Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of Trudi Cavanan. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of Trudi Cavanan, except for certain original characters that belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the private enjoyment of readers at FanFictionNet, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

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A/N: This collection of drabbles is based on the premise of my AU ending for the "Black Magicians" trilogy as given in the short story "A Promise", which is also archived here at FFNet. You probably need to read that story first for the drabbles to make sense.

Warning: Some of the drabbles and ficlets may contain "strong but non-explicit adult themes" according to the rating "M" of the FanFictionNet rating guidelines.


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Answers

Akkarin caught a glimpse of her eyes, dark-bright in the twilight. He felt heat in his heart and in his body, in a most delicate place.

She was his Novice, he reasoned. It wasn't appropriate. He was the High Lord. It wasn't proper. She was a girl. He was a Black Magician.

It was impossible.

Yet he desired Sonea. Maybe, he admitted, loved her even. Partly, because her fire allowed him to mellow. Vastly, because she was so strong: she would never give up.

"'No' is not an answer I'm willing to accept," she said, and stepped into his arms.

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A Promise Kept

Sonea sniffed, but the congestion wouldn't clear that easily. Earlier, exhaustion and shock had prevented her from realizing that she had almost lost the man she loved. Now, however, she deliberately faced the memory of the horrific events they just had endured. She looked at her hands, remembering the feeling of blood: warm and liquid with life at first, it had quickly grown cold and sticky and dead. She was barely aware of her weeping, until shaking fingers trailed her tears.

"But I didn't die," whispered Akkarin. "I'm here. And tonight we'll renew the love and the life we share."

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Nightmare

She knew it was a dream.

But even as she froze in place and stared at the still, black-robed figure that lay in a crumpled heap before her feet, she felt her heart break anew. Looking up, she met the mocking grin of the Ichani. "It was an accident. The king ordered us to practice. I never meant for this to happen."

The Ichani advanced on her with a cold smile. "Now you're mine. There's no one left to protect you. Your power and your thin little body belong to me now."

Sonea woke with a scream upon her lips.

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Night Talk

"What are you doing?" Sonea asked, blinking her eyes. Her mind was fuzzy from sleep. Guild business had kept Akkarin away. She had gone to bed alone, something she hated ever since the Ichani invasion. Now it was long past midnight, but Akkarin's white light globe was still shedding light on a heap of parchment on his desk.

"Did I wake you? I'm sorry." A hint of a smile played around the corners of his lips, as if he enjoyed having woken her. Or seeing her awake, at least.

"Spare me your pity." She got out of the bed and padded over to him. "Or I'll kick you. I was raised a dwell, remember? I'm dangerous like that."

He reached for her, and drew her down on his lap. For a moment she relaxed in the spicy warmth of his embrace. Then she squinted, trying to make sense of his intellectual output. Although his writing was neat, she still had trouble with the encryption he used for his personal documents, especially when she was tired. "Supposed to have died?" She jerked in his grasp and turned to face him. "What's that all about, Akkarin?"

He sighed, his mouth suddenly tight and straight. "I ought to have died that day, Sonea. I was meant to die. I… need to make sense of why I did not die, and what it might mean."

"It means that you're alive. That I get to love you some more." Some strange power squeezed her heart with pain and fear.

Akkarin's dark eyes were calm and serious. "But what of the balance of the universe you only lectured me about yesterday? Much as I cherish you, us, being together –" he caught her hand and kissed it. "I fear – no, I know that there is a deeper meaning to this, a meaning beyond our love… and I am afraid to uncover this secret. But I have to."

He sighed and continued matter-of-factly. "That's why I'm writing this down. I really did not want to wake you."

She raised her eyebrows at him. "Now I'll definitely not be able to go to sleep again."

There was that hint of a smile again, curling up just one corner of his wide mouth, as he visibly forced himself to let go of whatever bothered him. He tightened his embrace. "Then I'd best make it worth your while, my love."

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Practice

Sonea tried to concentrate. She wanted to get the spell right. If she got it right, the acid would freeze in a static plate. And with a little bit of luck it would display the picture she had in her mind…

She glanced up at Rothen. He would always be her favourite teacher and mentor. And he would never give her a moment's peace if he thought she could do better.

Now he was frowning at her.

She sucked in her lips and turned back to the poisonous liquid in the bowl in front of her.

A spell, a gesture, a flood of power… and a picture of Akkarin hovered in the air, his dark hair flowing in a wind she couldn't feel, a hesitant smile curving the right corner of his mouth, a gleam in his eyes that was shadowy and all for her…

"Very good," Rothen said, scrutinizing her work. "Excellent, in fact."

Then he turned a sad smile to Sonea. "You love each other very much, don't you?"

"Does it show?" She fidgeted, suppressing the impulse to cover burning cheeks with cold hands.

Rothen's smile deepened. "If that is how he looks at you when you're alone…"

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New Danger

"I'm afraid that he was successful in contacting the remaining Ichani." Dannyl said. "I should have watched him better."

Akkarin shook his head. "Don't blame yourself. All of us thought the spell to disconnect him from his power would be enough. It sounded plausible." He wearily rubbed his temples. No matter how important his learning of higher, "black" magic had been for the victory, he was not trusted anymore. L ife in Irmadin had become a tightrope act.

"I should have been able to distinguish the spy from the innocent dwells," added Sonea. "I didn't. It's driving me up the hill!"

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A Dangerous Mission

"I've had to hide my true identity all my life. I could never be who I was born to be. Only in Elyne, with Tayend, was I ever wholly myself." Dannyil explained. "You can hardly expect me to be over the moon with joy at this prospective new position."

"But we need someone at court who will not be viewed as a danger," Akkarin said.

" I certainly won't be regarded as dangerous. Maybe a danger to myself." Dannyl's stomach was a massive knot of longing for a love with no future.

"I know," he added finally. "I'll do it."

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Worries

Akkarin turned to Sonea. "I can't reach him. I … don't have the power."

When she raised her hands to offer her power and her help, he shook his head. Moving towards her, he placed his hands on her belly. "You need your power for others now."

She smiled and did not disagree. "What's going wrong?"

Akkarin shrugged. "Whenever I attempt to complete the retrieval, I encounter a distortion. Something blocks me. And though I once was a valued slave, by now I know that I didn't even skim the surface of 'black' magic."

"Someone will have to go there."

"Yes …"

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Desert Dinner

"Do you think he'll mind?"

"Mind?" Akkarin's mouth curled up at the corner. "Probably. Will it deprive the merchant to lose one scrawny rassook? I don't think so."

A globe of heat had formed below the plucked bird. Somewhere the magician had found herbs even in this desert. A delicious scent started filling the cave. Akkarin was an exception to a lot of rules; he was also a good cook. Suddenly Sonea was glad that they had left behind the boundaries of city and guild for this dangerous quest. Settling down next to the fire, she smiled at her lover.

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Desert Night

The night had already progressed beyond the turn of day. In the sky above the Sachakan wastelands the stars glittered like jewels on expensive velvet. Which god would you have to be, Sonea mused, to be able to steal these riches. Suddenly a shadow detached itself from the rocks and glided over to join her at the smouldering embers of their fire.

"Shouldn't you be asleep?"

His answer a low laugh, he settled down next to her. "It seems that the only time I get to spend a quiet evening with you is when we're in danger of death in some foreign desert."

Sonea smothered a giggle and allowed herself to lean into Akkarin's embrace, enjoying the tingling sensation the closeness caused on her skin. Desire and magic, a potent mixture. It was true, though. Between the hospital, the Guild, and their daughter, little time remained for other things.

"Your hair smells of hibiscus," he said, toying with a strand, before he kissed her neck. "Hibiscus?"

"Gan-gan," Akkarin replied, his lips at the sensitive spot below her ear. "A flowering bush from Lan."

"You know so much," she teased.

"At least I know how to please you."

She gasped. "Indeed…"

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Desert Day

Canyons. The colours of the stones were brilliant: crimson, cinnabar, honey, and copper. Finally they came to a stone that was partially cleft in two. It seemed impossible for a human being to fit through the crack.

"Here," Akkarin whispered. "Follow me."

"If you say so."

Squeezing through the gap was painful. Its sharp edges scratched her ribs. Deeper and deeper Akkarin led her into this maze of stones, caves and small holes flooded with colour and sunshine. He had promised a safe camp, but would they ever find their way back through this labyrinth of rocks and colours?

Then Sonea only stared: the twilight of the cave brightened before her. There was a small lake shimmering blue with the reflection of the sky, and far above it, in a small crevice, the sun glittered golden. Somewhere water dripped into the pond, a low noise that sounded almost like music. She stared around her in amazement.

"No one will find us here?" she asked finally.

He nodded.

"And… should I scream," she whispered, opening her gown. "No one will hear us?"

Akkarin smiled. With just a hint of ferocity. "No one, I promise."

Her robes pooled at her feet. "Good…"

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A/N: Comments, concrit and questions are always welcome.