Thought I’d try to write a story based on the prompt. I was a bit rushed, so not my best, but hopefully you”ll like it!
A streak of sunlight slid across the cave floor, finally coming to rest on the face of a sleeping girl. Her eyes wrinkled in the bright light, but remained shut as she rolled over, mumbling incomprehensibly. The sunlight now shone on her back, covered by a long, heavy gown. It had originally been a different color, but now it was stained a dark brown from years of dirt and dust. A hand reached behind her to itch the spot where the sunlight hit. She snorted a few times in her sleep, then rolled completely out of the way of the ray of light, hitting the opposite wall of the cave.
Her dirty golden hair tumbled into her face, loose pins dangling from the knotted strands. Filth clung to her whole head, which must have once been a gorgeous color, but now was so grimy and tangled that it looked like a rat’s nest was perched on her head. Her mouth fell slightly open, a trickle of drool sliding down her chin as her face flopped onto her arm. Underneath the grime coating her face resided perfectly pale and smooth skin, covering up high cheekbones. Her eyelids were small hills sloping down to full and luscious brown eyelashes, even though dust now clung to their tips.
A dainty, slender hand stretched out from under her head, sprawled on the cave floor. Her fingernails were incrusted with dirt. Two grubby shoes lay carelessly on the cave floor, kicked off long ago in one of her fitful sleeps. Her feet were nowhere to be seen, tucked somewhere away under the many begrimed layers of her gown.
Her snores stopped abruptly as her head dropped from her arm to the rocky floor. She nodded her head uncomfortably, but did not wake. The sunlight glared through every small crack in the cave, making little dots of light shimmer on the floor. A few danced on the girl’s face, causing her to twitch. And yet still, her slumber went on interrupted.
The old witch emerged from the dark corner of the cave. Draped in heavy black robes, she smirked, satisfied with her work. A wrinkled, pockmarked hand appeared from underneath her sleeve, with gruesome, cracked, black fingernails. She snapped her fingers, creating a small ball of light. It illuminated her face in the dark cave, shadowing every blemish and wart, every yellow stain on her misshapen teeth.
She took a menacing step towards the sleeping girl, leering at her. For a few moments, she stared at the girl, her black eyes glittering with malice. Finally, she turned away and murmured a few words at the glowing ball of light. It grew bigger and bigger, until it was the size of the cave wall. The old witch took a step towards it, then took one last glance at the sleeping girl. Already two had tried, and failed, to wake her. That left only one more to go. With that, the witch stepped into the light and vanished in a flash, the light blinking out instantly. The sunlight crawling through the cracks was the only remaining light.
The soft clip-clop of hooves carried through the thick evergreen trees.
“Williamson,” a man’s voice boomed, “Are we there yet?”
“I’m not sure, sir. The old lady’s directions weren’t too clear,” a whiny male voice responded, “But I think if we just come through here – ah, here we are.” A small, seedy-looking man with sandy, disheveled hair emerged from the trees on foot, holding apart the branches. Another man riding tall upon his horse followed through the gap in the trees. His hair was a rich brown, swept across his forehead, complementing the brown flakes in his emerald green eyes. His clothes, however, paled by comparison. He wore a simple brown tunic over dark tights, similar to those of his companion.
“Here we are, sir,” Williamson spoke, gesturing to the small mountain of rock before them.
“Williamson,” The young man on the horse said, his powerful voice ringing, “I do believe you have the wrong place. You see, this is a rock.”
“Yes, sir, I realize that,” Williamson said encouragingly. He went up to the rock and gestured to it. “The princess is behind the rock. In the cave.”
“Ah.” The young man slid off his horse and swaggered over to the wall. “But how do we get in? You see, Mother wants me to marry a princess, and I seem to be running out of options. The one in the castle already had a husband, the one in the swamp was absolutely hideous –“
“You came close with the one in Helmby, sir. You were almost past the dragon when he hit you with his tail,” Williamson offered up enthusiastically.
“Yes, yes, I know,” The young man said, running his hand over the stone wall contemplatively, “But I need to get this princess, or else Mother will be very disappointed.” He suddenly raised his large hand and knocked smartly on the wall. “Hello?” He called loudly, “Is anyone home? It is I, Edward of Winterdell, come to rescue you.” He gave a few more knocks, then sighed.
“Ah, well, perhaps we’ll have better luck next time.” He walked over to his horse, who was munching contently on the grass, and swung his right leg over.
“Wait, sir! You do remember, the princess is asleep. She is not able to wake up, and that is why she may not be able to hear you.” Williamson hurried over to Edward’s side, holding his palms up.
“Oh.” Edward coughed awkwardly into his hand, then recovered from his embarrassment, swinging himself back off his horse. “Of course I remembered, Williamson. I was only jesting.”
“Oh, well, ha ha, then sir, very amusing,” Williamson smiled and offered up his best laugh.
“It’s no time for jokes, Williamson,” Edward intoned seriously, now pacing up and down in front of the wall. “We must concentrate on the matter at hand.” He stopped walking to inspect something at the base of the rock, as Williamson babbled on the background.
“Of course, sir, I would never dare to not take your very noble, and very meaningful quest – oh, very important also, very very important – seriously. I am forever here to help and serve you. I do apologize and hope that –“
“Williamson,” Edward interrupted, studying intently something at the base of the rock. “Do come here.” Williamson immediately stopped talking and stooped down next to Edward. A small pebble lay on the ground. On it, the words Pick me up were inscribed. Both men looked at the pebble for a small while, then Williamson turned to face Edward.
“Sir, I wouldn’t –“ But Edward’s hand had already shot down to seize the pebble. The moment he did, they both heard an awful scream. Startled, the two men looked up to see a large green bird hurdling towards them. Williamson let out a high-pitched scream and Edward turned around and ran right smack into the rock. Instead of hitting it, though, he passed right through it as if it were butter.
Suddenly, it all was dark and he tripped over something and sprawled out on the ground. Groggily, he blinked a few times, trying to straighten out his senses. His eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, and his head stopped spinning. He sat himself up. In front of him lay the dirtiest princess he had ever seen. Every inch of her seemed to be covered in dirt and grime, and her mouth hung open as she snored.
Edward cringed at the sight of the dried drool on her chin. “Ew,” he muttered, standing up. Try to be a little nicer, he chided himself, Princesses are in short supply, and this one has been sleeping for some hundred or so years.
Swallowing his disgust, he knelt over the princess. He lifted up one hand and closed her mouth. The snoring ceased. He slid the other behind her head, ignoring the coarse feeling of her hair. Taking a deep breath, he swooped down and pecked her on the lips as fast as he could.
“Whew,” He said, reaching his hand up to wipe his brow and dropping her head in the process. Her eyes shot open as her head hit the floor with a bang.
“Ow,” She moaned, lifting her hand to her head. “Ew!” She exclaimed, pulling it away quickly, eyes big at the dust clinging to her fingertips.
“I’m Ed-,” Edward started to state, but a angry cry from behind cut him off. Spinning around, he saw an ugly old witch steaming like a hot potato.
“No!” She screeched, taking a step towards them, flapping her arms like an overgrown bird. “You’ve broken my spell!” She ran towards him, squinting her eyes angrily.
“How did you know?” She shrieked, pulling on his shirt.
“Know what?” Edward asked, trying not to vomit as he stared, repulsed, at her blackened fingernails.
“That the third time was the charm!” She howled, clawing at him. “I made it so she could only wake up to the third person who kissed her! That way, after two failures, people would assume she would never wake up!”
Slowly, Edward removed her hands from him, revolted.
“I had no idea other men had tried to wake her.” He said. “We live far from most towns and no town crier is willing to walk up the mountain to our house. My assistant, Williamson, had just heard there was a princess here, so we decided to try our luck.”
“You stupid boy!” She wailed, then disappeared in a flash of smoke. Just then, the rock blocking the cave wall began to inch a tiny bit to the left. Edward whirled around, only to see Williamson’s face appear in the tiny crack.
“May we leave now, sir? This bird is very vicious.”
“Look, Williamson,” Edward gestured theatrically to the bored looking princess. “The third time was the charm!”