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Mors Arcani

The Thirteenth Spire

By Kelly RobertsonPublished 9 months ago 5 min read

"Eye of Sight, Source of Light, Guide me in the coming Fight. Hand of Fate, Gods of Eight, Consume the source of my greatest Hate. What Gods conceal, please now Reveal, that whose Death my soul shall Heal."

The spell leaves her lips with the taste of salt, bitter sorrow fueling her arcane plea. Hands raised, trembling, she glances at one of the petrified figures standing in a ring of twelve, another spire in the Stone Grove. Tangible despair grips her throat, coils its icy fingers tight, and threatens to break her concentration.

“This will not work, Marissia.”

The voice condemns her. Ancient yet powerful, she recognizes it's source with bitterness and pain, yet she cannot deny the empathy coating the wise crone's tone. But now is not the time to lose her focus. Marissia shakes her head and continues chanting. She cannot fail. She will not fail.

“Please, Marissia, you know this is a mistake.”

Anger explodes in her chest, volatile and all-consuming. It rages through her, glazing the world in bloody crimson, and reminds her of the pain she's been hiding for so many years. That secret ache chronically devouring her very soul for decades and fueling a grim loathing for that which she and so many others had come to rely on for everything. And that which had stolen everything from them in return.

There's always a price to be paid, knowingly or not.

Snarling, she spins away from the circle of stones, the graveyard of statues claimed by Magic’s greedy hands. “If that is true, where are the others?” Marissia barks, spreading her hands over the empty grove behind her aged mentor, the leader of her dying coven. “Surely, you’ve convinced them to band together to stop me?” Marissia gestures back towards the field of stones and glares down at the Grand Mother. “Oh, but that’s right. They’re already here, aren’t they? Just like Astasia. My Astasia.”

The crone bows her head beneath Marissia's condemning gaze. She knows more than most the cost their craft has bled from their people. She casts her wise gaze across the graveyard, each stone statue twisted into contorted shapes of pain and horror, barely recognizable as the beautiful souls they once were. The oldest ones had lost their shape entirely, mutating into weathered pillars of granite. "We all know the price," Grand Mother whispers.

"Do not speak to me of the cost!" Marissia spits, casting an accusing finger towards the crone. Tears stream freely down her cheeks. Flashes of her sweet Astasia blink through her memories, flickers of the life they once lived together. Moments of joy. Moments of sorrow. Moments now entombed in eternal stone. Just like her Astasia.

Above her, obsidian clouds begin to form. They swarm and swirl angrily, descending upon the Stone Grove with malicious intent. Magic has come, harkened to the witch's plea. For the moment, Marissia forgets her aging Mother, turning her scowl to meet her foe. "You will take no more from me," she hisses softly and continues summoning her power.

The Grand Mother hobbles forward, hand extended, pleading. "Think this through, child. If you kill Magic, the cost will be greater than any of us can pay. Think of the lives it will ruin, the creatures who depend on it to survive. Would you really condemn this world to a life without it, to rob future generations of the gifts it brings?"

Marissia keeps her gaze skyward, hands raised as the power glows upon her fingertips, tingling down her arms and humming deep in her chest. It swirls through her veins, invigorating, intoxicating. Violating. She shakes her head. "It is a curse the world will learn to live without."

Lightning streaks through the ebon sky, highlighting the darkness converging over Magic's killing ground. Birds of shadow wing through the gathering chaos. Their cries split the stillness, hungry for the fight ahead. In the clouds above, a shapeless face begins to form, featureless, ethereal.

Marissia shivers. So this is the source of her pain? The one who stole her love, her very soul? She knows it intimately, better than any lover could. It is entwined with her, like a vine wrapped around the trunk of an old oak, choking. Even now, she can feel it in the earth beneath her feet. In the air surrounding her, entering her lungs and flowing through her veins, feeding her and feeding off of her in return. A parasite in need of purging.

"Please Marissia. Please, think. This will not bring her back. It won't bring any of them back. This isn't what Astasia would have wanted."

Her resolve hardens. She thinks summoning the name of her beloved would sway her from her course? Foolish crone. She knows what she must do. The time has come.

"Sword of Spite, Poison Light, I cast thee towards the vile Blight. Hatred Cured, Pain Endured, I bid thee with my final words: Smite the Magic Tyrant down, grind it's reign down to the ground, and sever that which it has bound."

Vibrant light strikes through the sky, twisting and contorting the clouds in violent displays of rage and pain. A moan rumbles through the gaping jaws in the sky, Magic's death throes rupturing the heavens and shaking the earth below. But as Marissia finishes her spell, the last vestiges of her power bleeding from her eyes, her nose, her mouth, she feels a numbing chill creeping up from her earth beneath her. For the briefest moment, she glances down and watches the consuming stone devouring her flesh, climbing, climbing.

Marissia glances back at the crone and finds her, too, turning to stone. But the Grand Mother does not go silently. Her eyes blaze violet, her hands, too, extended to the sky above. She looks at Marissia and nods before the stone entombs her once and for all. Finish it, her statuesque stare commands.

Screaming now, Marissia thrusts her hands up towards Magic's heart and chants, "Sit magicae mori ut homo possit vivere!"

Thunder peals above. Violet streaks through the obsidian heavens. And as the stone consumes her, Marissia smiles.

It is finished.

***

Ariel walks through a field of stones and finds a circle of twelve, their shapes oddly familiar, and comes to stand beside the stone standing in the center of them all, the thirteenth spire. She brushes her fingers over the smooth granite surface of the center-most stone and smiles. If she closes her eyes, she can feel the hum, the disembodied remnants of power that once radiated through this place like a waterfall, now dwindled down to barren stone. If she listens carefully, she can hear the stones breathe, hear the secrets of the arcane whispered on the breeze, but she knows it's only in her head. Such things are impossible.

After all, there is no magic in the world.

Fantasy

About the Creator

Kelly Robertson

Wrangler of chaos. Creator of more. Writing whatever my heart desires, from fantasy to poetry and more!

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    Kelly RobertsonWritten by Kelly Robertson

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