Sorcerer LaCroiux’s eyes were fixated upon me. How much had he seen? Did he know that my brother had escaped? Did he know Rainer had the emerald? All these thoughts raced through my mind. My head was swimming, my stomach flipped with fear. I quickly got my answer.
The elder elven sorcerer lashed out. He lifted me into the air. I floated above the ground as the wind carried me toward my master. LaCroiux briskly guided me to the edge of the forest and then released his grip on me. I crashed, landing hard on my side. My elbow lodged into my ribs knocking the wind from my lungs. I gasped for air as LaCroiux picked me up by my neck with his bony fingers sticking into my fur. He still hadn’t spoken to me.
Our eyes meet for a brief moment. It frightened me to see into his devilish soul from such a close distance. I struggled to speak causing LaCroiux’s head to tilt in an odd fashion. A smug grin invaded his old slightly wrinkled skin.
“Speak up, Ethan.” Then he released his grip and I fell back to the ground. “Where is the emerald you ignorant fool?”
“It is gone.” I braced for an attack, but he didn’t strike.
“My brother stole it from me and then vanished into some kind of spinning portal. I chased after him, but it disappeared before I could follow.”
Sorcerer LaCroiux stared at the broken door in the distance where he must have witnessed my brother’s disappearance.
“You have failed me, Ethan. You’re father was right. You are a disappointment.”
My body trembled. I couldn’t bring myself to look at my master. All the strength and power I had felt just a few short moments ago was now gone. I was left cowering like a small child.
“You will have to pay for your failure, Ethan.” The powerful sorcerer didn’t hesitate.
He tossed a bright blue fireball at me. It engulfed me. At first it actually felt cool around my body, but at the snap of his fingers the color changed to a scorching white and the intense heat ripped through my body. I could smell my skin burning. The pain was excruciating. I screamed for him to stop, but he continued. My fur began to burst into flames and crumble from my body. The skin underneath was covered in heat blisters, which began to burst and then boil under the tremendous heat directly on my skin. Sorcerer LaCroiux was cooking me alive. My skin began to peel and stretch revealing a scaly layer underneath. I couldn’t take much more. I wished for death, but then the pain stopped. My vision began to blur and fade to black. I collapsed to the ground and passed out.
When I awoke, we were no longer in Wolverine Forest. LaCroiux had taken us back to
Cadieux Castle. He had let me live. I found myself on the stone cold floor of my
father’s bedroom. I was alone. I struggled to my feet and stumbled into a wooden
chair, barely catching myself before I fell to the floor. I pulled myself along the
wall to the bed. My chest felt tight and my side hurt. I began to cry when I saw
the skin on my arms. There was no longer any fur. It was completely gone. My skin
was scaly and had a brownish-
“NO!” I screamed. I now resembled some hideously deformed creature, a cross between a snake and an elf. My eyes were deep red and bulging from the sides of my head, with two large fangs and a forked tongue.
LaCroiux had exacted his punishment for me losing the emerald of power. I would forever remember my failure.
I sat alone in my father’s room. The sun had risen and begun to set again, when the door creaked open and three elven warriors entered with swords drawn. They stepped to the side as Sorcerer LaCroiux swooped in with a gleeful smile and joyous tone in his voice as though he had never been mad at me.
“Ethan! You are going to miss the celebration!” His demeanor was a far cry from our last encounter. His appearance had changed drastically too, as he now wore royal robes; a long white robe with gold and purple designs along one side and a metal staff with an empty place in the top which looked like it was made to hold something specific. “Come Ethan, we are requested at this celebration!”
I followed LaCroiux to the upper most part of the castle that overlooked the village. Gathered below was the entire population of Cadieux. I stood quietly beside my master as we waited patiently, but I dared not ask why. I was afraid to even look in his direction, so I just stared at the ground allowing me to notice that even my feet had changed. They now looked like lizard claws of the same color as my skin. One tear streamed down my scaly cheek.
Music began to blare. The crowd began to make noise, some cheered, some gasped and other cried as I did.
Then Cragon Cadieux walked from the opening out onto the balcony joining LaCroiux and me. He was wearing the king’s robes. Long, thick black material with the royal colors woven in all around the edges…purple and gold just like LaCroiux’s. Cragon wore a smile that beamed from ear to ear. He had won. The plot against his own brother had materialized almost exactly the way he and my master had planned…except for the emerald, for which I paid dearly.
Grace Tallon emerged behind Cragon. She looked distraught as she carried the young elven princess in her arms. Her uncle turned and removed Princess Merran from her care giver’s unwilling release. Grace was quickly pulled back and escorted away. The crowd erupted in a chaotic array of yelling, with some cheering mixed in. Then the moment every inhabitant of Mistasia would regret took place. Sorcerer LaCroiux carefully placed the crown of King Steven on the top of his brother’s head. At that instant, King Cragon Cadieux emerged victorious before all of Mistasia.