Recap: Polly, while impersonating the princess, has been kidnapped by an enchanter and his trainee, and taken far, far away from her home… where she meets the very princess she was impersonating. It is revealed they all are being threatened by a malevolent magical being known as a jadess. While learning all about various magic objects in this new land, none of which seem very useful, Polly succeeds in getting herself into a variety of scrapes. Can she get along with the arrogant enchanter long enough to figure out how to survive with a jadess after them? Chapter 1 is here...
Chapter 7: A Chaldean Lady’s Temper
I couldn’t face the Enchanter after that and avoided him, which thankfully wasn’t hard to do since he was so often out. Juggling the Rajah’s demands, his own many ladies, and keeping track of the jadess, I assumed. Couldn’t be easy. To keep busy instead I cooked more often, creating elaborate menus and experimenting with new recipes. Paulina was eager to learn, and so she cooked too sometimes. The only problem with that was then Radagast would follow her around and generally get in our way.
Then the jadess came to the Peak. I had wanted to see what she looked like when she wasn’t the princess, but I didn’t get a chance because Stefan dealt with her at the gate. All I could hear was an outraged scream, before all was silent. But, as Paulina pointed out to me, if the jadess could look like any female, how would I know if she looked like herself or if she had taken the appearance of someone else?
That night, in a low and anxious voice, Stefan told Casper what had happened. We were sitting by the fireplace in my kitchen, Paulina in the rocker with Radagast by her feet, and me across from her trying to embroider by the lamplight. Stefan and Casper were seated at the table, speaking quietly. Their profiles were in such contrast in the firelight, but each of them had a teardrop in one ear, and around them you could feel by the magic that they were both enchanters.
“I don’t understand how it took her so long to get here,” Stefan was saying, leaning forward across the table.
“Well,” Casper replied. “I expected she would come, and set out some things to confuse her as to where we’d put the girls. I believe her hedge wizard has had quite a time breaking them all. He’s not nearly as powerful as I am, but he’s dogged. He’ll crack our defences eventually.”
“I had a hard time making her leave,” Stefan said. “She’s so blasted strong that way.”
“At least you can make her leave,” Casper answered. With the firelight flickering off his deep eyes he looked more dangerous than ever.
I shuddered, wondering how I’d ever managed to get as powerful an enemy as the jadess. How do I get myself into these things? Drat everything, I just wanted to go back home.
“I’ll strengthen the defences around the grounds of the Peak too,” Casper sighed. “Just in case.”
The next day I went around the third floor balcony to look out on the front yard. My room was at the back and looked out on the back yard, but if I went out onto the balcony around the entrance hall I could look out on the front yard. The sky was dreary grey, casting long shadows over the lawn of the Peak. It looked rather like I felt.
To my surprise I saw a large white and gold coach drive up to the gates. Out of it stormed a tall young woman with flaming red hair, dressed in sumptuous green velvet. Below the knocker went rat-tat on the door. I hesitated, wondering what to do. Both Casper and Stefan were out – they seemed to trust us so much more now – and I had no idea where Paulina was. Sighing, I ran down the steps to the front door.
“Where is he?” the woman shrieked when I opened the door. “Let me at him this minute!”
Looking at her I could tell she had a temper at least as fiery as her hair, and she was used to getting her own way besides. Her eyes snapped with fury.
“Where is he?” she shrieked again.
“Excuse me, but who –” I tried to put in, but she wrenched the door out of my hands and stormed into the entrance hall.
“That cursed Enchanter, of course,” she said. “How dare he! To me, too. Me!”
I groaned. What had Casper done now? And why did I have to deal with it?
“He is out,” I told her, trying to restrain her. “Calm down! Why do you want to see him?”
“He jilted me,” she told me. I thought back lately. Casper had been here last night, but the night before that…
“He left me to pay his bills!” she shrieked.
“Actually, I think the Rajah…” But she wasn’t listening to me. Taking up one of the fantastically shaped vases by the door she smashed it against the floor. It would have worried me a lot more if I hadn’t know the vase was made by magic and wasn’t a priceless heirloom.
“Tell him I want to speak to him,” she told me fiercely. “Tell him I won’t put up with it!”
“Of course not,” I tried to tell her soothingly. “He’s sure to be in soon, and I’ll…” I trailed off, not quite sure where I was going.
“You do that,” she said, and turned away. “Tell that arrogant man he can’t get away with doing this to me!”
I closed the door behind her, muttering ‘good riddance’. Sighing I looked at the shards of porcelain vase on the floor. If one of the enchanters had been home they could have cleaned it up in an instant, but since they weren’t…
“What happened in here?” Paulina asked when she saw me. Her eyes travelled from the mess on floor to my disgruntled expression.
“Just one of Casper’s lady friends,” I sighed.
“Wow. Some temper,” she said, and bent down to help me.
We got all the pieces swept up before either of the enchanters came home, and had started making dinner. I told Paulina all about the lady with flaming hair, and she laughed.
“I almost wish nobles were like that in Angaria,” she said. “They are so dull sometimes.”
“You think she was a noble?” I asked.
“Of course,” Paulina replied. “The Chaldean upper class all have flaming tempers. They would visit Father’s court sometimes, and it used to amuse me to watch them.”
I wondered if it amused Casper too, and that was why he did it. It would be the sort of thing that would amuse him.
I caught Stefan on the way up the stairs that night, and told him about it. Stefan groaned, and rubbed his forehead with his hand.
“Not another!” he said. Then he looked at me. “This has happened before. Chaldean women are so – feisty. And somehow Casper is never around when they show up at the door.
“And you have to deal with them?” I asked. “Well, you were lucky this time.”
“Yeah.” He grinned.
He looked so young, dark and exasperated standing there on the stairs that I had to laugh. The Enchanter was quite something to put up with.
“Well, they must be easier to deal with than the jadess,” I said. “For you.”
“Oh no, just different,” he said. “Blast it, some of those women really scare you.”
“Yeah,” I laughed. “Any idea who this one was?”
“Likely Maria DeAballah,” he replied. “If you said she had red hair.” I nodded.
We continued up the stairway to the second floor.
“How come Casper can’t fight the jadess and you can?” I asked. “Are you stronger?”
“No,” he said. “It’s just the jadess has more power over him.” He stopped and looked at me. “You see, Casper was in love with the jadess once.”
I stared. “What?”
“Well, okay, not really in love,” he said. “You know how jadesses are – more interested in seduction than love. But he was infatuated with her. Because she has always been trying to get her hands on magic, you know, and she wanted Casper’s.” He paused. “A jadess’s power over a man doesn’t come instantly, all at once. At first, as long as they’re looking at you they can make you do what they want. But if you’re exposed to them enough they can make you completely in their power, even when you aren’t near them. Her hedge wizard, for instance, will always do her bidding because he’s been with her so long.”
He sighed. “When Casper first met her he didn’t know she was a jadess. He was crazy over her, he thought he was in love with her. But he was vaguely uneasy too. Then he discovered she was a jadess, and he knew he had to escape her clutches.”
He smiled at me. “That’s how I met him. I had some ideas about defeating a jadess’s power, and so I helped him. In return he took me as an trainee and gave me magic. But he can’t defeat the jadess himself because of the hold she’d got on him.”
“I wonder,” I said. “Why doesn’t she just go to the Sabeans and entrap one of them?”
“But the Sabeans know about jadesses,” he replied. “And they’ve purged their land of them.” He looked at me again. “One of her greatest dreams is to have magic strong enough to defeat them.”
I shuddered at the thought of that.
Go to Chapter 8A