Bluebeard

Once there was a wealthy widow who had five children; four sons and a daughter she named Margareta. The sons had left to be soldiers some time ago, and the daughter stayed home and helped their mother run the estate.

As Margareta was wealthy, kind, and responsible, she was regularly courted by the young men of the region. One man in particular pursued her. He was incredibly wealthy, but Margareta refused his advances at every turn. She did not trust him. He was moody, gaunt, and his hair was so black it looked blue. Everyone called him Bluebeard. He had been married a number of times before, and no one ever knew what had happened to his past wives. Despite Margareta’s refusal, Bluebeard visited her mother every day, asking for Margareta’s hand in marriage.

One day he invited the mother, daughter and many of the young people from the region to stay at one of his country estates for a week. He entertained them with dancing and feasting, and sitting in the gardens as the sun set. Margareta was enchanted at the gaiety of the house, and decided that she would like to stay in its lush splendor. The next morning Bluebeard once again asked Margareta to marry him, and she agreed.

They were quickly married, and Margareta was moved into her husband’s home. He gave her a grand tour of the estate, and presented her with the keys as the lady of the house. The house had many keys, each one gold-plated so it would sparkle in the light. As she was inspecting them, she noticed a small lead key, hidden among the others. Bluebeard told Margareta that key was for his private room, and she was to never ever open it.

A few days after she came to live with him, Bluebeard left for an important business trip which would have him away for some weeks. As he kissed her goodbye, he reminded her that the entire home was hers to explore. Except his private room, which she was forbidden to enter.

Left to her own devices Margareta spent her days wandering from room to room, opening chests and closets, exploring her new wealth. Many days had passed, when she had finally explored every crevice in the home. All, except her husband’s private room. She had thought about the room since it was mentioned to her, and it was always in the back of her thoughts.

After a few more days of deliberation she decided to open the door and see what her husband had there. As his wife, she was allowed to know all of his doings. Besides, so long as she didn’t touch anything, he’d never know that she had broken her promise.

She slipped down the hall, pulled out the small lead key, and unlocked the door to the forbidden room. As she pulled open the heavy door, a dark, sweet, putrid smell issued forth. To her horror, she saw that the floor was covered in sticky clotted blood, and the bodies of several dead women were hanging from the walls, rotting into pools of slime and bones. They were the corpses of Bluebeard’s earlier wives, each of whom he had murdered.

Gagging and screaming in fear, she flung the door closed and ran down the hall. She tried to leave the house and escape, but the front door would not open. She ran from door to door, but none opened to allow her out. With cursed magic the windows were sealed tight and could not be broken. None of the keys on her great key ring allowed her to flee from the house.

It was then that she realized her hands were smeared with blood. Her path through the house was also marked by a small trail of blood, dripping from the small lead key. Though she tried to wipe off the blood, it kept dripping, as if the key itself was bleeding from an unseen wound. Frightened beyond thinking, she crawled to her room, hoping that she would wake from a terrible dream.

As she sat trembling, her husband Bluebeard returned home. He opened the front door, and followed the trail of blood to where she was cowering. “You opened the door,” he whispered heartlessly. “You were forbidden to open the door, and still you did. For your disobedience you will now join the foolish women who are rotting there.” With that he grabbed Margareta by her neck, and dragged her down the hall.

Though she screamed and kicked and fought, Bluebeard was much stronger than his wife. As he was pulling her into the room to kill her, there was a great crashing and banging at the front of the house. Margareta’s four brothers had come to visit their sister, and at hearing her screams, began to beat down the front door to come to her aid.

Hearing them entering, Bluebeard rammed his wife’s head against the stone wall, knocking her unconscious. Her body thudded to the floor as Bluebeard ran to defend his house.

The brothers fought Bluebeard valiantly, but he was aided by a dark magic which made him far stronger than them. They were nearly defeated, but Bluebeard threw the youngest brother against a wall. The force shattered a small vial of holy water that the young man wore for protection, and the water scattered across Bluebeard’s face. As the water touched him he screamed in pain, and fell over dead.

After much searching, the brother’s found their sister, unconscious in the blood of Bluebeard’s prior wives. They carried her out of that terrible place and took her to their mother’s home.

Margareta soon physically recovered, but her spirit was never the same. As Bluebeard’s wife, she inherited all of his wealth at his death. She sold all of the goods, and used the money to buy her brothers commissions. She gave the remainder to her mother, and then left to join a convent. She spent the remainder of her days in quiet contemplation and prayer, every night dreaming of the terrible monster she had once married.

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