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Mirror! Mirror! (Sara Blake's Picture Challenge)

By: Mistress of Word Play

Page 1, This action packed story of fantasy and adventure is sure to please all.

Aine heard the crashing sound and felt the vibrations as she slept in her large four poster bed beneath her star embroidered coverlet. Startled and bleary eyed she sat upright in her bed fighting back her long red hair as she rose. Instinctively the maiden’s hand reached deep inside her skirt’s side pocket and she withdrew a golden dagger encrusted with precious gems. Mortar, dust, and small pieces of rock fell briefly from her bedroom’s high vaulted ceiling. A cry went up outside her bedroom door. She could hear the scuffling of the guards as they ran to see what had caused the sound.
“Draco!” excited cries rang out, “Draco is back!”
Aine sighed and replaced the blade. She would have to speak to Draco about his landings. Her feet as they touched the cold marble floors pulled back instinctively for a moment. She longed to climb back into her nice warm bed and fall back to sleep, but duty called. Having finally found the courage to brave the icy floor, Aine made her way to the mirror which had been left in Aine’s care by her parents. She cringed as she approached the ghastly thing. Aine knew well the stories and legends surrounding the looking glass. The filigree gold frame caught the first rays of the morning sun as she approached it. Unlike most mirrors this particular one was enchanted and the glass was always dark. Light never seemed to illuminate the glass or radiate out of the glass. The thing gave Aine a rather unhealthy feeling each time she neared it.
“Like it or not,” Aine said to herself, “I must make sure it is intact.”
She walked as close as she deemed necessary to inspect the mirror’s glass to make sure it had not been damaged by Draco’s rather rough landing on the roof. She could not see any imperfections or cracks in the thing so Aine proceeded to find her shoes. Dark things swirled and churned just below the glass’s surface and out of habit as she had always done even as a child Aine shivered with revulsion as she watched the mirror images change. Aine’s room shook slightly one again and more dust and debris came settling down to her bedroom floor; then Aine heard a loud belching sound and finally silence. As she left her room Aine did not see the small splinter of glass lying on the floor.
Aine threaded her way down the castle’s endless corridors and finally made her way to the roof. There covering the better part of the main castle’s quarters lay Draco in all his glory. Draco’s eyes were closed and Aine could hear his steady breathing. From time to time a small burst of blue smoke would escape from his nostrils. Aine walked over to her lifelong friend and stroked him gently behind his large pointed ears. A sigh came from deep inside the sleeping dragon that Aine had learned to love and respect over the years. She adored the feel of his scales and the dragon’s silly moods. Although deadly in his pursuit of the dark creatures which roamed the land around her kingdom, he was as meek and gentle as a kitten to those he served.
“Sleep well my dear friend,” she whispered close to his ear, “I hope you found and killed them all.”
The dragon responded by rolling over on his side and belching loudly once again. Aine still feeling tired and exhausted decided she too would nap a little longer. She had not slept well the last few nights. Nightmares had eaten away the sweet dreams Aine was accustomed to and it had worn her down.
“They attack!” a cry came from the north watch tower, “The dark ones approach!”
Aine looked toward the northern perimeter and a small band of the hideous ape like beings were trying to breach the distance between the woods and castle walls. Aine sighed and made her way back to the slumbering dragon.
“Draco, wake up,” Aine whispered in his ear, “I need your help.”
One of the dragon’s eyes opened halfway. Aine could hear a gurgling sound coming from the giant lizard’s stomach as it gravitated to a squatting position just in front of her.
“Now what pray tell seems to be the problem?” Draco asked tapping the roof with one of his huge clawed feet, “I dispatched a large group of those trolls early this morning. Are there a few I might have missed?”
“Yes dear friend,” Aine answered excitedly, “They are attacking the north wall as we speak.”
The sound of metal hitting metal and cries of anguish and men dying resounded in the morning air. Draco still acting as if it were a huge imposition, having had his sleep interrupted so callously poked his head over the castle wall. A blue flame soon appeared and then there were cheers of victory from the palace guards. The stench of burnt flesh assaulted Aine’s delicate nostrils and she wrinkled her nose in disgust.
“Thank you Draco,” Aine said to the dragon, “Sleep well. I am off to my bed as well.”
Draco had already settled himself in his sleep position and was well on his way to dreamland. Aine made her way back to her bedroom. Thinking it wise to check the mirror one last time she crossed her room and this time stood directly in front of the glass. Her eyes skimmed over the mirror’s surface looking for any ruptures or cracks. Once satisfied nothing was amiss she removed her shoes and fell fast asleep.
Nightmares came with sleep and Aine was a young girl again of ten. Aine’s mother had finally revealed to her the mirror’s deep dark secrets.
“You see,” Aine’s mother had said rather secretively, “The Mirror of Spirits is a doorway to another place far from here. It is a very dark and evil land.”
Aine’s eyes sparkled as she asked, “So they are trapped inside the mirror and they can’t get out?”
“No child,” her mother had answered, “As long as the mirror is never broken nothing bad can befall us. If the glass is ever damaged in any way I shudder to think what might happen.”
Then her dreams took her to classes with Maeve the sorceress and how Aine had learned to cast spells. There had been many mishaps and disasters, but she diligently and rapidly absorbed the knowledge Maeve imparted. After many months Aine was given the golden dagger as a means to protect herself against the Trolls which tried to recapture the Mirror of Spirits. The Trolls believed they would be rewarded handsomely if they loosed the spirits and allowed their evil to reign freely. The dagger served a second purpose it was all that could repair any injury the Mirror of Spirits might suffer. For her final lesson Maeve taught the incantation to her young pupil.
The pleasantness of her dreams shifted once again and now the Mirror of Spirits was cracked and horrible vine like things ensnared Aine. From the mirror’s core dark things flew forth to reap havoc on the kingdom of man. Helpless caught in midair Aine was forced to watch as an end came to all she had sworn to protect and uphold.
Aine awoke with a scream trying to press its way past her cold pale lips. Her gown was drenched and her body ached. Draco had turned over in his sleep once again and more mortar and tiny pieces of rock cascaded down on Aine’s head. In a panic she raced to view the mirror.
At first all seemed well and fine with the mirror, but as Aine looked closer she saw the glass was starting to break off in small pieces. Before she had time to think a tendril of vine wound its way down and grasped her hand firmly. Suspended in midair Anine tried to free herself. Aine fought desperately with the hideous plant but to no avail. Dark spectral misty figures began their emergence from the mirror’s core. On impulse the young guardian reached into her skirt pocket and withdrew the golden dagger. First she cut the vine and freed herself from its deadly grasp.
Taking a long deep breathe Aine stood in front of the mirror holding the dagger and she recited the spell, “From the darkness you cannot pass, I command the spirits back to the glass. Bind this mirror and make it whole, remove the evil and protect my soul.”
As she chanted the incantation shards of glass flew back into the area of the mirror from where they had fallen. Aine watched as the spirits were pulled back into the mirror and soon all was set right.
That evening Aine’s parents returned from their trip. They were amazed that all had gone well in their absence. Aine was asleep in her bedroom. What her parents found odd was the fact that the entire upper half of the Mirror of Spirits was padded with what looked like pillows.
“She did well while we were gone,” Aine’s mother whispered to her husband, “See no need for us to have been concerned.”
“Yes dear,” he replied, “but be sure and ask her about those pillows in the morning.”

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