The Lady of the Tower: Part XIII

‘Oh, why?’ a little voice cried inside of Gwendolen’s exhausted but frightened mind, as she ran through the night, from a thing of the night itself at her heels with outstretched arms. Mostly she did not think. She could not think. Her legs felt like lumps of stone as she lifted them from the dark ground, and ran—and ran—and ran: her lungs and heart could burst. Branches kept seeming to reach out and try to seize her—to catch her by her sleeve, or to tangle into her long flying hair.

And every once in a while, when her magic lagged with her will to keep herself going, she would not go quite fast enough and the shadow would reach her. It would draw up her and wrap itself around her tightly. Gwendolen would force herself to fall onto the ground to bring it down with her. Once it was attached to the ground again, she would jump up and run away.

Suddenly Gwendolen stopped and turned around, facing it. The shadow slowed but did not stop as well.

The anger which she had felt that morning awoke. It resented her fear and weakness—resented that she had been deceived. “No more,” it said. The shadow stopped.

Gwendolen could feel her magic pouring out of herself as the night drew in around her in a black pulsing air. Her eyes ignited and turned to flickering candle-flames.

In her shaking hands was fire. The shadow fled, but the fire shot out of her hands in a pillar to it and she burnt it into the ground as it tried to escape her.

 

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