Karnax laced his fingers together thoughtfully as he terminated the scrying spell. Her defense was impressive- he couldn’t deny that. She reminded him of himself in that way. Again, he considered the fact that she would make a strong ally. But this had complicated things. Once again, she had escaped punishment, and would now be under guard, making her harder to reach.
He sighed, standing. It was clear. He would have to fetch her himself.
Despite his irritation, he was impressed. She had done well, all in all passing a test that she probably hadn’t even realized was being set for her.
It wouldn’t take much work. The Sivvas were forgiving, and had placed a light guard on her. That would work to his advantage. She would never see what was coming.
He stood, dusting his hands off. He had work to do.
“Girl!” he called.
The Hâfléng girl entered the room, curtsying eagerly. “You called for me, my lord?”
Karnax nodded, again pleased with the girl’s servile demeanor. “Alert my general that I am leaving on a mission of great importance. I will return soon, and he has orders to remain here until further notice. Understand?”
“Yes my lord!” she hurried through the door with a business like air that Karnax found again impressive for one so young.
Karnax smiled, relishing what was coming next. It would be simple, but memorable in the same.
He was about to make his return to Simar.
My confinement was not duly unpleasant. As a matter of fact, it could have been worse, many times so. My guards were kind enough to me, occasionally engaging me in small debates for my amusement, and honestly, I appreciated it. It kept me from going insane. Confinement may have been the least severe of the punishments, but that didn’t mean it was comforting. The other Sivvas, now with clearance from the council, did their best to make me comfortable- while still under guard. This again, I was grateful for. At least I had something to do. I could even practice small magic- the lock on the door was magic, so there was no need to inhibit my powers. And besides, I wasn’t intending to attempt an escape . That would be foolish, and might be the last thing I ever attempted as well.
I had been provided a cell with a small window, so I could breathe in fresh air, and mostly see the comings and goings outside. Anything else I wished to see, I could accomplish with a scrying spell.
It was early in the morning, maybe two or three, when some sort of tremor shook the building.
My head snapped up. “Marx?” I called. He was in charge of guarding me today. He approached, cocking his head.
“That tremor… did you feel it?”
He nodded, looking unsure of himself- for once. “Um, yeah. But… I’m sorry, Râegan. I can check if you’d like.”
“It’s your choice. I remain the prisoner,” I shrugged.
“I don’t know-”
Seconds later, Race came bolting into the corridor. “Marx! Run!”
“Karnax,” Race said darkly. “He’s here for her,” he nodded at me.
I bolted to my feet. “What?!”
“I don’t know,” Race shook his head frantically. “I’m sorry, Râegan- there’s nothing we can do!”
“What?!” Marx protested. “We can’t just leave her! Do you have any idea how much trouble we’d be in if we left our posts?!”
“I’m trying to protect you, brother!” Race snapped. “If we stay we’ll be dead, do you understand?!”
“No, go,” I insisted. “Report to the Sivva council. Both of you. Go quickly, if I’m his target he shouldn’t pursue you.”
“Believe me when I say that this meeting will not be a friendly one. It seems he has not given up attempting to force me to obey him. Report to the council, warn them that Karnax is within our walls. If we can capture him, we can end a conflict before it even begins.”
Race tried to pull Marx away, but he resisted.
“I will not see you die for a pointless reason! Go!” I barked.
“She’s right, brother,” Race insisted. “Come on, hurry!”
Marx gave me a nervous and apologetic look, then turned and followed Race, hurrying away down the corridor. I sighed, sitting on my bed and resting my head in my hands. Karnax was here. What could I do about it though? I was imprisoned, with little hope of escape or rescue.
The tremors continued to proceed towards me. I began to shape a magic attack. With any luck, I’d be able to launch it at Karnax and possibly catch him off guard. Who knew, maybe I would be lucky enough to knock him unconscious.
Finally, the tremors faded. I readied the magic.
The door blew off of its hinges. I launched a magic missile, but the explosion had thrown me back, and my aim was off.
Karnax was standing in the doorway. He strode across the room, pulling me to my feet- though not as roughly as I had expected.
“You cost me a lot of work, Sivva,” he remarked, amused. “Well done in convincing the council. I was quite sure that they would sentence you to death. You share my skill with words, you know. That could be useful.”
I know Race had said it earlier, but hearing it from Karnax was worse- a sensation similar to being simultaneously slapped and choked. The very thought that even Karnax believed I would have anything in common with him. Or the thought that I would be useful in any way.
“You’re a fool, Karnax,” I hissed. “I will never be of any use to you, even upon the day of my death!”
Karnax smiled darkly, hooking his fingers under my chin and lifting my head so that my eyes met his. I held his gaze, challenging him. He shook his head, sighing.
“You have already been of use to me,” he replied. “But there’s more. You know things I do not. Secrets that may be of use. Powerful forms of magic, only spoken of in legend. Other secrets. And besides,” he cocked his head slightly. “You remind me of myself. Young. Arrogant, in a way. Prideful. Smooth tongued. Quite powerful in the ways of speech. Clever. Their most talented graduate- and the youngest. Strong magic. The ability to sway hundreds with words. Only one thing differs. The council has you completely under their thumb. You have never known how to be rebellious, have you? Sad, almost. But I will aid you in this. Join with me. I can promise to give you a better chance than they have. A chance to truly unlock all of your powers. We could be the most powerful mages in all the world, you and I. Imagine it! When I rule Shivax, you would rule just below me. You would have power. You could even become a great scholar, as you seem to desire. Whatever you wish.”
Karnax’s ability to discern things like that was almost uncanny. It was true- my dream was to follow in the footsteps of the scholars. But I wouldn’t stoop so low as to line my path with blood as Karnax had.
“But then who’s thumb would I be underneath?” I wondered. “Certainly not theirs. But yours. That is what you really want, Karnax. Control. Over me. Over the other Sivvas. Over everything. But as long as I have strength to resist, I will never cooperate voluntarily, understand? I am not a pawn for you to use as you wish.”
“Ah, but aren’t you,” he shook his head. “What are you, Râegan, but a piece in a game? It matters not who’s game, for it changes. But you will always be played. Look within yourself- look at what your own council has done. They has used you plenty of times, do not try to deny it.”
I thought back to my conversations with Éif. Many times over. But I had never truly listened to her. I was tempted to believe- but this was Karnax speaking. He was a liar and a manipulator. He was just hunting for weaknesses.
“Good try,” I hissed. “But I don’t dissolve that easily.”
I lashed out, making a rapid attack with my magic. However, such a move must have been expected, because he easily deflected it, with little or no effort. He shook his head, almost mockingly.
“Please, Râegan. You thought that would work?”
“I will never be a pawn of yours!” I snarled defiantly. “Never.”
“You will learn how to surrender, in time,” Karnax replied. “Hopefully sooner than later. The longer you believe that any form of rebellion or resistance is worthwhile, the more trouble you will cause yourself.”
“Or perhaps the more trouble I will cause you.”
He shook his head. “There is nothing you could do to forestall me in any way. You do not have nearly enough of the power necessary.”
“You underestimate me.”
He drew closer to me, so our faces were almost touching. “No. You underestimate me, I believe!”
His hand moved from around my arm to around my throat.
“I suppose I’ll have to teach you a lesson in humility,” he murmured. “I appreciate your spirit, but if it gets in the way, then I have no other option. I hope that you will understand soon- and make this less irritating for all of us.”
His nails dug into my throat, and I choked slightly. Then lights shone before my eyes, almost inviting me as I sank into darkness. The last thing I remember was cursing Karnax’s name as I fell to the ground at his feet.
Karnax knelt next to the unconscious Sivva, studying her. She was, as he had noted before, incredibly young. How she had become so powerful, he could only guess. Most likely, she had an inborn ability for magic. Or perhaps she had just learned well. Either way, her skills were impressive, and would make her useful in a controlled situation. However, in a situation of her own devising, she would be dangerous. Her intelligence made her a dangerously clever opponent. But her temper also made it slightly easier to predict her actions.
He lightly summoned magic, manipulating the air to lift the Sivva into the air. She was entirely limp, and hung motionless as he studied her. She was undamaged, the Sivva council obviously had decided that she was to be treated less like a prisoner and more like a guest. However, that had made her easier to reach as well. More vulnerable.
It was amazing how none of her fiery temper and vicious attitude showed when she was unconscious. She seemed helpless, and much younger than she truly was. It was almost amusing that someone so intelligent and powerful could look so helpless and under control. A definite mask that covered her true nature.
Karnax laughed, bending the air again, releasing the magic and dropping her back down to the ground. This was how it should be. He was the one in control. Him. Not this rebellious arrogant firebrand of a Sivva.
“You’ll learn,” he murmured. “One way or another, Sivva, you’ll learn.”
He heard footsteps, and knew the other Sivvas were coming. There was no time to lose. He formed a rapid transportation spell around the two of them, and cast it. He saw Sivvas burst into the room, but it was too late. The world was already bending away. Seconds later, he and the Sivva were gone.