chapter 8: TEMPERANCE

this card, 14h of the Major Arcana, here signifies Combining, Unifying, Alchemy

Wand threw the Powerstaff to her mother even as the unnatural
lightning struck her.  The world around her dissolved into gray
sparks, she felt herself become insubstantial energy,
transformed and transmitted instantly across a great distance. 
Then the tingling sensation of becoming solid matter
again and she was in another place.

It was a dark and cold place, dimly lit with one flickering
candle.  She was on a pedestal in the center of a bare room with
walls of black stone.  There was a cage of iron bars surrounding

Beyond the bars were two short ugly creatures which she recognized 
from her studies as being demons.  They were chattering in 
Demonspeak, of which Wand could understand only key words, enough 
to know that they were talking about her and their "Master".

"Demons: where am I and who is your Master?"

They giggled, high-pitched squeals of mischief, and otherwise
ignored her.

Wand had her rings, one of which could deliver a rather high-
voltage shock within a short range. She picked the green demon 
and zapped him.  He shrieked and fell down, squirming in pain.  
The other quit giggling and looked at her with more respect.

"Now then, again I ask: where are we?"

"Castle Darkstone, missy," squeaked the blue demon.  He had a 
terrifying aspect for one so small.  Wand found it difficult 
to look at him without screaming, but she controlled herself 
completely.  She knew she had to.  She knew of Castle Darkstone, 
from horror tales.

"Then your master is--" she felt her heart shrivel "--Otius, the
Old and Evil."  And yet she said it casually, nonchalantly.

"Ahaa hee, yess missy," the demon said with malice.

The other demon crawled to his feet.  "Yeah, and he'll teach you
to treat us better, he will!"  The green demon was not cute either.  
He made her feel as if life held no hope at all, a great sadness 
tried to smother her.  She wanted to cry, so instead she forced 
a smug smile.

"No, I shall teach you to show respect when I speak!"  She held
up her rings for the demons to see.  One of them made light and
Wand glowed over her entire body, illuminating the room far
brighter than the candle did.  The demons cringed and covered
their eyes.

"Now open this cage.  I wish to explore."

"Ahaa hee, no we can't, missy.  Masster must do that."

"And where is he?"

"Coming, coming.  Just as soon as he has taken the Powerstaff of
Tarro!  Hee hee!"

Wand felt fear and dismay.  She was a prisoner and helpless while 
her mother was perhaps in mortal combat with an evil and powerful 
sorcerer, one with even more experience and knowledge than 
Luminata.  Wand was not certain if she had actually gotten the 
Powerstaff into her mother's hands.

But she knew what to do: show no fear, show no dismay, be a
Sorceress--in control of herself if not the situation.  For a
moment she doubted that she could do it and then she found the
answer.  She would pretend that she was Luminata, act as her
mother would act.

"He will fail," she spoke calmly, with casual certainty, "he
cannot take the Powerstaff from Luminata within her own domain."

"Ahaa hee, Masster is very clever!" said one demon.

"Ahee haa, Masster is real bad!" said the other.

"Not clever enough, not bad enough, you shall see.  Now, bring 
me tea."

"No!" the green one said belligerently.

"Tsk tsk," Wand said as a hot shock made the demon jump again.

"Yah, okay, tea," he said backing away fast, "but just you wait
'till Masster comes."

To the other she commanded, "Fruit."

The blue one frowned, then felt an electrical tingle in the air
around him, and lost his nerve.  "Ahaa, yess yess."

Then she was alone.  A great moan of despair tried to escape her
breast but she contained it.  She must never let her act falter! 
If the demons came back to see her eyes red she would lose all
the advantage she had gained.  If she had gained any; she was 
still in a cage. 

She tried to open the cage.  If there had been a lock she would
have been out immediately, for locks are child's play to the
witch-women, but of course a sorcerer would therefore not trust 
a lock, and there was none.  The cage was one very solid 
extremely heavy piece of metal that was lifted and lowered by 
chain and pulley.  She could not move it.

Wand assessed her equipment: she had three rings, her virgin- 
white dress with the orange sash, and a perfect hairdo.  Oh, 
and the Talisman of ancient metal the Royal Family had given
her, which was pretty, but not of much use just now.

The rings were something, though.  There was the shock-ring, the
light-ring and the healing-ring.  None of them were powerful in
the scope of a Powerstaff, but they were something. They looked 
new but were ancient, made long ago by some Master Alchemist 
and passed down from sorceress to daughter for untold generations. 
Two were on her right hand and the healing ring was on her left, 
closer to her heart.  

But soon she must face one of the most dreaded and notorious
villains in all the history of Sorcery with such meager 
equipment.  She could see no hope of conquering Otius in combat.

And then, what did he want of her anyway?  Her beauty?  Her
body?  Her value for ransom?

The demons returned, bearing tea and fruit.  Wand sipped and ate,
sitting on the pedestal, feeling foolish but knowing that she 
had done well to assume command of the demons right away.  And
sustenance was a good idea since she had no idea when she might
well need her energies at maximum.

A good thing the demons had not challenged her again, fearing 
her shock-ring, not knowing that she had discharged it almost
entirely and that it would be a day before it had converted her
body heat into a full charge again.

A rumble passed over and through the castle.  The demons squeaked 
to each other and Wand caught the word for 'master' again.  She 
sipped her tea with apparent calm.

The room went white with a lightning-flash that materialized 
Otius, Lord Sorcerer of Castle Darkstone.  The demons shrieked and 
jumped, startled by so dramatic an entrance.  Wand almost spilled 
a drop of tea.

"Masster, Masster!  She is here!  Like you said!"

Wand studied a fruit, not looking up to see him.  She saw his feet 
approach, not walking like an old man.  He waited.  She
ignored him.  He waited.  

Minutes passed.  The silence was crushing.  Wand concentrated on
the fruit but she wasn't even aware of what kind it was, only of
his feet standing before her.  The pressure to say something, or
look up, was overwhelming. 

"If you wonder why you are here," he finally said in his harsh,
horrid voice, "it is because I need someone like you for a major
work of magic.  I need your help."

That so amazed her that she did look up and into his eyes.  And 
then her mind began to scream as it did when she was fourteen years 
old, falling into the twin abysses of those Old and Evil eyes.

The face was the same as in her vision.

end of chapter 8

Chapter 9: THE SUN <BR> <BR> <BR> <a href="chaps.htm">List of Chapters</a>