Andrea Novis Episode 2
Copyright © 2015 by Michael Litzky
The red outline of the opening door glared painfully bright through her closed eyes.
Andrea Novis continued her long slow breath and let her eyelids relax but stay closed. As the light grew, she risked tiny flutters of her eyelids. The glare from a flickering torch pierced her eyes, spread into brilliant rainbows by her quavering eyelashes.
The door finished grating open. Her finely tuned ears heard the faint skittering of the spider fleeing for a protective shadow. She stood with solidly beating heart, hands at her sides, firm in mind and body, facing her captors with calm certainty, her eyes slowly opening as they became accustomed to the light.
She heard in-drawn breath.
A man’s deep voice muttered, “She’s a witch.” At that, she knew she had succeeded and smiled in triumph.
She was pale and thin, for they had fed her adequately but not abundantly. But clearly she stood before them clean, well-dressed, calmly sane and dignified. Her hair would have lost any shine but part of her daily discipline had been caring for every part of her body. She had, with patient fingers, teased out every snarl and tangle and had used some of her precious water earlier to wet it down.
Her eyes could now see with only mild pain. The jailor, a small man whose cruelty hid what Andrea Novis suspected was a soft heart, held torch and keys. He stood cringing with curled lip and darting eyes, unsure whether the fine condition of the prisoner reflected well or badly on him.
The smooth, black-and-silver-clad noble named Sir Robert taunted, “Well, princess. I am to take you to His Majesty. But of course, if you are so comfortable as our guest, I can tell Pissgut here to lock you in again.”
The jailor’s name was actually Roderick; she had heard it mentioned twice in muffled conversations through the door. She faced Sir Robert, said nothing. A soft yellow flame, burning calmly.
“Come,” he said finally. She walked steadily forward and out of the cell.
Out of the cell!
In spite of all her discipline she nearly fainted with the shock of being out of the cell.
Her cautious visualizations of the world outside had not been enough. She trembled and she knew that Sir Robert saw it. She heard his chuckle. “Not quite so powerful a witch after all, are we Princess? Stop a bit, I think his Majesty would prefer you to stay confined for another nine months, shall we return?”
Her pride that her tally of days had been flawless countered her horror at the thought of going back. She called on the strength of mind which had sustained her. “As you wish, Sir Robert,” she said quietly. And made as though to walk back into the cell.
Sir Robert broke first. “Come with me, witch,” he snapped, “and don’t waste time. The King is waiting and he is already angry.”
Unable to actually look at the dark door through which she had almost walked again, Andrea Novis followed Sir Robert, who walked with angry snapping steps. She quickened her pace and kept up with him, pleased that she could do so without stumbling. Roderick’s bad breath hissed in her ear as he followed with the torch.
To be continued…