9 1 0


Of course Shrilynda knew where her portal was going to land. She hadn't been pivotal in dictating the fates of entire civilizations for centuries without learning a thing or two about magic. If the boy died, so be it. She was still mad at him for not being one of the children she so desperately wanted to squeeze until they ceased to be living. At least the High Sorceress's death would be more satisfying. The blood smeared across her palm was deliciously powerful. Shrilynda could feel that deep well of power humming through her like lightning when she ripped open the portal between worlds.

The High Sorceress shuddered as she felt the pull of magic being siphoned from her. She said something to the boy about going first. He was definitely going to die, then.

"Have a nice trip," Shrilynda chuckled before the Sorceress used the pearl to fling him through the tear.

"I should have warned him how badly that hurts," said Issabeth. "Ready?"

A dreamy smile crossed Shrilynda's lips. After ten years trapped here, she would be free. Ready was an insufficient word.

"If you try anything on the other side, you'll wish I had left you in here." She gestured at the jagged rip in the fluffy white. "Together."

Honorable types were so fun to work with—always keeping their word, even at the expense of common sense.

The dark magic of the portal was like burrowing knives under Shrilynda's skin, but there was something wonderful about the cutting, familiar evil, like an old friend. Shrilynda recoiled from her metaphor. It was inappropriate, because she found nothing comforting about friends. Those who called themselves friends were just people close enough to destroy plans and betray. Perhaps being smothered in biting dark magic was more like being wrapped in a warm blanket. A warm blanket that was on fire.

When she was thrust through the other side, it took a second to orient herself, especially as she was quickly plunging toward the sea. At least she was ready. She snapped her fingers and black smoke billowed around her. In an instant, she went from plummeting toward the ocean to hovering above it, ensconced in smoke. Sorceress-charged powers were wonderful.

Issabeth took more time to react, but she did react quickly enough to save herself. A wave of light shot from the pearl, cushioning her fall. From her glowing platform, she scanned for Shrilynda.

"Nice try, witch," she yelled over the wind of a passing storm. "What's your game?"

A pithy response would have been a waste of time, and showing her was more fun. Shrilynda stretched out a hand; black smoke poured around Issabeth's body, wrapping her tightly.

"You're going to regret this," Issabeth gasped, wriggling. Her platform of light dimmed.

Shrilynda laughed. However, her lungs objected to the sharp intake of the salty ocean air, so she stopped. "Do you know how many times I've heard that in my lifetime?"

Issabeth struggled against the black cocoon as Shrilynda felt Issabeth's robbed magic warm her and fill her with power. Had Rin thought to dismantle the Malum village? Did any of Shrilynda's tools remain, or had they been destroyed or stolen? Regardless, it would be a suitable location to drain the Sorceress of her wonderful blood while the unworthy Rin was otherwise occupied. How risky would it be to keep the Sorceress alive for a while?

"Greedy, Shrilynda," she chided herself. "Recklessness is for young fools." There were other Sorceresses. And the children. Must not forget them. They would be so powerful.

"Are you speaking to me, you crazy—"

Shrilynda tightened her hand, and Issabeth clawed at her throat, gaping soundlessly for a glorious moment until a blast of light shot from the pearl with a roar, searing through the smoke binding Issabeth and exploding outward toward Shrilynda. Issabeth plunged into the ocean, and Shrilynda's own smoke platform weakened, causing her to drop abruptly. She gathered the smoke around her again, letting it consume her and carry her away from the powerful magic of the pearl. In an instant, Shrilynda was standing on the tiny bit of shore at the base of the cliff among crumbled piles of the broken castle above her.

"Goodbye, Sorceress," Shrilynda purred, raising her hands. Using Issabeth's wild and impetuous magic was like trying to harness the electricity of the stormy air, so that was exactly what Shrilynda called forth. Lightning shot from her in a crackling bolt, aiming in Issabeth's general direction.

Issabeth yelped, sensing the danger more than seeing it as choppy water shoved her under with each swell. Still, the pearl responded to her panic, throwing up a light shield just as her head crested the water. Shrilynda's lightning glanced off the glowing shield, rebounding to strike the broken castle dangling high above. A massive chunk broke off and plunged into the ocean. Shrilynda heard a scream and the resounding splash of some now-dead body slamming into the ocean. Normally Shrilynda loved the sounds of death in all its forms, but this one she ignored, focusing more magic at the Sorceress trying desperately to stay above water.

Issabeth knew where Shrilynda was now, but she could do nothing about it. Shrilynda blasted bolt after bolt at Issabeth, feeling the surge of the stolen magic weaken with each attack. The light shield wavered. Shrilynda was draining her power source. Her stupid power source was too stubborn to be taken alive. No matter. As soon as Issabeth was too weak to continue her futile struggle, she would drown, and Shrilynda could take her body somewhere safer. Her blood was still useful enough after she was dead. Shrilynda comforted herself with the certainty of finding a better source of magic soon.

Fog rolled in from the water. Shrilynda heaved a sigh. This magical battle had attracted the attention of the pesky Flifary. Of course.

A dark, Flifary woman with long, fire-red hair appeared on one side of Shrilynda, and a man who was similar and different and hardly worth the effort of describing breezed in on the other.

"We'll take this from here," the woman said.

"She's mine," seethed Shrilynda.

The man spoke next. "See, we have a prisoner who is being very uncooperative with the information we need, and we're sure this one—" He jerked his head in Issabeth's direction. "—will help us motivate her."

Shrilynda would have laughed, but the previous bad experience was fresh in her mind. She decided to think instead. If she eviscerated the Flifary with Issabeth's magic, her power source would be dead and gone, Shrilynda would be stranded, and she would have made a powerful enemy. Of course, if she left now, her connection to Issabeth would wear off before she had time to find the children and have any fun at all.

"This one's not worth the chance," Shrilynda warned them, which she felt was very considerate, under the circumstances. "She'll find a way to escape."

"Not our prison," chuckled the woman.

"Arlana and Daniella are enjoying it thoroughly," the man agreed.

Trapping those two was not child's play. If these Flifary were really strong enough to offer up a credible threat to Rin, Shrilynda could afford to let them try.

Ah, well, she was good at biding her time. She snapped her fingers, calling up the black smoke that billowed around her and carried her away from danger. Today had been a fruitful day and tomorrow was rife with possibility.

The Destiny DetourWhere stories live. Discover now