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title Chapter 2
name Aileen Doll (ip:)
  • date 2016-11-08
  • Recommend Recommend
  • hit 403
point 0points

Hill of Sidh


Novelist : Judit Elias


CHAPTER 2



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 your hands...”

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 you?”

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 that?”

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 thunder.

“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 was deafening.

“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 disappear.

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 with you.”

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 mutual.

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 air.

“Where did you find the egg?”

Nari opened her mouth, but Lillie hadn’t finished her question.

“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 together.”

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 it?”

“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 her rant.

“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 sarcastically.

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.”

“Stop 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 the floor.

“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 legs.

“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.”

Nari flinched.

“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 happened.”

Nari nodded. If she had had any doubts they had now disappeared. It was a dragon’s egg, and Lillie wanted it destroyed. Badly.

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.

 
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