“Free!” I yell as the rush of magic twists and warps around me like a tornado dancing upon the plains. It is wild magic at first, but as my prison walls weaken, I grab handfuls of that harsh, life-giving energy and swim in its cold, hard currents.
My soul is free! *Free!* As I stand upon the solid rock stairs and gaze down into the room below, I search for a body I can possess. The physical air nestles my soul like an old lover’s soft touch.
They stand there so fragile, so delicate, not knowing the power just above them. The female has been here for a short time. She has long, wavy red hair, high cheekbones, a small nose, and full lips. Her eyes glow a stark green against her pale skin. She has a round, curvy figure and she moves with an effortless grace. Megan. No, I decide. That body would not last long.
Embraced in her arms is a strong man. Raphael. Just a bit taller than her, he is wider at the shoulders, more muscular, and radiates danger. Silver with red lights is flowing through his aura. No, I decide. I would be fighting him all the while I possess him.
Ah, poor Niatha, looking lost and confused. You still don’t know who or what you are. You were a plaything I had created, a small piece of dirt beneath my feet that I had trampled on. If I had not found a use for you, I would have destroyed you and created something else. Perhaps I still shall, if I get out of this accursed tower.
There! The boy. Lylle. Young, sturdy, and open. He is the one! He is a street rat that knows only hardship and has no knowledge of the arcane arts. His body will hold the magical energy that I need. And he yearns for power and magic. Yes, he will do.
I open my senses to the tower to test the last remaining prison walls. They hold true. Augh! It will not be! I will be free and I will kill every Eelail I see. They imprisoned me here during our war with them. They had no right to leave me here! I’ll burn them from within and without. I’ll rot their hands and feet and watch them crawl in their own vomit.
I feel my rage push against the magical wards still left on the tower. My soul takes humanoid form and glows. I start down the stairs towards my human receptacle.
“Illiena?” the mage asks, taking a step towards me. I had entered his dreams and made him believe I was his goddess Illiena. The pathetic fool! The other humans turn to me with confusion and fear spread widely across their faces.
“No!” my brother Aechrose yells from somewhere above me. I would have killed him long ago, but I had thought I would need his help to break free.
“Yes!” I reply. “We are free!”
“What?” Merrif, the mage, asks, shocked and frozen. “You’re not Illiena!”
“You pathetic thing,” I say. I should kill him now, but the look of betrayal on his face is worth keeping him alive. “No, I am not Illiena. I used your dreams to bring you here to set me free!”
“Nathrod!” my brother yells. He is coming down the stairs behind me. “We are free! Don’t walk down the same road as before.”
“Do you believe,” I say, turning to look up the stairs, “Aechrose, oh, brother of mine, that the Eelail will let us go?” If I manipulate him, he will aid me in breaking the wards.
“It has been a long time,” Aechrose stops and replies. “They will never forget, but they may forgive.”
“They won’t!” I yell. You’re a whimpering fool, I curse mentally. A weak, useless creature that pretends to be a mage. If I didn’t need all of my energy, I’d kill you right now.
“I will not be imprisoned again!” I hiss at him. I can feel the Eelail now. They are rushing to get here. No time! I race down the stairs and run straight into Lylle. It is pathetically easy to lure his spirit down into a black void with dreams of magic and power and then take over his physical body.
“Young again,” I sigh with pleasure. A myriad of colors assaults my eyes as I look about me. These are more pastel to the stark contrast I was used to. Tingling, itching, and sometimes painful sensations travel from my skin to my mind. I have forgotten what it was like to have a physical body. Before I can get comfortable with the various senses, I feel the Eelail mages’ probing of the tower. “I’m leaving. Are you coming with me, brother?”
“I won’t let you go,” Aechrose threatens.
“The Eelail are close! Come, let us flee together!” I reply as I start for the door. I will have need of his magics to battle the Eelail. I feel Aechrose move, but don’t look back to see where.
“You must let me in,” Aechrose pleads. “I can’t do anything to stop him without a host body. You must let me in.” I remember now! They created me!
“They made me!” Niatha screams. “I remember now! They created me!”
“Yes, little one,” I answer as I step through the doorway. Wood planks creak under my weight. “We did and you are what set us free.” I arrive at the other room and stop. Dopkalfar warriors stand in front of the outer doorway. My muscles tense and a grating sound echoes throughout my mind. I’m grinding my teeth as I gather magical energies.
“You are in my way! I am a god here!” I scream at them. With a popping sound in my ears and a chill down my spine, I release magic. “Die!” Flinging my hands outward, a funnel of wind sweeps straight for the door, heading outside, taking Dopkalfar with it. Bodies tumble and crash as the wind rips them from the room.
“I can’t enter without permission!” Aechrose pleads. He is begging a human in the other room. Begging! Fretheod do not beg! Fretheod mages take what they want! I will kill him after I kill the Eelail. “You must let me in! We can’t let him get out of the tower!” he screeches.
More Dopkalfar stand in the doorway to replace the ones blown away. They are holding swords and daggers, and behind them there are more waiting to enter. “Augh,” I scream mentally in exasperation. There are too many. There has to be another way out! I push my senses out to the tower itself. There are windows here to allow my physical body an access out and the magical barriers on them are not as strong.
“Let them kill you!” I yell as I turn and fly up the stairs of the tower. “I will be free!” As I gain the third floor, I find a round room where a tear exists in the magical fabric that was my prison.
“No!” The tear isn’t large enough to let me through and it won’t widen. I can feel the Eelail mages holding it together. Heat spreads throughout my body and my vision blurs at the edges as I rage against my prison.
The room is circular with two windows looking out into the bright, sunny day. I strike a pane and it vibrates with my physical abuse, but does not break. “Is there no end to my torture?” I scream. Looking around, I try to find something to use to break the glass, but the room is empty. Running, I leap at a window and curl into a ball. The window resounds with my body and throws me back onto the floor. Rough wooden slats rake small thin furrows along my arm. I get up and push at the glass, only this time I use a fire magic. Perhaps I can melt it.
I feel my brother enter the room. He is inside the old mage, Merrif. “There are too many of them for me alone,” I say. Maybe I can use his energy to break through this window. “Together, we can break free.”
“The world has changed, but we have not,” Aechrose says. “It is not our time now. We should have died long ago. Even now, we use other lives to prolong ours.” I hear the door shut and a bolt slam into place. Small scratching sounds come from the other side of the door: Niatha. Has my brother shut the door to save Niatha or just to keep me in?
“We can be free!” I urge, trying one last desperate attempt to gain his cooperation. I can kill him later.
“We can never be free in this life,” he replies. “I want to live as much as you, but not like this. I don’t want to use other people like this, forever sharing thoughts and memories. And I will not go back to the prison we just left! The only other choice is to walk on to another life!”
“To die!” I hiss and turn around. Energy crackles around me. Small arcs of fire flare up and then die around my fists. “Don’t make it sound like it is something nice!” He will not help me.
“To die, then,” he agrees. “What else is there?”
“To live! We can find our people and once again be part of the empire!”
“Our people are an empire no longer!” he yells. “You’ve picked up the strands of thought from your host. You know it is gone!”
“I will not go back to that prison!” I shout, rage building inside me. I feel energy play with my hair. “I will not die! I will live!”
“I won’t let you leave here!” he says.
“You won’t have –” I begin. A bolt of magic strikes me in the chest and I am thrown to the floor a second time. There will not be another! Gasping, I manage to stand and look at him. I can’t believe he has actually struck me. Perhaps my brother is a mage after all.
“Don’t,” he pleads. I am ready for him this time and as he sent another bolt, I knock it aside. I’ve had enough. Twirling a small pocket of fire, I shoot it into his face. He screams. I smile. Poor little brother doesn’t like to play with fire. I feel almost whole again as I gather all the magic about me and suck it inside.
Walking over to Aechrose, I pick him up and throw him against the wall. I have chosen well as this body is fit and healthy. As I start toward him, Lylle’s essence surges upward and fights to be free.
I had thought Lylle to be lost amidst the darkness, but I was wrong. He had been biding his time to strike and I forgot about him. Lylle pushes his way into this body’s consciousness and tries to force me out. I try shoving him away, but he is strong. Aechrose tosses a ball of energy at me and I fling it aside, but it costs me. Lylle takes control and steps back. I divert my energy to him and finally dislodge him from the body. His screams cause me to smile as I turn back to my brother.
Aechrose is walking toward me when the door behind him flies open. Dopkalfar stand poised to enter the room. They are surveying us. As Aechrose attacks me with a magical blast of energy, I block it and watch the Dopkalfar strike. They are taking us down one by one. Swords pierce Aechrose’s back while magic twists his soul. He staggers to his knees and I watch in fascination. The Dopkalfar’s magic is a different kind than I remember them having. I study what it does as my brother falls to the floor and dies.
Flinging fire from my hands, I burn one and he falls screaming to the floor. Pushing outwards, I send a wave of magic through their bodies, ripping and rending anything I can inside them. Screams reverberate off of the glass panes as a few of them die.
They try to physically reach me, but I light the air with fire. Breathing in for them becomes a burning sensation and they fight to negate my magic. There are only two left when I sweep one aside with a small whirlwind. The other can’t withstand the previous magic and falls to the floor.
I thought I had some time to break free when another Dopkalfar runs straight toward me. I build a line of fire between us, but he pays it no mind. His hair sizzles and his skin blisters as he plows into me.
The wall slams into my back as something inside me cracks and pops. Pain and fire explode inside my head. As if that wasn’t enough, I see through my slit eyelids that a Ljosalfar enters the room. Ice forms around him and slides along the wall towards me.
The Dopkalfar holds me against the wall. I push fire down into him, but he doesn’t move. Freezing pain lances through me and I see steam burst from my mouth as I scream. Icicles pierce my arms and legs and gut. The fire within meets the cold from without and fizzles.
A blue haze covers my eyes as I cough and spit. “Enough!” I scream mentally. “I will not die here!” I reach out, gather some residual magic, and fling it outward as the Dopkalfar spins away. Both Eelail are stunned and I gather a final spell to kill them.
Fangs and claws and fur assault my face and I have to turn my attention to Niatha. The creature I had created wraps itself around my head. “Not now,” I think, panicking. “The Eelail will recover and I will be trapped again.” Pain rips down the sides of my head and teeth sink into my cheek. I start to scream when something pushes through my chest, followed by a heavy body forcing me back against the wall.
I scream, but Niatha’s body muffles it. I bite down hard into Niatha and feel him let go. “Free,” I think. “I want to be … free.” I won’t die here. There are other ways to be free; I can’t see, pain is a sharp throb throughout my body, but I still command magic. And it will set me free.
Gathering all that I can, I push and pull the magic of the tower until it splits and bursts. If I could move, I would have broken the window to escape. It is too late for that now, but not too late to suck the life and soul from the Eelail and then spiritually inhabit one of the empty bodies. “Free …” I whisper as I raise my hand.
I feel the magic working as Dopkalfar spirits are rent from their physical bodies. I can feel other magic battling my own and I push against it one final time. It is time to go. I start to shake loose the physical body so that I can find another, more suitable one.
Sight returns to one eye as part of my soul gains its freedom. It is one last look at the room and I shake in horror to see the Dopkalfar in front of me, knife raised.
“No!” I scream, but no one hears. “Not now, not when I am so close! So close …”