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For years she had watched them from afar; the ensorcelled, the enslaved, the unknowing. They worked for their masters with apparent contentment, but the more she watched them the more she felt sorry for them.

The more she watched them, the more she felt she must do something for them. She asked questions, subtly and with great discretion, and learned about their bonds. What she learned only made her sadder. They were so spellbound, they did not even know it; furthermore, they were the only ones who could break the spell. No-one, not even the most powerful magician, not even her stepfather, who had bespelled them in the first place, could break it for them.

But where there is a will, there is always a way.

She slept long, and dreamed gentle dreams. She dreamed of walking through the streets where the ensorcelled lived; of speaking to them, of telling them truths that could never be spoken in the waking world. She dreamed of a shooting star that burst over their rooves, scattering hope and truth in sparkling dream-dust.

The sun dawned early on that morning, and she watched from her tower as they rose up. She watched from her tower as they broke the spell. She watched from the tower as they found their freedom.

“How could this be?”

Her stepfather paced the balcony, his fists clenched in anger. She watched him silently for a while.

“That spell should have been unbreakable!”

She could hold her tongue no longer. “Keeping them that way was unfair. Perhaps this is for the best.”

“Unfair? They were perfectly content! How could that be unfair?”

She folded her arms. “Locking somebody in a windowless room becomes no less unfair simply because that person has never seen the sun. They deserved to be free.”

He stopped pacing and stared at her coldly. “What did you do?”

She smiled. “I opened a few windows. I let the sunshine in.”

The former slaves broke down the door and dragged her stepfather away. They were reaching for her, too, when their leader recognised her and instead fell to his knees before her.

“The muse of freedom,” he said. “My lady of dreams!”

© Kari Fay