She has been standing motionless for almost two hours. She was supposed to look straight ahead in a pensive, romantic way but right now she was looking plain annoyed. Small wonder. Her legs were aching, she had a stitch, she was thirsty and, at the same time, she needed to visit the toilet. How much grief can a woman take, let alone a witch in disguise?
She had been told repeatedly that during the exclusive modelling session she could speak only if she was spoken to by the maestro himself, in order not to distract his muse. Or whatever he needed to create priceless works of art. She tried to endure as long as she had to. Tanisia the witch reduced to nothing more than a mute prop. Why didn’t the maestro have a decency to find himself a life-sized doll for a model? It wouldn’t need a drink or emptying its bladder and it certainly wouldn’t utter a word, even if spoken to. On the other hand Tanisia’s task would have been much harder then.
Being chosen as a model was not easy to start with. Tanisia practically was forced to wheedle that stupid but fashionable artist into letting her be his prop. She had to smile, charm and buy him drinks and flirt with him saying nice things about his paintings, she even had to dye her blond hair ginger to meet his requirements. The competition, surprisingly, was fierce. Then he made her wear that ridiculous, clinging, white gown whith low neckline, which almost exposed her breasts in their full glory. As soon as she put it on he started leering at her in a most obnoxious way until finally he had the decency to hide his face and the rest of his ugly self behind a rather impressively big canvas and paint. That’s what an artist is supposed to do, right?
All that circus was arranged just to enable Barnabas, who played the role of an doting older brother, an easy access to the household. The artist’s house was heavily guarded. Officially the warlock was a chaperone to Tanisia; in reality the situation enabled him to steal that precious, magical watercolour with the Fallen in the meantime without creating much fuss. It was supposed to be a fail-proof, brilliant plan, nice and easy. What took Barnabas so long, though? As far as Tanisia was concerned, the meaintime was getting definitely long in the tooth.
Barnabas was supposed to find that picture he coveted so much, knock on the door thus saving her from any prolonged period of unprofitable hardship and get away under any pretext with Tanisia following his suit. So far, apparently, he haven’t done either of these. Tanisia didn’t doubt that it was another act of his premeditated cruelty she has been enduring since her enslavement. Let’s face it – whereas Barnabas never tortured, punched or even slapped her directly and, to her slight surprise, never forced her to sleep with him against her will, he knew how to make her pay for her bungled assassination attempt time and again. In thousands possible ways. His instinct, telling him what she disliked the most, was simply uncannily correct – as if he could read her mind or knew her very well. Every time he discovered he might make her suffer a bit more, he never hesitated to do so. Right now, he was undoubtedly prolonguing her torment by keeping her longer than necessary in the role of a model or rather an object, a prop. She hated it with all her might. He must have known it from the very beginning.
At long last Tanisia decided enough was enough. First she stirred slightly and cleared her throat. No reaction. Then she dared to say tentatively:
“Maestro, could we just have a tiny little break so you might…refresh yourself?”
Nothing. Apparently such subtleties were lost on the maestro.
“Honestly that is being simply silly. You can’t keep me like that forever, you old fool,” shouted Tanisia.
Too angry to wait for an answer she threw the red, embroidered coat on the floor and stepped from the dais on which she had been standing. She went closer to the canvas, fully prepared for an angry confontation, looked behind it and gasped. The painter, slouched in his armchair, was so obviously dead she didn’t even have to touch him. She glanced at the painting. During these two hours he didn’t paint one single line or dot. Tanisia started to sweat with fear. Something was off.
No answer, just silence ringing in her ears. Then she heard the rush of wings and some weak moaning. Something definitely went wrong and she was on her own to find out what and why. As usual.