Hill of Sidh
Novelist : Judit Elias
She was no longer seated but standing. She
opened her eyes and blinked twice. She was in a vast meadow, nothing but grass
surrounding her. Lillie was in front of her.
“Lillie,” Nari said, “I don’t understand why
you, of all people, would oppose opening the egg.”
“How can you be so sure it is a dragon’s
egg?” replied her friend. “If you at least told me more about how it got into
Nari considered doing so. But she had
promised. Also, although they appeared to be alone in the meadow, she knew the
wizards in the White Chamber could see and hear everything.
“I can't,” she admitted, sorrowful. “I
understand you want to know but I am just asking you to have faith in me. Will
Lillie would have none of it. She conjured
a strong gale that lifted her from the ground.
“Everything is said, then.”
Before Nari could react, Lillie's wind
lifted rocks from the ground and threw them towards Nari, who quickly summoned
her own gust of air to create a shield around her.
“Why won't you listen to me?” she pleaded.
“You have always said dragons existed. How could you change your mind like
But her friend didn't respond. She looked
at her with piercing blue eyes. The ground trembled and fractured, and pools of
lava emerged from its depths. Nari ordered her wind to lift her to safety.
Above their heads, dark clouds were
forming from the smoke rising from the fire. The clouds began to rumble with
“I don’t want to fight you, Lillie,” Nari
shouted. “Think about how much we can learn by opening the egg. Why do you deny
us that knowledge? Are you afraid of it?”
Lillie raised her palm upwards and a bolt
of lightning flew from the clouds to her hand. With a flick of her fingers, the
lightning bolt flashed towards Nari, who quickly conjured a large wall of stone
which emerged in front of her. The sound of the electricity hitting the rocks
“Behind me,” Nari gasped, suddenly
noticing Lillie’s presence.
She tried to extend the wall around her
but it was too late. Lillie sent a second lightning bolt that hit Nari, who
lost her concentration, causing the protective wall and wind around her to
The pain was crippling. Nari was lying on
the ground, unable to move. Since when was Lillie so powerful? To conjure a
second lightning bolt so quickly and powerfully… Electricity was one of the
most difficult elements to control. Lillie should be exhausted by now but there
she was, standing proudly in front of her.
“Rise,” Lillie ordered. “I am not done
Nari forced her arms to lift her. Seeing
her, Lillie smiled cruelly and sneered.
“Here, let me help.”
And a gust of wind blew Nari up and up,
like a ragdoll, only to throw her down.
This time she coughed up blood when she
hit the ground. In the White Chamber her body, still seated on the chair,
convulsed. A trickle of blood dripped from her gasping, half-open mouth. The
drops fell to the floor, leaving scarlet dots on the white marble. What happened
in a mind duel was not real, injuries were never supposed to affect the body.
Only in very serious duels, where there was a real intent to kill, would the
mind be sufficiently weakened for the body to believe it was real.
Nari felt weak. Lillie kneeled beside her
and clutched her black hair. Pulling hard, she lifted Nari’s face to look at
her. Nari had seen those gentle blue eyes thousands of times. She remembered
every one of those times, even the first: arriving in the famous wizard city,
just a child hiding behind her mother’s skirts, and the little neighbour girl
coming to greet them. She loved her as much as if she were family, and that
warm gaze, like the ocean, had always made her feel that the feeling was
Lillie’s eyes were warm no more. They were
now like two icy pools, empty of any feeling. Nari could not understand what
could have changed her friend that much.
“I am not asking again, wizard,” Lillie
said, pulling harder, making Nari scream. “And this time you will tell me.”
Nari could feel her resolve weakening.
Part of her mind pleaded with her to do whatever Lillie asked to end the duel
and make the pain stop. A strong kick struck her stomach, making her gasp for
“Where did you find the egg?”
Nari opened her mouth, but Lillie hadn’t finished
“And… where are the other five eggs?”
Lillie whispered in her ear.
Nari stared at her in disbelief. She
hadn’t said anything about the rest of the eggs. She had been extremely careful
not to. No one was to know there were six dragon’s eggs in total. Nari’s plan
had been to reveal that fact only if, after opening the first one, it was
proven that the creature was indeed a dragon.
How? How could Lillie have known that?
Nari had to concentrate on the duel now.
Without moving an inch, she focused all her magic in her palm, which was
resting against the rock, and sent an imperceptible pulse.
Lillie had let her go.
“I see you are not speaking. So…”
But before she could continue, the ground
beneath Lillie cracked and strong bindweeds crept up her legs and torso and
tangled around her arms. Nari stood, her whole body aching.
“Why?” she asked her childhood friend. “Why
are you so fixated on this? If you had asked me, we could have opened it
Lillie started laughing.
“Oh, what an honour!” she scoffed. “To
think I could assist the great sorceress Nari! It is always about you, isn’t
“What do you mean?”
Lillie rolled her eyes.
“I am so tired,” she said angrily, “of
having to follow you around and listen to your boring life…”
Nari stood frozen while Lillie continued
“You think you are so intelligent, so
special. Everybody loves Nari, the smart and talented one. Well, guess what, I
don’t. In fact I can’t stand you!”
“Are you joking?” asked Nari. “We are
friends, we always have been.”
“Have we now? The only reason I have been hanging
around you is because you were so pitiful.”
Nari shook her head in disbelief.
“I am sorry you think that way,” she said,
“but if it is true, you are truly twisted.”
At this, her friend laughed even louder.
“Me? Twisted?”, she cried, suddenly
serious. “The only one twisted here is you. Oh yes, let’s be friends! But when
it’s convenient, you have no problem letting go. You are so self-centred. You
know what? This so-called friendship of ours… ends today.”
Suddenly Nari’s weeds started withering
and Lillie broke free. Nari tried to summon more plants but Lillie was already
there, pushing her with magic. Nari was able to dodge it but, before she could
launch a counterattack, she was disabled by a coughing fit.
“Oh dear, not feeling well?” asked Lillie
Nari wanted to reply but she realised with
horror that she was not able to speak.
“Has the cat got your tongue?”
Nari put her hand to her neck. It hurt
terribly. Her ears were ringing loudly and her lips started turning blue. Her
knees gave way and she fell to the ground. She could feel all the energy
fleeing from her body. Her mind was clouding over. She could not move. She
could not think. She. Could. Not. Breathe.
In the White Chamber, Lillie had risen
from her seat and was standing in front of Nari. She had taken Nari’s neck with
both hands and, while muttering a forbidden spell, she was strangling her. Her
voice was dark, almost as if it didn’t come from her. No one had noticed, for
all the wizards had their eyes closed and were chanting the spell that allowed
them to see what was happening in the mind duel.
“What in your simple and sorry existence
made you think you could measure up against me?” whispered Lillie, and her
image in the mind duel did the same. “I see you are not going to talk, so I
will dispose of you and destroy the egg myself.”
it,” Nari thought,
desperately grasping at her neck as if she could find what was hurting it. She
knew she had only a few seconds before she would lose consciousness completely.
Her eyelids were becoming heavier and heavier, and eventually drooped closed.
The wizards opened their eyes at once. Nari
was lying on the floor of the White Chamber. Her face rested on top of a small
pool of blood. Her neck and face were bruised and covered in nail marks. She
looked dead. Lillie was standing beside her, grinning. She turned to face the
eldest, who was still holding the dragon’s egg.
“Wizard,” she said, “you will give that
egg to me.”
The old man’s voice roared with anger.
“What have you done!?”
Lillie looked at Nari, lying lifelessly on
“I just took care of an inconvenience,” she
replied cruelly. “If you wish to avoid her fate you will do as I command.”
She took a step towards him, but soon the
rest of the wizards surrounded her. One of them approached Nari and gently
caressed her cheek, fearing the worst. Nari’s skin was warm and her pulse,
although weak, was there. The wizard shook her gently and the young girl moaned
softly. She was alive.
Nari opened her eyes. It took her a few
seconds to realize she was no longer in the mind duel. She gasped for air once
more and oxygen flowed inside her. She rolled onto her side. All of the members
of the council were standing between her and Lillie.
“You meddling wizards!” screamed Lillie.
“Hand me the egg!”
They were still chanting but the words
were different now, and Nari recognised it as the spell of Oblivion. All
sorcerers in the White Chamber learned that spell when they first joined the
council, but she had never had to use it. It was meant to seal another wizard’s
magic. It was used only on traitors.
Lillie looked as if she wanted to bite
their heads off. Nari had never seen so much rage in her friend’s face. No
doubt she had recognised their spell. She muttered a couple of words and dark
flames appeared at her feet, gently leaping towards her, as if caressing her
“As you wish then. Your foolish
organisation will soon cease to exist and as for you…,” she said, looking at
Nari, who was still lying on the floor, pale-faced. “Can you feel the darkness
creeping inside you?”
Nari swallowed and found it painful, as if
her throat was on fire.
“The curse will creep down and consume
your lungs. Then you will not be able to breathe. The spell I cast on you today
shall bring you the most dreadful death.”
And with those words the black fire
engulfed Lillie, who disappeared in a roar of laughter.
The rest of the wizards stopped chanting
and surrounded Nari. They examined her but no one knew how to stop the curse
Lillie had just put on her. The eldest assessed the purple bruise. It wasn’t a
normal mark; a broader ring surrounded her neck and, like the branches of a
tree, thinner vein-like bruises crept down towards her chest. He listened to
her voice, rougher than usual, and had her open her mouth to examine her
throat, which appeared normal.
“The curse will be slow before taking full
effect,” he concluded.
“How much time?” asked Nari
The old man shook his head
“I do not know for sure. Months. Years. It
will depend on your own strength.”
“You should rest,” said the eldest.
“Lillie has broken the rules and has tried to murder a member of the Wizardry.
She has committed treason and will be hunted down. Let other wizards do it.”
Soon it was decided who would leave in
pursuit of the traitor.
“I don’t think we need to hold another
vote to know that it is now imperative you open this egg,” said the man, giving
it to her. “Opening it may provide us with a clue as to why all this has
Nari nodded. If she had had any doubts
they had now disappeared. It was a dragon’s egg, and Lillie wanted it
The eldest wizard dismissed the meeting
but, before parting, he whispered in Nari’s ear.
“You must hide,” he said. “Tell no one
where. And contact me only after you have opened the egg. The fewer people who
know where you are, the fewer people will be able to find you and the egg.”
Nari was now decided. She had to protect
the eggs and try to hatch them.