a new deal

The cave was easy enough to find, she would never forget the location of the nearest she had been to death, however it still took the sorceress three weeks of resting and studying in her castle before she felt ready to make the trip.  Standing before the entrance she felt none of the arrogance she had felt before.  It its place was respect for the power radiating from the depths and a renewed thirst for knowledge.

The dragon held secrets and truths only learned from centuries of life and she had a desperate need to glimpse that treasure and attempt to hold it within her grasp.  She wanted to taste it on her cracked lips, that she had to wet with her tongue against the heat pouring over her.  She wanted to breathe in the dragon’s fire until her soul burned.  As she stepped towards the beckoning darkness, the sorceress understood that her life was undoubtedly forfeit, but she hoped the beast would continue to see something in her worth saving, and, perhaps, worth nurturing.

She kneeled in front of the opening, her knees screamed at the abuse of the rock strewn ground, and pulled the cowl from her head so her eyes could be seen clearly.  She had no hidden motives, there was nothing she needed or wanted to keep hidden from the creature, and believed that by presenting herself in such a manner the dragon would at least listen to her plea before it snapped her life.

“I’m sorry to break our agreement, and so soon after it was struck, by seeking you out again,” the words bounced around the cave mouth before being swallowed by the darkness within.  “I have come here today under different circumstances, though, and hope we …”

The voice of the beast pounded into her head and strangled her words, “I know why you are here, witch.  I know you are hoping to gain some of my power.  I know you think you have come out of respect, but it is still arrogant of you to think that we could have any sort of peer relationship.  You have nothing to offer in return for the wealth I could bestow upon you.”

The ground shifted slightly below the sorceress as the dragon shifted its enormous girth around.  She placed a steadying hand on the ground and let her head fall forward to cover the small smile that teased the corners of her lips, “Are you sure?”

The voice stayed silent just long enough for the sorceress to doubt her plan, but then the dragon spoke inside her mind again, “You are once again playing a dangerous game, witch, but you may enter and we shall see what it is you think you can offer me.”

clarity for her path

Considering how far she has pushed herself beyond the limits she’d known previously, and that she had come through the ambush with her life, something two of their force couldn’t also say, the sorceress was very pleased to wake cold, aching, and exhausted on the floor of her study.  Finding her feet, a smile testing her lips despite the pain that wracked her body and mind with every movement, she carefully made her way down the hall to her quarters where she nestled deep within the soft covers in search of restorative sleep.

The time she had spent unconscious on her study floor had been productive in allowing her body time to start its recuperation, but had done little to give her the depth and scope of the rest she actually needed.  Her vision swam away from her as she clumsily stumbled and fumbled towards the land of dreams.  Warm color reached for her and she slipped comfortably into its embrace.

Intangibles swirled around her, floating in drifts, and she made no attempt to understand the loving caress of the visions.  She had learned in her training, long ago, that not only was it futile to attempt to control dreams, but trying to could keep her from relaxing deeply enough for her body to repair itself and her magically well to refill.  So, the images splashed on and she drank them in as they came.  Some were terrifying and others were uplifting and she took them all in stride.

The dragon appeared prominently in splotches of red, only to be replaced by the wizard dripping in yellow, and then the black etchings of the dead.  Behind them all the warmth of orange and purple pulsed in time to her heart and eventually those two colors devoured the rest until all her mind hummed in vibrant hues of green.  The tall grasses of the river’s fields swayed in a gentle breeze running down from the mountain passes above.  It was beautiful and serene and the sorceress’s mind finally relaxed to the point it needed.

Then a fire sparked by a lightning strike on the highest peak, turned to an inferno by the previously gentle breeze, leapt from the mountains to eat of the lush grasses, and she felt the fire within her soul burn anew.  Recharged, her eyes opened wide and she sat upright in her bed.

She knew it was foolish to take meaning from her dreams, but she knew she had received a glimpse of truth and clarity.  Fire was her salvation.  Closing her eyes, she settled back into sleep, knowing she would need to be fully rested for her road ahead, to go call upon the dragon again.

in a word, death

She had not survived the jaws of the dragon and placated its anger to be threatened and struck down by mere mortals.  She would not back away, as prudent as it would be.  She quickly surveyed her prey, for the roles had reversed once the fire within her had started to burn wildly, and understood that they knew, despite their numerical advantage, that she was a real danger to them all.

Her ex-apprentice was first to act, he stepped sideways and threw his arms out towards her.  Lightning sizzled from his fingertips and the electricity’s charged fingertips reached for her.  A wave of her hand and the arcs bent backward to strike those standing on either side of the wizard.  One managed to deflect the energy.  The other had been so focused on the spell it was attempting to cast that the bolt caught him unaware and sent him tumbling to the ground.  The smell of charred flesh immediately filled the air and steam rose in waves from his burned flesh.  Evidently he had misplaced his trust in any protection spells he had cast ahead of the melee.

The four remaining adversaries quickly scrambled away, creating distance between themselves so that kind of blowback couldn’t happen again.  The sorceress used the moment of panic and movement to unleash a spell of her own.  She pointed at her original betrayer, the wizard she had once apprenticed, and spoke the single word of dark magic that would stop his heart.

“Xmaerth.”

He fell, mid-step, clutching at his breast.  His protection spells disappeared along with his life, and his body crashed into the mud.  Drops splashed against his pale skin and his sightless eyes sank into the muck.  It wasn’t the torturous death she had wanted in her revenge upon him, but she was satisfied that he would trouble her no more.

She was allowed no time to revel in the minor victory as three spells were slung at her nearly simultaneously.  The archaic weavings of protection she still had wrapped around her absorbed the fireball that had meant to consume her.  Compared to the heat of the dragon’s flames, the fireball wasn’t uncomfortable and was barely discernible at all.  That allowed her to notice the ground sinking beneath her feet as a spell tried to pull her into the earth.  A quick counterspell and the sorceress was freed of its grasp, and then she deflected another burst of lightning.  However, rather than being able to turn it back upon her attacker, she only managed to send the bolts spiraling into the empty river bed.  The standing pools of water sizzled and sent steam spraying towards the heavens.

The sorceress spun to catch the movement of each of the three that still stood against her.  They had finally taken up good positions so she couldn’t not face any of them directly without turning her back on at least one of the others.  She had no recourse left but to clear the field of battle long enough to retreat.  Raising her hands to the heavens she chanted the words, then calling on the last of the energy burning in her soul, she brought her arms down, palms pointed to the ground.  A concussive boom echoed maddeningly, and the ground shifted from the force of the magical blow, as a circle of fire swept away from the witch.  The flames burned everything they touched: grass, earth, water, and stone.  Nothing could resist its appetite.

As her adversaries were distracted saving themselves from the heavenly cleansing fire, she stepped into a hidden portal and safely passed through to her study, where she once again lost consciousness sprawled on the floor.

Keeping The Stories Alive

djmatticus:

Head over to STMND today to join in on sharing stories of our loved ones who have passed. Keep their stories alive…

Originally posted on Stories that Must Not Die:

My Aunt Priscilla died almost 20 years ago. She had a vibrance that captured anyone within her radius. Her middle name was Apollonia, but let’s just keep that among us, shall we?

To me, she was always fearless, or appeared to be, and I told her. She assured me she wasn’t. An example she shared was how the bedrooms and bathroom were divided by a parlor. No biggie, right? Wrong. The parlor was used for viewings and wakes when relatives died. She recounted how one night, when she was a toddler, she had to pee. The idea of walking past the corpse terrified her so much that she contemplated wetting the bed. She decided against it, and crept past the body.

Her family expected her to become a nun. She tried, but convent life wasn’t for her. Instead, she moved to New York City, much to the chagrin of her…

View original 333 more words

What do you see when you look around?

He sat on top of the world, dangling his legs over the edge, and surveyed the green lands far below that stretched to the horizon.  Though he felt no fear with his feet hung thousands of feet above the precipice, his pulse quickened all the same because his mind raced with the future possibilities the land represented.  He could lumber it.  He could till it.  He could graze it.  The healthy hue meant water and fertile soil and, with some willing hard work, a good life in the sun.  He laughed with delight, stretching his hands to the warming sun, while letting the air swirl around his kicking legs.

…..

He sat on top of a boulder, dangling his legs over the edge, and looked across the grass that stretched to the edge of the park.  Though he felt no fear with his feet mere inches above the ground, his pulse quickened all the same because his mind raced with the possibilities the park represented.  He could run it.  He could swing it.  He could slide it.  The lush hue meant healthy patches and soft soil and, with a spark of imagination, a good time in the sun.  He laughed with delight, stretching his hands to the warming sun, while letting the air swirl around his kicking legs.

…..

He stood next to a cornerstone, his tired legs bent at the knees, and looked across his property that stretched further than he could see.  Though he felt no fear with his feet solidly on the ground, his pulse quickened all the same with the memory of a good life given to the land.  He had worked it.  He had cared for it.  He had bled and sweat and cried into it.  The homestead was well run and self-sustaining, with a few key contributions here and there, and had grown beyond his control.  He laughed with delight, stretching his hands to the warming sun, while letting the air swirl around his aching legs.

Whatever it will be…

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You must write every single day of your life...

...You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.

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