Once long ago there was an Emperor who longed for a daughter to take her place once she was gone. Both her and her husband came from large families, but no matter how hard they tried they were yet to be blessed with a child. Years passed and when they thought they were never going to have one, they were finally blessed with a baby girl, whose skin was as white as the fresh fall of snow, so that’s what her parents call her Yuki, Snow.
As the princess grew her mother taught her everything about becoming the next Emperor, she never told her what lay beyond the palace, why weren’t they allow to leave? These were the questions the princess wished her parents would answer, but they never did, they would just change the subject or just ignore her questions.
The princess eventually stopped asking for she knew one day she will be old enough to leave the palace and venture outside those high stone walls.
One day Yuki is playing near the kitchen, she hears the servants talking within that the food was running out, one vegetable patch was dead and something was wrong with the rice. The evil was winning.
This got her mind racing, what was happening in the gardens and what was this evil they spoke of? She just had to find out, but again when she asks her parents they change the subject and when she demands to know, her father sends her to her room.
The maids take her away, this makes the young princess turn her questions to them and one of them tells her it is something they are not allowed to discuss, but if you long to find out what is going on, talk to General Tanaka, you will find him at the southern gate.
For a whole hour Yuki was kept in her room, until her father came to her and apologised. He wished he could tell her what was happening, but truth was he did not want to frighten her. Yuki could see in his eyes he longed to tell her everything, however just like her mother he was not going to reveal it anytime soon.
The princess also apologised for getting angry and asked him to promise to tell her when she was older?
Her father agreed and told her to go and play.
Yuki headed outside, she skipped down to the southern gates where she goes on to ask for General Tanaka.
A late middle aged man, dressed in fine robes with a long beard and a stunning dragon pin sticking out the side of the bun on top of his head comes out of the entrance to the towers.
“Yes my dear?”
“I was told by Kiyoko you would be able to answer my questions.”
The General smiles at the little girl and replies, “That depends on the question, my dear.”
“Please tell me, what is really happening here? Why is the garden dying and what is this evil the servants speak of?”
This makes the man’s big bushy eyebrows rise, his eyes open wide and he replies, “I’m afraid you are far too young to know that.”
“Oh please, don’t treat me like a child. I want to know.”
“I’m sorry, but that’s the thing, you are clild. If I told you what was beyond these walls you would have nightmares and your parents would be angry with me for telling you.”
This makes Yuki look up at him all disappointed, he crouches down, placing his hand upon the little girl’s shoulder and says, “I promise when you are older, I will tell you everything.”
The princess’ eyes fill with hope and she asks, “Promise?”
General Tanaka nods, he smiles and replies, “I never break a promise.”
Yuki gives him a hug then continues to play in the garden until it is time for the evening meal. She could see her parents were trying to hide their worry as there was barely enough food to feed them, for there was between them half a bowl of rice, some vegetables and a small dry fish.
The Emperor looks to her daughter she cannot allow her to go hungry so she gives her some of her rice and so does her husband.
They give Yuki a happy smile, but their eyes told her the truth they knew the food was not going to last much longer and they would eventually be starving to death.
“Why can’t we go out to get more food?” she asks, hoping they will tell her.
Her father takes a deep breath, he looks into her eyes and replies, “No one can leave. We are safe here. Do not worry, we will find a way to get the food growing again.”
Yuki knows he is just trying to keep her spirits up, she gives him a nod, then carries on eating her meal.
In the evening a storm hits, the strong wind whistles and moans through the palace, the shutters in the princess’ room fling open, she goes to close them and that’s when she sees a huge shape standing on the other side of the wall. When the lightning flashes she sees it looks like a man, with horns.
“What is that?” she asks, pointing her hand towards it.
A maid rushes over, pulling her back and quickly closes the shutters.
Yuki takes hold of her hand and begs, “Please tell me Kiyoko.”
The maid crouches down and replies, “You don’t want to know what that is... But I tell you this, he is the reason everything is starting to die here. He is also why no one can leave. Promise me, you will not mention seeing him to your parents.”
The princess nods and replies, “I promise.”
Kiyoko gives her a hug and they carry on playing a game, until it is time for the princess to go to bed. The Emperor comes in to read her a bedtime story and she soon falls off to sleep.
Then the Empress grabs an umbrella on her way out into the gardens where she finds not a single drop of rain is falling, she looks up to see a huge hand decorated with rings is blocking it.