In an instant she was back in her own mind. She began to move in the direction that would lead her out of here which her senses were telling her she must do. After a glimpse of the city below the corridor was monotonous indeed. Nothing but the odd nearly-spent torch along the walls. Nothing even the mind of a rat(and she hated their ravenous, narrow thoughts) to feel. Her powers of precognition had previously been strong but she had studied to 'tune them down' and now could access there full potential only through a ritual of meditation and movement that took a few hours at least. She had had her own reasons for this. But even with that a a ring of precog always seemed to surround her like an early warning system in the shape of an immaterial orb. She could tell now she was approaching someone with whom she would have at leats a meaningful interaction. Friend or foe she was not sure yet.

She ran further through a maze of twisting corridors. For every one she ran through six or seven more alternatives presented themselves. Only someone with a detailed map or her abilities could navigate them. An ordinary soul could possibly wander for days here retracing a circular paths without moving a few score feet from their original path until the time they died. She had the sense that a long time ago people had died here. Coming to another branch of seven she took the one in the middle and there he was. He'd been waiting for her. He had that look in his eyes. She had no idea who he was.
A wise, gentle looking man with long flowing locks and a tight goatee. His hair was a deep red with streaks of grey. His eyes were grey-green. The deeper lines on his face(for there were a few) spoke of a profound, thoughtful soul with a gentle humour. That face now looked worn and worried. His robes seemed almost like a thing alive. Colours swirled and whirled slowly on it in time with his movements. Now orange and auburn, now red and crimson so natural and smooth the flow that it was almost imperceptible. His long, wide sleeved coat went to his ankles. It was a dark colour either blue or green or both, one could not tell. He spoke and the language was utterly alien to her ears. But she had other ways of understanding and did so immediately. Again the sensation that time was of the essence. She only wished she knew why.

Hi, Im Ann!

So you've come, oh thank the Gods he said. I thought I had failed. When I cast the spell and you did not appear I thought that the bonds cast about me were more devilishly clever than I knew. But where were you my dear? Why you've just come running around the corner. You should have appeared right in front of me.

I appeared down the corridors Ann replied. She could speak now and make him understand. About a half a kilometre in that direction, she pointed. She knew she was sweating now from all that running. Whoever this man was she could tell that he ws the key to getting her out of here, and hed better be she thought, since its him that brought me here.

So, somehow the arch-Mage can twist a spell of mine to throw it off track at least, even if he cannot stop it fully working. I had no idea. Or perhaps it is the walls of this prison underground that did it. For the place is steeped in evil of before-years. Whichever, woman I am amazed that you managed to find me, even with a power such as yours one could be lost in those tunnels for a lifetime. Nevertheless you are here and now you can help me to escape from here.
Welcome,Welcome,Welcome.
This page is the introductory one to my stories. Please scroll down and read the tale here. There are some links too to other stories. Also please,please,please sign the guestbook.
Ann Witham ran quickly down the dark corridor. The only vestiges of light here came from the dying embers of coals in torches on the dank walls. Dressed lightly in a thin cotton suit she felt the cold. Where was this place?...she didn't know. But she had enough psychic ability to cast her mind around the rooms abutting this corridor to know that she was not alone. How had she gotten here?...this she was unsure of also. Only seconds ago she had been walking through the front door of her own house for a night on the town. With one step she had gone from walking on plush carpet to this hard cobblestone floor. Running now, out of fear and the hope that it would lead her somewhere. To a way home.

Ignorant, simple minds she sensed around her. Though enough like hers for her to reach into them now and see that they were thinking of?stopping, holding back, keeping fenced in. Thinking also of alcohol that they could have soon when they were finished here. Guards. That's what they were. So were they meant to keep her out or keep her in? Perhaps they were not so simple but thinking simple thoughts?.'march back, march forth, keep an eye out'. There minds were dulled with waiting for an occurrence which was unlikely if ever to happen.

Stop running, stop running you stupid woman'. Really after all this time as a psychic and she still let her animal instincts rule her reactions. How silly and wasteful to run when she had a mind that could travels miles in the blink of an eye. She stood still and took long, slow breaths. She noticed the stale smell on the air only briefly and her minds eye travelled further and further a field. She raced up through layers of wall and rooms out on to the streets above (so she was underground). This was no glitzy beachside city she was in now. A series of hills framed the buildings around her. Behind them was a layer of mountains which appeared to be densely forested. All was dark and poorly seen however. It was obviously night here as it had been when she'd left (which was only a few minutes ago). If it was by chance the same time then it would be just after eight o clock here as well.

She scanned about her for a suitable mind to enter. Otherwise her time here would be limited as without a host she would be forced to return to her own body soon or be vulnerable there. Thinking differently now she saw not the people and the physical reality in which they walked but the kind of minds they had. Ah, yes, this one was a dreamer. They were the best kind, being both more receptive to being entered and suffered no side effects from it. Whoosh she was in. She looked around now through new eyes. It was like nothing she had ever seen before
Pleasingly wide but winding cobble stone streets moved off in every direction. The footpaths on either side were almost wonderously colourful. They would have looked almost psychedelic in daytime but with a rich, deep tone. Strong crimsons, emerald and purple tones. The exact patterns were difficult to make out now in the night for it seemed they were designed to show lines of the brightest colours. Of course! To mark path from road and protect the pedestrians. Along them ran the walls of the areas buildings, most of them graceful curves but some rectangular buildings also. She gleaned from her hosts mind that it was indeed a city it was in. Large dark blocks of a stone type unknown to her formed the walls. It was a very dark brownish black stone indeed but the walls were happily lightened by inlays of a similar type to the footpaths which also gleamed in the night. She wondered at the character of a people who favoured such deep, startling colours for their buildings. Along the walls were also torches of the types she had seen in the corridor though beside her was a doorway. From the sounds and the smeels she could tell she was standing outside a bar. Well she'd wanted a night out hadn't she. Also lights seemed to burn from behind the stained glass windows set periodically along the walls of warm yellows and honeys and gold and royal blue. So there was no electric lighting in this city then. Why was that? She wished she could explore further but a strong sense of urgency (probably formulated by one of her many psychic abilities) was warning her that she must leave that corridor she had arrived in and that she urgently needed to be elsewhere (so it wasn't just some animal instinct that had made her run like that). She could that no time could be wasted.

She knew what to do. Though it was a talent she rarely used perlatamayem (from the French 'per le autre le-meme'?literally 'through the other the self') was one she had a marvellous control of. It meant that through the one she was now hosted in she could scan far and wide for her own body where the most of her psyche rested. It imparted a knowledge to her of where her body was located in relation to this one and not only that it plotted in her mind a course from one point to the other. The series of images formed in her mind and each time she could seize on one point in that view and blow it up to size and then repeat with that view. So she could visualise the castle where she was held. ( A castle, my God, was she in Europe?). The pick one segment of that. Focus in, pick a window and focus in again. Focus on that and look into the room inside. Then down three levels and into the corridor?and there she was!
You should find a link to another story just about.....here.
ANOTHER ANN WITHAM TALE.....
p.s....this drawing is from a site called elf-town but i've included it until I can get a piece of my own up as the colours are very much as in the city that Ann finds herself in.
Though not any way as ...
Elvish looking.
It's Another_World.....
Come then, Ann said tenderly and held out her hand to him. She could trust him, she sensed that, lets get out of here. I can help us find a pathway out.

But Ann as I told you I am in bonds. That is why I brought you here. I need your help to free myself. While he spoke Ann could feel the sense of desperation building rapidly in her. Fear also. Something was coming for them. It meant them nothing but pain and hurt . And it was powerful too. Its presence neared every second, and with it was felt like tens of tiny psychic voices.

What bonds? I don't see any chain or rope holding you to that wall. There3 are no prison bars around you , c'mon, lets go.

Open your eyes he said. Moreover open your mind. It is not a psychical bond that ties me here. Ann scanned with her purest psychic beam?nothing. She couldn't see what he was talking about. Look further he said, look wider. She did so moving across a range of psychic vibrations and noises, across precognition and transference. Across telekineses, hypnosis, psychovideo and possession. All the while sensing the powerful, malnevolent force that swept downwards through castle chambers and dungeon walls towards them. With it were those tiny psychic voices. How many she couldn't count. Though she sensed them they didnt sense her yet. But soon.

Then she saw it. Abruptly it appeared as she flashed from one telepathic frequency to another. Blurry and out of focus a flash of it came from his forehead . It was her intuition (both natural and psychic) which told her. Why she should have guessed.
Magick!
Now that she knew what she was looking for she could glimpse the whole of it in a second. Tendrils of light streamed from his forehead and oozed downwards over his body. It seemed that the poor man was chained to the floor. A cunning move indeed, whoever had thought of it. For they had turned the magicians power on himself, the magickal tendrils forming a cage of light.

You are held fast it would seem.

Yes Ann. I am sorry. I had but one chance, for just one brief moment a gap appeared in the cage and I reached for you. I sensed a powerful benevolent entity and brought you here to free me, and now I have doomed not only myself but also you. For I am the most powerful sorcerer in these lands. It would take a year and a day for any to unravel my magick and free me. Even now I can here the footfalls of the dark one and his trudging minions and I have not the chance to send you back from whence you came.

She could hear them now as well but what was worse for her was their loathsome minds. Tens of them with but one intent, to kill the man before her. A slow and torturous death. An exhibiton. Amongst them she sensed one of particular power. Damn them, she wasn't done yet.

Let's just see how I do friend. Don't sing a funeral song until someone's dead, eh?

She took aim at the magickal bonds but they were too slippery for her. No sooner had she latched onto one frequency to sever than they moved into another. She felt like a strongman trying to grasp water. Given time she knew she come overpower them, but she had so little experience with magick that she couldn't find which aspect of the bonds to attack. A heavy metallic scraping sound came from just 20 feet away. Nasty, gabbering voices babbled and murmured in murderous glee. Tongues smacking their lips in anticipation. They were lifting the bolts on the door and would enter and catch her any second. Amazingly she could tell that they were all telepaths too. Ann was confident she could melt the mind of any single telepath into a puddle of grey ooze, but could she take on seventy, or eighty? When one could put a bullet or spear through her head while she fought off the other sixty nine. Perhaps, but she had a better idea.

She looked past the bonds and deep into the sorcerers mind. He resisted her, she could feel it. He recoiled instinctively at anyone plunging this deeply into his well of secrets, attempting vigorously to lock the intruder out. "Well, well, you've talents of your own Wizard" she chuckled to herself "but then you've never met anyone like me". His defences crumbled, no match at all for the fury of her intent. She had no interest in his spells and potions and incantations. She was aiming straight for the control centre. Once there, she flicked the switch.

What?...You?....How?..

The bonds fell away, the light ceased and he drew himself to his feet. Ann could smell them now to her left. She could feel them in her mind, and under her skin making it crawl "never mind how, sorcerer, get us out of here". He raised his arms commandingly summoning an orange blue glow which seemed to emanate from the centre of him. As it spread to envelope her she stole one look. What were they? Monkeys? Dwarves? It was too short a glimpse, but they howled their rage and disbelief as their target disappeared. And at the centre of them was that baleful, dark presence.
and even more here....
"Please, let me send you back now, you've done enough for us already"
 
She could see the concern on his face, and she could read the sincerity in his mind. He was genuine, but she wasn't having any of it. "Gwyddionn I told you, I'm not going back right now. I'd like to see a bit more of the place seeing as you've gone to so much trouble bringing me here". Where ever the hell here was. He'd hadn't been able to tell her that, and neither had his lovely companion, Raven.

Ann, my dear…

He was calling her dear now. Oh well, they'd just spent three hours drinking together in this tavern and gotten close quickly. Funny how easy it was to open up and share your woes over a few beverages when the conversation was with a lady most likely from another dimension. Mind you she'd been doing most of the drinking.

At least drink a little more slowly. I know you keep saying that the dareilu tastes like a fruit drink but you got the barman to mix in freatsdew and mislsdeqdew as well. Take it from a wizard that's a potent cocktail.

Hey I just told to give me the strongest he had. I  intend to have a bit of a good time. You know I was on my way out to meet some of my girlfriends before you magicked me here. However you did it. Why the hell do you think I'm dressed like this?
I had noticed, not many women in our region are attired in such a manner. I just don't want you to become too inebriated, the beverage you're consuming, it…

Packs a kick. OK, I'll slow down. As for the clothes I've got it covered. I've mindswiped the whole room to think I'm dressed like Raven. Head to toe black.
She took out her Marlboro's. Thank God I've got you with me she thought, and lit up.

Gwyddionn and Ravens eyes were like saucers.

That fire you carry Ann, it is magick, no?

Umm, no, its mechanical. You don't have anything like this here? She'd noticed some of the old men lighting their pipes from the fireplace.

Some of us do. Gwyddionn extended his right index finger and a wisp of blue flame issued form the tip of it. He grinned warmly.

That's impressive Gyddionn. But considering the current political situation here it sounds like you people need a lot more than tricks like that.  And yes, I know you're capable of a lot more than that, but Gwyddionn from what you've told me it sounds like this place is on the brink of tyranny. This 'Dark One' as you call him is a dictator straight after Stalin's own heart.

Stalin?

Never mind. Let's just say a bad guy from my world who's thankfully long dead, and even he didn't have a horde of psychic monkey men to do his bidding. Please let me stay, let me help. I've training in this kind of work. It's what I do for a living.

He stared at her, his face inscrutable now. She'd pushed into his mind one time before and she wasn't about to do it again. Psychic rape wasn't her style and he'd been deeply embarrassed by it, necessary as it may have been. How odd she'd thought him when she'd seen him originally, long black hair and beard with what seemed like highlights of crimson and blue in it. His piercing emerald eye sand golden hued skin. Now she thought it odd that she'd gotten accustomed to it, but then everything here was like that. The buildings, the streets, the drinks, the people. Dark with luminous multicolour undertones. The city and it's people had a too-muchness, an over-ripeness to her eyes. It was as if she was if she come to a technicolour land but without the Hollywood cutesiness. Dark fires burned at the heart of this land 

You battle tyrants for a living? In what way Ann?

Oh Lord, they wouldn't like this Ann thought ."I'm kind of a spy…for the government".

She could feel their fear, and the terror that they'd made a mistake. They were too stunned to just get up and leave. "No, please Gwyddionn, not like you think. Not like agents of the Dark one's. Not all governments are evil you know. Well, then again, I suppose most have a little bad in them; but I try not to be part of that. I work for an agency staffed by people like myself. Psychics and others with talents. We act to help the people and protect them. That's how I've always worked and it's not gonna change simply because I'm here. Believe me it's the people first, government second and there's no reason I shouldn't spend some time here doing what I'm good at."

Verily I believe you are an honest person Ann. This I saw and it was for such a reason that I reach out to you from my captivity in my hour of doom.

Then trust me please, and let me help.

"Yes Gwyddionn do!" Raven spoke up. " For you have seen the future time in your minds eye and you know the era of terror that will come to pass"

"He has the gift of precognition?". It was a talent Ann disliked intensely, for to see the exact future meant you gave into it in despair or acted to change it, often for the worst. Better to let the unseen hand of chance intervene where of may.

No, raven replied softly. Better than that, he has the true sorcerers ability to see across times and ideas and sentiments as they meld and melt. Our people have grown used to freedom and take it too lightly. They are ready to give in rather than oppose the creeping tyranny of the Dark One and his adVashi and his henchmen, for they think freedom is eternal and it is not worth to fight. They think they shall always be free and put to the side of their minds the way our land has changed though they know it in their hearts. We cannot even speak of these things now as it is said not be polite talk and we are called trouble. When your voice is taken from you then the end is at hand. So if these sentiments among the people, and these acts of terror by the adVashi are unchecked our open, free, joyous way of life will fade even from memory. Gwyddionn knows this for he has sensed our possible endings.

You are correct Raven, as always. Indeed Ann we need your help. I have seen that we cannot defeat the Dark One alone, but you cannot help us at all unless I tell you our lands story.
Part II
Although centuries old and seemingly a being of mystical power the dark one had once been an ordinary man. Though not of the same race as the people of this city. The legend current among the people is that he had been the second son through the second wife of a terrible imperious ruler from a land south of the lands of the Vashi. As a second son he could not inherit his father's glorious kingdom and so was destined to a life of servitude and oppression under the onerous yoke of his older half-brother. This elder sibling so the tale went was inept, unlikeable and wantonly cruel. The old crones atrributed this to his having lost his mother in childhood and having been raised to rule by such a stern father. The dark One, or Baakdar as his name had been in those days, was said in every way to be his opposite in character. Industrious, loved by all and loving of his people. His mother Abd-daale, who we are told was a wonderful person with an endlessly giving heart attempted to reach out to Baakdar's elder brother, to soften him and so to have a softer ruler for the people when the father would pass away. He rejected her kindness, indeed it only served to intensify his heartlessness and mistreatment of Baakdar. So horrific, so torturous were his cruelties that it is said Abd-daale  truly feared for her child's life. What would any mother not do, in what way would her character not change if the life of her child was in peril.

She was a different person then. A darkness overcame her. She plotted, schemed, began to hate and to wish for vengence. Her conclusion was this: the only way Baakdar could be free from the murderous intentions of a cruel king was if he was king himself. Abd-daale conceived of a plan.

This race (their name is forgotten now) were moon worshippers. Indeed their land was what would be called a theocracy, a religious state, and the king himself was said to be a direct descendent of the moon god. It was a religion taken most seriously by all its adherents (even the kings who over the eons had come to believe in their divine power) for they attributed all their good fortune to the moon god.

Thus it was that Abd-daale presented herself at the royal court and wept and keened and prostrated herself before the King and his prince. "Oh great ones" she wailed, her eyes cast to the heavens, her fingers curled in beseeching claws. "is it not a threat most grevious to our people that the young prince Abu-dar ( for that was his name, abu meaning "first progeny of" and Baak "second of" in their tongue)most beloved of all princes has never performed the ritual of endearment as all our future king's must at the age of twelve."

This ritual we are informed by the tales was one of the most sacred of their kingdom. In his twelfth year the heir to the throne must attend at the sacred temple when the moon was at her height, and accompanied only by his mother endear himself to the glowing night-time orb. Well as you can imagine a hubbub set about the room. The courtiers visibly reeled in horror. The old judges did wring their hands and bemoan this deadly oversight. The king looked grave and suddenly aged. What to do? What to do? For the child's mother was dead and could hardly be returned to life. What remedy could be found now to thwart the retribution of the moon god for this vast oversight.

"It is myself I blame" continued Abd-daale "for I have not been a mother to him. If only I had been a better woman and more perfect…but then are not all us women flawed creatures. Oh my misery, if only I had been the mother to you Abu-dar that such a perfect and lovely child deserved and had performed this sacred duty. Take my life my lord's, take my life. For I have failed you. Now on hearing this lament the courtier's perked up, the judges ceased  moaning and smiled on each other, the king regained some of his youthful vigour. They had a solution.

And so it was that that very night Abu-dar and Abd-daale stood together in the central open square of the great temple. Utterly alone as the religious law commanded. Shrouded in white robes and bathed in moon-glow. "Great moon, who giveth life and power" Abd-daale began the chant as from behind a pillar to her rear a boyish figure in black stole towards them. Light flashed from a shard of steel. "take this one now" she raised voice and arms to the heavens, her echo cast far and wide throughout the great city by the marvellous acoustics of the temple. The dark figure raised the knife in the air…but then… as he was about to strike a beam of light flashed from the moon off the blade and struck Abu-dar dead!! Indeed the citizenry witnesed the light beam enter the temple as they peered from behinds their curtain, and all remarked that such a phenomenon had never been seen before.

Hours later Abd-daale emerged weeping and once again pleading for death. She had failed she said, the moon had taken Abu-dar's life. They had waited too long past the anointed time for the ritual. Had they not seen it's anger radiate from the sky to the temple. All was now lost.

Well no, all was not lost, it was hastily decided. Was Baakdar not the king's son also? Was Abd-daale not his mother. The next night another duo was ensconced in the great temple. Same woman, different son and no errant child killing moon beams. Hey presto, Baakdar is Prince, his father the king mysteriously dies in a year (of happiness we are told) and a new era of peace, prosperity and justice prevails in the moon kingdom of the southwest.

"I take it this story is absolute nonsense."

"Not absolute nonsense Ann" Gwyddionn was amused by her dead-pan assessment "but it does entail a large degree of fabrication. Now…let me tell you what really happened."
Would you like to read some more ???? well the next 3 parts  can be found here...
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Part III
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