The first child was born in summer, a sickly thing that didn’t survive more than a week.

The second child was born the following spring, living for two months before succumbing to flu. Once again, the kingdom fell into mourning.

The third child, tangled in its cord, didn’t survive the birth.

Inside the castle were whispers of curses and evil spirits. The Queen lay in her chambers, knowing there was only one thing she could do.

The fourth child arrived one day in winter, born with a shock of raven hair, lips brighter than blood, and skin that glowed white.