Saturday, 9 November 2013

PART 9: Sad Sam and Sly Strange - A Serial by Grant Harbison and Manuela Cardiga

The tall Lady’s eyes, you would surmise, would be quite blind. You would be wrong: for strong as the drug might be, yet a sense of awareness did abide. The dreadful potion set in motion her long-legged stride; but deep inside Esprelotta’s mind did strive and writhe against the fearsome bind. Her tongue longed to be free to cry for help, but nothing could she do to save herself. So a passenger in her own flesh, a prisoner in her own skull - her mouth was struck dumb, but her senses not dull…And this was the mistake Severina made. She could command the body but not the mind; even less Esprelotta’s valorous heart.

Now when dawn came to the quiet cottage, with it came the fearful knowledge one of their number had absconded. Why, wherefore and how? But foremost in Sam’s mind was “why”. Now the Lady of Light lay her sight upon Severina. “What have you done, Savage Child? Look me in the eye, and do not lie!” Severina did strive to hide the vicious deed that in her putrid mind did abide, and prayed the Lady would not strip bare the less than fair intentions that lay there. Her greatest fear was that Sly would find her less kind than he desired; that if he glimpsed the dreadful mire of her swampy mind, he would flinch back, desist and she - Severina Wild - would be nursing the shattered shards of her half-Troll black heart.

The Lady’s vivid eye saw all, the dreaded plan uncovered her gentle heart did appal. With a cry she stood tall, raised up her hand to call a dreadful curse upon the vicious being before her. Then, oh then did she pause…A terrible smile dawned on her delicate face. “Severina, hide not your disgrace; from now on, honesty deceit on your lips will replace. Nevermore - be thou sure - shall a lie issue from your lips. Nay! Thou shalt be true; truth will be thy only coin for trade, Severina Wild, savage Daughter of a bitter heart. Indeed pure sincerity shall be your saving grace…” Listening - silent and shamefaced - Sly prayed the Bright Lady would not discern the kernel of truth in Severina’s mind: that in truth the ugly seed of the heinous deed had burgeoned deep in Sly’s own rage; his vicious jealousy at the devotion on Sam’s face as he fair Esprelotta did embrace.

“If truth be told, then I will be bold,” Severina jeered. “To the Market of Despair she has been steered. But as you well know, seer, it was Sly’s idea.”

Sam turned to look at Sly, as tears fell from his eyes. “Why, Sly?”

Sly hung his head in shame, knowing he was to blame. “Forgive me young bud, but in that town of Mudd, a voice filled my head. It filled me with dread.Commanding, demanding that Esprelotta be sold for a measly sum of gold.”

“Oh, that voice you know well,” said the Lady of the Light. “But under her spell you couldn’t distinguish, so you had to relinquish, offering no resistance to its persistence. Nay, Sly, do not dismay, that spell was broken when we entered the grey.”

“But if a spell was cast, why did she ask what should be done? I am the one who made the suggestion. The words came from me when she asked me the question.”

“Sly, those words were granted and in your mind they were planted. For her power to accrue and the wicked scheme to come true, those words had to come from you. But now we must make tracks. It’s back to the black, for a terrible fate Esprelotta awaits if we’re a minute too late. Sam and Sly, prepare the dragons. You will join I and charming young Barbon. Severina you will remain, for duplicity wanes when one stays in the grey.”

“How stop ye me from leaving? My words may be truth, but I can still be deceiving.”

“An invisible shield shall cause you to yield. When we enter the black, the grey will be sealed.”

Severina screamed and pulled at her hair, and then ran from the house in utter despair.

As Esprelotta neared the despicable auction, an inner voice told her to proceed with caution. She tried to walk backwards, tried with all her might, but as she tried to do so, her legs would not abide, and they forced her to go forwards another fifty strides.

On the dreaded stage the dark play unfolded: the delicate flesh of the merchandise revealed, every defence peeled away.

First act of the drama: on display a silver skinned mermaid on a tray, like dinner served to spike lustful appetites; next a dark mite, velvet skinned and bright eyed - trembling in fright- made the watching monsters salivate. 

“But wait!” Cried the auctioneer, “Ye gentlemen, wait! For next, for your delight, is such a sight as never has been seen on this Slave Mart; and gentlemen here have been thousands of tremulous morsels of flesh devoured, yet I swear has never before such beauty flowered on these boards!” 

And with one sharp shove he pushed to the front none other than Esprelotte - child of the fairest Selkie and the foulest Giant - the treasured Princess-Daughter of the Kingdom of Slaughter. Rough hands dragged down the robes to reveal - standing still in her magic reverie- her beauty, and here a stillness fell, for such was she that even this foul crowd bowed their heads in shame. 

Had a goddess stood unclad, the very moon, none would have had as strange a doom as this. One by one fell the foul crowd to its knees, heads low, eyes averted. None could face her. 

None? Oh but there was one immune to the gentle tune of Esprelotte’s glorious beauty. A terrible voice called out “She is mine, disperse the crowd! Any man not gone who dares face my wrath, who gazes on the incandescent flesh of my property would best fall on his sword: I will take this woman to Consort!” 

The voice, this hoarse clamour, did issue from a form with no glamour. All that was foul and vicious, twisted and pernicious could be said of the dreadful Red, King of Dwarfs; the man now determined to take to bed the beauteous Esprelotte. In that moment the spell did break, and trembling did Esprelotte take her first look at her terrible fate. 

“Sire,” she cried “Thou didst buy me, thy right cannot be denied. Yet I beg thee, if thou hast loved or love yet a creature in this World, take pity on me: set me free!”

by Grant Harbison and Manuela Cardiga

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