I quickened my pace, driving myself forward into the eerie corridor. The object pressed into my body felt heavy and alive, vibrating with an anticipation that only fueled my anxiety. The corridor seemed endless as I passed door after door. The sconces lining the walls were like blackened claws.
My burden felt heavy, like an anvil resting on my chest. The further I got the more it seemed to crush me with its weight. How . . . How was I going to find the courage to go through with it?
I resumed my pace, putting one foot in front of the other with purpose. There was no point in turning back now. The corridor curved slightly, the moonlight filtering through the windows, shedding little by way of light, but I had been here plenty of times before. It was a journey I could have made blindfolded.
Suddenly two flashes of light bloomed into existence as I neared the end of the corridor. Their blue flames danced wildly in the darkness. I stared into the flame that announced my presence, the light like two glaring eyes, as if they knew what I was here to do. Pushing the guilt down I walked up to the door.
The door was lined and knotted as if it were cut from a single slab of wood, and the area around the doorknob was polished with years of use. I hesitated, my hand hanging inches from the knob like a noose while my heart pounded in my throat. The Object gave a hum of irritation and the lights beside me flickered, sputtering out, before resuming their fierce dance.
The face of my Mother and Brother flashed before me. Their cries of agony struck me as whips cracked across them. My hand trembled at the memory. I inched my hand forward, clasping the cold metal. I was the only one that could do this and courage was a warm friend to what I was feeling.
Swallowing, I wrenched the door open and walked inside. Everything screamed at me to run from this place.
Soren stood with his back to me, a pale orb of white light floating lazily above him. My heart contracted at the sight of him. Even with his back to me I could still see his face. His green eyes focused, his jaw set, as he concentrated wholly on his project. I remembered a younger version of him, his young face focused on bringing a small flame to life in his palm, a tiny thing that danced across his fingers playfully.
I pushed the memory aside. It would only hinder me.
“Soren” I spoke quietly, my voice sounding thick, “I’m sorry to show up this late . . . I–just had to talk to you about something.” I finished in a rush, my cheeks flaming.
At the sound of my voice Soren spun on his heels, his face a mask of recognition. The light above him shone brightly before going out, leaving us in the warm light of the torches.
“Aimee!” He exclaimed rushing over to hug me. “It’s so good to see you! What a pleasant surprise!” His arms wrapped around me engulfing me in his robes. The scent of mint hung heavy about him. I stood there in his arms, willing myself not to explode in tears as the stress built up. I refused to hug him back. I did not deserve his affection. Soren took no notice of it, nor of the ornate item held in my hand.
“Here,” He paused putting up his hand to prevent me from talking. “Before you start, let me get you something to drink.” A warm smile flashed across his face, slicing me like the whip across the skin of my family. A whistle broke through his lips as he crossed the small space of his chamber to a small breakfast nook in one corner. A vase of bright flowers sat on the table, shining in the moonlight.
I turned and shut the door to his chamber. With his back still towards me I turned the object around, though I dared not look into it. The object itself was an ancient ornate glass that sung with power. It froze my hands. Oval in shape, a picture of writhing bodies was carved into the back it, the faces screamed in agony as a power bore down on them. Their eyes were set with small rubies.
The glass let out a content sigh as it took in the room, consuming every detail, including the power that rolled of Soren.
With a final whistling note he turned toward me a steaming mug in his hand and a radiant smile on his face. That beautiful smile contorted with confusion as he looked at me. As he looked at the object in my hand. His confusion turned to sadness. My heart throbbed as his face took on betrayal, the question of why she was doing this plain on his face. My heart exploded with sorrow. I couldn’t do this, not to him. I started to lower the glass, before my arm suddenly froze, the faces on the mirror glaring at me.
They wanted his power, and they were going to have it.
Fear exploded through me as I desperately tried wrenching my arm away. But it was no use, it was like my arm was stone.
“No! Soren!” I cried, my desperation clawing at my throat. “Oh Gods no! I’m sorry! Please, no!”
The bones in my shoulder cracked as I tried to move away. Pain flooded my arm. I didn’t care though; I had to get it away from him.
I froze as my eyes met his, and the world slowed as I watched the glass take effect.
Like a rock against glass his face exploded in a series of fissures that spider webbed across him. The moving fissures traveled across his face like a ship cutting through water. Tears rolled down my face like a river as his handsome face was disfigured with cracks. The room behind him dulled as if the vitality was being drawn from it, the stones greying from their white sheen, the vase of flowers dying, falling in a cluster of colorful sparks that wafted into the mirror.
The mirror vibrated in my hand. I watched in horror as the picture on the back of the glass started to move, the bodies writhing and twisting as Soren’s hair twisted and ran like golden fire into the mirror, leaving his scalp bare and cracked. Cries rose from the mirror’s surface. Their wails were a chorus of sorrow and pain as the Looking Glass throbbed. Time sped up as bone appeared through his flesh, and his brown robes frayed and decayed, disintegrating into sparks. The moving picture changed. A new figure appeared on the scene as another figure disappeared.
I watched him dissolve before me. The face of my childhood friend was gone. The memories that we shared, the times they spent together. Gone. Consumed by the dark power within this thing.
My arm unfroze and I fell to the ground, staring at the spot where he stood. The wood in that spot was rotted and warped. The clean smell of his magic was replaced with the cloying scent of burnt cloth, charred wood and death.
A sob bubbled in my throat. Was this the price I had to pay? Become a murderer to save my family? I had to feed my friend to a power that he could not even defend against, because no else could get to him. Would Asmodeus be happy now, now that her friend was gone?
I dropped the glass. It rolled away on its side, but I ignored it. Instead I held myself, my body racked with sobs.