Ring of Power
It was a simple ring; nothing extraordinary. Just a plain band with tiny etchings around it, but it had caught her eye and drawn her in immediately.
She had stumbled into an area of the city that she was not familiar with; a dark and shadowy section of the city that seemed to have sinister eyes in its various corners; watching her as she walked hurriedly down the narrow streets.
A chill ran through her as the feeling that the watchful eyes were moving in closer fell upon her, so she had ducked into a little curio shop that, despite having strange odds and ends in its window, had a warm glowing light that seemed to be safer than that of the shadow-casting street lamps outside.
Inside was a clutter of knick-knacks and old curiosities that, although looked as though they were from a time long forgotten, had been cleaned and polished and cared for so that they could have been crafted recently.
Making her way through the maze of strangely carved furniture, statues, and other such items, she found a glass case near the back of the shop which held a variety jewellery set with various gems of all colours and shapes.
Her eyes scanned over the wonderfully shimmering pieces as they caught the light from the multiple crystal chandlers that hung from the shop’s low ceiling, each one casting a rainbow of colours upon her soft-skinned face.
And then, there it was. Amid all the fancy, elegant rings, broaches, and necklaces, a plain and simple, silver ring with its tiny black markings crisscrossing its surface.
A strange smile spread across her pink lips as she gazed down upon the ring. The others were glitzy and glamorous from a bygone age, but this simple, unassuming band seemed to be timeless. And it gave her the sense of warmth and comfort.
A rustling from the doorway leading to the shop’s back rooms startled her as she looked away from the ring to see a little old man coming out to her. He looked as though he too belonged to the shop; an old curiosity, a little stooped over but still in fine working condition.
His smile settled her startled heart and she smiled shyly back. He came to stand behind the jewellery cabinet and looked down at the rings with her. She looked back down at her ring and knew that she had to have it; it called out to her to possess it.
She pointed to it cautiously and the old man’s smile broadened as her cheeks went flush with embarrassment. He opened the case and gingerly took out the ring and laid it on the counter atop a small velvet cloth.
She put out her hand to take it and hesitated for a moment; warmth seemed to radiate from the ring and touch her finger tips with energy.
Slowly, her fingers made their way to touch its smooth surface. Thinking it would somehow be a hefty weight, she was surprised to find it a light as a feather in her palm.
Looking at it closely she could see the etchings are diamond shapes that seem to be endless pools of darkness; the far-reaching eternity of space within each etch.
Fumbling, she nearly dropped it as she slid it onto her middle finger. It fit perfectly.
Immediately, she was filled with a sense of energy; of power. All the fear and uncertainty that had filled her before she had entered the old shop washed away in the wearing of the ring.
She breathed in deeply and looked up at the old man who smiled and looked kindly into her shining blue eyes. She began to ask how much the ring would cost but he held up his hand and shook his head slightly.
Taking her by the hand on which she wore the ring, he kissed it gently and patted it kindly. She blushed once again as the old man nodded gentlemanly and led her back through the shop to the front door.
She opened the door and turned back to him as he waved goodbye and closed the door behind her. She walked slowly away turning back to see the old man still waving from the shop window as he turned the open sign over to indicate the shop was now closed.
She walked along the street, her hand held up in front of her as she regarded it with love and awe.
Even though the light of day had grown dimmer, she felt as though there was now nothing to be afraid of. Not here along the strange streets, not anywhere. Not now that she wore her lovely ring; her ring of power.
As she slept, the ring rested peacefully on her bedside table.
There had not been a day that had passed that she was without her little silver ring since she had found it in the curios shop. And there had not been a night when she had not slept soundly knowing that it was laying beside her; watching over her as she slept.
When she wore it upon her slender finger, she felt stronger, more secure, and confident. It was silly to think that the ring could endow her with some sort of magic power. But she still felt as though it was her little ring of power.
Going about her daily routine she would give it very little thought; yet, every so often during breaks in her activities, she would look down at the simple ring and smile.
In the morning, she would put it on even before going to the bathroom, and carefully put it into the little seashell dish she had purchased especially for it by the sink while she showered and did her make-up; donning it quickly again after she was done. And only taking it off again at night when she lay down to sleep; its tiny silver light protecting her in its reflective glow.
And so, it was, as she slept one night, a shadowy figure came creeping into her small apartment, uninvited.
There had been several break-ins in the building over the past few months, but no one had been home at the time. Unfortunately, this was not the case now.
As she slept peacefully, the shadowy figure moved noiselessly though out her darkened apartment. To get to at a stack of DVDs high up on a shelf, the thief pulled a chair from the dinning table across the hardwood floor.
The chair scraped loudly upon the floor's surface and at once she was awake in her bed; a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach.
She lay frozen for a moment and listened for further noise. She heard the shifting of items on her shelves that lined the living room walls. She sat up and automatically slipped on her ring. Her first thought was to call the police, but reaching for her phone she remembered it was out on the kitchen counter charging.
She would have to slip out there and grab it, unnoticed by whoever was out there ransacking her apartment.
Cautiously, quietly, she moved to her bedroom door and pulled it open as gently as she could. The noises of the intruder became louder without the closed door to muffle their movements.
She was afraid, but felt confident that she could quickly grab the phone from the counter in the kitchen and run back to her room before the thief even heard her.
She waited until it sounded like the thief was at the far end of the living room, then took a deep breath and dashed out of the hallway and around the corner to the narrow kitchen.
Knowing exactly where the phone sat, she grabbed for it and snatched it up quickly.
Having her cell in her hand she made to head back to her room. However, she had forgotten that the power cord was still attached to it.
The cord reached its end and snapped the phone out of her hand. It bounced off the tiled floor loudly and the shadowy figure quickly turned to see her standing surprised in the hall.
Before she had a chance to react, the intruder had made a dash for her, growling in anger at being disrupted so abruptly.
Not thinking, she held out her hands to shield herself from the attack and screamed. A flash of silver light erupted from her right hand and engulfed the darkness in light.
The light quickly faded and she opened her eyes; surprised that had been no attack. There was only her, alone in her moonlit apartment.
She turned the light switch beside her on and saw no one else was with her. She looked to see that the chain lock on her door had been cut and a few items were knocked off the shelves. But there was no intruder.
Looking down at her feet, there were the soldering remains of a black hoodie, black jeans, and a pair of black sneakers.
Her gaze moved from the smoking clothes to the silver ring on her middle finger of her right hand. She held up her hand and marvelled at how the simple ring seemed to glow warmly around her slender finger.
There was warmth radiating from the little ring; warmth that made her smile broadly; her ring of power indeed.
She awoke upon the rocks at the bottom of the mountain that she herself had created, a scar blinding her left eye, and her ring of power gone.
The details of the battle that had transpired atop the mountain where veiled in a haze of pain, all she could remember was that he had taken her ring. IT had taken the cursed ring of power.
The ring that had shrouded her heart in malice was gone; the darkness that had crept into her heart had drained away.
What lay in her heart now was not darkness or revenge, but sadness and remorse. She had caused so much destruction. She had caused the world to war with itself; her and her selfish need for attention. And now she had given the demon the means to destroy the world, once and for all.
Her body broken and bleeding, she stumbled back through lands she had been the inspiration to turn into barren wastes; their old beauty torn apart by men's' lust to conquer for her.
Only remnants of civilization now remained, and she was now no different than any of the other poor retched that scrounged the scorched earth just to survive.
How could she have let this happen? She had only wanted to help with the powers the ring had allowed her. But the demon had twisted her dreams into nightmares, and she had let it.
Now it would fashion the world into its own vision of hell, enslaving the remaining humanity for its dark pleasure.
Huddled in a rock hovel, shivering in the cold of the constant rain, she vowed to make things right once again; vowed to rid the world of the demon that had plagued it for so long.
So, a patch over her scared eye and purpose in her heart, she set out across the world to gather up those she could, to band against the evil of the demon.
Though she was without her ring, the passion she had roused in those before remained; having been inside her all along. She found that she did not need the power of the ring to capture the hearts of those she met, but only her own inner strength to convince people to join her in her fight against the demon.
Seeing that they too were guilty in letting their hearts be taken over with darkness, the people of the world came together under one banner to revolt against the ancient evil.
Upon her steed, she galloped, the armies of the world behind her, crying out her return amidst the deafening thunder of hoofs as they charged upon the demon's mountain.
She would get back the world she had helped fall into darkness, and now, she would not use the power of the ring, only the power that had always been hers alone.
She gritted her teeth in a begrudged smile as he offered his hand to her.
Her one good eye glared with apprehension and embarrassed fury, looking from the scoundrel's outstretched hand, to where her men sat around the flickering camp fire.
If any of them had so much as a smirk on their face, she would have slashed them in half with her blade; yet wisely, they all seemed to be very busy being preoccupied with the pretty maidens and handsome lads that filled the bandits' hideaway.
She looked back to their leader, whose hand was still awaiting hers; The King of Thieves asking her to dance. Ha!
His roguish smile matched the mischievous glint in his green eyes, as he looked down at her where she sat upon one of the felled logs they used for benches.
Raising her hand she started to reach out for his, but changed directions in mid-motion to run her fingers through her short-cropped, auburn hair.
Snapping her eye patch strap as an unconscious habit she had adopted when wary of a situation, she gave a snorting smirk and took his hand roughly, pulling herself up almost before he had a chance to back up.
The villain was quick on his feet however, and swooped gracefully into a deep bow at her acceptance to join him. She bowed slightly in return, keeping her azure blue eye on him.
They began to dance; him with a jovial spring in his step, while she countered his moves with the quick caginess of a jungle cat, stalking around a rival.
The minstrels' music roiled with their lutes, flutes, and drums, on which they fervently played as they twirled and spun around the flames of the fire that danced to its own licking rhythm.
Her men now watched blatant as she let the Thief King lift her into the air with a spin and bring her gracefully down again in one fluid motion.
As they dance and the music played on, she found herself lost in the moment. She felt herself as a young girl again, not the fierce and harden warrior she had become.
Feeling as light as air on her twirling feet, she even thought she heard herself laugh along with the handsome scoundrel whom continued to spin and toss her wildly as the music grew more frantic.
The camp scene spun round and round until she was not sure which way she faced and she made herself stop at once with sudden embarrassment.
Looking around the camp, the music no longer played, only the crackle of the fired could be heard, its pops a stark contrast to the silence that now hung in the night air.
Her men stirred from their log seats as if they had just woken from a deep slumber.
Only her men stirred.
The camp was empty, save them. The band of thieves and their king had vanished into the night.
With a snarl she snatched at the five bejeweled rings she kept hung around her neck on a chain at all times; her ancient and powerful treasures, for which she had quested all those many years ago; had sacrificed so much to find.
Letting out a rage-filled roar, she drew her sword and barked at her men to mount their steeds as she ran to her own black war horse that stood lashed to a near by tree.
The stallion reared as she swung herself up with another guttural bellow. She turned to find her men already upon their horses facing her, awaiting her command.
"Find them, all of them. And destroy them! But leave the Thief King to me." She ordered in a dark, dangerous voice and they all galloped off with the speed of a pack of wolves setting out to hunt their prey.
As they all disappeared into the darkness just beyond the fire-lit tree line, she looked down at her left hand that gripped the reins. Still resting upon her finger, her most prized possession glowed fiercely with shared anger; the sixth and most powerful ring of power was hers still. With it she would find the others again.
And as for the King of Thieves, he would pay for his mistake of taking them from her.
She clenched her fist and the ring's massive gem stone seemed to radiate its glow outward, causing the camp fire to extinguish, letting the blackness of the night enshroud the scene; only the light of the ring and the intense blue of the warrior's eye gleaming in the darkness.