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Kasmir's Dream MAG
The silken-garbed woman climbed the stairs, and the cloaked man followed. They were an odd couple - she, frivolously dressed and moving like a child playing at a game; and he, dark and brooding in his enigmatic ways and indiscernible expressions - but if either of them noticed, they didn't seem to care.
"I tell you, Mariah, this is foolishness. I never knew you had a brother; certainly I didn't imprison him in this castle."
"Nonsense, my lord. You banished Steven to the North Tower several years ago. The two of us grew up here, and I believe you found a certain irony in that." Mariah's voice was insistent, almost petulant, with an accompanying edge indicative of an adolescent secret. She was only seventeen, Kasmir reminded himself again, though she looked several years older. When this little matter was taken care of, she would be a fine wife for a wizard of his caliber. If not for her physical charms, though, he wouldn't tolerate this insolence, this obsession with a supposed sibling. He could simply, with a gesture and a word of power, wipe all thoughts of the issue out of her pretty little head ... but he preferred his women untainted by magic.
"Perhaps, my lord," the Princess purred playfully as she ascended the stairs, "you will better recall the incident if I tell you something of my brother. He's a tall man, more than ten years older than I, with the same fair hair and complexion. Blue eyes. Quite handsome, of course. He is a Prince, and he resembles our father. You knew my father, didn't you?" Mariah regarded him inquisitively.
"Not well, I'm afraid."
"No, not well," she agreed soberly. "No one knew him well." She was silent until, at last, she came to the top of the stairs, which ended at a locked iron door. She drew a small brass key from the folds of her translucent gown and clicked the lock open. The wizard Kasmir didn't even bother asking why she had the key, when presumably he was the one who'd imprisoned her brother.
The door swung open, and when Kasmir stooped to follow Mariah into the tower, he entered a dusty, dank room cluttered with ancient toys and children's playthings. There was no sign of anyone, much less "Prince Steven."
The Princess wasn't dismayed, however. She merely turned to look at her suitor with triumph.
"Well?" Kasmir asked. "I thought you said your brother was here."
"He is, my lord, he is." With odd good cheer, Mariah swept to the wizard and embraced him, knocking the hood of his cloak off. She looked up at him, into his eyes, and fell back, aghast.
"Princess? What's wrong?"
"Your eyes, they're brown." Mariah whispered flatly.
Kasmir readjusted his cloak. "Well, yes, they are."
The Princess fell to her knees as if toppled by a great blow. A soft, low sound filled the echoing chamber, and Kasmir's heart was strangely torn to realize she was weeping.
"You were right," she cried, "All along, you were right. I have no brother. It's all just some cruel joke, a dreadful nightmare!"
But Kasmir gave no sign of having heard her words, for her position on the floor,bent over, weeping, and unconsciously clutching a tattered stuffed animal, brought to mind memories he didn't think he'd ever had.
In the flashback he saw himself as a youth, angry at the world, his life, and, more immediately, a much younger blond girl; she'd annoyed him when he was working on a new spell with which to impress his master, and he'd torn the arm off of her most beloved teddy bear. The thought of such cruelty brought tears to his eyes, blue eyes that had been changed to brown by a miscast spell. He had maimed the toy in this very room.
The wizard Kasmir, born to the less arcane name of Steven, fell to his knees and wept beside his sister, even as his memory flooded back to him. n