The Suppressed Verses

Selection from Kay Nielsen illustrationMandine de la Royaume has pulled off an almost impossible feat: suppressing the utterance of part of a curse. Curses require the channeling of a substantial torrent of power, more than the safe magic of the North-lands — patterning — permits. A curse is incantatio, and its casting causes the curser to become a troll.

Mandine had been a troll for decades before her troll-disease stole her sanity, and her skill as an incantatrice has only grown. Her curse is potent, but even potent curses have loopholes. Hers is no exception. Nornally these loopholes must be specified in the doggerel poetry that comprises the waste (in addition to searing orange light) accompanying incantatio. The latter half of Mandine’s curse was swallowed by her will and her strength. Her cursee, Prince Kellor, must seek his freedom by guess, since he has heard no more than a snippet of the conditions for his release.

If you have not read Troll-magic, read no further in this blog post! Spoilers follow. But do come back after you finish the novel. How Kellor seeks his solution is fully explored in his tale, but the suppressed verses themselves do not appear. Kellor’s courage and ingenuity are much more relevant to the story than the arcane magic that creates his challenge. Thus the appearance of the swallowed stanzas here in my blog: a treat for the loremasters and aficionados of appendices among us!

A bear no more, speak the last words that are thine.
Bid thy maiden farewell, she has cause to repine.
When an hour is done, search the sky for my sign:
My chariot arrives, thy will now is mine.

The maiden has failed, thy will’s bound to my need.
Can the curse be unraveled, the prisoners freed?
Seek the ways out of bondage, take heart and take heed:
My throat strangles freedom, swallows all in greed.
Yet a path lies open, awaits song and deed.

Excavate and reveal the corpse without breath,
Merely wood carved in likeness of chilly death.
Bring the children before their mother’s gagged wrath.
They call, “Mama!” She speaks and leaves the Lainkath.
Her escape heals her mate, pacing his split path.
Sundered soul and flesh rejoin in this aftermath.

East of sun shall maiden seek, and west of moon,
Cair Seila, lost palace, the site of my tomb.
To Cymbre she shall give three gifts, ask three boons:
Gold apple, awareness, heart of choice in life’s loom;
Gold carding comb, sorting — order prevents ruin;
Gold spindle for spinning, shaping her life’s doom.
For each gift: one visit, dawn to stroke of noon,
Chances to preserve thee from thy fate as groom.

Wedding pomp and splendor fling chapel doors wide:
The maid plays music, thee walks toward Cymbre’s side.
Tears drown the player’s cheeks, loss and sorrow’s tide.
She cedes all claim on thee, weeping beyond pride.
Hears thee speak thy vows to take Cymbre as bride,
To love the troll-daughter, as her husband to bide.

Cymbre speaks her vows: no words thee looked to hear,
No promise of love, no oath to hold thee dear.
Unforeseen reprieve! She breaks the bonds of fear,
Not spouse, not betrothed, mere brother free and clear.
Saved by her gift along with all thee name peer.
No prisoners remain: Mandine’s curse barren, sere!

For the spoken verses, see Mandine’s Curse.

For more about the world of Troll-magic, see:
Who’s Who in Troll-magic
Families in Troll-magic
Bazinthiad’s Fashions
Bazinthiad, A Quick Tour of the City
Magic in the North-lands
Magic in Silmaren
Radices and Arcs
Mandine’s Curse
Character Interview: Lorelin
The Accidental Herbalist
What Happened to Bazel?



Mandine’s Curse

Kay Nielsen illustration from East of the Sun and West of the MoonMagic 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!

For more about the world of Troll-magic, see:
Who’s Who in Troll-magic
Families in Troll-magic
Bazinthiad’s Fashions
Bazinthiad, A Quick Tour of the City
Magic in the North-lands
Magic in Silmaren
Radices and Arcs
The Suppressed Verses
Character Interview: Lorelin
The Accidental Herbalist
What Happened to Bazel?