In the aftermath of book five, Psycho Mirror, the shards are collected by Agnes, the resident specialist at the Witches’ Academy. But could the Crimson Queen sweet talk another sorceress locked in the vault of the hallowed halls of feminine arcane power?
The Power for Good
Cordelia reached to touch Agnes’ shoulder as the old woman sat slumped sentinel over the shards. The woman had scarcely rested since returning from Extor, and while Cordelia applauded her steadfast commitment, she wouldn’t see the old woman run into the ground. Not when it had taken all of the Academy’s might to convince the King not to turn the remnants over to the Wizards’ Guild. She would need Agnes’ skills to bind the enchantment beyond reproach.
The old woman startled and sat up blinking. “Vice Chancellor. I only nodded off for a moment. I—”
“Go to your bed, Agnes.” Cordelia smiled warmly. “I can take this watch, and come morning you can approach the task with vigor.”
Agnes sagged and nodded. “Thank you, Vice Chancellor.”
Cordelia watched the old woman leave studiously, relieved she didn’t put up any kind of argument. The council had warned against leaving any witch with the mirror for lengthy periods, and though Agnes had always been staunch, she worried over the influence the enchantment may yet be capable of. She took up Agnes’ chair in the shadows of the vault, and cast her eye over the pieces of glass arranged on the floor.
Though the only light source was a constant white glow from hanging orbs on the ceiling, shadows flickered across the hundreds of reflections. Almost as one, like a shape was moving across them. Cordelia refrained from squirming in her seat, but the notion that the creature capable of bringing down a nation was lurking at her very feet was unsettling. Nora Brightstar was made of stern stuff, and if she was so easily glamoured…
“Cordelia Murkwood,” a crooning voice called. “The Murkwood favored with the intellect of her ancestors. Unlike her simpleton sister.”
Cordelia blinked and pushed away the sense of gratification that came from those words. “Be silent. We shall have your poisonous tongue bound for all eternity.”
Mirthless laughter sounded and Cordelia wrung sweaty palms in her lap. “Of course. And throw away any chance of the Academy becoming great again. A bunch of toothless tigers assembled to pay lip service to the king. How far this place has fallen.”
Not for the first time, Cordelia wondered who the woman had been before coming to the mirror. How many years she may have dwelled underneath the surface of reality. She had yet to even establish how Nora had come by the mirror in the first place, and if she could learn more…
“Tell me of yourself,” Cordelia grimaced at the crack in her voice. “How does a witch who promises greatness become trapped in an enchantment of her own design.”
The chuckle that sounded reverberated through the stone floor and Cordelia sucked in a sharp breath through her nose.
“Trapped, you say? What if I chose this? I am not so pretentious as to claim unlocking the secrets to immortality, but this is close. There is wisdom in waiting for a world that is ripe for the picking. The lands have become soft in their complacency. The time of the witch has come.”
Although Cordelia felt bile rise in her gut, the words spoke to her inner yearnings. She couldn’t trust herself to speak, and worried the witch was peering into her very soul.
“Come now, Cordelia,” the voice clucked. “Nora Brightstar was a means to an end. Imagine what the likes of you and I could achieve together. The youngest Vice Chancellor in the history of the Academy. A true woman of worth with impeccable lineage. A woman of vision, who knows the world would be a better place in the hands of our kind.”
Cordelia’s eyes felt heavy, and the words struck chords deep within her being. The monarchs she served were idiots. The plight of witches was real. Wizards weren’t to be trusted. They could do things better.
The sound of the vault’s door swinging open snapped Cordelia from her reverie, and she held a hand to her chest as Agnes shuffled in.
“Forgive me, Vice Chancellor,” she nodded. “I almost forgot to give you these.”
The old woman proffered a pair of ear plugs and Cordelia plucked them from her palm with a quizzical look.
“Enchanted to keep that creature from nattering at you all night.” Agnes yawned and wiped her eyes. “Though I’m sure you would have done just fine without them.”
Cordelia nodded gratefully and stuffed in the plugs the minute Agnes left. It had been a close call. The experience only left her more certain the mirror must never leave their walls. In the hands of wizards they would all be in grave danger.
Phew, that was close!
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