The Cloak of Visibility and Invisibility
Rayna felt it immediately.
The second they crossed into the Witches’ Lair, the night grew dense and quiet. Utter silence surrounded them. No bird was singing. No branches rustled in the air. This part of The Forest was cased into a deep enchantment that kept all beings alert, on guard.
Why would I want magical powers if it meant living in this eternal vigilance? It makes no sense. Power should make us feel lighter, more joyous. It should make us free.
“Beware, your majesty. It is not power you are feeling,” Silver Wolf said into her heart in the voice of Inlakesh. “You keep confusing fear-based control and defenses with true power.”
“Is this not the result of magic?” she questioned in her heart, not daring to speak out loud.
“No, your majesty,” Silver Wolf replied. “This is the use of magic, but it is the result of fear. This is the result of guardedness that is the result of separation and alienation. Some of the 12 Witches are friendly towards humans. But even they have enemies that envy their magic, and humans that either covet their magic or fear it. Thus, they misuse their power to hide and devise trickeries to keep enemies, admirers and fearful pursuers at bay.”
“So this is the result of their power, then,” Rayna responded. “And when I seat in the throne, will I not be subjected to enemies and coveting cronies who would as soon usurp my crown, like the Chancellor usurped my father’s crown?”
“It is your choice,” Silver Wolf responded. “The Witches did not always hide in the deep forest, under trickery and charms. Some of them have lived among humans, and have been respected and consulted. While they lived in town no harm came to them. True, the Chancellor has pursued them these years. But it’s not the first time they hide. The Witches’ Lair grew out of their proclivity to use fear-based defenses and to separate from the people. The fear of the people is but a mirror of their own fear. You, in contrast, have many true allies and your people love and respect you because you love and respect them. Friendship, as well as enmity is a two way street.”
“But the Chancellor…” Rayna began.
The black mantle that surrounded them shifted and became so dense that it felt suffocating.
“Silence!” whispered Silver Wolf into her heart. “The darkness is a net to catch us. Beware of your every step and breath,”
The she-wolf was sniffing air, rocks and trees.
“This is Kurukulla,” Silver Wolf said. “Not even because she summoned you, and she knows the urgency, will she lift her protective enchantments.”
“What…” Rayna began.
“She knows we are here,” Silver Wolf declared.
The night shifted again. The darkness was almost solid.
“It must be the new moon,” Rayna thought, though the air was so thick that she could not think straight. She felt that she was swallowing a dense liquid.
The few stars that had been visible were now shrouded by the dense darkness. Rayna placed her hand in front of her, or at least she thought she did, but she could not see it.
“Follow me without straying,” Silver Wolf spoke to her heart.
But she could not see anything. She veered to follow Silver Wolf’s sound, and bump into a tree.
She got up, but was not sure that she was up. She lost the sense of direction.
As she moved, Rayna felt that she was penetrating a silky black substance that yielded to her, yet left traces on her, like gooey blobs of darkness that stuck to her.
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Continues next Friday in part 8
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