The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:25 am 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:14 am
Posts: 15
Topics: 1
The Furcuţă Curse

By the Mulberry Thief

Summary:
This is a story about a girl, her sisters and her mysterious pet frog all living on the edge of an enchanted forest. In her quest to keep those dearest to her safe, can Tara unravel a dark curse from her past and find love in the most unlikely of places?

Setting:
Romanian folklore, early sixteenth century.

Pairing:
W/T centric, it just takes Tara a little while longer to realise it. Other notable coupling include; Angel/Buffy with undercurrents of Drusilla/Spike.

Disclaimer:
The story is mine, but I’m borrowing the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and some narrative components from the brothers Grimm tale The Frog Prince, Twelve Dancing Princess, and a lovely little book called Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier.

Rating:
PG – NC17, mild violence, sexual content and references.

Feedback:
I could use all the help I can get. This is the very first thing I’ve written that’s managed to venture further then my USB stick.


CHAPTER ONE–The visitor

We live outside a strange village, full of folklore, mysteries and unexplainable things. The town’s people fear the woods, they whisper of ghost walkers, otherworldly trickery and all matter of horrid beasts lurking beneath the forests cover. And they fear us, for our mansion stands alone on the very edge of the wildwood.

My father is a peculiar man, the type whose eccentricity encourages rumours and prying eyes. As a young lad he spent his entire inheritance to buy our castle for no other reason than he loved the notion of hidden nooks and secret passages. We three sisters never questioned the sense in such a decision, children rarely do. We thought it was thrilling having a forbidden mansion all to ourselves. Only our mother suffered the move. I imagine she found it awfully lonely out here on the Border, and though she loved us dearly, I don’t think she was ever truly happy hidden away from the world.

When she died, rumours spread. Rumours of curses, dark forces and the price one pays for living so close to the woods. Another death on the Maclay estate.

The first death had not been a member of our family, but a childhood friend. Her name was Willow and she was the Rosenberg’s little girl.

The Rosenberg’s were the closest things we had to neighbours, though their territory was in the Yarrow’s and almost half a day’s ride south. It was good farmland there, high up in the mountains, and according to gossip, much less likely to be possessed by demonic spirits. My father and Lord Ira had somewhat of a business relationship. Rosenberg would oversee our accounts ensuring that my father’s trading prices were competitive and well marketed in exchange for a percentage of the annual profits. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement, especially considering Rosenberg’s affinity with numbers and my father’s connections with the finest silk merchants in Venice.

Many years ago the Rosenberg’s had two children.

The eldest, a son name Warren, who was frightfully stubborn and not at all like his farther. He walked with a swagger and when he spoke he spat words into the air and when he ate it was almost as if he was slaughtering the food on his plate all over again.

He could not be more different then his sister, the ever-smiling, ever-polite Miss Willow Danielle. She was bright in every way, her mind, her hair, her eyes. When she was five years old she beat old man Snyder in the village chess tournament. It was the talk of the town. No one had done that for decades. When she was six her father started bringing her on his business ventures. He called her his lucky charm, and that she was. Merchants fell in love with the clever young lady, keen to hear all they could teach her.

Though of course the towns people talked, for a man to bring his youngest daughter over his oldest son on such trips was very odd. Surely when it came time to name his successor he would call on his son. Though, if that were the case, why was his daughter chosen as his obvious apprentice?

As it turns out, there would never be a deciding moment wherein Lord Rosenberg made his decisions clear. Willow drowned in the River Swallow before her tenth birthday.

I have heard people speculate and exaggerate the circumstances of that day so many times that I, one of the two people who witnessed it, have lost any true sense of what really happened. But even after so many years night terrors still wake me, and I swear I remember seeing hands in the water dragging her under as Warren struggled desperately to pull me to shore. Like claws from the deepest depths pulling her down until nothing but rushing water remained.

“She’s gone Tara. Willow’s gone.” Her brother kept telling me, small hands on my shoulders and wet hair plastered to his brow.

He was only twelve at the time, but on that day he looked faded and old.

The Rosenberg’s never truly recovered.

Lady Shelia still only wears muted colours of mourning and busies herself with meaningless tasks. Only on the rarest occasion have I caught her without distraction and in those moments she looks every bit the broken mother as she did the very day we first told her of how her daughter disappeared beneath the surface.

Warren becomes more distant and cold with each passing season. His heart has grown hard and his humour is dark and spiteful. He blames the forest. He blames a curse. He blames magical folk his never seen.

It troubles me; how consumed by paranoia and rootless suspicion he becomes. I owe him my life, and for that I will be forever grateful. But I worry. Shouldn’t his pain lessen with time? Shouldn’t his hate become more palatable? But instead anger builds inside him, burning away at the boy who pulled me from the water and leaving behind a broken mess of a man.

And what of Lord Ira? He is still a fair and friendly man by all accounts, but the great loss of his treasured child robbed him his jovial laugh and has left his face creased with deep wrinkles.

Those wrinkles were especially prominent when he came to visit on the first day of winter of my nineteenth year. Sitting across from me at our grand oak table and dressed in fine foreign fabrics. I wondered where he’d purchased his finely embroidered tunic, and what exotic places he had worn it.

Lord Rosenberg really was one of the most interesting people I’d ever had the pleasure of meeting. And whenever he came he always brought treats, pastries and rare teas from wherever he’d travelled last. Dawn was especially fond of this tradition. She’d often run to Rosenberg’s carriage to meet him at the gates and see what strange gifts he may have acquired for us this time.

That day it was ginger tea and raspberry tarts, a refreshing contrast to the bland provisions we kept in the stores. Our housekeeper insisted on steeping the leaves in our most expensive pot, and we led our guest into the large kitchen hall to entertain until my father was available to attend to whatever business they had planned.

If it had been any other merchant we would have insisted on sitting in the formal dining room for appearances sake. But Ira was an old family friend, and the warmth of the kitchen fires was much more inviting then the stone walls and marble floor of the dining room.

“I trust you are all well.” Rosenberg smiled as Dawn helped herself to the tarts.

“Yes, my Lord, quite well. Father will be with you as soon as he is able.” I answered.

“And Buffy? Is she still riding?” He questioned politely.

“As we speak.” I smirked. It was unreasonably cold outside for such activities, though Buffy had always been a bit more adventures that what might be deemed reasonable.

“Now why doesn’t that surprise me?” He offered a knowing smile which I returned before taking a sip of my tea.

It was then that my unconventional little friend began wiggling about from the safety of my skirt pocket, hopping in gentle leaps across my lap and then onto the table. Understanding the gesture I blew gently on my tea before pouring a few drops onto the saucer and setting the cup beside it. Low-low, doing her best not to draw attention, crouched next to the small plate and subtly licked at the cooling liquid. If Ira noticed the little creature attendance he did not mention it, instead he steered conversation to more professional matters.

“Your father and I have been discussing expanding our trade over the Northern Waters. It’s a long journey, over two moons passing, but the people in those parts are wealthy enough to afford exotic treasures, yet secluded enough to have little access to such rare commodities.”

It was not customary to include women in such talk but Lord Rosenberg was notorious for challenging social conventions concerning such things. Most folk attributed this harmless yet eccentric behaviour to his mysterious upbringing in a far away land. But I gave him more credit than that.

“It sounds like an excellent opportunity.” I spoke honestly.

“It does seem that way, yes.”

Dawn helped herself to another tart, quite purposely avoiding my eye as not to be refused the chance.

“Then why do I sense hesitation in your proposal My Lord? Do you think establishing relations in the North could have serious political consequences?” I had not initially considered this. But it seemed to me that Rosenberg needed convincing of his own idea, and I wondered what ramifications such decisions might have.

The red bearded man allowed a glowing smile to soften his worn features.

“My dear girl, however do you manage to see through people as though they are transparent glass jars of bottled emotions?”

I blushed a little, not sure whether that was criticism of compliment.

“Sometimes I’m quite thoroughly convinced she’s a mind reader.” Dawn was taking yet another tart, if my count was right this was at least her forth, I caught her eye and gave a subtle disapproving head shake. I’m quite sure she understood the gesture, however she did not relinquish the treat. Instead she broke the pastry in half, placed one piece on Low-low’s saucer and ate the other half in a single bite.

“My concern is not in forming new alliances, but your father’s ability to undertake such a journey in his poor health.” Ira admitted.

My heart ached at that. So he had notice too. The hollowing of my Father’s cheeks, the ragged coughs that shook his body. It did not take a trained physician to see that what had started as a seasonal sickness was becoming more sinister by the day. What would happen if the worst was to occur was unthinkable. With no heir to our estate, I could only assume that we would be repossessed, our home and my sisters with it, perhaps by some distant cousin with no appreciation anything he’d come to acquire.

What would become of us? Would we watch our home be sold to those ignorant of all it’s historical quirks, and hidden secrets? Would we be separated? Married off to wealthy men who care nothing of his bride except that of her suitability for child-birth? I couldn’t let that happen, not to Buffy and Dawn. I was the oldest, if only by a matter of months. If I found a husband, a reasonable man who allowed for some freedoms, then I could protect my sisters. They could stay in our home, they could live whatever life they chose. And I would find satisfaction in knowing I enabled them as well as I was able.

I highly doubted any form of romantic love would ever see me wed. I’d never found notions of dark rugged strangers in anyway appealing and I imagined they’d find me rather plain. My hair is an indecisive shade of golden brown, stuck awkwardly between Buffy’s lighter blonde and Dawns darker brunette and I’m just tall enough to make average heightened men feel inadequately short.

Don’t be sad Tara.

Came the silent voice only I could hear. The little creature made her way to where my hand rested and nuzzled against my palm.

I’m here.

I smiled softly and let my fingers trace the green markings on her smooth back. A frog is no doubt an unusual pet for a lady of my standing, but Low-low was no ordinary frog, and maybe I wasn’t much of a lady.

“It’s warmer in the north, isn’t it?” Dawn asked after a moment.

Ira and I looked to my sister and Low-low shifted under my palm.

“Maybe a change in climate would help him get better. It’s so cold here at night.” She finished, sounding much more innocent then her twelve years.

“I think that’s a great idea Dawnie.” I shifted my hand across to hers and squeezed.

You’re a good sister Tara.

Not long after I sent Dawn upstairs to check on father, and soon they both returned, her footsteps bounding and boisterous, and his creaks and shuffling on the old stair case. We talked about trading in the north, we talked about the weather, we talked about Warren’s hunting and Lady Shelia’s hope to throw a ball before Spring. But none of us mentioned how weakly my father’s voice rasped in his throat or how hard he found it to catch his breath after descending the stairs.

By the time Lord Rosenberg bid us adieu it had been decided the Father would venture North and Ira’s scribe Jessie would accompany him on this journey. The Rosenberg’s would supervise our estate while he was gone. Though it was mutually understood that Buffy and I were quite capable to care for our land in Father’s absence, their involvement would merely be a formality.

And that is how we planned that winter, though that is not at all how it turned out.


Last edited by The Mulberry Thief on Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Developing: The furcuţă curse
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:00 am 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:14 am
Posts: 15
Topics: 1
CHAPTER TWO –The stranger

Tara, what is it?

Low-low enquired, startling me from my daze. She sat perched by her water jug on my bedside table, watching me with the biggest most inquisitive eyes.

“Hmm?” I answered distractedly.

We were alone in our bed chamber.

What were you thinking about just now? She insisted, jittering a little from too much sugar in the raspberry tart. She was adorable that way, once I allowed her two sips of qahwa and she quite literally bounced off the walls.

“Oh.”I reached behind my back to fasten the clasp of my dancing gown,

“N-nothing.” Curse my stuttering.

Casually I brushed my hands over my stomach to flatten the slight wrinkles in the fabric then started fiddling with my braids.

“How should I wear my hair tonight?”

It didn’t matter, my hair never sat the way I intended it to, but I desperately wanted to talk about something else.

“Like this?” I asked pulling it up away from my face.

Usually that was enough to distract her.

If it's nothing then why don't you tell me?

Now ordinarily I am an adequate enough liar. I’d done every full moon for the last ten years. But lying to her...it was like lying to a part of myself, and I suppose in a way I was. The root of my denial had begun only three nights prior when I’d had the strangest dream, a dream that lingered with me in a way I was embarrassed to admit.

I’d dreamt of a girl floating towards me, and I could hear her trying to talk but it was as though she spoke from underwater. Everything was just sounds and swelling. But when she’d come close enough, all I could do was stare. I memorised every feature of her face. The depth in her eyes and the curve of her nose. I memorised the colours, the leafy green, copper rouge and the freckled pink. And I memorised the four words I caught her saying through all the distortion.

“Tara. Please see me.”

And that was it.

When I woke I felt I’d spent all night looking at her and the strangest notion overcame me. A residual yearning. I longed to see her again the moment I opened my eyes. It was this notion that made me so uneasy. There was a part of me that was worried that if I revealed my seemingly innocent encounter that my brilliantly intuitive amphibian would see right through me. That no matter how calmly and well practiced I recounted it she’d catch that hidden thing I was scared to feel.

Want.

I’d never wanted someone like that. Not when Buffy talked about handsome stable boys or when Dawn fantasized about wealthy young bachelors dressed in their finest.

But I was drawn to this...this...girl.

And that was not something I would allow myself to confess. I had a responsibility and it did not bode well to acknowledge this unsettling truth. We had a problem, no heir to our estate. I had a solution, marry a husband. This figment of my imagination was dangerous, and I refused to justify it by admitting its existence, even to my dearest confidant.

Tara, I'm worried about you.

“I’m fine, okay. Now will you just help me with my hair?” I muttered impatiently, getting more flustered.

Just tell me, I can help.

“You can’t fix everything Low-low.” It came out harsher then I’d meant.

She flinched and tucked her legs underneath herself, shrinking into her best impersonation of a mossy rock.

“Oh Lowie, I’m sorry.” I quickly scooped her up in my hands, though she didn’t move an inch. The damage was done.

“Please, I’m just tired and I’m concerned about father. We’ve never been in charge of the estate for as long as we will be this time.”

She refused to move, holding perfectly still in my palms and I worried that I’d truly offended her. We very rarely fought.

“Please believe me.”

I stroked her back with the pad of my finger.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have snapped. It’s not your fault. Please don’t be upset.”

For the next few minutes I attempted to sooth her back into the warm hearted companion I knew her to be, but Low-low remained a small bundle of nervous energy quivering in my hands.

Perhaps I would have stayed there all night if we were not interrupted when Buffy burst through the door, all dressed in dancing wear, hair pinned and rosy cheeked. It always amazed me how she could transform from windswept wild child to the loveliest of ladies without even batting an eyelid.

“Tara, where’s the lace that matches your buttercup gown? Dawn needs something around her waist...” Before I could answer she was scrimmaging through my wardrobe.

“Bottom draw...” I aided.

“Oh thanks.” She turned and faced me, ribbon draped over her arm.

“You’re not ready yet?” Her tone was somewhere between annoyed and alarmed.

I was just sitting there, Low-low perched on my knee, half dressed and hair tangled.

“I-I...”

Was being ignored by my frog?

“I’m just finishing up.” I landed on weakly.

“Well you better hurry, we need you to open the portal and you’ll be the joke of the Glade if you come through looking all dishevelled like that.”

I self consciously touched my gown and as I did it slid off my shoulder reminding me I hadn’t even finished fastening it at the back. Quickly I dressed, heaped my hair onto my head with a clasp and ignored my mess of a reflection.

Usually that was when my little friend would whisper something sweet like: you’re so beautiful, and though I wouldn’t have believed it, I would know that at least she did. Of course that night we weren’t speaking, so I’d have to face the Glade without even the assurance that a frog thought me pretty.

“Would you like to ride on my shoulder tonight?” I asked Low-low quietly.

She did not respond, simply sat; staring vaguely out the window and shoulders tense. I swallowed heavily and followed her gaze. The plane was frosted over.

“Though it’s awfully cold out there, perhaps you’d be warmer in my pocket?”

Next door the floorboards squeaked and I knew my sisters were getting in position. It was time to go.

“I-f you’d rather stay here I’d understand.”

You do not want me to come?

“No, of course I want you to come. You have to come. I just... I t-thought... ”

If it pleases you, I will ride on your shoulder.

“It does, it really does.”

Then she hopped haphazardly for my torso and I caught her half way through the air, held her gently then placed her where she always sat, snuggled just at the base of my neck.

I joined my sisters in the nursery across the hall, they were both crouched under the stain glass window.

“Hurry Tara!” Dawn whispered and Buffy patted my place in the triangle.

Kneeling beside them I sore they’d already shifted the rug we kept over the discoloured symbol engraved on the wooden floorboards.

This was our secret.

To me the symbol looked like a crown but it seemed to appear differently to whomever sore it. That is perhaps the first hint that it is not of the Human world.

The stain glass window above was the only source of light in the room and it glowed with the radiance of full moon, and I watched and waited for the light to align with the centre disk of the coloured glass before I placed my hand over the seal and begun our spell.

“A crown for a queen.” I begun.

“A blade for the warrior.” Buffy seconded.

“A key for a passage.” Dawn chimed.

“We are friends with good intentions, with your permission we will cross over.” I finished softly.

Then the symbol glowed white and fell through floorboards, taking with it the ground it was engraved on. The shimmering hole it left dropped into a vast catacomb of tunnels bellow.

Magic.

Nothing else could explain why a seemingly common nursery on highest floor of a castle could lead to an underground passageway. Nothing else could explain how we three sisters stumbled across it by accident ten years ago or the wondrous place it lead too. This was our full moon secret.

Buffy leapt through the opening first before sliding down the slopped path and onto a stone floor with agility and poise. Dawn followed her, lowering herself down in a controlled movement and stumbling a little on the way. I hesitated before going after them. Buffy was brave and where I was sensible. Dawn was energetic where I was calm. I suppose that comes from being just a little older, and just a little more wary. But it is for this very reason that I always went after them nonetheless, someone had to keep watch, someone had to bring them home and remind them where we belonged. The Other Kingdom can be alluring in the most incredibly confusing ways.

“Hold tight Low-low.” I whispered, and felt her brace herself against my collar bone.

Always. Her little voice so tender.

On three?

I nodded.

“One.”

Two.

“Three.”

And with that I fell through the portal and into the labyrinths of stone tunnels.

The four of us followed our usual route deeper and deeper into the darkness. We held hands when all light faded and followed the sound of waves crashing on a distant shore. I walked first in our chain because the only time I hadn’t my sisters had gotten terribly lost. It seemed I was necessary in this, I could go alone, or I could take others. But it had to me, otherwise the familiar paths become twisted and safe passage was not guaranteed. I’d walked those catacombs countless times but I still relied on Low-low’s little voice.

Almost there, two more left turns up ahead. Then straight till you see the rocks and the skyline.

I once asked her if she could see, and she simply said.

No, I just remember from the first time.

That in itself was impressive, it was over half an hour’s journey on foot and each turn bent into the next.

One more left, and just like Low-low said we could see the skyline. In some ways so similar to our sky, same consolations and arrangements, but here there was never clouds and the stars almost seemed to dance as though alive.

We approached the River Swallow, which always glistened and gleamed in this realm. Buffy and Dawn released one another’s hands and raced towards the silhouettes of three small boats docked nearby and I smiled at the image of them in their elegant dresses running wild like forest nymphs. I didn’t chase after them, Low-low was tensing as we drew closer so I took her from my shoulder and pressed her gently against my chest humming a lullaby my mother use to sing.

She hated crossing.

Dawn once pointed out how ridiculous it was that a frog was petrified of a river.

“It would be like a sheep afraid of pastures or a bird afraid of nesting trees.”

I thought it best not to mention the time Low-low sore a wild bull frog and was so horrified she hid under my skirt and begged me to save her from the beast.

I could feel her shivering against my neck.

“We’ll be over before you know it.”

On the shore the three boats bobbed steadily, each an enchanting vessel in its own right. One was carved to look like a heron, the next a swan and the next a wood duck and each only large enough to carry their captain and one passenger.

I could see Dawn on the duckling, laughing with her guide, a familiar boy, almost human in appearance except for the rams horns protruding from his forehead and the bluish tinge of his skin.

My guide was Clement, a loose skinned floppy eared creature.

“Miss Tara.” He bowed then helped me onto the heron vessel.

“Clem.” I greeted with a curtsey.

I took my place where I always did, leaning against the mast, Low-low safe between my fingers, and the two of us praying to be on solid land soon. Dawn was always more daring, she bustled about from one side of the boat to the next trying to catch sight of all the incredible things.

“Look! Look! A pixie near the bridge!” She’d say.

“Oh there! A little island with glowing flowers!” A moment after that.

Buffy however would usually stand at the bow, leaning forward and dragging her hands through the water. I use to ask her not too , I remembered the claws that pulled the Rosenberg’s little girl under and I feared the marine dwellers. All matter of luminous eyes and scaled cretins inhabited this river, and those were only the beings that chose to make their presence known

Who’s that? Low-low asked.

I followed her gaze and caught sight of the swan vessel. They were yet to way anchor. I’d never seen the guide with Buffy before, he was a tall man, dark featured and well dressed.

He watched her with frightening intensity.

“Who is the man accompanying Buffy tonight?” I enquired, attempting to keep my tone casual.

His eyes...they were hungry eyes, and they never left my sister for a moment.

“I don’t know his name, but his travelling companions are honoured guests of her majesties Glade.”

We chopped through rougher waves and a shiver ran down my spine

“I thought it wasn’t customary for a guest to act as an escort...” I pushed.

“It’s not, but he requested to meet with one of the human girls on Full Moon specifically. Even challenged a few of our locals to a duel of the matter. Knocked the legs right outa Forrest Gates. They may not be much for talking those Night People, but boy they can put up a good fight.” Clem had a good-natured grin on his face.

“N-n-night people?”

They’re not real.

I’d heard stories of garlic, holy water and throats torn from sleeping children. Everyone had. But I’d thought they were myths, old wives tales, and superstition.

Suddenly I was desperate to call out to Buffy, to warn her of the danger she might be in.

“Do not fret Miss Tara. He will not harm your sister, or anyone here by invitation. The Glade is a peaceful gathering, and even the most violent of creatures abide by the rules of full moon.”

I wished they weren’t so far behind, I wished Buffy would turn so I could see her face.

“H-how can you be sure?”

Clem smiled.

“Our rules are not like human rules, believe me, you of all people are safe here Miss Tara.”

His reassurances hardly eased my anxieties and I spent the remainder of the journey preoccupied with my own restlessness. I was shocked when the boat scraped across shallow ground.

Clem disembarked and requested his dance. I accepted, but only on the condition that we wait for the others. Just as the swan vessel made port he led me away from the river. I let him but watched over my shoulder the whole way. Buffy’s escort bowed deeply, and offered her his hand while assisting her to dryer land. If it had been any other suitor I would have thought he respectful, but I didn’t like any of this, and I didn’t trust him for a moment.

The Glade was a clearing in the woods, round and lined with butterfly lanterns and hovering tinker bell lights. At the apex was three golden thrones where Glory and her advisers sat and watched the splendour of it all. A queue of adoring subjects weaved around the crowd, waiting for an audience with her Majesty, which she gave to each in due time. The band were at her right, playing whatever she demanded at the pace she tapped her foot and to her left were acrobats and jesters performing for her amusement. The inner circle was the dance floor, and the outskirts were for those who preferred social niceties. Some debating philosophies of interspecies communications, some simply who chose to watch rather than join the festivities and all those who had grown weary of dancing and had retired for the evening. Then the most unsociable ominous creatures lingered just behind the shadowed trees. The ones who feared the light, but curiously hovered near. My sisters and I had long agreed that those regions were strictly forbidden.

Poor Clem led me through the steps of the fox trot without any assistance on my part. We spun and we parted and our feet twirled about but the entire time I looked for them over my shoulder. As always it was invigorating, and the drums sounded of beating hearts, the tambourines of secret thoughts and the fife of life’s melody itself. The music of the Other Kingdom far surpassed anything I’d ever heard at village concerts and balls. But perhaps that was because the fey playing them seemed born for their instruments, strange fingers that could reach impossible notes and hard hooves that clacked along. Usually I found it the most delightful thing, and though I am not the most graceful of dancers ten years of moon lit practice have made me passable by any standards.

Low-low did not enjoy my dancing. She retreated to the pocket I had sown into the hem of my gown and was forced to be flung about wherever my dress took her. Occasionally she would make a little noise as a goblin bumped into my hip or a flying couple kicked their legs about without the slightest concern. Though she always insisted on staying with me, even though after the twirls she seemed to come out dizzy and nauseous.

After the first dance I saw Dawn and Antoine skip off towards some other youngsters and found Buffy amongst the crowd, she was still linked arms with the stranger. His pale skin looking unnaturally colourless under the lights and his dark eyes burning through her.

“E-excuse me Clement. Oh, and thank you f-for the dance.” I hurried off towards them.

“Buffy.” I tried to get her attention, but she seemed as enraptured as he was. Hypnotism? I’d not heard tales of that. I continued squeezing through the mass, through elves and minatores and creatures with feathered wings.

“Buffy!” I repeated louder, though the music was starting up for the next dance and people begun to take their places. Her and the brooding stranger were slipping out of sight.

“Would you do me the honour?” I heard a low voice, and a hand was on my shoulder.

If given time I may have made an excuse to the exceptionally tall bachelor, but we were already bowing to our partners and I was sure he’d have a clear view over the masses.

“It would be my p-pleasure.” I answered back as we started moving. I tried to see Buffy by standing on my toes.

I stepped twice then again.

“Forgive me my Lady, but you seem distracted tonight.”

“Miss, miss Tara. My mother was the Lady of our estate, I am merely her daughter.” I absent minded corrected. Of course she was dead so perhaps the Giant was actually the more correct out of the two of us.

“Forgive me Miss, so I wonder which gentlemen has caught you eye.” I only then realised that he thought me indifferent. Of course I was. He was handsome enough, but I wasn’t really looking for handsome. I was looking for appropriate inheritor material, and otherworldly giant didn’t really fit the bill.

“It is not my own concerns that distract me, but my sister, I’ve lost sight of her and she was dancing with the most ominous of partners.”

And by ominous we mean suspicious. Low-low muttered.

“Oh, perhaps I can assist you in your search.”

For the next turn he lifted me high and held me there a few moments longer.

I saw them.

“That c-can’t be right...”

What can’t be right?

They were leaving the dance floor and heading towards the forest.

We never left the Glade...those were the rules. Buffy was smarter than that, she was sensible.

What is it? Where are they? I want to see, take me out.

Then my partner placed me back on the ground and spun twice under his arm.

“Any luck?” He asked charmingly, completely unaware of my inner turmoil.

I nodded, Low-low was trying to squirm from my pocket but I subtlety pushed her back in.

Let me see. I’m coming out.

“You’ll get trampled on.” I hissed under my breath.

“I’ll get what?” The giant must have heard.

“I-I must apologise. I’m feeling al l-little...” I couldn’t see Buffy at all anymore

“I’m n-not...” Where was he taking her?

“I h-have too...” Images of my sister disappearing deeper and deeper into the woods assaulted me.

“I need a moment.” Quite rudely I dropped my partners hands and scurried in the direction I’d seen them leaving.

What's happening?

I scooped Low-low out of my pocket and placed her on my shoulder.

“Where is he taking her? What on earth is she thinking?” I fumed as the crowed thinned and I pushed through.

I don’t know, but we better hurry. Something’s not right.

“Buffy?” I called out blindly.

I squeezed through the last of the dancing couples, only to come to the scattering expanse which transitioned from clearing to dense forest. I rushed through the area of tied dances, onlookers and laughing spectators too the shadowed place that was always forbidden. The folk here were guarded and strange. A backwards headed monkey, a serpent headed man, a gathering of dark witch’s with things hidden under their robes. All watched me sceptically and I was left with the unmistakable impression that I didn’t belong amongst them.

I crossed my arms around myself defensively.

“Where is she? God I’m going to kill her when I find her.”

Where did you see them last?

“Over there.” I pointed to a winding path leading into the woods.

Oh. Of course, let the creepy bloodsucking man lead you away from all the witnesses.

“What is she doing going that far into woods? And with one of them?” I took one last look at familiar glade behind me, of the merriment and festivities, then I looked ahead and set off after her.

Wait, I don’t like this, too dangerous, you shouldn’t go alone.

“I’m not alone. I’ve got you.”

I don’t count.

“Don’t say that. Not ever.”

That’s not what I mean.

I picked up the pace. There was something terribly eerie about these trees, the way they sagged and clung and bent. With every step the howls and creaks grew louder and louder and the dancing Glade faded away.

Please Tara, go back for the giant.The big one who was flirting with you.I’m sure he’d be happy to play the big strong protector.

Or ask Clem.

Or Doc.

Or anyone with arms big enough to hit something.

“I don’t intend on their being any hitting.”

Something snapped in the nearby branches and I suddenly realised we weren’t alone.

Not even slightly.

The sombre faces were all around us. Some laying together on roots and tangled twigs. Some pressed against the trunks. Some lounging just out of sight, dim figures blending into shadows and silhouettes.

The Night People were everywhere; I’d stumbled helpless into their den.

Pretend you don’t see them.

I fixed my eyes on my feet and carried on.

Don’t run, they’ll chase you if you do. Move slow. Turn around, go back. Go back now.

Low-low was nudging her nose into my neck over and over: go back, go back, go back now.

But there was no going back. Not anymore. I had a sister to save. And then possibly kill if she hadn’t managed to do that on her own. So I walked through the lair of the beasts, and their gazes weighed heavily on my chest.

Please, I’m scared.

I wanted to answer her, but they’re eyes were all over me, and they were suffocating.

Please take me back now.

Take me home.

“Not this time baby.” My voice so quiet I almost mouthed it. But I knew she heard the moment she stopped prodding and buried into the nook of my neck. I felt a little braver for it and tilted to rest my cheek against the smooth of her back.

She was there.

We were together.

I noticed one of them following me soon after. Slinking behind. Then another, stalking just off the path.

Faster and faster I walked, trying to appear calm. Faster and faster they followed, gaining with each stride.

“Little mouse, little mouse, lost her way.” I heard a women’s voice close on my heels. Her voice... I can only describe it as that of a deranged poet. Fluently haunting. She sung it as she swooped, overtook and blocked my way in one graceful movement. She was not what you’d expect for a bloodsucking monster, unnaturally beautiful, fine featured and elegant. But there was something profoundly dangerous about her.

I tried to move around her but she reached out and caught my arm, loose hipped and slinking.

“Twelve franks for the beastie on your shoulder.” She said with an air of vague detachment.

Her grip on my arm tightened.

“Let me go.” I pulled against her only to back into the other one.

“Woah there pretty lady.” Spinning quickly he grabbed my wrist but I yanked him off with a little shove.

“No need for that pet.” He was tall, blonde haired and smirking as he and his partner circled.

“We’re all civil folk here.” He leered towards me and licked his lips.

“Gotta play nice on this side of the moon. Play nice for her Highness, she’s a nice sort of Queen.” He bowed low, kissed my hand in rough jab then grinned wide, exposing his teeth, elongated and disfigured.

When he released me I backed away so quickly I almost stumbled.

On my mark, you run, I’ll distract them.

“Isn’t she a lovely birdie, chirping away in her master’s ear. You think she’d sing like that for me Spike? ” The women purred.

“W-what?” I spluttered. Did she hear…?

I started to back off the path and into the forest.

“It seems Drusilla has taken a liking to your toad. Got a thing for the weak and pitiful she does.” He explained.

Low-low was shaking. So was I.

“S-she’s not for sale.” I managed, quickly sliding my friend out of sight under my bodice.

“Oh don’t be rude, we can make a deal, I’ll be your beastie instead if you like? You can carry me around and press me to your bosom. I’d make a good beastie. Much prettier then that ugly thing.” She reached her hand out towards me.

You touch her and I’ll kill you. Low-low hissed.

“I-I’m looking f-f-or my sister.” I stuttered out.

No Tara.

No questions.

No talking.

Blood sucking tricksters, not to be trusted.

You run when I say.


“She as tastey as you?” Drusilla seized my throat with an unsettling sense of forced intimacy and a vice like grip.

NOW!

Low-low leapt from my gown and landed directly on Drusilla’s perfect face causing her to squeal and flap her hands about.

I slipped from her grasp, dropping to the ground to scrambled for something, anything, to use as a weapon.

“It’s in my mouth!!” She screeched, slapping Low-low away like a bug.

“Feisty for a frog, isn’t she?” Spike attempted to snatch her up. Low-low hopped and hopped but within moments he’d caught by the leg.

“Not to bright though. Getting yourself smooched and all.” He dug his fingers into Low-low’s little body.

“Squish her dead.” Drusilla hissed and spat out the bad taste.

I couldn’t breathe. One of his nails had split through her skin and I sore red pooling around his thumb.

No. No. No.

“Stop it!”

I snatched up a branch and swung it before me like a sword. It wobbled in my hands. I wobbled all over.

Blood.

Not much for a person, but a too much for a frog that fits in your palm. Too much.Too much.

“Give her back to me.” I demanded. Low-low wasn’t moving. Every ounce of me was begging her to just be playing dead. Just be pretending. Just be alive.

“Vicious for a mouse.” Drusilla slunk away into the dark, but her partner didn’t flinch.

“I m-mean it. Give her back or I will drive this through your heart, and we’ll soon see if what they say about your kind is true.” I didn’t recognise my own voice.

Spike snickered at my threat, it was awfully patronising.

“Settle down love. As I said, all civil folk on this side of the moon. But you should tell your little toad to mind her manners, not all folk are as understanding as I am.” With that he threw her carelessly into the shrubbery and I heard her splat against something solid.

And just like that my first encounter with the Night People was over. They disappeared like dust in the wind and I couldn’t care less where they went. Frantically I ran to Low-low, scrimmaging through thorns and bristles, to find her limp form awkwardly flopped on a rock.

I lifted her as though her guts might spill out of her any moment.

Her body quivered and twitched with each little breath and a crescent shaped wound above her collar seeped.

Tara.

So weak, so very weak.

“Sshh darling....”

My eyes stung as I tore a layer of silk from the hem of my gown tied the fabric tightly over her little shoulder to slow the bleeding, the makeshift bandage covered half her entire body and a scarlet stain quickly seeped through.

“Lowie, your hurt.”

Not safe here. Have to get back.

“You’re really hurt.” I held her so carefully against me.

Doesn’t matter. Have to get somewhere safe.

“Safe...” Yes, urgently I rose and clutched her as I ran back down the path.

I needed help.

A healer.

A sage.

Anyone.

I ran through the woods one way, then the next, this direction, then that. I ran towards the sound of the Glade, but never manage to reach it. I ran until my lungs and legs betrayed me and I was forced to press on despite them. Everyone knew the stories of people who strayed to far into the wildwood, everyone knew what happened to those who couldn’t find their way back.

Tara...


“Hang on Low-low. I’ve got you.”

Her eyes, usually hyper-focused and alert were cloudy and her shaking grew weaker by the moment

Please hurry.

And I did, I hurried as I have never before, adorned in a tattered dress and ruined dancing shoes, I hurried.

My mind was plagued with thoughts of Buffy following the dark stranger to her doom, of Dawn lost and alone in the Glade, of the red mark leaking through fabric. Of my father’s coughing and my sisters never getting home. Of Low-low lying there, of his hands around her.

I must have found favour with the Goddess herself because, vision blurred and weary, I ran straight into my sister full paced. Buffy swerving out of the way, and me tumbling over with a gasp.

“Tara?!” She exclaimed while trying to catch me.

I struggled against her as not to lose sight of the dark stranger lingering at her heel like a lost puppy. I tried to drag Buffy away from him but my sister resisted my efforts with her usual tenacity. She didn’t understand. She didn’t know what he was.I had to warn her. But first we had to get away.

“We have to g-go. ” Everything ached. But nothing more than the uncharacteristic silence of my companion. She’d stopped talking miles ago.

“Tara, you’re filthy, what’s wrong? Look at me. What happened?”She lifted my chin to face her.

“We h-have to go, Low-low she’s...”

“Is that blood on your arm?” Buffy checked me over for injuries but I brushed her away. No time for that. I was fine. But Low-low...

My stained hands started to tremor despite willing myself to be still as I revealed my frog from beneath the satin bandages.

“Angel, I need you to take us the fastest way back.” Buffy looked at him with an expression I’d never seen on her, a vulnerability. My independent wild child force of nature sister was relying on this man, this thing, to get her home

And he did.

By whatever way he navigated us through the dense wilderness, he had us back to the Glade much faster then I knew should be possible. It was as if the paths were straighter now, the light brighter and the distance that took half an hour to run before now only took three little steps.

He didn’t say a word.

But I sore him gallantly kiss the back of her hand after she whispered her goodbyes.

We quickly fetched Dawn from a cluster of youngsters who all silenced when they saw me approaching, I must have looked frightfully serious. One of the tree dwellers gave me a velvet pouch of herbs to put in a soup for Low-low and another suggested I add a cup of water from the River Swallow.

The journey back passed in a blur that a scarcely remember how I got from one side of the shore, to the other. Once home I put Low-low on a saucer of warm water by the fireplace and got to work. I didn’t want the water to cause more bleeding, but her body was frozen through, and the wounds needed cleaning. The broth smelt positively awful, and as I stumbled about the kitchen in the early hours of the morning trying to find a ladle, a match, a bowel, any morsel of vegetable matter that might make it more palatable, I couldn’t stop from shaking.

As the sun rose I was still awake in my bed chamber, and Low-low was asleep on my stomach. Warm now. She’d managed to drink almost half the broth with me bringing the teaspoon to her mouth. The crescent shaped slice at the base of her neck was deep and oozing, so after washing it with alcohol and sterilising a needle and thread from my sewing kit I sutured it closed as if I was mending one of my father’s old socks.

Buffy had sent Dawn to bed and hovered around to help for a while, but I hardly acknowledge her. The truth was that I was mad, and the part of me that wasn’t spirally down into a guilty despair blamed her for everything.

Not her fault. Low-low had muttered through a tense little frown as I pieced her skin with the needle.

“Hush.” I was trying to concentrate, and when she spoke I wanted to cry and that wouldn’t help anyone.

She didn’t mean anything bad to happen. And I’m alright Tare. Truly.

“Hold still.” Is all I could say.

After I was finished, and she was neat and bandaged and tucked next to me I started to cry. I’m not sure if it was because everything caught up to me all at once, or I was simply too exhausted not too. And Low-low, likely in more pain then she was letting on, nudged by tear stained cheeks with her nose. When I finally calmed she wiggled down to my tummy and buried herself under the blankets.

I dreamt of the girl again, the floating mirage, the forbidden affair. This time she didn’t effortlessly drift through my mind, but struggled to stay. And I felt as though the only reason I was able to keep her was that I held her in place. And that the only reason I heard her message come faintly from her lips was because I knew what she was going to say

“Tara, please see me.”

But then I couldn’t, because she was fading.


Last edited by The Mulberry Thief on Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:01 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Developing: The furcuţă curse
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:29 am 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

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CHAPTER THREE -The farewell

Father had dressed in his finest coat, but it hung off him like a scare crow, and sagged awkwardly from his shoulders. To Warren’s credit he seemed perceptive enough to avoid mentioning how frail he looked, or how unfit for travel. I suppose I should have been thankful for that small amount of tactful refrain.

“You look very weary Tara. It is not an attractive state for a young woman of your standing.” He announced on his arrival.

This says the man who never fastens his trousers. Low-low grumbled, it had been four days since full moon, and apart from the occasional wince she was almost back to her old self.

“I’m sure she didn’t mean to spoil your line of sight.” Buffy (quiet unhelpfully) bit back. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the defence, but Warren is sort of man who only worsens when met with confrontation.

“No, you’re right; I should make more of an effort. I’ll endeavour to do so in the future.” I smiled at him, hoping to brush past my sister’s remark.

“See that you do.” He then slurped loudly from his teacup, and I could see Dawn struggling not to explode in a fit of giggles from the opposite side of the table.

Swine. Low-low hissed from my lap.

This was about as civilized a conversation one could expect from the young Master Rosenberg, whom I always seemed to have the special ability to keep civil. My sisters use to joke that he was in love with me, and when I ventured into town I sometimes heard speculation of our impeding union. There was no legitimacy in it. Warren’s never looked at me with affection, kindness, or intent. In my opinion it’s only my natural tendency to avoid confrontation to the point of self destruction that allowed our encounters to pass in a seemingly respectable manner.

That, and presence of his father, who he always fought to impress but never received quite the approval he so desperately craved. I suppose he was trying to be what she was, but I highly doubt that Lord Ira ever looked upon his son with even a fifth of the adoration he shone upon his daughter.

It is hard to define the exact quality that Warren was lacking in comparison. It could not be said that he didn’t have a firm grasp of arithmetic, astronomy, and geography, for he was very well schooled. Intelligent even. Only that past summer had he invented, designed and constructed a mechanical contraption that polished boots and leather goods more efficiently then by hand. But the machine broke from lack of maintenance, and Warren, rather than mend it, cursed in for its inadequacy to perform its purpose.

Perhaps that was what was missing. A certain substance of character that allows one to learn from their failings rather than discredit their ability to fail. Perhaps that is why Ira so frequently ignored his sons contribution to conversation, as he did across the table on that day.

“I will see you off, and then stay the night in Port. I’m expecting Doctor Wilkinson to meet us at the docks” Lord Rosenberg sat beside his son and opposite Father.

“That won’t be necessary.” Father’s voice was dry, but he’s pride was still intact.

“Nonsense, I have business in that part of town that needs tending. It’d be an inconvenience not to come.”

“I meant the physician, an ailing fever is hardly cause for continuous medical attention, I appreciate your generosity dear friend, truly, not only in orchestrating my departure, but also in supervising the estate in my absence. But I cannot let you waste resources on paying this doctor on account of me. The physician comes but once a week in my own home, I cannot see why I’d require more care while at sea.” It was the most I’d heard from him in months and the flash of determination across his features made me hope perhaps a full recovery was not too much to imagine.

“Every good ship has a medic Kendrick. And Benjamin Wilkinson was a naval apprentice before he began his career; he has offered to act as one of the crew when his skills aren’t required in his field. He’s a strong lad. I think he will prove quite obliging.” If there was ever a time where I most ardently believed Lord Rosenberg to be the best of men, it was in the resolute nod he bestowed on my father then. It was as if he was assuring him of whatever insecurities he needed most assured of.

Before the men departed I made a special effort to thank Lord Rosenberg for his kindness, and he held me snugly against his chest and told me how proud he was of my sister’s and I and what a splendid job I’d done at growing up. It brought tears to me before I‘d even begun to bid my Father farewell. I’d hoped I’d stay composed for Dawnie, but I’d quite simply fallen apart. It was as if I was already losing him forever, and the responsibilities of that were such heavy weights to bear.

He had always been a quiet man, so rather than offer promises and sentiments he simply kissed my brow, and both of my cheeks.

“Be well.” I whispered.

“You remember where I told you the safe key was, in case of any additional expenses?” He’d asked quiet, but I’d been incapable of replying.

“Yes.” Buffy answered for me while holding my hand through woollen mittens. God she was strong. Her eyes were slightly glossy, where I was a mess.

I spluttered through the last little sentiments only with Low-low’s comforting little voice in my ear and as the carriage started off down the drive I felt a numbness settle over me like no other I’d experienced.

Buffy led Dawn inside, where I knew I should join them, but something held me to that patch of dirt, eyes strained on the horizon for one final glimpse of them

“I fear we will never see him again.” I confessed softly to my dearest confident.

If Lord Kendrick Maclay is only half as courageous as any one of his children, there is no illness on earth that he cannot endure.

I removed the stitches that afternoon, her skin had started to heal over the thread and she hadn’t been able to hold still. So I’d held her anxious little body as Buffy wielded the knot picker and Dawn the tweezers. As an amateur surgeon, but experienced seamstress, I was quite happy with the way the scar was coming together.

We tried to distract one another the rest of the night by making shadow puppets on the wall, and pulling old stock out of the storage in the attic to try and find a hidden treasure. Quite often merchant’s cargo would come without correct documentation, or damaged, or without an intended recipient, or double what was originally ordered, and all of that was hoarded away in the highest level of our castle. Persian rugs, things carved of wood, half broken clocks made of cogs and intricate pieces. Contraptions and gizmos and maps of the East. Books in strange languages, perfume and beads. All of our dancing gowns we’re made from the surplus of fabrics we’d discover up in that loft and on that particular evening Buffy stumbled upon some gorgeous white lace, with doves embodied all over.

“Tara, look its perfect.” She held it over her arm and let it draped towards the floorboards.

“It’s awfully delicate.” I ran my fingers down the length.

“That’s what makes it so beautiful.” She implored while laying it down to get an idea of how much she’d need.

Then she smiled an unfamiliar smile, as if seeing memories in her mind that she didn’t wish to share and in a very hushed voice she whispered.

“I would very much like new outfit for the Glade, one that’s not quite as conservative as the rest. Not that I don’t like the way you wear yours, but we’re very different shapes, and I’d like to have something that...” Rather than finishing her sentence, she just grinned mischievously at me but after a moment she turned quiet serious.

I could only imagine where her mind had wondered...to a man, with dark features who looked at her with the most intense yearning as they swayed under lantern light... I checked that Dawn and Low-low were still out of ear shot. My youngest sister had stumbled across a checkers board and it seemed that (despite one of them lacking the ability to move the pieces) they’d struck up a quite competitive match. Assured that we were speaking privately I ventured on.

“Do y-you want to w-wear it for him?” I was afraid of her reaction, but this was important.

She didn’t speak for a very long time.

“Perhaps I could layer it over some tulle.” She said finally.

I reached out and touched the back over her hand but she didn’t look up.

“Buffy, he’s d-dangerous...”

“He’s not like the rest of them.” She defended so quickly, too quickly and for a moment I didn’t know what to say. She withdrew he fingers from beneath mine, gathered the material up in her arms and started towards the stairs

“How can you be sure?” The question caught her in the doorway, and she froze at the threshold, her back turned and her posture tense. Then she glanced over her shoulder and muttered goodnight and left without another word about it.

I noticed the candle still burning in Buffy’s chamber into the long late hours and Dawn came stumbling into my room to beg for a spot in my bed. She grumbled weary complaints about how annoying it was sharing chambers with a mad women and I found myself defending Buffy, because she’d never given us any reason not to trust her decisions, because she knew what she was doing, because she’d never ever do anything to hurt us. And by the end of it, I almost believed myself.

Long after Dawn had drifted off, Low-low still nuzzled at the skin just behind my ear.

Are you asleep?

I barely shook my head, but she was close enough to feel the movement.

Are you okay?

I shifted slightly to face her on the pillow and gave a little nod.

Good.

Out of nowhere she flicked her little tongue out to lick the tip of my nose and I giggled, then quickly covered my mouth to muffle the sound.

Dawn groaned and shifted behind me.

Sorry, being quiet now.

I was still giggling into my hand as she settled in the nook of my neck, rolling her head under my chin a little like you might expect from a kitten.

Although technically, I’m always quiet.

I’d stopped laughing, but the smile stuck goofily on my face as I melted into sleep – it was the first genuine smile all day.

------------------------
A/N: I have another five chapters written; but I thought I'd get some feedback before posting them. I'm not a writer; I'm not even anything creative, so it's hard to gauge whether this is actually worth reading or not. So if it's an abomination - please please tell me while I've still got a little pride intact.

Thanks,

Jinny


Last edited by The Mulberry Thief on Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Developing: The furcuţă curse
PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:10 pm 
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10. Troll Hammer
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Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:49 pm
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Location: Seattle, WA
Hi TMT -

Apologies for not having commented sooner. This is an excellent first fic. I don't have a lot of notes right off, but I can compile some and post them later.

I just wanted you to know that your work is worthwhile and to please continue.

Cheers
DW

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Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


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 Post subject: Re: Developing: The furcuţă curse
PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:41 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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I'll give you the weirdest piece of feedback I have: The bit with the caffeine really threw me. I know, I know...Talking frogs, river monsters, magic, vampires, and I'm hung up on the blasted caffeine. Mostly because the language style/period of the story is so specific and the the word caffeine is definitely so modern. Another thing I noticed, and wondered about, is the word "sore" whenever you meant to say "saw"--are you using a speech program to write? There are minor spelling and tense errors here and there that are easily fixed. I've read a giant, f***ton of fic online, and there are native speakers who would struggle to put out a draft as clean as yours.

But otherwise I'll second DW. You should keep going. I totally see where you're going with the gothic fairy tale style. Definitely reminds me of Grimm's and Baba Yaga stories I used to read.

Don't hold back with the other chapters. Even if you feel some kind of way about the finished story, there's something to be said about completing it. And as you're doing here you can always 'shop the chapters before you "publish".

Cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Developing: The furcuţă curse
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:06 am 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:14 am
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DarkWiccan

1st - I think your writing is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Graffiti is my favourite, Special had me crying my eyes out and I'm still spontaneously bursting into hysterics every time Willow'd little "They don't get to see my sewer boat." line pops into my head from You Could Be Her (some SERIOUSLY solid music choices in there too).

2nd - Thanks for the encouragement :) - Jinny

thespian_phyrne

1st - How did I not notice the coffee thing? Haha. I think that demonstrates how very essential coffee is in my reality - it transcends history. Anyway, your comment made me do a bit of wiki research - your 100% right they didn't have a lot of caffeinated beverages in Romania in the 16th but they have had it in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen - they called it "qahwa" Maybe I'll rename it and we can rationalise it was something Ira picked up in his foreign trading?

2nd - Your onto me, English is not my first language (no speech program, I can never remember sore vs saw - definitely vs defiantly) - I'm fluent in speech but not-so-much in the spelling department. So I really appreciate the feedback about all my silly mistakes, I'm sure there'll be more to come. Thanks so much :) - Jinny


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 Post subject: Re: Developing: The furcuţă curse
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:18 am 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:14 am
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CHAPTER FOUR–The broken fences

The longer I stared at the blank sheet of parchment the less I knew what to write. All I’d managed to commit to paper were two words: Dear Father. There at his desk, with the quill held useless in my fingers and the study loosing what was left of it's natural light, I wished I’d promised to pray for him instead.

It didn’t help that Low-low was being decidedly unhelpful and had now taken to dipping her webbed toes into my ink pot one at a time and making a mess on the table. I cleared my throat and she froze halfway lowering her entire leg into the ink, then turned slowly to look at me. I’ll admit it; she’s adorable when she’s been caught. Her eyes double in size, and her body shrinks into a ball.

Oh, sorry. She squirmed and I smiled.

“Here.” I slid the smudge rag towards her and she hopped onto it, careful not to drip.

Just getting a little...

“Bored out of your brain?”

Kinda...

Just a lot going on, too many thoughts and not enough places to keep them.


“I know.”

The last few days had been certainly eventful, but none of those developments were really suitable topics for lifting the spirits of an ailing man.

The weather had become decidedly bleak.What had started as a cold chill in the wind, quickly mutated into a monumental blizzard. Buffy was out there when it hit even though I’d expressly told her to stay inside that morning. But no, she was gallivanting across the countryside in a storm so horrifying that even her horse must have doubted her sanity. I very rarely shout, but I did when she came home that evening, snow sodden and blue lipped. I tried to grasp at her cold fingers but she pushed past me, muttering that she had sewing to do.

A large portion of fencing had been destroyed in the storm. Many of our livestock had escaped, and those that hadn’t were vulnerable to whatever wolves and foxes chose to invade their insecure pastures. I’d have to pay men from town to mend it, but after the terrible conditions the roads were unfit for travel, and the towns men were unable to come to our aid.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to do. Nothing this catastrophic had ever happened while we were left in charge of the estate before, and my pride made me hesitate in reaching out to the Rosenberg’s for assistance. It wasn’t Ira, but Warren that I wished to avoid. He had made a surprise inspection a few days earlier. Bursting though the kitchen door unannounced with our housekeeper bustling after him and trying to persuade him to remove his muddy boots.

Dawn and I had been helping kneed bread near the warmth of the fire, and Buffy was God knows where.

“Tara, what are you doing?! This is servants work.” He looked as though he’d smelt something foul. I suppose I looked awfully un-ladylike kneeling on the floor, with a bag of flour and a lump of dough in my hands.

Why is he here?

Low-low was perched on my thigh, and I scooped her up as I got to my feet. Hiding her behind my back. I didn’t really want the have that conversation again. I’d memorised the lecture, it started with how no man would touch a girl with pond slime on her dress and ended with a sincere suggestion that a reasonably sized terrier would be much more appropriate alternative.

“I-I wasn’t aware you’d be p-paying us the honour.”

“My Father and I are responsible for overseeing your estate. And if you are so short of kitchen hands that you are forced to work like commoners in the confines of your own home...”

“No. No, we are perfectly adequately staffed, Master Rosenberg. Dawn has finished her lessons for the day, and we were in need of something to busy our hands.”

“There are much more suitable recreations for noble women Tara. Drawing, darning, music, crafts. My mother spends many an idol hour mastering the harpsichord.”

Oh good, there are allowable recreations.

Dawn was slipping away into the pantry and a part of me wished she wouldn’t leave me alone with him, an even bigger part wished she’d taken me with her.

“Thank-you for your concern, truly. But, I enjoy helping where I can.”

“I warn you only for your own benefit, this sort of behaviour, it could be misinterpreted.”

Oh he’s thinking of your benefit, how very amiable.

“You are far too kind for your own good.” He caught me off guard by coming closer and wrapping his hand around arm in a surprisingly warm gesture.

“It is important that those who work under you respect your authority, or have you forgotten? You are the Lady of this estate Tara Maclay, not the maid.”

If you don’t spit on him, I will.

He ran his fingers down my arm and I pulled away before he got to the frog in my palm. Honestly he was frightening me. Stubborn, vulgar, intrusive, I could handle, but this? This was...

“You’re blushing.” Oh God I hated the way he said it, like I was flattered by his attention.

Thats when realised that with my father gone he was the only man on the estate, and that if he tried too...if he made an advance. What could my baby sister, our elderly housekeeper, or my frog do to stop him?

“Warren, please d-don’t…” I leant away, and he reached out and touched my cheek. His hands calloused.

“I know you’re shy...” his tone lowered.

I felt sick.

It was then that Low-low let out the most convincing croak I’ve ever heard from her.

Warren recoiled, cursed and berated me for “still carrying around that repulsive thing” then hissed that I’d be better off too throw her in the fire place.

“You are so naive Tara; do you not wonder why it acts so strangely? All things born of the Wildwood are cursed, or have you forgotten what happened to my sister?”

Eu te urăsc frate.

I was finding it very hard to keep my face neutral; with my breath clogged in my throat and my wrist shaking. I backed away little by little, needing so much more distance, needing him to be so very far away, needing him to be gone.

“N-not a day goes by that I don’t remember. But it wasn’t your fault, it was nobody’s fault and it hurts me to see you so consumed by the past. I apologise that my manner offends you so, and I am sorry to have spoilt your mood, but I must respectfully ask you to leave Master Rosenberg. I have duties to attend to, and you have a long ride home.”

He seemed pale as he bowled low and said.

“As you wish my Lady.”


Last edited by The Mulberry Thief on Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:05 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Developing: The furcuţă curse
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:30 am 
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CHAPTER FIVE- Things unsaid between us

Shallow murmurs in the void of sloshing ease, waves lifting one way, and then pushing the other.

The floating girl was close - inappropriately so. I’d of had to lean away to see her properly. But instead, I was pressing ever so slightly towards her with the touch of her breath on my neck as she whispered into my ear.

“Please, please, please, I’m right here. I’m right next to you.”

Her hair was suspended around us, such vibrant shade of red against the water, drifting back and forth independent of her body. I couldn’t see her face, but I could feel the shape of it pressing against my throat, my ears, my shoulders. The lightest sensation of lips whenever she spoke, and my God I longed she’d never stop.

“Come on, please, listen to me, I need you to open your eyes.” It was only then that I caught the trace of pain in her voice, and once I noticed it, it was all I could hear.

“Tara, I’m right there. Right beside you. Just open your eyes.” She was upset...suddenly I’d had enough of riddles.

“They’re not shut.” I shifted and tried to manoeuvre her to where I could see her properly but she fell through my fingers and beyond the depths of submerged silence, little gurgles and distant creaks.

That morning I awoke disturbed and stiff, Low-low noticed. She always noticed.

I would ask what troubled you of late, but I fear you will not admit to it.

“There is nothing to admit to, a bad dream is all.”

May I enquire to the nature of this dream?

“Nothing of consequence, and defiantly nothing that warrants retelling.”

In my experience, most things left deliberately unsaid are more consequential then those that are openly spoken.

She quietened after that, and though I held her in my pocket throughout the day, she barely said a word. Quickly it became apparent how very dull my routine is without clever little remarks and conversation.

On the matter of things kept unsaid between us, Low-low had particular experience. I knew not of a single occurrence of her life before I found her, though she’d once told me she remembered it.

I discovered her quiet by accident three moons before my eleventh birthday. My mother had tried to convince me to come to church for the Rosenberg girl's service, but I had claimed illness. Going as far as too force a cough. I am quite certain my mother suspected me, but she was kind enough to forgive me my performance and allow my reprieve.

The truth was that I feared facing Lady Shelia after watching her screaming wails weeks prior. I feared Lord Ira would not be as kind to me as he had always been before and that Warren might have told them it was for my sake that she had went into the water.

The house was very rarely empty, and alone in it I begun to feel claustrophobic and guilt ridden. So I made up my mind to pay my respects another way, time was plentiful and the others would not be back for hours. So I strode out into the garden and gathered flowers, tying them together with my favourite yellow ribbon. I pulled on my boots, and set out towards Wildwood.

I cut through the paddocks of grazing livestock, ducked under the Border fence and begun weaving my way through the trees the fastest way I knew how. The Swallow was easy to find.

For a long while I knelt there on the bank, water gushing past, and coolness in the air nipping at my skin. Unsure of what else to do I threw the bouquet into the river and watched the current swoop it away and under. The sight of that frightened me, the way it disappeared completely. Willow hadn’t gone that quickly. She’s fought against the current. Splashed and sunk and struggled with all her might. But the water, the way it pulled her down, it was almost as if it’d made up its mind to swallow her.

How was that fair? How could her life be over when she wasn’t even...before she...she wasn't even my age...and I felt so young. Too young to cope.

I stuttered out a wobbly prayer that Willow’s journey to the afterlife might be a peaceful one and was about to bring my private funeral to a close when I heard a rustling coming from the blackberry brambles. Perhaps if it had been a more threatening rustle I wouldn’t have investigated so easily, but it was the sporadic weak sort of sound of an injured bird, or a rabbit snared in a trap.

The thicket was dense, and the more I tried to push aside it’s branches the more frantic the little creature inside became.

“Hold still, you’ll hurt yourself.”

The movements lessened.

“That’s the way...”

It took a bit of scrimmaging about to find her. She wasn’t a healthy looking frog by any means. All scratched and battered, her skin dried out like old leather.

I quickly hurried her over to the water in cupped hands, I doubted she’d live much longer, but at least I could allow her some moisture. As I started towards the Swallow to lower her in she opened her eyes and made a erratic leap towards me. Hitting my torso and flopping into my lap. It had taken all her strength, she couldn’t even manage to turn over off her back.

“You’re okay. You’re okay. Easy. We don’t have to go in.” I gently propped her upright on a nearby stone, pulled my handkerchief from my pocket, leant over the bank and dipped in into the river. She’d stayed where I left her.

“Here.”

I put her on the handkerchief, and swaddled her up holding her close to me.

“I’ve got you.You’re alright.”

I remember thinking I heard a soft thank-you but I was sure I must have imagined it.

Ten years we’d kept one another, and I could never be without her.

A combination of loosing Low-low’s commentary and Buffy’s lack of humour made lunch that day a terribly uncomfortable affair. Dawn and I simply exchanged worried expressions as our other sister shuffled food from one side of her plate to the other, then begged her excusal.

“Have you seen her fingers?” Dawn asked once she was out of range.

I frowned.

“Tara, they’re red raw from pin pricks. She’s so obsessed with finishing that gown before next Glade, she doesn’t sleep. All she does is sew and stare out into space. Sometimes when I say her name, over and over, she doesn’t even seem to notice.”

I did not wish to burden my thirteen year old sister with the mass of turbulent emotions I felt on the subject. The truth was there were many things Buffy had been neglecting of late. Important things. Any chores that fell to her had not been attended to for weeks. I only understood the true seriousness of this flaw when I heard the chickens frenzied in the yard. Two days they’d been without feeding, to which Buffy had simply apologised, then asked “Do you mind closing the door when you leave?”

She constantly drove Dawn from their chamber at late hours of the night, for she still was scrimmaging through draws for the perfect button, or lace, or glass bead she’d once sore lying about. She tolerated very little company and had refused to come to town on the two occasions we had last been. This alone was an aberration. My sister adored shopping like no other, it was rare indeed that she hadn’t instigated more trips herself, let alone decline attendance when offered. Her thoughts turned inward and she no longer asked of how I felt or a joked about my sense fashion.

Something changed when she met that dark man with hungry eyes.

Something I didn’t like.

“What does she see in him anyway Low-low?” I growled while tossing bread crumbs towards the hens. She was in the grass outside the pen chasing crickets, and withholding her good opinion.

“He’s not even human!?” I dumped a handful carelessly over my shoulder.

She flinched.

“I just don’t understand it. There is no possibility of a future with him, she knows that. He’s of the Other Kingdom, and much more importantly he’s likely planning on killing her first chance he gets.”

Low-low was staring up at me, obviously listening, but made no reply.

“Would you not think that might be a slight deterrent?” For a moment I thought she might leave me to my musings and go back to pouncing after insects, but then she blinked.

Rarely do we fall in love with sensible hearts in convenient circumstances.

“She’s known him a single evening!” I startled the chickens, apologised to them for my outburst, then realised she was speaking again and couldn’t help but smile with grateful relief at her.

“If she believes herself in love so quickly, then he has tricked her somehow. Buffy is not one of those stupid girls who disregard their sense of propriety for the sake of romantic notions.”

He did help us. Angel.

“I know, but to what purpose?” I set down the bucket in my hand, and allowed the chickens to help themselves to what was left.

“I just...I’m frightened for her Low-low. She’s never acted this way before.” I climbed over the fence and lay down on my back beside her, the clouds were scattered and moving slowly.

“P-perhaps if she had opportunity to meet eligible suitors in our society, she might realise that this infatuation is nothing more than that.” She gently hooped up leg and settled on my hip.

“Lady Shelia plans on throwing a ball before spring.”

You are aware her sole intention in such an event is to find you a husband.

“I am.”

For a moment she was very still.

Is that what you want?

The sun, though weak and barely warm, peaked through grey shifting sky and I closed my eyes.

“What I want, is to protect my sisters.”


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 Post subject: Re: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:21 pm 
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8. Vixen
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You have a very interesting premise here, and I look forward to seeing where you take it along with the hope you will finish it as well.

I will recommend finding a beta reader, there are simple mistakes here that a second set of eyes would catch for you, i.e. sore when it should be saw - two different words with two different meanings and they are not synonymous for one another.

If you wish to not have a beta reader I can recommend www.grammerly.com, they have a free browser add-in that will spell check as you write for free. You can also download the Word plug-in for free also if you want more features then you will have to pay for the added features you want to use (pretty standard).

I don't want to assume anything, and English may not be your first (or even second) language so if Grammarly isn't an option where you are, a beta reader would be your next best bet. You can also pm if you have any question and I would be willing to help if I can.

Best of luck.

_________________
Heather aka vampyregurl73
"Dry Heat""Penny Arcade" "Fireworks" "Promise" "I Did What Last Night?"


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 Post subject: Re: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:49 am 
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9. Gay Now
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Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
Very well written. Esp for a first go :)

But yeah the saw/sore thing is really bugging me. You really wanna go back and fix that :P

And if you want a Beta-Reader, i'm free, now that i've finished my own story.

Anyway, i'm looking forward to more :bounce

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“All I feel is sunlight. All I hear is music.” Willow
How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


My Story: Coming Home


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 Post subject: Re: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:59 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
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I just noticed this story last week (I don't know why I missed it before because I check the board quite frequently). I absolutely love it! The misspellings aside (for which I can't blame you because my english is far from perfect either) it's wonderfully written.

I guess I'm correct in my assumption that little Willow Rosenberg didn't drown in the river but was instead turned into the frog that Tara knows as Low-low and that the same curse that turned her hinders her from revealing her identity to Tara?
Although, if Tara had listened to Low-low properly during her frightful encounter with Warren in chapter 4 she could know the secret by now, because babelfish tells me that
Quote:
Eu te urăsc frate.


means "I hate you brother."

Now I'm also wondering if Willow hates her brother just because he's harrassing Tara or if she suspects that he is the one responsible for the curse.

Willow really is in a desperate situation. Obviously during the years she lived with Tara she fell in love with her, a love which is unrequited and hopeless as long as the curse isn't broken. While Tara loves her frog more than a pet (like a best friend or even another sister), she is in love with the girl of her dreams - not knowing that Low-low is her in disguise. Also Willow has to fear she will lose the closeness she has with Tara when Tara gets married - because even the most tolerant husband won't be willing to share his marriage-bed with a frog.

I'm really looking forward to the next chapters and hope that Tara will finally reveal the contents of her dreams to Low-low. Maybe the curse won't prevent her from giving Tara a little hint then...


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 Post subject: Re: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:26 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:14 am
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Topics: 1
Feedback

Heather

Thanks so much for the helpful suggestions. I'm getting pretty fluent at speaking English but I've a long way to go before my writings proficient. So I really appreciate it and I'll definitely check them out before posting the next few chapters :)

Also, thanks for the "sore" "saw" explanation. I asked my roommate (she's Australian) to give me the 411 and I think I've got it now. The poor girls been trying to teach me all about homonyms for almost a year. I'm a little hopeless

--

Azirahael

If the offer still stands to be my beta I'd absolutely love the help :) Thanks for patiently wading through my repetitive misuse of "sore" I've just gone through to edit them out - they were everywhere. If you'd still like to read over what I've got so far (there's another five completed chapters, and some plot trajectory scribblings) just let me know and I'll PM them to you :)

On a completely unrelated note - I've just finished Coming Home - it was SO great. Really. It wasn't like anything I've ever read before. I loved it.

--

Will's redemption


Will's redemption wrote:
I guess I'm correct in my assumption that little Willow Rosenberg didn't drown in the river but was instead turned into the frog that Tara knows as Low-low and that the same curse that turned her hinders her from revealing her identity to Tara?


Very astute, you're right on all counts. More on the rules and the consequences of trying to defy the curse to come.

Quote:
Although, if Tara had listened to Low-low properly during her frightful encounter with Warren in chapter 4 she could know the secret by now, because babelfish tells me that Eu te urăsc frate means "I hate you brother."


Ten points to you for translating that online :) I think it's safe to assume that Tara doesn't understand Românește when Low-low speaks it. Whether that is due to a lesser education or supernatural interference is up for debate.

Quote:
Now I'm also wondering if Willow hates her brother just because he's harrassing Tara or if she suspects that he is the one responsible for the curse.


Your most definitely onto something here, but you'll have to read on to discover whose responsible for Low-low's current predicament. What I can tell you is that Willow is the only character who knows exactly what happened ten years ago at the River Swallow and who's to blame.

Even if it isn't all Warren's fault, he uses her "drowning" as a trump card in an argument against her. Did I say argument? I meant manipulative tirade. I think it's cute how protective W/T always are of each other in BTVS - and it's been fun trying to imagine how Willow might still try her damnedest to defend Tara despite her size.

Quote:
Willow really is in a desperate situation. Obviously during the years she lived with Tara she fell in love with her, a love which is unrequited and hopeless as long as the curse isn't broken. While Tara loves her frog more than a pet (like a best friend or even another sister), she is in love with the girl of her dreams - not knowing that Low-low is her in disguise. Also Willow has to fear she will lose the closeness she has with Tara when Tara gets married - because even the most tolerant husband won't be willing to share his marriage-bed with a frog.


You're exactly right here. I'm glad that even though none of this is from Low-low's perspective, it's obvious how conflicted her little thoughts must be. Safe to say she's firmly set on preventing anyone coming between them and if Tara would just tell her about those pesky dreams, it might be a whole lot easier.

---

Updates coming soon!


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 Post subject: Re: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:49 am 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:14 am
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CHAPTER SIX – The hunter

"Thank you for coming dear, I was in dire need of some female company." Lady Sheila, linked her arm through my elbow and led me to her sitting room. It smelt thickly of perfume but I knew from experience that soon my nose would acclimatise and I would forget that air didn't usually smell of overbearing spices.



There was a time when Buffy would join us in these informal meetings, stay just long enough to be considered polite and then excuse herself. But over the years this charade had disintegrated. Now whenever we arrived at the Yarrow's she'd head straight for the yard, there Lord Ira was likely to be waiting with a crossbow and a party of hunters. They'd set off into the forest and wouldn't return unless they'd caught enough venison to divide in plentiful portions.

On this particular outing, Dawn had asked to ride along with them and I had allowed her. The Rosenberg’s had horses to spare and this would likely be the last chance for such an excursion until spring. I myself had neither inclination nor the stomach for hunting.

Lady Sheila and I had long developed a strange sort of bond; for she sorely missed her daughter, and I sorely missed my mother. Thus grew a kinship of tragic circumstance. She was a very striking women, slender, distinct features and thin lips she often pressed together while concentrating. When people described her in town they’d say words like “confident” or “accomplished” but that was just her public face. Whenever we met together in her sitting room she seemed always on the verge of dissolving. Always frantic, doing three things at once, never without constant detraction, and always avoiding the old family portrait hanging on the wall.

“Buffy seemed out of sorts this morning, your father’s departure, no doubt, has been difficult for you all.”

“Yes. We do miss him terribly, and Buffy, well she has a lot on her mind of late.”

“Quite so, though I must admit, I was quiet pleasantly surprised at your request.” She took a sip from her fine French porcelain. A merchant makes a good husband for a woman who values beautiful things.

Low-low shifted, unsettled in my pocket.

With the mere mention of a ball, Lady Sheila had been convinced of our dire need of one.

“Your father, as decent a man as he is, does not understand these things. Suitors do not just come knocking at the door, they must be sought out, mingled with, have the chance to see you in favourable conditions. There will be dancing of course, and music. I’ll have my seamstress see you all dressed appropriately.”

It’s too cold for grand parties. Just wait till spring, there will still be men in want of wives in spring. Low-low grumbled. It seemed she was set against the idea from the start, though I’d assured her on countless occasions I would never marry a man who wouldn’t allow me to keep her.

“I feared it was too late in the season.”

"Nonsense my dear, this is the time people need something to look forward to and lack any real entertainment. Two months, I dare say will be adequate enough for preparation, and allow those affected by the storm to recover to some extent.” Her maid refilled my cup and I thanked her before continuing.

“You are sure? I don’t wish to inconvenience…”

“Oh none of that Tara. I had hoped to find an excuse for such an event, and you have delivered a fine excuse indeed. I won’t be persuaded otherwise, it has been much too long a time since the Yarrow estate held a celebration.”

It was interesting that Lady Sheila never once raised the obvious possibility that one of us should wed her son. The incentives of such a union were obvious. He would inherit our neighbouring estate, and thus, with the upmost convenience, double the Rosenberg’s repute. The added advantage that most in town expected such an announcement would ensure common approval and justify any rumours of his partiality towards me.

Though, much to my relief, it seemed she did not to support the notion of our marriage.

It was only a half hour later that we heard a commotion outside. We hadn’t anticipated the riders return till dusk. Their arrival so soon after their departure troubled me. I went to the window, leaving Lady Sheila to devising our guest list. From above could see the hunting party galloping towards the main entrance. Men shouting in the yard, and one, a single horse, unmounted.

Panic filled me.

Someone had not returned home.

A hurried knock came at the chamber door, then before being permitted, swung it open. There stood Warren, behind him the sounds of hounds howling, hooves, running steps on gravel and slamming doors. He still wore his coat, the front of his tunic soaked red.

“Warren your s-shirt...”

He looked down as if he hadn’t realised the blood dripping from his garb. Then his eyes turned to steel and he’s posture went stiff.

“Tara, go see your sisters.”

I nodded quickly and passed him in the doorway without discussion. Buffy met me in the hall, her eyes huge round disks, and her arms shaking.

“Tara.” Oh the way she said, it tore me open. Her face was pale and strange.

“Dawnie is s-she?”

“She’s safe, down with the others.” Buffy assured, then her resolve crumbled and tears spilt over her cheeks.

“But Tara, the blood. So much blood, my God, it tore straight through him. Straight through his gut.”

I wrapped my arm around Buffy’s shoulders and drew her towards the stairs. She was crying, my brave wild-child sister was crying. I held her tighter.

“Lord Ira…his badly hurt...”

My eyes stung, I bit the inside of my mouth until I tasted copper.

“We need to g-go.” I felt the inside of my pocket to prompt Low-low's calm reassurance. But she was all scrunched up and voiceless.

Dawn was huddled in the corner of the hall, starring at the wooden bench they’d laid the shuddering form of Lord Ira Rosenberg upon. His movements came in periodic spasms and between them he was deathly still. They’d cut his clothes from his torso, and laid him bare to access the arrow imbedded deep in his gut. One of the men dug his entire hand into the wound to wrench it free. I couldn’t look away from the sight of him spluttering wet gasping coughs, blood in his mouth, in his beard, down his cheek, staining his skin. I couldn’t believe it. This couldn’t be the same jolly man who only this morning had hugged us in welcome and made jokes as he rode off. His noble dog whimpered beside him, occasionally kicked and trodden on by men who were focused on more important tasks then minding their footsteps.

I have to see him. Low-low squirmed urgently from my pocket and plopped onto the wooded floor.

I quickly snatched her up and cupped her in my hands.

Let me go! Tara, let me...She froze, I imagine she must have caught sight of him through the gap between my fingers, her whole body started trembling.

No.

I have never heard her sound more forlorn. Her tone snapped me out of shock and into action.

“C-come on. We can be of no h-help here. It’s time for home.” I tucked her away and she buried deeper against my chest.

I grabbed Buffy’s arm then, without daring to look towards the middle of the room, dragged her to where Dawn crouched in the corner. Gathered them up on either side, and walked out of that horrid place. We had almost reached the carriage when the sound of Lady Sheila’s keening shriek ripped through the air.


Last edited by The Mulberry Thief on Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 4:40 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
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Oh no, how sad! :cry Now poor Ira will never know that his daughter isn't dead and they won't have a chance to see each other again after the curse is lifted! I really fear for Sheila's sanity now that the only family she has left is the son she obviously feels little love for... And my heart bleeds for poor Willow who now has even more to suffer than before.
The big question now for me is whose arrow hit Ira - my main suspect is Warren, but this is probably a reflex because he was a murderer in the original series.
I fear his behaviour towards Tara will become even more overbearing now that he is the "man of the house"... There won't be a ball in the near future now, I guess - as a widow Sheila will hardly have the mind for hosting it plus it would surely be seen as "improper" in the year after the death of her husband.

I hope you post the next chapter soon! Maybe Tara might get an idea about Low-Lows true identity when she witnesses her sorrow about Ira's death...

P.S. Allow me to mention a frequent spelling mistake in the last chapter: the correct spelling is "his" body/beard/dog etc., "he's" is short for "he is", f.e. "He's dead!"


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 Post subject: Re: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:30 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:14 am
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Will's redemption

The Rosenberg's are definitely at their bleakest but I promise happy endings. You're right, the sooner Tara speaks up about her dreams, the better.

Thanks for your help! :) I edited out the his vs he's , I can't believe I haven't come across that before (almost all of my writing in english before now has been for uni, not a lot of pronouns in objective analysis).


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 Post subject: Re: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:44 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

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CHAPTER SEVEN - The Self Appointed Lord

“Dearest Father,

By now the messenger will have brought you news of Lord Ira’s accident.”


My hand stopped over the parchment and I breathed, long, slow and pursed lipped. Low-low came over, nudged the quill from my fingers and settled under my palm.

Tara, this can wait, you’re so tired.

I smiled weakly at her and lowered my heavy head to rest against the writing desk, tracing the markings on her back.

“I’m just...I’m worried Low-low.”

Full moon drew nearer; Buffy had become distant and insensible. Dawn spent her hours pacing up and down the driveway awaiting news of Lord Rosenberg’s death or improvement, of villagers able to come to our aid, of Father’s deterioration or of his return, anything at all she could pin her hopes on. And I dreamt every night of the red-haired enigma drifting all around me. The more I tried not to, the more she visited. It was not that I didn’t enjoy her company, rather the contrary. That was the problem. She affected me, lingered with me, crept into my mind without warning.

I’d notice the way my sleeve moved when holding cutlery as I ate, then I’d remember a half-forgotten glimpse of her wrist I’d caught last time I dreamt her. I’d rummage and search for that image in my memories, had she been reaching for something? Reaching for me? Had she been close this time or far away? Had she smelt a little like cinnamon as she leant towards me? Why had I thought she should? Had she smelt like that the night before? Had she tasted like that? No. That hadn’t happened. We’d never...but all too late; flashes of obscene ideas of perhaps what, or where, or how I’d tasted anything. Of the noises she’d make, of the way that she’d move.

I clenched my hand and relaxed it just as quickly. If I kept acting like normal perhaps Low-low wouldn’t ask what was bothering me. I moistened my quill in the ink pot.

“I am not sure if you received my earlier letter, but we would love to know how you are keeping.”

The study desk wobbled as I wrote, and when I tried to stabilise it with my elbow my handwriting slanted into an illegible squiggle.

Does this help? Low-low shuffled out to the furthest corner to try to counter balance the defect with her weight, it was sweet, but ergonomically useless, when I applied pressure to the paper the legs lifted again and my poor frog sunk down defeated.

Looks like that’s a no.

I smiled, and scooped her into my lap.

“You are wonderful.”

It didn’t work.

“Well, no, but you’re very considerate in trying and I’d much rather a frog with good intensions then one with a talent for mending old furniture.

Maybe if we wedge something underneath here. She took the smudge rag in her mouth and hopped down my knee to test her theory.

She was adorable when she got like this. Determined to solve whatever problem seemed to have caught her attention. She’d focus on finding a solution with such fierce resolve, it bordered on obsession. It was endearing, the way things fascinated her until she properly understood every piece of them. The way she studied the world around her. The way she studied me.

Try that. She’d pulled the cloth firmly under the shortest leg, and when I leant against the surface it held still.

“Much better.” I beamed down at her.

A heavy thump on the stairs startled us both.

Someone’s coming. She leapt for my pocket and I caught her midway, tucking her out of sight.

Dawn rushed in panting as though she’d run up from the yard.

“Warren’s here. His coming up, he’s in an awfully foul...”

The next moment he was upon us, red-faced and seething.

“Tara?!” He slammed through the door and started his thunderous tirade before I even managed a curtsy.

“Explain to me how I could have possibly come across a Simmental bull branded with the Maclay crest wondering about the woods this morning!? Explain to me that when I captured the beast to return it to you pastures the complete inadequacy of your fences?! There is not even half the livestock your father left on your land!” His posture reminded me of that of a warrior, about to swing his kiliji from its scabbard and slaughter his opponent.

“Master Rosenberg, what a welcome surprise.” I strained out. I’m quite certain anyone who knew me could have detected the lack of sincerity in it.

“It’s Lord now.” He spat, and suddenly the anger drained from me.

“Y-your f-father?”

“Is still alive. But I cannot deceive myself to believe that his impending bereavement is not rapidly approaching. His condition only deteriorates and I do not foresee that he’ll regain the ability to rule over anything henceforth.”

Arrogant snake!

My jaw clenched, and I swallowed down the urge to react, and tried to formulate a respectful reply. I ached at his admission of Ira’s decline, but his conduct, his self-appointed declaration. It was as if he wished his father dead already.

“Warren, I am d-deeply sorry for your pain and that of your kin. I cannot imagine how difficult this must be for you all but if you mean to suggest...”

“Were you aware of the state your pastures?” He jolted me out of my sentiment, and Dawn and I shared a desperate expression. To admit it, and be reprimanded for neglecting the flocks. Or to deny it, and appear to have no interest in the running’s of my own affairs.

Careful, his up to something.

“Dawnie, would you mind fetching Buffy for me?” I wanted her support, she could be quiet assertive when she wanted too. My youngest sister nodded and left.

“Answer me, Tara.” He growled low in his throat.

Most tyrants end in tyrannicide.

I begun slowly, ever diplomatic.

“We were aware of the blizzards impact on our own land, yes, and the ongoing damage subsequent to the destruction of our secure pastures also. I tried to arrange workers from town to assist in rebui....”

“The mere fact that you would not come to me directly proves your inability to manage your own estate without proper guidance.” Something about the way he held his chin, seemed different than normal...his intentions frightened me, this conversation frightened me.

“Warren, w-what are you saying?”

“Lord Kendrick’s illness obviously impeded hiss good judgment, and he over estimated your abilities to care for his estate, if he could but see the reckless management of his livelihood I am sure he would implore that I intervene on his behalf.”

On what grounds does he lay claim here?!

“You c-can’t do this.” I felt myself shaking.

“Oh don’t give me that look Tara, this is for your own good. You need not worry yourself over matters of business and finance; I shall take care of it for you. Now tell me where you father keeps his expenditure records, and additional funds - I shall arrange for repair of the fences.”

Footsteps from below came as the most welcome reprieve, Buffy would come, she would scold his audacity, and all this would be over. But when the door creaked open it was Dawn who stood nervously at the entryway.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, I can’t find her, her boots are gone.” She said meekly.

“I might have suspected, do you hear what they say of your sister in town? Possessed, hermit, hysterical, they’re yet to make an official judgment, but they’ve noticed how she’s changed. Nonetheless, it is of no consequence, we are almost finished here. Leave us alone Dawn, I require a word with your sister in private.”

Not in private, not after he tried to put his hands all over you.

“Dawnie, stay. Lord Rosenberg forgets, this is not his home, and we are not his subjects” I clenched my teeth.

“You would do well to watch your tone when you address your Lord.” Warren warned, there was an edge to his voice.

“When I see a man fitting of that description, I assure you, I shall see to it” I bit out, but I shouldn’t have. In a rush he seized my shoulders and shoved me to the wall, my back slamming against the cold stone, and my lungs forgetting their function.

“You would do well not to forget your place my Lady. Insolence will be punished under my leadership, and offence to my authority will not be taken lightly.”

Tara! Low-low squirmed furiously in my pocket, I pressed her down deep. Unable to speak, unable to do anything. I could already feel it, bruising in the shape his fingers.

“Now tell me the location of the funds and the documents.” He was pressing nearer still. His breath smelt of Țuică and brandy.

Let her go you egotistical bustard!

I pursed my lips and held my chin high in defiance, daring him to do it, as I did he raised a hand to strike me.

“Father keeps them in the bottom draw.” Dawn said just in time to stop him.

“Here.” She went to the desk, retrieved the key hidden underneath it and unlocked the lower compartment.

“I’m not supposed to know.” She confessed, then lifting out the account books and the timber box rattling with copper pieces she held them out towards us.

He withheld his arm slowly, and leant closer.

“I hold a higher standard for your behaviour my Lady. See to it that you do not disappoint me in this again.”

Then, without thanks or acknowledgment, he grabbed the items roughly from my youngest sister, and left as quickly as he came in. Slamming the door, and shouting loud at his coachman.

I relaxed my hold on my little friend, and sunk down against the wall to settle crouched on the floor.

“I’m sorry.” Dawn whispered.

Swallowing down the bile in my throat, I knew I should thank her but I couldn’t quite manage the words.

Tell her she did the right thing.

It would have been better if he’d just hit me.

Tara, tell her it’s not her fault.

I couldn’t.

I was raw.

We were ruined.

Low-low surprised me by wiggling from my pocket, and hopping the three jumps across the floor to Dawn’s shoes. My sister, still in wavering need of reassurance, stooped down to pet her with awkward gentleness. I remembered when Dawn was younger that my frog was frightened of her, she use to throw Low-low in the air and try to catch her on the way down.

Dawnie, he would have torn this place to pieces if you didn’t tell him. You did the right thing. This wasn’t your fault.

My sister smiled, weary but true, and for I second I thought she’d heard.

“Are you coming to visit me little one?” She chirped softy. The second was over.

Low-low shuffled closer.

“I’m sorry if we gave you a fright. Shoutings over Low-low.”

Don’t say sorry.

You were brave Dawn.

You were perfect.


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 Post subject: Re: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:53 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:14 am
Posts: 15
Topics: 1
CHAPTER EIGHT - The Master

The bells dangling from branches tinkered gently in the wind and the orchestral sounds of splendour had even the most reluctant dancers on their feet. Even so, I couldn’t quite succumb to the general merriment of those around me. No matter how I skipped and swayed, I couldn’t ignore the unsettling tension twisting low in my stomach.

I knew Buffy intended to wear the gown. What I hadn’t expected was to see mothers necklace loosely hung around her throat; a fine gold chain cradling teardrop of alexandrite.

She’d never worn it before and now...she wore it for him.

They’re just talking. My informant of the night reported, out of breath and a bit shaky. She’d been leaping from shoulder to shoulder over the crowed to try and find her way back to mine. Some of the beasts would notice her intrusion and shoo her away, but most were too caught up in dancing to acknowledge the fleeting presence of a little creature aboard their person.

“You’re companion is quiet an agile little thing.” My partner commented, he was an olive skinned gentleman with great antlers protruding from he’s brow. His name was quite unpronounceable, but allowed me to address him as Lorne.

“One of her many merits.” I let him guide me through the next manoeuvre as Low-low slipped safely away under my bodice.

If I concentrated on the shadowed outskirts of the Glade I could see my sister leaning against a great oak beside the hungry-eyed stranger. They were close, but not so close as to be touching. They hadn’t moved four steps from the shore of the Swallow since arriving, not to disappear into the forest, nor to venture onto the dance floor. I watched with increasing unease as they mingled with no one but each other and ignored all the surrounding festivities.

Before we came, I made Buffy swear she’d stay in sight, leave when I said and under no circumstance be alone with him. But it was hard to know if she would keep her promise, after all, I’d refused to open the portal lest she agreed.

Lorne swooped into a low bow at the conclusion of the song, and set off to find a more engaging lass for the waltz. I couldn’t blame him for that. In no mood to sway slowly to more romantic music, I headed straight towards the growing group of tired individuals retired for the evening and wondered if it was too soon to return home.

A cool hand caught me by the elbow and dragged me back towards the centre Glade.

“Leaving so early?” He purred.

When I turned to face him he didn’t loosen his grip, and the sight of him struck me cold.

“Perhaps I could persuade you to do me the honour of being your very last partner.” He was tall, waxy skinned, and a little disfigured around the brow.

“In my opinion the final dance is the most memorable by far, and I confess Lady Maclay, I aspire to be remembered.” When he smiled like a charming suitor he bared his grotesquely pointed teeth.

Most creatures with canines like that suffer from the nasty inclination to use them.

“I don’t make a h-habit of dancing with strange men I know nothing about.”

“I am Heinrich, there, your habit remains intact.”

Unlike his latest victim.

As the music begun he seized my waist with a strong hold, and curled his taloned fingers around my wrist. His grip hurt.

“You are not unattractive for a human girl.” He begun, flexing his hands. I shifted, uncomfortable.

Means a lot coming from a corpse.

“But that’s not why you’re here…” I tried to reason.

“No.” He purred.

Out with it pasty face.

Heinrich pushed forward quickly and I retreated in mirrored steps - almost loosing balance.

“Lord Heinrich, I would appreciate you candour.” I said once I’d found my footing.

He smiled at my frankness and led me through a simple box step.

“We share a problem, you and I. A mutual disapproval, if I may.”

I frowned.

Heinrich gestured with a roll of his neck, to the couple swaying under the oak.

Buffy.

I faulted the next step and attempted to recover unaffected.

“Their association is attracting attention from those I would prefer not to provoke.” His nose twitched as if he smelt something foul.

The blood in my veins felt cold. I had always known we were only visitors here. We upheld our own rules and we didn’t disturb the ways of the native folk. That is all that stood between us and peril - and it was gone.

“Such unfortunate circumstances make for unlikely bedfellows, wouldn’t you agree?” His hand moved more fully around my hip.

“I apologise Lord Heinrich, but I can offer you no assistance. My sister is quite capable of making her own decisions and her affairs are her own. If you will excuse me.” I broke away with a rough pull, turned against his protest and begun weaving through the masses.

“If you require proof of my good intentions, I will give it.” His voice bellowed over the crowd.

I don’t like the sound of that.

I turned to face him once I’d retreated a safe few paces away.

“T-thank-you for your concern and the dance My Lord, but I really m-must decline your offer.” I curtsied merely in the hope of appeasing a powerful man I didn’t trust, and continued my retreat.

“Tara!” Dawn caught me by surprise, arms quickly flung around my back, sinking into me.

Ooft. Low-low was slightly flattened.

“Are you aright?” I let her hold on, clinging for a moment. Then moved to see her face, her eyes shifting - frightened and tense.

“Do you know who that was? The man you were just dancing with?” She hurried out.

I looked over my shoulder, Heinrich had vanished. Dawn grabbed at the fabric of my dress.

“His their leader, Tara, the worst of the Night People. Antoine, he says they call him Master.” She was shivering and I tried to soothe her arms into warmth with the palms of my hands.

“The things they say his done Tara…horrible things…”

“Sweetheart you're shaking.” I brushed there hair from her face.

“I was scared.” She whispered. It was then I realised that my little sister had spent my entire last dance hearing horror stories of my partner and being helpless to intervene.

“It’s okay, I’m okay.” I held her to me, gently this time to save Low-low a second assault.

“I think it best that we stay way from them.” I said, Dawn nodded against me.

I don’t think she’s the sister that will need convincing.

I swallowed

“Can we go home now?” Dawn mumbled, almost childishly, into my shoulder.

“Of course.” I’d had enough of the Other Kingdom and all of it’s dangers.


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 Post subject: Re: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:02 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:14 am
Posts: 15
Topics: 1
CHAPTER NINE - The medallion

It was only once we’d returned to our chambers that I noticed the innocent absence of my mothers necklace against the hollow of Buffy’s throat.

Tara? Low-low must have felt me suddenly still.

Everything stilled. The melody I was softly humming, the rhythmic motion of unbraiding Dawnie’s hair, my half-thought ruminations.

What’s wrong?

I stared, and it hung there…not the alexandrite, but an unfamiliar object on a thick leather cord. A bronze winged beast in a strangely bent posture. It wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen before; not the gipsy jewellery of the marketplace or the priceless adornments of royalty in painted portraits.

“What is that?” I barely said it aloud.

Until then, Buffy had been undertaking the laborious task of undressing. The medallion must have been tucked securely out-of-sight beneath her corset.

“Nothing.” She swiftly hid it in her robe.

The griffin from the Book of Kells. Low-low recognised, she was always surprising me with the things she knew.

“It’s his, isn’t it?” Dawn accused.

“None of your business”

They kept bickering but I couldn’t hear properly. Dawn was up from between my legs, angry. Buffy exasperated as she carefully draped the white swan gown over her dresser. I swayed where I sat. Everything expanded. Everything shrunk.

“Where’s mothers necklace?” My voice silenced them both.

She wouldn’t have….

“Buffy…” I warned.

Nothing.

Her eyes were on me, mine were on her.

I stood, strode the three steps to her jewellery box and emptied it’s entire contents onto her bed.

“Tara don’t!” Buffy had my forearm but was too late to stop me.

The hinged lid broke when it fell from my slack fingers. It wasn’t there. I knew it wouldn’t be. She’d given it to him.

How could she? My innards gripped inside me.

Our mother had died when Buffy was twelve and I was thirteen. We slept in the same bed for months. We wept together. She wasn’t like Dawn, Buffy remembered mothers face. She remembered her stories.

She gave our mother away to a monster.

“What is wrong with you?” I was furious but it came out sounding calm.

“Tara.”

“What is wrong with you?!” This time it was louder, I snatched back my arm and ran to my chambers.

I shut the door, hard.

She opened it.

“How could you do this?” I snarled at her.

Softer Tare, you’ll wake the housekeeper.

“How could you give that man, that thing, our mothers…” I broke, my voice, my heart, everything. I didn’t want to look at my sister anymore. I wanted her out of my room. I wanted her gone.

There was a long pause before she answered:

“It was mine to give away.”

A soundless laugh stumbled its way out my lips. There was no mirth to it and my cheeks were wet.

“Please go.” I turned my back to her, walked slowly to the saucer and jug by my bed and poured Low-low a bath.

Tara.

“In you hop.” I muttered. She did.

I could feel Buffy watching on. If I’d asked her to stay she would have left ages ago. I breathed slowly. No more thoughts of reckless sisters with my mothers nose. Low-low rolled the stress from her small shoulders. I dribbled water over her and she rubbed affectionately against my fingers.

“Good girl.” I didn’t care if my sister thought me crazy, I didn’t care much of her opinion at all.

“You have no right to lecture me.” Buffy said with well aimed precision.

“What his that suppose to mean?” I was weary of arguing, it’d never been my way.

“Where’s your heirloom Tara?” She bit out.

Oh.

It cut like a knife.

She doesn’t mean that.

“Where’s the Dolls Eye?” Buffy pressed into the tender point of my mind.

She’s just tied, you both are.

“Lets go rummaging through your jewellery box. Let’s toss it all on the floor and see what comes falling out.”

“D-don’t you dare c-compare this to…” I staggered out.

“To what? I gave my heirloom to someone dear to me, someone I love.”

“T-that isn’t fair.”

“Yours is at the bottom of the Swallow gathering moss and river filth”

Don’t listen to her.


“I was just a child.” It came out desperate. Pleading.

“So was Willow.”


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 Post subject: Re: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:02 am 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:14 am
Posts: 15
Topics: 1
CHAPTER TEN - King of the Land

It was the morn of the harvest feast. Every chamber in our estate housed a visitor and every corridor was humming with excitement. Before Willow’s death we often held such events. My mother had a reputation of being a notoriously generous hostess, a quality that tended to draw the masses from town. They still gossiped, of course, how else could Lady Ileana Maclay have acquire such generosities if not through invoking Vântoase himself? But it seemed such things could be overlooked with enough Ciorbă served for supper.

We children understood little of what that sacred day represented and traditions to be upheld. We chased one another squealing, leapt flights of stairs banging and raised our voices so loud it echoed on every floor. Shooed from indoors for causing a ruckus, we’d swarmed to the lawn, pretending to be pirates, or goblins, or whatever took our fancy. Buffy had bested me in duel, held a wooden sword to my throat and declared me a ‘talentless scoundrel’ in front of an audience. Embarrassed, I set off for the stables to hide myself from further attention while the next opponent took my place. I was good with the animals and had hoped to find them alone after growing weary of unfamiliar people in my house. We’d recently acquired a new gelding Bătute and he was still an alluring novelty. He was only young - and I liked to try and imagine how his mane might darken with age or how big he’d grow.

“Bătute, it’s me.” I whispered as I slipped through the barn door, checking over my shoulder that I hadn’t been followed.

It was there I found the Rosenberg’s little girl half crouched on the ground. Her entire body held still like a statue except for the tremor in her knees. She faced Lady Petrescu’s beige cart-horse with both hands outstretched as though in surrender.

“W-willow? ”

I was surprised that she was there of all places. It was common knowledge that Willow Rosenberg was deathly frightened of horses after an unfortunate experience with a startled colt. At the age of nine she still only ever rode with her father and wouldn’t approach any beast above shoulder height without holding his hand. The others often teased her for the way she clung to Lord Ira’s arm as he tried to hold the reigns or how shaken she looked on dismount.

She still hadn’t acknowledge my interruption of…whatever she was up to.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

It was a strange scene to take in. Willow had always seemed so grown up whenever she visited; she never misbehaved, sat perfectly straight and spoke with such over-articulated elegance it was hard to remember she was a year my junior. But there, petrified and shaking at the sight of Lady Petrescu’s mare, she reminded me more of my baby sister then the girl with the neatest handwriting.

“It doesn’t count if Tara helps you.” I heard called out from the rafters. Warren was laying on his stomach on one of the structural beams, his arms hugged around the wooden frame and his legs dangling on either side.

“She’s not.” Willow insisted but her voice wobbled in her throat.

“Well get on with it then.” He prodded.

That was the day the Rosenberg’s introduced me to a game of their own invention. They called it King of the Land. It consisted of various challenges to compete for that title and save from being the others servant. I’d stumbled unknowingly into the first challenge. Warren had dared Willow to pluck a hair from the tail of Lady Petrescu’s mare. Despite her obvious trepidation - she went through with it. I didn’t really understand why. Seconds after holding the strand victoriously over her head, she slouched, braced herself on her knees and promptly threw up.

“You should have seen your face.” Warren called down laughing, slapping his hand on the barn’s thatched cladding, he hadn’t noticed her vomit.

I came to kneel beside her, careful to avoid the puddle of sick and made up my mind that I didn’t like this game very much.

“Are you alright?” I touched her back, trying to mimic the way my mother rubbed when I had a fever.

“Fine.” She nodded, pale and out of breath. Then she held out the long strand towards me and whispered:

“I did it.” As though she hardly believed it herself.

Warren decided on his own challenge. He was going to climb to the far end of the barn roof and steal and egg from the Waxwing nesting in the rafters. He was halfway shimmied across when I asked Willow if I could show her how to twist the horse hair into a ring. I’d meant only to distract her, she still seemed anxious and green cheeked. She was fascinated with how I weaved the band into existence in a way my sisters had long grown bored of. They’d simply hand me some grass they’d gathered and request a bracelet, a wreath or a crown, then wonder away to find some flowers to add after I’d finished.

I took Willow’s hand to measure the circumference of her finger before twisting the loose end into a knot.

“There.” I said as she examined my handiwork. It wasn’t the best one I’d ever made. It was much to cumbersome for her skinny middle finger but I hadn’t wanted to waste any of her trophy. She seemed pleased with it nonetheless for she gave me a bright beaming smile.

“Oh!” She exclaimed, struck with an idea. Then she slipped a the fine chain over her head and unclasped it to free the large gold signet ring hanging from the loop of it. It was a mans ring, heavy and moulded to the shape of a shield at the front. The Rosenberg family crest was deeply engraved into it, I recognised it from the coat of arms embroiled on Lord Ira’s garb and the wax seals of his letters.

Even at ten years old I knew it was strange that Willow had it. It was customary to give such a thing to ones eldest son when they were old enough to inherit their father’s position. I looked up to see Warren reaching out to Waxwing with his hunting dagger to distract her from her maternal duty. Then back at Willow who’d found a way to secure the signet ring to her middle finger by pushing my creation between the same knuckle and joint. She gave her wrist a gentle shake, then smiled at me proudly when ring held tight to her finger.

“It works.” She grinned.

“Your ring…?”

“Papa gave it to me.” She said sweetly. Warren swore and I quickly checked he wasn’t listening. He hadn’t heard. It appeared the Waxwing, though cornered and unfairly matched, wasn’t giving up without a fight.

“He caught me with the milkmaids son. His my friend. Sometimes I don’t eat my salami biscuit and give it to him because his mothers awfully cross at him all the time. We were under the stairs where the servants sleep, I write the letters in the tray of sand like this…” She traced a perfectly executed “A” into the dirt.

“And then Xander practices it over and over again. He can do the whole alphabet on his own now. It’s one of our secrets. When Papa found out I thought I was in trouble. But he said he was proud of me. He said I was a good person because I wanted to teach someone else to read. His next venture is going to be all the way across the Mediterranean Basin and he promised to take me with him. We’re going to meet a silk merchant in Istanbul who has goods all the way from Siam.”

I stared at her in amazement. Perhaps I should have felt intimidated, but Willow was the least intimidating person I’d ever met. She had always been different from the rest of us. When we were learning how to play pranks, climb trees and find the best hiding places, she was acting as her fathers scribe and memorising Latin.

“Did you know in Siam they don’t wear hosiery or corsets, they just wear this cloth called a chong kraben wrapped around their middle with nothing else underneath? There’s not even any ties to keep it from falling down.”

“Really?” I giggled. It was a funny thought, men trying to walk while their trousers kept falling down.

“Really, and they never wear shoes. Not even the King of Siam wears shoes.” She told me straight faced.

“Now I know you’re lying.” I laughed.

“No it’s true.” She insisted.

“His feet would freeze whenever he went outside.” I protested, it was a delightful way to argue.

“No, no, see it’s very warm in Siam. It’s never ever snowed there. Not once.”

“I don’t think I believe you.” I smiled at her. She was looking at me with such earnestness that I didn’t know if she was telling a new type of fairytale story or if there really was a magical kingdom that had never seen a single snow flake fall from the sky.

“I’ll prove it to you. One day I’ll have my own ship, and you can come with me all the way to Siam.” She said resolutely

I made her shake on it, playfully more then as a serious agreement. But it was fun to talk to her, fun to pretend.

“Got it!” Warren shouted as he leapt from the rafters. He tossed the speckled egg up, then caught it, like a ball.

“Don’t do that.” Willow reproached in a tone only a youngest-child ever masters. That feeble protest - baby Dawn was just starting to practice hers.

“Why not?” Warren tossed it higher this time.

“Stop that. You’ll break it.”

“So what if I do? She tried to peck my thumb off.” He rolled it in the palm of his hand, then swung his arm as though to pitch it at the barn wall without ever letting go.

“Don’t!!” Willow yelped.

I really didn’t like this game. But I had siblings, I knew how to trick them into what I wanted.

“He’s just too scared to go back up there.” I said as indifferently as I could manage.

Warren put the egg back. The whole time he did Willow watched with nervous eyes, as though she thought at any moment he might change his mind and drop it just to hear it splat. I was relieved for her sake once his feet hit the floor.

“Your turn.” He told me.

Originally the plan had been that I steal my mothers pearls, but I managed to convince Warren that the dolls eye crystal was a much more challenging mark. It’s size alone confirmed that. His eyes bulged out as I revealed it to him from under the headscarf I used to smuggle it out with. What I hadn’t told him was that it was to be mine on my eighteenth birthday. The truth was I felt more at ease stealing it knowing it was promised to me anyway.

Next came a series of competitions to determine which one of us would be King of the Land. Willow hadn’t wanted to go into the Wildwood. She kept stopping, making excusers, asking why we couldn’t just race where we were in the paddocks or climb the trees by the chicken coop.

“We’re not allowed.” She sounded like she was mimicking her tutor.

“Grow up Willow.” Warren crawled under the border fence.

“Haven’t you heard what Muma Pădurii does to children who get lost in the forest?” She tugged on my sleeve.

“Go home and cry to Papa if your so scared. Hide behind him like you always do. Come on Tara. ” Warrens voice came from the brave side of the fence.

If I had been any older I would have waited with skinny redheaded girl in the paddock. Even a few extra hours older would have been enough. But I was afraid, not of the Wildwood, but of going back. Surely everyone had already heard about how Buffy had knocked the wooden sword out of my hands with one strike. Of how much clumsier I was then her. What if Warren told them that I was a milk-sop like Willow? I didn’t want them to tease me too.

So I lay on my stomach, shuffling on my elbows to fit under the gap in the border fence. I tried very hard not to think about leaving the youngest behind. My mother wouldn’t have liked that, she always told be how good I was at looking after the little ones. But Willow would be fine, it was only a short walk back. She was too responsible to wonder off like Dawn, and too sensible to pull any of Buffy’s dauntless stunts. She’d needed a friend not a guardian, and I wasn't fit to be either. I doubted she’d want to tell me stories of the shoeless king anymore. The older we got the less she fit in with us children and the more she tended to keep by her fathers side. Maybe after this she’d avoid us for good. Maybe she wouldn’t even wave from her window when we arrived at the Yarrows or smile across the pews on Sundays. I shook the thought out of my head and I focused on keeping the dirt from smudging across the front of my dress. I could wash my arms and my legs - but mother would notice if the fabric was soiled.

“This is why you’ll never be the real King of the Land.” Warren jeered through the palings.

He offered his hand to help me up, but I stood on my own. It was a small defiance of his comment. I knew a bully when I sore one.

Rustling leaves and the sound of snapping sticks came after me. It was Willow, she’d changed her mind and was wiggling through the border fence with a fierce look in her eye.

“I knew there had to be some Rosenberg blood in you.” Warren nodded at her his respect then set off towards the river. Willow didn’t return his gesture, but she did let me haul her to her feet. Trailing close behind and clutching the material of my dress when the path seemed crooked and dark. I’d have held her hand, but I was sure she hadn’t realised I’d noticed her holding on and didn’t want to embarrass her further.

We were unfairly matched. Warren won at throwing his dagger at a target, swinging from branches and catching a red fox with his bare hands. I won first to reach the river, found the smoothest skipping stone and climbed the highest up a giant sequoia tree. Willow lost at everything. Small for her age and the youngest by more then a year, she never had a chance.

The last race would be the decider. I’d made up my mind that I needed to win. It was a stupid game, but if I was King of the Land Willow wouldn’t have to be her brothers servant. He was always too harsh on her but in a way he deserved to be. Twelve year old boys are not suppose to fear for their birthright.

We ran.

Warren and I passed Willow in the first few paces. Shoulder to shoulder. Fists pumping. Legs thumping, we ran. The Swallow was glistening, we got closer and closer, first to touch the water was the champion. We bumped into each other. Recovered. Kept going. Kept sprinting. Why hadn’t I let Willow beat me at the games before? She didn’t have to come last over and over again. Warren would have been much fairer to me as a King, then to her. He would have had to release me by bedtime.

He hit the river one step before I did, the water splashed up my clothes.

“I AM KING OF THE LAND!!” He bellowed, then howled like a wolf. I bent over, hands on knees and tried to catch my breath. .

Willow came barrelling towards us as fast as her knobbly knees could carry her. I couldn’t believe she hadn’t slowed down once we’d overtaken her. Not in a single contest. She tried her hardest again and again and it was never enough. To much momentum and to little coordination had her skidding over the bank and plowing full bodied into the river with a scream.

Warrens howl became a cackle and I hurried over. She pulled herself up with a groan, soggy dressed and muddied all over. I thought she’d be crying, but she wasn’t. Some duck weed had tangled into her hair and she looked a little funny covered in moss and organic debris.

“I present to you, Queen of the Pound Scum.” Warren declared laughing.

I was checking her over for potential injuries.

“I’m fine.” She shrugged away from me.

“Ruler of fish faeces!” Warren taunted and I frowned at him.

“A-are you sure?”

The red-head nodded.

“Keeper of the scum.” Warren was still making his first decree.

“Your bleeding.” Her left palm had torn open on a sharp rock. I examined it’s severity, having her flex her fingers and relax.

“The lowliest cretin in all the land.” He finished with a resolute grin.

“It’s not so easy.”

The three of us froze in shock. We’d had no idea anyone else was there, but as the voice spoke we saw an old woman, clad in dusty greys and muddy browns, nearby. Bent over and gathering mushrooms by the Swallow and stashing them away in a woven basket over her arm. She could have been there the entire time; she blended in to the hues of the undergrowth as if she were just another thing growing there.

“Who are you?” Warren asked confidently.

The crone made no reply, she lent down and sniffed at the bank like a hunting dog. Then picked the plant under her nose with careful curiosity.

“W-what do you mean? What's not so easy...?” I asked instead.

The women considered me with shimmering eyes before answering:

“You have to pay for power.”

“It’s only a game, we’re just pretending.” Willow spoke cautiously and stiff.

“Nothing is only a game your little highness.” The crone was crouching beside us and producing a square cloth from her basket, which she proceeded to lay out flat on the pebbled shore.

“I’m not royalty, I’m the daughter of a merchant. Lord Ira of the Yarrows, formerly of Brașov.” Willow corrected, respectful but wavering.

“Queen of the Pond Scum.” The crone added to her formal address, smiling with crooked pointy teeth.

Willow shrunk, embarrassed.

As if drawn by a powerful charm, the three of us gathered around the blanket, kneeling at the edges alongside the old hag. She turned her attention to Warren next:

“King of the Land you claim, but your highness, such a title is not idly bestowed or easily won with foolish demonstrations of strength and speed.”

I saw his eyes narrow.

“You must pay for it.” She gleamed.

“What with? You mean silver?” Warren asked.

The old women took a pouch from around her neck and scattered the sandy substance it held in the middle of the square.

“You must pay with what is most precious to you in all the world. The thing you love best. Put that on the cloth, give it up willingly and the title will be yours to keep, If it were I, I would give up these mushrooms, for they keep starvation from my door one more day, and what is more precious then life?” She winked, then she tossed her basket to the middle and said:

“Witch of the Wood.” In demonstration.

I was impressed but hesitant. The old lady stroked her worn face then looked directly at Willow:

“What’ll it be pond scum?”

The redhead held her chin high but her eyes wavered. This was her chance to be the brave one. Her hands came to her middle finger - on which still held a woven thread of horse hair and an oversized gold ring. She twisted it off. Kissed the shield of her fathers household and held it up over the clothe.

“I want to be Queen of the Lake, please.” She requested.

“Are you sure?” The crone tilted her head, searching green eyes with shimmering silver.

“I’m sure.” Willow let the ring fall from her grasp.

The old women smiled greedily at the treasure, then up at me.

I knew what I had to give. I loosened the pouch I’d slung the dolls eye crystal into and held up the heavy diamond. I wasn’t sure what I’d be Queen of…my sisters and I, we didn’t play like this. We played as goblins or dragons or fey.

“I w-want to be…” I looked to Willow for guidance. Her features nymphlike and her elfin ears pink. She smiled reassuringly, bright hair, bright eyes, she was more like a pixie then a plain human girl.

“Queen of the Fairies.” Was all I could think of. I placed the dolls eye besides her ring.

The old women favoured me a gap-toothed smile.

“Are you sure?” She said with quite intensity.

Her voice frightened me even more then her beady eyes .

“Y-yes.”

Last she turned to Warren.

“And for his majesty? King of the Land is it?”

He sat pale as chalk as if her were about to faint and he was staring at his sister. He didn’t seem to be able to think of what to offer. He just stared at her. Willow’s brow knitted in confusion. Mine likely matched. I was about to suggest he give up his hunting dagger when the crone said:

“Are you sure?”

Something changed in Warren’s face and a chill went up my spine. It was as if darkness itself was looking out those twelve year old eyes. I dropped my gaze. I couldn’t look at him. I heard him say “I’m sure.” in a voice that sounded like someone else’s.

“It’s done.” She yanked the blanket hard and fast, flinging the ring up into the air and my mothers crystal tumbling towards the Swallow. I chased after the heavy purple gleam, Willow at my heels. Warren caught his father’s signet ring before it hit the ground and cursed at the old women - but she’d disappeared.

The crystal fell with plonk into the depths of rushing water before I could stop it.

“No!” I cried out after the shimmering light sinking down down down.

“I can see it.” Willow said, she was stripping off her petticoat.

“I can see it.” She was wading into the water, first down to her knees, then deeper. I couldn’t swim, I couldn’t see it, the Swallows currents swirled.

“Willow d-don’t it’s fine.” But it wasn’t fine. My mother would never forgive me for this.

“It’s n-not w-worth it.” My eyes were welling up.

“Don’t be silly. I’ll be fine. I’m Queen of the Lake, remember?” She flashed me the most charming smile, and I swear, I could have kissed her.

I have obsessed about what unfolded over the next few moments endlessly. Why did little Willow Rosenberg go into the water? Why, when I had been so cruel not to take her home? Not to stay with her? Not to let her win a single race? Why had she cared so much about my heirloom, when the waves and the rush of river must have frightened her to death?

Why was she so bright? So dauntless? Just in that one decision, when she had been so cautious in every other? In my memory, it is what the entire day had been leading to. Everything was against her. Beating her into submission. Pressing her into a corner. Throwing up in the stable, the egg almost cracked, the fence she hadn’t wanted to crawl under, skidding last into the lake, her bloodied hand in mine. She needed a win. A valiant heroic win. She needed to come out of that river with my diamond held high above her and that wonderful sparkle in her eyes saying “I did it.” Like she barley believed it herself.

But she didn’t.

Swimming with precise stokes she reached the swell of the lake despite the gushing tug of the tide. Duck diving under, her legs disappeared with the rest of her for so long I couldn’t breathe. A gasp. She surfaced.

“I’ve got it!” She called.

“Willow get back here.” Warren had come by my side, he sounded afraid.

“Quickly, get out of there! Now!” His urgency startled me. He was shin deep in the Swallow.

The current was strong and Willow wasn’t. She had used the most of her energy already and was trying to tread water with a heavy weight pulling down her dominant hand.

“Drop it Willow!” Warren ordered, but she must not have been able to hear him with her head half underwater, she was struggling. Her face was pale, and her strokes becoming disorganised and panicked.

I rushed in till the ledge dropped off . The water was ice cold at my chest. I was having troubles not loosing my footing, it tugged at my legs in unexpected directions. I almost slipped one way, then the next. Willow was reaching for me with her free hand, the other still cradling my heirloom.

“Tara.” She panted.

“Almost there. Almost…”

I snatched at her hand in the water, but she was a two arms lengths away. I couldn’t touch her.

“Warren!” I screamed.

Where hell was he?! He could swim. He was taller. I shot my eyes over my shoulder to see him slice a vine down the middle with his knife, tie one end to a tree and the other around his wrist. He dove over me and into the Swallow, plunging down and out of site. Strong arms ripping through the water as he reached her, his tether grew taut.

“GOT HER!” He shouted and I grabbed the vine with both hands and pulled with all my might. It snapped. I fell forward and under. My lungs filled with fluid. My head hit something hard. I floundered. Thrashing. Everything was green, tasted like dirt and stung my eyes. I was suffocating. There was no way up. No way down. Just a seizing river and the sensation of being tossed against the bottom. I felt a kick against my leg, a flash over muted red, another kick but this one smaller. I couldn’t see her anymore. But the hands. I swear I sore hands.

A firm pressure came under my armpits and I realised someone had taken hold of me, pulling me with splattering and heaving coughs, to the pebbled shore. Warrens face blurred in and out of focus as I frantically looked for her. I stood. I stumbled. I started to go back in.

“Where is she?”

The water had stilled, it’s fun was over. The bank held only me and a boy with dark hair plastered to his cheeks. I ran towards the mocking river, so calm, so very calm.

“Willow?!”

She had to still be in there. I scanned the Swallow, I sore a flicker, a tiny movement on the surface, rippling around where she’d dipped underneath.

Warren grabbed my shoulders.

“She’s gone Tara. Willow’s gone.”


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 Post subject: Re: The Furcuţă Curse
PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:10 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 81
:whip DIBS!
Good to hear that Willow's dad hasn't died yet - hopefully he can be saved by some miracle. Warren taking control of the Macly estate and physically attacking Tara made me furious, but from Warren I expect the worst. Buffy's behaviour really disappointed me, rubbing salt in the old wound Tara carries around since the day Willow drowned (to everyones belief) and obenly implying that her death is Tara's fault.
The last chapter left me really shaken. So Warren chose to sacrifice his sister...it didn't work out for him, because he is far from beeing king - but Willow probably wasn't the "most precious thing" to him, so maybe this "price" wasn't enough? Willow got betrayed by the witch, it seems, because the little frog Low-Low hardly could be considered "queen of the lake". For Tara the deal somehow worked apparantly, she has at least enough of a fairy queen that she is able to enter the other kingdom...

Right now the situation for Willow, Tara and her sisters seems worse than ever - I fear that a big rift will result from Tara's and Buffy's confrontation, they are all helpless under Warren's rule and we don't know of a possibility to break the curse. I just hope the next chapter will bring some light at the end of the tunnel...


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