Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Merry Season--Part 11

Falerina sipped the little cup of milk that been placed before her.  After a moment, she smiled.  "This is very good," she whispered.  She glanced up at Armida.  "Did you put honey in it?"

Armida gave the Dev a dull nod.  "Honey, and cloves, and a few other things.  I'm glad you liked it."  She peered at Falerina intently.  "So... tonight then?"

A slight and mocking smile came to Falerina's face.  "Mmmm-hmmm.  Castle Terribel is very old.  And Enkidu Cthonique put it up using old magic. It works by the old rules.  Oh, the rest of the family have added to it, but that's the core.  And the great days, the times of power... "  She took another sip of her milk.  "Well, it follows the rules, like anything else.  At midnight, the door opens.  All we have to do is go through it." 

"And Mansemat and the others?" asked Armida quietly.

Falerina giggled.  "They don't even know it's there."  She lay her left hand on the table, her fingers tapping out a happy little rhythm, while she sucked the crook of her right thumb.  "Not even Nisrioch and Morgaine, who think they're so smart.  But I found out.  Just like I found out all sorts of things about Mount Qaf.  Because everyone always ignores me, and forces me to keep busy, and I'm smarter than they realize, much, MUCH smarter, and I figure out ways to kill them."  She bit her lip, and then had another long gulp of her milk.

Armida nodded.  "Indeed. How difficult for you."

Falerina slammed her mug back onto the table. "I get by," she said.  "And then I get even.  First the Cthoniques.  Then the rest of the Necklace.  And then we finish off with my father, and my stupid sister."  She looked at Armida eagerly.  "Does that sound good?"

Armida managed a weary shrug.  "It sounds peachy to me, dear."  She glanced at Falerina.  "Enjoying your milk?"

Falerina nodded.  "As I said, it was yummy and good."  She began to raise her hand, only for it to begin to shake, and quaver.  As the Dev's eyes went wide with growing terror, it fell uselessly to her side.  She stared at Armida in shock.  "What... what did you do to me...?" Falerina whimpered.

"I drugged you, you imbecile," answered Armida flatly, looking Falerina in the eyes.  "Not too much, mind you.  Just enough to let me do this..."  Falerina grew stiff under the power of Armida's mismatched eyes.  "Right!" called out Armida.  "Come in!  I've got her under for now!"  A group of her women entered.  Two of them approached the Dev, while the others began paint symbols on the walls.   Falerina's face became a silent mask of rage as the two women stripped her of her jewelry. 

"Make sure you get it all," said Armida, keeping her eyes locked on Falerina's.  "Whatever her talents as a magician, in the end, our little friend's greatest gift is for keeping powerful charms and talismans on her person."  She glanced at the others.  "And make certain you get those wards up right.  I do not want this halfwit ruining things on one of her idiotic little rampages because she simply apported out of this..."

Falerina gulped slightly.  "Don't... don't be mean to me!" she whimpered. 

Armida gave a contemptuous snort.  "Well, it appears you do have a high natural resistance to poisons, darling," she said.  "I'd say I'm impressed, but really, I've lied to you enough over your stay, and frankly, I'm completely tired of it now."

"You still need me!" Falerina keened.  "You need a Cthonique for it to work!"

"But you're not even a real Cthonique," muttered one of the women.

"Marriage counts!" protested the Dev.  "It does!  I checked!"

Armida rolled her eyes.  "Let's just say we have an answer to that problem when it comes."  She chuckled.  "Truth be told, Ashurana, you never--"  She wrinkled her nose suddenly, and took a sniff.  "What... what is that smell?"

Falerina gave an ashamed pout.  "I... had an oopsie."  As Armida stared at her in a mixture of disgust and pity, the Dev bit her lip.  "I couldn't help it.  You were scary."

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