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Corruption, Part 4.5: Sylphine's Story (Cont.)

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(Read the previous entry here or refer to the Fiction Index for a full listing.)

Sylphine has paused for an extended period of time. She adjusts the candle, picks a stray thread from the hem of her robe, almost as if unwilling to go on with the story. Finally, taking a deep breath, she continues her tale.

Mother was wrong. I would never see her at all after that night.

Though on the cusp of womanhood, Rina was not ready for the loss of another parent. While not at my studies or performing chores, I tried to spend as much time with her as possible.

One night, while Rina was sharing my bed, it happened. A scream jolted me from dead sleep. Instantly, I knew something was wrong. It was as if a part of me, a small feeling always in the back of my mind had disappeared.

Rina barely stirred. Perhaps my magical training made me more attuned to certain things. I decided to let her rest.

Tomorrow, I would have to tell her than mother was dead.

Though Sylphine's story has been full of tragedy, this is the first time tears appear in her eyes.

But no, that was not enough. No flame was present in my room, it was pure dark. Although I would have thought it impossible, the room grew even darker. A wave of revulsion struck me, one unrelated to the loss of my mother. Something dark, something sinister, something evil had come to our sanctuary.

The next morning, I broke the news to Rina. The poor girl was inconsolable. I tried to bring her breakfast, but she would not eat. I decided to skip my studies that day, so as not to leave her alone.

I should have known that would not be allowed. Fara soon came to my door to summon me as well. "I know nothing of your mother, but it doesn't matter. Your training stops for nothing."

"But, Fara, can't you see my sister needs me right now?"

"Your sister is old enough to take care of herself. If she can't pull herself together, then perhaps she isn't strong enough for this world." Fara could see the anger and defiance in my eyes. "Girl, you are not a full Warlock yet. You WILL report for your training. If you do not, you will be severely punished. More importantly, I will be punished for failing to bring you, and that is something I promise you will regret."

I gave Rina one last hug and stormed past Fara. For the first time in my life, I was beginning to regret coming here. I did not give my full effort that day in training. As punishment, I was forced to stay later than usual. By the time I returned to my room, Rina was gone. She had returned to her own quarters and would not answer her door. I worried for her, but assumed she was sleeping, let her be.

Life changed drastically after that. My teachers were pushing me harder than ever before. My sessions were extending longer and longer, forcing me to work harder and harder. There were days when I had to choose between sleep and food, my free time was so little.

Worse, I was losing Rina, as well. She had taken to sleeping in mother's bed instead of her own. Rarely did she leave her room any more, and when she did she never spoke.

Just when I was reaching my breaking point, I received my first bit of good news in the months since mother disappeared. I was being raised to full Warlock.

You see, among Warlocks, power is secondary. I had plenty of power since my training started at fifteen. Only now, nearing the age of nineteen, had I gained the amount of control necessary to be considered a true Warlock.

The ceremony is unimportant. I'm sure you experienced something similar when you became a Paladin. What I do remember is the Grand Master. Grand Master Warlock Therin sat at the far end of the hall. He never said a word, but his presence overpowered the room. The torches near his seat seemed to shy away from him, as if the light itself were afraid to touch the Grand Master.

Freed from my status as an Adept, I was granted more freedom. Areas of the Sanctuary that had previously been off-limits were now open to me. Most notably, the library. I was encouraged to read the texts contained therein, so as to better understand the options available to me. From this point on, I would be studying on my own. No less would be expected of me, but I was free to choose my own path, unsupervised. I had demonstrated the control necessary to be a Warlock, if I pushed too hard, the fault was my own. Recognizing several titles in the library from Mother's bookshelf, I brought them back to my own room.

Though I could choose the path of my studies, I was still expected to dedicate the same amount of time to them. Rina was becoming increasingly distant.

Learning to summon further familiars, submitting them to my will, as well as memorizing complex incantations was consuming my life. I now know why Warlocks are so emotionally detached. I had not forgotten my sister, but no longer worried about her. She was old enough to choose her own path in life.

My work had not gone unnoticed, apparently. Within a year of being raised, I was summoned to an audience with Grand Master Therin. Fara showed none of her usual smugness when she delivered this message.

I went not to the Meeting Hall, nor Therin's study. Instead, I reported to the Summoning Room in the basement. Not only was the Grand Master present, but the rest of the Inner Circle, as well. The atmosphere in the room was almost oppressive.

Never in my life will I forget what happened next. Grand Master Therin spoke to me directly. His voice was not human. His tone was low, almost a whisper, but with a serpentine quality to it.

"Ssylphine, I have been watching you clossely ssince you arrived here with your mother. You are a very sspecial girl, my dear. You are being given a rare opportunity to help our order., the ssame opportunity we gave your mother."

Horror-struck, I was almost unable to reply. "You-you k-killed my mother!"

"No, young one," he replied. "Casssie gave herself willingly. Unfortunately, she wass found lacking. The ritual did not go ass planned. She wass able to ssusstain the portal long enough for mysself and the resst of the Honor Guard to come through, but burned out before our masster was able to crosss over."

I did not understand what was going on.

"You musst realize by now that we are no longer Therin and hiss circle. Therin wass a valuable minion, but I needed a hosst, and he will sserve."

"Mom would never do such a thing."

"Of coursse not. At leasst, not voluntarily. Casssie was merely a ssubsstitute for our original ssacrifice."


"Yess, dear. We wanted to usse you to open the portal."

Now, I was truly too terrified to speak.

"Oh, no. Don't worry your pretty little head. We've found ssomeone much more ssuitable for our purposse."

The being that used to be Therin raised his hand, motioning somebody into the room.

"Sylly!" Rina cried out, "What's going on? What's wrong with these people?"

"RINA!" I shouted, "Let her go, you monsters! I'll do anything you want. Take me."

"Sso much like your mother. I'm ssorry, dear, but little Rina here iss pure enough to allow uss ssuccesss. Unlesss..."

"Unless what? Name your price, demon."

"Unlesss you could bring uss one more pure. A Paladin would be ssatissfactory. You have until one week before the moon iss full."

So you see, I was left with no choice. I regret tricking you, and the horror that demon may unleash, but I will do anything to save my sister. She's the only family I have left.

I'm sorry, Paladin, but the full moon is in exactly seven days.

With that, Sylphine extinguishes the candle and walks away.

Syrana said...
November 24, 2009 at 8:15 PM  

Wonderfully done as always. But no matter how tragic her story is and draws one in... Corrigan must find a way out.. for them all!

Samodean said...
November 24, 2009 at 10:19 PM  

We all know brave Corrigan finds his way out.

But everyone? What are the odds of that happening?

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