Enveloped by darkness, and not wanting to attract any attention, Willow and Tara had to follow along the walls as they explored the unfamiliar territory. There were glimpses of light from slowly burning torches that were mounted on the wall, but even those were scarce.
"Okay, where’s this crystal ball?" Willow whispered to Tara.
Willow felt Tara shrug her shoulders to indicate her lack of knowledge when they both noticed a bright light ahead of them. The two cautiously walked towards the light emanating through a slightly opened door. As they peered inside, they saw that the room was empty, and that next to the bed was a glass case with a round, deep purple object inside.
Willow smirked as she tugged at Tara’s arm. ""Something tells me that’s not a toy," she said.
"It looks harmless..." Tara started as they both slowly walked closer to the case. Willow reached out to lift the top off, but as soon as her fingers made contact with the glass, a deep growl penetrated the room.
"Uh oh," Willow muttered as both she and Tara turned around. As soon as they saw the big bad wolf in the doorway, a net dropped onto them from above. Tara immediately reached for Willow’s hand and stated quietly, "This isn’t good."
"I see we have visitors," the big bad wolf declared. "I’m sure the king would love to know that there were two witches trying to take his crystal."
The wolf crept closer to the two trapped women. He swiftly grabbed the bottom of the net, pulling Willow and Tara to the floor. They fell with a thud and were dragged out of the room at once.
In the throne room, the dark king was contemplating the rest of his plan to take over Litefaray. Although he was deep in thought, the dark king was always on his guard. The slightest noise broke his concentration, and when the wolf came in with the struggling women, the dark king jumped. However, as soon as he saw his faithful servant, he relaxed his shoulders and his expression turned to one of intrigue.
"What have you brought me?" the dark king wondered out loud.
"Your highness, I have the two witches who were sent to rescue the princess. I caught them trying to steal your crystal."
With this piece of information, the dark king’s face turned to one of anger. He glared at his two prisoners, trying to convince them of his authority. Then he laughed as Tara and Willow struggled to stand up.
When the two were finally standing, Willow started to protest, but stopped herself. She recognized a hint of pride in the dark king’s eyes and opted for a different course of action.
"If you’re so tough, then you shouldn’t be afraid of us. Unless you’re too chicken, take this net off of us..." Willow argued.
"Please," the dark king stated sarcastically, "you two are no match for me. Untangle them, Big Bad Wolf."
The wolf did as he was told, leaving Willow and Tara standing freely before the dark king.
"Since the gingerbread woman and the three bears failed to get rid of you," the dark king began. "I will destroy you instead. Big Bad Wolf, bring me my crystal ball."
As the dark king watched the wolf leave, Willow leaned towards Tara and whispered, "When the wolf brings the crystal, let’s levitate it away from him so we can break it."
Tara nodded before the dark king returned his gaze to them.
"Don’t think about trying anything," the dark king warned. "You will regret it."
Willow and Tara merely stared at the evil man defiantly until the wolf returned. The creature placed the orb on a cushioned podium before standing guard by the door. The dark king quickly rose to his feet and stood behind his sphere, smiling. He extended his arms and cracked his knuckles, and then began to wave his hands over the ball. He was about to chant when he noticed that Willow and Tara were mumbling something. The crystal suddenly rose above his head and began to float towards the two witches.
"Stop them!" the dark king shouted in a panic. He tried to jump up to claim his prized possession, but couldn’t reach it.
As the women continued their spell, the wolf ran towards them, tackling Willow and throwing her against the wall. The orb immediately dropped to the floor, breaking into hundreds of pieces. Tara turned and cried out Willow’s name as the dark king screamed in horror. He ran to his broken crystal and fruitlessly tried to put it back together while Tara ran towards Willow’s lifeless body. Since the crystal was broken, the wolf was no longer under the dark king’s trance and looked around confusedly.
Tara knelt next to Willow and took her girlfriend’s head in her lap. "Willow, Willow, please wake up," Tara pleaded.
When Willow failed regain consciousness, Tara remembered the pouch that Thomas, their guide, had given each of them. She reached to her waist and retrieved the small bag. Trembling, she managed to open the sack and a small fairy flew out. It hovered above Willow’s body as Tara stroked Willow’s hair. Tara looked up at the small creature and with tears starting to form in her eyes, begged the fairy to help Willow.
The fairy fluttered for a few seconds. Suddenly, a bright light flashed before Tara’s eyes, causing her to look away. When Tara turned her head around, the fairy was gone. She looked down and noticed that Willow’s eyes were fluttering. A smile came across Tara’s face as Willow groaned and slowly opened her eyes.
"W-what happened?" Willow inquired as she sat up and faced Tara. Tara gave Willow a big hug and filled her in.
Willow was amazed until she realized that the dark king was still free. They both promptly turned their attention towards the other two occupants of the room. The wolf was clearly still confused, so Tara explained how the dark king had him under a spell. Then Willow remembered the purpose of their adventure. "Tara, we still have to find Annabelle!" she exclaimed.
"I’ll take care of the dark king," the wolf asserted. "You two go get the girl; she’s in the dungeon -- just go down the stairs."
Willow and Tara nodded and then Tara helped Willow onto her feet. They walked out of the throne room and saw a set of stairs to their right. Since there was no other stairway around, the two quickly descended.
Still reeling from the scare she had just minutes before, Tara took Willow’s hand and squeezed it.
"You really had me w-worried there," Tara stuttered.
Willow squeezed Tara’s hand in reassurance. "No worries now though, right?"
Tara looked at her and smiled. "No, not anymore."
Before they knew it, there was a large wooden door in front of them. Willow pushed the door open and they entered the dungeon. Just as before, there were torches adorning the walls, providing minimal light. In the back was a dimly lit cell with a small girl sitting in the corner.
"Annabelle?" Willow called as they walked closer. The little figure looked up and immediately recognized Willow and Tara as the girls from the library.
"We’re going to take you home," Willow declared. She was about to ask where the key was when Tara reached towards the wall, grabbed a key, and unlocked the cell door.
Annabelle slowly stood up and stumbled into Willow and Tara’s arms. She innocently asked, "Am I going home for real?"
The two witches smiled and each took one of Annabelle’s hands. "Yes," Tara stated as the three walked out of the dungeon and found their way out of the castle.
Back to Chapter 7 :: On to Chapter 9