A Witch Shall Be Born Once More
Roberta E. Howard
Copyright 2010 Roberta E. Howard
1 The Blood-Red Crescent
Taramin, King of Khauran, awakened from a dream-haunted slumber to a silence that seemed more like the stillness of nighted catacombs than the normal quiet of a sleeping place. He lay staring into the darkness, wondering why the candles in their golden candelabra had gone out. A flecking of stars marked a gold-barred casement that lent no illumination to the interior of the chamber. But as Taramin lay there, he became aware of a spot of radiance glowing in the darkness before him. He watched, puzzled. It grew and its intensity deepened as it expanded, a widening disk of lurid light hovering against the dark velvet hangings of the opposite wall. Taramin caught his breath, starting up to a sitting position. A dark object was visible in that circle of light--a human head.
In a sudden panic the king opened his lips to cry out for his pages; then he checked himself. The glow was more lurid, the head more vividly limned. It was a man's head, small, delicately molded, superbly poised, with a high-piled mass of lustrous black hair. The face grew distinct as he stared--and it was the sight of this face which froze the cry in Taramin's throat. The features were his own! He might have been looking into a mirror which subtly altered his reflection, lending it a tigerish gleam of eye, a vindictive curl of lip.
'Ishtar!' gasped Taramin. 'I am bewitched!'