Ah, there you are! You’ve had a bit of a ramble about the Palace. Perhaps you’ve seen a thing or two that interested you? There is a feather in your hair, a long black one. If I didn’t know any better, I would think you’d been to the old tower in the forest. Mind where you wander, my dear. Not all of the stories you’ll find here are made in the workshop. Some of them have teeth.
But come in, come in. Look about. Here are the bits and bobs waiting to be assembled, soot and shadow, root and bone. A hank of golden hair. A tarnished suit of armor. The opulent gown of a murderess, or the briar-snarled pelt of a wolf – not much difference there, take my word. Here are the fine gears of a clockwork heart, sweaty with grease. You like it? Yes, it is a beautiful thing. A delicate thing. We’ll have it in a tale, shall we? Let’s see, where is that troublesome prince …
There, in the corner, seated on a heap of quilts. Don’t be alarmed. I know he looks pale and grim. Having your heart torn from you will have that effect. Nothing is wasted in the Palace – you’d do well to remember that. Give the bell a pull. Let’s have some help to stretch him on the workbench. I’ll wake him out of death and set him to entertain you. I’ll use that lovely mechanism you admired. After all, a heart is a heart, eh? Well, we shall see.
Run along now. I’ve work to do, and you may find some of it … unpleasant.