Final Words

An Anonymous Storyteller

UP: Sonoma

    The woman sat amidst the books of the library. Her light golden hair drooped sadly, unkempt after a long, tiring evening. Her face was beautiful and young, but concerned and weary. Her blue eyes focused on something far beyond the bookcase sitting a few feet in front of her. She sighed heavily.

It had been more than two weeks since she last saw Ceridwen, and even Fieya's strong will was threatening to crack. Grythak had ambushed Ceri - leading him into a trap where he expected to find a friend in distress. He must by now be imprisoned, or worse. But, no sense in thinking about that. It won't help matters, she told herself.

The familiar hum of a teleportation spell interrupted her thought, and Fieya turned towards the library's doorway. The recognition of the red-robed man now standing there brought bile to Fieya's throat. She tried to scream, but only a hoarse whisper came from her lips. The man smiled.

Fieya stood up, her hands darting to the rough back of a nearby chair. She lifted it, with some effort, and lept towards the man, a fury in her eyes. "Xandrick!" she nearly snarled in contempt. But, in mid-stride her legs froze in place, and the chair fell to the wooden floor with a crash. The echoes of the words "An Ex Por" rang in her ears.

"A lively girl, I always said. But, such liveliness does you no good right now. Sit and shut up, and perhaps the good historian will live a bit longer, yes?" The man smiled no more. He picked up the fallen chair, righted it, and sat. "Well, come now, have a seat."

Fieya felt the magical restraints loosen, but she remained standing. She still shook with anger. "Where is Ceridwen?" she said, very softly.

Xandrick sneered. "I have use of him yet, girl. Perhaps I will ask the questions here."

Fieya's eyes darted about. "Guards? GUARDS!" The only response was the cawing of a dark bird sitting on the windowsill.

"They cannot hear you. A couple of fire elementals are wreaking havoc near the East Bank now - or so I hear. They will be occupied for another few minutes, at least. I will be brief and to the point, as I'm not sure how much logical thinking you're currently capable of." Fieya still stood, frozen, glaring at him. "You see, it is my mercy which has brought me here tonight. Ceridwen knows the last formulae I need to continue with my... work. But, the blasted historian is being rather - - tight-lipped, shall we say? So I come to you. I know you are a reasonable, logical young woman, and so you shall make the correct decision. I require the scroll which Ceridwen has hidden somewhere."

"You'll get nothing of his! You murderer! You coward! He would have given his life to keep that from you, so you'll not get it from me!" In one quick motion, Fieya reached for her belt, pulled out a sharpened dagger, and tried to hurl it at Xandrick. A fist came out of nowhere, grabbing the dagger in out of the air. A man followed the fist, stepping from the shadows. "I would not proceed with such actions, were I you." The voice was deep, and muffled behind a polished bone mask.

"Grythak," Fieya hissed. She darted for the door. Grythak's motions became a blur. Fieya felt something impact her in the stomach, and found herself laying on the floor, breathing heavily, before she had taken two steps.

"I would not be so quick to run, girl. Let me explain your other option, first." Xandrick stood up, and clasped his hands behind his back. "Your first, and best, option is to hand the scroll over to me. Ceridwen will be returned to you in moderately good health, and everyone will be happy. Your second option is a bit more grim. I had hoped it wouldn't come to this, but... If you do not give me the scroll, Ceridwen will be drugged and tortured until I have the formulae I need. And then he will be killed. The choice is yours, so choose wisely."

Fieya hugged her chest with her arms, struggling to catch her breath, as her eyes began to tear up. She inhaled a strained breath, and blinked the tears away. "I... choose neither! You..." She paused and took another breath, "And your lackey can go to the abyss!" Xandrick frowned. "We will find you. And if Ceri is hurt... I will kill you! With my bare hands! Got that?" She raised herself, kneeling on one leg. "Now get out of here! Guards! GUARDS!"

The familiar chink of an armored man approaching the library was clearly audible. "Can I kill her, master?" Grythak asked from behind the mask.

"We must go." Fieya heard their footfalls as they ran upstairs, followed by the echoes of "Vas Rel Por" as they escaped the way they came.

From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Thursday, June 15th 2000