Demonica’s keep had two great towers at opposite ends of the front wall of the castle proper. One of them housed Razzorbauch’s great library. The other one served as her private lookout over the vast Orin Ocean to the far off horizons in three directions. In good weather she was fond of having supper on its uppermost storey under a tile roof held
aloft by open Gothic arches on all sides. On this particular evening, she and Ugleeuh sat
across from each other in their crimson dresses, listening to the booming of the surf as the breeze ran ripples along the skirt of their linen tablecloth. She forked two more steaming slices of duck roast onto her plate of sour cabbage from the duck’s cavity and looked up at Ugleeuh. “Is something the matter, dear?” she said as she licked her fingertips.
“How do you eat like that after…?” said Ugleeuh, waving aside her own comment with a shake of her head. “Oh, never mind.”
“You don’t find that a good torture session increases your appetite?”
“Well, Minuet and Bethan were the one who always dressed the chickens…”
“Well. You do look right peaked, now that you call my attention to it, dear. Do Minuet and Bethan lose their appetites for chicken on the days they cut up fryers?”
“Of course not. They’ve learnt that what’s in the skillet is important enough that gory feathers are of no consequence at all. And the blood on a torture table doesn’t matter, either. What counts is that heady sense of power. Madog was on his way to see to your undoing. Now Leeuh, surely you’re not about to tell me that the mess in the dungeon overshadowed the orchestration of his deserving end, are you?”
“No Mother,” she said with an especially pale swallow. “I rather enjoyed myself. It’s quite something how long he lasted…”
“And that’s the entertaining part,” she said with a happy wave of her knife. “What good would it be if he died first thing?”
“I did enjoy myself, Mother,” she said as she picked up her bread to butter. “Could you pass the duck? I’d like some cabbage and some more bird.”
“Splendid,” she said, picking up the platter. “I believe your appetite is better already.”
“Oh it is. And I did have fun. But what does torture have to do with sorcery?”
“Oh, not so much with sorcery as it has to do with power. One must enjoy power in order to wield it.”
“So now that we’re relaxed and powerful, when will you teach me to be a sorceress?”
“Well sorcery does include power,” said Demonica as she spread some cabbage onto her bread. “But no more today, dear. Let’s just talk and get to know each other.”
“Fine. What do you want to know?”
“Well, what did Princess Branwen do to make you go to all that trouble to get rid of her?”
Ugleeuh laughed, rocking back and forth to swallow. “Not a thing,” she said. “She was just in the way.”
“She was betrothed to Prince Hebraun.”
“So I’ve my own plans for Hebraun, if you must,” said Ugleeuh with a sullen toss of her raven mane.
“Why you look vexed. I’m only curious about you.”
“Yea? Well it would be easier to take, had you any curiosity about me while I was growing up,” she said, glaring as she wiped her mouth. “So here you be after skipping my life entirely up to now, pushing at me for a cozy little chat. My appetite’s gone. I’m going to bed.” And with that, she threw her napkin onto her plate and stood up.
“Touchy, are we?” said Demonica as Ugleeuh reached the stairs.
Ugleeuh slowed as her back stiffened, taking the first step down.
In Chapter 17 of Good Sister, Bad Sister, Demonica takes Ugleeuh to see Madog, the one who delivered the cat to Princess Branwen. It quickly becomes clear that not only did Ugleeuh murder Princess Branwen of Far, she also caused the outbreak of the plague.
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps