I will warn you that I didn't re-read this story to fix any minor errors. I've been so busy getting ready for Dragon*Con. I'll probably have to do the same for next week's challenge as well. I'll be skipping the week after because of the con, but after that I'll be trying to edit after I write my short stories.
With her blonde braids trailing behind her, Elsie ran down the hallway with her skirts balled up in her fists. Even though the Master summoned her nearly every day, it always filled her with dread. Her thoughts skittered around as she run going from bad to worse. She wondered if the King was back, if he had an army at his back, if he was going to insist on the death of all magic uses. These thoughts did propel her to move faster.
The Kingdom of Alazia has been in turmoil for nearly a decade since the Queen exiled her traitor of a husband. Even though the years had passed and there was no sign of the faithless King, the people of Alazia stayed on alert. Elsie was more on edge than most, as she was the student of the high magician. Her Master was the source of the King’s discontent because he was the one that leveled the charges that got the King exiled.
Elsie’s thoughts reached a fevered pitch as she continued on. She reached the base of her Master’s tower and ran up the winding staircase, tripping up the stairs a few times on her long skirts. She skidded to a halt when she reached the landing at the top and the large, wooden door to her Master’s study.
After taking a deep breath, she rearranged her skirts and knocked on the door. The deep voice her Master said, “The door is open, Elsie.”
She opened the door and entered the study. It was lined with bookshelves and had different tables with the Master’s different experiments on them. The Master himself was sitting behind a large desk, looking at the many papers in front of him as he nibbled on the end of his quill.
He looked up as Elsie, and she felt a shiver run through her as her pale blue eyes met his deep green ones. Despite his elevated position as Master of Magic, he looked very young. His face was kindly and unlined, and his auburn hair was so unruly most days that Elsie wanted to take a comb to it. He was a slender man who didn’t look like he could wield any power, but she knew otherwise.
“You summoned me, Master?” she said, giving a little curtsy as she moved to stand in front of his desk. She kept her eyes downcast as it was hard to hold his gaze for too long.
“Don’t worry, Elsie,” he said, a chuckle rumbling in his low voice, “I have good news today.”
She looked up quickly, her eyes going wide. In all the years she had been in his service, he had never had good news. Lots of neutral news and some bad, but good news was very rare these days in Alazia.
“Good news? What is it, Master?”
He stood and moved to stand next her. He murmured something under his breath, and Elsie found that she was unable to move. She did retain the ability to talk though. “Why have you put a spell on me, Master?”
A laugh came from his lips but it wasn’t one that had any humor behind it. “You are such a fool,” he said, and then he began to weave a spell. It was complicated, Elsie could tell. It was a spell that was outside of her skill level.
Once his spell was finished, her Master was gone. In his place, was the former King of the realm. He towered over her, and began to laugh. “You silly girl, you had no idea that I killed your Master all those years ago. You have been answering my summons and working for me all this time.”
Elsie gasped and tears filled her eyes for the loss of her Master. She silently berated herself for not realizing an imposter had taken his place. “What are you going to do now?” she asked in a quivering voice.
The King did not seem to hear her though as he was weaving another spell. Just before he finished his spell, he turned to look at her. “I’m tying up loose ends, of course,” he said, and then he released the spell. All went dark for Elsie and her body tumbled to the ground.
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