Serena’s pout furled its corners up into the impish grin that so often smeared itself across the lower half of her face. She turned to Kirkaronus and waited until he continued playing copycat enough to match her expression before chortling at Raynerus and the others. “What do I care if some useless henchman possessing more stomach than brains chooses to switch sides?” She raised her hand and made a swirling motion in the air that somehow caused a miniature cyclone to snatch the top hat from Raynerus and whisk it way to her wiggling and ready fingers. Placing the hat upon her head, Serena tilted the brim and let out another wicked laugh. “Especially since it would now appear that I have the precious antidote as you like to call it! So what do you have to say to me now?”
Raynerus cocked his head to the side, seeming to give her new look a quick study. “I’m not certain it quite suites you.”
“Hmmm, certainly not.” Gwendoloena agreed while giving the gloating nemesis a disapproving shake of her head. “Serena, dear sweet, you have an absolutely lovely face but I’m afraid it’s just not one for hats, at least not a top hat of all things.”
For a moment, Serena looked as though she’d swallowed an ice cube at their responses but recovered quickly. “I’m not asking how this stupid thing looks on me, I asking how it feels to know that you failed! To know that I possess the only hope any of you had of anything but defeat!”
“And just as easily as she claimed that top hat, I will take the rest.” added Kirkaronus as he eyed the stone puzzle in Gwendoloena’s hand along with the fragment still held by Seth. “And then we will be unstoppable and rule over you all!”
“Well, if that’s all you’re wanting,” Gwendoloena spoke as if this were the first time she’d heard of such high aspirations, “why make anyone wait one more minute?” Without another word, she plucked the lone piece from Seth who was too surprised and confused by her actions to do anything but watch. Then, after sliding the piece into its proper place, Gwendoloena grabbed the completed stone puzzle with both hands and hurled it in the air toward them. Not quite prepared to so easily have the object of his desire literally in arms reach, Kirkaronus clumsily lunged forward over the table and nearly caught the puzzle with his head rather than open hands.
Up to this point, Sylvia had watched the back and forth banter between good and evil along with everyone else in the room and maintained the same shocked silence one might reserve for a particularly enthralling play. Seeing both magical artifacts just handed over to the enemy however was simply too much for her to remain a wallflower. “What are you doing!” she yelled, flailing her arms in the air as though she might take flight. “You just gave them everything they wanted!”
“As any of our underlings should willingly do and such a thing you will learn to do yourself.” Serena straightened the top hat and lifted her chin proudly in the air. The chin plummeted back down as she noticed Kirkaronus staring at her. “What are you gawking at? Fine, the hat looks horrible on me, everyone’s made that clear. You can wear it if you really want to but then give me that puzzle!”
“It’s, it’s not that. It’s the hat and you.” Kirkaronus pointed at the tip of his own nose while cautiously leaning in closer to inspect hers. “You have something”—he tapped a finger at his nose’s tip—“there.”
“Something, what something?” Serena grabbed one of the serving spoons from the table to use as a mirror. Her jaw dropped at the reflection, which showed that not only had the hat’s band changed to a moldy green color but the tip of her nose matched the unpleasant hue perfectly. In the few seconds it took for her to blink, the color crept up further.