Ruby Red and Gentilberry Green: A Fantastical Romance - Part VII

in #fiction6 years ago (edited)

This is the seventh part of an ongoing serial. Here are Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Six. Updates every two days.

“I beg your pardon! You want me to do what now?”

Anne stomped her foot on the floor, fully aware that she smelt less than fantastic from sleeping in her day-clothes, and even more cognizant of the embroidered wings and talons shifting under the seat of her dress. It seemed her Aunt was going to annoy her as much as possible from now on, simply to make a point.

Necristo gave a sheepish smile. He looked strikingly different, now that he was wearing something other than black, and well-ironed. The ratty black garb had made his skin stand out like waterlogged flour on a barn floor. Now, dressed in a smooth white suit and top-hat, he looked…

Well, less unpresentable. He was still creasing the suit, though. His shoulders were as slumped as ever.

“I’d like you to breakfast with me, Miss Gentilberry. I mean, um, if that’s… alright with you?”

It was at this point that Anne began to consider several variables, although she would never have been caught dead referring to them by such a fancy name. To her, it was just instinct, ropes and pulleys, honed quite naturally from her years of cooking and cleaning and minding sheep.

Firstly, she was under lock and key, a decidedly unmagical girl in the house of this immensely powerful sorcerer. Her only method of escape, or so her Aunt said, was to take his heart. In other words, to have him fall for her, preferably with the magical miniature knife currently stowed in her pocket.

Secondly, while the bread yesterday had been excellent, she had spent much of the night before thinking furiously, and as a result her morning appetite was coming back. In other words, she was very hungry, and while she was used to controlling her appetite for propriety’s sake, she was also used to eating like a horse when the occasion demanded it.

Thirdly, she was being abraded very viciously by the owl under the seat of her dress. In other words, she was ticked off.

“Well, I suppose I don’t have a choice, do I?” she glared, folding her arms with more vehemence than she initially intended. “It’s not like you’re going to send me home or anything.”

“You don’t want to go home, do you?” asked Necristo nervously. “I mean, you are interested in staying.”

Aunt Mattie - her Aunt Mattie, not the one in owl-form on the bedsheet beneath her - had chosen to stay in Necristo’s house, breaking her family’s hearts forever. Then she had left, years later, and quite possibly broken Necristo’s, too. It was nothing but inappropriate Gentilberry guilt, perhaps, but Anne found herself completely incapable of saying no.

“What does it matter?” she fumed, shifting on the bed and clapping her hands on her knees. “Just… get me some food. I don’t care where we go.”

Necristo cast his eyes down, trying to hide his grin. His eyes were so bright, Anne could almost see her hair in them. She bent down abruptly, glaring up into his hopeful, bashful gaze.

“Alright, Mr. Sorcerer. Get me some clothes, and then get out. A lady needs her privacy. Don’t you dare try anything, you hear?”

“Of course not, Miss Gentilberry,” said the sorcerer. “Right away, Miss Gentilberry. You’ll have anything you want, Miss Gentilberry.”

He walked out the room, practically sliding. Anne jumped up and smacked the bed as hard as she could.

“Just so you know,” said Aunt Mattie, “that didn’t hurt at all.”

“I don’t care,” said Anne, rubbing her knuckles and scowling. “You’re a gadfly, Aunt, you know that? A right green gadfly.”

“Actually,” said Aunt Mattie impassively, “I was more of a bird, but no matter. You have him eating straight out your hand.”

“I feel like he’ll start drooling on me any moment now.”

“If he does,” said Aunt Mattie, “stick him. Hearthunter will do the rest.”

“Will it, now?” gasped Anne, clapping a hand to her mouth and raising her eyebrows in mock-surprise. “My, and here I was, an innocent, guileless country girl, all-aflutter at the thought of my first real encounter with a man. Goodness gracious.”

“And this,” muttered Aunt Mattie, “is exactly why you need the knife.”

Anne tried to think of an appropriate response, failed, and then jumped off the bed and stalked to the wardrobe. She swung it open with more force than necessary.

“There’s nothing here! That no-good, lousy gnat! Why, I’ll…”

“Are the lice on the gnat,” inquired Aunt Mattie dryly, “or is it the other way around?”

“Don’t you start!” Anne screeched, before spinning back around and going, “Oh.”

In the wardrobe, arranged neatly on a svelte silver hanger, was the most beautiful dress she had ever seen in her life. It was green as a new-cut field, soft as dew, made of a shimmering fabric that felt cooler than cotton and smoother than silk. She ran her finger across it, wondering. An emerald brooch shone from its neck, set in gilt silver. She unpinned it and stared.

“…Well,” she managed after a while, stumbling and searching for the right frame of mind, “at least he’s giving me a way to prick myself to death. How nice of him.”

“I’d advise you to put it on,” said Aunt Mattie. “Do you know how many girls get to wear their dream-dresses?”

“Every other girl he kidnapped?” Anne stuttered, slightly befuddled at her sudden inability to feel angry.

“Perhaps,” shrugged Aunt Mattie, conceding the point with a wave of her hand. “The shower is that way. You’ll want to freshen up.”

“What in the blessed All-Shrine is a shower?” balked Anne, before staring at the white door in the wall. “Wait, when did that…”

“I thought so,” said Aunt Mattie darkly. “He’s given you limited control of the soulstuff in this room. You can shape it at will now.”

“Can it help me escape, then?”

“Probably not, and no, I wouldn’t try it,” said Aunt Mattie. “He’ll know.”

Anne stared down at her fingers, trying to understand what Aunt Mattie had just said. Magic? Could it be…?

She plucked an apple from the air, stared at it in horror, then threw it straight into the wardrobe. The apple burst into pulp, slid down in mushy fragments, then melted into iridescent light, joining to the wooden backboard.

“What… what is this?” she gasped. “What…”

“First-timer,” sighed Aunt Mattie, “and he gives you Creation. Talk about tossing a baby the reins. Look, don’t think about it too much. Just take the dress, get in the shower, and rinse your head off. It’ll probably quench your temper, too.”

“What’s the shower?” Anne howled in frustration, already halfway to the white door out of sheer confusion. The green dress swayed in her hands like woven wind.

“Well, don’t look at me, girl, I wouldn’t know,” said Aunt Mattie. “You didn’t know what it was to begin with. How would I know what you dreamed up?”

It all seemed terribly hectic, right until Anne swung open the white door, tripped over the threshold, and fell straight into open air.

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Let's hope she's still in range of her creation ability effect.

Or that her ring of featherfall has the activation word of "aaaaahhhhh!"

I certainly hope so. Also, it's probably a garter of featherfall, anyway. ;)

Thanks so much for reading!

Happy to catch up so my up votes count for half a cent, or whatever it is. Still don't know how this site's currency works.

https://steemit.com/steem/@rabnawazqureshi/what-is-steem-and-how-does-it-work

I found this post quite helpful, even though it is quite confusing to start off with.

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