A Twist Of Magic

A Twist Of Magic

By Matt Eckert

"There is a difference between age and years."

Aidin's features narrowed in concentration, her dark eyes looking over the spell in reassurance. Her red hair flowed down her youthful face to her shoulders where it curled slightly up. Small slender hands running delicately over the book in front of her.

The runes were paled now with age. The flowing letters flawless with a certain craftsmanship that only a master of such an art could produce. Pages were curled at the edges now and becoming almost too frail to turn. Aidin handled them with the utmost care, not wanting to ruin such a valuable book.

The young girl turned when she saw an older man, in his thirties, but already graying walk into the room. He wore a dark green robe and cloak, a magnificent green, like the forests around the tower. He walked over to where she was sitting and picked up a book, much newer that she had been copying into.

Scratching his neatly trimmed goatee he nodded his approval. "Very good Aidin, you are having no trouble copying these runes. That is good. Aidin, I have come to tell you that I must leave at once for Drivmal. I must see a friend there and I will not be back for some time, can I trust you to make sure that all is well here?"

Aidin smiled as he set the book down. "Yes, of course Master Cerra. There has been no sign of Giddean?"

Cerra's faced was shadowed with guilt and doubt. "No, no there has not been. I know he will return, he would not let the Common Lands fall into the hands of such horrid creatures."

Giddean the Grand. The protector of the Common Lands for many centuries, and who had lived in the very tower that Aidin had come to study at. He had protected the Common Lands over the years, and then one day he disappeared without a trace. Rumors flew that he was dead, or taken by the hand of Deryadin, a master black wizard who was rumored to be half-demon. He had with him his Dark Prophets, those whom he had shared the secrets of death with. There were thirteen in all, twelve of the most powerful dark wizards in the known world under one ruler, Deryadin.

Giddean had been the only one who could stop them, and he was gone. Aidin was the only apprentice within the Tower of Rysalon, where Giddean had once resided. All others were gone, either killed or sent away before any of the dark messengers of Deryadin found them. Aidin had no other family, and refused to leave. Cerra let her stay and learn at her own peril. She would be safe in the Tower of Rysalon, but he did not know for how long.

Deryadin would come soon enough into the Forest of Shadows, and take the tower, a long-standing symbol of power and pride of the Common Lands. Master Cerra was the head apprentice to Giddean before he left mysteriously and the keeper of the tower.

Aidin did not know much, but of what she knew, Deryadin was coming, and soon. Already there was news of scouts in several kingdoms. That meant that Cerra was not there much anymore, and left her here, saying that she was too young, and too inexperienced to go with him. Aidin had a feeling that one time he would not return, and would leave her alone here.

That day, Cerra took his horse and some supplies and he left. He soon disappeared into the heart of the forest leaving her, a small figure in front of the huge and looming tower, casting a shadow over her as the sun began to set on the horizon.

Life went on without Cerra, just as it always did. With the help of some of the more simple spells, she was able to keep the tower in good shape, and still have time to research the great tomes and leather-bound books in the Great Library. At times she would stay up almost all night reading and fall asleep in a chair, the candles long gone by dawn.

As the months went by, she heard no news of Cerra, until one morning when she awoke, she knew that he was dead. No one needed to tell her, she could feel it with the magick within her. He had been killed within a poisonous arrow in the heart while he was returning home. An ambush that he had never seen.

That morning she sat on the ledge of her bedroom window, and a black crow flew across the forest towards her, a startling contrast to the deep blue sky. Only a few puffy white clouds in the sky, the kind Cerra loved. The crow had flown down and perched next to her. It held a golden key in it's mouth which it dropped into her opened hand. With that it flew off. She watched it until it seemed to fly into the sun and disappear.

"I understand Cerra," she whispered standing up and looking out the window, unmoving.

She had received the news several weeks later from a man who had been sent by the coucnil of Drimval. They sadly reported all that she already knew. It was still hard for her to accept, but she thanked the man, and he left shortly after, anxious to be gone. Without Giddean the tower had become dark and daunting, instead of a symbol of hope and power.

In normal times, Aidin would have moved in with another wizard and continued her studies, but all of them were off at the borders, fighting the enemy that was closing in. That meant that they had no time to worry about a ten-year-old girl. There were far more important concerns that they had to see to.

Aidin wore the key around her neck, like Cerra had done before. She had not gone up to the door that was locked, with only one key that would ever open it. The one that she wore now. It was the level of the tower where Giddean had once resided and it had been closed out of respect. Aidin absorbed the books faster now, as if Cerra's loss drove her to an insane hunger for the magickal formulas and powers.

On her eleventh birthday, she had become a wizard, she knew. It had taken her a tenth of the time to accomplish this task compared to anyone else except perhaps Giddean, but no one knew his origins. They were just another part of his mysterious character.

Every day she would wander the tower, holding the key in her hand while she was doing something else and not even know it. Dreams were coming to her more and more now, of the top levels of the tower, which had been closed off by Giddean himself.

Everyday, she would struggle against the urge to go to the top of the tower and open it. She knew that Cerra said that no one would be able to get up there except those chosen by Giddean. When Giddean left, he had not left Cerra in charge, as had Cerra done with her, but Cerra just took the job.

When she was asleep, it was even worse than any other time, she would be dreaming of that door, with the silvery glowing runes that decorated it, and there was a mist that was seeping from the other side. It was cool mist, like night fog, but more transparent, whimsical.

Then she would awake, and she would be at that door, the runes exactly the way that they had been in her dreams. She did not remember ever coming to that door, but it started to happen with much more frequency. Soon, it was every night. Every night she would awake by that door, the key in hand, ready to open it. Every time she would be too unsure and run back down the stairs.

As time went by, and her curiosity became to great, so did the danger. She heard reports that within a week Deryaden and his Dark Prophets would come to the tower and destroy it personally, showing that they had won, they had taken the heart of the Common Lands from them. It would be a last symbolic gesture of power that would forever end the resistance from the Common Lands.

Aidin would not have much time left, she would be killed as soon as they stormed the tower. If Giddean was alive, no one could have approached the tower without the consent of those within, but now the tower had lost it's power, all the secrets locked away within the tower that only Aidin could unlock now.

There was no hope now, Cerra had been the last of the wizards within the Common Lands. All others had been killed or taken hostage by Deryaden. Aidin suspected that she was among the only one left that knew any magick at all.

She knew that she would be killed, she could not stop Deryaden, and the Dark Prophets, but at least in her death she would finally be able to know what was behind that door, where everything seemed to be focused on.

Wearing her favorite silver robes she gripped the key in her hand as she steadied her hand. The door was exactly the way that it was every time that she had seen it before, except that it seemed more ominous, somehow, darker and more terrifying. Excitement and anticipation ran through her blood, and she felt more alive than she ever had.

Looking at the key one more time she stuck they key into the lock and turned it. There was a crash, like silent thunder that ran through her, shaking her to the core. She sucked in breath, hearing her heart pound in her ears.

The door was slightly ajar, and there was mist seeping out now, tumbling down the stairs, and reaching out for her. The fog felt icy against her skin, and she shivered uncontrollably. There was darkness within and she cast a globe of light in front of her as she pulled the door open, feeling the coldness of the wood beneath her hand.

Boldly she stepped through the threshold, maneuvering the light in front of her in the dark chambers. Everything was silent, and the sound of her own heart pounding in her ears was all that she could hear. Her shoulders sagged slightly and she stated to look around.

The room looked to be the personal quarters of Gillean, with nothing out of the ordinary. All the furniture in the room was a deep red oak, and she ran her hands over it, loving the way that it looked and felt. She would have liked to have such nice things like this, instead of the hard pine bed that she had now. Not that it would matter soon.

The thought was a sobering one. Aidin did not look through any of the drawers or the chest that lay in one of the corners of the room. Something was calling her ahead, beyond this room. Instinctively she saw that there was a set of the stairs that led to the top of the tower.

The urge was like that when she awoke at the locked door so many nights. A familiar voice, a comforting and soothing voice that she longed to hear again. She felt scared when she heard it, but also longing to hear it again, as if to prove something in her own mind.

Aidin gave one last look to the room before she headed up the stairs. There was light coming from the archway ahead. This time there was no door, and as she got near the top of the stairs she saw that there were glowing orbs of light around the room, illuminating everything within the room.

There was a lush carpet that lay in the center of the room, with perfectly cut stone beneath. The walls were lined with shelves, filled with jars, books, and other items. There was an aura of power that chilled her to the bone, but it felt familiar, something she needed again.

She stepped into the room and let her globe of light disappear. So many tomes, holding magickal powers beyond anything that could be imagined. Aidin wished that Cerra could have been alive to see such wonderful and powerful magick once more. He would have loved it, Aidin knew that he would have been happy that she was going to try to perform Giddean's magick, trying to save the Common Lands.

All these books, ancient and rather new felt right, the powders, wands, and scrolls, calling to her. The strange air in the room was like fresh air. The magick was intoxicating, filling her head with knowledge, knowledge and of power. The call for the magick was too great to resist. She was a wizard and she had been given the chance to learn.

Perhaps even the chance to save all the Common Lands. The magick contained within these books, they could make her as powerful as Giddean. Maybe even more powerful, and she would be able to do what Giddean could not do, save the Common Lands once and for all from Deryadin and his legions.

Her eyes raced from the wands set in glass cases to the bags of powders, to the small array of flasks, and finally back to the books. The books! They were the secret to power. Something in these books she was looking for. She just had to figure out what that was.

The next hours were blurry to her, she began to look through the books, scanning them feverishly, not finding what she was looking for, until she picked up a book that was laying on the table, already open to a certain page. She had almost missed it entirely until she sat down exhausted after searching.

It was old, and worn. It looked as if it had seen many years, and some not as kind as other had been. It looked to be a book that Giddean took with him places. Perhaps it was a journal, something that would help her. Curious she picked up the book, and as her eyes fell on the page. There was a bright sizzling flash and the world reeled.

The Common Lands had fallen, taken captive by Deryadin. With all the wizards of the Common Lands dead now, all others started to fall into place. There was no one who could stand up to them now, not even if they had magick. They were too powerful, their evil taint spread through out the land.

All that was left was the Tower of Rysalon. Deryadin heard that after the death of Cerra, one of the last true wizards of the Common Lands died, he had left an apprentice to watch the tower. A mere girl that thought that she could stop the Lord of Darkness himself!

Three Dark Prophets were sent ahead to claim the tower, making sure that Giddean, once the only true power holding them at bay, had all his magick tomes still intact so that Deryadin would be able to master all magick, white and black. Good and evil would both be his, everything would be.

As the dark legions pressed in on the Forest of Shadows, the dark legions gathered, unable to cross into the forest, since it was still protected by the tower. Only the Dark Prophets and Deryadin himself were able to enter. The foot soldiers from the Abyss, as they were called, paced like captured wolves howling for their master.

Two more Dark Prophets were lost, as they were taken into the shadows by unknown creatures. There were seven of his closest followers with him as they finally cleared the forest. How ironic it seemed that they would be prey to the darkness, the darkness from which they were born.

Eight black figures, the evil so pure that the earth cried out in pain. There was a sight that even Deryadin himself could not believe. Upon posts of cold iron were the heads of the Dark Prophets who had been sent to take the tower. Standing between them was a girl, who had not even reached adolescence standing in robes of silver.

The Dark Prophets laughed and they started to cast bolts of energy, thinking that she was a mere apprentice. They were wrong. One by one, they fell, to the balefire and the vengeance of the earth of which they so gravely hurt. As each one was struck down she would call out in a booming voice, unnatural and supernatural, "The fates of darkness take you, for you are the disease of the earth and the plight of life."

It was not until the Dark Prophets numbered half of what they were, did they know that this was no ordinary girl. It did not matter now, they had entered into the heart of her power. They had fallen prey to her trap.

One by one bales of fire struck them, cleansing the earth, their screams dying amid the sound of the flames, eradicating what was never meant to be alive. Deryadin had watched all this before he acted, wanting to know the full powers of this girl, so he could use it to his best purpose.

At last Deryadin and Aidin stood facing one another, neither moving. No one knew who started this story, but it was said through out the Common Lands that Aidin looked at Deryadin, and a contest that rivaled the power of the gods ensued, and the earth groaned as powers not meant for mankind were unleashed that day.

Such power struggling caused all to know, to know that this was a day that all of the earth was on a tedious balance between the worlds, of the two opposite forces. Lightning, and fire, and ice, and pure magick itself were sought and brought forth, unnatural and unholy demons, and soldiers of light were brought forth to the battlefield. The ancient magicks were alive and well, under two greaters Masters.

As no one knew when it started, no one knew when it ended, except that the dark armies of Deryadin started to crumble, into the ashes of death from whence they came, and with such a howl that every thing alive was silent and in fear. No one could flee from it, and none of the minions of Deryadin could compare with him, as the earth was rid of the dark taint of Derydain forever.

Aidin, once known as an apprentice became known as Giddean's successor. What everyone did not know was how Aidin did it. No one ever knew that Giddean did not die, as no one ever dies. He was reborn, reborn so that he could trick the forces of darkness, and with the hand of a child, work the magicks only that oldest of the old knew of.

Copyright 1998 by Matt Eckert

Short Bio: "My name is Matt Eckert, and I have been writing for years. I have never taken any writing courses or workshops but I have had some outside opinions, and so far they have been encouraging. I am currently looking for magazines to sell stories to, and also I am working on a sword and sorcery novel called The Times of The Shadow.

I can be reached at: jaedrid@napanet.net and I also have another E-mail address at gawin@hotmail.com. My webpage address is: http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/5869/

Thank for your time and your consideration of this story. I hope that you find it as much fun to read it as I did writing it.


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