Beautiful tapestries hung on all of the walls of this great room, making the lord of Carrock involuntarily think of the throne room somewhere high above them. Torches flamed brightly along the walls and a heavy iron chandelier hung from the ceiling. There was a long table, spread with food fit for a king — pheasants, venison, roast pig, stuffed chickens, roasted doves, vegetables of all kinds, fruit, fresh bread, pastries and more. The smell made the mouths of the travelers water. The stood there gaping at the rich fare, wishing they could dig in.
The swishing of a dress made Dylan turn his head. A tall woman had just entered the room, clothed like a lady. Her hair was like the deepest night, her dark eyes unsearchable. She was dressed in white silk, gloves on her hands. Pearls and diamonds sparkled in the light.
“Welcome to my table, travelers,” she said in a melodius voice. “It is not often that I can greet guests.”
“I can understand that,” Savoy answered. “There are few who would venture down here. Who may you be?”
“I?” The lady laughed and it sounded like little silver bells tinkling. “I have many names. There are those who would call me Demeter others have given me the name Freya. But it is my name that does not matter. What is important now is your filling your stomachs.” She smiled and reached out to take Dylan’s hand.
“Come now, noble lord, you and your company. Feast at my table and forget your troubles for this night.” There was a very strong wish inside Dylan to give in to this stunning woman, when suddenly he saw an amulet around her neck. It was a small figure of a naked woman on a horse with a sabre in her hand.
“Tell me, Lady Freya,” he said in a cordial manner, “do you also go by the name Astarte?”
“Yes, noble lord, I do.” Her smile was still as charming and her hand stayed in his.
“I believe that Astarte was known to kill those who supped at her table in an unworthy manner.”
“In an unworthy manner, noble lord, but in that way only.”
“We are unworthy, Lady Astarte. We do not serve you.” She pulled her hand back as if she was burned.
“Whom do you serve?” she asked, her dark eyes flashing and voice like ice.
“We serve the Word, the God almighty, the living God.” It was said quietly, but with conviction. Astarte’s face went white, whether it was from fear or anger Dylan couldn’t tell.
“Yes, the histories tell of the true God defeating Astarte many times, though she had wormed her way among his people,” Savoy chimed in.
“How dare you insult me in this way!” the woman screamed. Lora took an involuntary step back, while Swift’s fur began to rise. She growled, fangs becoming visible.
“Begone, spirit,” the Scholar ordered, “your food holds nothing but death to those unfortunate enough to fall to your wiles.” The woman screamed once, Dylan could not decide whether in agony or in anger, and suddenly the room was empty, except for a long wooden table with many chairs, most filled with the bleached bones of others who had been trapped by Astarte.
“There goes dinner,” remarked Dylan. “And Till ya List Hayn did not say anything about that femme fatale, did he?”
“He did not have to meet her, Dylan,” Savoy answered. “I believe that each person sees what he or she is meant to. Our temptation would only be complete if we were invited to the table. We’re much to civilized just to dig in. Come along...” With that he turned and they walked from the hall, Asha still whining that she was hungry.
“Well done, fools,” Roanna snapped to herself as she stared into one of the mirrors in the Hall of Mirrors. Too bad that you could only see a few of the many rooms of the Labyrinth. Oh well, the principle ones were enough. Wasn’t the conjuring of Freya good enough for them? Cursed Scholar, she thought to herself. Well, there still are many traps they do not know.
Somehow she now wished that she could see where that Lady Tabea was. It might be interesting to watch her. Perhaps it might give the sorceress a way to allure her. And yet she was nowhere to be found.
“That fool Alick knew what he was doing,” she sneered. “Now he is probably enjoying himself with her.” With a wave of her hand the mirror showed her own proud face and white hair again. She didn’t know how far she was from the truth.