The Sorcery Society: Part Eleven
We had a problem near the top steps going to the attic. There was a thick, metal door in our way, one that Merah said "hadn't been there before." Taped onto the smooth, flawless surface of the metal was a small white note with Jhidaya's unmistakable cursive scrawled across it in purple ink. It said:
To my dear Emme and Company;
Well, I'm afraid this is the end of the road for you, sweeties! You see, it wouldn't be vengeance if I let all of you go, right? So, yeah, why don't you all just leave and go on with your pretty little lives, because there's no way you're getting in. Ru's mine. Luck in the outside world, though! (;
I crunched up the letter into a paper ball and tossed it down the steps, watching it melt into the darkness. "I can't believe this!" I almost screamed. "She's not going to let him go!" And then, insanity pulsing through me as if it were in my blood, I turned toward the door and began banging on it in desperation and fury."HEY!" I shrieked at the top of my lungs, "JHIDAYA! 'DAYA! WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS! LET US IN, FOR FYORA'S SAKE! WHAT KIND OF NO-GOOD DUNGHEAD ARE YOU?!"
There was no response.
Merah said, quietly, "I don't think calling her a no-good dunghead is going to help."
And, of course, the teary-eyed Usul was right. But at that moment, it didn't seem like anything was going to help. Jhidaya was right - it was the end of the road. There was nothing we could do. I fell to my knees on the step before the metal door, my face in my paws as I choked back sobs and squinted my eyes shut to force away tears. I kept telling myself, Don't cry, don't cry, but it was just so hard not to.
After a moment, Vidla said, "Wait. Look."
She gestured for me to get up, and, sniffling, I did, taking a spot next to a suddenly dry-eyed Merah. For some reason, she looked strangely perky. Vidla carefully examined the bottom of the metal door and turned to us. "Look," she said, "the metal door is so thick that it comes off the step a little here. We can grip this part and try to lift it up."
"Okay!" Merah yelped, rushing forward. I, however, stood perfectly still, as I had begun to hiccup. I wiped away a few tears as Vidla told me, "Fine. Just stay there."
I honestly didn't think that Vidla and Merah could lift that door. But, somehow, they did - just by a foot. It was enough for one person to slip through; if the two of them tried to hastily slide through, they'd surely be crushed by the quick weight of the door falling back down.
This thought was unspoken for a few moments as Vidla and Merah struggled to hold up the door. After a moment, Vidla, irritated, said to me, "Well? Go on."
I blanched. Timidly, I told her, "No. I can't do this."
Merah grunted. "GO!" she shrieked. "BEFORE WE DROP IT!"
Taking in a deep breath, I threw myself at the ground and quickly crawled through the opening; as soon as I was through, the door slammed down with surprising force, and I was drenched in darkness.
"Well, good luck to her," Vidla said.
"I wish one of us could've gone," Merah remarked mournfully, "Who is she, anyway?"
"Oh, look. She forgot the flashlight," Vidla said, ignoring Merah's question. The Lutari picked up the device and waved it around, curiously examining what lay at the bottom of the steps - which was, well, nothing much.
"You know, Vid," Merah began, slowly, "I really didn't think we'd be able to lift up that door. I mean - both of us are, like, under level ten, right? Our strength is pretty unimpressive, and that door must way, like, five hundred pounds or something. How do you think we were able to lift it, even just a little?"
Vidla shrugged before looking up at the ceiling. "Maybe we had some help," she said.
Merah took the flashlight from her friend and played with the switch, turning it on, off. On, off.
It didn't really matter that it was so dark; I was able to paw my way up the steps with ease while lying on my belly. However, once I got to the top step, I discovered that an eerie purple glow was emitting from something in the attic, casting the strange shine over the tips of my paws. Very slowly, I pulled myself upwards and peeked over to the top step.
Jhidaya was standing in the middle of the room, no Barbats at her side. At that moment, her beauty was both stunning and terrifying, albeit more terrifying. Her hair seemed to be floating in mid-air as she held her staff in both hands. I couldn't help but quietly admit to myself that it was a lovely staff, gorgeous in its simplicity: The staff's rod was pitch black, but unusual characters were engraved all over it in silver and lavender. On the tip of the staff was a shining, crudely cut purple stone, almost dark enough to be considered black. It cast light all over the room in dark purple, scarlet, and dark blue; if the sight was not so incredibly disturbing, it could've almost been considered pretty.
Tied to a chair pressed against the far wall was Ru; surprisingly, he was not gagged. The brown Lupe had a very serious look on his face; his eyes were sharp and his mouth was held in a tight, straight line. Jhidaya smiled as she turned to him.
"Ru, dear. Aren't you excited? To be born into and die in the grips of magic... is a wonderful fate," she said, her voice as sickeningly sweet as her smile. Ru scowled.
"I wasn't born into magic. It was just - it was just a stupid kids' game we all played," he said. And then, his voice lowering, he asked: "And I'm just wondering - but why me? Why am I the one stuck in the attic with you?"
For some reason, I was relieved he didn't say something along the lines of: Why isn't Merah the one who's here? She's the one who revealed your identity to the crowd that day! Of course he wouldn't say that, though. It was obvious that Ru was just curious to know - after all, he loved his sister and cared for her, and I knew in my heart that he'd willingly give up his own life for the sake of hers.
Jhidaya laughed, softly. It was not the evil cackling I had heard earlier; this laughter was true and clean and soft, almost kind.
"Isn't it obvious?" she asked, amused. "You were the one who kept a journal. It was your journal that I planted for the Wocky and her sister to find; it was your journal that brought my plan into the core stages of development. And so it is only fitting that you are the one to perish at my hand."
I felt like I was going to throw up.
It's not your fault, a little voice in my head whispered. It's been her plan from the very beginning, remember? You're just a pawn in her game. And, for some reason, the little voice repeated that last line, over and over again: You're just a pawn in her game. You're just a pawn in her game.
"Well, not any more," I whispered.
That wasn't a particularly smart thing to do, however, because apparently Jhidaya had incredible hearing. She slowly turned to me and smiled; I tried to slide down the stairs more and hide, but she just laughed. "Look, Rudolf," she said, "someone's joined us. Come here, Miss Echarpe."
Suddenly, I found a small orb of red magic rolling down the stairs toward me. As soon as it touched one of my outstretched paws, all four of my paws began to glow red, and I found myself robotically walking up the stairs and into the room. I offered Ru a weak smile, but he only stared at me in disbelief.
"Silly girl," Jhidaya sighed. "You had the chance to run away, but now that you're here, I have no choice but to destroy you. I offered you life, but you chose death." She shook her head. "Foolish," she said.
The dark faerie then held up her lavender fist and stretched out her pointer finger. She watched in boredom as an ebony orb of energy slowly began to grow on the tip of her finger; after a few minutes, she had to open her hand and allow it to continue to grow, ethereally floating above her palm. By the time its growth was stunted, the orb of dark, arcane energy was slightly larger than Jhidaya's head.
The entire time that this was happening, I was willing my paws to move, move, please, move. But the red glow that surrounded my paws gripped them like an iron cage; I could move every part of my body except for my paws. Please, I silently begged. Oh, please move! I turned to Ru in desperation, but he just gave me this helpless stare.
Jhidaya looked almost upset as she bounced the orb on the palm of her hand. I wasn't quite sure if she was upset at having to destroy me, or if she was upset because this hadn't been a part of her plan.
It didn't really matter, though. She threw the orb at me.
Then I did something funny: I ducked.
I lowered my head, my eyes shut, and the orb just skimmed the fur on my back, singeing it. I actually heard the tips of my fur hissing as they turned to ashes on my back. There was a loud sound that sounded something like ssssssha!, and then, silence.
I opened my eyes and turned around - I could turn around! I looked down at my paws and found that they were no longer surrounded by the eerie scarlet glow. I stared in disbelief - and relief - at the wall: There was now a huge, gaping hole in the wood, but instead of a view of the outside world, there was only darkness. However, I was just glad to be alive and have free paws - apparently, the magical orb had been so powerful that the residue that had touched my paws must've destroyed the binding magic. When I turned around, though, Jhidaya was not happy.
"Uggh!" she screeched. "Stupid Wocky!"
She held out her palm again and another orb of magic grew; the faerie only waited until it was the size of her palm, however, before throwing at me. I nimbly dodged it, and, fear pulsing through my veins as another orb came soaring at me, I ran toward Ru.
I glanced over my shoulder and found that the orb was following me!
Inside my head, I formed a plan. First I swiftly ran to Ru's left side; when the orb was a mere two feet away, I quickly ducked under his chair and crawled to the other side. By the time I stood up, a lopsided smile of satisfaction had formed on my face: the orb had struck Ru's torso, destroying the binds.
He offered me a small, closed-lipped smile that I took as a sincere Thank you. However, both of our smiles vanished as soon as we saw the fury and hatred on Jhidaya's face.
"Enough of these games!" she shrieked.
The faerie threw her staff into the air, where it twirled upside down and floated; Jhidaya then proceeded to hold out her arms. Between her open palms, right in front of her neck, a new orb was growing rapidly. The beautiful stone at the end of the end of her staff suddenly sent out a beam of scarlet light that struck the growing orb of energy, causing its growth speed to increase. I could only stare in horror.
We were doomed.
To be continued...