Chapter 8: Dark Powers

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I stood in the middle of a dark forest, on a clearing scarcely lit by the bleak moonlight. An ominous silence surrounded me, and no matter how much I strained my ears in an attempt to hear even the slightest of sounds, there was nothing. Only complete, utter silence.

Something tickled the inside of my brain. It was a peculiar feeling, but unfortunately, one I was familiar with. Someone was poking around in my mind, although I had no idea what they thought they would find. Or maybe I did. I couldn't remember.

Sorceress.

I recognized the presence in my head. It had been there before, yet I couldn't recall under what circumstances that had been. Why couldn't I remember? My mind was like a blank page: bereft of its memories, even the most fundamental ones, such as my name.

What was my name?

Sorceress.

There it was again. Frantically, I looked around, but as far as I could tell, I was still alone. A sudden wave of panic overwhelmed me; my palms turned sweaty and the thundering beats of my heart were so loud that I was convinced the unknown voice could hear it from wherever they were hiding.

"Leave me alone," I yelled, my words penetrating the oppressive silence. No one answered.

Something moved in the trees at the other side of the clearing. I took a step backward, dreading the thing lurking in the dark a few yards away. My eyes could only barely make out a vague, human-like shape, yet I could sense its evil very clearly. It knocked the breath out of my lungs, making me stumble further away. My back hit a tree and I yelped, startled. Although I had a strong hunch that I needed to stay away from the still approaching threat between the trees, that my life depended on it, leaving the clearing and going into the woods didn't appeal to me either. So I pressed my body against the tree, secretly hoping that I could disappear into the broad trunk.

Some indistinct thought about using magic crossed my mind, but it was gone before I could really grasp it.

Where are you going, Sorceress?

The shape had stopped at the edge of the clearing, its face still hidden in the shadows. It cocked its head to the side, almost as if it was trying to figure me out. I could feel it searching my mind again and shivered.

What are you so afraid of, Sorceress? Don't you recognize me?

The creature took another step forward and I gasped in shock. It wore my face. The eyes were different, though, a blazing orange encircled by thin, wriggling lines of energy.

My doppelganger bared her sharp teeth into a hideous grin, blood dripping from the corners of her mouth, and I screamed.

***

I bolted upright, a high-pitched scream dying in my throat. My body was trembling all over, covered in tiny beads of sweat. A hand landed on my shoulder, the touch soft and careful, but I flinched anyway. Rowan's worried face came into view and I distantly noticed his other hand brush away the locks of hair that had escaped from the loose bun on top of my head.

"It was just a nightmare, Kenna," he whispered, his voice soothing. I relaxed a bit, although the memory of the bad dream was still fresh. "Do you want to talk about it?"

I shook my head. I'd rather forget about that nightmare as soon as possible. "I'm sorry I woke you."

"That's all right." He flashed me a soft smile, but the concern hadn't left his eyes yet.

A sudden flash of light followed by frightened cries coming from outside caught our attention. Rowan was out of bed in less than a second—he had first offered to sleep on the floor, but I wasn't that selfish—and he walked to the window to see what was going on.

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