Within the Archives: The Dancing Curse: Part Two
Maybe, at first, Hark had little reason to be suspicious of what was happening.
The Day of Giving ball had started, and he’d made his way to the ballroom, positive that Elleri, the Royal Blumaroo, would be there to intercept him and take over as she always did. But he was wrong, and she was gone. He’d been formally introduced and pushed through a curtain following the sound of two trumpets, and suddenly he was taking great, careful strides down the stairs as every noble from Shenkuu to Moltara gawked at the massive Werelupe who came down the stairs in a linen, ruffle poet’s shirt and silk breeches.
He hurried off to the back wall, careful not to pull down the drapes or knock over a candelabra.
He was feeling unsure, and exposed, and a slow anger was building in his stomach.
But Elleri was his friend.
She wasn’t so cruel as to leave him.
What if something was wrong?
He lingered for a while, trying to decide his next course of action until something strange happened.
The ball room lit for a moment with a flash of purple light! And then it was gone.
He seemed to be the only one that noticed, because suddenly everyone was dancing and the musicians were tapping their toes even as they played. King Hagan was twirling around with a white Lupe who he recognized as King Altador’s daughter, Agatha. Skarl was twirling why shoveling bites of meat and cheese into his face. Even the Princess Amira of the Lost Desert was swaying from the center of her circle of guards.
He felt the need to sway himself, unable to stop the urge to move from taking over.
Something whispered harshly at him to dance. To dance and forget.
He swept up the nearest partner, a faerie Lenny whose feathers tickled his nose and caused him to sneeze into the crook of his arm as she whirled away from him. For a moment, the sneeze caught him off guard, and his feet stopped and he stood still on the dance floor.
He wasn’t sure if it was his imagination, but during his pause he could have sworn he saw two Dark Faeries waltz past him before his feathered companion spun back into his arms and his body jerked to begin dancing once more.
Elleri was probably fine, he told himself. She’s probably dancing.
Dancing was wonderful…- - -
Rushing down the hall, Elleri found that if she didn’t fight the dancing it was easier to concentrate on how she was going to fix this mess.
‘Okay. Twirl and skip! I have to find Hark! Leap, leap! Lift your arms!’ She bowed gracefully in time to duck under the tray of a spinning waiter in the hall.
“Hark!” She called for maybe the twentieth time, stopping long enough in the doorway of his room to spin for a moment before continuing on down the hall. In no time she’d found her way to the entrance to the ballroom, and the announcers were so busy trying not to dance down the stairs that she easily leapt past them.
Everyone in the room was dancing- the guests, King Hagan, even Dame Losena was caught up in the song with one of the guards.
Arching her arms above her head, she gracefully tiptoed down the stairs, squeaking with surprise when her feet took her off the last few steps with a great leap.
It wasn’t hard to find Hark, and as soon as he saw her, his face instantly set into an uncharacteristically angered look.
“Elleri-“He started, and she danced right into his arms as his partner twirled away.
“What have you done?” He growled, dipping her low enough that her ears brushed the floor.
The Blumaroo clung to his arm, trying to focus.
“I cast a spell.”
“I was trying to help!” She declared, and he lifted her above his head in a smooth motion.
“Help who?” He allowed her to drop and spin before catching her inches from the ground.
“Dear Fyora, don’t lift me again!”
He spun her away instead.
“I was trying to help you. Look, there’s not much time. It’s a dancing curse. I summoned-“
“Two faeries. I know, they’re here.”
Elleri glanced around, trying not to get dizzy.
“I don’t know. But when I sneezed I was able to stop and I saw them.”
Elleri smiled, and quickly ripped a piece of lace from the collar of her dress.
“That works! Try to find them!”
She stood on tip toe and wiggled the lace against his nose, causing his whole face to wrinkle.
“Stop it. That’s just annoying!”
Elleri scowled as they made yet another lap around the dance floor.
“Well, what made you sneeze the first time?” She asked.
Hark looked up and around and spotted the Faerie Lenny he’d been dancing with before.
Elleri followed his gaze as best she could.
“Is she covered in dust?”
“No!” Hark said impatiently. “Her feathers.”
Elleri grinned. “Oh, got you!”
In a flash she was out of his arms and dancing across the room. Once she was close enough, she took a generous handful of feathers from the Lenny’s tail.
The lady squawked loudly, and turned to peck at Elleri, but the Blumaroo was already off, returning quickly to Hark who was already dancing with a Pink Kougra with massive black skirts.
Elleri shoved her out of the way and leapt at the Werelupe.
She shoved the feathers aggressively against his nose, and fell flat on the floor as he let out a ridiculously loud sneeze.
He covered his mouth and rubbed at his nose, but before he could get a look around, he was dancing once more.
“Come on, Hark!” Elleri bellowed, holding the feathers up again. “Focus!”
Hark groaned. “I’d rather just dance to my death if you please.”
Elleri frowned. “Well, I don’t want to go out that way. So focus!”
They made several more failed attempts, until finally he was able to spot them.
His nose was raw from being rubbed, but he was sure that was them.
They were standing on the stage with the musicians, swaying happily together to the sound of the violin.
“There! On the stage!” He said, and together the two made their way through the crowd of moving bodies to the stage. Now that she had a place to look, Elleri could make out their legs from where she twirled.
“Hey! I’ve had enough dancing for one night!” She bellowed, trying her best to maintain eye contact as she looped around Hark. His massive frame was easily blocking out most of the stage.
The faeries laughed.
The right one spoke. “But you look like you’re having so much fun.”
“Dancing together. You pair well together.” The left one chimed.
“And just listen to the music…”
The faeries twirled and bowed in sync to one another.
Elleri flopped onto the stage, her legs trying desperately to twirl her back towards the dance floor.
“Fine then!” She cried, tired from dancing, tired from trying to fight the spell, tired of Hark instantly finding other dance partners and getting lost in the crowd as soon as she stepped away.
She fumbled and fought and grabbed for the violin and brought it smashing down on her knee.
The instant the instrument snapped the faeries let out feral screams, their eyes turning a dark red as their wings spread wide.
Elleri smirked as she spun. She tossed the wooden pieces at their feet.
“Hard to dance without music, isn’t it?”
She grabbed the next instrument, and the next. Breaking each one as quickly as she could until finally she was snapping a flute in half. The music had come to a complete stop.
The faeries looked less than pleased, their child like faces now wrinkling and contorting with their displeasure.
“You’ve murdered the music!”
“How dare you!”
Elleri chuckled, noticing that they had stopped swaying.
“I bet I can make this even worse!”
Elleri spread her arms and tried to maintain a spot in the center of the stage. There, she let out an ear splitting shriek, and after a moment, it began to take on the shape of a song.
She had the most dreadful singing voice, and soon several people close to the stage had physically stopped in order to face the music and cover their ears.
Needing to get louder, Elleri allowed her feet to carry her across the floor, her voice growing in volume. She had almost everyone stopped, even Hark had found himself freed from the hold of the curse for a moment as Elleri sang.
The Blumaroo became the last one twirling, and Hark quickly moved forward to lift her off her feet, thus ending all the dancing in the room.
The faeries both raised their hands, their delightful features now twisted and mangled.
Their holiday vestments had wilted and lost their color, and now both were gliding terrifyingly towards the center of the room where Hark and Elleri stood.
The nobles and visitors gasped, pulling away from the creatures that had just held them so enchanted.
“You don’t deserve our gifts!”
“We gave you the gift to dance, and you squander it!”
“No more!” The faeries clasped hands once more, and as before, the air around them shivered with magic, and a bright purple light encased them before swallowing up the rest of the palace.
The light dimmed, after several long seconds, and then two parts of the same ripped scroll slowly drifted to the ground.
Elleri felt the compulsion to dance leave her body, and she leaned heavily on Hark as he set her down. Her thighs were going to burn for a week.
King Hagan came forth and gingerly picked up the two halves of the scroll, ignoring the utter silence of the immense room as he read over the pieces and rolled them back together.
He shook his head.
“What nonsense. The spell only lasted until midnight anyway.”
As if on que, the clock struck twelve and Elleri let her legs give out on her.
King Hagan ushered the nobility back toward the food, and distracted them with Day of Giving pudding and piles of gifts near the tables as the two scholars took their leave.- - -
Back in the library, the fireplace had been brought back to life, and Elleri sat before it, cuddled into a cushy chair with a cup of apple cider.
Hark was sitting across from her, focused on a massive tome sitting in his lap, the torn scroll resting atop it.
“He’s right. They are considered the lowest tier of dark magic. Sleeping, dancing, eating, and working curses. They only last a couple hours.”
Elleri scoffed and brushed a strand of hair out of her face.
“Right. Because when they appeared before me my first thought was to ask the length of their visit.”
“You don’t have to be snippy.” Hark said patiently, flipping a page of the book.
“I feel like I must. This was supposed to be a fun night.” She set her mug down and pulled the blanket around her shoulders in closer.
“I wanted to dance with you, and drink punch, and get away from the books for a night. And I did the exact opposite.”
“On your own.” Hark said with a smiling, looking up at her.
“On my own!” The Blumaroo exclaimed, flinging her hands up.
“I just wanted you to have a good Day of Giving.” She dropped her face into her hands and rubbed her fingers slowly into the roots of her hair.
Hark set aside his book and moved to kneel before her, pressing one giant finger against her forehead to lift her face.
“I would have had a wonderful day even if there hadn’t of been any twirling.” He shrugged. “Mostly because I didn’t even realize what day it was.”
She swatted at his hand.
“You’re not making me feel better.”
The Werelupe chuckled.
“I probably won’t. So you cursed the kingdom, made everyone dance at a ball, and then broke the curse so no real harm could be done.” He held his hands up as if weighing the outcome.
“It could have been worse.”
She sat back to look at him.
“King Hagan said I’m banned from magic for twelve years.”
Hark chuckled. “He didn’t mean it.”
She shrugged and the Werelupe stood to cross the room to take back his seat.
“I am correct. And now, we’ll all be too exhausted to do anything tomorrow.”
Elleri sighed. “I guess we will. Another day of sitting in the library, reading books in front of the fireplace.”
Hark grinned happily.
“Truly the best Day of Giving present of all.”