The ring, which she had given me
as a token of affection between two loving Cousins (Hah! As loving as a Giant
Rock Snake would be I daresay is more of Kyiri’s style), is a magic one that is
sucking the essence of my languid youth away from myself and into Cousin Kyiri!
After Alram has informed me of the horrid and dangerous predicament I am in, I
had resolved to confront Cousin Kyiri and make her undo this despicable spell
and take the blasted ring off my finger.
“Better not. No telling what she’ll do to you if she knows that you’re onto
her,” Alram told me, rubbing his scraggly chin contemplatively. “Turn you into a
frog and keep you in a cage until the spell runs its course most like.”
“A frog? A FROG?!” I was understandably displeased by this consideration for
being magically transformed, a swan would have been
infinitely more dignified to my status rather than an ugly, slimy amphibian!
“Or a toad. Toads are easier. I don’t know why. The masters at Ximax said so.
Something to do with the warts I think…” Alram muttered distractedly while I
gazed upon him with some aversion.
“Well then, tell me how do I stop Cousin Kyiri?” I demanded. “I assure you, good
sir, that I have no fancy to stand by idly while an old hag steal my
much-vaunted beauty and youth from me!”
“The masters of Ximax taught me a spell meant to counter Kyiri’s spell. It is
called ‘The Counter-Spell to Counter Spell a Spell that is used to Steal a
Maiden’s Virtue to be Invested in a Wicked Sorceress’s Own Body for Really Vile
Purposes’’." Alram brightened. Then he was
downcast again. “But I would need to be within Kyiri’s immediate vicinity to
cast the Counter Spell.”
“That can be done very easily,” I said eagerly. “Cetin, that brazen hussy, has
smuggled her lover into the house before. I caught them behaving in a most
unseemly manner on the kitchen table once and made her tell me how she did it.
That is, I made her tell me how she smuggled her baseborn beau in and not how
she managed to position herself in that extremely uncomfortable and
awkward-looking arrangement upon the table. I would never deign to be so
vulgarly improper as to inquire about that. Even if I think it would be very
taxing on one’s waist and back. The man looked happy enough though...”
Here, I observed Alram’s eyes glazing over again so I hurried on with my
explanation of how to smuggle him into Kyiri’s house.
“In any events of amazingly limber chambermaids, I found out that Cetin had
stolen the key to the backdoor from the housekeeper and made a copy of it for
herself. I shall appropriate that key and bring you inside without anyone the
wiser.” I do so dislike praising my own accomplishments, yet, I cannot help but
say I do astonish myself with my astuteness sometimes, Brydda!
Smiling modestly and preparing to repel any fulsome praises from Alram for my
quick thinking, I looked expectantly at him.
Somewhat my surprise, Alram did not rejoice at this singular piece of luck but
shifted his feet from left to right, looking even more uncomfortable.
“Well, there is another difficulty…it would be preferable if your Cousin Kyiri
be…unconscious when I cast the spell…”
“Unconscious? Why ever for?”
“You see, her powers are much stronger than mine and I cannot promise that she
will not use a Counter Counter-Spell to Counter my own Counter-Spell and render
that Counter-Spell useless while her Original Spell remains intact…” he
“Then pray, can you not use a Counter Counter Counter-Spell in return to Counter
her Counter Counter-Spell??” I fair shrieked with frustration at his
“Technically, no, because I know of no other Counter Counter Counter-Spells. My
masters only taught me that particular Counter-Spell for Countering Counter
Counter-Spells before I left Ximax for this task. And let me assure you,
learning ‘The Counter-Spell to Counter Spell a Spell that is used to Steal a
Maiden’s Virtue to be Invested in a Wicked Sorceress’s Own Body for Really Vile
Purposes’ is no simple task either! Why, I was the only one in my class to
successfully master the Counter Spell with all my limbs intact. The others…
they exploded rather nastily and messily.”
“Oh, what good are you then if you know of no Counter Counter Counter-Spells?”
Tears rose into my eyes and I rummaged in my reticule dreadfully in vain for a
handkerchief for I could feel the horror of my nose starting to run as well.
I could NEVER sniff in public like some common merchant’s daughter! Mark my
words well, Brydda, a pearl-like tear or two rolling slowly down a gentle girl’s
cheek is a vastly appealing sight to melt any hardened rake’s heart but a
dripping and reddened nose is just as sure to drive them away with disgust!
“Ye Gods, do not turn into a waterspout now.” Alram fished into his pocket and
brought out a none-too-clean looking piece of rag and shoved it at me. “Cheer
up, I’ll think of something.”
“And I will be very dead by the time you do that, thank you.” I glared at the
rag with repugnant revulsion and delicately wiped my nose on a sleeve instead.
“I have to go, Kyiri will get suspicious if I stay out too long.”
“Right. I will think of something, I swear by all the Gods there are. And I’ll
need to speak with you again. How do I do that without Kyiri knowing?”
“The Society of Voldarian Ladies for the Betterment of Tavern Wenches is
marching upon the tavern Ye Drunken Sod in three day’s time to show disapproval
against any Excessive Molestation Against Tavern Wenches. I could join in the
march and contrive to meet you there...what is it? Why are you staring at me
like that? I do not have a spot on my nose, do I?!” Seized by a fearful
presentiment, I brought my hands up quickly to hide any offending digits.
“The Society of Voldarian Ladies for the Betterment of Tavern Wenches…that’s
“I’ll have you know that the tavern wenches do not think so,” I told Alram
frigidly and left the filthy and sordid alleyway at last although my second-best
gown has been irrevocably ruined!
As I slowly walked back to that Giant Rock Snake's den, my thoughts were in a
broiling turmoil. The thrice-damned ring chaffed at my finger constantly now
that I knew it for what it actually was. And the consideration that I have
neglected to pack a second-best gown to replace this existing second-best gown
weighed heavily on my mind. A very trying day indeed, Brydda! Was any maiden, in
the first bloom of her youth and so admired by many eligible men and can wear a
modish pink hat to perfection on golden tresses, so trampled as me? I think not!
So troubled was I, an innocent and unknowing victim to the reprehensible magical
machinations of Voldar, that I quite forgot to curtsey in return when I passed
Lord ________ who bowed most stylishly to me. Even though I could clearly hear
his corset stays creak under his clothes when he bowed. A corpulent man can be a
distressing sight but sadder is the one in a corset laced too tightly!
And it was in such a bothered state of mind that I reached Kyiri’s abode. Upon
reaching the gates, the servants spied me and a great outcry went up about the
“Miss Clissa! It is Miss Clissa! Miss Clisssssssssssa is baaaaaaack!”
“Of course it is me,” I replied testily as the servants tumbled over themselves
to bring me up to Kyiri’s rooms. I would have rather avoided Kyiri at this
moment, knowing now that she is a wicked sorceress with terribly unbecoming dyed
hair now, but avoidance, I knew, would only raise further suspicions.
Kyiri was sitting in her favorite chair, wrapped in a pale-lavender robe with
her hair piled high. When she saw me enter, that previously cold countenance she
had directed towards me the past few days melted away and she breathed a large
sigh of relief.
“Clissa! My sweet girl, where have you been? I swear I have been, upon this very
hour, worrying myself to a debilitating incline! Cetin, that silly girl ran
home, shrieking madly that several masked men have abducted you! I fainted right
away when I heard and was only just been revived to my senses. Thank the Gods
that you are safe, my dearest!”
Safe for you to continue leeching upon, yes, you old hag, I thought as I
submitted to her hateful embrace. I also briefly contemplated sinking the
ornamental dagger that hung over the fireplace mantel into Kyiri’s bony back but
since Alram had not deigned to inform me of any potential consequences in
killing the spell-caster, I decided to stay my hand with some prudence. Not to
mention, bloodstains are so hard to wash away and I’ve already ruined my
second-best gown enough as it is!
Ah, but how splendid it would be to have the sharp point of the knife sink like
butter into Kyiri’s flesh! I have never stabbed anyone but I cannot imagine that
skill is much needed in such an endeavor. Pick up a blade, aim and stab. Repeat
if there is necessity. Does that not sound entirely undemanding in its execution
to you? Furthermore, with my undeniably good looks, superior breeding and
impeccable fashion panache, I am sure that I would gain the sympathy of any
arbitrator, perhaps, even the empathy of the Sovereign himself, and be acquitted
of any wrongdoings!
As if it had read my feelings, the odious ring that will not come off squeezed
itself around my finger and I glared hatefully at it.
“My dear child, whatever happened to you? Tell your Cousin Kyiri all about it.”
The sorceress clutched my arm and drew me down to a chair next to hers. If I had
not found out her true intentions in keeping me near her wretched, wrinkled,
sagging body, indeed, I think I would have been taken in by her act and construe
her motives as nothing more but pure solicitousness for my well being.
“It was but only a persistent beggar. Cetin, silly chit that she is, ran away in
a fright, mistaking that malodorous destitute as an abductor!” I told her in as
light a tone as I could manage.
“But the state of your dress! Those stains!” A doubtful light shone in Kyiri’s
eyes as she listened to my story.
“Oh, that was heedlessness on my part!” I laughed carelessly. Two can play the
same game, oh my amiable Cousin!
“I tripped in the mud, trying to get away from the beggar. Disgusting creature!
He reeked most offensively, not unlike rotten turnips!”
You would have been proud of my dramatic talents, Sister! For I presented the
façade of a snobbish, supercilious, empty-headed twit of a girl to Cousin Kyiri
to perfection. Naturally my real self is far kinder and self-effacing than what
I appear to the sorceress now but one must suppress one’s true qualities in
times of grave menace.
Leaning over, Cousin Kyiri pinched my cheek sharply and smiled again, revealing
a mouth of teeth. I endured her pinch docilely though her touch caused my skin
to crawl disagreeably.
“So young and so fresh, like morning dew,” she murmured. “It is good that it had
been just a…beggar. Nothing more. You are a guest under my roof and I would not
want any harm to befall you while you are here.”
“No, Cousin Kyiri. I would not want that either,” The words forced themselves
stiffly from my lips. “I am tired and with your leave, I would retire to bed.”
“Of course. Off you go, little one.” Kyiri languidly reclined back into her
chair. “Oh, before you sleep, inform Maris to bring me my potion.”
“Yes, all these excitement have quite given me the headaches. The potion helps
me sleep through the long night and soothe my delicate nerves,” she said.
I curtseyed and hurried out the door.
And now that I am safely in my bedchamber, I write this clandestine letter to
you with growing excitement and an idea thrumming through my veins!
Brydda! I have a Plan!
ever your brilliantly clever Clissa