A knock sounds at my door, shattering the thin veil of thought I had cast over myself.
“Come in,” I call, bewildered.
My mother pokes her head around the door, her ivory hair spilling over her serene face.
“Are you ready?”
I nod my head, but my smile is wan... False.
“You're worried, I can sense it.”
I don't bother denying her claim.
She breezes into my room, a streak of white light. She smells of marigolds, and crushed juniper berries.
“Rowan, every Witch must fight this battle with the Darkness. It's natural... Commonplace.”
“But why must I defeat the Darkness? Why is it my
“Because you are to be the one to lead the next generation of Witches; I've seen it happen. It will be.”
“And in order to do that I have to defeat the Darkness?”
She pauses for a moment, almost looking dubious. “How you go about this battle is entirely your decision, Rowan. But I am confident that you will defeat the Darkness. Just as I did, and just as your father did.”
I purse my lips, feeling more than a little sceptical. I've never felt particularly special; if anything I feel the opposite. Ordinary. Surely someone as plain as me doesn't have the power within themselves to defeat the Darkness? The root of all evil?
“Do you know the name of the Dark Witch I must fight?”
“I do, but...”
My mother sighs. “Her name is Tabitha.”
I whisper the name, an echo escaping my lips. Tabitha.
“Is she strong?”
“Not as strong as you, my love.”
I swallow away the large lump of dread that's forming in my throat. It festers in my stomach, soon becoming a brick of nerves writhing and contorting there. I wish I didn't have to do this.
“Come now, Rowan. It is time.”
I stand outside a set of imposing steel doors, black bolts protruding from their surface. Inside lays Tabitha -- Inside lays my fate. For a moment a pang of doubt washes over me, urging me to flee and never look back. But I couldn't disappoint my parents like that. I wouldn't.
I turn my attention back to the task at hand. The doors are heavy, and I have to use all my strength just to push them open the tiniest bit. I am sweating and out of breath by the time I finally enter the chamber, making me look flustered and a bit foolish.
Inside, a ring of blue flames burn, set on the edge of an ornately carved pentagram. I step tentatively into its boundaries, my eyes darting around for any sign of Tabitha.
I am so focused on finding my Dark opponent that I almost trip over an object placed at the centre of the circle. It's tall, taller than I am, and covered in a heavy velvet sheet.
My hands are clammy and slicked with sweat; what do I do? What if this is just a trick? A trick by Tabitha to get the upper-hand?
I scan every corner of the room, trying to find any sign that Tabitha has been here. But there is none. As far as I can tell, I am alone.
My hands are trembling as I reach for the purple curtain. The velvet is soft beneath my fingertips, calming. It falls without much provocation, revealing a gold-gilded mirror beneath.
A mirror? What use is a mirror? I examine my reflection, and am startled to see it is not me at all. Well, to be honest I'm not sure if it is me or not. The girl gazing from the mirror's depths looks like me; she has the same up-turned nose, and the same splattering of freckles on her cheeks. She has the same full lips, and the same wide-set blue eyes. But her hair is not red, like mine; rather it is a shade of the deepest black I have ever seen. There is something about her that is not mine... A Darkness.
I gasp and stagger backwards, the realisation of it all making my heart beat wildly out of pace. A hand flies to my gaping mouth, and the figure in the mirror does the same.
I extend a hand to touch the mirror, and the girl behind the glass mimics my gesture. There is a smirk on her face, almost as though she's mocking me, toying with me.
Our fingertips meet, and in that instant, a wave of foreign thoughts crash through my mind. Thoughts of greed, jealousy, arrogance... Dark thoughts. All along the fight against the Darkness was destined to be within myself... Against myself. I try to fight her off but she's insistent, persistent. Malevolence presses down all around me, making the air heavy with Darkness. I feel compelled to give in, I feel that I must give in. That I must accept the world of sin, make it my own.
The evil is seeping into my bones, my very core. I feel powerless to stop it.
And as soon as it started, the influx of thoughts cease. I raise my face to look at the mirror once more, and see myself trapped behind the glass. My old self.
I look down at my hands, shocked to see I'm now dressed in a crimson gown, upon which rests my onyx ringlets.
Rowan claws at the mirror, trying to break free of her glassy confines.
I smile, revelling in her misery.
“Tabitha!” She cries, tears making her voice hoarse. “Please...”
I ignore her. Her mind was much too weak, so ready for the taking. She barely even put up a fight.
I wave her goodbye as I cast the velvet cloth over the mirror once more, feeling all traces of kindness and humility draining from my body. The transformation is complete.
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Publication Date: 07-05-2011
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