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Not so fast, loverboy.

You turn tail and run for your life, away from the crazy maelstrom at your back. Alas, the suction is getting stronger, and each frantic, determined step you take is overpowered by the swirling forces of the vortex. Your scream is loud and prolonged as your body is propelled into the center of the vortex. The last thing you see before you black out are some green and purple lights, pulsating wildly throughout the turgid atmosphere.

After what seems like an eternity, you regain consciousness. You groan as you lift your head off of the cement floor you seem to have been deposited on. You look around, and to your shock there is a beautiful woman sitting on a gold throne inlaid with diamonds, pearls, and rubies, with purple velvet upholstery.

"I am the Countess Elisabeth Bathory," the woman speaks in a high, lilting voice with an slightly Eastern European accent. She has long red hair which is braided with gold and blue ribbons. You notice that she is wearing a high, pearlescent crown, and is holding a scepter in the shape of a snake with a large, glowing blue orb in its fanged mouth.

You stand up and bow to Her Majesty, in awe of the royal jewelry and baubles that adorn this obvious mistress of sorcery. She acknowledges your subservience with a nod. "I will permit entrance to my palace, and total devotion by my subjects, to you, if you can answer me one riddle."

You smile. You've always been pretty good at riddles, and you're looking forward to the royal treatment - boy, what a story you'll bring back to your editor! "I'd be honored, Your Highness."

The Countess does not smile back. You feel a shiver of unnamed apprehension, but you shrug it off as she asks you : "This creature possesses four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs at twilight. What is it?"

Yes! You know this one, and you confidently answer, "Why, this creature is Man himself, Your Majesty."

The Countess laughes harshly as the room darkens. "You are the 100th person to fail at my riddle! Guards! Take this imbecile away!" Confused, you barely notice as, quick as lightning, some bulking, vaguely aquatic(what? How...) guards cling to your side and transport you into a black void.

Written by Finny Fiona

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