Once upon a time there was a witch queen who ruled a dark land far from this one in both time and space.
The land had not always been evil; in fact, the late king had been a good and kind man and the land had reflected his characteristics then. But the witch queen, who was narcissistic and mean, loved nothing save herself and her two magical treasures: her mirror and her poison apple orchard. Her mirror was kept in some secret spot where no one, except the queen, ever saw it.
The orchard, on the other hand, occupied much of the high castle grounds and could be seen by the hungry folk in the town below. The apples grew as red and shiny as wet blood and they glittered prettily in the twilight mist when the queen took her regular walks. At these times she lovingly inspected each fruit, brushing it with her fingertips and whispering to it in forgotten languages. Shadows harvested the poison apples, tenderly packed them in crates and placed them in a root cellar that was easily accessible by all. But no matter how delicious and tempting the apples looked, no matter how famished the folk became, no one ever dared to eat a queen’s apple by choice. One bite, even the tiniest nibble, and you would fall immediately into an endless sleep, forever living in nightmares.