I thought this was rather…interesting. I’m considering writing some more stories about this character, so be sure to tell me if you’d be interested. Enjoy!
Ana Valensa paused as she came up to the bridge that was the entrance to the impressive castle before her. She dug her heels into her steed, a large horse carrying her and her things. She made her way across the bridge and through the courtyard, until, arriving at the citadel, she was halted by a pair of guards, standing on either side of the great doorway.
“Miss,” said one. “What is your business here?”
“Your lord sent for me. Inform him that Ana Valensa has arrived.”
The guard hurried into the citadel, coming out several minutes later to inform her that Lord Niruso would see her. She dismounted, handing the reins to a guard, before following the other inside. They passed through the great hall, walked up a flight of stairs and through a few corridors, finally halting in front of a rich, mahogany door, which Ana guessed to be the entrance to the lord’s chambers.
The guard knocked, and a voice from inside beckoned them in. Entering, Ana saw several people facing her – servants and attendants and, in the center, the Lord and Lady Niruso. They frowned as she entered, and she frowned back, confused at their reaction to her.
“Who are you?” the Lady asked.
“Ana Valensa. Were you expecting someone else?”
“Yes,” said the lord warily. “Have you heard of the wizard Laro Valensa?”
“He’s my father. But he doesn’t make house calls. I do. Anyway, how may I be of service?”
Lord Niruso stepped forward.
“In a couple days, we will be visited by an entourage from Lord Edoma. Coming in this entourage will be Edoma’s son, Tarrano, who is betrothed to my daughter Yivella. Unfortunately, she will have none of him. I’ve talked to her on several occasions about it, but she remains stubborn.”
“Have they met before? Is there someone else she loves?”
“I don’t think she loves anyone. They have met much throughout their lives – we are close friends with the Edomas.”
“I see. What would you like me to do about it?”
“We want you to make a love potion for our daughter. And then slip we’ll slip it in her drink during the banquet when the Edomas arrive.”
Ana pursed her lips. This hadn’t been the solution she had anticipated. And it wasn’t a particularly good solution, either.
“Are you sure? Love potions are terribly unreliable. I mean -”
“We’re quite sure,” interjected Lady Niruso.
“Alright.” Ana shrugged. “Then I’ll need a few materials.”
* * *
Ana sat in a guest chamber, at a table containing the ingredients needed for the potion. She was engaged in delicately measuring out a certain herb into the main concoction, when she heard a knock on her door.
Heavy footsteps sounded behind her, and she briefly set down her vials to see her visitor.
“I don’t believe I know you,” she told the large, commanding man before her.
“I am Chancellor Oremso. I was curious about your work, and about you.”
“Really?” Ana turned back to her vials and ingredients, measuring things out as the chancellor continued to speak to her.
“I’d heard of your father, and his successes, and I was rather surprised when I learned his daughter was here, rather than himself.”
“You shouldn’t be. He hasn’t left that tower of his in nearly twenty years.”
“Not once? But still, why would you be here? It’s unusual for a woman to be traveling around, solving people’s problems.”
“Well, certainly. But I have skills that people want and need, as your lord as shown, and people are often willing to overlook certain…peculiarities…to have their issues solved, especially when it’s a matter of life or death. Hand me that bit of copper there.”
He gave her the small chunk of shining copper, of which she broke of a miniscule portion, and then crushed that crumb, sweeping the remnants into the primary vial, stirring to dissolve it into the potion.
“Copper?” asked Oremso.
“It’s symbolic. One of the alchemical elements to this.”
“I see. Will the potion make Lady Yivella fall in love with Tarrano Edoma?”
“Sort of. The first attractive face that the drinker sees will be the one that the drinker falls in love with. More importantly, it only creates an infatuation, which is very short and shallow.”
“That could be dangerous. Can’t you make a more lasting love?”
“If I could, I’d be richer than a king. No – that’s impossible. That involves the whole part of a person’s being, while a love potion only needs to tamper with a person’s body. Even so, you’re right, it is dangerous. I’ve heard of it unseating entire kingdoms before. That’s why I hate making these potions.”
“Then why did you acquiesce to Niruso’s request?”
Ana did not answer. Instead, she said, “What’s the Edomas’ stance on the betrothal? What it the marriage supposed to accomplish?”
“It’s just a friendly gesture of alliance.”
“But aren’t they already friends, and allies?”
“Yes, but this makes it a little more…solid. Why? Are you planning something?”
“Don’t worry. You’ll see it in time.”
* * *
The next day, the entourage from the Edomas arrived. At the banquet, Lord Niruso sat in his high seat in the center, with Lord Edoma on his right, Lady Niruso on the left, Ana further down beside the chancellor, with Yivella and Tarrano opposite, side by side. Ana noticed the two interacted little, and when they did, it was Tarrano who initiated.
But while she kept one eye on the two betrothed, she also kept one eye on Niruso. Watched him take the first gulp of his drink, so much so that she missed as she reached for her own goblet. Knocking it off the table, with a clatter. Grabbing his attention. She tried to turn her face away, but she knew it was too late.
Beside her, the chancellor seemed to have noticed all this as well.
“You were right about dangerous,” he whispered. “Now, this is all fine and well, but what about Yivella and Tarrano?”
“Does he seem interested in her?” she asked, not daring to look past Niruso.
“I think so. It’s hard to tell.”
“Good. Then at least that part of the plan will work.”
Ana took a careful look over at the two betrothed. “I need you to gather a hair from each of them, and bring them up to my chamber. There should be a purple vial, and instructions on the table, should I be unable to get to them in time.”
* * *
Ana walked quickly through the corridors to her chambers, trying to avoid the footsteps approaching her, and who they heralded.
“Ana! Ana Valensa!” said his voice. “Stop, please!”
She halted, rolling her eyes.
“Will you walk with me?” his voice continued.
She wanted to say no, but it seemed more of a command when her arm was seized and they began walking toward a lonely corner of the citadel. Only now did she turn to look at the man beside her, Lord Niruso, who gazed back at her as though she were some beautiful diamond, and spoke making comparisons as such to her features.
All the way, Ana’s heart beat like some crazed drummer. And that was nothing compared to when they finally reached a secluded corner, and Niruso thrust her against the wall. He made some speech about Ana’s beauty, which she hardly listened to, more focused on a way out, and if he could run faster than her. In the end, though, his speech ended before she decided anything.
“Oh, glorious goddess!” he proclaimed, pressing forward and kissing her.
“Bared!” a voice suddenly screeched. “Guards!”
Niruso parted from Ana, who collapsed from the shock of the kiss and the scream. Glancing up, she saw it was none other than Lady Niruso. She was only vaguely aware as the two argued, apparently over her, while the guards appeared, confused, behind the Lady.
“And what do you think you were doing?” she demanded of Ana. “Did you give my husband your potion on purpose? Did you mean for him to fall for you?”
“Yes and no,” replied Ana weakly. “I didn’t want him to fall for me.”
“Right! Do you realize what you’ve done to him?”
“Only what you would have had me do to your daughter.”
* * *
Ana spent that night in the dungeons. She probably deserved it. Probably worse, even. The chancellor finally released her the next morning, only for Ana to come face to face with Yivella and Tarrano.
“We heard about what you did,” Yivella said. “Thanks for not using love potion on me.”
“You’re welcome. Are you three breaking me out?”
“Sort of,” said Tarrano. “But I don’t think Lady Niruso planned to keep you in much longer than now.”
“Well, after giving the potion to her husband…”
“Yes,” muttered Yivella. “I’m not too appreciative of that.”
“Speaking of appreciative – I made a potion upstairs, which, if given to a bird, will allow it to always find you two, and thus you can relay messages back and forth. You know, if you want to work at this relationship. Although, you may want to talk to your parents, since they seem to be ready for a wedding a lot sooner than you two.”
“Well…thanks.” Yivella curtsied, and hurried off up to sunnier floors.
“There’s just one problem,” said Tarrano. “I can’t write to save my life.”