Hearts of stone, breaking slowly
They hear the magic, the magic of this new world
Hearts of stone becoming flesh,
My heart hears the song of a world,
A world so full of peace it breaks my heart
I want to leave the bonds of this dreary world,
To travel to a place filled with magic.
I hear the song of Heaven calling me.
The only problem is that these days, people don’t see magic as heaven, they see it as something evil. But how can magic be evil if it is used only to help? I suppose that people are just afraid to have a repeat of what happened a little over a decade ago. There was an evil magician, Toriban, who used his gift only to harm. He used the worst forms of blood magic, and killed well over a quarter of the population when he died. Apparently he had keyed his followers to die with him. Literally. They died the same awful death that he did... But, I digress. Ever since that time, magic has been outlawed. If you are caught practicing magic, even a simple house-blessing, you are put on trial for your life. Which won’t be very long, if you’re caught. The trial is more to set an example than to actually provide justice. A pity. But some folk still practice their gift. Once a month, they slip away, singly or in small groups, and meet in a place called Mother’s Heart. Mother’s Heart is a large grotto, and its legend is that the Mother Goddess once left her mortal heart there. It is said that the remnants of her heart protect the grotto. But enough history. These mages, as I said come together once a month, on the night of the full moon, and trade stories of near escapes; share new spells; and other such things. Then, at midnight, they all band together to cast the spell that, for another month, keeps them hidden from the magic-sniffers. But this night was different. This night we had a spy in our midst. We all knew who it was, and we knew that we could do nothing to harm her. So we changed our plans a bit. We went to the home of one of our friends. It was a large house with plenty of room for the 15 of us. Well, sixteen, counting the spy. We all sat in a circle and started gossiping, about our husbands, our children, even each other. We traded recipes. We did everything that we could think of that would fill the time and put the spy off our scent. It worked. That time. A few months later, there was another spy. We did the same thing, only meeting in a different house. A smaller one this time. We complained jovially about the limited space. Then we gossiped and chatted, traded recipes, and whatever else. Again it worked. So we became careless. We thought, we will know an outsider. We never considered that one of our own could turn traitor. But that is what happened. She had been caught blessing a sick child, and in return for a reduced sentence, she agreed to spy on us. We were all arrested and thrown into prison. All 14 of us. The next night there were 13. Then 12. Then 11. Now there is only me. I hear them coming. They come for me! Oh, Goddess, give me strength! They come! Aiee, I must not disgrace myself! Goddess, help me! Help—