one down

She cowered and trembled in the darkness, rain lashing against her, soaking her robes and sending rivulets of drops running down her face.  Her drenched hair, loosed from its normal jeweled bind in her flight, clung in patches to her cheeks, forming channels for the water.  Her knees sank into the pooling mud.  The wind whipped branches snatched at her unprotected shoulders and back.  In her haste to flee to safety she had neglected to invoke any of the spells that would have saved her from the indignity of the weather.

The lightning highlighted her disheveled state and the thunder rolled in peals of laughter.

The panic in her eyes was replaced with rage as she watched her tower burn.  The orange flames, tinted with nuances of purple and green as her stores of magical components tasted death, reached through the windows to defy the fury of the storm.  The rain would win in the end, but that wouldn’t, that couldn’t, keep the fire from showing its defiance.

Some of the magical tomes would protect themselves from the fire and looters and others would be lost forever.  She could replace the stores of ingredients.  She could recreate her trove of potions.  She could rebuild the tower.  But, she could not salvage the ancient texts she had been studying from, the histories and scrolls that she counted as her most prized possession.

Her ex-apprentice had started laughing, and she’d felt, as much as sensed, the hands reaching for her from the darkness behind her and she had panicked, whisking herself along the corridors of magic without thinking about what she was doing.  She cursed herself as a fool.  She should have trusted her protective enchantments.  She should have trusted her superior knowledge of the craft and met her cowardly enemies directly.  Instead, she had shown herself a coward as well.

“I’m a coward and a fool.”

The words, though swallowed immediately by the force of the rain and wind, rang clearly in her head for a long moment.  She had uttered them before.  They had been her truth before.

Her fists clenched, and she pushed away from the sodden earth.  “Never again,” her whispered words rose to rival the thundering electricity.  “Never again will I act so.  Never again will I allow myself to cower in response to the threats and posturing of bullies.”

She spoke the arcane words that distanced her from the weather’s onslaught and brought peace to her mind and soul.  The magic flowed within her, giving her balance and renewing her strength and purpose.  The sorceress closed her eyes and let the enchantment’s embrace envelop her.

When she opened her eyes and cast them back to her tower, they shown with equal parts rage and clarity of thought.  The next spell encased the flames in a vacuum, silencing their threat immediately.  Then she stepped through space and appeared instantly back in her study.  The chair that had held her captive was empty.  The shadows, however, happily divulged the secrets they had witnessed, and she smiled as she planned her next moves.

The sorceress had hunted bullies before and she knew just what to do.

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