Excerpt from Chapter 23: Unpleasantries

     Securely behind the jubilant partiers, Natalie waited to be the last to leave the hall when she heard a snide comment from Mara, who hid in the shadows.

     "Maybe we should send them all home."

     Natalie ceased her steps, making her discontent known with nothing more than the subtle pause and a deep breath.

     "Have you something to say?" asked Mara.

     "No," replied Natalie, moving onward.

     Suddenly, Natalie found herself obstructed by Mara, who now directly stood in front of her, by way of spell.  Face-to-face, Natalie refused to be deterred.

     "Have you something to say, child?" asked Mara again.

     "I have nothing to say," replied Natalie with a zing in her tone.

Then, Natalie attempted to bypass Mara, but she found herself hindered by the counter-movments of her captor.

     "Have you something to say?" asked Natalie, hoping to break the dreadful silence.

     Mara waited, allowing the suspense to aid her intimidation. Then she creaked words out her mouth, which evolved into a sizzle in her voice as they developed.

     "You are but a feckless child, fraught with disaster, and if not for the shoulders of accomplished women, would long ago have been six feet under, disposed of by a throng of worms. The moment I take charge of this order, you and your pathetic louts will have no liberty, no say, and no significance, and you will live in absolute subjugation mind I banish you and your kind from my order."

     "Wow," thought Natalie.  In less than twenty seconds, Mara conveyed a whole flurry of insults, some of which Natalie would need a thesaurus to grasp the concept of, but she understood the idea; more importantly, she understood she stood on very shaky ground. Not to be demoralized, Natalie did have something to say.

     "How's it feel--always the bridesmaid?"

     "What do you mean to imply?" hissed Mara.

     Natalie, knowing full well her revelation could change the future of the order, threw caution to the wind to defend herself.  "Do you really think you'll be headmistress?  Some women are spinsters by force of destiny alone."