‘Forsaken’ is a short story based in the world of ‘The Guardian’s Apprentice.’ The story is about Nisha, a lovely spellcaster desperately seeking a way to cure her father, who is suffering from a terrible – and mysterious – curse. The question is, just how far is she willing to go in order to save him?
I hope you enjoy the following excerpt – the complete story is available at Smashwords & Amazon.
Corvinus Black was dying. He had used every curative potion and countercharm known and nothing worked. When he became bedridden, his daughter, Nisha, had used every spell she knew to try and stop the mysterious ailment that was stealing her father away from her. Nisha’s father, a powerful member of the Order of Black and leading contender for a spot on the High Council, had recently fallen seriously ill. The symptoms had started with a horrible, red rash covering his entire body within a few hours, leading her to first suspect that a rival wizard had sent in an Irk to attack her father. After trying numerous healing spells however, she realized this was no ordinary curse. Instead of slowing the progression of the symptoms, her spells seemed to speed his decline. Within hours her once powerful father had been reduced to a state of feverish, incoherent ramblings, unable to recognize the one who had been the jewel of his life – his only daughter.
Heartbroken and desperate, Nisha spent day and night in the Council library seeking an antidote or countercharm that might halt the disease or destroy the curse behind it. After twelve hours in the library, she had finally given in to the clawing exhaustion that ached in her bones and fell asleep at the desk, her head resting on one of the ancient tomes. Her dreams had been fragmented and terrifying, filled with fleeting glimpses of some unseen horror always at the edge of her vision. Finally a dark form dove out of the sky above her and a giant raven, shrieking in anger and with a red, glowing jewel on its breast, tore through the fabric of her dream, jolting her awake. She brushed her long, black hair from her eyes and pulled it back, pinning it in place with a silver stiletto pulled from the sleeve of her dark robes. A striking figure, Nisha could have her pick of men and she knew it. She knew how to twist whatever she wanted from any man she met, with just a soulful look or a hint of a smile. But now she was alone – alone and desperate – seeking the knowledge that might save her father, the only man she had ever loved. Pushing back the heavy, ancient tome laying in front of her, she noticed a small piece of parchment that had not been there previously. She unfolded the brittle paper and read the spidery runes written in blood red ink.
It is the healing stone of Sava that you seek. Locked away for hundreds of years, it has the power to cure any ailment or break any curse. Simply place the stone on the forehead of the individual, and recite the phrase ‘Animus, Impono, Nex’ three times. Find the stone, and you find the cure.
Puzzled by the sudden appearance of the note, Nisha looked around but saw no one. It was late and the library was mostly empty save for one or two acolytes studying for their exams. Looking one last time at the note, she laid it aside and prepared to start where she left off when she had fallen asleep. Stifling a yawn she pulled another heavy, dust laden book towards her to resume her research. The title of the book was scripted in ink so black it seemed to absorb the light around it. In large, looping script was “The Tome of Blackstone” across the title page. She did not recall asking the clerk for this particular volume; perhaps it had been left on the book cart by some careless attendant the night before. She flipped quickly through the pages, scanning through entries on poxes, curses, hexes and the like, when suddenly her eyes locked on a single word.
The note had said the ‘healing stone of Sava’ would save her father. She pulled the heavy book closer and devoured the words on the page, her hungry eyes seeking the answer. The entry was very short though – only a single paragraph:
The Stone of Sava was created over five hundred years ago during the reign of terror, when the Red Order spread chaos and destruction across our world. It is a powerful talisman that must be safeguarded, lest it fall into the wrong hands. A perfect emerald the size of a large hen egg, it is to be enshrined in the vaults of the restricted section of the Council library.
“Blackstone was a liar, you know,” a voice whispered from behind her.
Fast as a cobra striking, Nisha turned to face the newcomer, another silver stiletto appearing in her hand from nowhere, but no one was there.
“Who are you?” she demanded. She was in no mood to be trifled with; her father didn’t have much time left.
“A friend,” purred the voice, echoing between the stacks of books surrounding Nisha. “I have been a friend to your father for years, and I wish to help.”
As she kept her back to the desk, dagger at the ready, Nisha scanned the room, looking for any clue to the identity or location of the voice. Her other hand clasped the talisman around her neck – a silver pendant – that helped focus her power. “Why should I believe you? My father has many rivals…”
“True, but I have always supported him,” the disembodied voice trilled. “I can help you find the healing stone – it will save your father. Blackstone was a fool – the stone has existed since the time of the ancients; it is more powerful than any healing spells known today.”
The eerie voice ebbed and flowed as it echoed across the room to Nisha, as if the source was moving back and forth between the rows of books throughout the library.
“Blackstone and the others of the Council wanted to keep the power of the stone for themselves, so they locked it away. If you want to save your father, you must steal it from the vaults.”
End of excerpt