Dare You To Move
She had to be trapped in the void. There was no other explanation for the hole she’d found herself in.
No lights, no signs of life. Just the bone-chilling cold and that feeling of dread that settled beneath her skin.
“They’ll never fully trust you, you know. They’d be fools to do so. All you’ve ever done is hurt and lie… Manipulate. Hell, the one good thing you had in your life and you screwed that up by leaving in the middle of the night…” A silhouette moved from the shadows, a light showing who it was.
Her. It was her… (A different version, one with shorter hair and that manic look in her amber eyes. Lips formed into a twisted smile.)
“Think about it… The Coven appreciated you. They tried to help cultivate your strategizing skills, they let you see the realms and study from the cultures there. You’d found your people… And you threw it away…” She laughed.
“And for what? To be on trial by the Council? To surrender your life to the Company of Light? To be questioned and interrogated by Oritel and Erendor every time you turn around?”
Griffin closed her eyes, as if not seeing the other her would make her shut up. “They were going to destroy entire worlds! They were planning for a genocide of light magic! The balance would have been undone, everything would have died.” She argued.
Other Griffin snorted, shaking her head. “Oh come on… Those candy-asses could stand a little persecution… Look how they’ve done our people for centuries. The hangings, the drownings… Hell, I remember reading about how becoming a witch hunter was a viable career choice.”
She clenched her fists, glowering at her other self. “That doesn’t make genocide a good idea! I made a choice.”
“A wrong one. One you were so ashamed of that you left in the middle of the night without so much as a goodbye. What do you think ran through his mind when he returned from ShadowHaunt? Think he thinks you were killed? On mission perhaps?”
The other Her stepped forward, tugging at Griffin’s hair. Griffin turned, grabbing her wrists, shoving her away. “I wonder what he’d say about the traitor. A Judas in his midst.” Other Griffin cackled a bit. “A stab in the back.”
“No wonder the Company doesn’t trust you… If you were willing to turn on Valtor and the Ancestral Witches, what would you be willing to do to them?”
Griffin felt her anger rising, sensing out her magic. “Enough!”
Faragonda frowned, looking the witch over. “Have… You been sleeping okay? You look exhausted.”
Griffin kept moving the pieces around, her notes and maps spread in the air as she marked off places Coven members had been sighted. “We’re in a war, Faragonda. I doubt any of us have been sleeping well.” She reminded, frowning at the map of Haix.
Haix was a realm known for housing powerful spells of hypnosis and suggestive potions. A realm practically designed just for a witch like Lysslis.
“This doesn’t look good… I think I know where they’re heading…” She turned on her heels, facing Faragonda. The fairy had her arms crossed, lips pursed in a not-quite frown/not-quite pout. “What?”
“Griffin… You need to take care of yourself. We all need to take care of ourselves if we’re going to survive this.” Faragonda told her, ignoring the comments relating to actual work. “And from the looks of the exhaustion around you, you need sleep.”
The witch scoffed, shaking her head. Her concern was… Nice. But unnecessary. Oh please. She doesn’t care about you, she only cares about how you can serve them. A little voice taunted in her mind.
“Faragonda, I can handle myself. Now please let Oritel know that I think they’re heading toward Haix next and that we’ll need Saladin and Niobe to join us.” Griffin put them back on track. The brunette frowned.
“Okay Griffin. We’ll go through with this mission… But then I’m serious, you need to take a break.”
Griffin raised her hands. A ‘whatever’ sort of gesture. “Just get the others and let’s go. Before we lose the spellbooks of Haix to the Coven.”
Griffin glowered as she walked the caverns underneath the realm of Haix. (They never should have split up… But no one bothered to listen to the witch.)
‘And why would they? You’ve given them nothing but grief and pain. You’re lucky to still be breathing.’ That voice reminded her.
She closed her eyes and shook her head. She couldn’t have that. Not now. Not when she was supposed to be focused on-
“Want to explain what you’re doing here?” A familiar voice drawled, footsteps coming up in front of her.
Griffin straightened up, letting her magic flow down to her fingertips just in case he attacked first. She didn’t need to be off guard. “Same reason you’re here, I suppose.” She glowered. (Or tried to.)
(She couldn’t lie. She’d missed him. But there were some things she couldn’t overlook… And rooting for genocide was one of them.)
“I doubt that.” He leaned against the cavern wall, studying her. She could feel anger radiating from him… His entire being was anger and rage personified. But his eyes told a different story. Hurt. He was hurt.
“Saying you’re not here for the spellbooks?” She asked, refusing to let her guard down. She knew her partner. He’d kill her the instant she showed weakness. The instant she hesitated. (But would it be so bad…? Isn’t it what she deserved after everything that had happened?)
Valtor gave a breathless laugh. “I am. But not for the Company.” His face contorted at that, the flames flashing in his eyes. “You know, I didn’t want to believe it at first… I mean… Griffin Sylvane? A traitor? To us? Surely there was a mistake…”
“But it wasn’t… Was it? No. You left. To join them.” He paused. “Did you really think you’d get away with it?”
He started to charge her and she went for a blast of energy, missing and hitting one of the walls.
Rocks began to shake, but not fall, a warning. He grabbed her wrists, pinning them. “I’d suggest you not do that again… Unless you’d like to cause a cave-in.” He warned, letting the heat get to his palms, just enough to warn her but not enough to fully burn her.
“What now then? Going to take me to stand ‘trial’ against the Ancestral Witches?” She half-taunted. (It’d be the one trial she’d never walk away from. She’d be made an example of in front of all the Inner Circle members, and then they’d kill her. Slowly, and painfully.)
Valtor let her go, moving a few steps away but never turning his back. “No. But I wouldn’t be opposed to you apologizing and coming home.” Griffin glared, crossing her arms.
“Oh yes. I’m just going to walk right back into Obsidian and be accepted back. How stupid do you think I am?” She growled. He tilted his head, the way his hair fell making him seem more like a curious child than the powerful wizard that he was.
“I’ve never considered you anything less than brilliant, Griffin. Hell, aside from my mothers, you’re probably the most intelligent witch I know.” A genuine compliment from him? One without a snide remark or teasing tone? Damn she was in trouble…
Damn him. Damn him. Why now? Why choose now to be gentle?
“You can come home, Griffin. We’ll forgive you for this. Hell, it’s probably a good thing you’ve been gone for a few weeks… It means you have a little insight on what they’re up to. You can help us turn this all around.” Valtor walked back up to her, extending his hand. “All you have to do is come home.”
And damn if it wasn’t a tempting offer. ‘Do it. This is your last chance to do what’s best for you. Do what you want for once in your life. Go home. Forget the Company. Forget it all.’
‘They’d forget about you in a heartbeat. To them, you’re just another witch. Another expendable pawn. The Coven were the only ones to understand your worth. And you know it.’
“I can’t. There are innocent lives on the line, Valtor… I can’t risk those lives.” She finally found her voice, taking a step back, her hands behind her back.
“Innocent lives? You can’t possibly mean the Company’s lives. Can you?” Valtor asked, his tone almost amused.
Griffin scowled. “Hell no. They’re just as guilty as any of us…” She paused. “I’m talking about the genocide plans I’d found. Wiping light magic off the realms. We don’t have the right to do that.” She paused. “Look what happened to Earth when they lost their light magic.”
Valtor paused, as if weighing what she’d said. “And if I could promise that those who are… Innocent… Will not be harmed?”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Valtor. It’s unbecoming.” She snipped. He gave that smile, the genuine smile that she swore could melt ice.
Valtor stepped closer, tilting her chin up so her eyes met his. “Have I ever before?” No. He was a lot of things… Thief. Manipulative. Passionate. An idealist. And a wizard of his word. “All I’d have to do is say the word… Hell, you can alter the plans yourself if you wish.”
“You were always the favored strategist.” He continued, letting her go. “But if you really want to stay where they obviously don’t want you… Then who am I to stand in your way?” There it was. The manipulation.
“Excuse me?” And she’d taken it. “I’m here with them, am I not?” Valtor shrugged.
“You are. But do they listen to you the way we did? Do they take into account your ideas and how your strategies have always worked in the past? Or do they take you for granted and treat you like a criminal, despite your… Repentance?”
‘Just go home. Forget the Company. They don’t need you. Erendor and Oritel have both said as much… Faragonda and Saladin are the only reasons you weren’t executed on the spot…’
“Griffin?” He asked, that smug tone in his voice. He knew. He knew he’d gotten to her. “Come home.”
She wrapped her arms around herself. Either choice would doom her.
Stay with the Company of Light and continue being treated as some sort of second-class citizen because she was not only a witch, but a witch who’d made the mistake of trusting the Ancestral Witches?
Or go back with Valtor and be treated as an equal (to all but the Ancestral Witches), and pray that she’d be allowed to alter the plans they’d made against the Magical Dimension?
The witch took a breath and looked into his eyes, blue meeting amber. She’d made her choice, and may the Dragons have mercy on her for it.