Once upon a time, there lived a tailor in Vena who had become a master in his trade.
His garments were so beautiful that the famous tailors of Lotheraine secretly copied his designs until every nobleman and woman promenading down the boulevards of Loutis wore them.
The Emperor of Austry and the King of Albion commissioned him to make clothes for them and their families. The tailor could not have been happier.
He bought proper shoes for his children and wrapped his beautiful wife in satin and brocade dresses embroidered with gold.
His wife, however, was troubled. “My love,” she said, “Don’t you see how our neighbors look at us? Even our friends behold me with envious glances.
Our children have become strangers to their friends. They can only look on, afraid to soil their precious clothing, as other children play in the streets.”
She pleaded with him. But the tailor was embarrassed by his family’s plain clothes and he hated to see his wife’s beauty fade against the golden splendor of the Emperor’s daughters.
“You will do as I say!” he demanded. “These are the most beautiful clothes I have ever sewn!”
Afraid to shame him, they obeyed.
Soon, rumor spread that the tailor’s wife was dressed more beautifully than the Emperor’s daughters. The Emperor was furious.
How could a humble tailor show such disrespect? He had the tailor’s family thrown in the dungeons.
Then he ordered the tailor to make new clothes—more beautiful than those he’d made for his own family.
The tailor tried, but he’d poured all his passion into his family’s clothes. The needle wouldn’t obey him anymore.
After three tortuous days, there came a knock at the door. It was one of the guards who had arrested his family.
The tailor stood in stunned silence as the guard informed him, with great regret, that his family had been slain in the dungeons.
They had been killed for their clothes.
The tailor didn’t speak for a long time. Then he told the guard he would need to measure the Emperor’s family for their new dresses.
The Emperor’s wife and daughters came the very next day—from their country palace where they spent summers—directly to the tailor’s workshop.
A week later, a magnificent coat was delivered to the palace. The Emperor was overjoyed. Such finely tailored leather! Such ornate embroidery! He put on the coat and basked in its elegance.
He would once again be the unrivaled image of regal grandeur befitting his status.
But then he froze…
He turned pale. Transfixed by a detail on the leather sleeve. It was a birthmark. One he knew all too well. From his wife’s naked shoulder.
He ordered his cavaliers to speed to his summer palace. But his wife and daughters were nowhere to be found.
The tailor’s workshop was also found empty—the floor covered in blood.
A few weeks later, a coach was attacked in the Hungry Forest. The travelers’ bodies were never found.
Shortly thereafter, the Emperor received a beautiful new set of hunting clothes.
Soon, woodsmen began telling stories of trees that wore clothes made of human skin.
And the coal burners working in the forest, who had once feared only the howling of wolves, now trembled at the clip-clap of scissors.