Behold, my second Cryptic Creativity offering.
Erica took her time to polish the mirror. It didn’t require much talent, but she took comfort in the inane. She rubbed its glassy surface with gently strokes as those caring for a valuable race horse. There were a number of tasks still to get through this morning, but she took her time. Eventually she rocked back on her heels to survey her handiwork.
It was without a doubt the shiniest mirror in Dartmoor. Moving on to the antique bureau she eyed the sherry, temped to help herself to just a sip or two. She resisted, solely because the drama it would invite was completely not worth it, especially if that flaming nuisance of a footman caught wind of it again.
As she dusted off the ancient piece of furniture she let her thoughts drift back to that day at the stream. From the moment she’d seen the dashing young stranger it had been hopeless. They’d sat for hours beneath the willows as the well-dressed man regaled her with tales of all of his heroic deeds. She’d tenderly woven sprigs of lovage into a wreath for his head of gorgeous hair.
Little had she known that before the night was through she would find herself having to impale him on the rusted gate near the wishing well.
At first she had though the raven was nothing but a comical garden visitor, it turns out it had been an omen. The warden had tried to explain as such, but Erica had brushed off his slurred protestations seeing as he was on to his second gallon on ale already.
She had packed a picnic lunch and wandered down to the river for a quiet afternoon in the sunshine, unaware that before sunrise the next day she would find herself inescapably part of the village’s lore. She would become just one character in the stories the high-born would tell their children just before bedtime, tales with morals.
They all assumed that immigrants like her were always on the take. “French leave more than they take,” her gypsy grandmother had always said, although Erica had never understood exactly what she meant. She had spent weeks trying to teach her about tenses while on their way to Elba, but had given up by the time they reached Turkey.
As Erica caressed the wood until it shone, she was stumped by how things had turned out the way they had. Who decides what befalls a person? Who is given the task to allot the future to a young girl with her head in clouds?
The handsome stranger had craftily cornered her between the rocks, out of view of the road. He had cut an imposing figure against the crystal clear sky. Suddenly his ruddy cheeks became sallow and his suite didn’t look quite as modern anymore.
His name was Count Severn Mortimer and he had waited patiently in the dark forest for some unwitting young maid to cross over into his domain.
But he hadn’t been expecting to meet with someone just as strong as he was, Erica thought, as she blew the dust from the crystal decanter, a forked tongue flicked over her lips and anyone passing may just have glimpsed the briefest hint on a tail beneath the hem of her maid’s skirt.