The council was seated around the large table in the hall of meetings. Tull had his head in his hands, obviously frustrated by the conversation that was going nowhere. No one could agree on the path to take. Two of the men, a robust bald man and a very young looking man, maybe no older than myself, agreed that the borders should be closed and we should hold out till who ever was responsible for this attack became restless and let us be. I didn’t see how that was possible. I had been pursued half way across the continent already by those who wanted me for my abilities, what was a mountain to them?
The other man, white haired with strong hands sided with Tull. “We must fight. Destroy the army before they can penetrate the mountain. It’s the only way to keep our homes safe.”
I didn’t know how much good that would do either. The undead were endless. The more the Wind Tamers destroyed, twice as many took their place. It would do us no good to fight, but I feared even less good to sit and wait. We had to do something.
The only person that hadn’t spoken up was the woman. She seemed young, but with an old soul, always thinking. Her eyes were glued to me. The stare made me uncomfortable. It was bad enough that I had to deal with the people out in the market place, but to have to endure it here, in the hall of meetings, was more than I had wanted.
“Ubara,” Tull called out. “You’ve been quiet. I’m sure you have something to add to this conversation. Do we stand and fight or hide in our mountain?”
The woman’s gaze faltered and she looked at Tull. “Neither, of course.”
Silence fell over the room. I was intrigued, curious by her words. What other choice did we have? Fight or don’t fight where the only two obvious actions, but this woman knew this land and her magic better than I did. Maybe there was another option.
Ubara sat forward in her chair, folding her hands on the table top. She stared at them for a moment. She looked at me when she spoke. “You know who sends this army.”
I stared at her, unsure of what she was accusing me of. “Why would I know that?”
All was silent again while everyone looked at me. It didn’t seem like anyone was going to speak until I said something again. I searched my thoughts, trying to think of something, anything. Then it came to me. It all made sense really. “Farenan. Nell sent him to the Underworld. He had powerful dark. I should have known that death would not stop him from finding me.”
Ubara stood from her seat, still looking at me. She was calm when she spoke. “Since Farenan can’t leave the Underworld, we must take the fight to Farenan himself.”
“Have you lost your mind, Ubara.” The robust man choked out.
Tull held his hand up to silence him. “Hold your tongue Granden, I want to hear what she has in mind.”
Ubara took a deep breath, her cheeks burned red with embarrassment. I could tell she didn’t like to be the center of attention. She was a thinker, a formulator of plans. That was why she was here. That’s why Tull had such a respect for her. When she spoke the words came out softly. “In the old texts there is mention of the chosen One who would travel to the Underworld and lock away the dark once and for all. If we fight more will come. If we do nothing, we will starve. We must send the One to the Underworld. I’m sorry, Tabri, but you’re the only one who can save us.”
“That’s preposterous.” Yelled Granden. “This girl can’t save us.”
Nell leapt up from her seat in fury. “Are you going to save us, you fat bastard?”
Granden fell silent. Clenching his jaw at Nell’s response and waiting for someone to say something to draw her venomous stare away from him. No one moved.
I was lost in thought. I felt like a rock had been thrown at my chest. Ubara expected me to save the Articans by diving into the Underworld to subdue the Farenan himself. That was madness.
My magic began to burn in my chest, filling my veins with liquid power. I felt the calmness overcome my senses, clearing my head of panic and doubt. I was able to think more clearly now, weigh my options. I had the power, yes, but would the plan work? Yes, maybe. There wasn’t much time though. I would need a direct route to the Underworld, a way that would allow me to take Farenan by surprise.
I looked up from my thoughts. Everyone was watching me, silently, waiting for my reaction. “Yes, I vote for that plan.”
“Excellent.” Nell smiled, throwing herself back into her seat. She had been itching for battle since we entered the mountain.
“No, I won’t allow it.” Tull’s eyes shone bright with concern. He was taking the roll of my uncle, my family. Not the roll of magistrate, like he should be. I needed to make him see this was the right choice. He had to understand, this was the only way.
“Tull, uncle. This is what I was born for.” I felt my magic surge through my body, taking over my words, making them run true. “My magic is stronger than anyone’s. It would be foolish not to take advantage of this gift while we still have the upper hand. I am not afraid of my destiny, not anymore. You must make your decision as the magistrate, not my uncle. For your people, for Pella.”
Tull’s shoulders slumped forward, physically exhausted. His head lay in his hands and he didn’t speak. No one did. It was hard for me to see him like this. I knew what was going through his mind. It was going through mine too. I just found him, the only family I had, but now I was willing to give it all up to save the people I barely even knew, my people. Tull didn’t want to lose the last thing he had to remind him of his brother, but what choice did he have?
“Uncle, it is the only way.” My words came out smooth, but quiet. I wished there was more I could say to comfort him, but nothing came to mind. My magic failed me.
Tull’s head rose. His cheeks were red, like mine when I became angry or upset. His eyes stared through me like icicles, bright blue in the flickering fire light. He shook his head. “I know it is. I just wasn’t ready to let you go.”
“Shall we vote then?” Said the younger man.
Tull nodded his head. “Who is for Tabri traveling to the Underworld to subdue this Farenan?”
Nell’s hand shot up first, enthusiastic for a fight as always. She was followed by Tull, Ubara, the strong man and the younger man. Granden was the only one who didn’t move. His hand twitched on the table in front of him, anger present on his face.
“This is madness. I will not sit back and let this child decide the fate of us all.” Granden threw his chair back and stood to leave. His words were fuming and full of malice, but off base. I would make him see that I was the right person for the job.
Nell moved to stop him from exiting the room. I put my hand on her shoulder. “Let me.”
A smile crossed Nell’s face with my words. She was probably one of the only people that knew the extent of my magic. She had been there through its development. She now stood back to watch me do my work with Granden.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. My magic surged through my veins, burning hot with a subdued anger. The ancient magic in the walls reached out to meet me, giving me the strength of my ancestors. As the power filled my body I opened my eyes to meet Granden’s glare. His face was red and puffy, full of rage as he spat words of discontent towards me. There meaning lost in my unwavering concentration. I would show him a small portion of my power, just enough to convince him.
“Why don’t you have a seat, Granden.” My words were not a request. Before the man could protest, I flicked my wrist. His chair righted itself and slid across the floor. It knocked into his legs forcefully enough to cause him to sit heavily in the chair. I enjoyed the look of shock on Granden’s face when he realized what I had done.
I took a flame from the fire, pulling it into my palm where it burned bright. I let it roll around in my hand, dancing, jumping. “Do you feel the magic in the walls?”
Granden looked shocked. “There is no magic in the walls. You are as insane as your father was.”
My eyes widened as I stared down upon the robust man throwing insults from his chair. I might not have lost my temper if he hadn’t used my father’s name in that way, but what I did was of his own doing. Even my magic and that in the walls didn’t attempt to stop me. I let lose a flame that surrounded the chair, encircling it in a wall of fire. That’s where I left him, crying out for help, the flames licking at his feet and face.
I threw the large wooden doors open before me, using only my magic. I was breathing heard, trying to calm my thoughts, to force down the anger inside me. He had gone too far. If he hadn’t brought my father into the conversation things would have gone differently. Still, I was sure I had gotten my point across.
Tull came scurrying down the hall behind me. “Tabri, you can’t just leave him like that.”
I didn’t even stop to address my uncle, but kept walking. “The flame won’t burn him. Let him think about what he has said.”