As he made his way towards the door through the thickening crowd, he accidentally bumped into an old woman who dropped all the oranges that she had been carrying

As he made his way towards the door through the thickening crowd, he accidentally bumped into an old woman who dropped all the oranges that she had been carrying. "Oh gosh, so sorry milady!" Raoul exclaimed, stooping to pick up the dropped fruit.

"No problem at all, child," replied the woman, smiling kindly at him. Raoul sensed an intense gaze behind the smile that made him feel rather uncomfortable, but dismissed the feeling. "Here, have some fruit dearie, for helping me clean up that mess," She smiled again as she handed him an orange. "Go on, it's my freshest produce. Tell me what you think."

Raoul wanted to go and see lady Anabelle again, not eat this strange lady's fruit; but it would seem rude if he didn't and besides, it was free food.

"Thank you," he said, sitting down to peel the orange.

"So, young Raoul, tell me about this lady who seems to be all that's on your mind right now," the woman murmured as she sat across from him. Raoul yelped and almost dropped the orange. How had this stranger known his name and what he had been thinking of? He was certain that they had never met before; otherwise he would've surely remembered her by now.

"Um, I didn't quite get your name before, and how did you know…" Raoul trailed off and his eyes became guarded once again as he wondered if the woman had been sent by Malven to make him seem like a fool in front of everyone. It had happened before. The woman chuckled, a low humourless sound that didn't fit her frail image at all, in fact, if Raoul hadn't known better he would've said that it sounded evil!

"Don't worry my dear Raoul, I haven't been sent by that oafish little thing that you call a lord. Can you not tell that I am a sorceress? Can you not feel my magic surrounding you?" Now that he thought about it, Raoul could feel something strange in the air around him, almost like a tugging at the back of his skull, pulling out his thoughts. "My specialty is sensing and creating people's greatest desires after all, and you are just full of desires…You should be able to sense me through the part of you that is simply…want." The sorceress, whose name ironically, was Sottise Désir, which meant mischief and desire respectively, chuckled again.

Raoul shivered. So that was why she knew his name and what he was thinking about. He obviously desired Anabelle, and that was what had made him more open to the sorceress's powers, but it still didn't explain the eerie feeling that he just couldn't quite shake off.

"I have a deal to make with you, my dear," Sottise continued, "I can make you an incredibly powerful lord, or knight, just like the man in all those dreams that you've been having, all you have to do is promise me one little thing.." she trailed off.

"What?" Raoul asked, wondering if the sorceress could really do all that she had promised.

"Don't worry about it yet, dearie, I'll ask you when the time comes," the sorceress replied. "Just say the word and it can all be yours, the riches, the power …Everything," Sottise looked at him intently. "Let me show you something to prove that can do as I promise, a small favour, yes?" She muttered a few words under her breath and a rose as red as blood suddenly appeared in her hands. The sorceress handed it to Raoul and told him "Keep this with you, it will give you luck,"

Raoul looked at the rose and saw with a shock that the inner petals were made up of paper thin sheafs of diamond and that the clear drops he had seen weren't water as he had presumed but rather, tiny ruby drops attached to the outside. The single rose was worth a fortune.

"I-I can't take this, I'd be whipped if I were caught with such a priceless item!" Raoul told Sottise, looking at the flower/jewel regretfully.

"Not to worry," said the woman, clicking her fingers. The rose disappeared. "Keep it under your pillow and no-one but you or a mage will be able to see it," she told him as the rose reappeared. "Now go back to your lady, I think she'll be wanting her lotion now, and think about my offer child!"

Raoul tucked the rose into his tunic and stood up, grabbing the orange as he thanked Sottise.