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Nov 27 2017

Appear By TeraS

I’ve been mulling over some short stories to tell and that presents an issue. I find it difficult to write short pieces because I tend to look at the story and think: “There’s more.” Still, I have things to post in the past at the same time I am trying to post in the here and now. So, this week on the Tale, a post which will…

 

Appear
By TeraS

 

For those that are called mages, there comes a point in their learning where, for one reason or another, they are challenged. A point is raised in which their powers are questioned or their abilities scorned. Should this be a teacher or mentor, that usually has a purpose and it happens for a good reason.

“You’ll never be able to do it!”

This time, however, the challenge wasn’t from those of some moral fibre or shallow well of knowledge. The taunt came across a table around which several mages stood, somewhat aloof. Hunched over there, staring at the challenge, was Brent.

He could really only be described as an ordinary average guy. There was nothing special about him, save that he could wield magic. His hair was a mess; he’d never found a way to tame his brunette mane, but his curls did manage to hang over his eyes just enough that he couldn’t see his taunters or they the look in his eyes.

“What makes you think so?”

The leader of the pack, a senior known as Art, was certain in his reply: “No one’s been able to. Everyone’s tried, even the teachers, and no one’s been able to do so.”

“Not going to. Can’t make me.”

A rap of knuckles on the table was part of the answer: “You will. Everyone does.”

Oh he tried, dearly so, to blot the idea out of his thoughts, but the scroll with the challenge remained, waiting for him to make up his mind. With a sigh, he unrolled the parchment and saw … her.

There is a thing about secrets we hold inside of ourselves. They are the things we never speak of, refuse to share, laugh off as being nothing. But there are some of those secrets that, when brought into the light, cannot be avoided.

She was something that couldn’t be avoided.

Rolling the paper back up, Brent pushed his chair back and then forced his way through the throng of onlookers, their laughter following him.

The college was ancient, having fay lines to carry power, calling circles to draw beings of power—some more than others—to where the summoners wished them to be. He knew they were all fools for trying to call her. They would never trap her like they wished, nor would they make her appear if she didn’t wish it. He’d learned that a long time ago: a secret that he’d kept from when he’d first met her and one he always would. She’d asked him to hold that secret and not reveal it, something he was proud to do because she’d made him a promise.

Returning to his room, he gathered up the items needed. The scroll told of needing things to summon things like her, but they weren’t her. There wasn’t anything or anyone like her. He’d learned that secret well. It was a shame that so many hadn’t figured it out on their own. As he carefully sought out the cherished item, he was thankful they never would.

The box was hidden beneath his bed, a strongbox that kept the contents safe from harm. He knew, full well, that some had gone through his things when he’d arrived, seeking out his secrets. The one within the iron casing they would never lay their fingers upon.

He placed the iron chest squarely on his bed, then his fingers brushed over the lock, whispering a word that he hadn’t spoken in years: “Mistress.”

The lock popped open and he stood in presence of what was inside: bits of his past, little mementos of what was before he’d taken this path forwards. The books and pictures were carefully moved aside, the trinkets and tokens, as well. There was only one thing that mattered and, when his eyes found it, he breathed a sigh: a thin, metal collar of a particular red that represented but one in all the universes. His fingers wavered above it, pausing there longer than perhaps he should have, but then memories tend to take you away when you least expect it.

He could almost smell cherries as he remembered her voice: “I won’t hold you, I can see you want to leave.” It was the hardest thing he’d done to that point in his life.

His vision was focused on the light gleaming off the collar’s metal as her words continued to come back to him: “You have a path, I’m just part of it. You’ll find your way.” He’d accepted her words, the promise that she wouldn’t hold him to her. But he didn’t want to lose her, and so, hidden among the pieces of the past, he’d kept her collar. It reminded him of her comforting words when he’d failed at the simplest of spells.

“It’s not a failure. Failure is when you give up.” He remembered trying to cast a spell while she stood close, tracing her nails over his back lightly: “Nothing matters except the spell.”

He still, years later, wished that he told her the truth. A truth that came in a whisper as his thumb continued to wear against the collar: “I only wanted you to be proud of me.”

The touch of a slim hand, tipped with red nails was a surprise and yet it wasn’t: “I always was. Didn’t you know that?”

He knew that she was there, how she had appeared didn’t really matter. His breath caught on his reply, coming out something between a moan and a gasp: “Mistress.”

He’d forgotten how she loved to caress his cheek, a tender light touch: “I never left you. I said I would let you go, I didn’t say I would abandon you.”

Not looking to her so-green eyes, even as the ache urged him to fall into her, he whispered: “They don’t understand. They … can’t understand.”

He was sure, for a moment, her hair had turned red. Her voice had an edge to it now: “It … does not matter. You do. They are not worth your time.”

“I’ll be a failure, just like them.”

“Are you giving up?”

The echoes of the past made his answer slip from dry lips: “No. I won’t disappoint you.”

She nuzzled her lips against the nape of his neck, drawing a moan, hands gripping the collar tighter, as she growled: “Do you want me to collar you again?”

He hadn’t really thought about that: being collared again, falling to her, becoming hers once more. The bliss of being hers was tempting. She was temptation, after all. There was one choice in the end.

The best choice of all.

Those that had called him weak, a lesser mage, found themselves confronted by something they never expected soon after. Where the day before Brent had been alone, he was no longer.

Her presence was unmistakable, if the red horns swimming in an ebony mane weren’t a clue, then the long red tail, the tip looking at each as they entered, was telling. She didn’t grace them with her so-green eyes, they being focused only on the soul across from her as he smiled and made small talk over breakfast. One of the denser of them walked over and stood there, looking at her. She ignored him for some time until Brent turned to take a sip of tea. In that moment her eyes flickered to the intruder and she commented: “Is there something you’d like?”

“Why him?”

The bemused smile she was famous for came as she reached for a cup of tea herself. She didn’t grace them with a reply, leaving them to stew in their own thoughts as they left.

Brent knew the reason why she’d stayed, why she’d appeared with him that morning. She wasn’t being Mistress to his desires. She was appearing because he needed her. That was a reason better than any other.

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