I am the lips of Mage Lanoliei. Feather-soft, rosy—no, that's not me. Normally, I am very dry, parched, because of the firewater. Normally, I do not purse or pout, and if I had my way, I would not even move. Content as I am to be a grim firm line, it is vexing that Mage Lanoliei should so enjoy breaking me out of my meditation. But so it is.
Mage Lanoliei drinks firewater, or spirits, but not of the kind purchased in taverns like Sorujen's Moonshine Moonshine, where the mage has seen more than a few respectable warlocks swilling aged liquor. Mage Lanoliei makes her own firewater. In the autumn and the spring, when either the living are dying, or the children of the dying are living, she journeys into the glen to seek out the effervescent, wandering spirits for her brew of firewater. They gather under dew-laced leaves or huddle under mushroom caps, afraid of the sunshine, awaiting the moonlight. Using her handmade set of panpipes, the mage calls to them in the twilight, and entranced, they float to her in vivid, colored clusters, unaware that she will use a taming spell to trap them in a handblown glass bottle. With only a dash of salt, the mage's firewater is ready.
This draft she passes through me. It is a sizzling, crackling liquid that blisters me in silence as she indulges herself—such a masochistic mage!—in deadly magic. After a few seconds, though, the water element, or the dew of the spirits, kicks in, and that is when Mage Lanoliei bends over the confused stack of logs in her grate. Crossing her fingers through the air a few times for good measure, she disturbs me yet again, and the letters rush past, a cool exhalation that soothes my wounds.
I cannot see, but I feel the essence of these magic-ridden tidbits. Each has its own tang, whether sweet or horribly bitter. The consonants usually come first, a massive array of stutters and bites. Words swept up in P are usually the beginnings of love spells, for I will feel the urge to pucker as the nectar of that letter draws near. F and T are warnings that can create walls, bricks, stones—even fortresses—abrupt stops in journeys, and broken hearts. D and B, however, can open doors and start the world afresh. S is a feisty one that sometimes manages to slither past Mage Lanoliei's lips before she clamps me shut. When not tamed, like the ever-deceitful snake, it brings treachery to even the good spells and can thwart the mage's best intentions (when she has them). As for L, L and the vowels are synaesthetic songs unto themselves, wind chimes and rippling water, the beauty of colors. They require little effort on my part, and it amazes me that people do not use them more often. It is so easy to sing, to open one's mouth, to release a note—a vowel—to tingle the air with laughter with words as easy-going as "breeze" or as serious as the abrupt "end." "Love" is a friendly word, though it takes a bit of dexterity. I myself prefer the vain but sensual, "Amor…" My mage cherishes her own lyrical name, which she uses to sign each of her wild spells.
Unfortunately, Mage Lanoliei is not musical at all today. I sense the beginning of a protection spell (a vowel encased in walls), but halfway through, she fumbles me and despite my attempts to halt it, I feel—oh, catch it!—the conniving S dart out. The fizzing sensation of fire returns, like needles pricking me for blood, and Mage Lanoliei claps her palm over me, stilling me with pain.
Wetness slides down me and mixes with saliva. The poor mage is crying, as the spell is left hanging useless, an echo of her intentions, in the air. It takes time, but she steadies herself.
The words she utters now are castles of darkness, labyrinths surrounding and binding a heart pierced by too many kisses. For K is the archer, who lets fly the vowel, the shaft of its arrows. S makes its arrowheads, that strike and burrow so deeply in a single kiss. Whether its venom is lethal or simply hypnotizing depends on the subtle nuances of its intentions. In any case, my mage has been stricken by a kiss…
And yet—"goodbye", despite its round embrace, has brought more anguish still.