Irene of Hungary in "Suffer a Sorceress"
Princess Anna Komnene detested her sister-in-law Princess Irene, whom she regarded as "the Hungarian trull." Irene's husband Prince John was Anna's younger brother, and heir to their father the Emperor Alexios. In 1118, Anna, a secret enthusiast of sorcery, began a magic ritual that would control Alexios' mind to adopt Anna's husband Nikephoros Bryennios as heir in place of John.
Consulting the Aithiopika, Anna transported her astral body to Egypt (or a reasonable simulacrum thereof) and mind-controlled her father's spirit into naming Bryennios as his heir. During this time, Anna noticed an odd-looking hedgehog in the scene, which did not fit the book's illustration of Egypt, and resembled one of Daedalus' automatons in old myth. She had to shoo the hedgehog away during the middle of her ritual.
After the ritual was complete, Anna saw that her fire was suddenly extinguished, cutting off her passage back to the natural world. As the spirit world began to fade to black, Anna noticed that the hedgehog seemed to be still in control of itself. She spoke to it as if it were a human servant, commanding it to guide her out.
Suddenly Anna was no longer in Egypt, but neither was she at home in Constantinople. She seemed to be in the frontier regions further north than the Empire. The hedgehog enjoyed itself eating beetles and other vermin, but there was no other wildlife anywhere that Anna could see. She began to think that the hedgehog was taunting her, daring her to invent a spell to get herself out of her plight. After five days of starvation and thirst, Anna saw the hedgehog enjoying an insect meal. She angrily threw a stone at it, which hit the creature's face but did not significantly injure it. Suddenly, a spiritual earthquake catapulted Anna back to the natural world, where only a few hours had passed during her week in the spirit realm.
Upon awakening, Anna learned that her plans had failed, and John II had been confirmed as the next Emperor. Irene consolingly offered to walk with Anna in the garden, but Anna stated that she preferred open enmity to feigned friendship. Irene stated that she simply wished to know whether Anna had enjoyed her sojourn on the slopes of Mount Balvany. Anna realized that her ordeal in the spirit world was the work of Irene, who explained that her magic was an inborn variety that needed no book spells. Turning, Irene showed a profile that resembled a hedgehog's snout, with a bruise on her cheek where Anna had hit Irene's astral body with a rock. Anna knew that despite this mild injury, Irene had triumphed.
|Byzantine Empress consort
Bertha of Sulzbach