Freedom of Stars

Freedom of Stars

A Story by R. Schilling

Lavie, a sorceress wrapped in a tiny package, runs on into the night. The gnome flees her pursuers, but also her own fears. How bound she seems, when compared to the stars.


Freedom of Stars

Light danced in the rippling lake as the sun set against it's horizon. Slowly the ball of fiery light sank below the tides, granting the world around it a cool breeze and a calm night of rest.

Sitting on a log beside the trail she had chosen, a small figure sat and glared stubbornly out at the last licks of light the day would provide. The moon would not show this night, she knew. Black would be the path she traveled, and she hoped, this might throw off her pursuer.

The gnome smiled then, flicking her fingers and chanting quietly under her breath the words “bauble brightous” in the tongue of the dragons. Soothing was the growl as it vibrated in her throat, and the light that appeared below her feet and flickered about did her spirit good. The purple sash of her traveler's gear matched the color of the lights.

The sun vanished, and the gnome, small even for one of her own people, with short and frazzled beige hair, followed it's example, running down the path. Unlike her own, the path her hunter would be dark and ever unclear this night.

Lavie would surely escape now, as she always did.

Lavie collapsed in her bed at the first inn she came across when she entered town in the shimmering gloom of sunrise. Her disguise had fallen apart in her flight from the other gnomes of her homeland, those who would capture and cage her for crimes she didn't commit.

The Innkeeper burst into laughter at the sight of the mangled disguise, with Lavie's stoic mustache hanging half off her upper lip. The language of coin put a sock in his mouth, and bought the gnome a room for the next day. She'd need it, still huffing and heaving from her night of running.

The stiflingly short gnome rolled over further onto the bed, breathing heavily. “That's the last time!” she pronounced with finality between breaths. She reached up and grabbed the fluff that had so matched her beige hair. She could feel a scab forming from the branch that had waxed her lip on one half of her upper lip.

“Begone, you pathetic excuse for facial fuzz!” she growled, arching her back. With solid yank, the horse hair mustache came free before Lavie could think about losing her nerve. She only hoped that her yelp of pain wouldn't be heard by fellow lodgers. It wouldn't make her sound tough.

Deep within the gnome's pocket, a form uncoiled and poked it's nose out of the fabrics of Lavie's traveling outfit. A forked tongue tasted the air dutifully.

“I'm fine, Slithers!” she whispered to her long time friend and companions since she was somehow even smaller than now. Thinking on it, he had been Lavie's only friend since she parted ways with her homeland.

The green stripped viper came to rest upon the gnome's still bound chest, looking with one eye at it's friend's exasperated expression. She could only look back guiltily.

“You know what I meant,” Lavie whispered more to herself than to Slithers. She had been getting to know some people in the town she had fled, a place by the name of Blundershire. When scouts from the Underburrow caught up with her, she had no choice but to abandon the life she had started building up.

She'd even had a fine job for herself, entertaining here and there with her powers of illusion and lending out her magic to those who would pay for a mage's assistance. Lavie like to call it having a sell-spell.

Yellow eyes glistened over with fluid as the gnome began to feel the weariness in her mind. She'd never be free of this burden. She'd never escape her past. Slithers rubbed against her cheek and wrapped himself around her shoulder, trying his best to comfort his dearest friend and master.

Lavie didn't even change her outfit into her pajamas, though it would have taken little effort with the spell infused garbs she wore. The little gnome slept with tosses and turns, never truly finding comfort. Her dreams were invaded by nightmares of a man she knew would kill her if he got the chance. He hated her more than anything in the world.

Abathon Broach, the king of Underburrow, wouldn't rest until her head was his personal trophy.

On the outskirts of town, near the setting of the sun, a wagon rolled across the loose gravel of the main road. Out and about, the sorceress took notice but gave it little worry. She'd seen her enemies before, and such a wagon was not their mode of transport. This one was far too heavy with supplies and trading goods. Lavie took more comfort even when she heard the bah of a sheep.

She waltzed down the street, eying shops and stands as she passed by. Her purple sash and her wide, billowy sleeves were pushed back in the light fall breeze. She inhaled as she felt it pass through the shock of beige hair upon her head as she enjoyed the shifting season. She smiled lightly as she checked a merchant's wears.

Had she been more alert, Lavie might have seen the trap from the alley coming. As she turned the corner, a thick branch of wood shaped into a finely carved club came down over her head. Lavie didn't even feel the pain, she was unconscious before she even fell forward.

“The message is off, let us continue onward. We've a long trip before us,” a voice whispered hastily beyond the whine of tinnitus. Throbbing behind her eyes, Lavie felt the all too familiar ache of a vast migraine. She'd only ever felt one this bad after a night of over drinking with some crazy travelers she'd met once before. Slowly, she tried to open her eyes, only to have them stung by the immense light shining down on her. She groaned in groggy pain.

The gnome tried to swear to herself, but found her mouth held open by a ball of slime. She could feel the cloth tied to the back of her neck that held the gag that filled her mouth tightly in place. She bit down on the thing in frustration. It wouldn't give in the slightest.

Lavie felt her head clear as her eyes adjusted to the light. She blinked them open only to find blackness all about her but for the barred window set into a think metal door. The bright light came down to her through the window alone. The prison had no other openings in it's frame work of smooth metal.

Frantically, she tried to pull herself to her feet. She fell when her hand wouldn't reach to her side to support her weight. Chains jingled as Lavie felt the cold manacles holding her arms behind her back. She felt her eyes water as she felt the gravity of her predicament.

How could she have been so needlessly reckless?

As the small wagon, with cargo loaded up and secured, began away in the morning light, Lavie's screams echoed weakly past her gag.

Lavie had to stand on the tips of her toes to really see out of her prison. The cage was built by gnomes with the idea of gnomes as prisoners, but she was just a bit shorter than average.

Her height had little to do with her sorrow. She stared out into the world with despair in her heart. The trail before the wagon twisted and turned beyond her cage. Sitting before her were her captures, and with pent up anger, she recognized one of the them. He was of her own clan, the Arclore. To this day they despised Lavie for her lack of commitment, and she hated them right back.

She only hung onto her name due to its familiarity to her. Though she couldn't speak in the slightest, her fiery yellow eyes conveyed all they needed to between herself and the timid Arclore.

He looked away from her nervously, almost trying to hide himself in his coat to escape her glare. “A-are you sure she can't use her freaky magic with that gag on?” he stammered to his companion.

“Course' she can't, Starne. Don't be out n' out silly here,” he grumbled, spurring on the horse so it wouldn't decide to graze in the fields they passed. “Her mummblin' nonsense's what brings the gods of madness to our world.”

Without thinking, the young gnome tried to mouth her chants in the guttural language. She managed little more than to draw coppery blood from her tongue. Her hands, though, while bound together behind her back, still were able to wiggle, for the most part, successfully. She felt power build little by little, but never did it reach crescendo. Her wrists stung where the manacles dug into her flesh.

The gnome driving the carriage let out a belly laugh. Lavie's face turned bright pink with helpless anger and embarrassment, and her vision glared over. She plopped down on the floor in front of the door, her whole body shaking.

Time passed slowly for the the captured woman. She could feel her hunger building as the carriage sent shudders through her metal prison. What's worse, the motion made her feel sick, her stomach churning empty, but for acid. She shut her eyes tightly.

“Would you level with me a little,” Lavie heard Starn saying to his more burly mate outside.

“Reckon' I can't stop ya' blabin my ear off regardless,” she could barely hear him mumble back. Starn must have shifted a bit, Lavie guessed, because he said nothing for several moments. Her attention wavered by the time he did speak again.

“Its just got me stumped is all. We get a carrier back within a day and are told to expect King Abathon to meet us somewhere on the road to the Underburrow,” he said, not evening seeming to have noticed the gruff gnome's annoyance. “Why would he do that, Quibe?”

Lavie was on her toes again with anticipation. She looked down at the pair, staring much more intently at Quibe than Starn. As though sensing her gaze, he turned and looked her directly in the eyes, seeming to ignore Starn altogether.

When he spoke, it was plainly to Lavie. “I'd say it adds right up. She's gonna struggle, by my reckonin'!” An evil grin worked it's way to his face. “He'll want to be sure she's given justice personally, our fine king. Assassins are dangerous after all!”

The hate in Lavie's eyes burned intensely, and by the look in Quibe's pig of a face, he knew exactly what she thought. Sweat formed on his brow, but he stared right back, a wide grin on his gruff, hairy face. Starn shifted uncomfortably and tried only to be unnoticed.

Lavie, ironically, took notice.

A day passed by with Lavie doing no more than staring at the sky above through the little window in her prison. The dread she felt at the thought of never being able to walk freely under that blue sky filled her hours at a slow and painful pace.

She was sad, hungry and lonely. She missed most the feeling of closeness to her companion and familiar, Slithers. She'd not gone without the snake since they'd met, and her only friend was now stuck in some sack somewhere on the carriage. She could still feel the bubbling life of her companion close by, though still separate from herself. She didn't know why Starn and Quibe kept her friend alive, for he would only be a nuisance to them in the end.

Lavie would ill question even the slightest bit of luck at this point.

She had tried to meditate to bring their connection closer together several times, but this cage she was in seemed to cut her off from even the more acute and important parts of her link to the viper.

Her stomach grumbled hungrily at her efforts instead. The prisoner was in really poor shape after only one day of imprisonment. She'd cut her left wrist open against the shackles, and dried blood caked her hand. It was especially itchy.

When the sun had reached the opposite horizon, darkening the sky to a deep orange, the cell door clicked and opened. Frantically, she sprung from her position on the ground toward the opening to the right, where she could see green grass beyond. She craved so badly to be free of her iron cage.

A fist sent her back to her rear, sprawling her legs in the air. “Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in one,” pronounced Quibe as he dropped a wooden bowl of brown slop on the ground. Stunned, Lavie couldn't even make another move on the door before Quibe closed it. “Eat up!” he cackled.

She sat up, her head spinning, and looked drearily toward the bowl. There was a small wooden strap protruding from the surface of the muck. Though her stomach craved food of any sort, the mere smell of the vile “meal” sickened her.

Lavie kicked the bowl, and it's contents, against the iron door, sending some out the barred window. She sat, facing the back wall of the cage, and screamed in frustration into her gag.

She wouldn't let herself anywhere near the slop, no matter how hungry she got.

Two more times the caravan stopped and settled down for the night, and twice more Lavie denied her prison meals. Her stomach ached worse than anything she could have imagined, but she wouldn't so much as touch the straw.

Lavie stared out at the clear sky, with all the sparkling stars. She felt her eyes water up as she remembered shared moments on a hillside, staring up at the same sky she looked at now through bars. It was with a prince that she shared those nights, whom she so closely thought of as a friend. She wondered now how the magic in that sky could have betrayed her so.

A fit of pain came over the gnome, as she pondered, her stomach screaming for substance. She'd been given water in her time, and drank it all in an effort to fill her stomach with anything at all. The bucket in the corner provided a restroom. Still, the aches came worse and worse, and she felt weaker and weaker.

The moon was high in the sky, and the ilk Lavie refused was fully dried and full of bugs. Unexpectedly, as Lavie lay on her side, her cell door opened for a second time. The prisoner was too weak to fight her way for the door, and lay where she was, hopeless. Another bowl clacked down on the floor, replacing the one that had been there. The door closed without a second's notice, with none of Quibe's taunting.

The warm, delightful smell of soup filled Lavie's nostrils. She sat up and stared at the bowl in surprise, wanting nothing more than to eat. Her eyes traced to the window, where, for just a moment, Starn looked down at her. He disappeared when her eyes met his.

Fire burned in Lavie's heart as she “ate” her meal of cold, yet delicious soup. She took it in slowly, letting food be introduced at a good pace to her stomach. She was thankful for the unlikely gift, and elated by its appearance alone.

Her eyes traced back to the window, and her eyes sparkled with the stars. There really is magic in everything, she thought. Everything and everyone. Kindness was like magic to those you offered it, and she accepted such magic thankfully. Starn never hurt her personally, she realized, and he never seemed to want this now.

All night, the sorceress went through her hand motions for every piece of magic she knew. Every manipulation of the forces around her she put into practice, even without her ability to channel the power with her words and incantations. Her wrists bled openly, but she cared not. Her blood's warmth only drove her onward, strengthening her will.

Frustration fell into cool, calm determination. Fire in her belly, Lavie regained a sprinkle of hope, hope which kindled into a massive flame in her heart.

She'd not forget the kindness Starn had shown her. He was always so quiet when their shared family had shouted their hatred for Lavie's acts of recklessness at clan meetings. It took till now to realize he felt bad for her, and not angry.

Magic really does have it's way with this world, she thought. The sorceress got no sleep that night.

Crying out in pain, Lavie fell to her knees and chin against the back wall of the cell. Even through the gag, she was able to make a whole lot of noise, emulating her sense of terror.

“Quibe!” Starn yelled from the tent beside the wagon. Steps sounded outside the door, and even while keys jingled outside, Lavie groaned in utter pain.

The door swung wide, and Starn, stunned by the sight of Lavie bleeding heavily through her gag, as though her tongue had been cut off, stared in. A pool of blood was forming where the prisoner's head met the ground, and it soaked into her hair and clothes. Lavie retched, eyes wide as she lost more blood still.

She couldn't hold herself up any longer, and collapsed into the pool of blood with several shutters and convulsions. Starn screamed in horror and ran in, coming to her side at his knees. The young Arclore shook visibly as his cousin bled out before him, and couldn't even summon the courage to reach out to the dying captive.

Lavie wretched violently, at the end of her rope. She made no sound at all, her breath gone from her lungs. Slowly, her quivers stilled, and the dread of her death came over Starn.

“How can this be?” he whispered, hugging his own knees and closing his eyes to escape the situation.

The door slammed shut, and the latch slipped into place with resounding clang. Startled from his complete shock, Starn jumped to his feet. To his side, only a small puddle of dried blood remained.

It didn't take Lavie long to find her sickle, though it did take her a moment to work it behind her back and slip the blade under the knot behind her head.

Starn's eyes widened at the sound of Lavie sighing, calmly, just outside the cage. “Now that is so much better!” Lavie came into view on the other side of the bars, and smiled widely at her cousin. The gag cut loose, she worked her jaw and felt the soreness ease up.

Starn quivered where he stood. “H-how?” he stammered, pushing himself as close to the opposite wall as he could.

Lavie whispered and he fell as the magic of her incantation came to life before him. He shook visibly, shying away from Lavie with his arms raised over his head. A small ball of cloth fell before him, having been levitated through the bars with invisible force. He looked down at it with horror.

“Now, now. You know a show is just ruined the moment you figure out the trick behind it!” Lavie positively giggled. “Though here's a tip; it involved magic!”

Starn swallowed a knot in his throat. Lavie's grin went down at that.

“Maybe you'd help me again, before your friend comes back. Where are the keys to these manacles you have me locked in? They itch.”

“Please don't hurt me!” he half screamed, voice cracking after the first syllable. “T-there are no keys. I don't know how you can get them off just, please, don't kill me!” he cried.

Lavie frowned openly at that, and the look on her face alone sent him ducking for cover. Her frown deepened further, saddened by the fear she'd inspired in Starn.

“Boy's right, you know!” a vile voice said behind Lavie. She turned to face Quibe with an open scowl. Held high in one hand was a club, ready to descend on a squirming ruck sack he kept closed on the ground with one foot.

“You vile piece of trash!” Lavie growled to herself. “Let him go, else you'll pay the consequences!” she threatened, her form tensing.

“Yer' in no position to be makin' demands!” Quibe retorted. An evil smile, one that often came to his face, grew wider. “Make the wrong move an' snakey ere' gets it!” Lavie's face scrunched up, anger exploding outward. “Bout' them shackles, then lass. See, you weren't gonna stand trial. Yeh' weren't gonna walk free ever again. Them shackles are cursed. They come off when you die!”

Lavie for once, had nothing to say. Her hands clenched into fists and she could feel herself shaking.

“Now, if ya' be a good gal and lay back down in yer coffin to die, then I will see to it that yer snake goes free someplace nice,” he offered, his smile unwavering. “Maybe.”

Lavie snapped. Her hands shot out behind her, instantly moving in motion with the making of the most sinister spell she knew. Quibe's club began it's decent from over his head, but instead found a new target. He fell over, his head busted and bleeding.

The sorceress wasn't done. In furry, she began a new spell. One inspired by the dread and dismay she'd felt while imprisoned. “Dismay embodied,” she said proudly in her draconic tongue, the growls fierce in each word.

Quibe screamed in terror and sent his club flying. He swatted away bats that weren't really there, felt bugs all over his body where there was only clothing. He squirmed and rolled over on his side, hugging his head close to his chest and crying in horror.

Starn made no sound, only wanting to be unnoticed. He hid in the corner of the cage, seeking shelter in darkness. Lavie didn't forget him, and before she jumped down from the wagon, she lifted the latch on the cage.

Lavie jumped down and worked the sack on the ground open. Thankful, Slithers hugged her arm and worked his way up to her neck. Quibe still cried on the ground. She looked down on him with no pity even had the passing thought to kick his ribs in before she left.

She stopped herself, looking back to the cage where Starn hid. Her frown did not disappear as she walked away. Maybe she really was as scary as Starn had made her out to be, she supposed.

Slither's weight on her shoulders gave her some comfort. He smelled her with his tongue happily.

“Missed you too, buddy,” she whispered to the viper as she carefully slipped into the woods, hoping to get away before the King himself came along this same path.

The golden-brown leaves crunched satisfyingly under Lavie's feet as she stepped carefully down the beaten forest path. She'd have to go far as quickly as she could if she hoped to outrun the pursuit she'd soon suffer.

In a clearing, the light of the full moon crept down through the flowing leaves and bowing branches. The gnome started a good, steady pace for one her size across the field when she found her legs slowing to a stop. Lavie's eyes fixated on the sky, so free of the problems of her life. She saw the twinkle of stars, floating freely in the deep distance, shining light on the darkness.

How the sorceress wished to be free. Even now, if she were to find a way to remove the wretched cuffs, she'd still be chased for the rest of her life. She'd never escape to the openness that the sky taunted of.

Such freedom had been foreign to Lavie all her sad little life. She clenched her fist and scrunched her brow in frustration at the thought.

“Slithers,” Lavie whispered with eyes glued to the sky. “Get ready. We're done running from our little princess.”

The viper licked the air in agreement.

Hands locked behind her back, Lavie had trouble casting her spells. Her motions hurt, drawing blood. Were it not for the enormous pool of energy she possessed, she might not be able to do anything at all with her magic. On her knees in the moonlit clearing, her eyes closed and rolling back into her head, and her head lolling back as she chanted, she was able to focus through the pain.

Luck, it seemed, was not on her side. Two forms, dark under the cover of the forest's reaching branches, approached from her back. Small crunches of twigs and leaves inhibited their quiet approach, sending out little alarms.

Lavie, entranced as she was in her divination, noticed not at all the warnings of her enemies.

One, obviously the leader given his sparkly jewelery and royal bearing, put out his hand to signal a pause to his ally. The robed figure conceded immediately, with no argument whatsoever.

He smiled and nodded as he readied his weapon. They had her right where they wanted her.

Abathon Broach, the ruling king of the Underburrow, stepped out into the moonlight. His dark hair ended an inch from his scalp, and was mostly akin to the peach fuzz. Deep bags drooped below fiery blue eyes, which could clearly see this night.

He wore tight-fitting leather and held in his hands a rune etched gnomish hammer-pick. The weapon had the head of a hammer on one end, and that of a pick-ax on the other. There was no sound from his shoes as he snuck up behind the tricky mage.

As he came up behind her, Lavie's chanting came to crescendo. Her voice, high in the bestial dragon language, drew sweat from Abathon's brow.

Without a further second's hesitation, the King in his prime swung the pick end of his cruel weapon at her back. The sharp blade, glowing with power, dove into Lavie's back and out the other side. She remained motionless, her whispered spell breaking with her voice. She shook, very slightly, blood seeping down her robes.

Chains rattled heavily and Abathon nearly lost the grip on his weapon, gasping in surprise as it was pulled further into Lavie's back.

The sorceress's illusion shimmered and vanished, revealing her true position. Lavie indeed had been casting on the ground, but her bit of glimmer work had changed how Abathon saw it. Her back still to the King, she truly had been leaning over, her head to the ground and her wrists outstretched into the air.

Lavie's manacled hands latched onto the pole of the weapon, gripping it tightly and pulling it toward herself. Abathon struggled, but all of her weight was in it. At the center of the chain, Lavie's manacles had been impaled through a single link by the pick, and the rest of the chain was now wrapped around the thing in a tight hold.

Lavie smiled as she heard the horrible scream of Abathon's court wizard. Slither's had attacked from his hiding place in the shadows.

Abathon continued struggling with all his might, pulling at the manacles as he tried to bring the weapon back about. Lavie grunted in pain but held fast in her resolution.

When his fighting let up, Lavie gave the King some slack and released the pole with one hand. Lavie's voice chanted out as her concentration built, “Slipus traitus,” in a voice too deep to belong to a gnome. Her left hand, still pulled close to the weapon by the chains, flickered about, drawing more blood from her wrist.

Abathon realized the danger immediately, and put all his force on the opposite side of his weapon frantically. The effort lifted and threw Lavie back, sending her to her rump with her arms still tangled on the pick head. The hammer head had missed it's mark and slammed wide into the ground where Lavie had been.

Despite the physically jolting experience and pain, Lavie's focus was unwavering. Her mind and magic pushed against an unseen force, struggling and pushing as Abathon took his breath for another attack.

The pick head of the gnomish hammer-pick came back about, chain yanking with it. Lavie cried out in pain, her chanting at an end. Abathon's lust for her blood heightened as her efforts seemed for naught, and the sharp end of his weapon came down toward her.

The King would have won then and there, had his weapon not struck his right eye blind with furious pain.

The pick had warped, chains pulling along with it as it turned on it's master. It lunged out as a viper, impossibly fast and with all the power of the full downward swing Abathon had intended to kill Lavie.

The chains, enchanted though they were, could not handle the extreme twist and strike. They shattered into hundreds of pieces, leaving only two links left on each shackle still stuck to Lavie's wrists.

She stopped caring about the pain at her wrists. The gnome stumbled away as her opponent fell to the ground bleeding badly from his gouged eye.

As Abathon struggled to his feet, Lavie stretched out, her freedom of movement too relieving for her to let her be bogged down. She was elated, even as Abathon got back to his feet, shaking in pain and rage.

“Bring it Princess,” Lavie taunted, even as her fingers flickered in the air freely, moving in exaggerated motions for the simple sake of it.

“Frossie spheros!” her dragon tongue rang out as Abathon charged in on her. From the joined fingertips of her right hand, a sphere of solidified magical energy formed and shot out, straight into the king's chest. Frost formed on the surface of his leather chest-guard as he gasped in shock and pain.

The shock of the blow pushed the air from his lungs, and his attack fell instead to the ground. Lavie sidestepped him as he stumbled by.

Furious beyond his own control, Abathon tried to turn and strike out once more. A pain at his ankle set all of his momentum out from under his feet. The king met the ground with no grace.

He growled into the dirt, and was already fighting and kicking to get up when a cold, steel blade came across and rested against the skin of his neck. His own pulse drew blood where the sickles blade met his neck.

“Fine work, Slithers,” Lavie proclaimed as she took a seat on Abathon's back, holding her weapon steady against his neck. The blade hooked under Abathon's chin was anything but comfortable for the young king, but he didn't move an inch.

“Sure is nice to see you too, Princess,” Lavie sighed, breathing heavy from the fight. She wore no smile, and a frown formed at the king's silence. The discomfort in her wrists and the sweat upon her forehead started to bother her. “I know you're in there, Princess. At least try to explain how this was all a big misunderstanding so you can maybe save your own stupid hide! Your blade was actually just trying to give me a nice warm hug I assume?”

“Screw you!” Abathon said in a hoarse voice. Lavie glared down at the back of his head as Slithers came to rest upon her shoulders again.

“He can still talk Slithers! As I live and breath. Odd that his greeting was so pointy,” Lavie teased, a scowl coming over her face. A small line of blood slipped down Lavie's hand and traced the etching in the blade. The manacles at her wrists stung the wounds below them.

“Why do you taunt me so? Abathon asked, exasperated. Lavie's frown deepened and her brow furrowed. “End it already, same as your family did to mine!”

The sorceress's eyes watered as she looked at her old friend before her, asking her to kill him. They were so close once. She just wanted so badly for things to go back to normal.

In her heart, she felt like it never could. Her hope withered more and more at Abathon's words. “They were not my family, Abathon.”

“Right! And your dear ol' Mom didn't personally kill my father!” he growled. “You were nothing but a liar from day one!You used my friendship to get close to my family so yours could kill them off and rule the Underburrow!” he screamed, his voice cracking.

“Stop twisting this to be my fault! You're the one who killed my mother, who hunted down a whole bunch of people for nothing more than a name!” Lavie fought back as tears spilled openly down her cheeks. “I am the last Stoan, and I have paid dearly for it!”

“I couldn't tell you what was real out of any of this. Only that your men barged down my door one day and killed my mother!” she said sullenly. “Almost got me too.”

“That damn blade speaks much more than your mouth!” Abathon shouted back. “The sickle, symbol of the Stoan clan; former tillers of the surface and killers of the entire royal family, save myself.”

Lavie snarled openly, “D****t, Abathon! If I were one of them would we really be speaking? I was just a sad, lonely girl. Still am.”

Abathon didn't speak, shutting his good eye tight and biting his lip. The king began to shake, shake with something closer to fear than anything else. Thunder came from the sky above.

“Just end it, please!” he begged finally. Rain, light but promising to become heavier, started it's drizzle to the ground. Slithers shifted uncomfortably.

Lavie shuddered, bringing her free hand to wipe away her tears. “I can't do that Abathon,” she whispered. “I won't. Somewhere deep inside, you know I'm still your friend. Please, believe me!” she begged. The mighty king only shook as the rain came down, unable to hear her at all. He seemed intent on the incoming deathblow he believed to be inevitable from her.

“I need you to believe me...” she whispered.

Something wasn't right here, as Slither's discomfort seemed to hint at. She needed it to be anything that she could figure out, anything that she could possibly see. Lavie waved about her hands and whispered a simple incantation for sight.

The image of magic always sent tingles down Lavie's spine. She could see the tethers of energy, not only in spells spun by wizards and their kind alike, but also in people. They appeared as twine to her eyes, tying together the world all around her.

The sorceress gasped at what she saw when she looked down at Abathon. The light blue cords making up the young king's spirit, as the sorceress thought of it, were bound and cut by tethers of deep purple. Fresh tears came to Lavie's eyes as she saw the damage the spell or other magic attack had caused. The frayed blue twines were dim and barely held together wherever the purple cord, thick and strong, had wrapped around them. It was like looking at an old, sewn together doll wrapped in barbed wire.

Lavie quivered in absolute rage. Her fist clenched and she snarled to herself, “Who did this to you, my old friend?”

Slithers grabbed the sorceress's attention suddenly with a piercing hiss. Lavie's head shot up immediately, looking around everywhere. She almost missed the light, almost invisible cloud approaching her from behind.

Purple tethers clung close to each-other in a solidifying form. Lavie quickly realized that to the naked eye, the form would be completely unseen.

Without so much as considering the possibilities, her free hand was whirling about. She whispered under her breath and her mental assault began. The magic wrapping the being likely a wizard gone mad with power, matched that of the madening spell that plagued Abathon. The sorceress had no time to consider the scream she'd heard earlier.

A wave of force so powerful that it knocked Lavie clear of the king and sent her sprawling several yards away broke her concentration entirely. She could just barely see her magic take root when it knocked her silly. She had no idea where her weapon was, but she had a sinking feeling that it wasn't anywhere good for Abathon.

Even dazed with her eyes closed, Lavie could still “see” her own magic work around and turn back on her. The mental assault was easily dispelled before it could effect her, but Lavie's mind was soon preoccupied fighting off this other being's own will. It pushed on her like a wall of force, squelching out her thoughts and breaking her focus.

She opened her eyes and found the beast visibly standing above her now. It stared down at her with intensity, its tentacled face rippling as it stepped closer. Lavie could not move, paralyzed by the mental assault. She wasn't losing entirely, for her will was strong, but she could do little to outmatch this monster.

The tentacles reached out toward her, giving her a shaking sight of the monster's maw. It's beak was snapping readily as each flailing limb set out toward her, each slimy and slick with mucus. Lavie was appalled when one tentacle found her face, and slipped along to the back of her head.

Fear overcame her as she pushed back against the power it used against her mind, and she was able to stumble out of it's reach ever so slightly. She could see the same purple tethers wrapping her head as surely as they had Abathon. Lavie's wide eyes did little to aid her as the monster overcame her quickly.

Just as several tentacles came to wrap around her head, pulling her toward the beak, Lavie noticed something. She knew not why it caught her attention, only that she could feel something bubbling up from within her.

Even with the onset of the storm, and the beast pulling her into it's maw, she could still see the stars. Indeed, the stars shone true even where Lavie could not directly see them, as if the night were still clear.

As did Lavie's eyes.

Lightning struck the earth beside them, and the beast recoiled away. A high pitched sound, much louder than thunder, rang from the the strike. Arms came up to the beasts head as it's tentacles flailed about wildly, the pitch and volume of the sound growing with each second.

It did not, however, even affect Lavie. She heard it, surely, but it did not cause her pain. The sound was as music to her ears, and the little gnome rose gently off her feet into the air as the monster fell over. Her eyes as tiny suns, Lavie felt explosively full of energy.

Again lightning struck, and all went black to Lavie's eyes. The stars winked out one by one and the world around her shattered like glass. In a black space of emptiness, devoid of light, Lave floated.

Her mind had cleared but still she couldn't comprehend what was happening. Her eyes became heavy and she felt herself slipping from consciousness. She could barely make out the sight of someone's bare feet before her as she rested on a featureless, black surface.

“Sleep well, my little sorcerer. Sleep and grow strong with all that you will learn in your journey. Your time is not yet over, I believe, for I see it only just beginning,” the sweet voice promised, as Lavie's vision blurred over.

“You'll grow very strong, and one day, you will return. Your friend lives, but only you can save him now,” the voice said, coming from farther and farther away. “Believe in yourself; believe in magic!”

Lavie fell into a deeper sleep than she had ever had in all her life.

When she had woken, Lavie found all her valuables nearby. She had been half buried in sand, and was finding the hot desert weather very uncomfortable. She walked for miles, and still saw nothing. She searched and searched for some reprieve from the conditions, but her tiny body was growing weak once more with hunger and thirst. She had a water-skin half full, but she refused to drink until she really needed it. Slithers drank better than her, and she refused his pleas for her to drink more.

Her heavier robe, the one with a large hood helped somewhat, though no amount of magic could explain exactly what happened. Every night for three days, Lavie looked to the stars, and could not recognize a single constellation. Still she found their presence welcoming.

“I'll be back, Abathon. Don't you worry your little princess a*s,” she said to the sky every now and then. With morbid, sad eyes, she would look about, seeking some sign of anything she could escape to. “I promise.”

The next day, Lavie swore she was hallucinating when she heard shouts and barks from behind the next ridge of sand.

© 2015 R. Schilling

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Added on February 9, 2015
Last Updated on February 9, 2015
Tags: Dungeons and Dragons, D&D, Gnome, Magic, Sorceress, Fantasy, Freedom


R. Schilling
R. Schilling

I've been climbing to my feet and just struggling to stand for a long time now. I find an anchor for my life in my writing, a place of stability in my mind. While I've been sure of few things in my of.. more..