Witches are Fickle
“Well then, about Prince Alexis’ curse of bad luck and Percival’s curse of behaving eccentrically when he’s tired…”
“Shall we talk about your cursed drawing ability and the monsters you create as well, Lady Monette?”
“Cute kitty-cats!” Monette cries, “How rude!”
Percival snorts in a combative way. Alexis sighs in exasperation at the two of them… then from that slight movement, his chair breaks into pieces and he collapses to the floor.
It’s shortly past noon.
After sleeping soundly, Alexis and Percival helped themselves to her food for lunch. It’s shortly after Monette started gazing at her remaining food supplies in dissatisfaction.
Apparently statistically, the curse doesn’t seem to kick in as much in the afternoon, so she thought to talk about it now when they had a chance… and then this happens.
Monette can’t help but say, “Please sit on the floor.”
She holds out a cushion to Alexis.
“Lady Monette, there’s a limit to how rude you can be. Asking the prince to sit on the floor…”
“It’s fine, Percival. If I sit on a chair, it breaks, so I might as well just sit on the floor –“ Alexis’ voice cuts off as he makes to sit on the floor.
Needless to say, on trying to sit down, he fell into the basement for a second time, making a big racket. A loud, echoing crashing sound. Wood flakes fly up.
“Y–your Highness! Are you alright!?”
“Yeah, I’m fi– good morning, Robertson and your friend! I’m begging you, please don’t come this wa-!”
Alexis screams. At the sound, Percival hurriedly heads down to the basement.
Monette follows after Percival, all while urging the spiders, “Bite him, Robertson, Robertson’s fashionable friend!”
They go for a fresh start after the day’s first incident.
Monette can’t stand having any more holes in the floor, so she sets up a basic table in the wine cellar in the basement. For now, she’ll ignore Percival staring at the wine in interest, murmuring “This is…” and “Even wine from that period…”
“I shall give you a bottle for every chair you repair,” she says half-jokingly, but Percival just nods in response, looking rather serious.
Putting aside the wine, it’s time to talk about the curse again.
On placing an open book on the table, Alexis and Percival peer down at it, wondering what it contains. But they both just look confused immediately after glancing down.
After all, the book laid out on the table is not written in an alphabet they can read. No, they may not even be able to recognize the writing as letters. Even Alexis, who has learned several countries’ languages as a prince, is at a loss at the uneven lines of writing that look as though a worm might have wriggled them out.
“Monette, what country is this writing from?”
“This is witches’ script. Only witches can understand it and use it. It’s a special form of writing that only those from a witch’s bloodline can use.”
“You can read it?”
“It would be more accurate to say that I became able to read it,” Monette explains as she flips through the spellbook.
Witches’ script, only known in witches’ households. Normally, it would’ve been passed down from parent to child, but unfortunately, the House of Idira threw away their knowledge of the script long ago. If Monette showed the writing to any of her living relatives, they’d probably just end up saying, “What are these dirty lines?”
That’s the kind of spellbook it is. It had been stored away in the attic of their mansion.
When she moved to this old castle, she brought all the books like that she could find. Holing herself away in this empty castle, she learned how to read it one letter at a time, thus becoming able to use spells.
“Does this book have anything on curses?”
“There’s a few that might be relevant… nope, stop right there. You look like you’re thinking that it’s me after all. Prince Alexis too, please don’t lower your head,” Monette scolds, “Don’t treat me like the culprit.”
It would be an understatement to say that it makes Monette feel bad to be treated as the culprit after cooperating so much as well as providing meals and a place to sleep. After pointing this out to the two of them, their expressions change in an instant. They even bring the conversation back to the spellbook.
From the abrupt change in topic, Monette can’t help but say, “Don’t make me a participant in your farce,” and glare at them from in her helmet.
“If a witch’s spellbook has curses, then I was cursed by a witch after all. Just who did it…?”
“I’m not able to determine which witch exactly. While the House of Idira discarded their heritage as witches, there’s still many witch households remaining in the world. Either you did something to make one of those witches resent you, or someone requested one of them to curse you…” Monette goes silent.
Alexis is softly laughing as he listens to her talk. But his brow is furrowed, and his narrowed deep brown eyes are pained. Still, he’s forcing a smile onto his face.
“That’s true,” he responds, so thinly it almost sounds like a sigh. His voice is slightly hoarse – he looks indescribably pained.
Unable to bear it, Monette scratches her head. Her iron-covered finger makes a grinding noise against her helmet.
It looks like Percival’s expression is pained as well. He looks towards Alexis and almost says something… but shuts his mouth, looking irritated. He probably can’t think of anything to comfort Alexis.
Percival twists his expression, looking pained again at his cowardice. Monette lets out a small sigh in the midst of the heavy atmosphere.
Though, her sigh is absorbed by her thick helmet and isn’t heard by the other two.
But the fact of the matter is Alexis is cursed, and they do not know who the culprit is.
There’s a number of modern witch households in the world, and it’s almost impossible for a self-taught novice witch like Monette to investigate the spells they have.
Above all, the way Alexis’ bad luck shows itself bothers her.
He gets ill and becomes injured, but never dies or deals with lasting injuries or sicknesses. He gets into dangerous situations like being chased by wolves, but every time, he’s saved in the nick of time. He often breaks chairs or tables and such, but he only ever gets minor injuries.
It’s much too weak for a witch’s curse.
“Curses are the same as charms, they weaken if the one who cast it is far away or is sleeping. A talented witch may be cursing you from afar, or a weak witch may be cursing you close by, or perhaps a witch is suppressing the power of the curse to avoid suspicion, or it’s simply a toned-back curse…”
“You can’t investigate the curse with that cup last night like how you verified the curse was real?” asks Percival.
Monette shakes her head, indicating that it’s impossible. It must make a surreal sight to see a helmet turn from left to right with a grind, but Alexis and Percival don’t have the time to spare to notice that.
The two of them listen to Monette with strange expressions on their face, looking straight at her. Deep brown eyes and emerald eyes. Though they aren’t glaring at her, their gazes are piercing. Monette finds it hard to breathe – she flips through the spellbook to avert her gaze and additionally direct their gazes towards the table.
Her iron helmet hides her expression and her sighs… but she can’t wipe the bead of sweat that drips down her cheek. When she automatically lifts a hand to do so, a clank sounds out when the iron gauntlet and helmet meet.
How terribly inconvenient.
“While I cannot investigate the curse, I believe a witch in a neighboring country may be able to. Unlike myself in the House of Idira, she was born into a long, continuous lineage of witches. I shouldn’t be able to even hold a candle to her skill in magic and curses.”
Monette spreads out a map next to the spellbook, then taps an iron-covered finger at the approximate location of the witch.
It’s right on the border between the countries. It would probably take about half a month to get there and back with a carriage. You would have to leave the forest bordering the countries, then continue on into the valley… it would be tough at times, but it’s not impossible to traverse.
Learning that there was a lead unexpectedly close by, Alexis and Percival’s expressions very slightly soften.
“However,” Monette says in warning as she reads the spellbook, “Witches are fickle. No matter who you may be, no matter what you may want, if it doesn’t suit them, they will not cooperate with you. They may not even reveal themselves in front of you.”
“Is that the way it is? Even if it’s a royal command?”
“Though human, witches have apparently always lived on a different plane of existence than others. And so, even if you’re royalty, everything depends on their mood. Depending on how you treat them, they may even go hostile. Supposedly no matter the country, people have struggled with dealing with these moody witches.”
“I see. So even if we go to meet her, we won’t know if she’ll even meet us, let alone cooperate with us…”
For some reason, Alexis and Percival exchange glances.
Ignoring them, Monette flips through the spellbook.
“Though that doesn’t appear to be the case between witches,” she murmurs.
… The words just slipped out accidentally.