Sisters of the Mists Ch. 16byDarkniciad©
Devan's chambers at Darkniciad's school hardly resembled Danica's girlhood bedroom, but the sight of her sister sleeping just across the way — sprawled on the bed at an odd angle and tangled in the sheets — certainly did. She wore only a pair of panties, having apparently decided to forgo changing into a gown for the night. Her robe hung from a post on the footboard, where she'd carelessly tossed it while preparing for bed. One shoe lay near the robe, while the other was sitting upside down at the side of the bed.
Only one thing hadn't landed wherever Devan was standing when she removed it the night before — a necklace crafted of leather, beads, and feathers. That, she'd carefully lain out on top of the chest of drawers in the room. Though her sister had never said such, Danica knew that it was a gift from White Stag, the plainsman magician.
Devan groaned and swiped a lock of red hair out of her eyes, but almost immediately pulled a pillow over her head against the light streaming in the single small window. She mumbled something unintelligible, once again taking Danica on a trip back through the years.
Unfortunately, the here and now needed her attention.
With more than a little reluctance, Danica stretched again and tossed back the covers. She ached for a long soak in a bath, but there was still too much to do before she could enjoy that luxury. She sat up and tugged at the plunging neckline of her borrowed nightgown, covering her right breast, which had spilled out as she slept.
Devan once again mumbled, the cadence of her words emerging from beneath the pillow bespeaking magic. A sharp gesture of her hand completed the spell, and the light coming through the window instantly dimmed, clouded by Devan's magic.
"Good morning," Danica greeted her sister while swinging her legs out of the bed.
Devan made a disgusted, dismissive sound before responding, "Morning, yes. Good, no."
Danica crossed the room to the dressing table and picked up a brush to return her auburn locks to something resembling presentable. "You'll feel better after a couple of cups of coffee."
"Doubt it," Devan argued as she climbed out of bed and tugged at her panties, which had ridden up in the night. "Any luck yesterday? You were already asleep when I came to bed."
Danica smiled into the mirror. She'd turned her efforts toward creating a modified version of the misdirection spell that would follow her and Marlena when the pair journeyed into the lands of the Eastern warriors in search of a way to avert the brewing war there. The hope was that it would prevent scrying magic from locating them. "I finished the spell last night. It took too much out of me to try it out, though. How about you?"
"Think we're almost there. Marlena makes me feel like I'm back in school when it comes to illusion magic."
The spell that the two were working on would compliment Danica's in the journey to come. It was meant to create subtle, confusing illusions over a wide area. Between the two spells and warding magic, Danica felt that it would be safe to travel through the unknown lands without returning to the manor each night to rest. She took one last look at her hair, decided that she'd done about all she could do, and handed the brush to her approaching sister.
Devan accepted the brush and gestured toward the mirror in front of her with it before turning it to its intended purpose. "Darkni and Damian are making enough of those mirrors to tile Thakkor's great hall."
"There are a lot of covens," Danica said as she returned to the bed to fish fresh clothing from her bag of holding.
"Letting them talk to each other is the easy part. The rift magic is something else altogether."
"Just being able to stay in touch will help them a lot. The way it is now, the same demon could attack them one after the other, and the next witch wouldn't have any idea what was happening."
"Guess so," Devan responded as she tossed the brush back onto the dressing table. "Can't argue that they'll be a big help against the demons. We've got too much on our plate to handle alone."
Danica sighed and nodded as she sat down the clothing she'd picked out on the bed. She pulled the straps of the nightgown off her shoulders, and then tugged the garment past her breasts and the swell of her hips to pool at her feet.
Devan leaned in closer to the mirror and critically examined her features. "Think I may need to brew up another youth potion." She turned around as Danica pulled on her panties and said, "Looks like you've cooked up a few."
"Hmm?" Danica responded, her brow furrowing in confusion as she reached for her brassiere.
"You haven't? I just assumed, because all of you are looking so good." She shrugged and said, "Maybe it's just the good living in that valley of yours."
"I think you're imagining things." When she saw her sister put on the necklace and smile at it before letting it drop between her breasts, Danica added, "Or maybe you just have a brighter outlook on life."
Devan turned around and pointed an accusing finger. "Don't start, little sister." She snatched up her robe and gave it a snap, as though she was cracking a whip. Motes of silver-white light sparkled around the garment, evidence of some sort of an enchantment. She nodded toward Danica putting on her bra and said, "I really need to have Andrea make me a couple of those."
"Just go see Alicia. She has a seamstress that knows how to get your sizes and make them now."
"Come to think of it, Alicia has been looking a little perkier lately."
Danica laughed, and finished dressing for the day.
As soon as both sisters tied the belts of their robes, Devan said, "Coffee," and headed toward the door.
The elf maiden's song joined those of the birds greeting the morning, her gossamer gown of elven silk flowing in the breeze. She finished her song with a pirouette and a musical laugh, rejoicing in the beauty of nature and its magic manifest all around her.
She knelt next to a brook, cupping her hands in the cool water to bring it to her lips. After the first sip, she started, feeling a peculiar sensation that gave her chills.
Her senses alert, she scanned the forest around her, seeking signs of danger. Though the birds had quieted, nothing else seemed amiss. Quiet footfalls — too stealthy for any but an elf to have detected — alerted her to someone approaching, and she sought the magic within her, prepared to escape if necessary.
She gasped in surprise when the most beautiful man she'd ever beheld stepped out from behind a tree. He wore nothing but a smile, and she blushed as she admired his lean elven body. Having not yet known a man in such a way, the sight of him both frightened and excited her.
He spoke not a word as he approached, his eyes catching hers and entrancing her. The heat came upon her, and her heart began to race.
C'seka reached his prize and pressed his lips to hers, his eyes flashing red, the one crack in his disguise as the expression of the elf maiden's greatest desire.
Not that it mattered any longer.
With his Devil master distracted by asserting dominance over the hordes unleashed into the mortal plane, C'seka knew the moment was ripe to expand his own power. He reveled in his victory as claws pressed outward from elven fingers and he tasted the maiden's lips.
He had successfully enveloped the elf in his personal realm without the aid of his pawns, and left his prey none the wiser until it was too late. Trapped here, she was cut off from the natural magic that could have saved her, or at least have given her the means to slip into the sweet release of death beyond his grasp.
Now she was his, and he would sate his hunger.
His claws ripped through her gown, laying her body bare. Still, she panted in anticipation, her small, teardrop breasts heaving, and the scent of her arousal making him drool.
She was young, vital, and untouched. Despite losing contact with the wellspring of nature, she was powerful. The elf maiden screamed as he sundered her virginity and his fangs pierced her flesh.
All that she was now belonged to the demon — body and eternally tormented soul.
Danica felt uneasy as she shifted the position of the Hellgate portal away from Blackhawk Hall, seeking a random location near the elven woods to the northwest. Little did she know that the sensation arose from her personal realm passing so close to that of the demon, still caught up in the rapture of taking his newest slave.
She aborted her search for somewhere especially interesting, and stopped the portal's roaming to cast her new spell. As soon as the magic settled around her, she opened the portal and stepped out onto the bank of a river.
The test was the best that anyone could devise. Devan and Darkniciad would scry for her, already knowing that she would be somewhere within the Duchy of Cratel. That knowledge, the power of the two workers of Art, and Devan's connection of blood to whom she sought should give them the best chance possible of piercing her new magic.
Danica wandered along the river bank, glad to note that the sensation she'd experienced while in the Hellgate was fading. The beauty of the day and her surroundings soon chased away the lingering uneasiness.
A plant with long, broad leafs growing in the shadow of a great elm caught her eye, and Danica praised her luck. Dragon Tongue was somewhat rare, and had several uses in both magic and witchcraft.
Few had ever managed to successfully cultivate the plant, but Danica decided to give it a try. As soon as she finished the trial of the misdirection spell, she planned to come back and attempt to transplant the three plants in Andrea's garden at home. Everything seemed to thrive in the valley, so she had high hopes.
The vegetation was lush, and the animals plentiful as she walked the thin strip of knee high grass between the river and the woods. Hardly surprising, considering the proximity of an elven community. It was a chance to relax after so many days of constant work and little sleep, yet she was still accomplishing something in testing her spell.
When she guessed that about half an hour had passed, she turned around to retrace her steps. If her spell could hide her from Darkni and Devan for an hour, it would certainly shield her and Marlena from prying eyes.
The walk back was just as peaceful, and she dismissed the spell upon reaching the Dragon Tongue again.
Within a few seconds, a transparent image of her sister appeared in front of her. "Well, unless you didn't drop the spell yet, it looks like it worked."
"I just let it lapse," Danica answered. "I'm going to dig up some Dragon Tongue that I found and drop it off with Andrea to transplant at home, but I'll be back in a few minutes."
Devan scoffed and said, "Good luck with that. I tried it once, and the damn thing was dead before I woke up the next morning. Hurry back so we can put Marlena's spell through its paces. She finished it while we were having coffee."
The image faded, and Danica turned her attention to the Dragon Tongue. Her brief respite over, it was time to put her nose back to the magical grindstone.
Andrea patted the earth around the last of the three plants that Danica had brought home, and then whispered a prayer to the Earth Mother for them to survive and thrive after the upheaval.
Her respite with the Dragon Tongue was a brief one as well. She walked back inside from the garden enclosed at the center of the manor, to return to what Celes flippantly referred to as witch school.
The concentration of the current lessons was potion making, which Andrea was quickly discovering was as much a part of being a witch as her inborn powers. Only a few witches were born with abilities, the rest relied upon spells and potions to call upon the magic of the craft. Her love of plants and gardening served her well, as did Celes' knowledge of flora and fauna necessary to practice the Art. The hard part was learning what combinations and concentrations of herbs — and less appetizing ingredients — were good, and which would result in opening all the doors and windows to air out the clouds of smoke, while picking up overturned furniture.
When Andrea walked into the study to the corner given over to Ashley, she saw Celes complete a wizard spell, once again doubling the number of papers in front of her. The stack of papers had grown ten fold in just the short time that the blonde witch was replanting the Dragon Tongue.
"Whew. That should be enough to spread them about," Celes declared as she sat back in her chair.
Ashley stood up. "Thank you, Celes. We'll just have to hope that those we give the recipe to can find all the ingredients, and that they in turn will pass on the secret to those that they know. I should probably check the message bowl for potion vials."
"Aye, we don't want to lose any more to falling out because it's over full," Celes agreed.
Andrea marveled at how much they had accomplished in the last couple of days. Upon learning that the rift magic to connect the covens was slow, difficult work, Ashley had come up with an idea to help in the meantime.
First was distributing the recipe to create her teleportation potions to any witch they could find. Those witches could in turn brew the potions and take the vials to other witches they knew, trading for potions made by the recipient. In that way, they could go to each other's aid once the nearly finished mirrors allowed them to talk to each other easily.
Second was the task at hand. Celes had sent a message to Heather and her glass-blower husband, requesting potion vials larger than the norm. Those could contain enough potion to transport a dozen or more gathered witches here to the valley, if the need arose. The plan was to distribute those potions with the recipe, providing an immediate means of escape to a safe place, should the need arise. The potions could also be split into smaller bottles, further spreading the coverage, if reducing the number it could translocate at once.
Celes stretched and said, "Break's over. I'll get to filling vials. You start on the next batch of the potion."
Andrea nodded and washed her hands in a basin while Celes picked up the pot containing the last batch of the translocation potion. Ashley returned a minute later with a small bag containing the newly arrived vials, and sat them down next to where Celes was working.
"Just lay everything out and I'll mix," Ashley suggested as she walked over to Andrea and picked up a pitcher of water to begin the potion making. "You know, something Danica said about her sister's beau got me thinking. Maybe we should talk to the shaman of the plainsmen. Their powers come from the same place as ours, but what rumors I've heard say that they can do things that I've never heard of any witch doing."
"Hmm, there may be something to that," Celes muttered as she corked the first of the vials. "It may be that they use things that have fallen out of practice in the craft, and vice versa."
"Cerebus and Christi know the plainsmen pretty well," Andrea offered. "The Duke and Brandon should be back from visiting with the various chiefs by now."
"Itching for a visit, are ye?" Celes asked with a knowing smile.
The blonde witch blushed. "Well, yes. But I could ask for them to introduce us to some of the shaman."
"We could probably use a break," Ashley said as she put in the first of the potion ingredients, resulting in a puff of smoke from the pot. "The last thing we want to do is make a mistake with a potion because we're getting into too much of a routine."
The anticipation in Andrea's voice was hardly lost on her friends. "You should come with me to the Hall. You've barely been out except to fight demons. You too, Celes."
"Maybe," Celes responded. She then noticed Anastasia, the older of the two clones of Andrea standing in the doorway to the study, nervously shifting from foot to foot. "Drew the short straw, did you, Dearie? Well, what is it?"
The blonde clone twisted a lock of hair between her fingers and asked, "Uhm... We were wondering if we might be able to go back to the cave."
"Not just yet," Celes answered. "We've been busy and haven't had time to make sure that it's safe."
Anastasia looked crestfallen. "Okay."
Celes pursed her lips in thought. "I've been itching to have a look around in there, truth to tell." She turned to her sister witches and asked, "Why don't the two of you pay a visit to the Hall, and I'll poke around the girls' little playground to clear the cobwebs out of my brain?"
"Are you sure it's safe to go alone?" Ashley asked.
"Bah, I can take care of myself. I won't let those things surprise me again." She turned to Anastasia, who still stood in the doorway, and winked. "And I'll stay away from the red ones."
"At least talk to Edna first." Ashley shrugged and said, "I am feeling a bit of cabin fever."
Celes gestured to the blonde clone and said, "Go tell the rest of the girls that I'm going to look around and think about it. No promises, though."
When her clone offered an enthusiastic nod and skipped back off toward the other side of the manor, Andrea said, "Let's finish this batch so we can go."
Celes chuckled and returned to her work, a smile on her face as she remembered the thrill of young love.
Danica peeked into the room, though she knew that her friend was surely decent since the door was open. She saw Marlena brushing out her hair in preparation to go spend some time with Brandon before leaving on the journey to the East. Since they'd both completed their spells, and the other work continued apace, Danica had decided that it was time to try to put a stop to the brewing war there.
Marlena put down her brush and turned away from the mirror when she saw Danica walk into the room wearing a coy smile, with her hands behind her back.
"I have a little present for you, before you go," Danica revealed, and then pulled her hands from behind her back to present the wands that she'd crafted to provide Marlena with a little more firepower, when the need called for it.
The illusionist gasped. "Oh, Danica. They're beautiful," she said as her friend approached to hand her the wands.
Danica reached into her pocket while Marlena examined the intricate whorls and swirls carved into the body of the wands and their sparkling gem tips. She sat down the list of enchantments and command words on the dressing table and said, "They can pack a wallop, too."
Marlena glanced at the list, and her eyes widened. She looked back up at Danica and said, "So many enchantments. All this work. I..."
"Shush," Danica cut her off while waving her hand in a dismissive gesture. "I'm not done yet. Or, rather we're not done yet."
Damian stepped into the doorway on cue, bearing two boxes and wearing a proud smile. Danica took the smaller of the two rosewood boxes and presented it to her friend.
It looked to Danica as if reluctance to put down her first present and wonder about what could be in the box were at war in Marlena's eyes, but the illusionist sat down the wands on the dressing table next to the notes, and accepted the box.
"Go on. Open it," Danica encouraged her friend, eager to see what Damian had crafted, as he'd kept it a surprise from her as well.
Marlena opened the box and let out a little, "Oh," of surprise. Danica had to agree with that sentiment as she beheld the marvelously etched silver bracelets.
"Try them on," Damian suggested.
Marlena sat the box down and removed the bracelets to snap them in place on her wrists. She moved her hands a little and said, "I can barely tell that I'm wearing them."