The wraith had told them where the witch would be, and it was only a short distance before they would be within her grasp; on foot no more than a half-hour walk.
Kalleb walked beside Lillee in order to instigate conversation, asking questions of the priestess’s duty and her lineage. Kalleb had studied not only his own line but that of the seers and their high priestess too; the two so intrinsically linked by the role her line played in the ascension of the new king. Kalleb knew that it was only a matter of days before she would perform his own ascension and so felt it was his duty to protect her and ensure the completion of the mission. He knew that if the witch prevailed this night then the lands of Ernabeth would be plunged into a war the likes of which had never been seen before.
Lillee sensed her long before they arrived at her lair, the air hummed with seething energy and Lillee’s skin prickled. She sensed the witches rage and Lillee was afraid for the first time that the plan would not work. She knew what her visions had told her, and they were never wrong. She had seen the king on his death bed, and she had been there but so many things had been missing from them; she had not foreseen many things this night and she doubted all of her visions as a result.
Resigned to the fact that she would just have to play it all out and have faith, Lillee turned to the men and stopped to talk through strategy; knowing this would distract Kalleb long enough for her to work her magic and in the unlikely event that it didn’t work, at least they would have a plan.
Kalleb didn’t notice Lillee remove a small vial from her pocket. He didn’t notice when Lillee drained the bottle in a small circle around the group. No one noticed when Lillee began chanting, quietly and under her breath. They all noticed when Lillee flung her arms into the air at the end of the chant and in an instant a cage formed around the men, trapping them inside.
Kalleb instantly knew what she was planning and attempted to reason with Lillee, he didn’t want her to go into the witch’s den alone; his assumption was she was walking into certain death and he tried to make his position known to no avail. Lillee calmly walked away.
Lillee could hear her inside her mind, growing louder with each step forward. She guessed she was close enough to be seen but knew the witch wouldn’t attack her right out. Lillee could feel the witch’s ego growing, she knew the witch had plans for Lillee beyond death and she feared no immediate danger as she walked towards the clearing, she knew to be the witches lair. As the trees cleared Lillee caught her first glimpse of the witch.
Long white hair framed an age marred face, but the beauty was still clear to see and Lillee gasped, drawing the witch’s attention toward her and in an instant, Lillee knew this was the final battle. This she knew was a part of her vision as she confidently strode out into the centre of the clearing fearing nothing at that moment.
Lillee couldn’t hear the witch, she could sense the words coming from the centre of her mind and for a moment the sensation was overwhelming. Lillee reeled a little as her body shook with the exertion of it but soon found her composure and managed to step forward once more.
The witch’s words formed images in Lillee’s mind as she saw the memories of the witch. They told Lillee of the curse the king’s ancestor had bound her to the forest with, and they showed how the old king’s curse had been taught to him by the then concubine, Lillee’s ancestor. She didn’t need to be told that the witch held her accountable for her ancestor’s actions, the vengeance was palpable in the air and Lillee could sense the witches plan to end her; thinking this alone would free her from the spell.
Lillee attempted to speak, to reason with the witch but words would not form in her mouth and she was rendered mute. It was then the wraith appeared. Lillee could feel the exchange of words between the witch and the wraith, the anger and fury the witch felt at her betrayal was tangible as the wraith tried in vain to explain to the witch how they had found a way to be free. They tried to explain how they had discovered that if they gave their lives in the place of another then they would finally pass on and be free from the curse. A life for a life.
The witch refused to believe this was true and became enraged once more. How could what they say be true, how could that be the only way out. She didn’t want to pass on to the greater beyond, she wanted to live, free from the so she could rule and be the queen of Ernabeth.
Lillee saw all this play out in her mind as the witch’s thoughts and words became images and sound. Trapped by the immense pressure on her head Lillee couldn’t move an inch and could only watch in horror as the witch exploded with frustration and cast a lightning bolt spell directly at the wraith she had been conversing with, shattering the form into a million pieces as the mist drifted off into the air.