The old-fashioned ebony door was heavy, it proved to deceive any who dared enter. Wizard’s words echoed such as a light buzz when the thin appearing door swung free from its wooden frame. Magic turned the weight behind her hand from an unfathomable heaviness to that of a feather. Once half way ajar, the door swung open on its own. The enchantment on the door a test, to weigh the resolve of whom should enter.
Master Mage’s chamber was condemned years ago. Axed from the Seminary of Thaumaturgy, cursed to be hidden from anyone’s view unless an amulet was offered. Witch had found the location by smashing her quartz and reciting the words she vaguely recalled from her rebel teen years.
Veiled by twisted dark trees create a black chamber which appeared small from the outside. The door set between the edge of the SoT field and the mountain of water giving.
As Witch stepped through the dark wooden door frame, it unfolded its immensity before her. It proved to be grandeur, in both size and energy potential. The air energized by the Earth itself, voices emitted from no where in particular whispered of the welcome. An enchantment folded into the space to restrict entrance if unwelcome. Just as the ebony door had restricted the weak to enter, the darkness proved to prevent the fearful to continue further. Witch pursued deeper into the chamber, unafraid and stronger than ever.
Her tassel-adorned feet naked on the earth floor, the dirt made no smudge on her milk white skin. She moved with the grace of a queen yet an air of a widow. A gloomy black cape covered her shoulders and hid the depressed black of her straight dress. Formality a must when one approached the evil of a mage but Witch’s despair boasted louder, given away by her demeanour.
Wizard had been asleep for hours by the time she had gotten caped. The night had been unrelenting when she left the warmth of her abode. The wind had slammed against her body as she struggled toward the seminary, against her husbands will. With the memory of the cold night fresh in her mind, she moved through darkness in the chamber hidden in cloaks. The weight of rebellion against her husband heavy.
She stepped gingerly forward, the walls stretched for miles ahead. Witch feared for a moment that Wizard had learnt of her arrival and translocated her to a purgatory of hall as punishment. The abyss broke with a boom of a voice that resonated through her very soul. Master Mage was here and he sounded as though he anticipated her arrival.
“The entrance is not for faint at heart,” the sovereign of the statement not lost on Witch. Her breath hitched in her throat and her hair inadvertently dimmed to a cool grey. Master Mage could easily expel her and warn Wizard of her disobedience. It was unheard of to challenge your husband.
“Beg my intrusion,” she kept her voice low but risked another step. Light cleared the room of mystery. The endless walls shrunk, came to an end and she dropped her eyes as he appeared in front of her. Several metres ahead so Witch tried to will a bold auburn to her hair, to hide any weakness the grey revealed but it failed her. She had courage only to muster a washed-out umber shade. Breath was thick in her lungs; the infamous tales encroached her mind. Trades that were not upheld, requests that were not completed. A basic forebode from him and they were dispelled. Their energy reabsorbed back into the Earth. The mental image of their withered bodies that made up the miles of dirt. The shadowed walls made of dead souls, doomed to repent for eternity to return as an adept if they were so lucky. “I wished only to speak…”
“I know what you want, Witch,” the authority behind the boom of his voice caused her muscles to contract with distress. Her heart froze, determination of her bargain failed. Witch was certain she would be crumbled to dirt. The umber hair wisps faded and she was left white, her Hair Embelance near iridescent. “You were instructed to not come,” the command built an invisible barrier in front of her.
Her steps slowed as she heard the crackle of thaumaturgy in front of her. There was a wall built to refuse her any further. The only movement she could afford was to train her eyes upward and confront the entity she came for. Tears thick with dread as she forced the emeralds irises upon him. A flash of awe as they met the image of Master Mage. Seen by few, feared by all.
Witch took to a knee on the dirt floor. Master Mage sat bold at his bureau. His long face encased with ghost white hair. His hair slicked back, pulled tight to a tie. An appalling shadow fell over his brow. Wrinkles cracked his leathery skin, threatened to break patches off and emit dust rather than blood.
The old bureau was grand, matched the russet shade of his tarnished skin. Twisted roots of a godly Oak tree bent to create the desk shape. Emerged from the Earth on his right, bent in an unnatural way to produce a writing surface before it twisted once more to his left and shot upward into a mass of branches and leaves. The tree spurted out at the top which proved to hide any type of ceiling and spilled behind him as a curtain. To hide the horrors, he kept in the back side of his chamber, Witch thought.
Witch pulled her eyes away from the concave that created a twisted screaming shape in the depth of the Oak wood. She shuddered at the recollection of that particular fable, of an adept turned evil in this particular seminary. Banished to live a millennium in a foliage that Master Mage willed into a bureau. The humps of what appeared to be the spine, where his pencil rested, shifted from the anticipated consequence.
“Apologies, but…” Witch tripped on her words, Wizard would forgive her when the infant was born…
“Yes, Witch, I recognise why you are here. What your lifetime of labour has conjured. Yet never, an heir.” He rose from the bureau without not even a hair move. The length of his beard masked behind the desperate bureau. Perfectly still, not a fraction of a feature shifted on his face. As if he wore a clay mask to hide the rot of his own corpse. An illusion of opulence.
His overcoat hauled up with him as he stood. His motion demanded a muffled groan from the bureau. A wrenched from hell sound that was muted by his enormous sleeve. The overcoat, celestial blue as night sky with black evil edges. Appeared to hold his past death age form solid.
“I will of you, a spell. I wish to give my husband an heir. He deserves one…”
“No! You distinguish that he deserves one. What makes you so bold, Witch?” The bureau shifted its spinal bumps to attempt an escape from the bellow. Witch buried her face into her kneeling form, she could hide but the bureau was cursed to feel the wrath of its mage.
“Every witch, every wizard! They all distinguish, they all determine, they all deserve!” The power behind the words trembled the dirt beneath Witch’s knees. She dropped her body further into the earth as the beratement continued. “Crops grow thinner, seminaries pack fuller, professors wane scarcer. Every witch wants more, every wizard wants more! But who has the capacity to offer this balance? Who has the means to take from the stores these enchantments require? Thaumaturgy does not come from air, nor water nor quartz stones. It comes from Earth. It requires a trade. You must surrender before rewarder.”
Witch’s bosom stung from the pressure of which she pushed her body down. Willed for Earth to open and swallow her. Her forearms stretched out, the tips of her fingers touched the barricade of thaumaturgy Master Mage had created. The unholy restriction singed her delicate nails. The separation pushed her desperation and renewed her courage. Words tumbled from her, lips pressed in the dirt, she had no more time to waste.
“I will of you, my beauty. Take my beauty, the power I have, the Hair of Embelance.” Near inaudible, she rambled before the thaumaturgy wall crashed to her. “I am the last witch capable of this offering from near. It cannot be taught, enchanted or willed. Master Mage, I will of you, take my Hair of Embelance. I request, an infant, an heir for my husband. Show compassion. The Hair of Embelance, I offer to you, to die with you, Master Mage.” The sobs convulsed her body in the dirt. The betrayal to her husband dragged a hot knife through her but her words spun in a cycle in her mind. Just as energy cycled through the earth, so did the prayer in her mind. To will the mage before her to make the trade, take good on the offer she had been strictly prohibited of.
Witch remained doubled over, her tears turned the dirt to mud. Her lips mouthed the silent words, her eyes closed tight in fear of what repercussions Master Mage would demand of her feebleness. No professor, mage status or not would accept this type of blither. She should have enveloped herself with a strength enchantment before she approached him. To be sure her tears would not fall and show such weakness. “I will,” the iridescence of her hair grew darker, a wave of internal pain brought back the strength of her black hair, “Master, I will of you, take my beauty.” There was no sound in front of her, no positive denotion or otherwise. The silence stretched to eternity as her hope diminished to dirt.
“I will, it is all I want…” his response fell to oblivious ears as Witch continued to sob, “my beauty, my beauty- is yours.”
“Yes, Witch, stand.”
She was stunned, her own energy worn, she could not stand. Witch pulled energy of the Earth to hold herself upright. Face turned to the mud, she was in a near sleep state. Her hair fell forward created a cloak as she stood exhausted and leaning on a pedestal of thaumaturgy. Shock of the acceptance by the mage in front of her was nearly too much.
“I give to you,” Master Mage spoke and moved through the bureau and the restrictive wall without so much as a blink to touch Witch’s forehead. The touch, so light, knocked her backward. “An infant, you have. He grows, even now.” And the chamber went black once more, Witch was moved backward by Master Mage’s thaumaturgy and out the heavy door. As it was closed, the final of a chant echoed in her ears, “fior bhoidhchead.” This, Witch recognized as ‘real beauty.’
Within a down beat of her heart, she was back in the living room of her own house. The fresh morning sun peaked in the window, Witch curled and slept on the couch in her abode. The memory of her visit with Master Mage faded as if it had been a dream of yester year.