Sorceress of Athione

Julia stood outside Athione’s vault. The steel barred gate stood a pace or two ahead, and beyond it the wooden door Darius had warded. Davos stood guard nearby. He couldn’t see her of course, but she smiled at him automatically. He was Moriz’s son-in-law.

The memory of Moriz’s death crashed into her, and anger flooded her mind. Rage as hot as a smithy’s forge flashed into her thoughts, and the world wobbled. That’s what it felt like. It wobbled and flexed around her. The walls rippled as if she were a rock tossed into a pond. She took a deep breath and tried to calm herself.

Since coming here she’d experienced these spells of unreasoning anger a few times. Living through disaster after disaster without being able to change the outcomes were part of it, but it was also knowing nothing she did here in dreams mattered. She was Demophon’s captive. She felt like a brain in a box without a body, dreaming of real life but unable to experience it.

Julia breathed deeply and centred her thoughts on Keverin. He was her anchor. Remembering his strength and love for her always worked. In her mind they danced and danced and danced, holding each other forever, the music never ending. Never apart. Never alone. He was like her universe. She’d been brought to Deva by Darius for him, and she’d stayed for him, and she’d fought for him, and she’d die for him, and…

The world flexed once more and slammed back into solidity. Moriz and Halbert were gone. They were with Udall and so many other dear friends. Gideon would say they were at God’s side now. Was it wicked of her to hope He would send them back? Like Dirl, Kev’s ancestor, Moriz and Halbert would find each other again and get up to mischief together. That way she might find them. It was wicked and self-centred, but she prayed for them to come back to her.

The world tilted and rocked under her feet.

Julia sighed and stopped thinking that way. It was wrong, and… it was wrong. She couldn’t heal death, and certainly not without magic. In this place, she might summon their spirits and trap them here without knowing it. She didn’t know enough to say it wasn’t possible. It was a world of dreams after all. Anything might happen here.

Mark E. Cooper

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