I help him up and walk him into his study. He is paper-thin, light like a bird, a wisp of the force I remember from my youth. I can feel the fire burning through him, my second sight, even shielded cannot block the visions of his power. I help him to his workbench, a central seat of his gift. It was only as we drew close could I sense it.
The bracelet. It shimmered in darkness the way his power glowed brightly. A cool black metal that flickered like glass, lit from within with a sinister madness. This was my last time to say no.
He sits, his palsy stops when he picks it up. His eyes harden like flint and his unspoken gaze beckons me to sit across from him. The light from the power within him dims. “Once you put this on, you will enter our Order. There is no release, no resistance, no rest from Ouroboros; her power is complete and unending. Do you understand?”
Of course I did. This was what I trained for this last fifteen years. This decision marks my journey to true power.
“I know that look, boy. You think, you are getting what you want. Do you think I don’t know what you’re feeling? I sat there once.”
“Master, I am just eager to begin our work.”
“Don’t be in such a rush to go out and subjugate the world.”
“Spare me. Your lust for power was the reason you were chosen. Ouroboros requires strong passion, better to harness your gift.”
“Harness my gift?”
“Give me your hand, child. This is not a toy, nor just a tool. It is a weapon coupled with your intent. Fail to harness your intent and it will kill you.”
He rubs the bracelet and taps it on his stone workbench. He taps it again. And again. The flat sound echoes across my senses, first a ripple, then a tide. Then a crack appears in the surface of the stone. Ironwood, once living, now a metallic stone, one of the hardest natural substances, cracks, splinters to dust, with a sound like the world ending.He grabs my hand and his grip was as strong as it was weak a moment earlier. The bracelet had expanded slips easily over my hand.
Then all I could feel was the power. All that I thought I knew about power was now erased. My inner energy was as a candle compared to this burning sun. He was right. I had no idea. The things I would do.The metal burned my flesh as it began to close tightly on my wrist. As my power grows darker, I could suddenly see his. It was always there, you would only see his power for a second whenever he would pass before a window curtain and the light hit his aura just right. Now it was alive, visible and its energy flies toward me.
“Yes, you can feel the power of Ouroboros and you think, I can do anything. And you are right. But with light, comes the darkness. Ouroboros is between all things, so I now give unto you the other side of power: responsibility. The chains that binds this power to your very soul. Each time you partake of her power, you are dying. You will do great things. But whenever you reach beyond what is yours, and ask her for power, your sacrifice will be your time left to live. And you have much to do.” The black shadow falls on my bracelet and its light was diminished, flecked with shadows, nuances and shades of grey. My vision returned to normal. His grip loosened and he fell back into his chair, boneless and still. I leaped over the remnants of his work desk, its power drained into me.
He looked at me, then down to the bracelet. He smiled fiercely. “Chained you again. He’s a strong one. Your scourge will be contained, for a time.” He lifted his head, his eyes rheumy with age. “I’m sorry, Kal.” His whisper barely reached me.
He died slumping forward into my arms.
“He was a bitter, old man. We will do great things, you and I.”
I could feel her coiled around my heart. Squeezing and settling down like a snake. Making my power her own.
All that light. The radiance that dwarfs my own. It is the life forces of mages she’d claimed before me. I am insignificant to her. She thinks to use me up. I am no more than food to her. I may never be able to be free of her, but I certainly don’t have to give her what she wants. She will earn every meal.
“They all said that. All fell before me. Ambition is a hard taskmaster.” She paused to let me think on that. Then she continued. “We have time; there is no rush to get back to taking your world for my own. Let us get to know one other.”
We conspired deep into the night.
Ouroboros Rising © Thaddeus Howze 2012, All Rights Reserved