Kasmira narrated, “I lived with a lot of criminals, but it got a little better when the persecution of the magical people began, only because I heard the horror stories of what was happening and no matter how much I suffered, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the victims of such senseless violence. A couple of people mentioned this place, and I saw a small glimmer of hope. I may be cursed, but before I go, I can do a little good in this world. That’s when and why I left the Outcasts’ Village.”
Svetlana remarked, “You showed a lot of perseverance by rising above your situation there! You must be a strong person!”
Kasmira never thought about it like that before. “I suppose. I don’t mind going back there because knowing that I have the option to leave really helps. I know my life isn’t fated like the dregs who dwell there…Except that it sort of is with this curse.” She looked at Holly and a thought occurred to her. “How do you curse someone?”
Holly looked a little weary about the subject. “Just to be clear, I’ve never used a curse on anyone. I’m a healer, after all. I had to learn the theory though to produce counter-curses and potions. I’ve never tried it, so I don’t know how to do it, but what happens is you have to change what’s deeply embedded in the blood. I have no idea what Garlord changed in your lineage to give you the curse. And there’s no test to reveal the spell he cast either, if it exists at all. Sometimes when a person or a group believe they’re cursed, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like often wizards think they have a curse that gives them no luck finding a wife, so they stop trying to find someone at all. But if you don’t try, you will fail, you see? Sometimes things are a coincidence too. For instance, I knew a witch whose family were all supposedly fated to die after they gave birth to their first child, but she had six children and even three grandchildren. If Garlord got a hold of the scepter, he could perform a curse beyond ordinary magic (since that’s what happens when a wizard obtains a scepter). So, it’s difficult to say if your curse is real, normal, or extraordinary. Curses are still kind of a gray area in magical studies.”
Anthony commented sarcastically, “Oh, that explains everything! Glad that cleared everything up!”
“We just have to keep thinking of what the curse could be,” Holly explained, “Once we figure out what he changed, we can find a counter-curse or a cure of some kind.”
Ivan suggested, “Perhaps we should be trained to do some curses of our own. Nothing grand, but it seems prudent to learn how to perfect our magic against our foes.”
“That’s a good idea,” Mac said, “Holly, are you comfortable teaching these sort of spells? I know you’re not a fighter…”
Holly consented, “Okay, but if you intend to practice on each other, we’ll need to learn to heal as well. Plus, that gives you a good balance of skills too.”
They spent the afternoon learning how to make and heal cuts on the skin. They practiced on each other for a couple of hours, and even though they kept healing each other, it was still pretty draining. When they decided they had practiced enough for the afternoon, they sat together on on the floor looking rather despondent. Holly concluded, “You guys could use a pick-me-up potion!”
Right then, Joseph walked in with a few bottles of honey mead. Anthony kidded, “Close enough!”
Joseph told them all, “I don’t have much news, except the aristocrats decided that honey mead is no longer in vogue. So this old bloke is giving away all of his to peasants!”
Mac asked him, “Which old bloke? Are you sure it wasn’t a Blood Warrior?”
“Oh no,” he explained, “it was the nicest old man. He has a big, bushy mustache and lots of gray hair. I don’t his name though.”
Kasmira said, “I think that’s the same man who gave me change this morning.”
Amberline commented, “You didn’t tell us someone gave you change!”
Kasmira shrugged. “I was a bit distracted by the events that followed that. I don’t think it means much though, except that you made a very effective beggar disguise.”
Amberline looked pleased, and everyone laughed. Surprisingly, Orlando walked in the door. He spotted the honey mead and grinned. “Excellent! Are we having a party?”
Holly chuckled. “We could have a party. Preston is pretty wound up, so we don’t have to worry about waking him.”
“But what’s a party without music?” Ivan inquired.
Mac told him, “We could use some things around the cottage. We could get decent percussion from this jug.”
“I can make a pretty sound with some of this metal,” Svetlana offered.
“I can whistle,” Holly said.
“Wait! Before everyone starts playing, I can finish Kasmira’s dress. It’ll take, like, three seconds. She can our grand hostess and show off her new look!” Amberline dove into her sewing pile.
“Me?” Kasmira phased. “Why me?”
Anthony joked, “Because I’d look terrible in that gown!”
Everyone laughed. Amberline used her magic to make the dress. Orlando teased Anthony, “I don’t know, you could pull it off. You have such dainty feet!” Anthony pointed his toes and hid them, and again, everyone laughed.
Amberline finished the dress and gave it to Kasmira. “Oh, you’ll need some privacy. Svetlana, will you help me hold up a curtain?”
Anthony kidded, “Or you could change without the curtain. Now that would be a party!” Both Holly and Orlando hit him in the arm, but everyone still grinned.
Kasmira felt a little awkward changing in front of the two women, but once she put the dress on, she had to admire it. Its purple color and ornate pattering reminded Kasmira of the Aristocrat Village, and it made her feel more regal. Svetlana complimented, “You look beautiful! Nice job, Amberline!”
Amberline smiled broadly. “Don’t forget the shoes!” As Kasmira put them on, Amberline announced to the room, “Presenting, the hostess of our party, the Princess of the Rebels, Kasmira!”
They let down the cloth they were using as a make-shift curtain, and as Kasmira turned around to face them, there was clapping from everyone except Orlando, who had started to clap but stopped and stared as if he was stunned. Kasmira blushed. Mac loudly clapped once in front of Orlando’s face, and everyone laughed as he came to his senses.
Holly magically poured enough honey mead for everyone. They held up their glasses and looked to Kasmira to give a toast. Kasmira couldn’t think of anything except, “To the Rebellion!”
“To the Rebellion!” Everyone repeated and downed their drinks. They started playing their make-shift instruments, and the party began…