By the third day of her captivity Atrocious was beginning to grow desperate. Escape seemed to be almost impossible. Every time she thought she could sneak out the front door or test a window, Ayla prevented her escape. The witch showed no signs of intending to do Atrocious any harm, but a benign captor is still a captor and Atrocious wanted out of there.
She was sitting on the bed and beginning to despair of ever finding a means of escape when the front door opened and a young female murkblood simply walked in. Atrocious stared at the intruder, she had quite forgotten how simple it was for some people to just go through doorways as they pleased.
The staring served two purposes, for the murkblood was one of the most curious Atrocious had ever seen. Her features were distinctly human, but there was still something ‘other’ about her. Her eyes were brown and wide with large pupils that put Atrocious in mind of a startled cat. Her dark hair was cropped close to her head and though her features were pleasant enough, one tooth pushed its way out from her upper lip and rested atop the lower. It was less of a tooth than a fang, Atrocious considered, observing the length and pointedness.
In addition to her facial characteristics, the murkblood was rather short indeed and very slight of build. Her skin was a beautiful caramel tone that Atrocious was immediately jealous of. Her clothing was interesting too. She was dressed in a fine silk tunic that bore the image of a rampant lion and her legs were clad in pristine white leggings. Atrocious wondered how on earth the woman had managed to get into the forest without getting at least a little dirty.
The murkblood walked two paces into the cottage with a stiff legged gait before turning to face Atrocious in a snappy angular motion that was belied by smooth grace. She was obviously trying to be formal but no matter how rigid she made her movements she just seemed to flow from one place to another. “Greetings illustrious one,” she said in a voice that rumbled like a purr. “I have come to beg for your help.”
Atrocious cocked her head to the side. “You have?”
“Only a great spellcaster can help me,” the murkblood explained respectfully.
“Ah, I see what’s going on here,” Atrocious said, surprising herself with her own honesty. “You’ve mixed me up. I’m not the witch.”
“No?” The murkblood still seemed interested. “What are you?”
“Well I suppose I’m her prisoner,” Atrocious began explaining. Before the murkblood could become too confounded and scared, Ayla interceded.
“Ignore her,” she said, sweeping into the room with magisterial charm. Her arrival had been delayed by the work she was getting on with in the back room. Atrocious did not know quite what the work entailed, she only knew that she was not allowed to look at it, much less understand it.
“I am Ayla,” Ayla introduced herself. “How can I help you?”
Atrocious watched as the murkblood’s eyes went ever wider still. Clearly she was very much impressed by the witch. She showed her deference by performing a deep bow. Bent over like that she barely came up to Ayla’s mid-thigh. “Please, I need your help in lifting a curse,” she said when she had straightened up again.
“First things first,” Ayla held up her hand. “Do you have a name?”
“Nami,” the murkblood said, nervously clasping her hands together in front of herself and then behind herself and then in front of herself again. “My name is Nami.”
“What manner of curse is upon you, Nami?”
“The curse to have the great misfortune to ask a sex fiend for help,” Atrocious muttered. She was not at all impressed by the deference being shown to Ayla. Magic or no, she was a predatory trickster and no good ever came from having that sort of person on your side.
“Hush, or you’ll lose the use of your tongue,” Ayla promptly threatened Atrocious.
“This is what she does, she…” Atrocious finished the sentence but nobody heard it. Her lips were moving, but no sound was coming out. Finding herself suddenly gagged, she threw her hands in the air and stomped across the room to the table that served both as a place to dine and a work surface for Ayla.
Nami was wildly impressed by Ayla’s display of magic. “You truly are as powerful as they say you are,” she breathed.
Ayla smiled her benevolent smile as she brushed the compliment aside. “What curse is upon you?”
“There is a sorcerer in our village who has cursed me…” Nami paused to make a soft sound of sadness that sounded something like a cross between a cry and a mewl.”Never to find love.”
“Never to find love,” Ayla said gravely. “That is a great tragedy. That is…”
Ayla and Nami turned at the sudden noise, both ready to do battle in their own way. They were not forced to do battle however for the source of the commotion turned out to merely be a chair Atrocious had kicked into the wall for the purposes of getting their attention. When she was certain both Ayla and Nami were looking, she held up a piece of parchment upon which she had scrawled a message:
THaT is StuPID.
Before anyone could respond, Atrocious held up a finger as if she’d had another thought. Taking the quill, she added a little ^ symbol and added an extra word. The message then read:
THaT is ^ StuPID.
“Please, ignore my apprentice,” Ayla said, frowning direly at Atrocious. “I do believe she is going soft in the head.”
Atrocious made a muffled squeak, the only sound she could manage and started scribbling again.
NOT hEr ApRentice!
IT’S a TrAP!
Nami was beginning to look very concerned indeed, which was just as well as far as Atrocious was concerned. Everybody should be concerned when in Ayla’s presence. She was about to alarm Nami further but her plan for revealing what was really going on in the witch’s cottage was foiled when Ayla calmly plucked the quill from her fingers and ushered her out the front door.
“You can wait out here until you manage to behave yourself,” she chided Atrocious in much the same manner as one might chide a cat that has insisted in pooping in one’s best shoes.