The Snow Queen by Killa
[Reviews - 0] Printer Chapter or Story

- Text Size +
Author's Notes:
Originally printed in Futures Without End IV, and owing much to Hans Christian Andersen.

I. The Demon and the Looking Glass

The story really begins not at the beginning, but several years before that, in a small Northern town across the Western sea; it begins with a sorcerer who had the heart of a demon, and who was very wicked indeed. This sorcerer bore the mark of his witchcraft on his wrist and went by the name of Horton, and it was his mischief which fostered everything that happened after.

One day, when he was in a merry humor, the demon sorcerer crafted a looking-glass that made everything fine and beautiful shrink up to nothing when reflected in it, but all those things that were frightening and unpleasant were magnified and made to appear ten times worse than before. In this mirror, the loveliest landscapes looked like boiled spinach and the most beautiful people appeared hideous. Their features were so distorted that their friends could never recognize them, and whatever was noble and good and brave in the world was made to appear craven and twisted with ugliness. The sorcerer found this vastly entertaining, and chuckled with pleasure at his clever work.

The acolytes that followed at the sorcerer's heels and bore his mark were indeed most impressed with this wonderful creation, and worked to spread the fame of the sorcerer's looking-glass far and wide. They said that for the first time, the world and its inhabitants could be seen as they really were, and in time they carried the mirror to nearly every corner of the world, so that there was hardly a person or place that had not been reflected and misrepresented in it. Puffed up with their own importance and pride in their master's accomplishment, the acolytes came at last to a church at the center of the most beautiful city on earth. Within the church was a noble, pious priest whose spirit shone with the light of heaven, and the acolytes hungered to reflect his face in the glass and see what hidden ugliness it would reveal. They trapped the priest near the altar, but before they could lift the mirror to shine it in his face, the glass slipped out of their hands and shattered upon the stone floor. Frightened of what their master would do to them when he learned what had happened to his looking-glass, the acolytes killed the priest and fled.

The sorcerer, however, was not displeased, for a fierce wind gusted through the open doors of the church and swept the millions of tiny fragments into the air, carrying them away and distributing them far and wide to every corner of the world. Now the looking-glass would cause more grief than ever, for some of the shards were no bigger than a grain of sand. If one of these tiny fragments flew into a person's eye, it would lodge there unbeknownst to him, and from that moment he would see everything through a distorted lens, only able to see only the worst side of what he looked at, for even the smallest shard retained the same power which had belonged to the whole mirror. A few of the pieces were so large that they might be used as window-panes and cause greater unhappiness; other pieces might be made into spectacles, a dreadful happenstance for those who wore them, for they could see nothing either rightly or justly.

Better still, the demon knew, someone might would get a fragment of the looking-glass in their heart, and this would be a terrible, wonderful thing, for the poor victim's heart would grow cold, turning at last to a lump of ice. At all this the wicked sorcerer laughed till his sides shook; it tickled him so to see the mischief he had done and to think of what might become of the many little fragments that still floated about in the air.

Even he couldn't have predicted what would happen to one of them.