A corpse slouched forward on the chair. A few minutes ago it was a young, vibrant woman with vivid blue eyes and long blond hair. Now the flesh clung to her bones, and only a few strands of hair still hung from the shriveled skull.
Curtains fluttered as a cool breeze passed through the open window. The candles burning on the table flickered, casting shadows over the tear stained face of a young man curled in the corner. His arms wrapped around his knees while he rocked back against the wall. His eyes frantically darted between the remains of his companion and the glowing object hovering in the middle of the chamber.
Like the corpse, it wasn’t there a few minutes earlier. Black tendrils of smoke drifted away from it as it rotated. The image of the chamber reflected across its smooth surface.
“What was that scream?” cried the master of the tower. He slammed open the door and rushed into the room. He stopped after only a few steps to take in the scene before him. With an almost imperceptible wave of his hand the door behind him closed with a bang, blocking the pair of guards trailing after him.
The master remained silent for a moment. His hands clenched at his side. He ignored the young man and the body. The object spinning in the air captured his gaze, drawing him into its reflective surface.
Flashes of candlelight flickered across his face with each turn of the mirror like surface. The flashes repeated three times before the candles sputtered and went out. For a moment the room was plunged into a darkness so complete it was like looking into the void. Only the moonlight creeping through the open window managed to pierce the gloom.
Trapped in shadows the young man struggled to his feet. He wiped the tears from his eyes. He knew he must face the man who had been his mentor for over a decade. The man who was the father of the body in the chair.
“I… I’m… Sorry… We…”
“Stop!” commanded the master before his student could stammer out an explanation. “You shall not speak!”
The master reached with both hands toward the table standing across the room. With a twisting motion, it unraveled before him. The wood twisted and folded, then with the speed of a striking snake the pieces flew at the young man. It coiled around him in wooden bands. Within seconds his arms and legs were trapped. His mouth was covered.
The young man tried to fight back with his own magic, but he was unable to direct his power with the bindings in place. He struggled to free an arm, but the bands held him tight. Even his hands were bound to his side.
The master smiled with satisfaction at the results. His student was restrained helplessly before him. The wood continued to mold itself around the young man, cocooning him against the outer wall.
The smile faltered when the master noticed the body had fallen from its resting place. The shifting of the table had knocked the nearby chair back, dislodging the corpse.
Ignoring the terrified sounds coming from his apprentice, the older man crept toward the body. What little light there was seemed to be captured by the blue eyes staring up from the floor.
“My Lord! Are you well?” came from the other side of the door as one of the guards pushed it open. The concern for his charge was evident on his face as he stood there, caught in the light from the hallway. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness and in that brief time he was blind to what lay before him.