There are some worlds in the multiverse that are held together by little more than the metaphysical equivalent of duct tape and chewing gum. These are the magical worlds. The flat worlds. Dreams and imagination are almost indistinguishable from reality in places like that. Wonder and beauty untold are around every corner and in every ditch. Perhaps that isn’t a frog in your pond, but a prince waiting to take you away. That fish you have caught with your last lure might just be willing to part with some wishes in exchange for his life. You need only reach out and risk it.
Risk it you shall, for where there are dreams and wonders, there are nightmares and terrors. The dark in the night does hide monsters, and not all stories have happy endings. Otherwise why would the happy ones mean anything at all?
On a magical mountain, in one such world, there lived a powerful Sorceress. She was neither evil nor good. What she was, was respected and feared.
Her castle, and the surrounding city and countryside, were strategically placed at the center the three kingdoms. Each had always wanted nothing more than to see the other two snuffed out. The mountain itself was created as a display of her power, on the eve of war between the three, and could be seen for miles around no matter what kingdom you looked at it from.
The message had been clear and direct.
No one kingdom had the power, skill or might to fight the Sorceress and would never ally themselves with their hated enemies. So a period of stability and indirect commerce began. The Sorceress’ city became a center of trade, and neutral ground for any who needed it. Anyone who didn’t respect that neutrality was swiftly and permanently punished. And there was only one punishment on this world.
Perhaps it is the popular creation myth that the world is in fact the petrified body of the supreme goddess. Perhaps it was the fact that for whatever reason the world was populated with monsters, ghouls and creatures all capable of leaving victims in permanent states of immobility. But the preferred method of threat removal, punishment, and simple vindictive pleasure, was to transform the subject into a statue.
There were quite a few statues decorating the Sorceress’ castle. Not all of the statues were the Sorceress’ original work. There was quite an established art trade on this world, as one would expect. Of course any vain and powerful Sorceress (or any who wanted to promote themselves as one) needed to build and maintain a gallery to impress and terrify her enemies.
Jacqueline had been working for the Sorceress for a little over two years. It was her job to acquire new centerpieces or sell old ones that no longer pleased the Sorceress. Among her duties was to inspect incoming pieces for damage or trap spells.
There had once been an attempt to assassinate the Sorceress with a woman disguised as a statue of beautiful jade. Jacqueline had quickly spotted that something was wrong, and summoned the court enchanter. The ruse was discovered, and the Sorceress insured that the slayer's disguise became rather more permanent than the would-be assassin had intended. The statue now stood just outside one of the entrances to the castle’s hedge mazes.
The would-be assassin wouldn’t have been a real threat the Sorceress. However, it wouldn’t have been prudent to encourage such acts in her enemies, and the Sorceress did actually care for her subjects, if in a distant sort of way.
Despite what many would think, working for the Sorceress was a relatively safe and rewarding experience. The only unforgivable offence in her eyes was betrayal. The last woman who held Jacqueline’s position was a retired old lady who lived in a modest little cottage, and was even gifted two of her favorite statues as a retirement gift from the Sorceress herself. The only thing that Jacqueline didn’t enjoy about her job was that at times the paperwork could make her life rather stressful.
Today, for example, she had been tasked with the decoration of an event that the Sorceress was throwing in celebration of the New Year. Of course such an event required a few fresh acquisitions to decorate the courtyard. To that end she had met with various dealers, but hadn’t found quite what she was looking for. Eventually she had heard about a caravan that might deal in something she might find suitable for her needs. So she had made the necessary arrangements to meet with a representative in one of the courtyards of the castle early that morning.
On her way down that morning she greeted some of the guests that were arriving early for the festivities. Everything was still a week away, but some guests had arrived early to pay tribute or enjoy some of the Sorceress’ famous hospitality. It paid to be on her good side.
One such guest was Carlota the Amber Blade, a barbarian heroine from the northern kingdom. There had been quite a commotion when she had arrived the day before; news of her exploits had reached far and wide. It was always impressive when a lone swordswoman fought magical beasts and witches, but even more impressive when they managed to not become decorations in the process. Doing all that multiple times would make you nothing short of a celebrity.
The first thing Jacqueline had realized when she met Carlota was where she had gotten her honorific from. The woman had a mane that reached all the way down to her butt of thick and beautiful brown hair. It had just enough blond hairs sprinkled throughout that it positively sparkled in the sunlight. The second thing she realized was just how tall the woman was. She towered almost a head above everyone else in the castle. Her clothing was barely more than leather and chainmail underwear; it did wonders to show off her impressive and muscular physique. Despite having more muscles than the average dragon, she was still one of the most beautiful women that Jacqueline had ever seen. None of her figure was bulky like a body builder; it was all compact and working muscle. Her high cheekbones and a strongly defined jaw line made her look like a model. Even the odd scar that dotted her uncovered midriff here and there didn’t take anything away from her beauty.
Jacqueline was by no means unattractive herself. She kept her hair cut just above her shoulders and dyed red. Her natural mousy brown color was beginning to show at her roots again, but that added a bit of playfulness. She had light brown almond-shaped eyes, and nice full lips on a mouth that was perhaps a shade too big for her face. That made her smile all the more inviting though. Most people wouldn’t be able to note that she also had quite a nice full hourglass figure due to her usual wardrobe of long, loose-hanging robes. None of these facts made her feel any more comfortable when Carlota had wandered over to her to strike up a conversation. Or what passed as a conversation with a barbarian heroine.
“You not a servant I think?” Carlota had asked.
Despite herself, Jacqueline’s arms maneuvered over her own stomach in response to looking at the barbarian’s chiseled features. Jacqueline could usually get away with calling herself toned, but what she was looking at practically came pre-oiled.
“N-no, I am one of the planners of the event; I was actually on my way to meet with someone in the courtyard about that.” Jacqueline said, trying desperately to tear her jealous eyes away from the woman’s figure and make eye contact.
“Can you help find someone?” Carlota asked.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen the guest list yet, so I don’t know if I’m the best person to ask–”
“I’m looking for an old… acquaintance, not one of the guests. I think she has arrived here a few months ago. Went by the name Hoira Offal.” Said Carlota.
“I don’t remember anyone with that name taking ever introducing themselves to me…” said Jacqueline. “Perhaps if you checked with–”
“She wouldn’t really be in position to introduce herself.” Carlota said flatly. “I conjure she won’t be changing that position any time soon.”
Jacqueline’s eyes widened with sudden realization, and she suddenly felt very guilty.
“I, um… that is to say that… uh,” Jacqueline started.
“Don’t worry, she wasn’t any friend of mine, she tried to kill me twice; I just wanted to see if the rumors were true and I could stop watching back.” Carlota said. “Rumor has said she tried to steal from a tomb in the eastern kingdom and got sloppy.”
Jacqueline relaxed slightly and tried to match the information with an invoice in her head.
“I think the one you are looking for is in the… east wing on the… third? –No, the fourth floor. By the stairs.” Jacqueline said.
Carlota looked her dead in the eye. It was the first time Jacqueline had really got a good look. Her orbs too were amber. They were also at this moment giving her one of the most spectacularly suspicious looks she had ever been on the receiving end of.
“You know that just off the top of head do you? I bet you surely enjoy using her as towel rack or suchlike, don’t you?” Carlota asked harshly, but then her tone softened a bit. “Whatever. I’m sure she makes a better ornament than a warrior.”
Carlota turned away from Jacqueline and headed off toward the east wing.
“I hope you aren’t rushing off to smash some furniture, Carlota?” said a new voice.
“Esmeralda. I see they just invite everyone then…” Carlota said, turning to look over Jacqueline’s shoulder.
Jacqueline turned too, and her gaze was greeted by a woman with flaming green hair and bright green eyes. She stood with her hands on her hips and an expression on her face that suggested a terrible smell directly under her nose. Jacqueline noted that most of the woman Esmeralda’s dress was black, with green lace, and also mostly not there. The skirt had a sideways gash that ran from a well-shaped thigh with a bright green garter belt, further down to her bright green heels. This allowed her, Jacqueline assumed, to actually walk in what would otherwise have been a skirt that only a mermaid could have felt comfortable in. Her lips were, of course, covered in bright green lipstick, Jacqueline noticed last.
“I should hex you right now for what you did!” The woman identified as Esmeralda said.
“Good thing for us we are on neutral ground then; besides, it’s not like you can’t find another basilisk.” Carlota said.
“If you return the Gem of the Emerald Eye to me, I may be merciful.” Esmeralda said, raising her voice and hands. They, the hands not the voice, contorted into the telltale signs of magic.
“Well, that’s a tough one, you see. I sold that off.” Carlota said, ever so slightly reaching for her sword. “You don’t hold on to loot you know, it’s really no good to you sitting around. I mean, it makes a damn good painting if you sit around on it, but I’m not much of a patron of the arts.”
“YOU –” Esmeralda was suddenly and gently pulled back mid-curse by a woman standing behind her that Jacqueline hadn’t noticed before. She was covered head to toe in black cloth, and nothing else but her soft brown eyes could be made out. She leaned in close and seemed to whisper something in Esmeralda’s ear. Esmeralda sneered a little, and then spun on her tall heels and stomped away, with the strange woman gliding after her.
Carlota relaxed a little and then she too walked off in her own direction. When Jacqueline realized she had been holding her breath, she gathered herself and finally continued her journey to the courtyard for her appointment.
Jacqueline arrived and saw in the middle of the courtyard, and amidst all the traffic for the event, a large tented wagon and a man leaning in front of it. It was yoked to two camels.
This was encouraging Jacqueline thought. A dealer in foreign and exotic goods, exactly what she had been hoping for. As she made her way across the courtyard another figure peeled away from the bustle to join her.
“How are you this morning, Jacqueline?” Said the singsong voice of Jasmine, one of the court enchantresses. Jasmine was a slender, petite woman; next to Jasmine Jacqueline almost looked like Carlota. He long straight black hair was the same shade as her black plain robe and her skin was almost bone white. The only splashes of color at all on her were her striking purple eyes.
“I’m fine Jasmine, just meeting with a merchant about the décor for the main event, and yourself?” Jacqueline said.
“I received unfortunate news this morning, it seems that some of the entertainment has had to withdraw; the fire eaters appear to have lost one of their own due to a ghastly miscalculation with a magical instrument,” said Jasmine.
“MH-hm.” Jacqueline was only partially paying attention.
When they had finally reached the cart the man leaning against it barely acknowledged them, and continued to lean back, arms crossed.
“Are you here with the South Auric Caravan?” Jacqueline asked.
The man nodded and then stood up from the cart.
“You look purchase some statue?” he said with a thick accent that Jacqueline couldn’t place.
“Perhaps. Can I please see what you have?” Jacqueline asked.
The man bowed his head and moved to the back of the cart to open the flap that lead inside. He then climbed in and after few seconds poked his head back out to gesture the two women in. They obliged and were immediately struck by intense and foreign incense aroma that burned their throats and made their eyes water. When their senses had finally adjusted to the atmosphere, they noticed the two other women standing in the cart with them.
Jacqueline was about to ask the merchant what he was playing at when she noticed that neither woman was moving at all. They both stood rock still and did not breathe or blink. The man gestured the two mobile women closer and rested his arm on the shoulder of the closest of the stiff women. The unmoving figure showed no sign of having felt the touch.
Both women were completely naked, and now that Jacqueline was closer she could see a sheen on their skin, like polished marble or steel.
“Are these… statues?” Asked Jasmine.
“Yes,” said the man, who began to reach into his pockets and produced a long pipe.
“What are they made of?” asked Jasmine, edging a little closer to one.
“Eh?” The man said as he began patting his pockets in search of something else.
The statue that the man was leaning on was that of a beautiful young woman with caramel skin. She had a strong nose and sharp features; her lips were parted slightly, and her heavy eyelashes looked like they had just been batted at a young man. The whole effect made her look as though filled with desire.
Her body was thin and athletic, like a dancer. Her legs parted in such a way as to suggest she was in mid stride of a slow and sexy saunter, with her hips swaying. It was amazing that the rigid figure conveyed the impression of movement so well. The statue’s arms were posed with one high, bent at the elbow and one low, also bent at the elbow. Her back was arched, and draping down it was a single intricately braided ponytail. If her hair had been let free it would probably have fallen to her feet.
The other statue was of a blond woman who looked as though she could have been local, from a few miles from the castle. This woman was far more busty than the other, and been posed accordingly. Both arms were crossed under her chest, pushing her full breasts up. She was leaning forward with her butt sticking out. Her legs were spread slightly apart, with her knees slightly bent. Her blond hair was about the same length as Jacqueline’s, but with far more curls. She held an expression of happy surprise, as if she had unintentionally walked in on someone whom she didn’t mind seeing her naked.
“What materials are these statues made out of, is that which I am asking!” said Jasmine.
The man finally produced what he was looking for, which turned out to be a match. He then struck it on the cheek of the darker skinned statue, and lit his pipe. The statue remained exactly as it had, been unaware of the dishonor.
“They made of themself,” he said, taking a big puff from his pipe.
“So are these women just hypnotized, then?” Jacqueline asked, slightly annoyed.
He looked at her for a moment and opened his mouth to blow a smoke ring into the unflinching face of the blond statue.
“No, they statue. Solid.” He said, and rapped his hand on the breast of the darker-skinned statue. There was a dull tapping noise not unlike what you would get if you knocked on solid wood.
“So if I were to shatter one of these statues, what would I see?” Asked Jasmine.
“Not break easy. Never see one break,” he said.
“So how did you make them?” asked Jasmine.
Jacqueline turned to look at her. These statues were once women; she didn’t really need to know where they came from or how they found themselves here. But Jasmine was an enchantress, and she had a professional curiosity. As well as, Jacqueline realized looking at her face, a bit of innocence about her.
“Cursed plate.” The man said. “You step on tile plate and freeze up. After three hour you statue. Forever.”
The man emptied his pipe by tapping it on the breast of the dark skinned statue. Then he put it back inside his pocket.
“Hmm, so the transformation is permanent?” Jasmine said, eyeing the statues. “But you can safely step on and off the plate before the three hour limit? Is that cumulative or does it reset every time you step on?”
“Eh?” The man tried desperately to follow her nuanced question.
Jacqueline moved toward the blond statue slowly and reached out to feel one of its ample breasts. It was hard and cold, and felt like incredible smooth ceramic or stone. The polished gleam of the statue’s surface reflected the dim light in a pleasing way. She looked into its eyes; they were like glass. There was no movement at all. Her hand moved up to the hair on the statue’s head. It felt like nothing she had ever felt before. It had become a solid mass, but made up of individual hairs that were each impossible to move or snap. She let her hand start to move down the statue’s stomach and would have gone lower, but she was startled by the man behind her raising his voice a bit.
“They no think. Statue. Statue no think!” he interrupted.
“Well, there are some curses that can leave their victim in a state of –” Jasmine began.
“How many do you have?” injected Jacqueline.
“How many you need?” asked the man.
Jacqueline thought about that for a bit.
“About ten or so. These ones included,” she said.
“I have a request as well. Can we have a few of the plates, the tiles, also? To be a sort of... demonstration? Some of the entertainment can’t make it and I think this magical freeze would fill in nicely. Guests could pose each other; it would be a fun little activity.” Jasmine said.
Jacqueline, looked at her again. SHE wouldn’t be caught dead on one of them. But Jasmine was in charge of entertainment, and did know their guests’ tastes. There were some types that probably would enjoy that type of thing.
“It would be supervised, of course.” Jasmine added.
“Tiles expensive, can only rent. One cost more than all statues you want,” he said.
“I suppose you will be looking after the tile while we rent it?” said Jasmine.
“No, I send you pretty girl. We hire her short time ago. She draw bigger crowd,” the man said with a big smile.
“Then it’s a deal,” smiled Jacqueline.
Jacqueline was silent on her way back into the castle to make the necessary arrangements. On a whim she decided to go into the east wing. Eventually reaching the alcove that she had been looking for, where she found a pedestal. On the pedestal was a statue. The statue was, of course, beautiful, and made of grey stone.
So this was Hoira Offal, Jacqueline thought. The lovely woman had been petrified in a defensive pose. Her legs were straight, but one was behind the other, as if she had been taking a step back. The arch of her back suggested that that had indeed been the case as well.
Her hair had been cut short and pulled back into a bun. Her hands were held up like she was just starting to shield herself before all movement in her body stopped. She had the figure of a dancer, or assassin. Jacqueline remembered the jade statue by the hedge maze; it had the same body type. Every curve had been preserved.
As was the custom, she was displayed nude.
Jacqueline didn’t like thinking about who the statues were before they became statues. There were few ways to be transformed that weren’t permanent in the world. Well, she supposed, nothing is ever completely permanent. If someone was willing to invest enough time, effort, money and sheer magic power into something, it was probably possible. If un-petrification were possible, and she wasn’t sure it was, it would take someone like the Sorceress to even attempt it, and she was one of a kind.
Jacqueline turned away and headed back toward her chambers to finish the paperwork.
“I WILL NOT LET THIS STAND!”
A wine goblet clattered against the wall where Esmeralda had thrown it to punctuate her scream.
“That Harlot made a fool of me in front of my peers! The EYE was entrusted to ME! I have to do something!” Esmeralda screamed at her companion.
“We cannot openly fight in this place; not only is it forbidden, but the warrior is skilled enough that I cannot foresee a clear victor,” the covered woman said.
“Are you questioning my powers!?” Esmeralda shrieked. “It was bad enough that she was here at all, but NOW she is being listed as one of the guests of honor?! This is unacceptable.”
Esmeralda gestured at the formal program to the main event that had been handed out to all the guests the night before.
“Mistress, I merely said that we could not fight her directly. There are far more effective methods of dealing with one’s enemies,” the veiled woman said.
“Don’t you talk down to me! I only tolerate your presence because MY mistress suggested I take you on as a servant,” Esmeralda said.
Esmeralda had always fought for everything she had attained. Well, fought isn’t the correct term. Poisoned. Blackmailed. Bribed. Seduced. These were more correct terms for how she had achieved what she had. Eventually these efforts had paid off when she had been 'rewarded' for her efforts with a recently conquered province to ‘rule’ over, granted by the Gorgon matriarch of the north herself. At least that’s what the official documentation had said. In reality it was a headache to try and get anything done with the daily rebellions in nearly every town against ‘oppressive Gorgon rule’.
Esmeralda was certain that the other lords and ladies were laughing at her behind her back. After all, she, a mere human, had managed to not only shed the shackles of slavery, but actually managed to achieve a place in the empire. It must burn their scaly faces.
But now she was here, a representative in an unpleasant land, and she was being forced to break bread in honor of a woman who had made her look like an idiot. She would be damned if she would just grin and bear it.
“I meant no disrespect, mistress. Have I not served you well all this time?” the veiled woman asked, sliding a little closer to her.
Despite herself, Esmeralda smiled. The woman had served her well, in more ways than one. She covered the remaining distance to her servant and wrapped her arms around the shrouded woman, removing the veil in the process. Esmeralda looked deeply into her servant’s dark brown eyes and stole a long passionate kiss. She felt her anger sip away, even if only momentarily.
“Oh yes, you have. But don’t think for a moment that that means I won’t do horrible things to you, given the first opportunity. Now what was it that you seemed to have in mind for dealing with our little problem?” Esmeralda asked, when she had finally pulled away.
“One of the pieces of entertainment will be a demonstration of a ‘cursed plate’, I am familiar with this form of magic; it comes from the desert areas southeast beyond the crystal ocean. The plate is an ancient form of trap. Contact with it causes instant paralysis in the victim, but the effect is far more sinister than that. The tile will then begin a process of weaving layered enchantments on the frozen victim until they are eventually transformed into a statue for real. Permanently. The entire effect takes some three hours to complete, as I recall,” the formerly veiled woman explained.
“An impressive little device, but how will we use it to our advantage, I’m sure that they won’t just let us commandeer the tile.” Esmeralda said, raising an eyebrow.
“We don’t have to, mistress; all we need do is position Carlota on one of the tiles at the beginning of the play that is to be performed in the courtyard, and insure that the demonstration tile is left alone, perhaps closed down, while it is allowed to complete its work,” said the woman.
“Someone would absolutely suspect something, Carlota is an idiot but no one is stupid enough to step on that thing with no one around,” Esmeralda said.
“Yes, we would have to frame the attendant for negligence; she is apparently a representative from the merchants that have supplied the plate as well as some of the statues that will be on display for the event. The mishap would need to appear to simply be greed on the part of the merchants. Who could resist such a prize?” The woman’s gaze remained a controlled neutral expression.
“How would we get her onto the plate in the first place?” asked Esmeralda.
“I understand there will be much drinking; that reduces willpower. As well, you know I can be quite persuasive. It is one of my many talents,” said the woman, letting a smile escape finally.
“Indeed it is Phemia. In order for this to work I must never be seen anywhere near the demonstration,” added Esmeralda.
“Leave that to me, mistress; I live to serve you.”
The day of the event finally arrived, and Jacqueline had felt nothing but butterflies in her stomach since the dawn. The dinner had gone smoothly enough; Carlota began a drinking song that everyone either joined in on or at least enjoyed. Even the Sorceress had hummed a few bars with the crowd. Now the festivities had moved out into the courtyard for some entertainment and eventually enchanted fireworks from the Sorceress herself.
Jacqueline had made sure all the statues were displayed properly. They were both in full view where anyone could admire them, while simultaneously not drawing too much attention to themselves. They were all perfectly placed. At least she hoped so.
As the celebration began in earnest, she found herself standing next to the statue of the dark skinned woman that she had first seen in the wagon. Now that they were out in natural light, the sheen on the statues was far more noticeable.
“Enjoying yourself yet, Jacqueline?” asked Jasmine.
Jacqueline let out a tiny exclamation of surprise. She hated it when Jasmine snuck up on her.
“I think you would enjoy yourself more if you were having some of this,” Jasmine said as she handed Jacqueline a glass of dark purplish wine. “You certainly got dressed up for the occasion.”
“Well, I mean, it’s the first real big event that I’ve decorated on my own.” Jacqueline said as she looked down at the light red form-fitting dress she was wearing. She had gotten more than a few heads to turn before she had shrunk away from the attention to hide behind the statue.
“I just wanted to look nice…” Jacqueline said shyly.
“It looks good on you, my dear.” Jasmine said, as she gestured to the many statues adorning the courtyard. “You’ve certainly outdone yourself.”
“Your last minute replacement seems to have been a big hit too.” Jacqueline said, pointing over to the cursed plate demonstration.
It had drawn quite a crowd around it, and Jacqueline could hear screams of laughter and giggles, as various dignitaries and other guests watched their friends rigidly posed by the merchant’s representative. The young woman was quite attractive, as the man had promised she would be. Her long light brown hair was tied in a similar ponytail to the statue that Jacqueline was standing next to. Perhaps it was a popular hairstyle wherever the merchants had come from.
Jacqueline looked up at the statue again. Had she once been just some girl that had helped demonstrate the cursed plate to crowds like this? Dressed in the same skimpy dancer’s outfit that the attendant at the display was wearing right now? Jacqueline looked back over at the crowd that was gathered around the display. They were playing with it. We set it up for them to play with. She tried to take another sip of wine but was met with an empty glass. She hadn’t even noticed that she had been drinking so much of it.
“I think you should unwind slightly, dear,” Jasmine said, having read Jacqueline’s facial expressions. “Why don’t you just relax and enjoy the atmosphere a bit, huh?”
Jasmine wandered off to listen to some music across the square. Jacqueline looked around for more wine.
The Attendant was thoroughly enjoying herself at this great big event. It was rare to be let out alone and to be left to her own devices like this; she was reveling in the opportunity. A thrust hip there and a jingle of the bells on her belt there and the crowd would cheer. She was a born entertainer.
When a new volunteer came up to the booth, she would lead them gracefully onto the tile, with a skip and a jump. She threatened to fall on it herself. Of course she never touched it, and when the man or woman had stepped on the plate and was paralyzed, she made a dance out of arranging their pose. It was a kind of a twisted tango, though only one of the dancers was active. And then when she was satisfied with her work, she would sit back and admire the display with exaggerated cartoonish movements for a minute or so before helping the motionless volunteer back off the plate and into the audience.
After a few hours or so, she took a short break to drink some water and collect herself when she was approached by a member of the crowd. She couldn’t remember what happened right after that, but what she did recall was a very soothing and wonderful voice. It told her something about waiting for a woman to appear at a certain time and that she would remember the rest when that time came. She then got back to the booth, and began to wind the night down so that there wouldn’t be a crowd when that time came. But try as she might, for the life of her she couldn’t remember what that even meant.
Carlota had gathered quite a few groupies over the course of the evening. That was fine by her, though, because they all bought her drinks. It had been a long time since she had really just enjoyed herself this much.
“Excuse me, would you care for another drink, Miss Amber Blade?”
“Of course I would!” Carlota had said, laughing while tossing her glass away and reaching for the new one and taking a deep gulp.
She couldn’t quite remember what happened next, but she suddenly got the impression that she really really wanted to go and see what the big deal about the ‘cursed tile’ booth was all about. She also didn’t want all these people around anymore. With a few precision insults, and one incredibly well aimed kick, she quickly freed herself from her hangers-on. She then looked around, got her bearings, and started walking toward the ‘cursed tile’ exhibit.
Jacqueline had spent the last few hours getting progressively more depressed, and slightly more drunk. She had wandered around the entire pavilion and looked at all the statues she had acquired. They had once been women just like her. Now they weren’t. They were objects. Statues. Simple pieces of decoration for the rich and powerful of the world.
It wasn’t fair, really. Not when she thought about it. Sometimes it was their fault. They may have been horrible people. Or they had chosen the life of adventure and knew the risks involved. But some of these statues weren’t either of those. She would be fooling herself if she thought otherwise.
Jacqueline looked over her shoulder at the ‘cursed tile’ booth just in time to see Carlota striding over to it with purpose. What she did next she never would have done if she hadn’t have had five glasses of wine beforehand. She jogged over, or approximated as close to a jog as she could in the tight dress she was wearing, and tapped Carlota on the shoulder.
Carlota jumped a little at the unexpected touch and looked behind her, then looked down on Jacqueline. She blinked for a few seconds as her gaze focused and she put on a slight frown.
“Oh, it’s you; what do you want?” Carlota asked.
“I guess I just wanted to apologize for what happened to your enemy,” Jacqueline said.
Carlota’s gaze softened a great deal at this. After a few long moments of silence she opened her mouth to speak.
“You don’t really get too many friends in this kind of life. You even start counting your really honorable enemies among those you don’t want to see go.” Carlota said. “I was once a slave, do you know? I managed to get strong enough to break free, but I don’t know of any others who did the same. There are some who embrace their masters.”
She sneered a little. Jacqueline had a pretty good idea who she meant specifically.
“It’s just… Hoira fought hard for years, and then one wrong move and she becomes a trophy. For people that don’t even have the faintest idea of what she went through.” She turned away from Jacqueline slightly. “Eh, don’t worry yourself, this is the world we live in.”
A trumpet sounded off at the other end of the courtyard. The play was about to start.
“Do you want to go see the play?” Jacqueline asked, slightly breathless.
“No, I think I’m going to go back and get some sleep.” Carlota nodded slightly and walked back towards the castle. The conversation had made her forget.
Jacqueline was rather stunned. She hadn’t expected all that really. It was the kind of candid confession that only a long night and large amounts of alcohol could achieve. But Carlota was right. Jacqueline had no idea what women like that had gone through. She looked over at the statue of the dark skinned girl that she had spent most of the night next to. She then looked at the ‘cursed tile’ booth. She could at least begin to understand. There wasn’t even a line.
The attendant looked around the booth. She had done it, there was no one around, and the trumpet meant that it was time. She waited for the woman to show up. She remembered what to do.
Jacqueline approached the booth and knocked on the wooden frame. The attendant popped out and gave her a great big smile.
“I guess I’d like to give this thing a try.” Jacqueline said, and returned the smile.
“Of course. I’ve been waiting for you,” said the girl.
If Jacqueline hadn’t been drunk she probably would have wondered about that comment, but she was, so she didn’t. The girl led her to the square plate at the center of the booth.
“Remember to smile!” The girl said.
Jacqueline did just that, she put on her biggest winning smile and stepped right onto the plate. She felt a slight tingling sensation, not unlike the pins and needles one gets from sleeping on something wrong. It rapidly traveled up her legs and thighs, locking them in place. When it reached her sex, she let out a small gasp. It felt like it was corkscrewing into her. The wave didn’t stop there though; it traveled up, clenching itself around her stomach, tightening the muscles, and locking them too in place. When it washed over her breasts, her nipples hardened into points, almost visible through her dress. It went up her neck and down her arms simultaneously, ceasing all movement. Finally it reached her face and froze her beautiful smile into place.
Now that Jacqueline was paralyzed she could do nothing but wait for the girl to start doing her strange posing dance with her too. But that’s not what the girl did next. The attendant immediately went to the front of the booth and drew a velvet curtain, blocking the inside of the booth from any prying eyes. If Jacqueline had still been able to, she would have started to frown in confusion, but she still smiled away and stared straight ahead. The girl then produced a small pocket knife and began to hack away at Jacqueline’s fine dress.
What? No! Stop! What are you doing?! Jacqueline’s vocal cords wouldn’t budge. She felt the last of the dress flutter away and tried to move her arms to cover herself but that was a futile gesture. The girl stood back to appraise what she had to work with. Jacqueline recognized the look right away; she had worn it many times in the past two years. She wished she could cry. The girl seemed to come to a decision and began to work on posing Jacqueline.
She started by running her hands over Jacqueline’s body, starting at her neck. Her hands moved slowly down and cupped Jacqueline’s ample breasts. The girl’s soft hands then moved downward, fingers on her sides and thumbs tracing the faint muscular tones of Jacqueline’s stomach. When the hands reached her navel, they split to meet back or over the cheeks of her ass, tracing her hips in the process. After gently tracing the contours of her ass the left hand probed the folds of her sex while the other traced back up her stomach again.
S-Stop! HELP! SOMEONE!
Each touch triggered an explosion to her nerve endings. A delicate mix of intense pain and pleasure, mingling into an indescribable sensation that radiated out through her entire body from the contact points on her skin.
When the girl seemed satisfied, she continued her downward journey. Her hands traced Jacqueline’s inner thighs and then shifted at her knee to trace her calves. The girl then moved Jacqueline’s legs farther apart. Moving back up, she cocked Jacqueline’s waist at an angle off to her left. She then traced a finger up Jacqueline’s spine and arched her back, thrusting out her chest and wonderful breasts. She positioned Jacqueline’s own hands on her hips. Lastly, with some slight modifications to the positions of Jacqueline’s shoulders, she finally decided to step back and appraise her work.
PLEASE! Why ME?! What did I do to you?
It was a pose that screamed ‘here I am world, take a good long look’; this seemed to satisfy the girl. She walked back over and ran a finger along Jacqueline’s chin. She then walked away and out of Jacqueline’s line of sight.
Jacqueline was alone now, as far as she knew. She tried to force her limbs to move, but they wouldn’t respond. After a while she started to take mental breaks. She was getting tired. It was at this moment that she noticed the humming. It was coming from everywhere at once, but was only background noise. She also began to notice numbness, not the pins and needles from before, but a lack of sensation completely. It was spreading upward in a slow but steady manner. It felt like waves on a beach, it advanced and retreated, then advanced further ever so slightly then retreated all the way back again. Over and over.
Someone will find me before it’s too late… they have to. She thought.
She began to think about the statues. All of them glistening in the moonlight. They had all been in a situation just like this. She wondered if…
Jacqueline tried to focus, but it was getting hard to think. Hard.
An image of the dark-skinned statue posed in mid-dance floated across her mind.
…I know… ..I… ..no…help…
Jasmine had enjoyed the play, even if she had been sitting next to that strange Esmeralda woman the whole time. She had hoped that Jacqueline would have gotten out of whatever funk she was in and come down to see it too, but she guessed she hadn’t.
Esmeralda had smiled through the whole play, even the sad parts. It was creepy. She had been doing it ever since her servant had come to down on her other side and whispered something to her. It really took away from how beautiful she was.
Jasmine caught herself. She was drunk. Thinking about Esmeralda like that was a mistake many a woman had made. No matter how beautiful she was, it didn’t hide the fact that she was a monster. There had been stories coming out of the northern kingdom of burning villages and razed cities. Esmeralda’s province was self-destructing under the squeeze of her iron fist. For all Jasmine knew, she kept herself professionally beautiful to use as a weapon. Jasmine shivered a little.
The night was winding down and that meant that it was time for Jasmine to make some rounds. She wanted to make sure her choices of entertainment had been adequate. She had gotten clowns and jugglers. Even the odd stage magician had been present, a concept that fascinated and delighted her. She could do real magic, but the magicians could make it look like they had done real magic. It was so pointless in a world of practical magic like this; it seemed its only purpose was to entertain. There was something kind of beautiful in that.
She eventually decided to check on her other new installation, the ‘cursed tile’ booth. As she was walking over to it, she noticed something strange. It looked completely closed down. She looked up at the clock embedded in the castle tower that loomed over the courtyard. They shouldn’t be packing it up for another half an hour.
Jasmine made her way over to the booth and knocked on its frame. The booth attendant popped herself out from behind the green curtain that had been drawn over the front. She regarded Jasmine with a blank expression.
“We aren’t open any more. Go away,” she said rudely.
“Excuse me? I am your current employer, and this isn’t the agreed upon time for your closing.” Jasmine said.
Jasmine moved closer to the girl and stopped. Something was wrong with her. Her aura felt off, as if was under an enchantment; if Jasmine was correct, something that was altering her mind. More importantly, that feeling hadn’t been there at the start of the evening.
It was subtle; most wouldn’t have even noticed it. Jasmine wasn’t most. You didn’t become a court enchantress in the Sorceress’ castle any other way. But why would someone want to enchant this girl?
With a quick flick of her wrist Jasmine shattered the spell that held the girl’s thoughts. The magic hadn’t been necessary, she noted. A small shock would have broken it too. The attendant girl collapsed in a heap.
“It’s ok now, kid. But I need you to tell me what happened here.” Jasmine said as she bent over to help the girl to her feet.
“I don’t know, last thing I remember was… oh no!” The girl’s eyes snapped wide open and she turned to look at the red curtain behind her.
She held both hands over her mouth and began to cry.
“I… didn’t mean to… Why did I...?” she said through intermittent sobs.
Jasmine moved past her and entered the booth slowly. There, in the middle of the small wooden room, was a beautiful woman standing on top of the cursed plate, completely nude. She had the same polished gleam as all the other statues decorating the courtyard. This statue was posed with its hands on its hips, which themselves were pivoted off to one side in a playful manner. It wore a brilliant and bright inviting smile on… its… face.
“Jacqueline! NO!” Jasmine rushed over to the statue and wrapped her arms around it. Heaving with all the might her slight frame would afford her; she pulled the rigid statue off the plate. She lost her grip on the figure a moment later as she tumbled backward, off balance. The statue fell backwards as well and hit the floor with a thump.
Jasmine rushed over to the fallen figure in horror, but she could see no damage. In fact, she saw that nothing had happened at all except for the ninety-degree rearrangement. Not even a hair was misplaced. Jasmine looked at the cursed plate; there was no part of Jacqueline left touching it. She looked expectantly at the gleaming solid body before her, but nothing changed. It remained stiff and gleaming.
Jasmine peered deeper into the ether, using her finely honed skills as an enchantress. She could see the spell wrapped tightly around every milli of Jacqueline’s stiff body. It was layered over upon itself, woven through every particle of the woman. This was different than any other spells that Jasmine had ever seen.
Spells needed energy; sometimes there was a line leading back to the spell-caster feeding it. Sometimes the spell fed off the energy around it and was self-sustaining. They were always moving, to an ebb and flow, swirling in a magical dimension. You could snip away at them, or tug at them until they unraveled. This spell looked frozen, crystalline, like a snowflake viewed up close.
Jasmine cast a disenchantment spell and watched the magic flow around and into the statue. For a few moments nothing happened, then suddenly all of the energy from Jasmine’s spell was drained into the enchantment and the interweaving crystal structure of it layered again and redoubled in strength. Jasmine was at a loss. She had never seen magic like this except in victims of the oldest and most powerful gorgons. This was magic that was irreversible.
She stared down at the Jacqueline. She had been on the plate too long; the full curse had taken effect. Jacqueline had been completely transformed into a statue now.
Forever. The merchant’s words echoed through Jasmine’s thoughts.
Something else coalesced through her thoughts, too. Esmeralda’s smiling face.
Esmeralda walked into the audience chamber of the Sorceress. Phemia followed closely behind her, completely covered as always.
This wasn’t good. When the Sorceress requests a private audience with you it is either because she is very pleased or very unhappy. Esmeralda was certain she knew which one this was and felt like she was walking into the lion’s jaws. She had to appear, of course, or she would automatically be labeled as guilty and hunted down. The fact that in this case she truly was guilty just meant that she would just have speak more carefully. After all, she had expected at least something like this.
The walk across the massive hall was the most unpleasant of experiences in Esmeralda’s life. At the end of the hall was a throne and on it was seated the Sorceress. She was, despite what everyone assumed, very plain looking.
Her hair was a sandy blond and was held back by a simple silver band where a tiara normally would have sat on more extravagant rulers. She wore a simple white dress that made it impossible to tell anything about her figure other than it was a slight one. She herself was ageless. That is to say, no one could discern her age by looking. She was clearly an adult, but beyond that she could have been any age.
Esmeralda stopped at the base of the stairs leading up to the throne and knelt on the thick carpet that lay in front of it. She did her best to look confused and slightly terrified. One of those was very easy to fake.
“You summoned me, my lady?” she asked, still looking down.
There was a long silence.
“Last night during the festivities, it seems that someone was unfortunately trapped on the cursed plate that was set up for demonstration. Sadly, she wasn’t discovered until the curse had already taken hold completely.” The Sorceress said slowly.
“This is terrible news my lady, how could this happen?” Esmeralda asked, feigning surprise.
“We know precisely how it happened; the attendant completely confessed to the deed. What I aim to understand is why she did it,” the Sorceress said.
“I suspect artless greed my lady; the merchant girl probably saw an opportunity to add to their gathering and took it unthinkingly.” Said Esmeralda.
“Yes, unthinkingly, as regards that part it seems to me you are correct. At least where the provocation is concerned. It has since been determined the attendant girl was under the effects of an enchantment and she was forced into taking the actions she did. What I wish to know is why anyone would want to target one of my subjects in this way,” the Sorceress said.
It was a brief movement, barely a twitch of surprise; Esmeralda immediately hoped that the Sorceress hadn’t picked up on it. She knows about the enchantment?! How? One of her subjects had been the victim?! Esmeralda’s mind raced to soak in the new information.
“I-I’m certain I don’t know, mistress,” Esmeralda said. It was the closest her husky voice could get to a squeak.
“Well then, perhaps she can tell us personally,” the Sorceress considered.
Esmeralda looked up for the first time.
“My lady! I had nothing to–”
“I was referring to your servant...” the Sorceress stated, her voice cold as ice.
Esmeralda looked back at Phemia with an expression that she hoped would appear to be shock and confusion to the Sorceress. It was impossible to tell what Phemia was thinking or feeling while she was wrapped up in her veil. The woman didn’t move at all for a long while and then slowly walked forward and bowed to the Sorceress.
“The only woman that I had intended to catch in the cursed plate trap was in fact Carlota, the Amber Blade. My mistress was distressed at her presence and I acted to permanently remove her from my mistress’ life. My actions, and therefore the consequences of them, were mine alone. My mistress knew nothing of this,” Phemia said, in controlled even tones.
Esmeralda stifled a smirk and contrived to look astonished and outraged. Phemia was truly an amazing servant. Emphasis on was.
Well, thought Esmeralda, Replacing her will be an issue, but it looks like she served her purpose. She couldn’t believe her luck. She had thought for sure she was going to become a decoration in the castle somewhere. Carlota was still a problem, but Esmeralda would deal with her later; one thing at a time.
“My lady! I had no idea that my servant was so presumptuous and full of treasonous tendencies. I shall–” Esmeralda started to say.
“Silence,” said the Sorceress. It wasn’t so much an order as a statement of fact, as in: there will be some now. Esmeralda held her voice.
“Now,” the Sorceress said, looking directly at Phemia. “You acted under the order of no other?”
“Yes, my lady; none,” said Phemia.
“You,” the Sorceress stood up as she spoke the words, “are lying.”
Esmeralda stood up quickly, just as the Sorceress raised her arm lazily and snapped her fingers. The rug underneath Esmeralda disappeared with a flash and she suddenly found herself unable to move. A sensation of pins and needles traveled swiftly up her body and she stood stiffly, looking up at the Sorceress.
Phemia spun around and made an attempt to reach Esmeralda but suddenly her feet were too heavy to move, as if she were wearing shoes that had been bolted to the floor. The Sorceress waved her hand and Phemia’s veil and clothing completely dissolved into the air. She stood completely naked, rooted to the spot.
The Sorceress began to walk slowly down the steps to where Esmeralda stood motionless, and as if only as an afterthought laid a single finger on Phemia’s still lips. Spreading outward from the point of contact of that finger was a wave of gold. Slowly, like water through a piece of paper that had been dropped in a small puddle, the transformation spread. In moments Phemia stood transformed into a statue of pure gold.
Esmeralda couldn’t look away as the Sorceress drew closer. When the Sorceress was standing only about two feet from the stiff woman, she began to speak.
“You were an utter fool to think that you could get away with an audacious act such as this. Did you not think it would be easy for one such as myself to tell if someone is lying to me? That is a parlor trick that even the most basic of mages can accomplish. Did you not think that I would have discovered any deceit in my own domain? Did you, my dear Esmeralda, forget just who you were dealing with?” The Sorceress wasn’t really asking.
FOOL?! I’ll get out of this! You’ll see! Esmeralda screamed inside her head.
“It is my decision that you should share in the fate of the one who was the ultimate victim of your poorly aimed assassination attempt upon Carlota the Amber Blade. You are now standing on the very same plate that my unfortunate subject stood on. I hope you enjoy the experience.” The Sorceress said, and walked away somewhere outside of Esmeralda’s frozen field of vision.
A pale young woman dressed in all black and with long straight black hair walked into her line of sight next. She waved her hands to cast a spell and Esmeralda suddenly felt a chill along her body. All of her clothing had vanished, just as Phemia’s had moments earlier. She watched the petite woman move closer and began to rearrange the pose that she was trapped in. Her efforts eventually ended with Esmeralda standing with her arms up and behind her head, arching her back and thrusting her breasts forward. Her legs were spread in a wide stance. The woman then began to manipulate Esmeralda’s face into a different expression.
You insolent cow! When I finally free myself from this, I WILL MAKE YOU PAY! Esmeralda screamed to no one who could hear.
“There you go; you look like you are enjoying this now, and I know my lady will be pleased.” The woman said as she looked into Esmeralda’s green eyes. The woman’s own deep purple eyes burned with anger, despite the calmness in her pale face. “You wore the same smile all night while my friend was trapped on that plate.”
Jasmine backed away from the still form of Esmeralda the witch. She found a seat at the base of the steps leading up to the throne and watched Esmeralda closely. For the next three hours she watched.
She watched as a silky sheen slowly moved its way up the witch’s shapely legs and eventually covered her sex as well. It worked its way up at such a leisurely pace that it didn’t seem to be moving at all. But it was advancing; Esmeralda’s immobilized body turned glossy up to the bottoms of her breasts after a while.
Jasmine had to admit the only real word to describe Esmeralda was voluptuous. It was a lush body that men would die to be with. Some probably had.
The transformation effect slowly reached Esmeralda’s face and hair while Jasmine mused to herself. She wondered what would happen if she waited until just under three hours had passed, then removed Esmeralda from the plate. Would she instantly be able to move and talk and scream again? Jasmine realized that she didn’t care. That wasn’t going to happen.
She focused on Esmeralda again. Her entire body was glossy now. Just like all the statues in the courtyard. Just like Jacqueline had been. She looked over at the clock that had been discretely placed within viewing distance of the throne. It had been fully three hours. She waited twenty more minutes just to be sure.
Jasmine then walked over to Esmeralda and pushed against one of her outthrust breasts. It felt like polished marble. Esmeralda fell backwards and landed on the marble floor with a dull thud. Jasmine pulled the cursed plate away by a handle designed for just that purpose. The enchanted tile had been acquired from the merchant at cost. He had been easily convinced that all he needed to receive as payment for it was one statue. The brown haired dancing girl had been allowed to leave with him as well. He had assured them that she would be disciplined for her failure. Jasmine suspected that there was only one form of discipline that was on the table.
She regarded the rigid statue on the floor. Esmeralda had a smug little smile frozen on her beautiful face. It was an expression that suggested superiority. Jasmine loved it. Esmeralda’s great mane of flame green hair had been undisturbed by the fall, and was still a cascading mess down her back.
Jasmine called in some servants to take the cursed plate to the treasury. As she exited the room, she regarded the golden statue by the throne. It was to be sent to the Gorgon matriarch in the north, as payment for the loss of one of her foolish subjects. Jasmine stopped at the door to look at the statue that was Esmeralda one last time. A few servants had lifted her up to a standing position again. Just as soon as they had moved her, the servants continued with other tasks, giving her no more regard than a piece of furniture. Jasmine smiled.
The statue would eventually be installed just to the left and below the throne in the hall. Its frozen smug smile would greet all who were granted an audience with the Sorceress. There the evil Esmeralda would stand, brilliantly gleaming. A constant and permanent reminder of what happens when you cross the Sorceress.
Hundreds of miles away in a relatively large city in the west, a trade caravan had rolled into town. Alice loved when the trade caravans came in; they were always brining something new and interesting, and she enjoyed spending a lot of money on things that she didn’t really need. She fancied herself an art enthusiast.
Alice had married early. Being a beautiful young blond with a ravishingly good figure had helped her attract a rich husband. He also happened to be an old husband. It wasn’t her fault that he died only a few years after they married. That’s what old people do.
It was very hurtful to hear the whispers behind her back. Things like ‘she only loved him for his money’ or later, when the old man had died ‘I bet it was poison.’ She had loved the old fool in her own little way. Sometimes she had loved the old man multiple times a night, in multiple little ways. He had been a kind and thoughtful person, pretty good in bed for a man of his age, and had rescued her from whatever horrible life the world would have dreamt up for a young orphan girl who was too pretty by half.
She supposed that she scared the locals a little, though. She was far too forward with her sexuality, too much fun at parties, and her jokes were too dirty and too well delivered for her to be a noblewoman.
Talk like this had taught her a valuable lesson over the years; if you throw enough money at a problem it disappears. Whispers had quieted, for example, when she had a bronze golem made in her likeness that would follow her around, obey her every command, and just generally be intimidating. She had named it Simply Gorgeous, or Simi for short. Like magic, the whispers had stopped completely the first time Simi had thrown someone through a shop window.
Today, while wandering the caravan’s various shops and kiosks, she noticed an unmarked tented wagon. Alice knew that all of the best stuff was purchased from shady places like that and decided to take a look at what strange and wonderful items she could purchase for herself.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” she asked as she knocked on the frame of the wagon.
As if by magic, a man appeared from behind around the back.
“Can I help pretty miss?” the man said.
“Flattery will get you everywhere my good sir,” she said while nodding. “I wish to know what it is you sell here.”
The man nodded and jumped into the back of the wagon. A few moments later he poked his head out and gestured for her to follow him in. Alice hopped into the back after him; a few moments later, Simi gracefully stepped in after her.
When her eyes adjusted to the light, and her lungs to the atmosphere, she noticed that there were two beautiful women standing naked in the small enclosure with them. Her first thought was that it was some sort of traveling brothel, but then she realized that the women weren’t moving at all. Their skin had a sheen on it that Alice had never been able to accomplish with body oils. Then she realized that they were standing rock still, as stiff as statues. Ah.
“You are from down south aren’t you? My late husband told me about this. He used to do some adventuring, you know.” She said, thinking of the time her husband had broken out the old loincloth that he had used to wear ‘in the old days’. That had been a fun night.
“So these women are statues that have resulted from standing too long on a ‘cursed plate’ hmm?” She regarded one of the two statues.
It was a cute young woman with light brown hair; she was posed like she was blowing a kiss, with one hand under her chin and the other on her waist. Her body was lean and tight like a dancer’s.
The man patted his pocket for something and then produced a pipe that he placed in his mouth.
“Yes, you smart lady. All true,” he said.
Alice examined the other statue. It was a beautiful girl with shoulder length red hair. Alice could just make out the mousy brown roots at the top of its head. It was posed with its shapely hip off to one side with its arms akimbo. Alice moved closer to the statue and placed a hand on one of its ample breasts. It felt like polished marble. She looked up at its face. The most beautiful radiant smile greeted her.
“Can they hear and see us?” Alice asked. She absentmindedly let her hand wander down from the breast to trace the rigid counters of the statue’s stomach.
“No, is statue.” The man said, as if that was the most obvious thing in the world. While Alice had been enjoying the statue, he had produced a match and lit it by striking it on the red haired statue’s cheek. There was no response from the statue, it just continued wear its frozen smile.
“My my, this is getting me hot and bothered,” Alice laughed. She had let her hand move all the way down to the statue’s slit and was gently rubbing it.
The man took a long puff of his pipe and blew a smoke ring into the face of the brown haired kissing statue. He then emptied his pipe by tapping it upside-down on the side of the red haired statue’s breast. It made a dull sort of noise, like wood on wood, and hot ashes dropped on Alice’s wandering hand. She drew it back.
“Oh my; you’ve made your point, my man. I’ll take them both. No need to haggle over money, I can pay the full price,” Alice said casually. “Can you deliver? I would rather not have Simi here have to carry these wonderful pieces out in the open back to my home.”
The man nodded and took down her address before hurriedly rushing her out of the tented wagon. Alice went home.
The statues were delivered late that afternoon, where she paid for them and had Simi bring them inside. The brown haired one she placed in her large bathroom. Its pose proved suitable as a towel rack.
The other statue she placed in her bedroom. That night she sat at the foot of her bed and looked at it. It stood there, hands on swayed hips smiling at the world. It was beautiful. She wondered who it had been before it was a statue. She began to run her hands over it and play with herself. The statue just stood there, smiling. It would always just stand there.
Jacqueline was a statue; that’s all she could ever be. Forevermore.