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Chapter Nineteen

"… Elanora pondered the situation carefully,

knowing that her time to resolve it was short.

The townspeople needed to be influenced,

But in a way which might be understood by them.

So, she took a wild leap and decided it for them,

Changing the history of Arsinuae forever …"

—The Pasegean Scrolls

Samandia was sitting in the middle of a large field, snow falling down around her. As she peered through the white haze, she saw a small boy building a snow castle on the ground.

She approached him cautiously, but as she reached his side he looked up at her, a soft smile upon his face. "Hullo," he said.

She smiled back at him. "Hello." She looked down at his castle. "Is this your castle?"

He grinned at her. "Yup. All mine."

"And are you the king?"

He shook his head solemnly. "No … I’m the prince. Prince Jareth of Alentio." As he said this, a small crown appeared atop his brown-haired head.

"Really?" she questioned him. "I didn’t know there was a King in Alentio."

He frowned at her. "Well, then, I dunno. But my daddy’s dead—he was the king."

Samandia was shocked. "What about your mummy?"

Jareth paused for a moment, his deep blue eyes thoughtful. "Nope, mummy’s dead too. But I’m not alone."

The snow cleared slightly to show two girls running around, pelting snowballs at each other. Samandia knelt down beside Jareth. "Are they your sisters?"

Jareth shook his head. Then he nodded it. "She’s my sister," he pointed to the older looking one, who had the same brown hair and soulful blue eyes as his. As Samandia stared at her, she thought she saw her eyes flash red for a moment, but she disregarded it as a trick of the light. Jareth pointed towards the other, with pretty pale-gold hair and green eyes. "And she’s my queen," he said proudly, his eyes twinkling in the light.

Samandia laughed. "I thought you said there was no queen!"

He laughed too, and shook his head. "Oh, no … she’s not yet. But she will be one day … I hope so, anyway." He bent forward to shape a turret for his castle and his crown slipped off his head and fell into the snow.

"Here, let me get that for you." Samandia retrieved the crown, and noticed that there was a small inscription on the inside. ‘To my darling son, Jarrad—I know in my heart you shall be the greatest ruler this land has ever known’. The name at the end had been worn away, but something in the loving message didn’t feel right. Samandia looked up to hand the crown back to the little boy, but he had disappeared.

Samandia stood upright and looked around herself, searching for the boy. The snow seemed to have stopped, but Jareth was nowhere to be seen. Samandia began to walk through the snow-covered field, but she gasped as she saw a tinge of scarlet in the snow.

Jareth’s sister lay nearby, her beautiful face in a state of complete relaxation, as if an enormous load had been removed from her shoulders. A gaping wound in her stomach was the cause of the crimson snow, but Samandia felt no sadness. This girl had felt only happiness in her death, and that made Samandia smile softly down at her.

She turned away from the body and a strange smell reached her nostrils. She looked around at the snow, and saw smoke rising from underneath it, but she could see no fire.

It was only then that the horrifying shriek pierced her ears, and she awoke from her deep sleep.


Samandia struggled to sit up in her bed, due to her bound hands, and found that the only way for her to arise was to roll herself off the bed and try to stand herself up as she did so. She barely managed it, then she looked out her window. The street below was awash with smoke, and Samandia struggled to get herself down the stairs and to the door.

When she was there, she banged on the door, begging the sentry to open in for her. He yelled back his refusal to her, but Samandia was stubborn and never took no as an answer. She went into the kitchen and found one of her mother’s cooking knifes on the table. She managed to manipulate it with her fingers and sliced through the thick ropes in a few minutes. She raced back to the door, but this time when she demanded it to be opened, she found no one there and the door unlocked.

Grasping the handle and turning it, she emerged from her house into the smoky street outside. Only then did she see the source of the smoke.

The two houses on the opposite side of the street were being burnt from the ground up. And Samandia, as she stared into the second storey windows of them, saw why. Tierna and Catalina both stood at their bedroom windows, banging on them, begging for mercy. A large crowd was gathered below them, staring up at their ashen faces in morbid fascination.

Catalina noticed Samandia’s presence first. She smiled down at her friend, and a lone tear streaked her blackened face. She pulled her amulet from underneath her blouse and pulled it out, holding it up for Samandia to see the sapphire gleam in the firelight. Sidhe’s words ran through her head, water can mould the world and the view just with its movements, and Catalina knew that she had nothing to fear from death. As she began to slip away into unconsciousness, she thought that while her life had been short, she would not have traded her time with the coven for anything else in all of Arsinuae.

As Catalina disappeared from view, Samandia pursed her lips and tried not to cry, so that Tierna would not realise that Catalina was gone. Tierna simply grinned weakly at Samandia, before she also pulled out her amulet and held it up so that Samandia might see the shimmer of the blood-red stone in the fading sunlight. She remembered Sidhe’s words from that first day in the forest—it seemed so long ago now. So many things had happened, and now she was breathing her last breaths—breaths which would also be her death. Serve me like the fire serves man, and I promise that your flame will never be vanquished. Tierna now could realise what Sidhe had meant—although she might never see the sun rise again over the mountains in the north, she would live on in the hearts of Llyne and Samandia, and the tales which she people of Fernan would tell their children of the witches of Sidhe.

She was ready now. Samandia smiled up at her, tears flowing down her face, and Tierna knew that no matter what, she would always be one of Sidhe’s coven … and, as the world went black around her, she was glad to have had her friends till the very end.

A cloud of smoke had concealed Tierna’s window for a moment, so Samandia had not seen her fall, but as soon as it had cleared and she heard the townsfolk cheer she knew that all her friends were dead to her … even if one of them was still living.

She saw the villagers now turn towards her. She wondered what her fate would be … would they burn her too? Or merely hang her in the Fernan square?

As they approached her, she felt all her fear dissipate from her body. She stood before them, courageously standing tall and proud. Some of them looked upon her with disdain, but most of them seemed disinterested in her fate.

Riann Sheperd forced his way to the front of the crowd, along with the mayor and her mother. She wondered about the whereabouts of her father, but this thought was soon interrupted by Riann’s voice.

"We have done our duty to ourselves and for our descendants. We have destroyed all but one of your coven."

Samandia laughed bitterly. "You have killed your own daughter, Mr. Sheperd. And Mrs. Farray, wherever she might be, has allowed you to kill her daughter and burn her house to the ground. Where will she live, Mr. Sheperd? Where will you live? Where will my parents live when I suffer the same fate?"

"I wouldn’t expect you to understand, seeing as you are one of them, not one of us." Then a thought occurred to him. "Ah, it seems to be right for you to murder your own sister in nothing but the name of jealousy, but when we sacrifice our daughter’s for the good of the people you find it wrong!"

"What about your houses? Your possessions? Your … lives?"

They stared back at Samandia, their faces devoid of expression. Riann Sheperd spoke, his voice low and lifeless. "It was what needed to be done, Samandia. All forms of witchcraft go against the basic principle of our lives—life is suffering, and shortcuts merely cheat our true potential."

Her mother, Angelyn, spoke up. "The council found you innocent, Samandia … but only because they believe that you are insane. People told them of how you spoke to yourself in different voices—different personalities, like you were pretending to be more than one person."

She stared into her mother’s hazel eyes; the same eyes that had stared dully up at her from the floor below her on that fateful night. "So what shall become of me, mother? Am I to be locked up inside a house and forgotten about? I would rather you destroy me for my sins so that I never have to see their eyes again, or hear their voices echoing inside my head!"

The townspeople only stared blankly, and they began to walk towards her. Samandia tried to find a way past them, a way back to her home—there, she might also find a knife to slit her wrists and get it over and done with. She searched for a friendly face in the crowd but found none. Even Camryn Montage, who had been one of her dearest friends looked down upon her with contempt. But there was no way past them, and they pushed her down the streets and lanes of Fernan until they reached the gates of the village.

Her mother handed her a white linen rose, a sign of farewell forever. "Goodbye, Samandia. I only hope that in time I shall be able to forgive you for the horrible crimes you have committed."

Fresh tears sprung to Samandia’s chocolate-brown eyes and she wept as they closed the large wooden doors behind her, and even though she banged on them for hours, and cried for them to let her in until her voice was hoarse, the hardwood doors stayed shut.

She wiped her wet cheeks with her filthy sleeve and turned to the road in front of her. Even though the walls of Fernan did not extend for the entire length of the city, she knew that it didn’t matter. Closing the gates on her had been more symbolic than literal, and she knew that she could never return.

As she walked down the long, muddy road, she could only wonder where it led to. But she felt a sense of pride in her heart as she left her hometown behind her and remembered what she had been dreaming before she had smelt the smoke and watched the last of the coven die. Maybe Sidhe has given me my destiny, she thought, maybe my destiny all along was to help others, and not to gain fame and fortune for myself. She thought of the boy in her dream, who wore a crown on his head but was known to her as Jareth—which was definitely not a name of royalty!—and the two girls; one with brown hair, the other with blonde—both were important to the future of Arsinuae, she knew that in her heart.

Samandia felt that more would be revealed to her as she went on, and that one day she would meet her ‘Jareth’—but for now, she needed to live again.

But, as she heard her sister’s tinkling laugh resonate inside her head, getting louder and louder before Banudi’s joined it, huskier and more masculine, and she closed her eyes at the sound … until she heard another laugh join in. This one was not like the others: it laughed because it had avenged the misfortunes of its pitiful existence, and it had beaten everyone. It cackled and reverberated, and Samandia’s head began to ache from the sound. She fell to the ground, clutching her head in her hands, then screamed to the sky above her: "I can still hear you laughing, Sidhe! Evil may have won this round but I know for certain that I won’t be playing on your side next time … don’t forget that, Sidhe … I will find a way to save the souls of those who even now, unborn, you have destroyed their lives. Because, be sure of this, I shall never forget YOU!"

And with this thought in her mind, and this feeling in her heart, Samandia went to face her fate … no matter what it might contain.


The End

Copyright 2000 M. Lees

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