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Chapter Fifteen

"… Far, far away,

high up in the Bion mountains,

near the town of Uision, in Chail,

three mages of infinite strength wove a web around Lake Eomrra;

and one apprentice of the third-level

prepared herself for death …"

—The Pasegean Scrolls

"Elanora?"

She turned and saw Kernai standing in her doorway. He smiled weakly at her, then spoke again. "It’s nearly sunset."

"I know," she sighed. He opened his mouth to speak again, but she silenced him with her words. "And I still want to do it."

Kernai chuckled softly. "You’re a brave girl, Elanora. I just hope that this works … you shouldn’t die needlessly."

Elanora smiled nervously. "It will work, Kernai. Today is the seventh day of the New Year, and thus the best day to go about such things. Seven is the number of magic, as you well know, Kernai," she said, pointing to the seven-pointed star which he wore around his neck.

"Unfortunately too many people in these times think of it to be only the sign of Keori, when our magic existed even before the creation of the provinces." He slammed his fist against the door frame. "I just wish that you didn’t have to go through with this, Elanora. I am sure that we could have found a suitable replacement …"

Elanora sighed. "Kernai, it is my duty. I feel guilty for the deaths of the Penwhite’s, and I swore to myself and to Keori that I would destroy Sidhe and her dark magic!"

"All the more reason for you not to sacrifice yourself! He shall being expecting your sacrifice, which might leave him with a chance to save her from the incantation!"

"Kernai, Keori hears all, sees all and knows all. He does not need me to tell him anything." Elanora turned away and tried to hide the tears which were glistening in her eyes. All the same, I don’t want to die … being a martyr isn’t exactly the most rewarding profession.

She felt a small flask being pressed into her hand. "To calm your nerves," Kernai whispered, and as he heard Elanora’s soft thankyous as he left her room and returned to the common room of the inn, he wondered exactly what that flask had held, and if lying to Elanora about his magical and religious orientations would eventually lead to his doom.

 

After she had drunk Kernai’s gift, Elanora had felt slightly woozy. Well, I guess that’s the desired effect, she thought as she set the flask down on her bedside table and walked to her door. She turned back and closed her eyes, willing herself to open the door and walk to the lake.

A knock on her door startled her, and she spun around quickly to open it. There Taliia stood, a resolute look on her weathered face. "It’s time, Elanora. Are you ready?" She was brisk in her manner, but Elanora knew that beneath her rough exterior that Taliia Hyren had a golden heart.

"Yes, I am." Elanora finally felt resolved to her cause, and all the butterflies that had been dwelling in her stomach vanished. Her head still felt heavy as Taliia led her down the stairs of the inn and out the door with a hurried farewell to the innkeepers.

Uision was a small village in southern Chail, high in the Bions, whose main income was attracting mages to Lake Eomrra, which had long been known for it’s magical properties. Eomrra water was a well-used component in many elixirs and potions exported from Chail and Tusheba. Thousands of mages from all over Arsinuae travelled there each year, so there were a great many inns in Uision. However, since it was so close to the New Year and most of eastern Arsinuae was covered in a thick layer of snow, save the mountainous areas, travel was warned against and the four mages were the only visitors to Uision currently.

Taliia and Elanora walked down the dirt track that led to the lake, which was sparkling in the soft pink hues of sunset in the mountains. Elanora couldn’t help but smile at the beauty of this place around, so she closed her eyes for a moment and tried to imprint the perfect picture into her mind. Not that I’ll have time to remember it, she thought with a touch of bitterness before berating herself for it. This was your decision, El—the council of mages in Zarenn warned you against making the sacrifice yourself. You can’t blame anyone but you for this situation.

Elanora knew that the voice inside her head was right. It had been her decision, and now she just had to live—and die—with it. She held her head proudly as she continued her descent to the lake, Taliia leaving her midway to resume her position atop a large outcropping of rocks to the left. As she peered across the large lake, she could just make out Kernai’s silhouette in the distance, sitting crosslegged on the sand. Iopry, the only one of the three she had never really gotten to know, was standing with his arms outstretched to her left, muttering under his breath. He was the most powerful of them all, and the oldest—he was a 9th grade mage, but Elanora assumed that he had been a late starter to magical studies, since with his wrinkled skin and dull eyes he looked to be around seventy, if not older. As she stared his eyes flickered open and he glared at her, pointing to the horizon before her, and Elanora realised that she needed to concentrate on the task at hand.

As the sun began to sink behind the mountain in the distance, the second tallest mountain in all Arsinuae, Tyrioa, second only to Furyew in Sonaro, Elanora took a deep breath and stepped into the icy lake.

She nearly squealed from the temperature—the water was freezing!—but she kept her composure and she went deeper, until her legs were numb and she could no longer feel the bottom. Elanora began to move her arms slowly, swimming until she was directly between Iopry and Taliia, and Kernai’s silhouette was straight ahead of her. She stopped and kept herself afloat by moving her arms just underneath the surface of the water and kicking her legs out beneath her. She shivered, and hoped that she wouldn’t have to wait long in the freezing lake.

She kept her gaze concentrated on the sun, of which only a small portion was left to descend behind Tyrioa. Her head was beginning to ache, which she suspected was also from the contents of Kernai’s flask, not just the temperature of the water.

A strange blue glow came over the lake mere seconds before the sun disappeared from view, and Elanora felt thankful that the mages had completed their spell, and that the magical web would shield her from Keori’s dark magic.

A chill filled the air and the husky tones of twilight overcame the water. Elanora knew that it was time. She lifted her hands to the sky and touched the web of magic that surrounded her.

"Magical forces around me ignite!

Passion and fire and heresy light!

Send your flames towards Sidhe’s bower;

With your inferno of virtue,

Destroy her dark power!"

In the swirling blue mist that had appeared above Elanora, a voice sprung forth. "Patron of the magical arts, your own meek powers are not enough to perform such a deed. With what am I to destroy her with?"

Elanora smiled at the invisible voice, the voice of all magic, the being without form that had created every class of magic … and whispered softly: "Take my life-force instead. Sidhe must be destroyed."

With her words, the mist sent out a small tendril, which attached itself to her chest and began to suck away her life. However, before the transition could be completed, Kernai broke away from the web, pointed towards Elanora, and cried out:

"Destroy us both,

Her and me;

So that saved,

We both shall be!"

Kernai had just cast the spell which would destroy both himself and another—the spell which had been performed that day over forty years ago … the day which Keori had become immortal. The flask which Elanora had drunk only a short while ago had not contained liquor—instead, it had contained the same invincibility elixir Keori had drunk all those years ago. Kernai had been true to his master’s wishes.

Keori had attained Elanora.

 

Taliia screamed as she held on unwillingly to the magical web which was wrapped around Elanora’s body. Kernai’s incantation had killed her, and Taliia realised that Elanora was now going through some kind of mental change—she’s becoming immortal! her mind screeched, and she realised why she was in such physical pain. She’s still attached to the web, so she’s draining us of our magical powers! She struggled to see across to the other side of the lake, and she caught a glimpse of Iopry writhing in the dust opposite her. He’ll be at it longer than I am—I’m only a 6th level.

The Voice seemed to be caught up in Elanora’s change as well. However, it managed to struggle free and headed for the sky, and Taliia stared after it until it vanished into oblivion, wondering if she would ever hear or see it again, since only those with magical powers could ever hear the Voice and know what it was that spoke to them.

Pain wracked her frail body once more, and Taliia felt weaker than ever before. The world around her seemed to fade from sight, until all she could see was her face reflected … so many faces, through so many years.

So many memories … and, then, simply darkness.

 

Sidhe sat complacently at her stone table, staring down upon Riann Sheperd, knowing that he was too much of a coward to disobey her, and feeling slightly bored by the prospect of having to stare at him for years to come. Maybe I can give him some sort of disease …she thought mischievously, so that we can all get on with our lives. I’d have to make it a quick disease, though, and everyone knows that they’re no fun. Not enough suffering.

Her thoughts were interrupted by an unusual sound which was getting louder and louder. "Strange," she thought aloud, "we don’t tend to get too much traffic in between dimensions." She laughed at her joke, and was thrown backwards as a large blue object hurtled through the floor of her cave. Sidhe inched backwards until she found herself up against the cave wall. "Who …?"

The blue mist spoke. "I am known to those of magic as the Voice, the one who created all in the magical world. I have been sent to dispose of your … dark powers."

Sidhe was alarmed. "The-the Voice?" she dropped to the floor in homage. "Why h-have you come t-to destroy my p-powers?"

"You have joined with Keori, master of all evil. You have used your magic to destroy the lives of others, to manipulate and deceive, all in the name of revenge and of …" the Voice gave a sound of disgust, "love. You know nothing of love, since all you promote is hatred and malevolence. A woman has given part of her life-force simply to save Arsinuae from you. I will not deny her wish. Goodbye, Sidhe Pasege—although your name might live on in the minds of thousands, it shall not be for your love, or your generosity that they will remember their monarch. They will only remember your actions after death towards those who had loved you the most. Elanora’s decision to destroy you was a wise one."

Sidhe shrieked as the world around her turned white with flame, and as her soul was destroyed … forever.

 

Copyright 2000 M. Lees

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