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Chapter 12, 1st Book of Serinity

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Chapter 12, 1st Book of Serinity

Postby SerinitysChild » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:21 am

Chapter 12

Thunder rolls across the bay at Milesport, while lightning flashes deep within the mountains that rise north of the harbor. Hard rain shatters on shake shingles and roof tiles alike, sending streams of water rushing down cobblestone streets, washing away the detritus built up since the last rain. Heavy sea swells smash against the breakwaters guarding the entrance to the bay leaving seaweed, and less definable materials, hanging on the blocks of stone. Darkness fills the night with ancient fears. In the open area behind House Artris, Darganath shifts in his sleep, water streams down his scales, and he dreams of bloody feasts to fill his empty stomach.
Within House Artris Serinity mutters in her sleep, rolls over in her bed, and returns to dreams that are part memory, part images from books, and part images from the spells Euriptus casts from his cave.
In another part of the house, Ashera listens in on Darganath’s dreams, and worries. She’s not rich, and turning a full-grown dragon lose on any town or ranch is not something she’s willing to do, even if it means her dragon dies of starvation.

********

Far south of Milesport, west of the Sorcerer’s castle, the Witches Coven listens to the wraith’s words. Anger floods Merlith’s mind as she readies a curse. “How dare that, that, mere male flaunt our desires?” Her words crackle with the magic she’s preparing to spear him.
Merlith is older than any of the other witches that hold coven with her, older even than the covens themselves. Parchment paper skin holds tightly to rickety old bones, barely covering whipcord muscles. A crone’s nose stands prominently over razors thin lips. Liver spots cover her skin with brown splotches. The hair she once braided is just a memory of long years gone. Faded black robes hang loosely from her bony shoulders, tattered and worn by years of harsh treatment. Only the magic inherent in her ancient bones holds body and soul together.
“Easy my sister, remember with whom you’d start a war. Remember also the last war we fought against his kind.” Elsibeth is two hundred years younger than Merlith, sister only in covenants, but nearly as powerful as her mentor. By keeping her perceived age at thirty years, and flaunting her beauty within the coven, she brings the other’s ire down on her. Raven black hair hangs past her waist, and ruby lips pout easily when she’s thwarted in her desires. Her eyes are so dark black that even the darkest of nights are as bright as morning light in comparison. She’s a seductress in both mind and body. Elsibeth taunts the world, bringing misery in a single laugh, or the wink of an eye. None have tried her patients and lived to tell the tale. None, save one, and that one no longer torments her life.
“Let us consider his words,” Lusinda whispers. “Let us see if he’s lost his mind. No sane person would willingly try to harness an Afridale alone.”
Lusinda is perhaps the least powerful of those present, but still a powerful witch in her own right. At a mere three hundred years of age, she’s also the youngest of those present, and yet her power is waxing where the others are waning.

Lusinda doesn’t have the ravishing beauty of Elsibeth, nor is she the scarecrow that Merlith presents to the world. She’s tall, slender, ascetic by nature, and plain of face by choice. Straw-colored hair tops her head, neatly cropped to expose large ears and a long scar that runs raggedly across the top of her head then down to the right side of her face and neck. The scar is from an old wound she received at the hands of her former teacher. His punishment for spoiling a spell that would have freed her indenture to him. Her punishment for his too quick dagger was for a thousand years of flaming death. Sometimes, when she’s pondering a difficult decision, she’ll lightly touch the scar he gave her, and remembers the fate of the only man she’s ever loved. Now, a hundred and eighty years after she’d escorted him to Hel’s halls, she still wonders at the naivety of her youth.
Touching that scar now, she ponders the advantages of aligning herself with the sorcerer. Perhaps she could eliminate either Elsibeth, or Merlith, advancing her own agenda. A plan tickles the back of her mind, and she opens wide the doors of deceit to it.
“I think we should align ourselves with him,” Lusinda comments quietly. “If he fails, we can claim his castle for our own. If he wins, we can share in the capture of an ancient goddess. Either way, we’ll win.”
With a quick look at Elsibeth, Merlith sees agreement in her eyes, and then nods her own approval. “Let us ignore, for now, the insult he’s given us. When the time is right, we’ll move to thwart his plans.”
Having reached an accord, the three witches cast various spells that return them to their covens. From those three covens the word travels forth, gathering all the covens into the fold. By sunset of the following day, they have arrayed six hundred covens of thirteen witches each. Aligning their power to help the sorcerer Darkling in his attempt to bring to heal an ancient force of nature.

**********

Half a world away, that particular force of nature is plodding through an alpine valley, her trunk raised high to test the winds for the scent of victims. She needs fresh souls to fill her flagging spirit with renewed energy. Three days before she’d found a small homestead, and there she’d filled the void within her by draining the life forces of all the creatures there. Two legs, and four, all fell to her powers.
Today she hunts a new scent, one that promises to raise her flagging spirit to new heights. Today she’s caught the faintest whiff of dragon.
SerinitysChild
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