“Wait!” Melponmene sighed heavily. “We need you, Sappho. Help us. Please.”
I stopped and said over my shoulder, “I’m sure. I am here to gather a few more cattle, nothing more.” I continued up the steps as I had serpent check on Ben. He hadn’t written anything. Blast. Well, maybe I wouldn’t need an escape route this time.
As I reached the door, I heard Mel say in a voice that rolled with thunder, “Send the Erinyes. Enough of her sacrilege.”
Erinyes indeed. I wasn’t fooled. She, or one of the others, had already set them on me. Now, it was just a matter of outfoxing the hounds. I changed appearance as I passed through the door. As Saffus, my hair darkened to midnight black and became uneven. I ran a hand through it, adding to the just-woke-up feel. My leather jacket became dark green corduroy, my biker boots changed to black canvas tennis shoes.
“Let’s see, what’s next on my list?” My voice was now a rich tenor.
The serpent answered, Cattle.
“Ah yes. Anything from Ben yet?”
I sighed. “Very well. Location of next closest target?”
Miranda Port, doll artist, current location is the art show.
Miranda had been rather quiet of late. It was time to prod her a bit. Can’t let them rest on their laurels; it makes for a poor meal. I walked through the exhibits. There were quilts and sculptures paired with poems, hand-made books filled with short stories penned in exquisite calligraphy, and paintings echoing textile and 3-D art. That’s where I found Miranda. She was fussing over one of her dolls.
“Interesting,” I remarked coolly. “What is it?”
Miranda looked at me, her eyes wide like a deer in the headlights. Perfect. “It’s the wolf from Red Riding Hood,” she stammered.
Artist angst hit her hard. I braced for the waves. This was not a particularly desirable meal but an often necessary step in the process of cultivating the next one. Rather like fertilizing a field. Now to provide the seeds.
Miranda frowned at the wolf in her hand. “Why did I bring him here? What was I thinking? This is the dumbest idea I’ve ever had.”
“No, I like it. What other fairy tales have you done?”
She stared off into space. Ah, renewed inspiration. It cleansed the bitterness of artist angst off my palate.
She murmured, “I know how to make it better. He just needs to change costumes… Oh, and then I can start on that Romanian folktale…” she wandered off.
Perfect. Not only had I nudged her into improving her current project, I’d managed to inspire the next endeavor. That was critical. Creative juices have to keep flowing in order for me to feed. I savored the spiciness of the fairy tale reframed and the earthy overtones of the sculpted dolls.
I stopped in my tracks, frozen by the unexpected recognition, especially given my male disguise. I looked around and found a muse hiding in the shadows of ribbons streaming from a llama statue. I stepped closer, wary of an ambush.
The muse stayed cloaked in shadow and whispered, “Help me.”
“What do you need?”
“Your protection. I want to leave the Guild.”
I studied the clear blue eye watching me, pleading with me. “What’s your name?”
“Give me your hand.”
A slender hand hesitantly emerged. It wore a delicate silver chain with an aurlos dangling from it, marking her as the daughter of Euterpe. The charm metamorphosed into a gold serpent as I took her hand.
“Lay low. I’ll find you after the convention.”
I caught a brief smile of gratitude before she disappeared. As I turned to leave, I bumped into one of her cattle. He absently apologized as he rubbed his forehead where the mark was changing from the aurlos to the serpent. I was just glad no guild members were around to witness. With a bit of luck, no one would notice. He ignored me as he fussed over the ribbons.
Now back to Ben. “Anything yet?”
Affirmative. He wrote the heading ‘Courting your Muse’ in his notebook. This correlates with a panel being held in the Grand Ballroom.
Copyright 2011, Kimberley Long-Ewing, all rights reserved