It’s still missing. Every hour makes it more likely that they will get it. They could recreate the experiments. My…
She took a deep breath and calmed herself.
I will find it this time.
Aliandra closed her eyes, resettling her senses. She sifted through the magical auras of the city. Swirls of color entered her mind’s eye – bright red swirls streamed up from the fireworks shop, a muted yellow rose from a reagent shop. Purple and sickly green intertwined, rising sluggishly from the Slaughtered Lamb.
All familiar auras. All in their normal place.
Aliandra concentrated further, and beads of sweat formed on her brow. She saw hidden in the fel aura a strong vein of black color.
She smiled to herself and opened her eyes. “Gotcha.”
Aliandra collected herself and walked down the winding stair beneath the Slaughtered Lamb. Before long she was in the catacombs. The warlocks had their backs to her, examining something on the table.
She slammed her staff on the cobbled floor. The warlocks turned as one at the sound, and paled. “I have come for what’s mine.”
A woman found her voice. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Aliandra’s face was devoid of emotion. Her eyes were unfocused. “And you don’t know about those six children, taken from their beds last night. While I am sure your stocks of blood are not lacking, blood of Innocents needs to be fresh, doesn’t it?”
The woman’s face hardened.
Aliandra continued, “I know what you’re doing. I am living proof of its success. But will not allow the creation of another black egg! One is enough for the world!”
Another warlock spoke. “We’ve compensated for it!”
She shook her head. “No. You haven’t. If you give me the book, I may let you live.”
“You don’t deserve that book!”
“And you believe yourselves worthy of its power?” She looked them over critically. “If you are so worthy…kill me. The book shall be yours.”
One of the warlocks made a swift gesture with his hand, sending a wave of dark energy to Aliandra. She was lost in the sea of darkness. The other warlocks chuckled and returned to their study of the book.
The black cloud hovered on the spot where Aliandra stood. She was blinded, but she was used to the sensation. She held out her hands in front of her. The fel energy in front of her began folding in on itself, shrinking rapidly.
She twirled two fingers around in a small circle, and the black cloud followed the path her fingers took. She drew back strands and ribbons of the energy, adding a spin to strengthen the new threads. She left the outermost layer of the spell intact, so the warlocks would not sense anything amiss.
Aliandra wove the strands together in her hands. When she had compacted the energy into the length of her forearm, she changed the weaving. Lines of fire appeared inside the weaving itself. She stretched out her hands to her sides, the dark weave hovering on her finger-tips.
She collected the outer layers of the dark spell and revealed herself to the coven. “I warned you.”
She slammed her hands together.
The spell she wove was released, and an inferno laced with shadows tore through the room. The warlocks didn’t even have time to scream. Aliandra waited for the book to reveal itself. In the corner, a small leather-bound book lay completely untouched by the flames. She picked it up carefully, touching as little of it as she could while still holding it. Her hand felt as if it were frozen yet burning with the dark magics the book held.
A dark whispering filled her ears, of a voice all too familiar to Aliandra. She turned and ran.
Aliandra fled the burning building and into the streets of Stormwind. A crowd blocked the way ahead, but she shoved everyone in her way aside. She was forced to hold the book with her entire hand.
She ran screaming into her house, to a small room, stripped of furniture. She threw the book into a circle of runes on the floor. As the book came to rest inside of it, the runes began to glow with a soft blue light. In the corner of the small room lay a glass bowl filled with liquid and a small pile of bandages.
Her body thoroughly exhausted, she collapsed on the floor. She lie there for a moment before realizing that the hand that had held the book still burned.
She swore and crawled over to the glass bowl on the ground, at the other side of the room. She reached it, and plunged her hand into the clear liquid inside of it. The liquid smoked as it touched her skin. Aliandra clenched her mouth closed to keep from screaming. She kept her hand submerged until the smoke subsided.
Aliandra withdrew her hand, immediately bandaging it with the cloth laying near the bowl.
As she finished, she looked towards the innocent-looking leather journal.
“You’re a sick bastard, Kel.”
She paused, then continued talking aloud. “You made them steal it. You even made me touch it.” She waved her bandaged hand at the book. “But look. You couldn’t get me! The book is mine and protected once more.”
Aliandra staggered out of the room, cradling her hand. Her voice was no more than a whisper. “I’ve beaten you.”
Aliandra collapsed soon afterwards. She dreamt…