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Fairy Tales of Mechanicsburg

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While the Jäger who told it to me insisted this variant of Snow White was a traditional tale of Mechanicsburg I have to doubt its provenance. It seems to contain rumours of bioengineering among the various Storm Lord families that were not widely known until the Heterodyne Restoration and could not date back to much before the first Wulfenbach Empire at the earliest. However, while it may not be authentically old, one can hardly doubt it is authentically Mechanicsburg.

— Amber Litten

Once upon a time there was a Princess married to the Prince of a castle near Mechanicsburg. One day as she was sharpening a knife she cut her finger and ran to the window so her blood fell on the snow. Seeing it she sighed and said, ‘I wish for a son with skin as white as snow, hair as red as blood and eyes like ebony.’

She looked up from the snow and into the green eyes of a witch. ‘I can give you a child,’ said the witch. ‘But I cannot promise a son.’

The Princess agreed for even the chance of a son was a good chance for her, but the child was born a girl. Nevermind, the Princess thought, for a girl could be a bargaining piece and make a good marriage. So she raised her daughter to adulthood and taught her to be wary and cold as all that family were. Once the girl was a woman, though, her father died. The Princess wanted to make a new marriage herself, then, and her daughter became a rival, for she was prettier and her blood was as good.

The Princess sent her daughter out into the forest with a Smoke Knight dressed as a hunter and carrying a poisoned blade. The girl was given no weapons at all, but that was a mistake, for no one who wanted her to survive would send her unarmed on her family’s land. So she knew from the first she was being sent to her death. She acted all unknowing and picked flowers from the path as they walked — poison flowers — and made tea when they stopped for lunch — poison tea. Against a Smoke Knight I think she had to sip a little bit of it herself, so when she left him dead and ran into the forest she was already dizzy and sick.

She ran until she reached a little hut and then, too cold and sick to run further, she slipped inside and fainted on the floor.

Now in that hut were living seven Jägers. The Heterodyne was growing some experimental trees nearby and wanted them watched to make sure nothing ate them before their teeth grew in. Seven Jägers to watch trees! I think the Heterodyne must not have been pleased with them, yah?

Anyway, they came home and there was a pretty girl lying on the floor. So they put her into a bed and argued about what to do for sick humans until she woke up.

She was scared at first, the girl, but the Jägers were bored out there and not sad to have more company, and she had nowhere to go. They weren’t sure what their master would think of her, with her blood red hair, but they grew fond of her over time. She grew fond of them too. Very fond. She had been a good girl before and a good princess, but that is lonely, and what did she have to lose? So they were all close and happy together and she slept in anyone’s bed she liked.

Food was difficult when winter came. The Jägers had not been sent with food, they would be bored enough to hunt their own, and they were not perhaps the smartest Jägers. Maybe that’s why they were out there, huh? They ate foxes and tree bark and weird construct animals. They tried to feed her the nice bits, but that’s still not good food for a human.

So, although she was not a stupid girl, when an old woman stopped by selling apples she maybe should have been more cautious.

She did keep the old woman outside the house and she tested the apple for poison as best she could. She fed a little bit to a mouse, even. But it was an apple made by the witch who had made her, and it would not have killed anyone else.

When the Jägers returned she was lying on the floor, stone dead.

They buried her in the snow and when new Jägers came to take over the guarding they found their brothers crying.

The Heterodyne was told and he came out with a lightning stick and he brought her back, there in the snow, and named her Snow White now that she was his. Her family all forgot her now she’d been dead, because that kind of silly thing matters to them, and she lived happily in Mechanicsburg until she died a death she couldn’t return from.