“I’m going to set you free now.”
Dahlia’s violent green eyes narrowed alarmingly. “Don’t tease me like that.”
Sofia smiled softly. “I’m not joking. You’ve proved your faithfulness. I trust you, Dahlia. I’m going to release you from the spell that binds you to me.”
The creature uncoiled and swiftly crossed the room. It kept its eyes level with Sofia and asked, “Are you sure that’s wise?”
Sofia ignored the hint of laughter. She had decided months ago that it wasn’t important. It was just part of Dahlia’s personality and didn’t mean anything good or anything bad.
Answering Dahlia, she said, “We’ve worked together for more than a year now and you have helped me achieve more than I imagined was possible. With your help I have learned so much more about our worlds than I would have if I could live for several lifetimes.”
“Do you know why I chose this form?”
“I do, yes.” While not entirely certain, Sofia had a guess she believed to be correct. In the moment between worlds, Dahlia could have chosen to be a falcon, which might have made escape easier, or it could have chosen to be a bull, which would have given it ample strength to either fight of flee if it chose, but it chose to be a snake. In their time together, Sofia had come to the conclusion that Dahlia chose the form of a snake because it was the most frightening and arguably the most lethal.
“And you aren’t worried about what’s going to happen when you set me free?”
“I trust you,” Sofia repeated.
“Then do it.” For the first time, Dahlia’s words weren’t a whisper. Her words came out as a resounding demand, a shout that filled the room with slithering echoes.
Sofia closed her eyes, gathering the energy she needed for the spell and focusing on the words. Then, opening her eyes, with a flick of her wrist she indicated that Dahlia needed to move into position, over a rune that had begun to pulse with an orange light.
Dahlia moved quickly. Its eyes glittering in the strange light coming up from beneath it. Its jaws lifted in what could only be described as a smile.
“We’ve fought. We’ve learned. We’ve grown together. And now, Dahlia, it is time for you to be free.”
Sofia spoke the words to the spell in a ringing voice, her hands moving in intricate patterns. The orange light stopped pulsing and grew in intensity. Sofia’s voice grew louder and louder until it became a scream. A sharp ripping sound drowned her out and then her scream ebbed away.
Panting, her hands on her knees, she looked up to watch as Dahlia slid away from the rune, now just a smudge of dull chalk on the floor. This was the moment of truth. The creature was free of her control and could do as it pleased. Dahlia’s tongue tasted the air. Once. Twice.
Then it asked, “We’ve still got work to do?”
Sofia smiled broadly, “We’ve only just begun.”