156 ~ Zardria

She watched Caelum leave, her heart twisting in pain at the necessity of lying to him.

She knew exactly what had happened to her, of course. She remembered it all – going rigid, fighting beside Umbra against the Magea and her Deity. She hadn’t thought Umbra could lose – her Goddess was so strong! – but the Magi prevailed. She’d thought after that she’d have renewed contact with her Goddess, that Umbra would speak to her again, but the Goddess had withdrawn, leaving Zardria to wander the alleyways of her coma alone while her body healed from the magekal onslaught it had suffered.

The block she’d put on Ghia had to be gone, now, for she and Umbra had lost, and she knew the Magea was free already. She knew she had two Magi – at least! – roaming the castle. She knew naught else, for she could not sense the goings-on of the world around her as she once had. It was if her other side was still asleep, and not able to help her with anything. She felt deaf and blind, and ultimately alone and vulnerable.

She was doomed. She knew that. When she’d become a full servant of her Goddess, Umbra had granted her immortality – No human can kill you, Little Zardria, the Goddess had said. But you must beware, for there are Magi still in the world – they are the only ones with the power to take your immortality away.

Beware the Magi, she’d been warned, for they could kill her, and beware falling in love, for it would weaken her.

She closed her eyes against the tears.

She would fail, in the end. She knew that already. There was nothing she could do about it. Her powers weakened, she could not contain the Magi as she once had.

And then Umbra will never speak to me again, she thought, and her heart skipped a beat in pain.

“No,” she whispered, her voice thick with emotion. “No. I must not fail. I must please Her.”

It was all she had ever wanted to do.

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