that shall be enough of this nonsense, now,” a familiar voice called out causing the room to become silent once more. Tara managed to turn herself around in Jaime’s slacked grip and found herself facing Headmistress Thornview.

Chapter 6: An Unspoken Night

“Hello my dears,” the Headmistress called as she approached the shocked girls. “Now, I know this is all probably a bit much, but I do hope that you will stay for a while because, well, you see; Fairybrook has been awaiting your arrival for ages.”

Gasps filled the room once again as frantic whispers wrapped themselves around Tara. She glanced around the room once more and found that the once disgusted faces had become ashen at the news.

Thoughts whizzed through Marlene’s mind as she tried to process the new information. Awaiting their arrival? How could that be? Marlene decided to voice these thoughts, “What do you mean, ‘Fairybrook’s been awaiting our arrival?”

The Headmistress sighed at Marlene’s tone before questioning, “Do you girls remember me telling you of a man named Alastor and how many believe he is waiting for the prophecy to come true?”

Marlene and Tara nodded, confused at where their Headmistress was trekking. Sensing their confusion, the Headmistress continued, “Many years ago, right before you two were born, a woman came to see me at my father’s school. She claimed to know of who the prophecy was speaking of. ‘Two girls,’ she claimed, “Two girls from the Mainland. One with a fiery mane and the other with a crown of gold shall be the salvation for both the new and the old.’ For years I have searched the mainland, looking for these prophesied children, when I finally met you two.”

Tara and Marlene glanced at each other, trying to process the Headmistress’s words. “Don’t you two see? You are our salvation.”

“Salvation from what,” Tara questioned as frantic thoughts swarmed through her brain.

This time a chesnut-haired woman clothed in a vibrant yellow responded, “Salvation from Alastor.”

“But I thought that Alastor had already been defeated,” Marlene countered.

The Headmistress sighed, dejected, “So did we all, but it seems that he has only been biding his time. We received word of a sighting of him in Camelot a few months ago and since then, sightings and instances of Alastor have tripled.”

A golden-haired man rose near Tara, assessing the room before speaking, “A few weeks ago I received word from one of Merlin’s inner sources in the villains’ neck of the woods. His source has claimed that Alastor has shown face among them, recruiting individuals to join his army.”

“What would Alastor need with an army, Arthur,” Eric questioned.

“Please we all know what Alastor’s planning,” the chesnut-haired woman chirped out, “I mean he’s been at it for years.” The room stared at the woman, awaiting her to further elaborate. The woman huffed, “He wants to destroy the peace within Fairybrook and the Mainland, allowing him to have total control of both.”

“While this is all very important information, none of it helps solve our current issue with these mixed-up endings,” the blonde woman beside the red-cladded man spoke.

Aurora and Philip Tara noticed. Several of the individuals nodded their heads in agreement with Aurora’s statement.

Sir Dwayne rose slowly from his throne before finally speaking again, “While I understand that many of you are concerned about what has occurred with your children’s endings, seeing as they have passed their exam; I’m afraid that nothing can be done to redo these endings.”

The adults broke out in outrage again, demanding that something must be done.

The Headmistress snapped her fingers and a frigid wind raced through the room, silencing the frantic conversations. “There is something,” she tisked.

Sir Dwayne began to shake his head fervently, “No. Absolutely not.”

“No,” Philip firmly spoke, “If there is something that can be done, then let us know.”

They all looked eagerly at the Headmistress, anticipating her next words. “There is something that can be done, but I must first warn you that this is not some simple child’s play, but is filled with many dangers.”

They all nodded in understanding, urging the Headmistress to continue, “In order for one to change their ending they must complete the Trial of Stories.”

Chapter 7: The Trial of Stories

Confusion painted itself across several of the kids’ faces as they looked around the room, hoping for someone to explain this nonsense to them.

The Headmistress was the first to catch on to their confusion, “The Trial of Stories takes place in the Everwoods. The individual/individuals who wish to change their fate must make it through Everwoods-”

“So you’re telling me that all I have to do is just walk through some woods?” a lanky blonde girl blurted out.

“Not quite, my dear Flora,” the Headmistress started, “In order for you to make it through these woods, then you must battle against and defeat the villains that your parents once faced.”

“I refuse to send my darling Flora in there alone,” Aurora exclaimed feverishly.

“Well, then I suppose that it will be good news to hear that she won’t be going in alone.”

The parents whirled towards the Headmistress who continued, “The children will not be performing the trial alone, but rather together as a team. Now we don’t have much time before we can begin so please hurry along and say your goodbyes.”

The parents and children shared both cordial and tearful goodbyes as Marlene reached out to grab Tara’s hand and squeezed in reassurance. Tara squeezed back as the parents made their way through the mountainous doors and into the hall, leaving the eight children alone with the Headmistress and Sir Dwayne.

“Now, my dears, let us begin,” the Headmistress chirped out.

Sir Dwayne rose from his throne and slowly made his way to stand before a tall, lanky boy whose midnight hair clashed with his porcelain skin. “Fabian White, son of Snow White and Prince Florian, do you wish to compete in this trial?”

“I do.”

Sir Dwayne moved to stand before the blonde from earlier. “Flora Rose, daughter of Aurora and Philip, do you wish to compete in this trial?”


Sir Dwayne moved to the next child, a muscular blonde who look similar to the golden-haired man from before. “Wren Pendragon, son of Arthur and Guinevere Pendragon, do you wish to compete in this trial?

“Of course Sire.”

Once more, Sir Dwayne moved to the next child, a quaint girl who Tara noticed had roses pulling her brunette hair back. “Anica Thorne, daughter of Belle and Adam, do you wish to compete in this trial?”


Sir Dwayne had now reached the boy who had hold of Marlene earlier. “Corin Hood, son of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, do you wish to compete in this trial?”

“I do.”

He now stood before Marlene. “Marlene Weathers, Mainlander, do you wish to compete in this trial?”

“I do,” Marlene squeaked out.

Tara now stood face to face with him as his eyes pierced straight through her soul. “Tara Lynn, Mainlander, do you wish to compete in this trial?”

Tara simply nodded, for fear that nothing would come out if she were to say it.

Sir Dwayne had now reached the end of the line, resting in front of Jaime. “Jameson Finn the sixth, son of Ariel and Eric, do you wish to compete in this trial?”

“I do Sire.”

“Well now that that’s out of the way, it is time to begin,” the Headmistress exclaimed.

Tara groaned as the mist began to ensue them. She fought against the temptation of sleep but finally succumbed. The last thing she heard was the Headmistress calling out, “Remember, you’re a team for a reason!”

Chapter 8: The Everwoods

Tara awoke from her state in the mist and was met with a frigid wind circling around her. She felt something cold and wet hit her face as she turned around, noticing the other kids, as well as where they were.

“Why are we on top of my parents’ castle?” Anica questioned, confused.

Tara noticed Marlene amongst the small crowd and moved towards her, stopping when she noticed the bulky man that stalked toward them.

Tara remembered the Headmistress’s words, “battle against and defeat the villains that your parents once faced.” The man was Gaston!

“Um guys,” Fabian called out, “Is it just me, or are y’all also seeing the crazy scary guy heading this way?”

“That isn’t some guy,” Tara responded, “It’s Gaston.” Tara felt a whoosh of wind race by her ear and heard a loud clack behind her. She turned to see a small silver dagger lodged into the castle’s stone. Something was now dripping from the tip of her ear.

The group began to panic as Gaston neared them. Wren and Jaime unsheeted their swords and moved to stand at the front of the group, preparing for what was to come.

Tara’s thoughts raced as she tried to piece together a plan. ‘Your parents once faced.’ These villains had been defeated once by their parents.

“Anica!,” Tara whipped her head towards her, “How did your father defeat Gaston in your parents’ story?’

“Are you seriously asking for a history lesson at a time like this?” Anica questioned, aghast.

“Yes! Now please just answer the question!”

“He pushed him off the tower,” Anica rushed out as the group began to back up, trying to maintain as much space as possible between them and Gaston. Tara stumbled over something behind her and turned to see a small boulder that had cracked away from the castle’s exterior.

Suddenly piecing everything together, Tara grabbed the rock and approached the front of the group.

“Tara what are you doing,” Jaime snipped out, “back up!”

Tara didn’t listen as she threw the rock at Gaston and held her breath for what would happen next. Taken aback by the rock, Gaston stumbled back and lost his footing, suffering at the hands of a fate he had met once before many years ago.

Before anyone could address what had happened, the scene around the ground began to melt away and soon the group found themselves on a swaying ship.

Tara and Jaime looked at one another as they realized where their next task would take place. The woods seem to know that they had already completed this task earlier as the waves crashed harder into the ship. Harder and harder they crashed as the group struggled to remain on their feet.

“Considering this is your parents’ villain Jaime, a plan would be great right about now,” Fabian called out to Jaime as he gripped the rope on the stern.

Tara looked to Jaime who seemed frozen in shock. “Jaime,” she called out but was met with no answer. “Jaime,” she tried again and was met with success. Jaime settled his eyes on her, silently begging her to help him.

“It’s ok, Jaime. It’s going to be okay. Just think about what you did last time. How did you stop Ursula during your test?” Tara urged, relaxing as she noticed Jaime’s gears turning in full gear.

“The ship,” he mumbled.

“Couldn’t quite hear you there bud,” Fabian called out.

“The ship,” Jaime yelled. “I sail the ship into her.”

Tara began to stand, grabbing whatever she could as she made her way closer and closer to the wheel. She wrapped her hands around the wood and began to frantically turn the wheel, sailing the ship right into the heart of the storm.

With a crunch and a cry of pain, the scene began to melt around the group again, and soon they found themselves standing before a rose-infested castle. A shriek filled the air as the group tried to gather their surroundings and soon they were met with the sight of a monstrous beast sorrowing overhead. Maleficient.

Chapter 9: The Final Battle

The group ran for their lives, searching for cover from the fiery explosions that Maleficient expelled.

“If anyone has a plan right now, I would love to hear it,” Corin expressed.

“Yeah, Flora, now would be a good time,” Fabian called out before sliding to the side, in hopes of avoiding the dangerous flames.

“I don’t know what you want me to do about it,” Flora whined.

Thoughts continued to dance around feverishly in Tara’s mind as she raced through the different endings the Headmistress had taught her about before she finally found the one she needed.

She glanced up towards the castle before them and noticed Maleficient perched on the cliff near it. Realizing what she must do, she sped up, swerving through the group before her eyes locked on the back of Jaime’s head, his sword catching the light of the fire.

“We need to get up there,” Tara called out to the group, pointing in the direction of the cliff.

Jaime and Corin switched directions and began to lead the group toward the cliff. Tara’s heart pounded in her chest as they neared the cliff closer and closer. Closer and closer.

The group stopped at the cliff, staring at the terrifying beast before them. Seconds ticked by as the group waited with baited breaths to see who would make the first move. Before anyone of them could so much as blink their eyes, Maleficient pounced.

Tara heard a yelp as Maleficient reached out to Wren and Anica, swiping them into the thorn bushes that surrounded them.

Another shout filled the air, as her tail whipped through Flora, Corin, and Fabian. Terror began to truly set into Tara’s bones as half of her group layed on the ground in pain. The scrape of metal on metal filled the air and Tara turned to see Jaime holding his unsheathed sword, racing head-on toward the raging dragon.

Tara watched stunned as Maleficient roared out when Jaime’s sword made contact. Tara felt a hand shaking her and turned to see Marlene holding a rope in her hand.

“Hold the other end of this and help me hold it behind her and we can defeat her how Philip did by distracting her.

The two girls raced to where the fight was taking place, and moved to stand behind Maleficient at opposite ends, each girl holding an end of the rope.

They pulled the rope tight as Jaime through his sword at the creature, its aim true. Maleficient roared, throwing herself back, and stumbled on the rope behind her, falling back in defeat.

As Jaime’s sword returned to his sheath, the remaining three of the group waited for the scenes to change but they remained in the story. Their heads whipped behind around as the sound of crunching could be heard behind them.

They froze at the man that stood before them. Alastor. He clapped his hands together in a mocking manner as his lips curled deceitfully. “Well, I must say that I’m impressed.”

Jaime unsheathed his sword once more and held it out, snarling. “Oh please, your highness have mercy,” Alastor drawled out in a menacing manner as he flicked his fingers to the side, throwing Jaime into the briar bushes.

Alastor now addressed the two remaining girls, “Now, I have been awaiting you two for a very long time. You see, you two will be the ones to help me bring Fairybrook and that pathetic Mainland crashing down.”

Before he could say anything else, Marlene grabbed Tara’s hand and dragged her into a small path in the briar bushes and out to the woods.

Wind ripped past as Tara ran faster and faster into the forest. Trees blurred past her and the ground slammed against her feet. Feeling something behind her, she turned back, missing the root in front of her. Pain exploded through her as she slammed into the ground.

Tara turned back to see the Alastor behind her creeping closer and closer. She frantically began to attempt to crawl away but her arms gave out from under her. She turned around, defeated, and faced Alastor.

“You should've given up when you still had a chance,” he hissed.

Tara wheezed out a laugh, “But that’s not a part of the story, is it?”

“It’s time for a new story deary,” the Alastor cackled, reaching his arms out for Tara.

Tara scooted back, trying to expand the space between the two. She felt cold metal between her hand and looked down to see Jaime’s sword. How had Jaime’s sword ended up in the woods? She grabbed its handle and went to raise it.

Noticing her movements, Alastor unsheathed his own sword, “So this is how we’re going to end this,” he taunted as he advanced on her. Unknown instincts took over Tara and she found herself battling against Alastor.

The sound of swords clashing against one another was the only sound that filled Tara’s ears as she swung the sword against Alastor’s again and again. She noticed Alastor stumble over a branch and used his moment of weakness to strike, her aim true, but Alastor’s aim was true as well as he crumbled to the ground.

“Tara! Tara, where are you?” Tara heard voices as she remained stuck in place.

“Oh, Tara, there you are. Why didn’t you answer any of us? Tara? “ Marlene called out, gasping as she finally noticed Tara’s state.

Marlene ran forward and caught Tara as she crumbled to the ground. “It’s ok, Tara. It’s going to be okay. Headmistress,” Marlene looked to the Headmistress that Tara failed to see. “Please help she begged.”

The Headmistress kneeled beside the two girls, her hands brushing Tara. “Close your eyes Tara and all shall be ok. I promise, and with that Tara welcomed the darkness, the Headmistress’s warm eyes still dancing around in her mind.

Gasps escaped Tara as she jolted awake and found herself in room 214. She looked at Marlene’s bed and found her sleeping peacefully. For a moment Tara thought that perhaps it had all been a dream. But it was only for a moment as Tara turned to see a delicate pink rose laying on her nightstand with a note that read Until next time Mainlander. -J. She smiled to herself and allowed sleep to take over, ready for tomorrow and the long talk she would have with the Headmistress.

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