Heleconius chanted an unlocking spell under her breath and tip-toed into Father Neldoroth’s room. He lay there sweating on top of the covers of his small, pitiful bed. On the nightstand next to his bed were his wand and an unlit oil lamp. Heleconius crept toward the sleeping man hoping to find a few hairs on his pillowcase. How she hated to think that she might have to pluck a hair from his greasy, sweaty head. To her dismay, Heleconius could not find a single strand on the sheets, his pillow, or even on the floor. Determined to complete her mission, she cloaked herself in a transparency spell, grabbed what she hoped was one hair, and yanked.Father Neldoroth yelled and sat straight up. “What the . . .”

Heleconius quickly stepped out of arms’ reach, silently backing toward the door. She hoped that Father Neldoroth was too tired to sense magic.

Father Neldoroth grabbed his wand and performed an illumination spell. The tip of his wand emitted a bright bluish-white light. He rubbed his head, the place where his hair had been plucked, and examined his fingers as if looking for blood. Then he swept his wand around the room.

“I know you’re here,” His gravely voice sent chills up Heleconius’ spine.

“Reveal yourself,” the old man continued.

Heleconius stood as still as a statue. She even tried not to breathe.

Father Neldoroth flung his legs around so that his feet landed firmly on the floor. Then he snorted and grumbled, “Combustium.”

The oil lamp blazed to life.

Heleconius flinched.

“I gotcha!” He stood and started toward Heleconius.

Heleconius, confused that he could see past her transparency spell, crouched on the floor and fished her wand out of her pocket. She barely had time to point it at the man before he leapt. She closed her eyes, turned her head, and cringed against the wall.

“You’re not getting away from me.” Father Neldoroth roared.

A great crash erupted near her left knee. Heleconius had expected to feel Father Neldoroth grab her, yet she felt nothing. More noises persuaded her to open her eyes and look in the man’s direction.

“Told ya I’d getcha,” Father Neldoroth said with satisfaction.

To her relief, Heleconius watched Father Neldoroth carry a small grey mouse by its tail and place it inside a small wooden box.

“You’ll be a good test subject in tomorrow’s poisonous potions class.”

Heleconius felt sorry for the mouse, because she knew Father Neldoroth often seemed to enjoy torchering his test subjects. She vowed to rescue the mouse along with the few hairs she yanked from the old geezer’s head.

Neldoroth stretched and scratched himself, blew out the oil lamp, and plopped onto the creaky bed.

Heleconius waited in the shadows until she heard muted snores, then grabbed the wooden box that contained the mouse, and crept out of the room.

The next morning, the three girls met in the alcove by the courtyard.

“So, How’d it go?” Asphorela asked her two friends.

Daphne smiled and handed her small stash of hair to Asphorela. “Piece of cake.”

Heleconius reached in her pocket and withdrew the small grey mouse. “I rescued this little fella. He was going to be toasted as a test subject today in Father Neldoroth’s class.”

Daphne clapped, “Oh how sweet. He’s so cute.”

Asphorela wrinkled her eyebrows and studied Heleconius as she waited for an answer, but when it was clear that Heleconius was only interested in playing with the mouse, Asphorela prompted, “Yeah? But what about Neldoroth’s hair?”

Heleconius quickly handed the mouse to Daphne and then fumbled in her pocket. “Oh yes, I apologize. It wasn’t easy, but I got it.”

Asphorela took the hair from Heleconius and ignored Daphne as the girl made cooing sounds at the mouse. Depositing all of the hairs into a small glass vial, Asphorela said, “Great. That should do the trick. Now all I need to do is break into the High Priestess’s tower and brew a potion in her gold plated cauldron. Then it should simmer for three days. Once that’s done, I will put it in a vial and drink it right before my ceremony.”

“Sounds good. What can we do to help?”

Asphorela shrugged, “Umm, well, you could act as my lookouts. Let me know if anyone is coming while I’m in the chamber of the High Priestess and stuff.”

Daphne popped a piece of chewing gum into her mouth and blew a bubble, “You gotta admit. This cloak and dagger stuff is pretty exciting.”

The three girls giggled and continued making plans.


Be sure to check back next Wednesday for the conclusion of Asphorella’s story!

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