In the Shadows

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Chapter 9

Iselora had been wandering for what seemed like an eternity, trying to find a way out of the darkness that surrounded her. She could feel her body becoming weaker with each step she took. The only thing she knew was that she was not in a tangible world. Her surroundings consisted of towering trees with only moonlight as her source of light. A hill blocked Iselora’s view of what was next to come but it seemed like it was as good of an idea as any. Iselora took her time climbing the hill, trying to preserve as much energy as she could. Her heart leapt when she reached the top. Below her was a cabin. The outline of it was faint, but it was there. Iselora took off running, hoping that something was in there that could help her escape.

Iselora threw caution to the wind as she barged into the cabin. Only to see it was barren. Uninhabited for years. Iselora cursed herself for getting her hopes up as she turned to leave but the door had vanished. Iselora turned back to see the cabin had transformed. The wood had turned to stone. It did not take Iselora long to realize she was in the Minders tower. Panic rose in her chest. The room was hers, she knew instinctively but it was wrong. There was no furniture except for a cracked mirror against the far wall. Iselora turned around trying to find an escape route. The Minders would truly murder her if they ever got their hands on her again. Her search went in vain, there was no escape except through one of the windows, but that would lead to her definite death.

Without any other options Iselora turned to face the mirror. The moonlight that filtered into the room gave her skin a blue hue. Iselora began walking towards the mirror when she suddenly dropped to her knees screaming out in pain. She felt as if her back had been lit on fire. Iselora looked towards the mirror. Her reflection was there but something was off about it. The position of the figure matched hers, but the features were different. The woman in the mirror looked regal except for the pained expression that laced her face. The reflections crawled towards each other as the burning intensified. Iselora arched her back to the sky as she screamed into the floor. What was happening to her. Tears flowed freely from her eyes; the pain almost too much for her to handle. She lifted her head hooping that the figure in the mirror would save her. The figure’s eyes pleaded back with Iselora blood streaking from its eyes. When the wave of pain slightly subsided, Iselora crawled on her elbows, closing the gap to the mirror. Using the frame to pull her body into a sitting position, the two reflections rested their heads against each other.The reflective glass was cool against Iselora’s burning skin. She did not know what the mirror was or what it showed but she realized that the reflection could not save her from the agony she was experiencing.

Another wave of pain shot through Iselora’s body, the smell of burning flesh stinging her nose. Iselora forced herself to turn her back towards the mirror, the sight of her tattoo inspired a different scream. The tattoo was searing the surrounding skin. Iselora dropped to the ground clawing at herself trying to end the pain. Suddenly hands were pinning her hands above her head. Iselora begged the mystery person to help her. She did not care if the person simply threw her out the window, as long as the pain stopped. “I’ll stop the pain Iselora, you just have to be strong for a little bit longer.” Iselora shot her eyes open to confirm her ears. The voice came from Asmodeus, he had found her. “Help me.” Iselora whimpered as the burning sensation reached her heart, sending the flames through her veins. Asmodeus’ figure stood, squaring off with the mirror. An evil grin spreading across his face as his body became clouded in darkness.

The sound of shattering glass filled the room, the mirror’s frame hollow, the burning shattering with it. Darkness enveloped Iselora’s vision and brought the sensation of falling with it. Iselora’s speed gradually increased through the darkness, wind whipping across her body. Iselora whipped her body in several directions, flailing her arms in an attempt to find anything to grab onto. There was nothing, just pure darkness. A dot of light suddenly appeared in the direction she was falling. It was no bigger than the point of a pin. Iselora was steadily falling, feeling her limbs growing numb from the wind. Iselora closed her eyes and accepted whatever fate was waiting for her. After what seemed like hours, Iselora could sense an increased presence of light. She opened her eyes and to her amazement, the light source had grown. It was almost large enough for her to easily pass through. Iselora was not scared, in fact she was excited, she could not explain it. After a few more minutes, she crossed the threshold into the blinding light. The white light felt soft and warm like a summer breeze. Iselora sighed as a memory came to her mind. She was younger, looking out across the water from her tower window. A splash catching her attention as a whale breached the water, landing on its side. Iselora giggled and wanted nothing more than to be out there swimming with it.

Suddenly, Iselora stopped falling, a breeze gently twisting her body until it was positioned vertically. There were no details against the white room that seemed to have suddenly developed around her. Once the floor was fully formed, the breeze that had been carrying Iselora set her on her feet. The room was wide. Iselora set herself to exploring it, curiosity driving her forward. A rustling sound to her left caught her attention. A strange liquid was forming a tall object from the base up. It was not until it was finished that she could see what it was. Another mirror, but it was different than the one before. The reflection was moving in a fashion similar to water. Iselora approached the object cautiously. The distorted reflection was the same figure that inhabited the other reflection. Iselora reached a shaky hand towards the mirror, but pulled away right before touching it. “Iselora?” a voice called from behind her. Iselora turned quickly, not seeing anyone. Iselora looked back towards the mirror and heard the voice again. It was coming from the mirror. It was calling her. With a shaky voice, Iselora responded “Who are you? What do you want?”

A moment of silence passed before the voice spoke again. “I was created by Aeshma-daeva as a connection to your true self. The Minders altered your appearance to disguise your existence from the world. You are the key to their downfall. The witches disconnected you from your companion and trapped you from your magic potential. Aeshma-daeva broke the spell, you just have to accept your rightful place as queen.” Iselora listened to the voice and trusted the words she was hearing. Asmodeus had been there to aid her when she needed him, he would not let her down now. Iselora faced towards the mirror, “What do I need to do?”

“The hard part is over, in order to return, simply walk through the reflection. Then you must find the valkyrie in order to awaken your companion. The connection must be formed before it wakes on its own. If you fail, the dragon will work to destroy the world.” Iselora nodded to the voice, stepping through the reflection without hesitation.

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