Friday, March 13, 2015

Friends and Enemies // Chapter Thirty Eight // The Illusionist

The roar of battle rose up from the fire-lit courtyard of Wynnath, a small town that many Resistance members called home, and that the other side had been ignorant of until now.
   Willow watched from a turret tower, sharpening her sword, a gift from another world, called by the name Hadhafang. The handwriting on the note that had been sent via an arrow in Liberty's wing was gnawing at her, and she paced the room to try to dissipate the anxiousness. A sudden brightness from the courtyard drew her attention, and she squinted to see the dimly-lit scene below.
   Many orcs were there, their horrible faces shadowy and even more disfigured in the firelight. Only a few humans were among them, mostly Shadow Knights, Willow reasoned. But one stood out. She was obviously female, because of her ankle-length royal blue dress with a flash of gold at the front and a shimmery turquoise hooded cloak flowing from her shoulders. She was carrying a long, straight metal staff that was taller than she was with a design at the top that had a large jewel set in it, and that made it extend about a foot above her head. Willow couldn't help sensing that something about that staff was very evil. She also wondered how on earth that girl could wear a full length dress plus cloak (no armor) and be moving with such ease.
   The girl was using her staff as a weapon (obviously) but the strange thing was that she was throwing what looked like black powder at her foes, and the powder mysteriously burst into flames. Shadow fire powder, Willow realized. Works when it hits something warm. Like clothes that you've been wearing for several days. Lovely.
   Glancing behind her at wear Ryshdare had been tied to a chair, she noted his fearful expression. Kneeling in front of him, she tilted her head slightly and looked into his eyes. "Look, Ryshdare. The Illusionist, did you see what she looked like? Her face?" she asked.
   Ryshdare shook his head. "She had dark hair, and dark eyes. But she was wearing a face mask that cover most of her face.
   "Of course she did," Willow muttered. "Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, eh, Zaria?"
   "Whom?" Ryshdare questioned.
   "Her name means things like "princess" and "lady" and "born at sunrise" and such. She's anything but," Willow answered, twisting the fabric of her knee-length skirt into a knot.
   Stepping back to the window, Willow once again surveyed the scene below. The Illusionist (for that was her title) was easily overpowering everyone, with her staff (and her fire powder). The confused warriors were falling back, not knowing what to do against her. Willow sighed impatiently, but she knew how dangerous Zaria was. Striding to a full length mirror at the other side of the turret, she gazed at her reflection for a moment, tracing the shape of her face with her finger. Taking a breath, she turned. "Where's my bow?"

   Emmeth's sword clanged against the metal of the Illusionist's staff, causing sparks. He applied as much pressure as he could, and they were soon facing one another, as she was forced to push back against the prince's sword, but losing. She was smaller than he expected, about Willow's height, and under her cloak, bright, dark brown eyes glared into his eyes. It felt like they were glaring into his soul. And then her eyes changed. It looked as if someone had dropped black ink into them, as it covered the white and brown and became completely black.
   A sudden twang to the right of him broke the glare, and she suddenly pulled back instead of pushed, and he fell forward, his sword slicing through her cloak and delivering a deep cut to her left arm. Eerily, instead of the blood being red, it was inky black. She spun lightly and deflected one of Willow's arrows, and the Illusionist turned to face Elvish-grace.
   But she barely had any time to prepare, as Willow seemed to come out of nowhere from above and slam her bow across Zaria's staff. The bow did not break. Zaria shoved back hard, pushing Willow back, and then aimed her staff at her opponent's head. Willow ducked just in time, as she threw herself to the ground, she used the tip of her bow to slam Zaria's stomach, and then to sweep her legs out from under her. Zaria tumbled (ungracefully) into a heap on the ground. Then, again using the tip of her bow, Willow swept the black nose and mouth covering off of Zaria's face. She was the only one who got a glimpse of the full face of the Illusionist before Zaria swept part of her cloak over it and leaped to her feet.
   "Retreat!" she ordered, sweeping her cape around her, and for a few seconds, the lights in the lanterns flickered. The sound of feet pounding and the fleeting glimpses of retreating soldiers were all that was left. The lights stilled, and not one of the enemy was left.

Willow gently picked up the mask that Zaria had left behind. It felt cool in her hands and she turned it over to look at the curves on the inside where the nose was and the lips where. "What might that be?" Emmeth asked as he joined her.
   "The Illusionist's mask," she explained, handing it to him.
   He turned it over, then placed it on his face to see how it worked. It didn't fit properly, but he saw how it worked. "Fascinating. This belonged to the lovely lady who was commanding those forces. What did Ryshdare say her name was?"
   "The Illusionist."
   "Odd name, I wonder how she "illusions". No matter," he handed the mask back to her. "We shall find them."
   Willow nodded, but her eyes remained pensive as Emmeth hurried away to see the wounded.
   She lifted the mask to her own face. She put it on. It fit perfectly.

I am SO sorry for not posting sooner!
D and I are working on a new schedule for this blog, with some new stuff, so look for that post soon.
I was having a massive I-don't-want-to-work-on-this-right-now block, so that's why is too me so long.
 Hope you guys are still reading, let me know in the comments? And who do you think Zaria/The Illusionist is?

Be a Friend, not an Enemy,