Dark Magic

Submitted into Contest #179 in response to: End your story with a kiss at midnight.... view prompt


Fiction Sad Horror

This story contains sensitive content

TW: Violence, themes of mental health, suicide.

I…I think I’m confused.

               But no. They had my Annabel, and I had to get her back. The forces of the Dark Lord had driven us from our estate, necessitating our stay at the Northwoods Inn. I was in the midst of plotting our counter-attack when they struck at my very heart: my dearest Annabel. As we sat to our evening meal, Annabel began to eat as I waited and railed against the Dark Legions, as was my custom. 

               No sooner had the first bite crossed her dear ruby lips than she cried out in pain, clutching her head. As I rose to comfort her, she fell, writhing from her chair. I tried all of the soothing spells I could recount, but none availed.  She became still, and I instantly recognized the signs of the Dark Lord’s poisons. There was time yet to save her, though it would require the deep magic, in which I was very much out of practice. 

               Though it grieved me bitterly to leave the side of my beloved, I scoured our bedchamber. After a moment of searching, I found what I sought: my old black and gnarled wand, given me by my master many years ago. It felt strangely heavy in my hands.

Was it loaded?

               As I pondered this, I heard a banging on the door to our rooms. I knew it must be the servants of the Dark One, and I was too old and unprepared to fend them off. Besides, the spell had to be performed at the stroke of midnight precisely to cure my dear Annabel, and I knew even in my best days I could not hold them that long. 

               Thinking quickly, I availed myself of the only escape left open to me, the bedchamber windows. I crawled through as best I could and crept around the Inn to hide in the shrubs opposite the entrance. Sure enough, there were two carriages baring the insignia of the Dark Lord waiting outside the Inn. More carriages arrived, and I waited still. Finally, I saw those cursed ones taking my Annabel to their carriage. They had spread a cloth to hide her from view, but I knew the curves of her body under that sheet as well as I knew my own name. 

But wait, what was my own name? 

It took all the strength of will I possessed to restrain myself from launching from the shrubs in a surprise attack, but I knew I would perish, and would not be able to save Anna when the time came. So, I restrained myself, and waited. Slowly, the forces of the Dark One departed, and I had no need to follow them. I knew where they would take her. And I knew it would be trap, as they must have realized I escaped their attempted assassination. Yet, I would go anyway, to Morganth, the prison of the damned. 

               The prison was not far, and it was two hours yet until midnight, so I walked, creeping along the paths, dodging the…


…or…no… the torches, to avoid meeting any servants of the Dark One.  Finally, I reached the prison, and by my estimation I had forty-five minutes until midnight. Depending on how heavily the prison was guarded, I figured I might need every one of those minutes to find my Annabel and prepare the spell. I stood across the road from the prison, bowed my head, and prayed to the Old Gods for strength. I knew the power of the Dark One’s magic and knew that I could not allow his minions to speak, for fear of falling under one of their spells. I would have to act quickly. Decisively. I drew my …wand… and made for the door. 

               To my great surprise, the door was unlocked. I stepped inside, and immediately saw a sentry, who appeared surprised at my sudden entrance. Before he could speak, I raised my wand to cast a stunning spell. I…



…cast my spell, and with an explosive boom, the sentry dropped to the floor. My hope for stealth was gone, but miraculously, the prison seemed lightly guarded: I saw no one but the stunned sentry. Having never been inside such a prison, I knew not where the cells would be. I hurried down the central corridor and checked each chamber. I saw rooms that appeared to be offices for the guards, and a strange room that looked to be a torture chamber. I shuddered, thinking what might befall my Anna should I fail.

               Finally, I came to the final chamber and knew that I had found what I sought. The far wall was lined with the steel doors of the inhumanely tiny cells, in which each prisoner would be kept. As I strode towards the cell doors, I heard the voice of an enemy behind me, startling me.

“Mr. Lee, please, drop the gun. We can help you, but you can’t—”

I instantly felt the effects of this strange spell, as a paralyzing fear crept from deep within my consciousness. I spun and…

…raised my…

…my wand and dealt another explosive stunning spell. There would be more coming soon, I had to work quickly. I opened several of the cells, most of which were empty. At last, I found my Annabel, with only fifteen minutes to spare. I began to pray the prayers and speak the incantations necessary. It was difficult spell indeed, transferring my life force to Anna. 

               One minute to midnight now. I hear the doors of the prison fly open and know that the Dark Legions have arrived in force. But it is too late for them. I have nearly completed the spell. All that remains are the final two elements. I hear the chime of midnight. I bend down and kiss my Anna on her cold, still lips, and place my wand against my temple and cast the spell.


Writer Commits Murder/Suicide in Columbia Tragedy

David Daniels writing for the Columbia Daily News

Tragedy struck the small town of Columbia this week in a bizarre and as of yet unexplained murder/suicide. On Monday evening, officers were called to the Northwoods Apartments to investigate disturbing sounds coming from the residence of former fantasy writer Bryan Lee. Lee achieved critical and commercial success with the publication of his first series of fantasy novels, the Mage Chronicles. Lee’s sophomore efforts were widely panned by critics and popular audiences, however, and Lee never regained the success of his first work. Lee had lived at the Northwoods Apartments with his wife, Annabel, for the last five years, following the seizure of his former home due to a federal tax dispute. Reports of the Lee’s diminishing health have been abundant but until now, unconfirmed. 

When authorities arrived on the scene, they found the body of Mrs. Lee in the kitchen. It has been confirmed that Mrs. Lee died of an undiagnosed brain aneurism. Mr. Lee was not present in the residence. That evening, however, Mr. Lee arrived at the facilities of the county medical examiner, where he shot two employees, killing one and seriously wounding a second. The injured witness stated that Mr. Lee appeared to be out of his mind and was muttering what was later determined to be De’Thi, a language Mr. Lee invented for the mage tribes in his Mage Chronicle novels. Mr. Lee then proceeded to locate and attempt to remove the body of Mrs. Lee. When additional law enforcement arrived, Mr. Lee turned his gun upon himself. No motive for this macabre crime has yet been ascertained.    

January 06, 2023 09:20

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Khisab Kurniawan
15:26 Jan 13, 2023

Thank you for the countless hours of entertainment and inspiration provided by your writing. I also create youtube video with this story https://youtu.be/RYUOKbi3l2A Hope you like it!


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Karin Cavanagh
13:03 Jan 13, 2023

I loved how you switched from his POV to that of the newsreader at the end. What a wonderful twist, and yet, how sad. It is indeed a terrible thing how the mind can play such horrible tricks on you, especially as we age or have mental illness. I agree with Emily's comments, not wanting to repeat what she's said. Great story!


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Emily E
22:30 Jan 11, 2023

Howdy, howdy! I come to you from the Critique Circle! A few teeny tiny typos - "And I knew it would be [a] trap, as...", "It was [a] difficult spell indeed,...". "...who appeared surprised at my sudden entrance..." (replace "at" with "by", to read, "surprised by my sudden entrance." In the ending, you switch from past to present tense. It may be that the present tense "felt" a little more urgent to you, a little more natural: "I hear the doors of the prison fly open and know...", lean into it! Try a rewrite and see how it flows. It may add...


N.M. Stech
05:21 Jan 12, 2023

Thank you for taking the time to read this one, and for the excellent feedback! I definitely rushed this one a bit, so I'm not surprised I let some typos sneak in there, though it hurts my perfectionist soul. That last switch in tense was an intentional decision, though in retrospect I agree that it was the wrong one. My intention was to show the mind of the main character, retracing his steps, but then switching to present tense in the final moments before his death to avoid narration from a dead man, but I probably should've just star...


Emily E
07:18 Jan 12, 2023

Oh, it's obvious those lil typos are just from the time constraints. Your grammar is immaculate!! I wouldn't have even noticed them if I wasn't nitpicking for the sake of Critique Circle lmao


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