Magic is perilous in the North-lands. Draw too much power through your radices, and you have left the safe byways of energea. You are using incantatio and have embarked on the road to troll-disease. It’s a fine line to walk, especially if performed under stress!
Mandine, the troll-witch in my novel Troll-magic, has crossed that line. And she has lost her sanity. As her cruel plans come adrift, she resorts to a curse to achieve her victory. A curse is the most extreme form of incantatio, requiring tremendous power. As in most incantatic magic, the better part is wasted, vented as acrid light and doggerel poetry. The greater flow of energy results in a greater flow of waste as well: thus the lengthier verse below.
The stanzas of Mandine’s curse appear in Troll-magic as fragments. I present them here in their entirety. If you haven’t yet read Troll-magic (what are you waiting for? go read it!) you may wish to skip this blog post. (Grin!) It reveals few details, but it does outline the extent of the hero’s challenge.
I curse thee now: take the beast’s shape!
Wild fur so white;
Ebon eyes, keen sight;
Razor claws, such might;
Fanged jaws, iron bite.
North-bear by day, yet a man by night.
Labyrinthine thrall, just one veiled escape.
Not ’til a maiden shall freely chose
To share thy bed with never a ruse,
One year and a day. No time to lose,
Thee must wake each morn to rise and woo.
Spiral out the curse to light and hold
Thy friends, my foes, who thwarted me of old.
Lock motherly healer in Lainkath deep,
Silently serving on quiet feet,
Voicelessly present, the halls to keep,
Hidden from sight, mere breezes to greet.
Graveside be false flesh, corpse unbreathing,
Simulacrum pure, truth concealing,
Buried in state, her children weeping.
Split fatherly patterner, flesh from soul,
To wander pale, ghostly garbed, unwhole;
His flesh to pace Mandine’s north atoll,
His soul to walk his own homely hall.
Yet if the maiden who shares thy days
Should leave the task but done partway,
Or if she who bides thy sheets by night
Should see thy man form in some strange light,
Then thy doom be surely sealed; thy fate:
A bear no more, but Cymbre’s mate.
Curses are comprehensive in nature and include any loopholes or escape routes in their descriptions. This is inconvenient, to say the least, for the curser, but handy for the accursed. Mandine’s curse is no different. However, she managed to achieve something unusual through sheer determination: silencing the utterance of the verses describing the loopholes in her curse. Kellor (her cursee) has never heard them. Next week, you may read the suppressed verses here!