She stands before me, flaming red locks waving in the gentle breeze. Her orange eyes glow and her smile is so radiant, it rivals the sun. She spreads her arms wide, beckoning me to them. I hear her voice call out, like bells on the breeze.
Andrei, I forgive you… Where are you?
My heart races. I want to run to her, leap into those open arms and kiss her all over. I want to smell the campfire in her hair and feel her heat wrap all around me. I’d happily burn with her, but, I cannot.
I reach out to her, gritting my teeth, willing my feet to move, but they are cemented to the ground, like the roots of a tree. A thick oily blackness tangles itself around them, reaching upwards, squeezing tightly around my waist. It’s painful and taut. I struggle against these contains.
A voice comes from behind me but I cannot turn to see it. It’s smooth like honey and sweet, alluring. It calls my name.
Andrei, love. Forget her. She is nothing…
I feel her arms wrap around my torso, entwining me in her embrace. She laces her painted nails together, locking me into place. I feel her ample chest press into my back and I can smell her rose perfume.
The scent tickles my nose and blurs my thoughts. I stare ahead, watching, as the girl with flaming hair begins to go fuzzy.
“Noo…” I keen, feebly. My lip trembles and I feel hot tears on my cheeks. It’s not the first time I’ve felt these strange feelings, this push and pull. This sadness even when aroused. I don’t understand it, that’s the worst part.
I feel her hot breath on my neck as she licks my ear. My skin tingles and I shiver visibly with the sensation it brings. I tilt my head to expose my neck to her. I want her. I want her touch on my skin.
Ahh… Andrei… she hums in my ear, rolling the ‘R’.
I love how she says my name.
The bells call out from afar, Andrei! Please! Don’t listen to her! Please! It begs, but it’s so hard to resist! I don’t even know what’s real anymore. I can’t get this scent of perfume out of my head. Soon the bells disappear and all I know is the lustful touch of the woman dressed in a shimmering, skin-tight black dress.
She rounds me, facing me, blocking out the distant girl with the orange eyes. I forget about her. Who was she? It doesn’t matter.
This girl’s red lips part into a wide smile and her eyes gleam brightly as she looks at me. Her long lashes bat and I exhale a ragged breath. She’s the most beautiful thing in the world.
Hmmm, yes. That’s the Andrei I know. I want to you know what real love is, Andrei. I want you to tell me everything. All you know about time. Take me somewhere… take me there.”
I inhale deeply as she twists her fingers through my hair, gently cradling the back of my head in her hands.
She looks deeply into my eyes and I open my mouth to ask, but she pulls my head towards her roughly and presses her lips on mine, forcing her way into my mouth.
Why? Why is she doing this? I… I don’t understand.
My heart pounds in my chest and I feel the tingling sensation of a jump on my arms. She twists her arms around me, relentless in her lustful efforts.
Take us there… she whispers, despite her mouth being on mine.
Where? The spark intensifies and I feel the sensation take hold. The world tumbles away and we lurch backward in our embrace into the space of ribbonous time. She pulls away from me without relinquishing her grip, reaching out a hand for a time which glows purple. I’ve never seen a time ribbon like that before.
I scream out, feeling in my gut that this is very wrong. We shouldn’t be going there, but it’s too late. She grips the ribbon in her painted hand and we reel through the timescape. We tumble over each other, unable to let go, unwilling to.
I gasp for breath as I wake up.
“I don’t understand!” I shout, standing there, watching Samantha’s back as she gazes around the room. “How did you do that? You… induced a jump. How? And why? I need answers!” She doesn’t turn around though, her tall figure is statuesque against the frame to the crypt entrance, except, it isn’t the crypt entrance. There’s no crypt and there are no pews. It looks eerily like it does now, since the supposed fire.
She looks out into the open space before the library. I take a step towards her.
“Ah, ah. Not yet,” she says, fumbling with something on the front of her dress. My mind flashes to the dream, and before that. My mind was abuzz with sensation, it was almost like a drug trip, or something. But I distinctly remember her lustful touch in places I find myself wishing she hadn’t touched. I don’t know why that is.
She flings her hand through her hair, I detect the scent of roses and a smile comes to my lips, my breath deepens, my eyes close. My mind begins to settle. No, I… I liked the touches. They were… exceptional. I find myself longing for those touches again and take another step towards her.
“Ok, I’m ready,” she says curtly, turning around and facing me. She’s stunning in the glow of the torchlight that hangs from the walls. Her raven black hair frames her face, making the red of her lips pop against her pale pink skin. I want to touch her, but her eyes are like a viper, so I stay back.
My questions come back to me and I repeat them, hoping she’ll answer.
“Oh, Andrei. I didn’t induce anything. That was all you,” she smiles.
“I don’t see how that is possible. I did not -” I start, but she cuts me off.
“Don’t underestimate your abilities. You are stronger than you think. Why do you think I came back for you?” she asks sweetly.
I hear the compliment and all else falls on deaf ears. “You think I’m good?” I smile pleasantly.
“Of course. I missed you, Andi. I wanted to see you again.” I smile at her words like a blind man in front of a painting. She creeps up to me and touches her hand to my temple. I shiver at her touch, reaching a hand up to her but she shakes her head not to.
I feel a cold shiver, like a brain freeze after eating a snow cone. When she removes her hand I feel calmer. “So… What are we doing here?” I ask.
“Well, It seems I’ve gone and left something behind and I need your help finding it. You know this place better than I,” she says, looking around the crypt.
“I do, what kind of thing is it? Any idea where you left it last?” These are legitimate questions you see. “Maybe I can ask the others to help you find it. I’m sure they’d be happy to help,” I offer.
“No, I…” her smiling face morphs into one with a pout, “I don’t think they like me very much. And besides, they’re very busy, I’m fairly certain we won’t have the time to find them.” I think this over. It’s doesn’t quite make sense to me why she wouldn’t want their help, but something in me says not to argue with her, so I comply.
“Let’s walk and talk, shall me?” she takes my hand in hers and leads me out of the crypt. When we enter the library, I don’t think for a minute that it looks any different. Certainly, there are fewer books, the walls are brighter and the floor’s carpet smells news, but I think nothing of it. It is normal.
We leave the library.
When another mage approaches, Samantha gently tugs my arm and leads me down another hall. She looks back before she continues talking with me in a soft voice.
“So, Where do you think the Headmaster stays?” she hums.
“Where? You mean Ambrosse? Have you not met her before now?” I ask.
“No, I haven’t, but I’m curious. Do you think she stays where the founder used to live?”
“You know, I never thought about it before. That’s a good question. I’m sure…” my thought stops as my mind races to fill the blank it finds when I go to speak. For a brief moment, I don’t know who I was thinking of. Then, “Cliff, knows. Why don’t I ask him?”
“No, no. Let’s not bother him. He seems busy. Let’s just wander around till we find it! We have time, don’t we?” she suggests.
“Yes, we do,” I find myself saying. Man, wandering around the school with Samantha sounds like a dream come true. “But this place is huge! It might take us days!” I point out, a little worried.
“It’s fine. I’d like to have your personal tour anyway. Where are your favourite spots and what not,” she shoots me a genuine smile and I feel my heart melt. Anything for her.
“Alright,” I smile back.
The days slip by as I showed Sam the Guild. It seems vaguely different, almost newer, but maybe it’s just the way she brightens the old place up. When we were alone at night, under the stars she would watch me intently, asking me about the jumps I’ve had since she left. She listens intently, stroking my hand.
It reminds me of the old days before she left. Laying on my roof, looking at the stars as I told her about my messed up world. She laughed at my jokes and kissed me passionately then, as she does now. It’s almost like no time has passed at all. Her lips are hypnotizing. I can’t stop thinking of her.
She rolls onto her stomach, onto of me, blocking my view of the stars and filling my vision with her red smile and long black hair.
“Kiss me,” she says, staring into my eyes.
I grin. “Of course milady.”
She smirks and closes her eyes. I reach up and kiss her. She pushes back, parting her lips. I feel her hands run up my side and over my shoulders. I shiver at her touch. She presses against me, awakening old feelings.
The night slips by as we lay tangled together on the roof. As the sun begins to peek up from its sleep Samantha lifts her head, looking at me. She presses her forehead against mine with a beaming smile.
What are you thinking?” she asks.
I stare into her pale green eyes. “You, obviously.”
“Hmm, it’s so easy to please me, Andrei,” she hums.
“What? No, that’s not true. I mean, only someone special could please you,” I say, reaching for a kiss.
She gives me a brief kiss back and sighs. “Yes, that’s true. Only someone special, like you. I’ve always loved you. You and your magic. You’re so… unique,” she winks.
My heart skips. She really understands, the way the magic works. “You too. I want to give you the world.”
“Hmm, wouldn’t that be nice?” she glances sideways.
“What, what is it? Common, name it. Anything, I’ll show you, I mean it,” something deep in my gut screams to stop, to look away, but my eyes can’t move, my lips keep talking and my heart skips when she touches me.
“Well, there is one thing…” she says.
Don’t! Andrei! You can’t!
“What is it?” I ask again. I hear a faint voice in my ear, urging me to stop, but I ignore it.
“Well, I want something that is in the Headmasters rooms,” she says.
“Hmm, that’s risky. What is it?”
Andrei! Stop! Please! Listen to me!
“Something they took from my family, many years ago. There’s a book, a magic book full of the teachings of void magic, I want it back,” she says. I pass off her serious tone for one of intense passion for the subject.
“They took it? Why?” I ask.
Don’t listen to her Andrei! Please! Stop!
I scratch my ear, wishing that annoying voice would be quiet.
“Oh, you know. They thought they could keep it safe, but it’s mine, you know. I need it.”
“I see. I’ll do my best. Shall we, work together, like the good old times?” I ask her.
She smile broadens, red lips parted to reveal pearly white teeth. “It’d be my pleasure.”
My head hurts from the insistent screaming I hear. It’s clear to me, no one else can hear it, which makes this even more annoying. I stand in the Headmasters room, alone, standing before the desk, looking for this book that Sam described to me.
Sam’s outside, talking the headmaster himself. It’s strange, ‘cause I thought the Headmaster was a woman, but I must have been mistaken. Sam’s really good at holding people’s attention. I sift through the shelf behind the desk, not seeing the black book, or more like tome, she says is hers.
Time hums in my ears, along with that eerily upset voice. I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to ignore both the sensations. I take another look and spot a hidden safe, behind the picture over the fireplace. I work quickly, using my time speed to remove the picture.
I place my hand on the safe knob and think. If I can reverse time on this safe, I could perhaps undue it’s locking to a time it wasn’t locked. That would make sense. I create a bubble of time around the safe and begin the reversal spell. Within my already sped up bubble, it would seem to anyone outside that my work is instantaneous. This makes for quick work.
The safe pops open and I grin as I see exactly what I’m looking for.
A large black book that looks as old as the bible sits there, atop other piles of documents and other knick-knacks.
The voice in my head sobs, giving up on words. I reach in and grab the book, tucking it under my arm and shutting the safe once more. I speed up the time and return it to now and then dash to the door.
I check around the corner, I don’t spy Sam or the Headmaster anywhere. I take my chance to slip out, shutting the door behind me.
I round the corner and freeze as I nearly walk into a hulking tall man with blonde hair and a braided beard. His skin is painted with tattoos and he looks strangely like… “Cliff?”
The man looks at me and frown. “My name is not Cliff. Why would you call me Cliff? It’s Holgar. And you are?” he asks, crossing his thick arms across his chest. He looks a hundred times less friendly than Cliff.
“Oh, I’m sorry. You just reminded me of someone I know,” I stumble.
“That doesn’t happen often,” his blue-grey eyes narrow as they study me. “I don’t recognize you. What teacher do you study under?”
I feel my neck get hot, and I think I might start to sweat. “Uhh…” I stumble for words to say.”
“Oh, he’s with me, don’t worry about it. We’re new recruits, just arrived today,” Samantha’s voice calls from behind me.
Holgar looks up, studying Samantha as she approaches. “Usually new recruits are escorted to their rooms before they wander the halls on their own,” he says with a cross tone.
“Well, we were told to by the Headmaster himself to explore freely. I’m sure he meant nothing by it. Now, if you don’t mind, we’ll be heading to our rooms now.”
“Why don’t I take you. You might get lost,” he says, watching us intently.
“That won’t be necessary. We already know the way, don’t we Fredrick?” She says, elbowing me lightly.
“Fre-? Fredrick. Yes. We know the way. That’s my uh… magic. I can see the entire castle in my head and see through the walls and stuff. I don’t need a guide.”
Holgar huffs and nods. “Fine, just don’t let me catch you being sneaky again, new recruits,” he growls, turning away.
“Won’t happen again!” Samantha calls.
I let out a sigh of relief. “That was close.”
“Too close. Let’s go,” she says, dropping her sweet girl voice.
“Go? Where?” I ask. “Who was that? I don’t recognize him.
Samantha looks at me with a small frown and then smiles, flinging her hair over her shoulder. She steps in close, bringing her hands to my cheek and kisses me tenderly. “Let’s go back,” she looks up through her lashes at me.
“Right,” I say, following her down to the library. As we arrive, She leads me down to the crypt room and shuts the door behind her. We are alone again. She turns to me with eager eyes. “So, you found it!” she smiles.
“Yes, in the safe,” I say, pulling the book out from under my arm. It’s heavy and large, like a stack of books all in one. “It looks ancient. I glad we got it back for you.”
“Yes, you did wonderfully. Thank you, love,” she steps up to me, taking the book in her hands and smiling from eye to eye. God, she’s gorgeous when she’s happy. She looks up to me and winks. “Wonderful. Now, let’s get back and forget all this.”
I look at her quizzically. “Forget? Why?”
“Oh, just a little backtracking, in case of intruders.” She steps in close, placing the book on the table behind me and slides her arms around my waist. She presses against me and kisses me with eager passion. I close my eyes, not sure why she wants this now.
The ticking thrums in my ears and the world falls silent around me.
“Andrei…” she hums.
“I’m taking it all, ok?”
“What?” I ask, confused.
I feel her hand grip the side of my head and her nails dig into my hair. It kind of hurts. But her lips are so sweet. The world lurches beneath us as I release the ticking and we fall into the time-space. I feel her press the book into my back as she hugs me close. We fall through the space as the ribbons of time dance around us.
Sam looks up and asks, “Which one is ours?”
I look up and spy one glowing brighter than the others, and point. She grabs it and we lurch forward back into the crypt. She quickly returns her lips to mine.
I suddenly feel like I’m falling, although I’m most certainly standing. I feel dizzy, as her hand presses into my skull. It starts to hurt and suddenly she pulls her lips away and pulls her hand away too. I look at her confused and see her eyes glowing purple before the crypt goes black around me and I hit something hard and cold.
By Kayla West