By now, the drugs Lucien had slipped the shoemaker’s daughter had thoroughly clouded her mind. She stared at her empty plate, no longer hungry and with her eyes glazing over. She didn’t notice when Lucien stood from the table and pulled a cord hanging from the ceiling. The resonant tone of a bell could be heard in the distance, and in a moment his faithful servant stood before him.
Lucien whispered an order into his servant’s ear. At the words, the servant smiled and nodded curtly. Lucien turned back towards his guest, knowing his will would be carried out. Instead of resuming his place at the head of the table, he pulled out the chair next to the shoemaker’s daughter. She tried to look at him, but was having difficulty focusing on his face.
“I… I need to go… “
“What’s your hurry?” When Lucien spoke, his voice was rich and soothing.
“My… my hurry?”
“You seem awfully intent on getting back home. Is there a reason?”
She knew that there was, but she couldn’t for the life of her remember. Her brow furrowed as she tried to concentrate. Someone… someone was… looking for her… would be… worried.
“Is it the shoemaker? Are you afraid of him?”
“Afraid? I… No… I don’t… He’ll miss me.”
“My dear woman, you are deluding yourself if you believe the shoemaker misses you. Do you not realize what a tyrant he is?”
“What? No… he’s… good.”
Lucien slammed his fists onto the table. The girl jumped in her seat, her eyes wide; though the fog of the drugs had become so thick she could barely remember why.
“The Shoemaker,” Lucien cried, “does not care about you! He hides behind his workbench and cranks out identical shoes all day long. If he cared, he would give you options. If he cared, how you looked would matter. If he cared, would he have left you alone? Why wouldn’t he take you with him?”
The confusion on the girl’s face began to give way to concern. Lucien knew the drugs were working their magic. His words were falling on fertile ground, and all he would have to do is harvest her distrust.
The shoemaker thought he was better than everyone else. He couldn’t bare the notion of someone else making shoes. The shoemaker would find ways of punishing people who refused to wear his shoes. He wanted to keep everyone scared of what would happen if they wore something different. He was greedy. He couldn’t love anyone; people were only tools to be used.
As Lucien spoke, the girl found herself agreeing with everything he said. She found her own fears and doubts were being voiced and in such a way that the only logical conclusion to draw was that Lucien was correct: the shoemaker was evil.
At that very moment, the shoemaker rode upon his galloping horse towards Lucien’s home. The reigns in one hand, a torch in the other, he raced down the road in the pitch black night. Soon the meadow gave way to a dark wood. He could hear growls surrounding him from the thickets on the side of the road. When a wolf finally tried to snap at his leg, he did not slow down. With a quickness unexpected from an elderly man, he slammed his foot into the wolf’s face. It yipped and backed into the shadows. His horse trampled anything that got in its path, caring not if it was trotting over sticks or vipers.
In time, the old man came through the woods and saw Lucien’s castle silhouetted against the moonlight. He tied his horse to a tree, and crept towards his rival’s abode. As he grew near, he could see that the castle had fallen into disrepair. Parts of the walls had begun to crumble, reinforced only by a thorny breed of ivy. He walked the perimeter of the home, trying to find a way in. Every entrance had been locked.
He cast his gaze toward the sky and found the answer. The door leading to the house from the balcony had been left open. Of course, reaching the balcony would not be an easy feat. The walls, while offering an occasional foothold were largely smooth.
He saw no other way. He would climb the wall using the ivy. His toes found a crack, and his hands slid up the wall. He clenched his fist and felt the prick of a thorn. Putting the pain out of his mind, he began to pull himself from the ground and up the wall.
The process was enormously difficult. The blood from his thorn-pierced hands made the ivy slippery. Several times he considered giving up; finding another way… But deep down, he knew this was the only way he could save his daughter. With that thought fueling him, he continued to climb, hanging halfway between heaven and earth.
Finally, he ascended to the top of the balcony and tumbled over the side. He lie still, his heart pounding as he gasped for breath. After a few moments, he struggled to his feet. He stepped into the same room his daughter had woken up in. His face paled when he saw her dress lying on the floor. With renewed fervor, he moved toward the doorway of the room.
His daughter’s slurred voice floated up from the banquet hall below.
“He never loved me! He left me alone for days at a time, never let me try any of your shoes, and was always too busy!”
The shoemaker stopped in his tracks. The pain he felt now was nothing compared to his bleeding hands and scraped ankles. He felt a lump growing in his throat and tried to swallow it away.
The girl continued, “The shoemaker is a bastard! I always knew it! You’re absolutely right!” Lucien’s melodic chuckle seemed to fill the room.
Hot tears began to sting the shoemaker’s eyes. As he peered down into the banquet hall, his heart was filled with a longing to feel his daughter’s embrace… While at the same time, he felt a fury like he had never known brewing towards Lucien. The dichotomy of emotion filled him, and lit a fire in his eyes.
His voice roaring like a lion, he bellowed Lucien’s name.
The pair sitting at the table below jumped, in their seats. Before they could reply the shoemaker leapt from the second story and landed on the floor below, the tiles beneath his feet cracking at the force.
The girl gasped. Somewhere in the depths of her mind, beneath the drug induced haze, she felt a hint of recognition.
“Who is that?” The girl questioned.
“That?” Lucien stood to his feet, his eyes never leaving the Shoemaker’s. “That, is the Shoemaker.”
“Lucien!” The shoemaker’s voice was low and powerful. “This ends now.”
With a smirk, Lucien replied. “I couldn’t agree more.”