Illustration: “Dover Cat” © 2007 by Robert Sorensen
It exploded off of the ceiling and went crashing down with a resounding bang that echoed around the chambers and shook the woodlands outside, jarring the blue jays from their midday rest.
The tower shook in response, the earth grumbled in protest. A lithe feline made her way up the stairs, the yellow dress she wore glided gently over the cracked sandstone steps.
“Arthos, what’s all this noise?” She shook her head and made a gentle clicking sound with her teeth as she tapped a sharpened claw against them.
“S-sorry Deliasssh.” He bowed his head in shame, “I was just practicing.”
“You should do this sort of stuff in the basement, where it’s quieter. You’ve gone and woke the dead.” She turned her back and studied the bookshelf in front of her.
He pulled his red robes tightly around his body, “Yes, milady.”
The silence was deafening. Delias selected a cracked leather book, pulled it from the shelf and brushed her paw lightly against it. She blew hard on the cover.
Dust danced in the streams of light that filtered in from the ceiling.
Delias shook her head sadly; a single strand of silver hair pushed its way out off her cowl, and she reflexively swatted at it, pushing the troublesome hair back into place. “We simply cannot have these kinds of experiments going on in the tower. At least, not without the permission from and knowledge of the rest of the council.” She squinted at the title on the book and smiled to herself as she made her way to one of the recliners in the far corner.
“I will seek the permission, milady.” Arthos bowed low, excusing himself, as he hobbled down the steps descending into the blackened heart of the tower of elders, leaving Delias to her studies.
She was the head of the governing Council of the Seven Roses, entrusted with the supervision of all magical activity within the realm.
The golden rays of sunlight faded into twilight’s purple hues; the room grew dark.
“E’glan.” Her soft voice accented the phrase as the room grew brighter, as if lit by dozens of invisible candles.
She opened her book and soon became lost in her studies, oblivious to the sound of the approaching hooves.
* * *
It perched atop an ebony steed, a great carrion bird resting on a comfortable perch, anxiously awaiting the dinner it was soon to enjoy.
“What is it?” The hollow, raspy voice of death answered.
“Joo wan’ me tew get da – da….” It stumbled over its words, “Da big boom?”
“No.” A pause. “We won’t need ‘da big boom’ tonight, golem.” Wheezing. “The presence of you and your brothers should more than suffice.”
The patchwork golem nodded anxiously. There was a sickening crack as its head snapped and rolled off the brittle skeleton that had been supporting it, “Oops. Huh uh huh.” The golem ran, chasing after his head.
Barthus shook his head sadly, pulling the cowl up to block out the remainder of the sun’s poisonous rays. He wheeled the ebony steed around to face the small army he had assembled.
“Subjects…” his voice was barely a whisper as he turned to address the crowd, “…today will be a glorious day for death. You will feast well this evening.”
The gray mass of golems nodded and chanted their huzzahs.
“For tonight, this tower shall fall.” Barthus paused, catching his breath. “You will feast upon the essences of a hundred Psions.” Another pause. “I order you, leave me the one they call ‘Delias’. She is mine, and mine alone.”
The army marched to the tune of the only living heart still beating.
Barthus kept a tight regiment.
* * *
Delias had just put her book down when she had heard their arrival. They struck without warning. Six undead golems threw themselves upon the gates, each sizzled and exploded on impact — parts flew everywhere as the anti-magic protectorate took effect.
Barthus scowled from beneath his hood. Red eyes burned through the metal gates, fixated on the gold-and-silver doors of the tower. He lifted his arm towards the heavens as the cloak fell around his forearm.
He pointed one bony finger at the gates, his mouth moved rapidly, barely forming the words that he spoke. A bruised aura surrounded his figure, the stench of death filled the air as the forest around him withered and died.
With a snap of his fingers, the gates crumbled to dust.
The outer defenses were breached.
Barthus had come for his revenge.
* * *
Delias had called an emergency meeting of the council. They knew they were outnumbered 10 to 1; this was the end. Their purpose was to be fulfilled by the midnight hour. She had gathered up each stem of the order; they had gathered at a table of the finest bronze. Each petal of the rose had been established based on the seven circles of magic: Life (Pink), Death (Black), Mind (Blue), Nature (Green), Conjuration (Red), Divination (White), and Alteration (Yellow).
“My friends.” Her green eyes met each of the representatives. “This is the moment we have prepared for. We must invoke the Guardian Enchantment.”
Cassandra of the Pink Petal’s mouth fell open upon hearing those words, “We’re to seal ourselves away?” She blinked back tears.”
Xephyr the Black screwed his face up into a mask of disgust. “I’m not ready to go away yet.” He spat disdainfully onto the floor.
Wynteria, the White Witch, smashed her hand against the table, her rings clinked against the metal. “Xephyr! This is not the time to be selfish. Our job was to protect the art from getting into the wrong hands.” She frowned. “Well, the wrong hands are outside now banging down our gate.”
“We’ve got no choice in the matter, Xephyr.” Delias walked towards him. “Your former master stands before our gates with an army of undead! There is no way around this. The only way to help yourself is to help us right now.”
Fidor the Mesmerizer stood up. He pushed aside his blue robes, revealing the dangling pouches on his belt. “What good is your magic if it is only controlled by one person? Barthus is not the type to share. You must help us.”
Xephyr considered his options as the thunderous pounding on the doors beat harder, creating a metronome of fear.
Minutes, seconds, hours passed by before Xephyr finally nodded in agreement.
With the Seven petals of the rose together, Delias began the incantation to forever seal the magic of the world. Each master of the order was speaking in turn, in tongues indecipherable.
They each placed an artifact onto the dais. From the Blue came a blue powder poured upon the table. The White Witch had reached into her belt and removed a silver feather, which was placed atop the powder. Seven stones of amethyst came from the red wizard’s pocket; he laid these in a clockwise fashion across the dais.
The druid cloaked in green and brown had lined the floor with pine needles and pinecones from his pouches, a single maple leaf rested in the center. The Pink Lady removed a single spool of thread, white, which she tied the around the feather.
The black mage stood up, still disgusted at the idea of sharing, and pulled the ebony dagger from his waist. “I offer my assistance in protecting this world,” he said with a snarl, as he turned his wrist upwards and brought the blade down, his lifeblood trickling down into the center of the table.
Finally, Delias brought up her golden chalice, and as she drank from the cup, the council repeated “Errant Arr Retran,” until the cup was drained of its holy liquid.
As she swallowed the last drops, the tower vanished in a blinding flash of light.
The Seven Petals had given their lives to protect the wisdom of the world; it had become inscribed upon a scroll that has been lost to time. This substantially set back Barthus’ attempts at conquest. *
About the Author: David Kerschner is a 24-year-old communications major who graduated from Monmouth University in 2005 and has since gone on to be a slave to the government. He has written several screenplays, short stories, and even a novel or two. He looks forward to writing more in the future.
(c) 2007 David Kerschner firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Artist: Robert Sorensen was born in Summit, New Jersey, has lived in Paris, France, and currently resides in Colorado. His education includes studying painting at L’Academie des Beux Arts de Chaville and studying acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute in NYC, followed by professional work in a theatrical touring company and later, work in TV, films, and documentaries. Robert also wrote an SF screenplay about saving planet Earth from an alien invasion in the year 2059, with the title “QUANTEX-Z or ATOMIC VISIONS”. Robert is an avid international voyager whose passion is to visit, contact, and experience the cultures and peoples from all over Planet Earth and has visited most of Europe, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and most recently Mexico. Robert has exhibited his artwork extensively in Paris, once in London, and several times in the United States. In his artwork, Robert most often takes dream images and bites out of his own life and puts them on canvas, paper, or the computer screen. His themes include the hidden aura-energy within all living and non-living subjects and their surrounding environments.
(c) 2007 Robert Sorensen http://home.earthlink.net/~robertmsorensen/