Hey, everyone! I’m here with Magic Binds, Part III. Now, I understand that you must be extremely impatient, so here it is. Others might be extremely confused, so to clear it up, you might want to read Magic Binds, Part I, and Magic Binds, Part II. If you’ve read them already, all I can say is, enjoy!

Of course, we’ll start with the last part of the last part.

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Only then did I register that the boat was filling up with water. Fast.

I shouted in frustration, but sat down and tapped the edge of the boat. If I could make it to the shore before the boat sank, or at least close enough that I could swim to it, I might stand a chance.

It zoomed forward, the prow making a path among the now silent monsters. They watched me go past, but seemed to accept that they couldn’t eat me, and didn’t follow me. The boat soon bumped against the shoreline and I climbed out. I tapped the other side of the boat and pushed it in the direction of the rock, for anyone else who might have the misfortune to end up here. Then, I sat down on the fine black sand and struck a match against a rock. I soon found out that the sand was flammable, so I built a little rock circle around a flaming mound of sand. Wrapping my emergency jacket tighter around me, I stared across the inky expanse to the tiny rock. I put my hand to my throat, thinking how narrowly I escaped death, and why.

Then, I felt the necklace.

It was there, on my neck, the same one in that silver box I opened just before the eagle with the bomb attacked. I felt uneasy. How did it get there? I dropped it on the ground, I never wore it, and nothing else came with me to this place. Was it magical? If so, I didn’t like that it was automatically with me.

I took it off and considered throwing it into the lake, but it could be useful, so I tucked it into my army belt’s secret pocket.

I laid down by the dying embers of the fiery sand, but no matter how tired I was I couldn’t fall asleep. I lay awake for a while, thinking about Delrany, Stoob, and Simus. Hopefully they were all right.

After hours of staring up into the darkness, I finally slipped into a fretful doze.

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I was back in the clearing, and the setting was just after the bomb exploded. I knew instantly that it was a dream–I wasn’t really there.

Simus and Delrany were coughing in the gloom, and Stoob was clawing his way back down the tree. “Misveri! Stoob!” they called.

“I’m here!” Stoob called, bounding forward. “Where’s Misveri?”

Simus looked up, alarmed. “I thought she was going to help you down from the tree! She was convinced that the bomb would blow up the tree and kill you.”

Stoob puffed out his chest. “It takes more than a bomb to finish me!”

Delrany coughed. “Do you see Misveri anywhere?” She asked as the mist cleared.

Simus stood up and looked around. “The bomb must have created some kind of vacuum that takes the nearest person with them to wherever they disappear to, and uses this thick mist as a cloak to cover its disappearance.”

They searched the clearing for clues, but I could tell they couldn’t find anything. Delrany was bent over where the bomb was, Simus was using magic to discover possible clues, and Stoob was prowling through the grass, looking for things that might have been discarded, little things that could make a big difference.

“Guys, come here!” Delrany called. The others crowded around her. “Look.” She pointed to the upended table, and the empty silver box. “The necklace is gone.”

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This was the stopping point last time. Enjoy the rest! 😀

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I woke up suddenly, alarmed for some reason. I didn’t know why, but I hoped I wouldn’t have to find out.

Stamping out the remains of the dying fire, I drew my thin jacket tighter around me. Since there was no sunlight here, and no source of heat, the air was freezing.

I ran my hands on the rough surface of the wall and circled the cavern, but I couldn’t find an exit. I was beginning to panic, but I kept calm, just as Simus had taught me to do when I was in a crisis. I took a deep breath and made another round.

I kept doing that until I became exhausted. Sitting down, I clutched the necklace in my left hand from where it hung around my neck. I wondered again how Delrany, Stoob, and Simus were doing.

I fell asleep.

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I was instantly aware that I was in a dream–as a necromancer’s apprentice, I had to know the difference between dreams, magic, and real life. I was in a cave, the same cave that Simus had left just over a year ago. Most of the glowing green skulls were gone, but there were still some embedded in the rock walls, lying around in dark corners on the floor, and of course the inseparable mound of skulls where the throne sat atop its perch.

On the throne was a shadowed figure in a black cloak, with the hood up, hiding his/her face. The person had a scythe in his/her left hand, while the other held a cup of coffee. The person looked exactly like Death after he visited Starbucks.

“Oskra, report,” she said in a high, clear, cold voice. “I want to know what happened.”

I heard the harsh screeching and cawing of the eagle. The woman on the throne could obviously communicate with it.

“Oh, really? That’s good, the girl would have gotten in our way even if Simus had gone. Yet, she has the uncanny ability to get out of any situation, the brains from me and the magic from her accursed father. Oh, he will soon pay. Sarcausa, your last days are approaching faster than you think!”

More cries from the eagle.

“Oh, yes, the necklace, the one Sarcausa sent her. I’d forgotten. Where is it?”

The eagle cawed and came into the light of the dim green glow. From what I could see, it had long, tawny feathers and a curved beak. It shone with cleanliness, its blue eyes were bright, and the sharp, pointed talons gleamed.

“Well, Oskra?”

It proudly held up a majestic talon to present…nothing.

“Where is it?” she yelled, causing Oskra to jump, cawing uneasily. It rustled its wings, looking terrified (if eagles could look scared).

Oskra looked down at its empty talon and seemed to realize he lost it. Lifting its wings, it lowered the talon and bowed its head towards the woman. It cawed nervously, turned around, and took off, exiting the dark cave.

The woman jumped up from her throne and ran to the entrance to the cave. She looked up at the speck that was the flying Oskra and shook her fist at it. “Don’t come back until you find it! If the girl has it, she’s sure to live.”

The dream changed.

Delrany, Stoob, and Simus were prowling around in my room, hunting for something. Stoob was sniffing around on the floor, Delrany was searching the garbage can (?), and Simus was inspecting the mini fire-jar I kept on the shelf above the headboard on my bed.

“I don’t get it,” Simus said, turning to face the others. “How is it that we can’t find even a single strand of hair to track her with?”

“I don’t know,” Delrany murmured, biting her lip.

“Is there anything else we could do to at least get in contact with her?” Stoob meowed.

“There is one thing,” Simus replied, clearly worried. “But it is a dark and dangerous path.”

“Let me guess,” Delrany interrupted. “We have to go to the dream castle.”

Simus’s head shot up. “How did you know that?”

Delrany shrugged. “I don’t know. Misveri might have mentioned it sometime.”

Simus looked at her suspiciously. “Anyway,” he continued, “that is correct. The only remaining way to contact her is through her dreams, and to do that we have to go to the dream castle.”

“When do we leave?” Stoob meowed.

“Why, as soon as possible, of course!” Delrany cried, looking down at him. “Misveri could be lost or in trouble.”

“I agree that we have to hurry,” Simus said, “but we musn’t be hasty. That’s a sure way to get killed, and it’s not going to help Misveri.”

“But–” Delrany protested, but seemed to see the logic behind the plan. “Okay. I’ll go get the supplies and provisions. Stoob, come help me.” She exited the room, closely followed by Stoob.

Simus watched them go, then spun around to examine the fire-jar. “This looks like Sarcausa’s style,” he muttered. “But how could she get ahold of one of those?”

He bent over to scrutinize it a little more. “Unless she made it herself,” he guessed. “In which case it’s very similar to his design. The question is, how?”

He picked up the jar. As he touched it, the flame went out. Pocketing it in one of the pouches inside his black coat, he turned to leave, still puzzling over the matter. “There’s no way she could make it so similarly, unless–”

He stopped. “She was raised in an orphanage before the Warlords, then shipped off to the teenage army. The only records of her existing family that went missing was burned in an anonymous magical fire. Sarcausa has often spoke of his lost children, twins, a boy and a girl. Both would be about Misveri’s age by now. I see it. There’s no other explanation except–” He snapped his fingers as he found the answer.

“My brother Sarcausa is Misveri’s father.”

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I jolted awake, the knowledge of what I had dreamed whirling in my mind. The eagle that attacked worked for someone bad who lived in Simus’s old cavern. She wanted the necklace, and sent her eagle to get it. She could talk to the eagle. I had a father who was a magician, named Sarcausa. He gave me the necklace. It guaranteed that I would survive.

My heart soared. I had a chance! I could survive, I could find a way out, I could see my friends again.

I thought about the other dream. My friends were going to go to the dream castle and attempt to contact me through my dreams. The fire-jar I had made resembled my father’s style. Again, the knowledge that Sarcausa was my father. I had a twin brother. And the most shocking of all: Simus was my uncle.

I thought back to the first dream. There was something that the woman in the cloak had said that unsettled me, something that jolted everything off-course, like a puzzle piece that didn’t fit. She said I had inherited her brains, but I didn’t have any surviving family members, or I would have been left to them instead of that horrible orphanage where I grew up. No, I had none left, especially no females.

Then it hit me, the most horrible truth of all. I doubled over, gasping, almost falling into the water and becoming prey for the terrible creatures waiting below for me to lose my balance. I heard a ringing in my ears, and my mouth had gone dry. I couldn’t believe it, but it finally fit.

The evil woman in the cloak was my mother.

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