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Greed: The Selfish Emotion

                                 Jonathon Pierce

The royal ball was proceding as scheduled. The entire castle had been decorated with a series of party favors, ranging from streamers to holographic lanterns. Several guards, headed by the gallant Bryant Carl, blocked the entrances leading into the private sections of the castle, preventing hapless interlopers from trespassing.

Several guests arrived via hovercars or landaus, causing a series of appreciative reactions from the awaiting crowd. None, however, received the enormous applause generated by the ruler of the Colonies. Iffley and Camille pulled up in a brougham, drawn by silver danae. Iffley had transformed a horse into the beautiful animal just for this auspicious occasion. Spaulding, Iffley's loyal butler, pulled the brougham up to the awaiting crowd. Moonbeam, her coat shining with an iridescence caused by the full moon, neighed softly as Spaulding pulled back on her reigns.

Then, Iffley stepped from the cab. His black tuxedo and red bow tie suited him well for the occasion. Camille lighted from the brougham, her silver fox coat hiding the gown underneath. The most noticable feature was the Tiara that swept up her long, flowing hair. Iffley and Camille swam through the crowd and entered the castle.

Camille checked her fur coat, which, of course, had been created by the versatile Sceptre, and walked up to Bryant and gave him their titles. In a loud, clear voice, the lieutenant said, "Suralio Frith Iffley, ruler of the Alarian Colonies, and his escort, Camille Wolffe." Bryant perused Camille with an appreciative eye. She was wearing a beautiful red evening gown and petticoat. A string of faultless pearls, ending in a large ruby, hung about her neck. Her name should be Foxxe, not Wolffe, mused the lieutenant.

Iffley and Camille approached Adena and Toltec. "You had better show better protocol, Camille." Iffley warned her. Iffley bowed first to the Enchantress, then to Toltec. Camille showed an equal amount of respect for her hostess. Adena led the way to Iffley's instrument, which had been transported to the earth for this very occasion. He settled down at the sript and began to play the "Moonlight" sonata. Iffley had purposely picked this piece to stir Adena's memories. Nonplussed, she asked Toltec to dance. The crowd parted, allowing the Enchantress free use of the dance floor.

Iffley concluded his performance, and the party erupted in a burst of applause. Iffley, after being coerced into an encore, finished with "Harvest Moon." Iffley stood up, bowed to the audience, and quickly departed. Adena realized that Iffley did not enjoy recognition of his accomplishments. He had played as a favor for her, and the least that she could do was let him alone.

*  *  Guess What I Got  *  *

Iffley, however, left the party completely. He teleported to the outer fringes of Bronson's territory. He realized that Bronson had several security devices against intruders, so he pointed the Sceptre at the ground. A deep hallway carved itself into the very earth. Iffley would simply walk underneath all of Bronson's devices.

Moments later, the hallway ended abruptly at the palace's foundation. Iffley transformed a section of the wall into glass. Dramatically, he smashed the glass and entered the castle. With a wave of the Sceptre, he removed any evidence of his entry.

Iffley climbed a steep stairway, searching for Bronson. He noted a sweet, little flowerpot sitting on a window. The Sceptre transformed it into a scimitar. Armed with his new weapon, he discovered his prey.

Bronson and Madison were sitting in the dark, watching a strange movie on a wall. Bronson made a sickening comment, "More gore! This is supposed to be a horror film! When the dragon steps on people, I want to see their guts squishing between its toes!"

"Yes, Bronson," his mentor assented.

In a flash, Iffley teleported behind the old wizard. He grabbed Madison, put the scimitar to his neck, and told him to remain silent.

Bronson stared at the development, "Iffley! What are you doing here?"

"Obviously, I have come for the Belt. I suggest that you hand it over before I slice Madison's throat."

"Madison, quick, a spell!"

The old wizard shook his head carefully, "I'd be dead before I could finish it."

"The Belt...now."

"I don't believe that you will kill him." Bronson retorted.

"Perhaps this will convince you," he said. He pointed the Sceptre at Bronson. Instantly, his shoes transformed into concrete. "Cement overshoes. I could have easily transformed you into a fly! Now, hand over the Belt; and no tricks, Madison's life depends on it."

Bronson reluctantly handed over the Belt. Iffley's grip on Madison, however, did not abate. He concentrated on the Belt, and said, "What you have just experienced has never happened. I did not come to this castle." Then in a fit of insipration, "The Belt was stolen by Toltec. You both saw him."

"Yes," Bronson repeated, "Toltec stole the Belt."

Satisfied, Iffley released his grip on Madison, "Now return to your movie." The mental suggestion probed their minds, causing them to turn their attention to the screen.

Iffley, after stealing a glance at his new possession, raised the Sceptre and departed to the party.

*  *  All about Eve  *  *

The ball was going smoothly, but Adena was becoming worried: Iffley had been gone too long. She put the worry out of her mind, intent on having a good time. She danced several waltzes with Toltec, as did Eve. Toltec, it seemed, was the life of the party.

Eve excused herself to go to the little girl's room. The guards, recognizing her as one of Adena's guests, allowed her to pass without the hastle of an escort. She entered the study, passing the painting by Kokoschka. She heard a noise and turned around. Seeing no one, she continued her trip to the water closet.

Iffley emerged from the painting and muttered something about having close calls. He wrapped the Belt around his waist, hiding it with his buttoned coat. Next, he transformed the crown of Furanose into a red handkerchief, which he put in his lapel. He calmly exited the study and rejoined the party.

Eve emerged from her hiding place. She had observed the entire affair from the crack between the wall and door. At a safe distance, she followed him.

Iffley was quickly approached Camille, but stopped when Eve called his name. "Iffley," she said above the blare of the music, "I know that you have the crown."

"What? What are you talking about?" His face grew painfully white.

"Iffley, don't act so innocent. I also know that you have the Belt."

"You little spy!"

"I want the Belt. Hand it over, or I wil1 tell Adena. I also want the crown."

Iffley concentrated upon the Belt, but was not accustomed to its power. When he had confronted Bronson, it had been relatively quiet. Now, the roar of the band disturbed his thoughts. "I'll change you into a toad." He glared.

"Not in this crowd, you won't." Eve was shrewd, and was accustomed to getting what she wanted. She wanted the Belt. Blackmail seemed natural to her.

"No," Iffley refused.

"Alright, then." She turned around and started to cross the dance floor to Adena.

"Wait!" Iffley screamed over the crowd. Eve returned to him, and held out her hands. Iffley opened his coat, removed the Belt, and placed it in her awaiting hands.

"Now, the crown."

Iffley gave the handkerchief to her. He pointed the Sceptre at the red hanky, transforming it into the royal crown. Eve thanked Iffley, and started toward Adena.

Iffley grabbed Camille by the wrist, "We have to leave...now!" The pair departed the party, leaving the fox fur as the clock struck midnight. They boarded the brougham, and flew off into the night.

Meanwhile, back at the party, Eve had approached the Enchantress. Adena smiled at her, then noticed the crown in her hands. Her smile turned into a frown. She had trusted her as a friend, and now she was stealing royal property! She motioned for the guards to come to her aid, and said, "What are you doing with my crown!"

 © 1985, 

K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, A. Mann, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft

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