For Her Grace's Amusement
"Oh, look Mr. Jackson." Ivy cooed, her voice thick with hatred. "Our charge is awakening."
"Shall I melt some butter?" Jackson smirked.
"I don't know." Ivy continued. "She's a trifle too old to be tasty. You know, sea food turns so quickly."
"Nonetheless, Miss Blessum, look at those claws. I'm sure the meat, though aged, would still be quite sweet. I think when we celebrate at the feet of Her Grace upon her resurrection, we should consider eating her sister's enormous claws."
"It would be a fitting tribute. Wouldn't it?" Ivy laughed. "After all, without Morgana's pretty face, we'd not be able to enjoy in the renewed radiance, the very brilliance of Pauline, Duchess of Fallbridge. To put all of her to good use would be the only appropriate thing to do."
"Well, maybe not all of her." Jackson snickered, sending small beads of spittle flying.
"Not her tree-trunk leg." Ivy howled. "No, no."
"S...s...stop." Morgana rasped.
"She's found her voice again!" Ivy clapped.
Jackson wiped his mouth on the back of his hand. "Time for another drink, then."
"No, no, Mr. Jackson. Let her speak. She won't be able to do so for much longer."
Morgana looked around. She was somewhere damp and cold--a strange dark structure of crumbling stone. Slits of light peeked into the darkness through lost stripes of mortar. The floor was dirt, covered in rotting hay from which tangles of vines grew and clung to the gray walls with long, yellow sticky feelers. In the rear of the space, a curving narrow staircase, slanted with age, seemed to groan under its own weight. Where did it lead?
Tucked under the dilapidated spiral of stone was a long, low box of rough wood. To its left was a mound covered in dirty blankets. From under one edge, icy-white fingers were visible. Fingers atop fingers. Two hands, one atop the other.
"That's rather how our Mr. Quick reacted." Ivy nodded, noting Morgana's realization that they shared the space with the bodies of William and Charlotte. "None too thrilled with us was Mr. Quick. Still..." She sighed. "It had to be done. William was in the way, and, of course, you know what became of your newly-found bosom friend, the round-heeled trollop."
"We couldn't let her go unpunished." Jackson snorted. "The gall of her to try to assist you."
"Sh...she didn't deserve to die for showing compassion for a fellow being." Morgana coughed.
"A harlot! That's what she was, and a disloyal one. That, dear Lobster Girl, is a treacherous combination." Jackson wiped his mouth again with his beige, wrinkled hand.
"You are savages." Morgana growled. "Hideous, horrible...beasts."
"We?" Ivy laughed. She turned to Jackson. "Maybe we should not eat her. She's too bitter."
Jackson nodded. "There is also the chance that we'd develop into whatever she is. Strange, isn't it? Such a lovely face atop that pile of deformed flesh."
"It's sacrilege, truly." Ivy agreed. "To think that Her Grace's countenance should be attached to such a monstrous body."
"A joke of nature." Jackson sniffed.
"The work of the devil, perhaps?" Ivy suggested.
"No, even that would be more fully-formed. She's unfinished."
"Or over-finished." Ivy laughed. "Like a bread forgotten in the oven."
"Now I'm becoming hungry again." Jackson winced.
"Pity we must stay here. Yet, we know our little lobster can't be trusted on her own--even bound as she is." Ivy inhaled. "A terrible pity."
"It's no pity, Miss Blessum." Jackson shook his head. "We're doing this for the ultimate good. Furthermore, to be in the presence of Her Grace--even as she is--is a blessing that we must not discount."
"I stand corrected, Mr. Jackson."
Morgana glanced at the long, low crate of splintered, dry wood.
"Yes, dear." Ivy nodded. "Her Grace is in there--waiting, waiting for nightfall, for the glow of the moon to revive her."
"Perhaps Morgana would like to see her perfect sister." Jackson rose, creakily, from the wooden stool upon which he sat. He offered his hand to Miss Blessum to help her from her own three-legged perch.
"I think that's a lovely idea."
"Or..." Jackson's eyes widened. Even at that state of excitement, his gray eyes were still narrow and beady.
"I've a better idea. Instead of just letting the sideshow attraction gaze at her better, why don't we...initiate a communion of sorts? If anything, it would please the duchess. You know how Her Grace loved her little amusements. We could...well, we could please her greatly."
"An appealingly curious idea, Mr. Jackson. Do tell."
"We'll need a flame. A torch..." Jackson chirped in a gravely, high pitch.
"I think that can be arranged." Ivy grinned.
"Surely Mr. Quick wouldn't object. We only need her head." Jackson winked.
"I'm sure he'd welcome whatever we did for Her Grace's amusement." Ivy mewed.
Did you miss Chapters 1-111 of A Recipe for Punch? If so, you can read them here. Come back tomorrow for Chapter 113.