“Please, you can’t do this.” Tara pulled against the binding on her wrists to no avail. “Please, you don’t understand!” The panic in her voice sounded shrill to her own ears, but seemed to have no effect on the man shoving her into the back of the transary.
She cried out again, louder this time. “Please!” It was almost a shriek. She wondered why the street seemed so empty.
This time, the man turned his head. Not enough to look at her. Not enough that he could see her, she was sure. But she knew he was listening.
“My magic,” Tara continued, her voice slightly more controlled. “It isn’t what you think,” she said. “It won’t do what you want.”
The big man grunted in a way that made his shoulders jerk. “It don’t matter. Tek tells me get a magic wielder, I gets one.”
“But I’m not even in the guild. How…”
“Better for me. Easy,” he said, cutting off her protest. “People know who ain’t guilded, and most don’t like you much. They point the way if you ask right over a pint.” He grinned with broken teeth over his shoulder at her. “Plus, you can’t access Essence much without the guilds. Less chance you’ll turn me in ta somethin’.”
“But that’s what I’m trying to tell you. The Essence. It…” She stopped talking again, breathless with fear as the big man put up a hand.
“Don’t matter,” he said. “Tek has all the Essence you could hope for. Just needs someone to shape it.” He glanced at her again. “You’ll do.”
Tara slumped back and screwed her eyes shut tight, whimpering at the thought of what might happen to her when they realized her gift was worse than useless.
It seemed like hours before she felt the momentum of their transary slow and then stop. Tara opened her eyes again only as the door lifted with a hiss and a large hand encircled her arm.
The man who had taken her was surprisingly gentle as he helped her from the transport and led her toward a low brick building. Tara thought it looked like a warehouse, but who would build a warehouse this far from the city?
The brute – had she really been kidnapped? – led Tara past a contingent of armed guards at the entrance. She could see several more farther down, she assumed at another entrance. More voices echoed from the surrounding hills. Each of the men she could see was tall, broad, and thickly muscled. Every one looked unobtrusive yet deadly in their plain brown uniforms.
Inside the warehouse she was hurried past crates labeled in a language she didn’t recognize. More guards watched as she was ushered through a door clad in unblemished copper.
Behind the door was an office where a smaller man sat behind a cluttered desk, his back to them. Tek, Tara thought, but her attention was drawn to a dully metallic device laid on the desk. She was sure it was magic, but could not imagine its use. Without Essence she couldn’t read magic. But with it…
The door banged shut, her head whipping around to see that her captor had left. Alone now with the other man, she turned back towards the desk to see green eyes staring at her. It took another moment for her to realize they belonged to a woman with close-cropped hair – not a man at all. That fact terrified her more than being kidnapped, Tara realized. She could not have said why.
A cold smile played across the woman’s features as she stood and leaned across the desk. Her eyes never left Tara as she reached down and lifted the metal object from the desk.
“Do you know what this is?” she asked, then continued before Tara could answer. “It’s an Essalyst. Once you power it for me, I’ll be able to use Essence for myself. No magic wielder required.”
Tara gasped, feeling a shudder of fear course down her spine. “I… I can’t,” Tara stammered.
“You will,” Tek responded. The woman reached under her desk and Tara heard a soft click. Tara felt a flush rise to her cheeks as Essence began to flood, unseen, into the room.
“You don’t have to do much,” Tek said. “Simply hold the essence and channel it here.” She indicated a dark receptor on the side of the device. “Even an untrained, unguilded wielder can do that much.” Her voice was crisp with disdain.
“But the Essence,” Tara started. “You don’t understand. I can’t…” Tara felt the tears welling in her eyes just before her entire being convulsed with what she had always thought of as a sneeze, though it was nothing so ordinary. She opened her eyes to see a green-eyed kitten on the desk, rubbing its chin against the Essalyst.
“I can’t control Essence,” she whispered. “I’m allergic.” She wondered whether Tek would enjoy being a cat.
Copyright Notice: Please note that I fully assert my right to be associated as the author of this story, and while it is complete, it may not be finished. This story may be subject to alteration at the author’s discretion. Please do not copy, quote, or post this story or excerpts anywhere in any format. You are, however, free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.
I hope you enjoyed my story! I often surprise myself with how things come out, and this one was no exception. Especially considering that my initial idea was a blind girl. 😀
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And for more reading goodness, please visit the stories from the other authors in this hop:
Elizabeth McCleary – YOU ARE HERE
Katharina Gerlach – Scars
Karen Lynn – My Story
Angela Woodridge? – Uninvited Guests
Barbara Lund – New Space
Kris Bowser – Smithereens
Justine Ohlrich – Two Deaths on My Birthday
Rabia Gale – House Bound
Juneta Key – Untitled
Mel Corbett – If It’s Not Yours
These were the stories from the last hop… just in case you missed them.
Angela Wooldridge: An Alternative to Frog
Thea van Diepen: Are You Sure It’s That Way?
Paula de Carvalho: Body Double
Kris Bowser: Tantrums
Virginia McClain: Rakko’s Storm
Grace Robinette: Georg Grembl
Elizabeth McCleary: The Door
Dale Cozort: Two Letters In A Fireproof Box
Katharina Gerlach: Canned Food
Karen Lynn: The Family Book
Rabia Gale: Spark
K. A. Petentler: The Twisted Tale of Isabel
Shana Blueming: Paper & Glue
Amy Keeley: To Be Prepared For Chocolate
Cherie “Jade” Arbuckle: After I Died