The dragon’s laugh echoed in her memory, a swirl of pain and beauty, and none of her normal concentration tricks would dislodge it so she could get to work. Finally giving it up as a lost cause she retired from her study to seek respite in her chambers in the form of sleep. Even then she couldn’t break free from the laugh as the words to the spells she had been studying swam in front of her vision, she reached for them but they continued to elude her grasp and the sinister chortle of the beast raged behind it all.
It had warned her before they began that the spells might be beyond her and she ran the risk of losing her mind if she couldn’t control the magic. She had known the risks, but had remained confident in her abilities while rationalizing that the potential gain of knowledge and power was worth the worst outcome of the potential risks.
Tossing and turning, tangled in her sheets, sweat dripping from her brow and leaking from her pores to puddle under her knees, elbows, and neck, the sorceress regretted nothing. She could feel the madness edging closer to wrap its arms around her mind in a loving embrace with each passing hour she went without sleep, and she regretted nothing. The painful bellowing laughter grew in intensity each new day that dawned where she hadn’t slept, and hadn’t yet mastered any of the spells, and, still, she regretted nothing.
Heaving herself from the bed, the sheets falling to the smooth, cold floor, the sorceress walked down the hall to the study and she bent over the desk to gaze at the sprawled spell she had been studying. The beast had entered her mind, with her permission though they both knew it had the power to have done so even if she hadn’t allowed it, and used her hand to quickly scrawl a half-dozen spells upon scraps of parchment she carried within one of ever-present pouches of spell components and other odds and ends. Then the dragon had begun laughing, a moment before leaving her mind and sending her on her way to study the ancient magic. Days had passed since then, and she had yet to conquer a single spell.
The laugh distracted her and the words swirled on the page. In her exhaustion she let emotion take control and anger coursed through her. She cursed herself for lacking the discipline to focus. She cursed the dragon for thinking so little of her to mock her with its laugh. She cursed the laugh itself, and the rage sparked the fire within her. The laugh subsided and the words stilled.
The sorceress spoke them without thinking, without hesitation, for she knew she had the power to wield the spell in that moment. A dull pain tugged at her consciousness as the magic took its toll on her, but compared to the relief she felt at finally being free of the dragon’s laugh, she barely noticed the cost of the spell, and when the black doorway opened on the other side of the room she cackled in triumph.
The darkness shifted and a segment pulled free from the doorway to hover between her and the portal she had opened. It was the darkest black she had ever seen. It was the embodiment of plaguing fears on a starless night. It was a demon, bound to her, and ready to obey her commands or it would have devoured her the moment it came through to her plane.