Marianna and the Beholder's Hue
| Book Of Hues
It was a huge tome. It took all of Marianna’s strength to lift it onto the table. The velvet covers were splattered with colors and it was very moldy.
Pages lumpy with damp and use were hard to separate and turn. But Marianna was determined to uncover its secret.
This book had a long, bloody history.
Many armies of her people had died to wrest it from the thieving dragon who had stolen it centuries ago. It had taken the strongest magic to put it in Marianna’s expert hands. The Conjurers’ Interlaced Circle had combined its strength to do the impossible.
In one massive tsunami of magic, it had triumphed. After such trials, Marianna couldn’t let her people down. Allowing the difficulties presented by an aged volume in complete disrepair to stop her was not an option.
Carefully, using ancient formulas, she cleaned, restored and protected the crumbling volume. It took weeks of constant work, but Marianna had succeeded at last. Muttering spells, she spellbound it, so that an obscure magic word was needed to open and use it.
Having safeguarded it thoroughly, Marianna moved it to her zebrawood desk. Here she began studying it. Ignoring hunger and sleep, she translated the runes directly into the book by using blank lines and margins.
Head spinning and eyes red, Marianna threw down her quill. It wasn’t there! Although enlightening and precious beyond price, the Book of Hues didn’t contain what she wanted!
As an artist and gifted weaver, having and using that recipe could make her wish come true. All she wanted was to be Master Artisan to the Court of the Fairies. She stood and stretched, then tidied her whiskers with a paw flick.
Tail aloft, Marianna paced, gauzy wings fanning slightly in time with her thoughts and her tail’s end. Being under an unbreakable enchantment for something she hadn’t meant to do, was the bane of her current existence. Accidents happened.
How she to know the princess’ favorite handmaiden was allergic to cat hair? She’d thought by adding it into the birthday shawl the queen had commissioned, she was making it extra soft. For this mistake, she’d been given her present form, until the queen’s pleasure released her.
If she could find and use the recipe for Beholder’s Hue she might be able to redeem herself according to law. Marianna’s seven year sentence was up for renewal. If she didn’t want to remain as she was, she had to do an invaluable service to the crown.
Sitting at her desk again, Marianna absently tapped lightly on the inside back cover of the book with a claw. She thought longingly about Beholder’s Hue. Legend said that the hue varied according to the eye of the beholder.
Clear and odorless, it also made fiber stronger, finer and softer. But what was exciting, was the hue made marvelous patterns and designs automatically depending on strength and coats used. It was made for experimentation, something Marianna had passion for.
It was a crushing disappointment not to have found it. Marianna became aware of a subtle bulkiness under the endpaper. With bated breath, she gently peeled it back just enough to remove a gossamer slip of paper.
Her heart leaped as she read the minute writing using a magnifying glass. The Beholder’s Hue! In a fever, Marianna prepared and began to make it and live her dream!
The day of the hearing was here and Marianna was nervous. The shawl she had made for the Queen and dyed with Beholder’s Hue rested in a jeweled casket. She trembled at the thought that this was her last chance at freedom.
She couldn’t believe it! The Queen, overjoyed at the rediscovery of the Beholder’s Hue, immediately offered to release Marianna from the spell and make her Master Royal Artisan too!
Marianna found herself asking to keep her cat form, except for furred human hands and flexible fingers. She’d become accustomed to the flexibility and a tail and wanted them as she began her new job. As for Beholder’s Hue is was traditionally royal and remained so.
We are as content as a cat with cream to see this tale end happily for all.