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The King smiled to himself as he plucked an apple from a tree. The midday sun was gentle and pleasant as it shone revealing light into the forest clearing in which the King stood. Daffodils of pink and white surrounded the man, and he made a curious face as he gently placed the apple into his satchel. He knelt down to pick one, lifting it to his nose and taking in the flower's heavenly scent. The coos of doves, the prancing of two nearby does, the dance of a butterfly he had disturbed; it was far too much to keep his mind from wandering.

"Daffodil," he thought. "My wife would love that name…"

With that, he produced a small journal and opened it to a list of fifteen feminine names, adding "Daffodil" as the sixteenth. The baby blue butterfly he had disturbed once again came to rest on the flower he now held. The King, pitying the creature, set the flower down with utmost care so it could peacefully feed on the remaining nectar. He plucked another flower, smaller but just as pretty, and stood up to return home. The King fixed his ivory hair and straightened his cape. He giggled silently and spoke.

"That's a new hiding spot. Were I not myself, I'd not've noticed you."

The Huntress regained her visibility and aimed her crossbow at the King. The King raised an eyebrow and smiled, amused. She was no older than his wife's newest servant girl. Her hair was dirt brown and messy, her skin fair and freckled. Her practical hunting wear accented her soldier's physique. Although a demonic fox mask shielded her eyes, the King knew she was furious.

"One funny move and you're dead, you bastard," she spat.

The King smiled, "Guilty as charged! May I be of service?"

"I know my brother's not dead."

"We all 'know' things we don't," said the King. "You should go home."

"Return my brother and I wi-"

The King was suddenly standing right in front of the girl with his now bloody sword raised to the sky. The Huntress's head fell to the ground, her final terrified expression frozen on her face.

The King entered his wife's study. Her sullen, crimson eyes looked over a book, but brightened when they looked up to see her beloved. Setting the book down, she reached for the little girl playing with dolls at her feet, the child giggling as the elegant woman lifted her up, snuggling her face into the cool-as-night black dress. The Queen shot a somewhat naughty grin to her husband and sauntered over to him, reaching out a snow-white hand to him that he then laid a gentle kiss on.

"I missed you like life itself," he whispered.

"It's been an hour, love."

"One of torment. Has my Princess behaved herself?"

The girl giggled once more and threw her arms about the King in a clumsy embrace. The King smiled and took the girl from the Queen.

"I've something for you, Starflower," he said, voice dripping with adoration as he produced the apple from his satchel. It was a dark purple with tiny lights about it, perfectly mimicking the night sky. It had the scent of something unlike anything, sweeter than one could comprehend.

"For you, and only you."

The girl squealed with joy and bit into it, devouring it like a starved wolf to a lamb.

"A ravenous little creature," said the King as he put the child down. She scurried off as the Queen returned to her chair, her dress only subtly shifting with the movement of her legs, legs the King immensely wanted wrapped around his waist.

The King scolded himself for the thought; there was work yet to do, after all. His wife looked to him and smiled, although her expression had a hint of curiosity.

"Care to explain the apple?"

"Ah, yes," he said. "It's Hope."

The Queen let out a laugh. "Pardon?"

"It's the concept of Hope placed inside an apple," he elaborated. "Now it's completely enslaved to her will, hers to control."

The Queen pulled a lock of raven hair behind her ear and looked at her husband in a way that most often resulted in the man—

"Down, boy," the King thought to himself. He pushed the thought down and smiled innocently at her.

"And that dirty little fox girl?"

"Blood on my sword."

"A shame, she'd've made a fine servant. Shall I have our bed prepared?"

The King pondered this, temptation on his face, but waved the vile thoughts away. "Not right away, I'm afraid. I've been putting this off for too long."

The Queen pouted for a moment, but soothed her disappointment by falling back into her book. The King entered the dungeons.

The King was met with a punch to the jaw as he entered the cell. He simply smiled at his attacker, a tall, rather plump bearded man with striking orange hair, The man was dirty and in rags, his eyes flooded with hate, evidently of the King. He was bruised and had a slight limp, but his punch was lightning.

"You seem upset," said the King.

"Where's my daughter?" demanded the man, his voice gruff and parched.

"Eating well. A spirited little one."

"Human flesh, yes?" asked the man, sarcastic, but with slight fear in his voice.

The King chuckled. "Nothing so brutish. Only the concept of Hope itself."

The man's face dropped. "She's…like you now?"

"If I have any say in the matter, better than me."

Tears fell from the man's eyes. He wiped them off and glared at the King. "Have you come just to torture me with my daughter's fate as your toy?"

"I am not that kind of man. Your people only execute criminals who are healthy and uninjured, yes? Those ready to face death at full strength? I figured, as thanks to you and your wife for providing us such a wonderful little girl, I'd provide you and your wife with a proper death."

The man sighed. "Anything else?"

"Your sister has been taken care of."

"You…wretch…" replied the prisoner in horror.

The King rolled his eyes. "Well, I suppose that's goodbye. Shall I say anything to your wife?"

The man raised an eyebrow.

"Oh come now, an injured or sick man couldn't strike me so hard."

The man's eyes began to widen. Then his head hit the floor.

It was night, the Princess took the last bite of her apple and discarded it. The handmaid tucked her gently into her bed and hurried away as she heard the footsteps of the King. The girl's father entered and gave a quick smile to the maid as she left. He sat down at his daughter's bed, patting her head as she hugged him tightly.

"Good night, Lovely. Was your day as sweet as you?" he inquired, pinching her cheek.

She giggled and nodded eagerly.

"Amazing. I hope my treat for you was heavenly," he said, staring at her like a moth to a light.

The King kissed his daughter's forehead. "You've consumed my heart alongside that apple, you know? Sweet dreams, my little Daffodil."

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