Slayers: Mirror Ten
The room at the top of the tower was crowded, filled with many arcane items. Rare books sat in various book cases, bubbling vials and noxious chemicals were set up on different tables and various exotic beasts were stuffed all around the room. The water in the shallow pool gleamed, the image of the three women walking away from the town crystal clear. The fiery redhead, the petite black haired girl and the taller warrior, all talking animatedly.
A hand slammed down, splashing liquid about as the woman snarled, "Damn them!" She turned away from the scrying pool and walked away, her velvet cloak swirling around her. The tall blonde's eyes were narrowed irritably, her beautiful face twisted in a fierce scowl. The silken gown that she wore hugged her generously proportioned body, the nearly transparent material revealing much of her physical charms.
"Gwenyth," the blonde yelled out irritably.
The pink haired younger girl appeared almost as soon as she called, the little points on her ears showing that she was at least part elven. "Yes, Mistress Hectate?" Gwenyth asked as she smoothly fell into step beside the taller woman.
"What news of the bandits?" Hectate coldly asked as they took the stone steps leading down from the tower, the torches that were hanging on the walls igniting as they neared then promptly going out once they passed by.
"Completely scattered, I'm afraid," Gwenyth admitted, "it seems that Inverse and Naga have put the fear of the gods into them."
"So who decided to send the Goblins after them?" Hectate scowled, angry at the waste of a resource, even one as limited as those vermin.
"Lord Halcyon," Gwenyth answered her promptly, "he hoped that the pair might have been weakened enough that the goblins could succeed." They entered the next level down, striding along the stone floor and ignoring the ornate tapestries hanging on the walls.
Hectate thought for a moment, her expression softening a bit. "Against a normal foe he might have been right," she admitted, "but not this trio."
"Should I move some of our other forces to intercept them?" Gwenyth asked respectfully, opening the door for her lady.
Hectate shook her head no as she entered her bedchamber, calmly opening her robe to let it puddle to the ground around her feet. Gwenyth tried to look away as her mistress changed clothes, but she couldn't resist sneaking a few looks. Hectate was so beautiful, a perfection that was created as much by magical alterations than the gifts of the flesh, but despite knowing all of that Gwenyth was drawn to her like a moth to a flame.
The bedchamber carried a faint rose scent, a sweetness that hung in the air. The great bed was twice as large as any that Gwenyth had ever seen, the sheets made from the finest imported silk. Glossy wood, silver and gold shone all around the room, furnishings and decorations crafted by the very best artisans of many kingdoms. It suited it's mistress well, a place of beauty that served as a frame to the lovely lady who lived there.
"Just keep an wary eye on them," Hectate crisply instructed as she pulled the dress on, the long white gown looking oddly chaste on her beautiful form. "I want to know what they'll do as soon as possible," she added.
"Of course, Mistress," Gwenyth bowed, "and what of our... guest?"
"I'll see to her," Hectate answered, "go, begin your tasks."
Gwenyth bowed once again then the smaller woman strode from the room. Hectate left soon after, taking another set of stairs down into chilled air. Below the ground the air in the keep was moist, a sensation unpleasant on the skin. Carrying a torch she strode the dark hallways, finally unlocking a heavy iron door and going inside.
Unlike the rest of the keep this room was plain, almost bare. A small bed was pushed against the corner, a old wooden table and chair sitting in the center of the room. Only a single wax candle provided some light, illuminating the woman who lay on the bed silently.
Her glossy black mane flowed around her body as she rose with dignity, fixing Hectate with a glare that would have killed a lesser woman. Her leather garb was scanty, merely a bikini top and bottom but she seemed quite comfortable in that clothing. The oddest thing was the simple leather collar she wore, seemingly without buckles or other means of opening it. She met Hectate's gaze as she sat in the chair then quite surprisingly, she smiled.
"They escaped your trap, didn't they?" Naga the White Serpent asked.
Hectate clenched her jaw. "Indeed," she admitted as she studied her captive. "Where do you think they're going?"
"Maybe Lina is returning home," Naga said with a impish little smile, "she just loves going to see her big sister."
Hectate rolled her eyes, knowing that was a lie. "You could just cooperate," she said with a sigh, "I bear you no ill will, sorceress."
Naga reached up to touch the collar that bound her as firmly as any chains as she answered, "Then you have a very strange way of showing it." She studied Hectate a moment before adding, "It's all about that prophecy you told me about, isn't it?"
Hectate ground her teeth together, "Yes."
Her family had a tradition, one going back for many generations. A seer was summoned at each child's birth, taking a glimpse into the future to see what glory might await the child in the years ahead. But in Hectate's case it wasn't a lovely future that awaited her, only doom.
"The White Serpent shall claim her soul,
Break her will and lay her low."
Those words had haunted Hectate once her family had determined that she was old enough to hear them. She studied the beasts of the world, both magical and mundane, frantically looking for the creature that might defeat her even as she trained in magic. Finally she some of heard the tales of a sorceress and adventurer, one that called herself Naga the White Serpent, and knew in her soul this was the one prophecy spoke of.
Capturing her was surprisingly easy, actually. Hectate had sent a few of her servants to a bar she frequented to ply Naga with drink, then drug her final mug of ale. They had brought the sleeping woman here, where Hectate had placed the leather collar and enchantments over Naga, binding her so that the woman could do Hectate no harm. Once Naga had awoke there was some trouble, any servant who ventured inside was promptly beaten up, but eventually Naga calmed down enough to know she couldn't escape this situation on her own.
"You do realize it could be a self fulfilling prophecy, correct?" Naga asked, leaning forward to rest her arms on the table.
Hectate nodded glumly, pacing the small room. "And now there's that damn shadow twin of yours," she grumbled irritably.
"I don't think I and my diminutive former business partner ever expected them to survive," Naga noted, "I'm rather impressed."
Hectate turned to look at her, "What connection does this Amelia have to you, anyway?" She scowled, "The woman hasn't left your doppelganger and Lina's side since she met them."
"All I know are the same stories you do," Naga shrugged, "that Amelia the princess of Saillune was a companion of Lina and her allies in several great quests."
"And a power in her own right," Hectate noted, "with the strength of a crown behind her." She paused, eyes widening, "That's where they're going!"
"Knowing Lina she's hoping for a free meal," Naga offered with a impish smile.
Hectate turned away to walk to the door, "Thank you for your assistance, Lady Naga." She turned back to smile slightly, "I find I enjoy our talks."
"I'm so glad," Naga muttered sarcastically as Hectate left.
Hectate strode down the hall, her slippers barely making a sound on the cool stone floor. "Gwenyth," the tall blonde cried as she walked up the stairs.
"Mistress," the pink haired girl waited for her at the doorway, Gwenyth holding a mug of the warmed cider that Hectate preferred.
"Thank you," Hectate took it and drank deep, savoring the taste, then she confidently said, "Naga and her companions are headed for Saillune."
Gwenyth took the cup from her and they fell into step down the hall. "Should I dispatch agents to intercept them?" she asked.
"No, just instruct our people to keep an eye on them," Hectate said before adding wryly. "I have no wish to anger a kingdom as strong as Saillune."
"It will be done," Gwenyth bowed slightly.
"Include a bottle of good wine with Naga's dinner tonight," Hectate added with a slight smile, "I would not have realized without speaking to her."
Gwenyth looked up at Hectate thoughtfully, "You like her, Mistress?"
Hectate blinked, her steps faltering just a moment. "Yes, I think I do."
To be continued....