Demonica pushed away her plate and studied the sour look on Spitemorta’s face. “Did your meal not agree with you, dear?” she said sweetly.
“The meal was inferior, of course, but bearable, Grandmother. You seemed to enjoy yours, so why do you even bother me about my opinion?”
“Oh, I don’t know, dear. For some reason I keep thinking that time might pass more quickly if we didn’t just sit here and glare at one another. Perhaps I’m mistaken.”
“It’s still a long time ’til dark, Grandmother. I can’t imagine that you and I could possibly have that much to say to each other.”
“You’re undoubtedly right, but as you have already pointed out, this little place has nothing worth visiting, so we seem to be stuck with merely passing the time until it’s dark enough to leave on the Staff for Gwael. Unless, of course, you’re ready to endure a traveling spell, this one time.”
“Hey!” said a reeling man as he bumped the table, slopping mead out of Spitemorta and Demonica’s goblets. “Wings of the Heavens One and Wings of the Heavens Two. Now, we don’t get lovelies like you ones, come down to this house, just any old day.”
“See?” said Demonica, leaning aside with dancing eyes. “It shows. I told you I was natural for the part when you demanded that I be Fnadi-yaphn.”
Spitemorta flung her a very dark glower before sharing it with their company. “Back off, you stinking sot!”
“Now that’s ire-knee,” he said, bumping the table again, “Wings of the Heavens One, is it? “Or are you Wings of the Heavens Two? Why is it, Wings of the Heavens whatever the number you are, why is it that all the pretty skirts from the heavens are such mistresses…?” he paused for a lewd hoot and snort. “How come all you pretty skirts are such stinking mistresses of ire-knee? Did I say ‘stinking?’ Or did you say ‘stinking’…?”
“Beat it!” growled Spitemorta.
“Now Wings of the Heavens whatever you are,” he said as he thrust his bristly face into hers, “that’s a right smart amount of ire-knee for someone wants to be your mistress…”
“Yea! Chat her up, Crafiad!” cried someone amongst the grinning group who were filing over from the bar.
Spitemorta furiously shoved back from Crafiad’s face and grabbed the Staff.
Demonica grabbed her wrist. “Let’s leave now, dear,” she said as calmly as if they were going strolling. “Your uncle, King Theran, will be worried if we’re not back soon, and no doubt I shall be chastised for having brought you into this common house.”
Spitemorta hesitated, suddenly seeing how it all was and played along. She nodded and stood. “Yes, you’re quite correct, Demonica,” she said haughtily. “Uncle will be most put out with both of us.” She took Demonica’s arm and started for the door.
“Pretty skirts of ire-knee!” cried Crafiad, stumbling after them to grab Spitemorta by the arm. “If you Wings of Mistrosity are royal skirts, where’s your guard…?”
“Here,” said Spitemorta, as she jabbed the Staff into his face, blowing his head apart like a bomb, breaking glasses across the room. The entire tavern froze in shocked silence as she and Demonica resumed their unhurried departure.
“Well that taught him, I should say,” said Demonica as they settled once more into the coach. “You do realize that rumors are already spreading here in this sleepy place?”
“So? A little fear will do them good, and give King Theran something to wake up about, crazy old fool.”
“I don’t think he is the doddering old idiot you take him for, Spitemorta.”
“Really? You think it was an act, then? But you seemed completely taken in by his control of his person nonsense he was spreading all over, thick as butter.”
“Sure. I wanted to see how far he’d go with it. But, I get the idea that he has all his faculties, mind and body. No, he’s playing at something else, though it could merely be that he fears our power.”
“Or he is more like his daughter than I thought. Well, if that’s so, Grandmother, I shall simply deal with him as I did with her, when the time comes.”
“I’m sure you will, dear. Now, what shall we do until dark?”
“He was egging on Crafiad, back inside,” said Spitemorta as she looked down with a frown to whisk away a fleck of scalp and hair sticking to her bodice. “Let’s sharpen our skills of persuasion, shall we Grandmother?”
Demonica’s eyes lit with an immediate fire. “Merfyn!” she hollered. “Stop and help aboard that poor fellow in the road, please!”
“Up with me?”
“No, no. Inside with us.”
Excerpt from Ch 36, The Burgeoning
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps