This story originally appeared at the online magazine DARK VALENTINE which is, alas, no long with us.
The Prophecy of Te-Rahga
The doors of my Wisewoman sanctuary burst wide, chunks and splinters of their oaken bar clattering to the stone floor. Nala and Brinsi, my great-granddaughters and guards, drew their swords and stepped between the threat and the wrinkled shell my body had become.
Gonsheol strode in with a swirl of cape. Born the same village as I, in the same hour of the same year, he still looked in the prime of his life.
“So,” he said, smug power radiating from his strong body and vibrant voice, “after all these years, the prophecy ends unfulfilled.” He chuckled at Nala and Brinsi. “Tell them to sheath their swords, old woman. A good warrior knows when blades are useless.”
“Stand down,” I rasped, my voice worn to near-nothing by age and spell-casting.
My kinswomen stepped back, not at ease, but not on guard. They had been raised on the prophecy. We had spoken of it often, since the day when even I had to admit that time was eroding my strength with increasing speed.
“If I kill you, my power disappears,” Gonsheol said, knowing none of us needed reminding, “but, while you live, my power is incomplete. That time is nearly over. None can destroy me but you, and I’ve never allowed you close enough for long enough to do it.” He stepped nearer to the dais on which I sat. “Your sorcery is gone, is it not, old woman? Don’t bother to lie. You know I know.”
My head sank, eyes unable to bear the sight of him. My hands, no longer capable of sending forth the spells my voice could no longer sing, rested to either side of my woven mat. He was right. The only enchantment I could still do was a very small Stasis. It kept me upright when my body wanted to sag. It kept me awake all day and blissfully asleep all night. It kept me alive just a little longer.
“You’ve tried so often to get within spelling distance,” he said. “How is this? Is this close enough?” He approached me. Ten years ago, it would have been close enough for me to kill him. “This?” Two years ago, I could have paralyzed him at that distance. “This?” His knees almost touched the dais. My kinswomen tensed, gazes darting between the two of us.
“Throw him out,” I croaked.
They reached for his arms. He sang a brief phrase and did no more than flex his biceps. Their hands tugged, but his body gave not a hair’s-breadth.
“You throw me out,” he taunted.
I didn’t want to. On the contrary.
Stasis is a small spell, quick and simple to sing. My voice quavered and my left hand shook as I laid my threadbare spell over his strong one, piggy-backing his into my control. My right hand shook as I drew a shortsword from beneath my mat.
“Never mock a prophecy,” I whispered.
WRITING PROMPT: A tiny bit of strength is used to great effect.
JaneJanuary 29, 2012 at 8:37am
I liked this very much.
Marian AllenJanuary 29, 2012 at 9:04am
It’s good to be a crone. So say I, anyway.
MARIAN ALLEN · #SampleSunday – Dry As DustFebruary 12, 2012 at 7:44am
[…] Since Dark Valentine is no longer with us, I posted the first of the stories they published from me a couple of weeks ago, and the other one this week. As always, more free stories can be found on this here blog’s […]