The Black Lord smiled to himself, all was going well. Erret had fallen easily, and now the people of Myrraea saw the efficiency of his army, how they could destroy and slaughter right under the magician’s noses, and how he now was much stronger than they’d guessed. It made him laugh to see how scared they were, that he could destroy a whole town which was just under a mile away from the outer wall of the city of Marsia, and they not know until it was too late. His victory made the Black Lord very happy. He could see the magicians were weak, and that they were not aware of his movements, it meant that soon, very soon he could spring an attack.
An awkward shuffling of feet came from behind him, as Varran shifted nervously in the presence of his master. Normally Varran was a very commanding man who had the kind of demeanour that meant you felt starting an argument would be a bad idea. He was a man that commanded authority, but in the presence of the Black Lord, he shrunk to not much more than a fly, easily swatted.
“Fool,” came the Black Lord’s deep, imposing voice. He spoke softly, yet there was a sinister edge to him that made Varran shiver. “By announcing yourself so recklessly you let them know who you were. Do you know what that means? It means the magicians at Cavral will know your name. Varran, leader of the Black Lord’s armies………maybe I should take that title away from you!” His voice was growing angry. “Varran the general…Varran the fool! How dare you embarrass me like that, you’re a disgrace to my name!” It fell silent; the only sounds the Black Lords heavy breathing and the faint cry of the men below in the city.
“But...my lord…Erret….all the townspeople…they’re dead.” The Black Lord spun around to glare menacingly at Varran.
“They’re not though are they, or else I wouldn’t be so angry! Idiot, you didn’t kill them all, there’s still one left, one who hid. I suppose that’s neither here nor there now, she is only a child, 16 at the most. It's lucky your mistake didn’t cost us more; however……I have a different task for you. Something concerning your brother,” an evil smirk spread across the Black Lord’s face, “I’d like you to pay him a little ‘visit’.”
Kitara hugged her knees closer and stayed absolutely still. She could hear someone outside, shuffling around, muttering to themselves. She could just see their shadow on the wall opposite as they moved into the room next door. A gasp came and Kitara heard,
“Oh no, not more.” It was a man’s voice, soft and middle aged, Kitara guessed he could be no more than 45. She heard the man mutter some words under his breath, though she could not hear them well enough to know what he was saying. He spoke for a short time, almost as if he was reciting something, then sighed. For a while all Kitara could hear was his hard breathing, and then he began to make his way into the room in which Kitara was hidden.
She hadn’t chosen her hiding place well, she just sat curled up in the corner amongst a pile of sheets and blankets. If she kept perfectly still with her head bowed she would be overlooked, as long as he wasn’t looking too hard. As she felt him enter the room, she held her breath. For a moment, it seemed as if he hadn’t seen her but then, Kitara heard the footsteps she’d been dreading. Her pace quickened, she began to panic, what should she do? The footsteps came closer and closer until Kitara could see the man’s shadow through the blankets. He reached down, intending to investigate the strange shape amongst the bundle of cloth, but just as he did so, Kitara panicked.
She leapt up from her hiding place and tried to make a run for the door. The man stuck out his arm but she barged past him, fearing for her life. She could see the door in front of her, she was almost there……Suddenly, she heard him shout a binding spell, and she froze in her position. Struggle as she might Kitara simply could not move her body; she was stuck fast, captured by some magic spell. The man she’d tried to hide from was a magician.
Fear struck her. What if this was the man that had brought all the troops to attack the town. The man named Varran. What if he’d realised she was still alive and come back to finish the job. Kitara tried to scream, but her mouth was stuck too. She was captured, and helpless.
As the man approached her she shut her eyes tight, she wasn’t going to give her killer the satisfaction of seeing her fear. A few agonising seconds passed as he crossed the room toward her, then, suddenly, Kitara felt the man touch his fingers on either side of her temples. Instantaneously, something changed in her mind, she knew he was there, she could feel his presence.
-show me what you fear came a voice inside her head. It was gentle, kindly, but she didn’t trust it. She tried to imagine things that could to keep him from her mind, walls, iron bars, any and every barricade she could think of. A flicker of annoyance flared up within the man’s presence. He murmured some more words and Kitara found herself letting him see her innermost fears, he was manipulating her with magic! He saw images of the night 3 days ago, the fire, the screaming, the soldiers slaughtering the innocent, the magician who called himself Varran, the Black Lord’s general. The magician saw how she ran and hid, and didn’t come out again. How she sat those three days, not eating or sleeping, always alert and terrified that the soldiers would come back to get her.
Kitara began to cry, she’d been so scared, and felt so vulnerable. In her heart she knew her parents and older brother were dead, but she hadn’t wept for them yet, until now, when a terrible sadness welled up inside, and she couldn’t act brave anymore.
- I’m not going to hurt you came the voice of the magician,
-open your eyes Kitara felt his presence leave her mind and the binding spell about her drop, although she didn’t run away. He’d left a serene and calm feeling inside of her, and there’d been something reassuringly sincere about the way he spoke. Slowly, she opened her eyes.
Before her stood a man. He was average height and slightly overweight. His hair and beard was brown with flecks of ageing grey. His face, although bearing a grave expression was not suspicious in the slightest, and Kitara relaxed a little.
“Who-who-who are you?” Kitara stammered. The magician smiled slightly.
“I am Dinnen, of the guild at Cavral.” He bowed. Kitara gasped.
“Cavral, the magician’s city? You really are a magician! I always wanted to be one, they are so strong and wise and they help people…Cavral is supposed to be a fantastic place to live, so beautiful and calm, I had wished I could go there,” her voice took and angry bitter tone, “Why did you attack us?” she shouted, “What to the magicians at Cavral have against Erret? We did nothing wrong! The magician you sent was so cruel and brutal! We didn’t deserve it, we didn’t!” She broke out into devastated sobs. “Why?” she whispered hoarsely, “Why?” Dinnen looked pityingly at her.
“I'm so sorry. The magician, Varran, was indeed leader of the Black Lord’s armies. He’s a rogue, he was never from Cavral, we didn’t send him to attack Erret, and I promise you we didn’t train him either. He’s not one of us, I'm sorry.” Kitara looked up tearfully into the magicians eyes. She could see he wasn’t lying; it was clear from his expression. Dinnen sighed sadly,,
“I can't leave you here I’m afraid. There's nobody to care for you, you’d die like the others. I’ll have to take you back with me, to Cavral.” Kitara inhaled sharply
“With magician’s?” she asked, slightly scared.
“Yes with magicians, but ones who are properly trained and will look after you. You can become one of us if you want, your will power is strong, I can tell.” Kitara looked dubious, she was still frightened, but what Dinnen had just said made her curios.
“Will power? What's that got to do with anything?” she said.
“Your will power is key to your magical power. All magicians have a strong will power, or else they wouldn’t be able to control the magic or fight off enemies. You are strong, not many normal citizens could have had the will enough to even try and fight me off, let alone succeed in that I had to use a spell to get through to you!”
“You mean I could become a magician? And they would look after me?” Dinnen said nothing but nodded. Kitara paused to think, weighing up her options.
“Cavral,” she murmured finally, “Ok.” Dinnen smiled briefly,
“Good,” he said, “What's your name by the way?” Kitara looked up.
“You didn’t read it from my mind?” she asked.
“No,” Dinnen replied, shaking his head, “I went into your mind enough to see why you were frightened, and to make you believe I wasn’t going hurt you. In truth I shouldn’t have done that anyway. It’s rude to enter another’s mind without permission. However I felt I had to if I was to try and get through to you, I hope you don’t mind.” Kitara was reassured by this, at least she knew now that she could keep her thought to herself.
“Oh, well, my name’s Kitara, Kitara Lirria. “
Dinnen studied the scrawny girl with interest. She was tall and thin and had entrancing green eyes. Long black hair fell about her shoulders, framing her face perfectly. Dinnen guessed that cleaned up as little, she would no doubt be beautiful. The younger magicians would definitely find he attractive and most probably want to court her, Dinnen mused. He found his mind wandering to his wife back home in Cavral, awaiting his return.
“Well Kitara,” Dinnen announced, “We’d best get going.” Suddenly Kitara looked very worried again.
“Are there, you know, dead people outside?” she asked. Dinnen nodded,
“Unfortunately yes. If you want, you can close yours eyes and I’ll lead you out, so you don’t have to see.” Kitara shook her head.
“I’ll manage.” She gulped, secretly in her mind she knew she was terrified to see the aftermath of the massacre, but somehow she also knew that she’d never forgive herself if she didn’t say one last fleeting goodbye to all those she had known.
“Come on then,” Dinnen sighed, gesturing for her to follow. He led through into the next room, where the bodies of her parents lay. Both had been stabbed and dried blood covered the floor. Tears slowly rolled themselves down Kitara’s cheeks as she forced herself to look away, she was shaking. But somewhere she’d always known that her parents were dead, what troubled her most was where the body of her brother Theyn was, for she had been extremely close to him. She stopped Dinnen so she could search the house, but he was nowhere to be seen. Her heart lurched, where was he? Gathering her thoughts, she decided that maybe his body was outside. In the panic of looking for him, she rushed out into the street without thinking of the horrors that might await her, and seeing them, she froze. There were bodies everywhere, most of them of people she recognised, her neighbours, her school mates, her friends. She had to stop her self from throwing up.
The stench of blood and burnt flesh filled the air. The houses were destroyed, either incinerated by fire, or blasted by magic. Great scorch marks ran across the floor, the remnants of mage bolts, shot wildly at anything and everything, their blackened trails to remain forever on the ground as a bitter reminder.
Kitara jumped as she felt Dinnen’s hand clasp her shoulder.
“Time to go,” he murmured kindly, “I'm sorry.” Kitara nodded slowly, as if in shock. She let Dinnen gently guide her out into the centre of street. He took her on a path through all the bodies and debris, and Kitara desperately searched for any sign of her brother, but there was none. She was devastated. She couldn’t believe it, she wouldn’t even get to see him for a last time. There were no tears for the shock she was feeling, now that she knew her brother was dead, his body missing.
Dinnen didn’t look down at the carnage around him; he’d already spent most of his day reciting the rite of blessing to every single one of the dead so they’d pass easily into the realm of death. He didn’t want to see all that again. Guiding a dumbstruck Kitara at his side he walked in a straight line out of the town and down the track that lead off toward the road that ran between the cities Marsia and Varradin.
The pair trudged on for hours, barely talking. Dinnen could see the girl was traumatised but he also knew that talking would make no difference so he instead let his mind wander to his wife and sons back home, and how much he missed them.
Kitara was lost in thought as well. She was feeling very sick. She tried to take in everything that had happened and was coming to terms with the fact that all her family and friends were dead. Her mind was a mess with a mixture of feelings and she wasn’t sure which one took prominence. It was a horrible feeling, sadness for the loss of everything she’d ever known, happiness that she’d been so lucky and was on her way to a safe haven, and the guilt because she’d survived and all whom she known hadn’t. Never before had she been so confused.
“This is we stop for the night,” Dinnen announced, breaking her depressive train of thoughts. He dumped the pack he was carrying on the floor then followed suit himself. Kitara sat too, and yawned. She found that she was actually exhausted. She’d been walking with Dinnen all day on an empty stomach. She hadn’t had the courage to get up and eat in all those three days she’d been hidden, for fear of being ambushed by the soldiers or Varran.
Yawning in exhaustion, she lay back to look up at the starry sky but soon as her head touched the ground, she was deep asleep. She’d been too tired to even eat.
Dinnen smiled at Kitara pityingly. He’d no doubt that she was awash with emotion and felt sorry for her. A girl as young as she needn’t be put through so much trauma. He ate lightly himself, and then he too drifted off to sleep.
In the morning Kitara woke slowly. She’d never felt so refreshed. All that had happened flowed back to her and her heart grew heavy, but she’d already decided to try not to think about it. She rubbed her eyes thoroughly, and then opened them. She saw Dinnen hunched over a small fire. The smell of bacon filled her nose, and she breathed it in eagerly. Dinnen turned at the sound of her sitting up.
“Morning,” he said, “I’m cooking some bacon for you. I was just about to wake you, we should be off soon. If we go at a reasonable pace we’ll reach Cavral in a week or so.” Kitara nodded, still looking at the bacon. It was a few minutes cooking, but that didn’t bother her, she just couldn’t wait to eat it. She almost snatched it off Dinnen, so hungry was she and so desperate for food, and she ate greedily. With her mouth full of bacon she realised Dinnen wasn’t eating.
“Aren’t you having anything?” she asked, finishing off what she had in her mouth. He shook his head.
“I've already eaten; it's almost ten o’clock you know.” Kitara almost choked. If she’d ever slept in that late before she would have been in a lot of trouble.
She finished what was on her plate and handed it back to Dinnen who was putting everything back in his pack.
“Shall I carry that today?” Kitara asked. Once again Dinnen shook his head.
“Thanks but no, I don’t want to take advantage of you. Besides, it’d be like you’re looking after me, and I'm not the one who needs it.” Kitara agreed solemnly, she knew he was only trying to be nice but she wanted something to take her mind of things. Instead, Kitara spent most of the journey quizzing Dinnen about himself and his life.
She found out that she’d been right about his age, Dinnen was 47. He had a wife, Tallissa, who was 42, and two sons, Dorn, who was 24, and Coren, who was 20. Dinnen and his wife lived near the centre of Cavral, not far from the university, and the guild hall. Dinnen wasn’t a teacher at the university; he was one of the few who was entrusted with travelling between Cavral and other cities, taking messages to the other magicians who had moved back to their home towns. This meant that Dinnen knew most if the secrets of the whole magic community of Myrraea.
Dinnen, in turn, attempted to find out as much as he dared about Kitara’s past. He was surprised to see that she was very open and spoke freely (if with a heavy heart) about her life. He saw that she’d been very close to her family, her brother Theyn especially, and it was him she missed most. He found that the house she’d been in when he’d discovered her was her own, and she’d lived there all her life. By the end of the next day, they had walked father than Dinnen had expected. They were about half a days walk from Varradin, the tower city. They made camp about 15 miles north west of the city. Even from a distance, Varradin was visible. The tower city rose high into the air, its peak almost striving to reach the sky. It was circular, and ascended in tiers, each one smaller than the one below until it peaked at the top, with the guild hall presiding neatly above everything else.
Dinnen had planned to stop at Varradin, but his plans had changed once he’d found the girl. He had to get her back to his superiors at Cavral, and it was a matter of great urgency. He had not wished to say anything for fear of worrying the already frightened Kitara, but in her he’d seen a power so great that it concerned him. In truth he was one of the most powerful magicians, and pride ignored, she in no way should have been able to hinder him, when he tried to read her mind.
(A/N) Please review! Id relli appreciate it as I need all the help I can get!