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Darkest Hour

Chapter Text

The cavern interior was made of jagged, waywardly spiked obsidian, but still hewn in a way that it looked uniformly equilateral and thought out. Thin lines of magma traced the floor in a pattern that, when viewed from the angle of the beautiful, eight foot tall equally obsidian throne at the back of the room, appeared similar to a lotus. The air was hot and filled with the scent of fire and brimstone; spurts of smoke and crackling flame occasionally erupted from the magma streams within the floor, heating the stone of the cavern hot enough that it could set paper ablaze if it dropped there. To most, this cave would be a completely inhospitable environment.

To the Summoner, however, it was home.

The draconian woman sat in her throne, tapping her claws rhythmically against the armrest in wait. It felt like years – aeons, possibly, and while dragons were known to live for thousands of years, every passing moment kindled the fire of her rage. With every minute her anger brewed, but the Summoner reminded herself to be patient. Her revenge would come, and when it did, it would be a punishment fitting the crime. Torture unlike any she had ever delivered – pain immeasurable and all-consuming and -

“My lady?”

The Summoner’s head whipped toward the entrance of the cave. There, giving a small curtsy, stood her faithful worker – the ice sprite. She walked – tiptoed, really – atop the seething hot cave floors, the ice that naturally formed from and clung to her pale blue body melting to the floor with a sizzle before it solidified again only to melt, freeze over again, and repeat.

“Sombra.” The dragon's voice was a low rumble. “You have news?”

“Well, uh...” The ice sprite clasped her rimed hands together, giving a nervous chuckle. “News? Not really. But-”

“Sombra.” Her voice deepened into a low growl. The Summoner’s rage sparked further and her lair reacted with her; the ground gave a small rumble and fire hissed from cracks in the floor, licking at the feet of the sprite.

“Ouch!” The sprite yelped as the heat melted at her body – not that the flame would fully melt her, for her body froze over again in an instant.

“Remind me again why I haven’t melted you upon my floor.” The Summoner’s voice became distorted. She raised her hand from her armrest, twirling her pointer finger in the air; smoke followed it like it would a stick of incense as the arcane gesture caused the flames in the floor to billow until white hot.

After a moment the Summoner waved her hand away – the flames died immediately.

Before Sombra could defend herself, the Summoner finished her thought, giving the closest thing to a smile that a dragon could muster. “You've skirted punishment many times because you have proven me useful. Your knack for unearthing hidden secrets and finding leverage is...unparalleled. But.” The grin turned into a sneer as her slit eyes narrowed. “You came back empty handed. Why?”

“W-well.” Sombra was definitely jostled by the whole interaction, stilling entirely in fear until -

The dragon relaxed entirely. The smoke seemed to cease even further, flame lowering until it was almost dim.

“Don't worry, Sombra. You are my right hand.” The Summoner’s seemed more like a reassurance then an actual statement. “I promised that I would protect and shield you in mutual benefit for your services. This is what we discussed when you first came into my service, yes?”

“Y-yes-”

“-then you have no reason to fear me. If I wanted to kill you, I would have done it ages ago."

Not that she ever would. Sombra likely knew that as well; the sprite provided good company, better service, and it certainly helped that she could endure in the hot environment that the Summoner thrived in.

“Now.” The flames of the room died down to a low ember – enough for the sprite to walk freely and in slightly more comfort, although she would still leave puddles in her wake. “What was it that you wanted to tell me?”

“Tell you?” Sombra relaxed to a casual demeanor with the change in environment as the dragon's anger quelled, shooting her master a sly grin. "What I was going to tell you before you were so intent on incinerating me-”

The Summoner gave out a low chuckle at that. The trifles of mortals didn’t often concern her, but her servant – Sombra, rather, for the term of servant was rather droll and, frankly, undeserved for such a prized possession as the sprite had proved many times before – was, to say the least, bemusing.

Sombra's gaze turned to the entrance of the cave, then to her mistress. “We have a visitor.”

That piqued the Summoner’s interest. “Oh?”

“Yes.” Sombra continued. “I found her– rather, she found me, for she was looking for you.”

“She?" The Summoner looked over Sombra's shoulder to the entrance of the cave. "This stranger - do you think that she is worth my attention?”

“Well-”

A new voice sounded from the entrance of the cave - pearly, confident, and one that the Summoner had heard before.

“I think it’s best if you let me speak for myself, but thank you for the introduction."

Although the ground was still hot, it seemed to make no difference to the simple, leather shoes of the visitor. Her stockings went up from the thigh below a tattered brown dress that clung shapely to a fair, blond haired woman – dark wings extending from her shoulder blades, her face shaded by an ostentatious witches hat.

The dragon’s eyes narrowed, heat radiating from her body as her scales bristled in anger - and wariness. She silently beckoned Sombra to come closer with her hand, who slowly crept toward her.

“And what reason might you have to darken my doorstep,” the Summoner’s pointed teeth upturned into a snarl, her rage causing the cavern to give a low rumble and rise in temperature yet again. “Witch of the Wilds?”

“Do you not know?” The Witch laughed, light and airy. “Your servant let me in.”

“Sombra.” The dragon corrected, her voice trembled with anger. “And it was likely due to your beguiling. She wouldn’t have known who you are, or she never would have.”

“No, she didn’t.” The Witch waived her hand dismissively. “But I told her that I could help you, and that seemed to move her.”

The Summoner turned to the ice sprite, who gave her an apologetic look.

“Well, then.” The dragon rose her hand once again, beginning to trace a sigil in the air that would surely incinerate the witch to ashes. “You are not welcome here. You’ll find no luck with such apocryphality-”

“On the contrary,” the Witch continued to walk towards her, her clothes and skin undamaged by the ever-rising arcane heat. “You’ll find that my offer is very much legitimate, if you’d be so kind as to give me the time to explain." 

“Sombra.” The dragon growled after a thoughtful pause as she arose from her throne. “Get behind me.”

When the sprite did as she said, the dragon continued. “Make your case.”

The Witch stilled in her tracks, a smile curling on her face.

“I wish to acquire your services-”

“You take me for a fool, then, for only a fool would make a deal with the Witch of the Wilds.”

“Yet only a fool would deny such power that I could grant, Symmetra.”

The dragon recoiled, snarling at the mention of her true name. 

The Witch continued. “I’ve given my gifts to many before-”

“Such gifts are notoriously short-lived, so I’ve heard.”

“I’m afraid you’re mistaken once again, child of Vishkar.” The Witch pulled a well worn leather grimoire from her side. “My spells are not simply spells, nor are they boons or curses – they’re whatever you should desire them to be. For a price, of course.”

The Summoner looked to the grimoire then back to the Witch. “I already can summon magic that protects me and my own. I've no need for other magics.”

“My magic won’t protect you, as I've explained. It will grant your deepest wishes.”

The Witch looked now at Sombra. “Your servant. She was out searching on your behest – I could tell. Based on her excitement of my offer to help you, I could tell that you were desperate. I can offer you anything you may desire. Truly, all I wish to do is help.”

Sombra and the dragon exchanged glances once again.

“In return for what?" 

“A favor.”

“What kind of favor?”

“You’ll know when I call upon you. Now,” The Witch opened up her spellbook – which, to the Summoner’s surprise, was entirely blank. “What exactly is it you desire most?”

The dragon’s gaze lingered on the sprite a while.

“My treasure.” She finally confessed, still not looking at the Witch. “It was stolen." 

At this she brusquely turned toward the Witch and met her eyes. The Summoner's thoughts turned to the hatred she held - the frustration of being unable to track the perpetrator. “A thief stole from Viskhar - the dragons themselves. One of our greatest weapons, and I will not stop until I find him and end his life.” 

“This...thief.” The Witch’s tone was literal. “So, you wish to kill him?”

“More than you could imagine.”

“Oh, I can imagine.” The Witch gave a sly grin as she turned a page in her spellbook. The suddenly blank pages began to fill with equations, sigils, and spells, all scrawled neatly in the arcane language. She licked the tip of her finger and turned a few pages until settling upon one. “Aha. Yes, this here is a rather horrific spell – a dark magic, so long as you aren’t opposed to a sort of...perversion from the traditional arcane. I imagine this would do - if you're interested, of course.”

The dragon’s entire fixation turned toward the book - notably, to the page that the Witch had turned to. “What’s the catch?”

“That, Summoner,” The Witch gave her a wry grin. “is that I can summon you. Only once, of course, in return for this one spell that I give you, but you cannot deny me when I call upon you – which may never happen. Or, of course, it could happen tomorrow. One may never know.”

The Witch drew a wand from a bag on her side. She murmured something inaudible as she tapped it to the page which, seamlessly, dislodged itself from the book and floated to the Dragon's hand.

“So. Do we have a deal?”

“My lady.” Sombra interrupted. “I’m not so sure that this is a good idea-" 

“Deal.”

At the single word the Summoner said, the dry heat of the air immediately turned winter-cold. Light extinguished from the cave as the magma froze to solid stone, leaving the Summoner, Sombra, and the Witch of the Wilds in nothing but complete, freezing darkness, a flurry of freezing wind swirling throughout the cavern.

It only lasted the blink of an eye. The heat returned to the room immediately and the magma streams in the floor began to glow once again. 

The singular page from the grimoire was still in the Summoner's hand now – the text still shimmering, still intact despite the ever-rising temperature of the room.

The cavern was still and silent, but in the deepest corner of the Summoner’s mind, she heard a dark laughter.