Drop me a line 23! The Nolavia Curse Part ten.

 

 

 

Kesh gave me this line; a truth that I hope will get Esereht out of her predicament.

 

Passion rules over reason, I thought desperately. How could I get Anaira to release me at her own volition? She wanted so badly to destroy me; perhaps I could turn that to my advantage.

“Well, Anaira this is a great compliment. You have taken my wand and you bind me like a cur because you know I would defeat you if we were on equal terms. Your magic has lost its power. Now I see why you are so afraid. If Nolavia only knew they had nothing to fear from you. Why, I think if Assennav were not so wounded she could defeat you too.” I said.

Anaira turned from Assennav and strode over to me, her fur-lined boots squeaking on the frozen ground. I forced myself to look into her eyes without blinking.

“Esereht I shall enjoy ripping you apart, dear cousin. You are just as weak as your pathetic mother and must I remind you how she fared? I dismembered her piece by piece as she pleaded with me to let her die. You shall do the same. She thought she could take my power from me and you are just as deluded. I am the only witch worthy of ruling Nolavia and soon everyone will realise that. You and your community building, it’s a joke!” She spat on the ground. “ I will once again make Nolavia a strong and feared nation and I will start with your death.”

Her face was level with mine and I did the only thing I could, I sent a fire flare from my eyes to hers. She yelled out in surprise and pulled her head back just in time but her hair burst into flames. She doused the flames with a dazed chant. Her hair shriveled exposing a vulnerably pink scalp. Anaira stepped away from me her eyebrow-less face confused. She recovered herself and I prepared to be ripped apart. I had gone too far.

Anaira stood quietly for a moment observing me. Then she tapped her head and luxurious Auburn curls covered her scalp and tumbled down her back and shapely eyebrows once more adorned her face. She touched her head again and her hair was white as before.

“Oh dear, I rather preferred the red.” I said with cheerfulness that I did not feel.

“Don’t you see Esereht that you cannot destroy me? Anything you do I can revert. But I do not like to be played with and I am tired of your games.” She flicked her wand.

The hands tightened around my wrists and ankles. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply waiting for the pain to begin. Nothing happened. The hands tried to pull, jerking and straining but my body refused to stretch. The protective covering had worked. Anaira stamped her feet, ground her teeth and sent shock wave after shock wave my way. I twisted and writhed until the hands shattered and I clattered to the ground. I stood up and shook the snow from my now ragged cloak. My body was bruised all over but I ignored the discomfort and walked towards Anaira confidently.

She backed away, her mouth agape. She spun and ran from me screaming for her dragons. I stood calmly as she ran in circles. All calm coldness was gone and her cheeks were flushed. I rapidly created a fire canopy over Assennav and one for myself to protect us from dragon fire but I did not look away from Anaira. She was frightened and her eyes darted this way and that. I raised my hand and she created a shield. One dragon screeched swooping down in front of her emitting a stream of fire that pushed me back. I could see hundreds of black shapes converging in the sky. Anaira leapt on the dragons back as Sezloc scuttled towards her.

“Anaira, mistress please don’t forget about me.” He cried out, his bloody stump still oozing as he held out his arms beseechingly. She kicked out at him with her boot and he fell into a heap, wailing like a child. The dragon flapped his great wings and they ascended into the grey sky.

 

To be continued…

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Drop me a line 23! The Nolavia Curse Part Nine.

 

I was really stumped and had no idea what was to happen next and then Lynne send me this line.

 

The temperature dropped suddenly and I felt the chill in my bones. The cold woke me from a nightmare but I soon remembered that the nightmare was here and now. The day ahead would define me as a witch and as a person. The mirror was silent as I stared at my shadowy reflection. My body ached from the many nights on the floor.

It was time. I drew a deep breath and repeated the words my wise, albeit talkative, Grandmother had given me the night before. I slowly removed my clothes and standing naked and shivering I ran my fingers lightly over my body. As my hands touched my skin it tingled as though I were pouring warm water over myself. I had to be careful not to break contact until my whole body was covered including the soles of my feet. This magical coating was stronger than diamonds. Only air could penetrate it. No dagger or sword could pierce it and I prayed that no rack could stretch it. I was encased in magical armour. For the final seal I looked back into the mirror and sent a surge of unconditional love to everyone in Nolavia, Assennav in her cage and to myself.

Whatever happened today I would remain true to what I believed. Nolavia was a nation of integrity and respect for life and I would do what I needed to ensure my country’s survival. Anaira would try to break me but she could only destroy my body. It terrified me that I’d have to witness her torment Assennav further but I would do everything I could to lessen her suffering.

I replaced my clothes and stared at my assistant suspended in nothingness. Would I have an opportunity to coat her in the same armour? I did not know if it would work over clothes or even if it could endure Anaira’s magic. There was so much I didn’t know.

I stiffened as I heard footsteps and the door creak open. Sezloc sauntered into the room. He held no tray and his expression was suppressed excitement.

“The time has come Esereht for you to bow to the superior power of Anaira.” He said. I glared at him hoping that he could not hear my thudding heart or the doubts in my mind but said nothing. Anaira swept in. She was dressed in an Emerald green cloak and her eyes shone. She held a finely crafted wand in one hand and in the other – my stomach clenched – my own more parochial wand.

“You dropped this?” She said smiling. I tried to shrug nonchalantly but I felt sick inside. It is one thing not to need a wand and quite another to have one’s own used against you. In normal circumstances I would mutter a novice spell and it would leave Anaira’s hand and fly to me but I knew these were not normal circumstances. She would already have bound my wand to her. I berated myself for not having the foresight when it fell to either neutralise it or make it return to Nolavia. But it was too late for regrets.

“Let’s release your little friend, shall we?” Anaira said. I could feel the excitement radiating from her and anger and frustration welled up in me. I pushed my emotions aside. They would only distract me. I needed a cold focus of my objective. Emotion could come later when we were safely in Nolavia.

Anaira used my wand to dissolve the iron bars and Assennav slumped to the floor with an anguished cry. Anaira raised her with my wand again and she screamed in pain. I gritted my teeth but did not move. I scanned her body for damage and saw the ruptured spleen and bleeding within her abdominal cavity. They had beaten her dreadfully. I focused healing from within and saw with relief that her organs responded. Anaira saw it too and she screeched with annoyance and flicked my own wand at me. The force of her strike sent me sprawling but I was unharmed and stood up rapidly. Anaira looked disconcerted and stared at the wand. She tucked it into her cloak not trusting its loyalty to her. It was my armour not my wand that had saved me and I praised the spirit of my grandmother, mentally high fiving with gratitude.

“This place bores me. Come, we will go outside.” Anaira said. Sezloc dragged Assennav whimpering out into the courtyard. I walked behind them trying to ease her pain. Anaira frowned and Sezloc prodded me in the back with a long finger. It would be so easy to send him flying up into the air but I restrained myself.

An icy wind swirled and snowflakes danced against our faces. Anaira was instantly wrapped into a white Polar Bear fur coat that dragged on the whitening ground. I could feel the temperature change but remained warm. Assennav, however, was shivering. I flicked a warm cape over her shoulders which Anaira sent flying over the castle walls. I flicked another and another.

“Esereht you are annoying me. Perhaps this will stop you playing childish games. She sent a spell hurtling my way that looked like a demolition ball aimed at my legs. I was knocked onto my back by the force of it but once again was completely unharmed.

“Sezloc grab her. We will bind her with magic.” Anaira growled. Now was my time to act – decisively. I hit Sezloc with a cutthroat curse, which he deflected from his neck but it cut his hand off at the wrist. Dark red blood gushed from the stump and he shrieked with pain. Anaira sent a host of daggers aimed at my heart but they fell uselessly to the ground. She howled in frustration and directed The Rack spell towards me. Four magical hands grabbed my arms and legs and spread-eagled me in the air.

Inspired by Kings of old who had their enemies drawn and quartered Anaira had developed her own version. Needing no horses it was just as effective. This had been the spell that would have killed me if it had not been for the mysterious wizard who had attacked the castle and released me. Anaira had been powerless to stop him as he deflected The Rack onto her. She had screeched and cursed him but to no avail. It was the one torture that terrified me. I was helpless. One flick of Anaira’s wand would have the hands pull me apart.

“Now where were we?” Anaira’s smile was back and she turned to Assennav who was shivering in a heap on the ground.

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

Drop me a line 22! The Nolavia Curse Part Eight.

 

 

This sentence from Rae had to be shortened to fit the situation but made Anaira come alive for me.

 

A familiar smell, no, a fragrance, wafted through the keyhole and I was instantly alert. I had scratched twelve notches into the wardrobe so I knew twelve days had passed but day or night the gloominess in the room stayed constant.

The door opened and Anaira swept in, bright as summer and as fragrant.

“Esereht, my dear. I am so sorry not to have been here to welcome you. But I am here now.” She said in her distinctive husky, cherries soaked in brandy, voice.

“Yippee.” I said without enthusiasm. She looked exactly like I remembered her. Long white hair cascaded down her back, highlighted by her crimson cloak, her delicate face unlined and compelling. Her green eyes narrowed at my remark and her lips pulled back from her perfect teeth into a sneer.

“You don’t seem happy to see me? Oh dear and I was so looking forward to our reunion. You left last time without saying goodbye, do you remember?” Her voice tinkled like ice against crystal.

“How could I forget…?” I started to say and she leapt at me, her face inches from mine, her breath smelling of juniper and lemon zest.

“You will soon remember everything. And then you will plead to remember nothing.” She hissed stepping back. She gazed at me breathing deeply and then she smiled. “Sezloc has been so excited. He has quite a passion for you, my dear. When this is over, you will be my gift to him. He has been a loyal subject and deserves a reward.”

“I am not yours to give as a gift- to anyone!” I said sharply and she lifted her hand. I crashed headfirst into the wardrobe and fell to the floor. I wiped the blood from my lip and laughed mirthlessly.

“Anaira you have become a thug, have I crept under that thick skin of yours?” She had prided herself in the past for her ability to keep her emotions hidden. She now glared at me with open animosity.

“You will be begging me for mercy before long Esereht. As for your little friend, you will watch her break and know you led her to her ruin.” Anaira turned and stalked from the room.

All my bluster disintegrated immediately and I felt a sob rise up in my throat. I pushed it down and steadied my breathing. I was a powerful witch not the inexperienced girl of the past. I needed to pull myself together and start planning. There would be no knight in shining armour to rescue me this time.

I closed my eyes and forced my body to relax as my mind sifted through the spells and incantations I had accumulated over the years. I had access to all of Anaira’s past learning as well as a century of new knowledge. I worked with an energy that was life-affirming and love-based. I always have. The dark arts with its temptations held no attraction for me. I needed to hold onto that now and not descend into hate and revenge. If Assennav and I were to leave this castle alive remembering that was going to be vital.

The door opened and Sezloc came in with a tray again.

“I don’t need your trays of food. I am quite capable of providing for myself.” I said irritably.

“Oh my dear let me do this little thing for you. After all we are still at the courting stage. Once we are joined perhaps…?” He said the tip of his tongue licking his bottom lip. My stomach heaved in revolt and I looked away. “Clever girl using the Nirabuses. Anaira was livid about that. She has never been able to obtain their assistance.” He said with obvious admiration. “They caused much suffering to her dragons and you will be pleased to hear all but two escaped.” I felt a surge of joy but kept my face neutral.

“Why are you telling me this? Surely Anaira would not wish me to know?”

“Small triumph, dearest Esereht, my gift to you. I’m afraid Anaira has prepared an ingenious day tomorrow. Sleep well, my sweet, you will need your strength.” I met the news with relief and foreboding. I was tired of waiting. I quietened my mind and sought Ruatnac telepathically. He answered immediately.

“Esereht?”

“Are you safe?”

“Yes all but Asudem and Grivette. They were burned too badly and succumbed. Where are you?”

“I am sorry,” I said sadly. “You were all so brave. I am locked up in Anaira’s castle. Assennav is imprisoned in an enchanted cage but she’s alive. Anaira has something unpleasant planned for us tomorrow but I’m ready.”

“We have not abandoned you Esereht. We will speak again.” And Ruatnac faded from my mind. I felt particularly alone suddenly and had to fight the self-pity welling up in me.

I subdued my despair by practicing spells. I enchanted the wardrobe mirror with the spirit of my grandmother. This proved to be a mistake. I had forgotten how garrulous she was and she chattered into the night. As she started to tire however, many wise incantations and ideas flowed from the mirror. One seemed particularly enticing and I practiced until I was proficient. Sleep came finally offering me welcome relief from the circling thoughts.

 

To be continued….

Drop me a line 21! The Nolavia Curse Part seven.

 

The wind whistling in my ears obliterated all thoughts except Anaira. Maintaining the spell keeping me from being scalped was exhausting. By the time the dragon released me, a few feet from a moat surrounding a castle, I had no energy to prevent my undignified fall into the stagnant water. I sat waist deep, strands of algae adorning my cloak while a few dragons chuckled from their perch in a sprawling Oak tree. Black crows cawed and circled above.

A drawbridge dropped with a clatter as I scrambled from the water. I needed to rest to have any hope of defending myself against Anaira so I did not attempt to dry my clothes. My cloak dragged heavy behind me as I walked over the drawbridge and into the courtyard of the castle. I had been here before and recognised every turret and alcove of this dreaded place. I had only walked out through the help of a wizard I never saw again.

The courtyard was deserted except for a scattering of dragons. I walked to the heavy wooden doors that barred the entrance of the castle. They were carved with intricate scenes of battles. Knights on armoured unicorns fighting with silver swords, dragons with emerald eyes spitting rubies and garnets. The doors swung open upon my approach, waited for me to walk inside and slammed resolutely closed behind me. I stood in the vast entrance hall. Life sized portraits hung on the expansive walls and the eyes seemed to follow me as I walked to the staircase.

I swung around to face the foul breathing at my neck. I looked into the red-veined implacable eyes of Sezloc. I tried to control the trembling in my body as it remembered the agony he had wrought so many years ago. It is as though those years in between have never happened and the remembering envelops me in shadow.

“Well, well we meet again sweet Esereht.” My knees buckled and Sezloc caught me in his arms. I recoiled and held the bannister of the long wooden staircase to steady my shaking body. Sezloc was a goblin of indescribable evil. A pall of green smoke shrouded him when he thought no one was looking. He controlled it now and the air around him was deceptively clear.

“Anaira hoped to be here to welcome you but she has been unavoidably detained. I shall play the gracious host, however. Follow me my dear. Do not be afraid, Anaira would not want me to start without her. She hates to miss out on the excitement. A friend of yours arrived a while back. Perhaps you would like to see her?” Sezloc’s voice was oily conviviality and he stood back to let me walk up the stairs. I could hear only my own footfalls on the wooden steps. Sezloc moved with eerie silence. “Here we are.” He said and I stopped in front of a heavy door. A face was deeply grooved into the wood.

“Who wishes entrance?” The wooden mouth moved to form the words. Sezloc flicked his hand dismissively and the door swung open with a tired creak. I hesitated before walking inside. Sezloc did not join me. He stood in the doorway with a strange expression on his hideous face. I looked away and the door creak closed.

It was dark in the room and my eyes took time to grow accustomed to the gloom. The figure of Assennav hanging inside a scaffold of iron bars emerged like a mirage. Magic was the rope that suspended her. Her head was thrown back and anguish etched her beautiful face. I cried out but she did not seem to hear me. I rattled the iron cage but she did not stir. I could only imagine the nightmare in which she was confined.

I ran my fingers over the bars trying to find a chink in the magic but there was none. It was solid in spite of its appearance. I sat down beside it and leant my head against the cold iron. I needed rest but I could already feel magic surging back into my body. I had no idea whether it would be enough to free Assennav but I was not defeated yet. In spite of my anxiety I fell into a dreamless sleep. It was profoundly dark when I awoke, stiff from the floor. I raised my palm outward and light illuminated Assennav still suspended by invisible bonds.

I extinguished the light quickly as the door creaked open. Sezloc stood in the doorway, a light streaming from his third eye like a storm lantern and his hands holding a laden tray.

“I thought I might join you for dinner.” He said, charm dripping like hemlock.

“I’m not hungry.” I said sitting down against a wardrobe on the furthest wall of the room. A waft of dust made me sneeze.

“Bless you.” He said.

“Please go. You know curses but nothing of blessings. It is enough that you have Assennav and myself imprisoned. Go away.” I said. My voice was strident and I had failed to hide my hatred. He sniggered and put down the tray.

“Very well, my dear. I shall have plenty of time to make you my own. I will grant you these last few moments.” And he strode from the room.

What did he mean, make me his own, I thought shuddering.

 

 

To be continued…

Drop me a line 20! The Nolavia Curse Part Six

 

Thank you to all the new people following or liking ‘Drop me a line ‘and particularly ‘The Nolavia Curse.’ Please don’t forget to drop me a line. All of them help me move the story forward.

Gaia sent this succinct line:

 

“Where the hell are we?”  Said Tragnet vocalising what we all thought. We were in a clearing of densely packed trees all seeking the light above. I have seen this forest in my dreams, I realised with foreboding.

“I smell dragons.” Ruatnac said as he sniffed the air. The luggage scooted behind me almost bumping me over and the Nirabuses sniffed in unison, an odd pack of bloodhounds on the trail. They beat their tails on the ground and the thudding was old and primal. I took out my wand, an archaic but effective tool in this situation. It directed a beam of magic with impeccable accuracy. Being hemmed in by gigantic trees was one of my worst nightmares. Flying is my least favourite mode of transport but if necessary I could do it. I doubted the Nirabuses talent for flight, however.

“Top and tail boys!” Ruatnac yelled and the six formed a circle around me. They alternated one facing in and one out. The three with tails out swung the rounded ends up so that they resembled scorpions about to strike.

We heard the screams of Dragons before the whooshing of wings cut through the air. I raised my wand and shouted the incantation that drew an impenetrable canopy over us. Their fire could not pierce it from the air but dragons were wily creatures. They would soon find another way to torment us. I could see them through the opaque covering and gasped.

“There are hundreds of them!” Pangelle whispered. My brain was hastily sifting through spells and memories trying to find something that would give us an advantage. One random memory stood out. I was twenty – in real years not witch deception and Anaira was trying to seduce me to become her apprentice. Her arrogance was admirable but I had not forgotten that she killed my mother. She did not believe in relationships of any kind. She told me that every living thing could be bought if you knew their price.

“Everyone’s price is different. The difficulty is identifying it. Take dragons for example. Most of them are notoriously greedy, for everything, jewels, food, you name it.” She had chuckled in that icy way she had. “I’ve trapped hundreds of dragons that way. Baited them like common foxes. I just need to discover your price, my dear.” She had been livid that not everyone could be bought. I had nearly died that day. Anaira was not a witch to be thwarted easily.

It was scorching under the canopy as dragons poured fire upon the covering not realising yet that they could not penetrate it. I tapped the ground numerous times saying the name of every gem I could remember and piles of glittering stones lay in front of me. They didn’t look impressive enough and the dragons were coming closer. Soon they would understand that they needed to land for their fire to be effective. I flicked my wand calling out, necklace, bracelet, anklet and charm. Soon all the gems were set in silver and gold. I flicked my wand and sent the jewellery scattering up into the treetops. The dragons changed course screaming and fighting to get to the dazzling objects.

“Run into the trees. We need to find Assennav. We wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t close. Spread out, the gems won’t divert their attention for long.” I shouted running into the thicket. The ground trembled under the thudding Nirabuses’ feet. Already some of the dragons had returned, sparkling gems dripping from necks and feet. I deflected a fiery flare just in time but the smell of my singed hair clung to my nostrils. The noise was deafening. Nirabuses and Dragons were tumbling over each other and it was impossible to tell who would be the victor.

A claw grabbed my hair lifting me into the air. The dragon’s tail whipped my wand from my hand and it fell away into the trees. I was swinging excruciatingly from my hair, which had tumbled free from its hairpins but not the claws. In my terror I managed to chant a spell to prevent my hair pulling away from my scalp but I was dangling helplessly. The sky was black with dragons. The Nirabuses would fight valiantly but I knew it was just a matter of time before they too were overpowered. Assennav was the lure and we had fallen into Anaira’s trap.

 

 

To be continued….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drop me a line 19! The Nolavia Curse Part Five.

Mike sent this line to continue…

 

Looking back at the cave Assennav was nowhere to be seen. Where was that confounded girl?

“Assennav, where are you?” I walked towards the opening of the cave. The floor was scuffled and two drops of blood lay crimson on the white sand. My stomach clenched with anxiety. How was I to tell Tarem I’d lost his daughter? This trip was proving more treacherous by the minute. I muttered an incantation, closed my eyes and the events of the past hour re-wound at double speed. I ignored my interaction with the Nirabus, concentrating instead at what was happening behind me in the cave. I murmured a zoom spell and the background grew closer.

A hideous Bolderdock with six legs and a proboscis for a mouth had Assennav in his clutches. She was fighting the creature gallantly and it was struggling to hold onto her. She bit its flailing proboscis and it let go. So it was the Bolderdock’s blood not Assennav’s that lay on the sand. Good for her, I thought and then groaned. Another Bolderdock came around the cave and together they dragged her away. I should have guessed, Bolderdocks are notoriously cowardly and seldom work alone.

I’d never heard of them attacking people though, preferring smaller, more helpless pray. They dissolve their food through an enzyme they secrete through the proboscis. It is a protracted and painful death. But they have no sting, venom or even teeth to subdue their victims. Assennav would be more trouble than she was worth to them. So why would they take the girl if not to eat her? I smelt Anaira’s hand in this. She kept a colony of disgusting beasts to do her dirty work. I was going to need the Nirabus earlier than I had first thought. I walked back to the edge of the water and brought the conch shell to my lips.

“Did you forget something?” The booming voice came a few minutes later.

“My assistant has been taken by Bolderdocks. I need your help to find her. I have a feeling it is Anaira’s handiwork.”

“Mmm…I think you are correct. I was in the middle of something Esereht, give me an hour or so and I will be ready to go with you. Perhaps some friends of mine may be willing to join our mission.”

I sat down cross-legged on the sand. The bags crept closer nuzzling my elbow.

“It will be fine. We will find her. I know we will.” I said with a confidence I did not feel. Assennav was annoying but I’d become fond of her in spite of myself. Judging from the sorrowful luggage they missed her too.

Hearing my name I looked up from my brooding. The Nirabus walked onto the beach. He really was a most imposing sight. He had four sturdy webbed feet as solid as an elephant’s but his legs were longer. He stood at least ten feet high and his ears protruded from his head like fins. He had a long tail that tapered into something resembling a cannonball and outside the water his teeth were even more impressive.

He strode up to me as I scrambled upright and bent his head in greeting. His eyes were huge and aquamarine in colour and he had a rounded nose like a dolphin.

“Ruatnac, at your service.” He said, bowing. “It will be important to distinguish one Nirabus from another.” My mouth fell open in astonishment. One by one five Nirabuses walked onto the shore introducing themselves solemnly.

“Ceratur.”

“Asudem”

“Tragnet.”

“Grivette.”

“Pangelle”

They all looked exactly the same. I flushed with embarrassment.

“Forgive me but I will need some help to remember your names.” They clacked with amusement and the bay clanged like castanets. I flicked my hand and each Nirabus had a small placard around his neck with his name printed boldly in black ink. “That’s better. We will make quite a formidable team. Ruatnac, do you teleport? I have no idea where Assennav is being held.”

“We are magical beings Esereht. We can travel in all the usual ways.” Ruatnac said. The others nodded, their ears beating like seals clapping. I turned away before they saw my amusement. We stood head to tail, the luggage hovering above us trembling with anticipation.

“To Assennav!” I yelled.

 

To be continued…

Drop me a line 18! The Nolavia Curse Part 4

 

Andrew sent this line. As he is swimming with Dolphins in Mozambique I hope he enjoys the use of his sentence.

 

The distant shoreline loomed through the morning haze and I knew that nothing would be the same. Anaira was back and she would do everything in her power to thwart our efforts. I couldn’t help thinking of my mother. It saddened me to know that she and Anaira were forever linked. An ache began again in my chest and I shoved it aside. I could not afford to think about this now- or ever.

“What’s the point of this mission if Anaira is on to us. You said yourself that she’s the most powerful witch alive.” Assennav said flopping down on the ground. The bags tumbled out the sky to land at her feet with a groan.

“She was the most powerful witch, the emphasis is on was. I’ve been practicing since I last saw her.” I said, more to convince myself than Assennav.

“Oh Please! She must be like two hundred years old, if the rumours are to be believed. She’s had tons more practise than you.”

“I’ll have you know that I am one hundred and two years in October. Age is hardly a sign of proficiency.”

“I don’t believe you. Are you really that old?” The girl said staring at me.

“Assennav, don’t be ridiculous, you must know that most witches use enchantment spells to keep them young?” I said walking away. I needed some space from her annoying questioning. She followed me and we stood looking out at the ocean.

“Why didn’t you choose to stay young, like me?” She said.

“Because sixteen is hardly a credible age for a witch. You need to instill respect in people. Besides twenty-five was a good year for me. Now let’s talk no more of this. Try to conjure breakfast again this morning you need to practice. Burnt toast and wobbly eggs are not acceptable. Is that clear?” I swivelled my head and flicked flames from my eyes to intimidate her a little.

“Fine!” She said and flounced off. She produced a passable breakfast of pork sausages and fried eggs with a sprinkling of rocket and basil.

“Getting better.” I called over my shoulder. I needed to think and her constant chattering was distracting. She did not follow and I ate looking out at the azure expanse ahead. I put down my plate and stared intently at the water. Something leapt high into the air diving back with a splash that even at this great distance I could see. Surely not a Mermaid, it would hardly make a wave? A whale? The water was calm for a few moments and then again the creature leapt from the depths.

This time I knew it was a Nirabus. I hadn’t seen one in years. Everyone believed they were extinct. A Nirabus was as big as a killer whale with teeth as long as an elephant’s tusks and a temper as fierce as a wounded buffalo. They were equally comfortable on land as in water and were loyal and incredibly useful friends to have. I felt a surge of excitement. My mother had been a very average witch except in one area, animals. She’d had an uncanny knack with all animals. We always had dozens of four-legged creatures roaming unfettered in our home. I had a pure white cat once. A strange anomaly for a witch I know, but I had loved him passionately. My father dismissed them all when she died. I was so heart broken I’ve never kept an animal since. My mother left me a conch shell, among other things, that she had used once very successfully to call a Nirabus to her aid. I did a mental itinerary of the contents in the bags.

“Assennav? Do you remember packing a conch shell into one of the bags?” I said walking towards her. It was possible to summon anything to me but it took energy that I preferred to preserve.

“Yeah, I thought it a silly thing to take on a trip but you said to pack everything” She said waving the food and dishes away. “…Including the kitchen sink.” She added under her breath.

I clapped my hands together three times. “Conch shell.” I said and one of the bags flew open and the shell settled into my hands.

“Get ready to teleport. Keep your zips zippered please, luggage, I want no mistakes this time. Assennav hold my hand it will greatly aid our hair.

We landed smoothly on soft white sand to the sound of water slapping the shore.

“Go and stand closer to the cave Assennav. If this goes wrong you can take shelter there. Do not under any circumstances come closer. Listen please, this is important. I have seen witches snapped in two by a Nirabus.”

“Why are you doing it then? What will I do if you die? You are so selfish Esereht. What about me?” She wailed.

“If it works this will be a huge advantage, if it doesn’t, teleport back home again. You’ve had enough practice.” I waited for her to withdraw before bringing the conch to my mouth. I closed my eyes and sent waves of love and respect to the Nirabus, and blew into the shell. A haunting cry echoed in the bay. I waited a few minutes before blowing a second time being careful to close my eyes and send love and respect over the ocean again.

“Who calls?” Said a reverberating voice like thunder rolling down a valley. I opened my eyes and the Nirabus bobbed on the surface of the water, his long teeth glistening in the sun.

“It is I, Esereht, daughter of Siralie of Nolavia.” I said bowing my head.

“Siralie, I remember her well although I have not seen her for many years. Esereht? Yes, she presented you the last time I saw her. You were just a wisp of a girl.”

“I remember hiding behind my mother’s cloak in terror. You were imposing and I was only five years old.” He chuckled like a thousand nutcrackers snapping. “It was a few weeks before Anaira killed my Mother.” I said.

“She is dead?” His voice bounced off the water – a mournful echo and he disappeared under the sea for many minutes. I waited. He surfaced in a great wave that crashed onto the shore. I shielded myself from the spray with my hand and the water evaporated with a hiss.

“I have come to ask you for assistance. Anaira has doomed Nolavia with a curse that none has been able to neutralise. I need to get to the top of the Sednasi Mountains but I fear that Anaira will be waiting for me.” I said as the water settled.

“You have it. Use the conch and I will be there.” He said sinking slowly until I could no longer see him.

 

To be continued…