The Amber Orb
Strains of music wafted from the ball room of the
into the garden. Emme tapped her foot against the flagstone walk in an angry
counterpoint to the dulcet tones. With each passing moment, the realization of
another failure strengthened. Four times a prince had appeared at the palace
seeking her hand in marriage. Four times the prince had chosen one of her
younger sisters. Tonight the last prince would name her youngest as his chosen
bride. Amber Palace
With great effort Emme capped her anger. Lysanda would pay just as her other sisters had. As the oldest, she should have been the first to find a bridegroom. Envy twisted with jealousy to form a rope binding her thoughts. This prince should be here for he was the last of the eligible ones in this world called Amber suited for training as a wizard and destined to sit on the amber throne beside Emme’s.
The scent of roses, jasmine and bluet filled the air with their sweet breath. The heavy aroma pressed against her forcing Emme to gasp.
She heard light tapping of slippers on the stones and knew Lysanda approached. Her sister expected to find Prince, what was his name, waiting to declare his love. Then amber lights would radiate across the night sky announcing Emme had failed again. That would not happen.
Lysanda came into view. Her hair, a few shades darker than Emme’s pure amber tones, hung in ringlets down her back. “Where is Rendel?” she asked.
“Looking for you,” Emme said. “I sent him to the
.” Tower of Sighs
Emme stepped toward her sister. She smiled at the alarm in Lysanda’s pale blue eyes. Only Emme’s matched the blue of a summer sky. “You stole him. He was to be my prince.”
Lysanda asked. “He fell in love with me. His heart once given can never change.” She stepped closer. “Don’t think to take him from me. That is impossible.”
Emme fisted her hand on her hips. “I have no desire for a man who chose another over me. I’m sure he believes he will be able to rule you for your power is small and you can never sit on the amber throne. You have taken my last chance for love and rulership. I will take what he feels is important from you.”
Lysanda tore her gaze from Emme’s face. “What do you mean?”
“Face me, sister. Power against power or are you afraid?”
“I fear no one. I am a witch with power equal to yours.”
Emme heard a slight tremor in her sister’s voice. Knowledge filled her. She would drain Lysanda and leave her weak. Three times before she had faced a sister and won. She would win this time as well.
She drew the wind to eddy around Lysanda in wispy bands to speed and tightened them. One by one Lysanda broke the restraints. With each snap, Emme absorbed the power of the breaking.
Emme set the torches of the garden blazing. Tendrils of fire flowed toward her sister.
Lysanda gathered the flames and sent burning orbs toward Emme. “You will not win.”
Emme pulled water from the fountain. Fire and water met turning to steam shrouding the air with sizzling vapor. With slow steps Emme moved through the mist. The earth shook beneath her feet. Lysanda’s body wove in an attempt to remain standing.
Emme grasped her sister’s wrist. “Cede to me.” She drained the essence of magic from her sister’s cells.
“A curse I cry.” Lysanda’s shrill voice pierced Emme’s concentration. “Long will you search. Until you can give with forcing and demanding you will be alone.”
Those words forced Emme to release her sister. Lysanda slumped to the ground. Four times one of her sisters had shouted the same curse. Four times a sister had survived. She raised her hand and released all she’d taken from Lysanda. Brilliant flashes of light colored the night sky with all the colors possible except for amber.
She heard the sound of pounding boots. The prince stepped into view. “What have you done?”
“What I had to. Lysanda remains a witch and in a hundred years or so she will recover. You will never become a wizard. You will never rule the world called Amber.
The prince drew his sword and stalked toward her. “Why have you done this to my beloved?”
“You chose the wrong sister as those before you have done. Take her. Announce your betrothal. You can’t defeat me. You are the last to try.”
The sword slipped from his hands. Lysanda stirred. He lifted her into his arms. “My love.” He glared at Emme. “You will never find love until you love another more than you love yourself.”
Emme turned and strode from the garden. Why didn’t triumph fill her? Her life had been destroyed. There would be no chance to take her rightful place. She hurried to her tower. Why did the shimmer amber walls seem cloaked with gray? Instead of going to her room at the tower’s peak where the city spread before her, she fled to the dark basement and sat in a shadowed corner.
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