Warnings: Bad language and M/M sexual situations.
Disclaimer: The Bee owns none of the characters used
in this story.
Summary: A new take on the old fable of Rumpelstiltskin.
Xander is held in the tower prison of the evil King Liam and has
been ordered to spin a roomful of straw to gold. Can he do
it? Is there someone who can help?
Author's note: This story is not betaed or spell checked by anyone but me.
If there are errors that you simply have to point out, feel free but don't be upset
if I don't care.
Comments are greatly appreciated.
Thanks to Naughty Fae for the pre-read and encouragement
Link to previous chapters HERE
Far to the north, in the most remote area of the kingdom of the O'Connor's lay a forest of
mystery and fear. With a canopy of dense, thick tree cover high overhead, the wind is
prevented from reaching in with its tendrils of clean, fresh air and the sun is blocked
from shining through the tangled web of branches maintaining the forest proper in a state
of perpetual twilight.
Within the belly of this forest, the overgrowth of ground foliage held the earth in a damp,
dank state. The moss that grew on the trunks of the trees flourished in a thick, green sponge
that reeked of decay. It is a place of sluggish silence as even the wildlife seem to chose
hunger over the active search for food within the land of death.
It is an area of the kingdom where no man in his right mind would wander and not even the
lure of the abundance of timber could coax the bravest to venture. It is a place of whispers
and secrets. Of shadows, superstitions and things that move about in the peripheral. Never
quite seen but there none the less. It is a site that inspires tales told by old men around a
late-night wood fire.
And for one, pathetic, twisted creature, it is home.
Deep in the heart of the forest that the peasants call the Hellmouth, lives a monster. Or so it
is told. Seen by only a few lost or wandering souls, tales of the creature have held the
nearby villages in the grip of fear for years.
Often, in the cold dark of the night, around the warming fires in the pubs and taverns,
the witnesses could, on promise of a flagon of ale, be coaxed to tell and retell their
harrowing stories of encountering the strange and horrible beast.
Although the days and times may shift and contradict as the details become foggy in their
minds, one thing remains cohesive and sure and that is the description of the demon they
have come to call the Dibbuk.
They say he is short with the physical body of a muscular human man. He walks upright on
two legs but with a hunched-back stance on bare feet, calloused and tough from the lack of
shoe leather. The clothes on his back are tattered, filthy and torn as if they have been worn
for years to the point of becoming a part of him.
His skin is pale and luminescent. It appears like no skin of a human being and almost glows
in the soft, blue moonlight. He has never been spotted during the day and, therefore it is
believed that the creature is strictly nocturnal. His hands are smallish but accentuated with
long, clawed fingers tipped with ragged dirty nails that swipe through the air in a slashing
motion when an interloper dares enter his space.
The sounds he makes are indistinct. Animalistic. Demonic. He barks and howls as if he
is incapable of civilized words and conversation however, no villager has hung around
long enough to find out.
But all that have seen him agree that the worst, the most marked and memorable thing about
the devil creature is his face. His horrible, inhumane face.
"What was it like, Edgar? Tell us again."
Old Edgar Potter sat in the seat nearest the blazing, stone fireplace in the Squat and Gobble
pub. He held out his tall, ample stein to be refilled as he prepared to recant a tale he had
told more than a dozen times in the past year and would eagerly tell a dozen more. Unlike
his other stories, this one needed no embellishment. The horror of it stood on it's own and
the terror of his encounter still sent shivers of fear racing through his body as he recalled
that moment of coming face to face with the fabled Dibbuk.
With a swipe of his dirty forefinger to the underside of his nose, Edgar began. "T'was a dark
and lonely night, me boys and I had hiked far too far beyond the borders of what is safe and
held under the watchful eye of God hisself. Hunger had coaxed me deeper into the wood
than I had ever gone before in search of a rabbit or gopher to fatten the pot of me woman's stew."
Edgar nodded his head as his mug was again topped to the brim with the foamy drink and
silence filled the small room as every man fixated on the web that Edgar was spinning. The
glow of the orange flames flickered over his weather-worn face accentuating the wrinkles at
the corners of his squinting eyes and down turned mouth.
"The moon was full and high in the sky but the deeper I went, the darker my path until I
could barely see me own feet at the bottoms of me legs. About that time I began to notice
that the further I walked, the quieter it became. The tree frogs did not chirp and the crickets
lay silent in the tall grass. The smell of death hung in the air and suddenly a sickness began
to fall over me. Me head went light and fuzzy and me stomach threatened to give up
the mushrooms and roots I had et earlier. Even though I had only two small hare in me pouch,
I knew I had gone far enough. It was time to turn back. Me woman's wrath was easier to
face than whatever lay hidden in the bowels of that wood. As I turned to go, I heard, off to
me left, a ferocious crashing of hooves. An animal of great size was running through
the branches in a path headed very near me and I could not resist the thought of how many
meals that much meat would supply."
Edgar paused to take took a swallow of his ale while the others, including the barkeep
scooted their wooden chairs closer as the story took a frightening turn.
After a sour belch, Edgar continued. "I took off a runnin' as fast as me legs would carry me
to follow the sound. I darted in a direction that I thought would cut the animal off as I
fumbled for the knife that was sheathed at me belt. Tripping over the downed branches
and rocks in the black of the forest, me hunger drove me foolishly toward the sound of the
source of the food that would fill me family's bellies for weeks. I put aside me better
judgements and within minutes, I knew I was close. The animal had to be just a few feet
ahead so I slowed to quiet me footfall and stay downwind of me scent hoping to give me
the element of surprise. But it were me that was in for the surprise. Just as I got near
enough that I could hear the great buck snorting and kicking its hooves, something happened
that stopped me dead in me tracks."
Edgar sighed and fell silent for a dramatic pause. After a moment. as expected, young
Ernest Givens coaxed him on. "What was it? What happened? Fuck me sideways, Edgar,
don't stop there."
Edgar rubbed his calloused hand over the stubble on his chin. "What happened was that I
was just a scant few feet from me dinner. I had me blade clutched in me hand ready to slice
his throat with a clean cut. But then, just as I was ready to pounce, the sound of the
animal suddenly changed. It weren't running no more and from the sound of a scuffle, it
weren't alone. What I heard was the scream of a doe that was fighting fer its very life and
I heard the howls of the critter that done caught it. I knew I should head fer the hills. I knew
I should disappear before whatever got that there deer got me too, but me feet just would not
go. Me stomach was full of the weight of the scare but, me foolish eyes bid me just one look."
Muttle Bolt, the barkeeper's cousin reared back in his chair and he pointed an angry,
accusing finger toward the story teller. "You is stupid, Edgar! You is just plain.... Did
you look? Did you? What did you see? Good God, man, what the fuck did you see?"
Edgar nodded his acknowledgement that his actions that night were of a fool hearty man and
he took the chastising in the spirit it was given while he tried to verbalize the unexplainable.
"The yowl was that of a big cat more than a wolf and when it bellered fer the second time,
the doe fell quiet and dead. Quick as you please, I heard the snap of its great neck. When
that happened, me skin crawled but I still had to see what sort of beast had taken the supper
off me table. So, I crept forward. I stayed low in the brush and crawled through the
branches and tall grass that would swipe at me face. With each inch I moved, I could see
a bit better and as I neared a clearing in the high trees a shard of moonlight crept in. When
I was near enough to get a good look, I pressed me body flat against the trunk of a tall oak
and I peeked only me head around. What I saw was nothing less than the face of evil. I
swear me boys, it was the Dibbuk hisself."
Edgar took a big gulp to fortify himself as the others recoiled and gasp in horror.
"How... How do you.... What did it look like?"
Edgar paused. It was always this part of the story that he hated most and he knew that
the retelling would bring back the nightmares that haunted him ever since that night. "It was
a man, but not. It had white, long flowing hair such as the mane on a regal horse yet there
was nothing regal about his face. It was deformed. His brow was ridged and deep. His
ears were pointed and his chin pronounced. His mouth dripped with blood and he had the
fangs of a panther buried deep in the throat of the poor dead deer. But the worst, dear
sweet mother of God, the worst was his eyes. They glowed as yellow as the sky of a burning
fire and as bright as the flame itself. When he looked in my direction, I ain't ashamed to
admit me water let loose and me britches were wet to the knees."
Muttle sat back in his chair. The blood ran as cold in his veins as if he had been there that
night himself. "Did he see you? Did the Dibbuk spot you? How did you escape with your life?"
Edgar swallowed the last of his bitter ale and the answer choked in his throat. "I don't know if
he saw me or not. If he did, he made no show if it. May chance he was too busy with his
supper of blood. It was sickening to see the beast as he growled and shook the limp body
of the dead creature all the while draining it of every last drop. When I finally came to meself,
I knew I could be next. That was when I turned and ran. I ran and ran not even noticing that
I cut me legs on the briars and bruised me toes against the stones and stumps. I ran till me
heart wanted exploding and me lungs screamed to stop. I ran till I reached the edge of the
forest and I ran until I saw the light of me own safe cottage and I'll tell you true, me boys, ain't
no amount of fresh meat will ever coax me back into the black forest of the beast again!"
Every man in the tavern sat back in their seats and exhaled in a collective sound that
signaled their appreciation of the magnitude of the story and the moral implications.
Some superstitions were silly old wives tales and some should be given the weight of
gold and respected as such. There was no doubt in any man's mind that the beast of the
forest was real.
"Spike. Spike. Hey, you in there?"
Spike rolled over on his bed of thick, soft, green moss and he slowly opened his eyes. The
dark walls of his cave protected and surrounded him as he stirred reluctantly from his
sound sleep. Rolling over onto his side, he drew himself to a sitting position then rose fluidly
to his feet before stretching his arms high over his head. He yawned and languidly scratched
his scalp as he came fully awake.
After a couple twists and turns that worked the kinks out of his back, Spike strolled casually
out of his cavern. "Of course I am here. Where else would I be at this time of the day? Why
are you here, Oz? Why do you wake me so early? The sun is barely set on the far line of land."
The young man who had come in search of the beast felt no fear in the face of the
blood-thirsty, loathsome creature. They had been friends too long and there was a bond
and an understanding between them that surpassed the immediacy of an easy meal. "Oh,
sure. The moon is yet to show itself but I have news. I have news from the castle."
Spike scowled and he stared at the half-boy half-goat that was clapping his hands in glee
and dancing awkwardly on his hooves. Oz's tail twitched and wagged as he prepared to tell
his friend all of the juicy gossip that had reached across the miles of country side to their
small enchanted forest.
"News from the castle?" Spike snorted and perched himself on a flat rock at the mouth of
his cave. "What news? Has King Liam raised the taxes again? Or maybe he has decided
to declare himself more than a king. Is he now a God?"
Oz's hooves clacked loudly on the stones as he paced while nervously stroking the two,
curved horns that grew from the sides of his head. His flaccid penis hung between his legs
and swayed limply as it brushed against his furry thighs. "Better than that. It is said he has
a boy within the walls of his castle. A boy confined in the dungeon tower. A magic boy
that can bring great wealth to the kingdom. A boy untouched. A virgin." The last of that
was hissed out on the harsh whisper of a forbidden word.
Spike jumped to his feet and his yellow eyes shined as he searched the face of his friend
to estimate the level of the pan's bullshit. "A virgin? King Liam has a virgin within his
walls? How can that be?"
Oz rolled his eyes dramatically. "Is that all you took from that? You don't care that they boy
is magic or that..."
Spike's chest heaved in exasperation. "OZ! Stop playing with me. Is it true? Where have
you heard this? This didn't come from that liar, Thadeus the mole rat did it? You know he
tells stories concocted for attention."
Oz lunged forward. "No. No, this came from the wood nymph, Willow. She said she had
seen it in a dream."
Spike shook his head and waved Oz off with his hand. "A dream. She is always
having prophetic dreams. Remember the one where she dreamt that she mated with you
while the fairies watched? That one never came.... Oz? Why you old goat you!"
Oz's face flushed a bright red as he blushed hotly. "I had to. I didn't want her to think her
dream was mistaken. But that isn't the point. It isn't just from her. Tara, the princess of
the fireflies was down in the village and she heard the peasants talking. They saw the
King's guards dragging him in through the drawbridge."
Spike frowned as he wondered about it. "But, a virgin? Liam does not allow any young men
to pass the age of manhood without being deflowered. Usually by force with the royal penis
to insure penetration has occurred. Perhaps that is why the boy was locked up. Perhaps
he intends to fuck him as entertainment for the court."
Oz shook his head and he bleated. "Noooo. The boy is not to be stretched and entered. Word
is that the court sorcerer, Rupert of Giles has declared the boy's arse off limits. It is said that
only a boy of virginal status can perform magic."
Spike growled deep in his throat at the utterance of his nemesis name, the mage Giles. It
was because of the spell Giles had cast upon him that Spike was trapped in this grotesque
form and exiled from his beloved kingdom. After renewing his personal commitment
to disembowel the sorcerer, Spike forced himself to calm. He had no doubt that someday,
his opportunity for revenge would come and when it did....
Lowering himself back down to sit on the rock, Spike tipped his head slightly in question as
the other words of the pan's story began to seep in. "Magic? What sort of magic can this
Oz was thrilled at the prospect of having the beast's full attention. "It is told that the prisoner
can spin straw into gold."
Spike snorted. He shook his head and waved his hand. "Poppy cock! Such things are
not possible for a human to accomplish and even someone as daft as Liam could not believe
Oz shrugged. "Maybe he does and maybe he doesn't. Maybe he is just hedging his bet. All
I know is that he has the boy locked in the tower room with a bale of straw. He has been
given just two days and two nights to convert the grain. If he succeeds, the King has a room
full of gold. If the prisoner fails, his Highness still has a valuable ass-ette that will bring
him pleasure and diversion."
Spike rolled his eyes at the pan's pun while mentally, he gave this whole odd situation
great consideration. After only a moment, Spike rose and gazed off into the night. "Watch
my cave for me Oz. I believe I am about to embark on a journey."
Oz let out a long, low "Baaaaa." that encompassed both an agreement to Spike's request
and an element of concern for his friend's welfare.
Spike chuckled and he ruffled the hair on the pan's head. "Don't worry. I'll be careful.
Besides, there is probably no truth to such a silly story. I just want to go and see. I
promise, I will return within a fortnight."
Before Oz could object, Spike was gone.