“Hello, Father.” Princess Lalia’s voice is husky and rattling, like the croak of a bullfrog. The king and queen’s expressions match the horror I feel. Her voice, transferred to her by the magic spell I’d enacted, sounds worse than it had coming out of the village beggar. It sounds like the voice of a cartoon villain. “Oh no!” Lalia claps her hands over her mouth and looks at her father, who in turn looks at me, questioning.
“Uh…I’m afraid something went wrong with the spell,” I say, as though it’s not obvious.
The queen marches toward me and wags her finger in my face. “You were ordered to give our daughter a voice so that she can get married to an eligible prince,” she reminds me, eyes flashing. “With a voice like that, not even a shoemaker would marry her.”
I bow down so low, I am practically kissing the floor. “Forgive me, your majesties,” I say, backing toward the door. “If you will allow me another chance, I am sure I can find a suitable voice for the princess.” Then I hightail it out of there, before the royals can order their guards to lock me in the dungeon, or whatever they do to failed wizards.
For the next week, I spend every waking moment trying to acquire the perfect voice for Princess Lalia. Instead of hunting among the dregs of society, I steal the clear, bell-like voice of a beautiful young lady. However, something goes wrong with that spell, too. The lady, who is now mute, also transforms into a hideous creature. Kind of like Shrek, but blue. If that isn’t bad enough, by the time I wave my wand and transfer the voice to the princess, it is no longer clear and bell-like. Unless you mean a cowbell.
On the third attempt, the unfortunate woman whose voice I steal drops to the floor, fast asleep. But she doesn’t turn blue, and she doesn’t freeze into a statue of ice, so maybe my magic is improving.
Or maybe not. This time, the princess gets a normal woman’s voice, but it is turned up to max volume. “I DON’T THINK THIS VOICE WILL WORK EITHER!” she bellows so loud, everyone claps their hands over their ears.
The Jester is getting a huge kick out of the whole fiasco. “Hey, we have a whole herd of milk cows,” he tells me, snickering. “Maybe you can steal a voice from one of them! Surely the sound will be better than what you’ve produced.”
I glare at him, but he just makes a silly face and says, “Moo-oo-oo! Marry me! Moo-oo-oo!”
The next day, I approach another woman in town and ask her for a bite of bread. “I have worked all night, and I am hungry,” I tell her.
“Of course.” The woman curtsies and starts to turn away. With a surge of guilt mixed with anger over so many failures, I point my wand at her and utter the magic words.
The woman does not faint, or change colors, or anything really. She opens her mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. Startled, she grabs at her throat and tries to speak again. But like the princess, she is now voiceless. I breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe the lack of side effects means that this time, the spell will work like a…um, like a charm.
It almost goes without a hitch, but then her husband appears, looking as mad as a hornet and shaking his fist at me. I wave my wand again and disappear in a puff of smoke. Thank goodness for magic.