:-) Bloggies, don’t get your hopes up, it’s a coincidence that I get another Friday to write another chapter to “A Friday Fairy Tale“.
I was testing out how slapstick would work on my normally unsuspecting readers. It seems to have had a pretty mixed effect. I’m no Terry Pratchett (and his humour is usually much more subtle than slapstick); also this is not my usual style, although sometimes I get bitten by the funny bug and then I write something like “The Racing Finn” just because I want to giggle about it myself. Still, one reader expressed a desire that I should complete the story, and as I value her opinion, I’ll try. (Those who know me, also know that I start a lot more stories than I ever complete. I can’t bring every story into harbour. Many sink along the way. As a ship captain I’d be so fired…)
So here’s an attempt at Chapter 2:
2. The Curse
“A curse for Hero Hugo, so he wishes he were dead,” Nadisda repeated to herself as she walked through the scratchy undergrowth. It was hot here, in Faff’s territory. Hot and arid. He liked things warm.
Faff was Nadisda’s mentor. He was also the oldest dragon around. Partly because he was the only dragon around, but that was not all.
Faff had been around in the middle-ages when some people had mistaken his emissions for those of a volcano (because they didn’t ever see them from close-up). He had been around before that. Faff dated back to before the time of the dinosaurs. He had eaten his fair share of dinosaurs. Faff, in fact, was the creature who had always been around. He had survived the terrible slaughter heroes had wreaked on dragons during the Dark Ages. And various other things including being declared a myth.
The way a shark never stops growing as long as it lives, Faff’s formidable knowledge and magic had increased without end through the ages. With it, in time, had come genuine wisdom and insight which had led him to stop eating intelligent life forms and try helping them with their lives instead; and then even more wisdom that dictated to him that it didn’t help to help people, people needed to help themselves; and eventually, enough wisdom to say, bung that, I’ll help them if I feel like it.
Faff had some unique abilities. He lived in all dimensions available. He crossed between worlds freely without the need for portals (which he created and closed again as he went along). He could read minds (of course he could), but could also choose not to, and in many cases he was too lazy to bother. Very often he found to his amusement that when people came to him with a question, if he simply listened to them long enough they would figure it out by themselves. In some cases he’d present them with a small token bauble from his considerable hoard, telling them (falsely) that it was imbued with magic and (correctly) that it would help them focus and solve their own problems. This saved him time.
Faff lay snoozing in the hot afternoon sun when Nadisda approached. He woke up when she tickled his huge nostril with a blade of grass, and he sneezed. Reflexively Nadisda blocked the fire-wave with a shielding spell, waited for him to clear his sight by blinking, and brought him her request.
“You’re not coming to me to ask for an answer,” observed Faff. “You already have that.”
Nadisda smiled at the dragon. “You’re right. I’m here to ask for help with the spell itself.”
“But you have cast such spells before,” replied Faff, puzzled. “They are your daily fare!”
“Not this one,” she said. “This one needs to make him wish he were dead. It has to be just right, and Faff…” she sighed.
“Your head gets in your way of doing it just right,” he completed sagely. “Poor girl! Let me give you something…”
Nadisda smiled again and held up her hand. “I know about your jewellery,” she said. “It’s not magical. People simply need something to focus on. That’s not going to help me.”
“What I’m going to give you, is magical,” he promised. “And it will focus you.” He dug in his hoard with his massive jaws and picked out a small stone which he delicately passed to her. It was glowing softly.
“A moonstone,” Nadisda breathed, impressed. “Loaded with moonlight!”
“From the Earth moon, Luna, twelve thousand years back. Use it wisely,” warned Faff. “And bring it back when you are finished!”
“Oh, I will,” said Nadisda happily and bounced away. She was nearly home before it occurred to her that she hadn’t had a single magical mishap the whole time that she spoke to the dragon. Perhaps the moonstone was already at work, with its powerful, arcane magic?
Back at her cave, Nadisda got to work. She fetched her favourite cauldron – the one with the fine elderberry patina – and her mortar and pestle, and combed her store-room (which was located in the back of her roomy cave) for the right items. Dried petals from the black Damask rose variety that grew in the palace gardens. A tiniest, tiniest smidgeon of Belladonna, for the opening of the eyes. A handful of pure white sand for romantic beaches and sand in the works. Ground-up clear quartz for reason and logic; a mere hint of obsidian for that touch of the-end-is-nigh. And so on. Doomed, caged, frustrated out of his mind poor Hugo would feel.
The moonstone’s gentle, calm light kept her focus beautifully on track. But just as she put the most critical ingredient into the cauldron – a touch of lipstick from an adulterer’s collar – she heard that familiar crunch on her moss. She huffed in exasperation, and small flames sprang up from the cauldron, which she put out again hastily. Didn’t that forsaken Villain know that she needed to be alone during spellwork?
“Wood fairy!” called the Villain. “How far is your curse?”
“Neary done,” she called back, hoping he wouldn’t enter.
Valentine, being a true villain, didn’t care what she hoped. He entered. Nadisda’s stress levels started climbing. If she made a mistake now…
“Eye of newt and strength of brute,” she whispered the incantation over the cauldron as she stirred, carefully, sunwise, “cat’s claw, snake’s head, iron root…”
“A potion?” asked Valentine, surprised. “I thought you’re working on a curse?”
“This is a curse,” said Nadisda through gritted teeth. “Or verse. Worse. I mean. Now I lost my place!”
“Iron root,” prompted Valentine.
“Iron root and rabbit’s snoot,” she continued. “Beautiful evil far afoot. Valentine, get out!”
“You speak to me like that?” challenged the Villain.
“Shoosh, I can’t concentrate…” She bent lower over the potion, trying to remember what came next. Big bubbles were rising to the surface and popping gloopily. The moonstone dangled a bit too low – and touched the liquid.
There was a blinding flash, and Nadisda was blasted backwards. She fell and knocked her head hard, and passed out. The last impression she had before spiralling into nothingness was a hand grabbing hers, trying to stop her fall.