A Price too High to Pay
Part 2 - A Young Mage's Love
The word formed on his lips like a sacred prayer and, as if it real were some Magic Spell, all the fury and anger that had corroded his stomach simply vanished away.
Ilea was beauty and perfection incarnated. Her hair was long and the color of silver, falling down her back in pale streams of light. Her eyes were the color of violets, shining deeply like dark amethysts filled with stars. Her face was simply perfect, her neck soft and long granting her an undeniable elegance and grace.
For a moment Arkadi just stood there, fascinated, simply admiring her, drinking in that unearthly beauty that would forever be out of his reach. For although both were apparently young, he could never remain by her side. Ilea, in her almost human appearance, hid her secret well, beneath her long silver hair.
Even in the eyes of those who did not know who she really was she was bound to look different from any other woman. The lines of her face were soft and delicate, her skin pale and smooth, her hands slender and agile. However, beyond this apparent fragility, she was indisputably the most powerful Mage he knew. Having time on her side and generally using it to accumulate knowledge, it was easy for her to hide her true identity from Human eyes. And so only the Magi of the Council knew about her true nature. They usually called upon her when they needed her help or advice, and since living in the Tower for too long would eventually reveal her identity, Ilea would come whenever she was summoned and, once her task was done, simply return to her native land.
And so it had been for many years, up to the day when her violet eyes had crossed paths with the almond-colored gaze of a young Apprentice. Arkadi, for his part, was immediately impressed by the strong, determined personality of what he had thought to be a young the girl, and little by little another,much stronger, much more intense feeling had taken root in his heart. It was then that he had discovered her secret, Ilea's Magic broken by the love mirrored in his eyes. A secret that would forever keep them apart.
At the moment Ilea was seated on a rustic wooden bench, high enough to allow her to easily reach the various glass objects placed on the stone workbench in front of her. Yet none of the various tubes containing strange liquids or even the different plants stored inside glass jars seemed to be the focus of her attention. With a smile that said she knew she was being watched, Ilea looked up from the heavy book she had been reading and took a deep breath.
"Arkadi ..." she whispered in her singing voice, not even bothering to look back, and the Mage crossed the room, approaching the young woman, who was actually much older than him.
Leaning forward he placed a light kiss on her soft, white cheek and smiled at the violet gaze that was directed at him. For a moment she just stared at him, as if she could read the recent events from his face, and finally sighed.
"There's no news ..."
"But if what you saw in your dream is bound to happen, then it won't be long now ..."
Ilea stood up in a single, fluid movement and hugged him tight, hiding her face against the crook of his neck.
Arkadi's heart jumped into a frenzy at the touch of her skin against his, the warmth of her body enveloping him, but he knew better than to give in to such feelings. Taking a deep breath, he gently closed his arms around her fragile body and forced himself to push down the pain that the distance between them always brought to his chest.
"I don't want to lose you!"
Arkady softly brushed aside the silver hair covering his face and dried the silent tears rolling down her face.
"You won't lose me. At least no more than I am already lost to you."
"Don't talk like that!" She raised her head just enough to face his almond gaze. "You know I'll always be yours ..."
"No! Don't tell me that!"
The Mage gently pushed her back and crossed the room towards the large window that practically occupied the entire wall. Outside the snow kept falling, cold and silent, and his gaze was lost in the eternal, white mantle of nothingness that surrounded the Tower of High Magic.
"What can I do? Just tell me, Arkadi!"
"Nothing. There is nothing that you or I can do. Things are just the way they are. Maybe ... maybe it's not that bad if things really happen as you predicted. That way you'll finally be free and you'll be able to return home, to where you belong," he said but, looking at her, he just couldn't stand the sight of those tearful, bright eyes. And so he simply left the room wishing to himself he had never gone there in the first place.