Lightning splashed in the distance, too far away for the thunder to roll against them, but close enough for the dazzling strike to sparkle in her eyes. She leaned in close, allowing the returned darkness around her to press in and envelop her captive, her eyes offering the only illumination in the room, and whispered, “You will know the true meaning of pain before I’m done with you.”
The sorceress snapped her fingers and the candles in the room flared to magical life. The flames rose unnaturally high and sent twisted shadows crashing around the room. They melded with the darkness in the corners and advanced in threatening chaotic battalions, rushing, spiking, withdrawing, devouring. She had finally caught her betrayer and she wasn’t holding back anything from her arsenal of fear and power in exacting her revenge.
“Stop me if this sounds familiar… First you are going to lose your hands at the wrists and your feet at the ankles. Then you’ll lose your eyes and nose. Then I’ll snap the major tendons in your legs. I’ll carve my justice from your flesh with searing spells. When your body gives out and you lose consciousness I will haunt your dreams. You will beg for death in your sleep and it will not be granted.”
A stiff wind ran through the open window, heralding the arrival of a storm. The next time lightning danced in the heavens the thunder would shake the foundations of her fortress. Rain began to drip against the sill. The droplets splashed inward, pooled in tiny puddles on the dark stones, and ran along the edge to fall to the floor. The sorceress, normally mindful of maintaining a clean and orderly study, hardly noticed the disruption at all. Her former apprentice, caught in an enchanted cell that neutralized his ability to use magic, received the full force of her attention.
“How arrogant of you… How foolish… To think you could betray me, after I took you in and helped you reach higher levels of sorcery than you ever could have without me, and to not know that I would catch you? I’m the greatest magician to walk this world, and many others, in over a century. The ancient trees whisper their secrets to me. Breezes bring me news from across the lands. The stars show me the future.” She spoke a single guttural word, a curse from times long forgotten, and her right hand shifted from flesh to a single gleaming blade, honed to a fine point. “How could you possibly believe that you could get the better of me?”
She pressed her blade-hand through the exterior spell fabric keeping the betrayer immobilized, and smiled at the feeling of magic caressing her arm. She smiled wider as a small trickle of blood began to ooze down his cheek below the point she had pierced his flesh. Her eyes followed the trail down, hoping to watch a droplet fall from his chin.
Her expression of mirth faltered, slightly, however, as she saw the man returning the smile. Her eyes darted upward and finally noticed the lack of fear in his. Something was terribly wrong, and she quickly took a step back, retrieving her hand and cancelling the spell that had turned it into a weapon.
“Why aren’t you afraid?” The sorceress shouted the question, outraged that her moment of revenge was being stolen from her.
Her former apprentice widened his smile and began an low chuckle, that was immediately lost in the crash and roll of driving thunder.