Ieaun paused as he heard those words and a chill ran down his spine. The woman in the mirror continued "They're down in the dungeon, one of the traps has been triggered and someone is fiddling with it. Get down there and deal with whoever is down there - if it's the girl, bring her up here and kill her! Do not fail me again"
Ieaun took a deep breath, his mind flashing back to the last words the witch had said to him when they discussed his problems with his vision "remember, however bad the future seems, it can be changed if you have the courage to do so." Then she had dropped her voice and whispered "and you are prepared to pay the price."
In an instant he knew what he had to do and what it would cost to change the future. He walked across to the staircase down into the great hall and descended slowly as Nicodur turned and came towards him.
As Nicodur closed the distance between them he began to weave his hands in a complicated fashion and coloured lights coalesced around them. Ieaun responded by pulling his wand out, ready to fend off whatever spell Nicodur was casting.
Coloured fog burst from Nicodur's hands, shooting straight towards Ieaun, who concentrated hard on casting the appropriate counterspell before the fog was able to wrap fully around him.
He then responded by shooting flames directly at Nicodur, hoping to catch him off guard. Behind Nicodur, the mirror was still open and the woman behind it had settled herself in a chair to watch, almost as if this were a show put on for her benefit.
The flames were of no effect, Nicodur shrugging them off as if they were simply a light show.
The duel continued, with spells flying back and forth, but Ieaun knew that he would tire before Nicodur - he didn't have the centuries of practice nor as much magic as a powerful fae could summon, but he knew that every minute he could keep Nicodur occupied was time for Elenie to get to her mother and get out...
Down in the dungeons, Elenie had finally managed to disarm the fire trap between her and her mother's cell. As she slipped the last part of the trigger mechanism aside the trap cracked audibly and smoke rose from the vents.
Rather more cautiously now, Elenie approached her mother's cell, checking the walls and floor at each turn for any more traps. The way proved to be clear now and finally she stood in front of the cell door; it was, of course, locked, but after some fiddling and a few sparks of magic, Elenie was able to get it open and face her mother properly for the first time in years.
As she emerged unsteadily from the cell, Dorilys began to cry "Elenie, is that you? After everything I've done to you, you're here? I'm so sorry, I've failed you in so many ways all your life, you should have left me here to rot."
As Elenie tried to quiet her, she continued "You should never have come here, it's all a trap for you, he wants to kill you. You shouldn't have risked it for me when I've failed you as a mother and ignored you all your life."
Eventually her words trailed off into sobs, and Elenie was able to speak; "Calm down. I know it's a trap but I wasn't going to just leave you in his hands no matter how badly you failed as a parent. We're going to get you out of here and find a way to stop his interference with our family."
"You said that Nicodur wants to kill me, do you know why? He had plenty of chances to do that when I was a child and he clearly had other plans then, do you know what changed? Was it because I got away? Because other fae intervened? Or has something else changed since then?"
"I don't know, my memories since I came here are so blurred, but not long ago he was outside the cell laughing at me and saying that I was worthless, a failure and only good to lure you to your death. He kept asking me how it felt to know that I had failed my child and would now lead her to her death..."
"Never mind, what matters now is that he wants me dead and I'm not going to let that happen, nor am I going to allow him to keep you to use against me in the future. We have unicorns waiting outside for us and they can take us far away as soon as we're out of this place."
Elenie gave her mother a quick, awkward hug "Come on, we need to get out of here. There's a tunnel back there which I came in by - these foxes dug it to help me."
As they turned to follow the passage back to the tunnel, Elenie became aware of the sounds percolating down from above - magic spells blasting to and fro.
"Ieaun! No!" Turning she began running towards the sounds, forgetting the dangers both of the dungeon itself and what would be waiting for them above. As she ran, followed by her mother, another trap sprang to life and they just managed to avoid it.
Swearing in frustration, Elenie began the painstaking task of disarming the trap, knowing that every minute she spent on this was a minute longer that Ieaun would be battling whatever lay above.
Back above, in the great hall, Ieaun was beginning to tire and Nik's expression turned gloating as he continued to fire spells. In the mirror, the woman was openly laughing as Nik easily parried Ieaun's efforts.
Escaping from the dungeon, Elenie and her mother ran into the great hall in time to see the dying stages of the magic fight. Ieaun's wand began to sputter as he flung one last spell at Nik.
As Elenie stared in horror, her feet seemingly immobile, Nik cackled as he parried the spell and broke through Ieaun's defences, turning him to a solid gold statue.
Elenie burst into tears as the Grim Reaper appeared in the room, pointing his finger at the statue, he intoned solemnly "IT IS TIME"
Ieaun's spirit appeared, drawn from the statue to lie unmoving on the floor. As Elenie wept and watched the Grim Reaper take her beloved husband, she dimly heard a voice coming from the mirror "Good, now kill the girl!"
Nik turned from admiring his handiwork and began summoning a spell, but as he cast it towards Elenie, the fox sprang in front of her and took the full force of the spell.
As the spell hit the fox, she shimmered briefly and disappeared, leaving only a whisper in Elenie's mind "Look after my cub for me".
Just then, as Nik moved to begin casting another spell, a great roar shook the entire castle and they all looked up, startled, to see flames lash against the upper windows of the great hall. Elenie recovered from her shock quicker than Nik and, reaching into her bag, she threw an elixir at him.
As Nik crumpled to the floor, knocked out by Elenie's elixir, the woman in the mirror shrieked her displeasure "Nooo, how dare you, you little brat, you will die for that"
At that moment, the main door creaked open. Elenie and Dorilys turned, expecting more enemies, but instead Evie stood there. "Quickly, grab Ieaun's remains and run!"
As they obeyed her, Dorilys seizing the statue and Elenie the small urn which was all that remained of Ieaun, they heard coming from the mirror behind them "Get over there and stop them! I want that girl dead! And bring back Nicodur in chains - he has failed me for the last time!"