“What are you doing here, child?” Merek narrowed his eyes and glared at Cecily. He shifted his gaze to his wand, then back to her.
Cecily held her ground. “I’m not afraid of an old wizard.” She clicked her tongue. “Plus, I’m not a child. I’m nineteen.”
Steam swirled from the cup on the worktable. As Merek tapped the side of the cup, the vapor took on the shape of a dragon’s head. The tepid light that entered through the castle turret’s narrow window cast a blue aura around the dragon-shaped steam. Wind whistled through the window.
Merek harrumphed and picked up his wand. “I could turn you into a toad. It would be no trouble at all.” He waved the wand. “All it takes is a few magic words.”
“It wouldn’t be wise to cast a spell on the Queen’s daughter.” Cecily rested her hands on her hips, forming perfect triangles of satin and skin, and leaned over the cup with the dragon vapor. The cup stopped boiling, and the steam vanished.
Merek adjusted his tall, cone-shaped hat on which the moon, stars, and planets orbited. “Being the princess doesn’t give you the right to barge into the wizard’s chamber whenever you want. It’s dangerous here. The number of times I’ve saved you from — ”
“Because I am the princess, I have every right to be here.” Cecily circled the table, eyeing the paraphernalia. She reached for a double-ended spoon with blue marbles in each bowl.
“Don’t touch that!”
“Or what?” Cecily smirked. “You’ll tell my mom?” Cecily ran her finger along the spoon’s edges. “I’ll make a deal with you, wizard. Conjure me a handsome prince, and I’ll leave you alone.” She winked. “Best you do that before the Queen arranges my marriage with one of those ugly, pox-marked princes from a neighboring kingdom. What I need is a prince from France.”
Cecily walked over to the bookshelf on the far side of the room. She slid her finger along the books’ spines, stopping mid-way. She took a large book from the shelf, blew the dust off the top edge, and flipped it over in her hands. “This one’s interesting.” The book’s cover displayed a castle in ruins, a citadel more ancient than their own Castle Cwereden. “The Book No One Can Read. Hmm.” She jabbed the cover with her finger. “I can read.”
“Don’t,” Merek spoke in a low tone. He whipped off his glasses and pressed his back into the far wall.
“Don’t read the book.” Merek extended his arm as if to snatch the book out of her hand but then withdrew it.
Cecily snickered. “I’ll do as I please. I want to know why nobody can read it.”
Merek shut his eyes and covered them with his hands. “Not this book!”
Cecily opened the book and vanished.
After Merek heard the book slam to the floor, he opened his eyes. “No one can read this book because anyone who reads it becomes a character in it.” Merek was surprised by the sincerity in his voice. “I hope the story is to your liking.”
The Book No One Can Read was originally published by Fantasy Shorts.