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CROSSROADS AND THE HIMALAYAN CRYSTALS
By C. TONI GRAHAM
Balboa PressCopyright © 2012 C. Toni Graham
All right reserved.
Brigara fought back with everything she had, and it ultimately took all three of them to bind her powers. They could feel her energy surround them. The power she possessed was like nothing they had ever encountered. Their restraint spell was holding her securely, compelling her arms to be held tightly behind her back and her ankles to be forcefully bound together. She spit and screamed in their direction. She struggled and thrashed her head wildly, causing her stringy, long dark hair to fall across her flushed sweat-drenched face. She was extremely thin, almost skeletal in appearance, yet her body flexed and contorted relentlessly with vigorous intensity. Her dark eyes were wild with fury, and the group made certain to avoid fixating on them, as she was skilled at hexing dark charms with a mere glance.
While their spell was strong, it would only serve as a temporary hold; they knew she would eventually find a counter charm to break free. It would have to suffice because they had to move quickly to get ready for the next step. They could not spare even a moment to weave any additional magic to make the charm stronger. Time was not on their side; it was the enemy.
Only a few days had passed since they had come to terms with their decision. They were acutely aware that it was the most drastic measure. To perform the foreboding ritual would put all they were trying to protect at risk, yet they unanimously agreed there was no other option. They were to proceed with her abolishment. Their plan would be launched when the required elements were aligned. This was the chosen night, as they would not have another chance for many seasons. According to their calculations, the full moon had to be positioned in the northern sky and in direct opposition to the sun during the midpoint of the lunar eclipse. This was the night everything would change.
Despite countless warnings, she had refused to cease practicing forbidden magic. Her abolishment would not be an easy undertaking; they had to rely solely on their instincts, inherited abilities, and passed- along teachings from others who had moved on from their realm long ago. They were the chosen High Council of Three, and they alone had to end her reign of harmonic destruction as well as her corrupted use of dark magic.
As leaders, the council knew it was their primary responsibility to maintain the balance among all magical elemental beings in their realm, and they were entrusted to manage all things that might impact their way of life. They were also charged with identifying and removing all threats, no matter how potent or mighty, as this was their chosen fate in this lifetime. As such, they were to do whatever was necessary to prevail.
During the council's meticulous preparations, they considered the possibility they might not survive, since it was highly probable she would be the one to prevail. The council had seen proof that the powers Brigara harnessed were increasing exponentially, and she was becoming more formidable. They were counting on the fact that they outnumbered her three to one, but in the event they did not succeed, they forged a contingency plan.
After much deliberation, all council members decided to selflessly sacrifice their gifts of the hallowed elements they each possessed and commanded. Next, they blended them carefully and sealed them with an ancient trilogy charm. The council entrusted the most principal elemental being with this sacred rite, along with their specific and necessary instructions. They spoke of this only among themselves, as they knew she should never be made aware of its existence. Having made this choice, they were now prepared to sacrifice their lives and eradicate her from their realm without reservation. If they succeeded, the triumph would be widely celebrated, and this day would be one that would surely be recorded for all to know and celebrate for generations to come.
The council had expected to find Brigara's secluded and unkempt dwelling protected from intruders. Instead, it was left open and unguarded. The house appeared almost deserted. Although they knew she had been living in squalor for quite some time, they were unaware of the magnitude of the poor conditions in which she lived. Brigara had elected to isolate herself from the majority of other elemental beings by living far and removed from those who would frown on her practice of dark magic.
The structure was small and built of sturdy obsidian stone, which had seen its fair share of being tested. The scorch marks from spells gone wrong were evident inside and out. They knew she had chosen the stone because of its powerful properties. They stimulated the gift of prophecy, and that was a gift she longed to acquire, since she believed it would add to her arsenal of magical abilities. The house had only one room, which served as both living quarters and the place where she created her dark spells. The room was void of any natural lighting. Each window was covered with thick, dark drapes that allowed only razor- thin beams of light to break through around the edges. There were a few small lanterns and several large, unscented candles positioned around the room, creating an ominous glow; their light cast large shadows that danced across the dirt and potion-stained walls.
The council moved around, examining all the nuances of the neglected home and surveying its contents. The ambiance was depressing, but it was conducive to the serious mission they had to execute. They had only heard stories of the ancient abolishment deed being carried out, but not a single being in their lifetime had practical knowledge or experience. They could not dwell on this as they hurried to prepare the room for the encounter.
It was time. The moon was in perfect alignment to activate the prophesying triad ritual, and they knew she would return home soon. The three of them pulled the hoods of their ceremonial black velvet cloaks over their heads and took their designated places. They were frightened, but none spoke this aloud. They methodically recited their rehearsed incantation in unison. The dimly lit room vibrated as they concluded the foundation spell. The charm would hold the house firm, and all spells cast would be contained within its walls to protect innocents from being harmed by any fallout. They nodded in confirmation to each other and then readied themselves in anxious anticipation.
Brigara arrived moments later, and as she stepped through the doorway, she displayed her arrogance proudly as she scoffed at them. She announced her presence with a loud, raspy voice.
"You have dared to trespass and defile the sanctity of my home. As you know, I will not tolerate such a violation. I shall destroy you all!" She appeared not to fear their abilities.
"Ready yourselves," the elder of the council commanded his peers. They complied without hesitation.
Brigara pulled back her arms and positioned both palms up. Two brightly glowing fire-energy spheres of a pale blue hue appeared and hovered above her hands. She drew her arms further back. Her arms jetted forward, and the fire-spheres flew across the dark room, brightly illuminating the room as they hit an invisible wall and exploded on impact. She screamed in response and immediately retracted her arms to produce two more spheres. These were larger and brighter than the previous ones. Brigara balanced them close to her body as she simmered with anger.
The council braced for her next strike. As they had anticipated, she attacked without hesitation or negotiation. Trapping her was going to be more difficult than they had planned, and the night was not going as they had imagined. They knew Brigara was powerful, but the energy spheres had a velocity that was greater than they had ever witnessed, and she was producing them effortlessly. They were unharmed by her first attack since they had ritually shielded themselves in a protective aura of white light visible only to them. It was a basic but essential element of divine magic that would hold up against her dark magic long enough for them to subdue and capture her. They had diligently practiced their counterattacks and the necessary charms to be sure they were sound in their actions, and it was now time to react in sync. They took a defensive stance in unity. Not knowing if they would survive, they were determined to face her head-on and would not back down.
"Brigara, you must stand down as this will not end well for you," the Elder Council bellowed.
"Do you think I am intimidated by your talents? You do not impress me; you never have. Did you really believe I would not be made aware of your plans? Did you really think I would bow down to you?" she asked as she shook off her frayed, dusty cloak, letting it drop to the floor. She kicked it aside with a muddy boot. The spheres remained level in their launch positions.
The council stayed silent; their eyes were completely shielded beneath the hoods of their dark cloaks. She narrowed her gaze before addressing them. "You must know that I will be the victor of this encounter," Brigara taunted mockingly as her mouth twisted into a jagged smile.
The council stayed firm and held their position without response. Brigara surveyed them closely, smirking in amusement as she tossed the fire-spheres in her hands like she was juggling tennis balls. They could tell she was trying to bait them to reveal any weakness in their shield and that she was only stalling until she devised her next maneuver. The council had not considered she might be warned of the encounter, and they were grateful she had not received enough notice to execute an effective battle plan against them.
Brigara wasn't fully prepared, and they all knew it. The council was reacting purely in defense mode, and they realized they had to counterattack before it was too late. The elder of the high council gave the signal, and they readied themselves.
Brigara turned her back to them slowly, as if considering to exit, and then quickly spun around to launch her next assault; she thrust both of the fast spinning fire-spheres directly at them. With precision, they struck back in retaliation and hexed the spheres. The fireballs stopped, suspended in midair, and then with only a brief pause, reversed their course and boomeranged back to their creator at an even greater velocity. Her nimble body reacted quickly as she dodged to avoid being struck from the returning fire, but she clumsily stumbled and lost balance. With arms flailing awkwardly, she fell to the floor.
She recovered immediately and began scrambling toward the door in an attempt to flee. Before she was able to reach the doorway, the council sealed the door. They transmitted bands of fire from the top of the threshold to the floor, barring it as an exit. Brigara's face grew crimson as she stood back up and glared at them. The council had successfully trapped her within her own home to prevent any escape. The battle of their lives was underway.
Without hesitation, the elder of the council gave the signal to close in on the attack. The trio shifted their positions, tightening the meshing of their blended powers to strike as one source. They gained control and suspended her ability to respond but only momentarily.
Brigara skillfully broke free of the magically formed icy ropes that bound her hands tight. She expelled an energy ball that missed her target by mere centimeters. Before she could form another, they countered with a spell that created another set of ropes. This time, the spell created a sensation of intense burning around her wrists while pulling her hands high above her head. Brigara cried out in agony as she forced her lips to recite incantations to cease the pain.
Since they knew she would soon figure out a way to counter their maneuver and would react brutally, they did not vacillate in the slightest. Their protection charms were barely holding up against her relentless attacks, and they were quickly tiring. If this was going to work, they had to keep their spells intertwined, it was imperative. She would assuredly penetrate any weakness.
The council began to alter the various restraints; Brigara managed to find a way to break free each time, but they remained diligent in their efforts. After multiple failed attempts, with only temporary effects, they were able to successfully bind all of her extremities.
Brigara revolted and roared with such force that the ground shook beneath their feet. "Release me now!"
They continued calling out incantations without pause. She attempted to cast a charm unknown to them, but they quickly muffled it by distorting her words so they carried no meaning.
Brigara was frustrated by her predicament since she had received advanced warning of the council's trap. She had considered it a great opportunity to shame them all, but she had underestimated their resolve and preparation. Her followers had flagged her of the impending ambush, but they did not possess enough power to stand by her side in battle. They were loyal to a fault but not foolish enough to take on the council.
Brigara would have dismissed them anyway had they offered to stand with her. She was convinced that no one could compete with her power, and she wanted them all to know that she stood her ground and defeated all who challenged her without intervention or assistance from others. Brigara believed that no being in her lifetime or any that came before could rival her talent to command the elements or bring all who crossed her path to their knees. She was of the belief that she harnessed greater power than any being in their realm and was fully prepared to eliminate anyone who got in her way.
This aspect of her conceit allowed enough time for the council to disarm and halt her ability to cast any counter or reflective charms. They had responded as soon as she set foot across the threshold and just before she finished her chastising; this provided just enough of an opening to get the upper hand.
The high council had wisely removed all items that Brigara could potentially use against them in her defense; the house was left barren. The only things that remained were the chairs they would use during the final stage of the obliteration. Three iron forged chairs had ceremoniously been anointed with apples of Avalon and the white fruit of mistletoe. Clusters of ornate blue and black pietersite crystals were placed along the tops, and the chairs were carefully arranged in a triangle configuration to create the necessary energy connection between them. Precaution was taken to include all aspects of the ancient ritual to invoke the conduit points of the triad symbol; this was critically important. A fourth chair, left plain and unprotected, was positioned in the middle of the triangle altar where she would be placed as they carried out the foreboding ritual.
Upon entering her home, Brigara had observed the arrangement of the chairs and immediately knew they intended to do more than just strip her powers. She quickly came to the realization that the mission was to cast her out completely, to banish her from their realm altogether.
She was furious that she had not considered all possibilities. She tried hard to focus on removing the spell that was constricting her movements. She freed her hand, but they cast another spell to tighten the hold before she could create an energy sphere. Her arm jerked back in futile resistance. They had to keep a close eye on her; her desperation made her even more dangerous. They were taking too much time.
They skillfully levitated her to the center of the magical altar and into the designated chair. She kicked and screamed in defiance while being held in place by the invisible restraints. They were proud of their accomplishment, but they dared not take their eyes off of her to even acknowledge this to one another.
Brigara was determined to not let them see any hurt or fear as this was a sure sign of weakness. She concentrated hard to quiet her thoughts in order to evaluate the complexities of their magic. She began to detect the flaws in their restraints and sensed they were lacking confidence in their skills. She got excited and then immediately calmed as she reminded herself that she only needed to bide her time. She trusted they would trip up soon; at such time, she would deliver a fatal attack. She only needed one of them to falter.
She closed her eyes to begin formulating the spells to use next. She was determined to form an attack they could never contrive or expect. Brigara felt her thoughts wander, and she struggled to refocus but to no avail; they had shifted into casting spells that forced her to respond to their will. She shook her head in response, but the enchantment made her recall the heartache she had pushed down deep from the surface. The events resurfaced; they had found her Achilles' heel.
Excerpted from CROSSROADS AND THE HIMALAYAN CRYSTALS by C. TONI GRAHAM Copyright © 2012 by C. Toni Graham. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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