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The Sorceress' Apprentice
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2012 Elizabeth Jewell
The spell hadn't seemed that difficult when Lissa had read through it, gathering the ingredients and making sure she could channel all the right levels of power through the initial construct. She must have done something wrong, though, Lissa reflected, because it definitely wasn't working right.
She'd found the spell in one of the books Prill had told her never to touch. Prill was overly cautious, though. Everyone knew that. Even a good number of the other High Art sorceresses said so, most often when they thought the Low Art apprentices weren't listening. But, Low Art or not, Lissa was always listening.
She'd threaded everything together right -- she was certain of it. But it wasn't doing what it was supposed to be doing, because the woman who had just accosted her, making quick finger signals that they should withdraw to a private room, was not Prill.
"I'm sorry," Lissa said, trying to be polite. The girl was lovely, and Lissa had seen her before, though she wasn't sure of the other girl's name. Her honey-blonde hair fell in extravagant waves over the equally extravagant curves of her bosom. There was a time when Lissa would have buried her face in the heat of that bosom and loved every second of it. Today was not that day.
"Sorry?" the other girl said. Her blue eyes were half obscured by eyelids weighted with lust. "Sorry for what?" She stroked Lissa's breast, her palm sliding over the vague bulge of an erect nipple.
"Sorry, but I'm busy." Lissa made her voice firm. "I can't go anywhere with you right now."
The girl glanced around them. The hallway was mostly empty, students in their classrooms, or gone back to their rooms for the afternoon. Lissa had chosen this time and this place to transport the spell's construct for a reason. Things weren't going as planned, though. The spell should have stayed dormant while she carried it to Prill's office, where she'd intended to add the last fillip and set the chain moving. But it was doing something else. Something she hadn't told it to do.
As an apprentice, she was supposed to limit herself to Low Art spells and constructs. She'd known the book Prill had told her not to touch was High Art -- supposedly far beyond her meager skills. But it just hadn't looked that hard.
The blonde girl was still preening there in front of her, caressing her own breasts. "You're not busy," she told Lissa. "We can take a little time, go over there, maybe..." She tipped her head, indicating a nearby classroom, empty at this time of the day.
"No," said Lissa. "I really can't. I have to be somewhere."
"Ah," said the girl. "That's a shame."
"Yes, it really is," said Lissa.
The girl didn't move. Behind her, in a hallway that should have been deserted, three more girls had appeared, and four more behind them, and suddenly she knew exactly what had gone wrong with the spell.
"Oh, God," she said, because she could think of little else to say. "Oh, God, oh God oh God..."
They were all swarming down the hallway toward her now, faces nearly blank with what she now recognized as the effects of the spell. Blank with lust.
That was really, really not good.
She turned to run, but there was nowhere to retreat to. She was trapped at the end of a corridor, nothing between her and the descending mob but the trembling construct of the spell. She could feel its instability now, the sense she'd done something wrong. She still didn't know what that was, but she knew now what its results were.
The spell had been intended to draw Prill to her. Instead, it appeared it had drawn in everyone in the immediate vicinity who possessed a pulse.
She had nowhere to go. No escape. All she could do was reevaluate the spell construct as best she could while her heart pounded frantically in the back of her throat.
The construct held no answer. It just hummed, warm and red, doing exactly what she'd told it to do.
If only she knew what that was.
The humming rose to a higher pitch. The line of girls, all students here learning the same things Lissa was but obviously not stupid enough to meddle with High Art books, fell upon her.
She had no defense. The spell construct wavered, then rose humming above the sea of apprentices as they mobbed Lissa. Hands found her, caressed her, grabbed at her. Every one of them seemed to want to possess her. Above her, the humming of the construct sounded like laughter.
They bore her down to the floor, questing, demanding hands everywhere. A girl's warm mouth latched to hers, tongue exploring, then was pulled back as another girl demanded the same privilege. Another pair of hands stroked up her thighs, cupped the heat between her legs.
It was too much. This wasn't supposed to have happened. She tried to call for help, but all she could muster was a faded squeak.
Then there was a sudden, shuddering roar, like a clap of thunder. All around her, apprentices fell to the floor in unconscious heaps.
A moment later, so did Lissa.
* * *
Prill stared down at the rows of girls piled in heaps on the floor of the hallway. At least it seemed that way. In truth there were perhaps a dozen sorceresses-in-training unconscious on the floor, but from her perspective it looked almost like a battlefield after significant bloodshed.
She planted her hands on her hips, teetering between anger and dismay. Lissa had done this. Lissa was Prill's apprentice, and her actions were Prill's responsibility. And this had been High Art -- Lissa had no business meddling with such things.
Chewing the back of her lip, Prill moved toward the unconscious girls. They'd be fine -- a vague, hangover-like headache and upset stomach would be all that remained of the misadventure. But she had to be careful about reviving them. A clear memory of the spell and what it had done to them could lead to future complications. The aftereffects had to be cleared.
That was the problem with High Art. It had aftereffects, side effects, consequences. Lissa was in no way equipped to deal with those aspects of the work.
Which was why she, as an apprentice, should have had nothing to do with it. What the hell had she been thinking?
Prill knelt on the stone floor in the corridor, touching the girls' foreheads one at a time. They blinked awake, bleary, then pushed to their feet and returned to the area of the school where they'd been before the spell had taken hold. They would move in a fog, then return to full consciousness once they'd returned to their original locations. They wouldn't remember the spell.
Except Lissa. Lissa would remember. Lissa had to remember.