Split Worlds - The Miller's Daughter

I have a special treat for you today. My guest blogger for Leap Day is Emma Newman, the scriptera profundata of the post-apocalyptic novel 20 Years Later and the creepy anthology From Dark Places. Today, she presents the latest installment in her Split Worlds series, an urban fantasy that mixes gritty noir with evil faeries in equal measure. Please welcome Emma, and enjoy her story, The Miller's Daughter. - Tony


This is the eighteenth tale in a year and a day of weekly short stories set in The Split Worlds. If you would like me to read it to you instead, you can listen here. You can find links to all the other stories, and the new ones as they are released here. - Em

The Miller's Daughter

The door slammed shut behind her, she listened to the key in the lock and the King's footsteps as he left her alone in the room. The miller's daughter looked at the piles of straw, the spinning wheel, the empty spindles and wept. How could the King be so stupid as to believe her father's boast? How could her father have been so stupid as to make such a boast in the first place? Was her life to be cut short by stupid men all around her? She kicked the spindles, scattering them across the floor, the flagstones were spattered with bitter tears.

The door opened, she hadn't heard the key in her anger, and a man unlike any she'd ever seen before entered. His hair was long and white, his eyes black, his face beautiful and terrifying all at once. The scent of flowers filled the room, he was taller than even the King himself. She shrank away from him as he shut the door.

"Good evening mistress miller," he said. "Why are you weeping so?"

"Because I am cursed with an idiot for a father and a fool for a king," she said, wiping the tears from her cheeks, wondering if he were an angel sent by God to save her. "I'm supposed to spin this straw into gold but I don't know how."

"What will you give me if I spin it for you?"

"My necklace," she said, it being the most valuable thing she owned.

The man held out a hand and she placed the necklace on the pale palm, marvelling at how long and slender his fingers were. Then she watched as he sat at the wheel and in three turns, spun a reel full of gold with just a few pieces of straw.

"Are you an angel?" she whispered, kneeling beside him.

"No child," he smiled and stroked her cheek.

She fell asleep as he worked, and when she woke at the turn of the key in the door the room was filled with spools of gold. The King entered, eyes wide and he took her hands and stroked her fingers.

He led her out silently, as they walked down the corridor his hand tightened around her wrist and she knew she wouldn't see the sun that day. She was taken to an even larger room, one being filled with even more straw. "Spin all of this into gold if you value your life."

The door was locked and she wept again, her fury channelled into hot tears. The sun set and as the anger turned to despair, the door opened silently once again and the white-haired man entered the room.

"What will you give me if I spin the straw into gold for you?"

Aside from her clothes, all she had in the world was a ring that once belonged to her mother. "The ring from my finger."

The man took it, sat at the wheel and began to spin the straw into gold.

"Are you a demon?" she whispered, kneeling beside him.

"No child," he smiled and stroked her cheek.

She woke at sunrise in a room filled with gold. When the King arrived, his gaze flicked between the gold and her breasts and her hips, she blushed and hoped the tongue moistening the fat man's lips would never touch her skin. His hand on the back of her neck, he walked her out of the room, into another even larger, being filled with straw.

"You must spin all this into gold tonight. If you succeed, you shall become my wife."

The door was locked, the miller's daughter cursed her father, cursed the King and tried not to think of his fingers worming their way under her bodice. The sun set, the fear returned but once more, the door opened and the white-haired man returned.

"What will you give me if I spin the straw into gold once more?"

"I have nothing left to give," she said.

"Then promise me your first child when you become queen."

She planned to be far away before the grotesque king had bedded her, so she agreed and knelt beside him once again to watch him spin the straw.

"Are you a sorcerer?"

The man laughed so loudly she feared the King himself would hear. "No child," he said.

Once again, the room was filled with spun gold when the sun rose. The King was so pleased he locked the miller's daughter in a room with furniture and generously provided guards at the door as the wedding was prepared. She watched the sun set from the tiny window, weeping at the thought of the conjugal night, wishing the white-haired man would return once more. And when the room was dark and her hope at its nadir, the door opened.

"What now, mistress miller? Have I not saved your life and elevated you to royalty as your father bargained for?"

The miller's daughter realised her father was not a fool after all. "But, sweet prince of magic," she said, kneeling at his feet. "What would you want with the grandchild of a miller?"

"The child will have royal blood and I would have its devotion."

"Give me a better King, let my children stay by my side, and you will not only have my devotion, but that of every child from my line as long as it endures."

"Devotion in return for a life with your children, that I will grant," agreed the white-haired man.
"But what will you give me if I replace the King with one of your liking?"

"Will the life of my father suffice?"

He smiled. "You are your father's daughter. I, Lord Iris of the Fae, accept your bargain."


Thanks for hosting, Tony! 

I hope you enjoyed the story. If you would like to find out more about the Split Worlds, it's all here: www.splitworlds.com – you can also sign up to get an extra story and get each new story delivered to your inbox every week. If you would like to host a story over the coming year, either let me know in the comments or contact me through the Split Worlds site. - Em x


And thank YOU, Emma! To find Emma Newman on the web, visit her blog at http://www.enewman.co.uk, and follow her on Twitter as @emapocalyptic. She's a talented writer and a delightful person.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. I like this ending *so* much better than the traditional one!

  2. I love this twist on an old story. Like father, like daughter. Really says something about the human condition.


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