“I dare you to follow me in.” She said.
He said nothing but did as she asked. He stepped into a room of four plain walls and bare wooden floorboards lit by a single bulb.
"Very brave.” She said. “But the story starts when you leave.”
“Well…” she paused and tapped a perfectly manicured finger against her mouth, red lips tugging up at the corners. “A story. Not yours I’m sad to say. I’m afraid yours is just ending.”
“Ending how?” he asked.
“Why, in the most permanent sense, my dear.” She smirked. “You’re going to die.”
Tom suppressed a snort and crossed his arms over his chest. It had been an age since anyone had come close to killing him. A mortal woman would have no chance. “I don’t see how,” he told her.
“You have something I need,” she said, turning away and running her hand over the walls. Her gold sequined dress sparkled in the light as she moved, hugging the curves of her body. “Something I’m going to enjoy taking if I’m honest.” She looked over one shoulder, running her eyes up his body. “You probably won’t enjoy it as much sadly, but that’s the price of magic I guess.” She shrugged and went back to the wall.
Tom watched her as she walked around the room, caressing each of the walls lovingly. There was a faint shimmer of light trailing after her fingers. Unease began to grow in his gut. “Magic?” he asked, smiling. “Like Harry Potter?” Tom laughed. “Look lady, maybe you’ve had one to many drinks…”
“Don’t you dare mock me Tommyn Wightwalker!” She spun around, blonde hair fanning around her face, her eyes flashing and teeth bared.The globe above them flicked and swung from side to side though neither of them had touched it.
“How do you know that name?” Tom asked, unconsciously reaching for a sword he hadn’t carried in years. “Who are you?” Hands clenched, he stepped backwards to the doorway and escape. The bare room with its pale walls now seemed to be much too small and closing in with every passing moment.
“Haven’t you recognised me yet?” she asked sweetly. Her smile was feral. “We used to be so close, you and I.” She walked up to him and stroked one finger down his chest and abdomen, eyelashes batting. Tom could offer nothing in return but a blank stare. She sighed and stepped back again. “No, I suppose not. You never would have come with me if you knew who I was,” she said.
“Who are you?” Tom asked again, determined not to show how afraid he was. No one had called him that name in hundreds of years. Everyone who knew it was supposed to be dead. He took another step back and the door slammed closed.
“Now, now,” she said softly. “You can’t leave. We’re just getting reacquainted.” She stretched upwards and her form began to shimmer. She shook the illusion off like a snake sloughing away old skin. The light blonde hair, creamy skin and glittery dress she had been wearing melted away, revealing a short, waif like woman with olive skin. She was wearing a shapeless black tunic with bare feet. Every inch of her skin was covered in scars and welts. It was her eyes that caught Tom’s attention though - they were a deep emerald green and seemed huge in her round face.
“Nerida?” he whispered, disbelief replacing fear. He walked forward, holding out a hand to press against her face. “Is it you? But how… you died…”
“Not dead, just cursed.” She spat the words at him and hit his hand away. “As you left me.”
“No!” he said. “You were killed. I saw it. Nerida, please…” He reached for her again but she turned her back on him and returned to the wall.
“Enough.” Her hands slashed the air in front of her, too fast for Tom to make out the marks she was drawing. The smell of brine and smoke rose in the air as she called the magic pressed in the walls to her. “Save your words. You have no sword to defend you this time and your sentiments mean nothing to me now.” Electric blue sigils began to form in the air, crackling and spitting with power. The sparks fell on Nerida, singeing her clothes and skin but she didn’t flinch. The globe above their heads exploded, plunging them into an eerie blue twilight.
Tom stared around the room at the floating sigils, fear coiling in every part of his body. “Nerida…” he tried again and she spun around.
“I said enough Tommyn. I don’t want your pretty words.” She smiled. “But I’ll take your screams.” One final slash of her hand and the sigils flashed brightly before shattering. They were showered in a glowing blue powder.