Hey, everyone! I have here the next exciting installment of Magic Binds! Now, if you haven’t read the previous parts, Part I, Part IIPart III, and Part IV, then I strongly suggest you do it now. If you have, then continue reading, and enjoy!

As always, I will start with the end of the end.

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The barrier slid open like a pair of automated sliding doors, and I crawled through and into the room. Standing up and stretching, I stared at my surroundings.

The first thing I noticed was the floor. It was made of glass, but a swirling mural was painted on top, giving you the feeling that the paintings were the only thing holding you up. The outer edges of the circular room held up the ceiling with white marble pillars, with tiny stone carvings of strange symbols that made no sense to me. There was a tiny stairway–no wider than a quarter–spiraling up around the columns. The ceiling was black, but covered with tiny silver and gold stars, decorating the inky expanse. In the center of the room was a giant stone fountain. A huge stone statue of a young boy in a wizard’s outfit and waving a wand stood proudly in the center. Water spouted from the wand, twisting into beautiful shapes before splashing down gracefully into the pool below. The wizard’s eyes were shining, and his right hand was holding a book with a faded gold cover.

I took a look at my right arm for the first time since I had stuck it in the hole. Glittering symbols, like the ones on the pillars, were written in purple ink on my pale skin. Again, I didn’t know what it meant, but now I was determined to find out. Wandering over to the pillars, I compared it to the symbols. It seemed to connect somehow, but I didn’t know how.

I whipped out a piece of paper and a pen from my pocket. I traced the symbols from the pillar and then copied down the ones drawn on my arm, right next to it. It was then that I realized what it said:

Serfosua Herak Widsea, Garonet Donsua Porsquai. Tusuo Canbij Lemank, Zarok Belonia Sarcausa.

It was in a language I didn’t recognize, but somehow I understood it (the symbols were translated to English letters as shown above). I was able to translate easily:

Proceed with caution, the guard is awake. Wisdom is needed, for Sarcausa's sake.

I didn’t understand what the words were trying to tell me, but I knew it was a start. I would always proceed with caution, but I didn’t see any other life in the room. What guard did it speak of?

I decided to examine the statue of my father. As I came closer to the fountain, I gathered the crystal clear water in a few empty bottles hanging from my army belt. I looked up at the carved face of the statue and wondered if I’d survive long enough to see him in person again.

Just then, I thought of something. If Simus properly understood what Sarcausa had said before, I had a twin brother. Where was he now?

My thoughts were cast aside as easily as a stick as I looked at the small book balancing on the pointer finger of the statue’s right hand. I was drawn to the faded gold cover, and I climbed into the fountain and up onto the arm. I reached out and picked it up. Flipping it open, I realized that I had just gained access to the most powerful spells that had ever been made.

Suddenly, I heard a rumble. Dust rained down on my head from the ceiling, and I looked up, alarmed, thinking that the cavern was about to fall on me. I was still perched on the statue’s shoulder, clutching the book. I was about to slither down and dash for the exit when something astonishing and supposedly impossible happened.

It was first the left hand, holding the wand. It lowered down to the side of the statue, and the water stopped flowing. Then the right hand. It picked me up from where I was sitting and held me up in the air. Next, the diamond eyes blinked and opened in surprise. Finally, it shuffled its purple shoes in the sparkling water. The stone statue had come to life.

The guard was indeed awake.

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Now you all must be wondering what happens next. What does the statue do to Misveri? I know you must be so mad at me for leaving a cliff hanger right here, but now read on to see what happens!

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I squirmed a little, trying to make the statue drop me, but it was like trying to move a giant rock (excuse the pun). All the while, he stared at me, confused.

“Hello?” I finally yelled. “Can you please be kind enough to put me down?!

He looked at me, startled. “Of course, of course,” he boomed in a loud, deep voice. “I’m so very sorry for disturbing you, Mistress.”

He gently let me down onto the painted glass floor. He stood up and clumsily bowed to me, then resumed observing the rest of the room.

I waited, none too patiently, for him to finish. Eventually, he looked back at me. He started, as if he only just realized I was there.

“Excuse me, Mistress, but I’d not been disturbed from my enchanted sleep in several hundred ‘ears, and the place I’d been has so many a difference; while once a dark, damp cave, to this.” He gestured to the fancy room.

I nodded. “Are you the guard of this place?” I asked.

“Aye, that I am, Mistress. I guard from trespassers, and I protect my masters and all young un’ Mistresses.”

I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by that, his speech was unfamiliar to me. I got the gist of it: he was indeed the guardian. He protected the place from trespassers and protected his masters and young mistresses.

I nodded again. “Okay, then. Could you kindly point me towards the exit that could take me back to Coton Street?”

~Author’s Reminder: Remember, Coton Street was where Misveri used to live, and where Delrany lived at that time.~

“I’ve no knowledge of that place,” the statue replied.

I bit my lip. Of course he wouldn’t; he probably hadn’t been woken up since the day he was made, which was, from the look of him, several hundred years ago. Coton Street wasn’t around back then.

I tried again. “At least, the path to safety, if you please?”

“Thataway, Mistress, to the forest.” He pointed to the middle door among three. “I must assume, from your outfit, that you took to a darker, green place filled with life.”

I looked down at my clothes a little self-consciously. He was right. I was wearing camouflage clothing from my army days, and the army belt. The color was a mix of green, beige, brown, and black, in several shades. “I guess you can tell all that,” I murmured, surprised.

He smiled. “Yes, and so I suppose you would not favor the desert path to your left or the ocean path to your right. However, I must warn you that each journey will be a perilous path, fraught with danger. Therefore, if you need me, just call out this ancient saying:

Sectara golum wekar quesid pekalas,
Foreas cuhi jerlawk yemes takaki,
Lewrque sgiohp furleih venoment
Dikaes nimaoe berwah, zids xaour."

I took that to mean:

Down by the river where the wolves howl,
Where the water dances and the cats prowl,
The guardian of the forest prays
That in the shadows, darkness stays.

I nodded and took a deep breath. “Thank you,” I told the statue as I headed towards the middle archway.

“Remember, Mistress, anytime you need me, say it. Even thinking it will summon me, if you are bound and gagged,” the giant rumbled.

I paused. “One more question,” I said, turning around. “Why do you keep calling me ‘Mistress’?”

He stared at me, then chuckled. “You must not recognize me. Why, your father was my maker, Mistress.”

I nodded again. “Thank you.” I turned again, aware of the giant’s gaze as I approached the archway.

I heard a grating sound and whirled around. The statue was moving again, but slowly, raising the wand and letting his right hand drop to the side, as I now had the spellbook. The movements became more sluggish, and finally stood motionless again. The water started pouring from the wand, first a few drops, which increased to a burst, but finally slowed to a steady flow that cascaded into the fountain below.

I took another deep breath and turned around to face the archway. It had runes around it–runes that told the story of the forest, described the lush green foliage, light-dappled mossy floor, and a cloudless blue sky. It also spoke of darkness and danger along the path, which was obvious.

I set my jaw and walked inside.

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