Cassandra Freiborg

1/24/06

The night was cold and clear, but the smoke from the surrounding city slowly

drifted upward in giant sheets, covering the stars in a brutal haze. I sat coughing by the

window, magically bound and gagged, overlooking the city. The buildings are aflame, and

there is havoc in the streets. I know he's finally come for me. After all this time, I'd begun

to lose hope. I feel his aura reaching out, searching the buildings. He's still too far off to

feel me. A tear runs down my cheek. I've waited so long for this night. Too long in fact. I

may not make it to morning, even if he does manage to find me.

I hear voices on the other side of the door, mumbling in some foreign language.

No doubt they are discussing their options. Soon Asher would find me, and when he found

who had laid hold of me, he'd destroy them. They had no options left but to give me up

quickly and face a gruesome death at Asher's feet, or wait until Asher sought them out,

and then suffer a gruesome death. The heavy oak door eased open, and a maid stumbled

in, clutching a tray of broth and bread. Her hands were shaking, and I could not help but

sympathize, if we were in different positions, I'd be terrified too. She untied only my

hands, and removed the gag from my mouth, leaving the magic bindings in place. I took a

deep breath, inhaling mostly smoke from outside. There were screams in the distance,

closer now. I coughed again, but reached for the broth, drinking it quickly to quench my

soar throat. "Milady, the masters...they are frightened. They say a monster is destroying

the city." Her eyes were downcast in fear. "As they should be." I stated rather

malevolently. I took a bite of the bread but instantly spat it back out. It tasted foul. "Tell

me, did your masters know what they were getting into when they decided to kidnap the

princess of their neighboring country?" This girl had some sense at least to not answer.

Perhaps Asher would spare her, though it wasn't likely. Once Asher got started, there was

only one way to stop him.

I shivered and looked back out the window as the maid went about her business.

She walked to the fireplace, collecting the kettle that sat heating above the fire. "I'm sure

my masters were not aware of your illness at the time of your capture…if they had, they

surely wouldn't have taken you." She whispered. This made me laugh. I had gotten sick

because they had taken me. She poured the tea into a cup and brought it to me. It

confused me. Was I not a prisoner here? Why would they treat a captive so well? Was it

my status that made them weary? Or, I realized, was it my family's magic they were after?

My thoughts were interrupted by another fit of coughs.

I drank from the cup, trying to drink the bitter medicinal tea. I felt the weight of

this realization settle on me. It was an unwelcome feeling. If these savages discovered how

it was my family worked magic…they could destroy us. I shivered at the thought. I was

pulled from my thoughts abruptly by a warm touch of magic. I dropped the cup to the

floor in my surprise. He was somewhere close. The aura slid over me, searching me. I

waited deafly still, waiting for the recognition. Suddenly it gripped me, coiling inside my

mind and I heard his voice resonating within me. "I have come for you Raziel, my love."

I sent him a warm smile with my thoughts, since I could do little more. I strained a bit

against the threads of magic that kept my spells sealed. Though our enemies had not

perfected their own magic as ours had, they were efficient at binding. I could feel my

attempts being absorbed into the threads. I cursed them, they were the reason I was dying.

The maid looked up from her busy work, feeling my attempts at escape. Her eyes

grew wide and fearful. I smirked at her. Wait until she could feel Asher. Though he was

not of royal blood, Asher was taught by the tutors of the palace, alongside my brother and

I. We were nearly of equal power. As children, Asher and my brother Holden, had always

fought. In a way, they were rivals. Though my brother would never admit it, he was

jealous of all the attention I gave Asher. They were best friends, but rivals first and

foremost to this day. Explosions from outside my window drew my attention away from

my memories. The explosions shook the walls, and I grew dizzy, feeling the last store of

my magic being slowly depleted. Surely Asher would come in time before my body grew

too weak. Another blast and bits of wood flew past the window pane. Shouts from outside

the door in the foreign tongue piqued my interest. Though I knew little of the language, I

picked up "attack", "magic", and "surrender". I laughed. It was much too late for a

surrender. Asher was here, and he would have me. A nicely clad younger man burst

through the doors, and I could only take him to be the heir to the throne. He walked

swiftly to my resting place near the window, his face furious and terrified.

He seemed to think a moment, and opened his mouth to speak. "You will show

me how to use your magic!" He demanded. I looked at him incredulously. "I'll do no

such thing." I looked away stubbornly. More explosions and servants ran past the door,

trying to escape. I heard my name being called, he was close. The lord turned around

nervously, glancing at the door. "If you do not show me now, I will be forced to kill you."

I looked him in the eyes, unperturbed by his silly threats. "That would not be wise…you

see, my lover is on his way. In fact, I believe he is just down the hall. I suggest you flee

now if you value your skin." He looked as though I had struck him hard across the face.

The castle was suddenly eerily quiet. Outside all you could hear was the flames

devouring the city. "Raziel…" My name a whisper on a breeze, spoken by a different

voice this time, farther off than I had last felt Asher to be. The doors burst open, Asher

standing in a smoky silhouette amongst the door frame. "I beg of thee sir, to step away

from her." Though he spoke with the language of the servants, his voice was a feral growl.

The lord did not flee, but turned around to face he fuming ball of magic that was Asher.

For the first time in weeks I glimpsed him. His face taunt with rage and malice, his

auburn hair floating lightly around his face. His eyes glowed a vicious red. His clothes

were bloodstained, his shirt was ripped, but he stood uninjured. I called out to him.

"Asher, I knew you'd come for me. You never let me do-" I was cut off by my coughs,

taking deep gasping breaths to calm myself. I wiped the blood I had coughed up onto my

skirt, hoping he wouldn't notice. I had to conserve what little energy I had left. For a

moment his face cleared of all hate and he saw only me. A smile graced his lips but turned

to sudden frown when he saw the looks of me. He turned on the heir once again, stepping

forward, a deadly look in his eyes. "You're killing her." He waited for no reply. Asher

lunged forward, thrashing wildly at my captor. He dodged swiftly, reaching for his dagger.

Asher sent a blast of energy at him , knocking him off his feet. He struggled to get, up but

was too slow. Asher was on top of him, sending blast after blast of magic at his crippled

body. The lord lay sprawled on the floor, bleeding profusely, but unmoving.

Asher breathed heavily, gasping for air. Though my race had control over our

magic's, it took a great deal of energy to wield it. Asher had overtaken a whole city with

his in one night. He kicked the limp body and made his way to my chair. He untied the rest

of my bindings, and I stood to embrace him. Holding him had never felt so good, but he

pulled away quickly as if burnt. He looked more closely at my arms, spotting the silvery

markings that were containing my magic. "What have they done to you Raziel? These

marks, and your face. You're so pale, and your lips are bleeding." I quickly raided a hand

to wipe away the blood. "Asher, I've missed you so." I kissed him, and felt his body tense.

He broke away, a hiss escaping his lips as he spun around. The lord had stood, wobbling,

and planted his dagger in Asher's back. Asher sent one last killing blow to the heir and

collapsed before me. I gasped, tears spilling from my eyes. I fell to my knees beside him,

grabbing his shoulders and turned him towards me. "Asher! Asher!" I shouted. I was

struck by the reality of this situation. I was one of the best amongst the healers in my

family, but with my magic bound, I could do nothing . I sobbed and hugged him close. He

coughed and mumbled I love you in my ear. "Don't you dare leave me now. Not after

you've come so far." He gave a heartrending smile, and said I love you again. I was

consumed in my grief. "Raziel…" Again it was that voice, so close and familiar. I

looked up in disbelief. There stood Holden in the doorway. The look of victory in his eyes,

until he spotted Asher. He rushed forward, kneeling on the other side of him. "Turn him

over." We eased Asher onto his stomach as he shook and gasped for air. "Hang on Ash."

Holden laid hold of the dagger's handle, and pulled it out. Asher screamed in agony.

Holden tossed the bloody thing aside and placed his hands over the wound. He grew still,

and forced his magic to enter Asher's body. The wound stitched itself closed very slowly.

Healing magic absorbed a great deal of energy, and I wondered if my brother could pull it

off. If he had been fighting alongside Asher this whole time, surely he was just as

exhausted. I took a moment to look him over. He had the same torn clothes, and bloodstains. He was cut along his arms, and one ran along his cheek. He was breathing

heavily. I began to sob. These two men, coming to risk their lives for me. Asher was

nearly dead, and Holden was exhausting his powers, and I could do nothing but watch.

I doubled over as my sobs turned to wracking coughs. I covered my mouth with

my hands as blood sprung forth from my lungs, covering my fingers in their crimson

stains. I looked down in fear, as Asher turned himself over, shaking but alive and healed.

Holden looked up at me, his face paled either by his excessive use of magic, or the blood

that coated my lips. "Does Asher know?" A voice in my head, fearful. He knew I was

dying. I shook my head. He stood and walked around Asher, who lay unconscious after

his ordeal. Holden pulled my up from my crouch and took hold of my arms. He examined

the threads, and carefully touched them with his fingers. He looked up from my arms and

met my eyes. Not breaking his gaze, he laid hold of the bindings and tore at them with his

hands. The treads drained him even more and his face grew paler with every second he

touched them. "STOP! You mustn't do anymore. If you keep this up, you'll die!" he gave

me and apologetic look and ripped once more at the bindings. They fell to the floor,

broken. I felt free again. I looked at his tired face, his eyes sunken and distant. "Tell

Asher…" he whispered, "that if he doesn't take better care of you, I'll have to kick his

ass." I gave him a confused look. He laughed and stepped forward, giving my a hug.

He did not release me, and after a few moments I could feel the warmth of my brother's

magic seeping in through my chest. "No...Holden, if you keep this up you'll die." Without

relinquishing his hold he laughed. "Then I will die for a great cause." I felt the last of his

energy seeping into me, and I breathed easy for the first time in ages. Holden's body went

limp in my arms and he slid to the floor beside Asher. My heroes. My brother and my

lover, who had come to save me, nearly died in the process. Now Holden had given his

life to save me, and Asher had lost his best friend. I sobbed over Holden, his golden locks

damp with blood and my tears. I could not stop this aching pain I felt in my heart. Hearing

me, Asher woke and took in the scene before him. He grabbed hold of my shoulders and

we cried together for my brother's sacrifice. "That crazy asshole, always trying to be a

hero. Damnit, why'd you have to be so stupid!" Asher was angry and hurt that Holden

had left us alone. After a while we stood. Grabbing Holden's body, we set out from the

castle, vowing that Holden's death would not be in vain, just as dawn broke through the

window.