Yeah, so part 6 is my longest part so far. It’s 20 pages long. Part 7 is only fifteen.
Yep, you read that right.
The Tale of Alexandra StormriderJake took a breath.
“Well, basically,” interrupted Liam, clearly eager to get this over with. “This thing happened a few years ago and it really—”
Jake frowned. “I think we owe them a better explanation. You know what level Reed is, right?”
I shook my head.
“He’s level twenty one,” Jake explained. “Remember when you first met him and he was level fourteen when you were level twelve or something?”
“Yeah, and now he’s still a level above us. So what?” I was confused as to how this made any difference to the situation whatsoever.
“He’s four years older than us. And level twenty one.”
“That’s why he’s so tall!” exclaimed Matt.
I sighed. “I still don’t see why that makes a difference.”
“He started at Ravenwood when he was, maybe, eight?” Liam glanced at Jake, who nodded.
“So he’s a slow learner?” I asked, still a little confused as to how it mattered at all.
“He was a magus – level thirty three– when he was… What, ten?”
“That’s not possible!” Matt exclaimed.
“Reed was smart,” Liam shrugged. “Super smart. They thought he’d be like, the new Cyrus Drake.”
“That wouldn’t be too hard for a jerkface like him,” I muttered.
“So what happened?” asked Matt. “He’s level twenty one. You can’t go down levels!”
Liam and Jake exchanged a glance. “Malistaire happened,” Liam said, darkly. I groaned.
“Stop dragging this out like some super important pivotal plot point in a book and tell us what happened to your stupid brother, drama queen,” I complained. What can I say? I’m not a patient person.
“Malistaire decided that Reed was too powerful and captured him,” Jake explained hastily.
“Must be a family thing,” Matt grinned. “Got any other brothers who were captured by him?”
“Jessie accidentally walked into his castle once, didn’t she?” sniggered Liam. “That was pretty funny.” He noticed the shocked looks on our faces. “She got out real quick. She just saw a draconian and teleported before she was seen.” He shrugged again. “These things happen.”
“Jessie? Jessica Frosthaven? In the master ice class?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’s her.”
“Any other siblings you forgot to mention?” Matt joked.
“That’s it. Except Calamity – Calamity Sandweaver? Grandmaster balance.”
“Didn’t know you had such a big family,” I frowned.
“Yeah, well, we don’t like to mention it too much,” Jake said.
“Anyway, you were telling us about Reed,” Matt pointed out.
“Yeah, right, so. Malistaire took him to his creepy house and told him that he wanted him on his side, because, well, he was pretty powerful for a ten-year-old,” Liam continued.
“Reed declined, obviously,” added Jake.
“Really? Bit of a shock there!” I scoffed.
Jake frowned at me. “Reed’s a good guy, deep down. He was great before all that happened to him.”
“Well, actually, he always was a bit of a jerk. He treated us like dirt even before all this happened.” Liam looked thoughtful.
“So his nasty comments aren’t anything to do with the curse?” I asked.
“No, he’s just a bit… stuck up. Thinks he’s better than us. Special.”
“Carry on with the story,” pressed Matt.
“Malistaire got angry and decided to get rid of Reed once and for all. They had a fight. Reed got out of the castle and teleported to the Basilica, but not without getting his head bashed in by a few nasty minions.”
“He lost his memory!” Matt exclaimed.
I was pretty pleased to have finally understood where this was going. Then my excitement deflated. “I don’t get it,” I said. “He lost his memory, he went back to normal, started learning again. That doesn’t give him an excuse to bully you.”
“That’s not the entire story,” offered Jake.
“We think that Malistaire put some sort of curse on Reed,” explained Liam. “He’s perfectly normal most of the time, but he has his… moments.”
“He acts like an arrogant moron most of the time. Is that normal?” I demanded.
“Well, yeah. He always was a bit up himself,” pondered Liam. “Guess that’s a side effect of being a super duper whizz-kid like he is. Well,” Liam corrected himself. “Like he was.”
“His moments are, though?”
“Sometimes he forgets who we are. Who everyone is,” Jake clarified. “It’s scary, but mom and dad usually know the right sorts of magic to stop it.”
“Fine. He’s insane. But why don’t you find out what spell makes him better and use that on him when he starts to let loose a Cyclops?”
Jake smiled sadly. “Even if we knew the magic, we’re not powerful enough. Besides, too much of it can hurt him. It makes his head go all fuzzy for a while, until the spell wears off.”
“Why don’t you just tell someone that he lets trolls loose?”
“Everyone – all the teachers know what happened to him, and they all feel sorry for him. It’s true, though, he can’t help it. It’s a curse, like I said.”
I shook my head, defeated.
“That’s insane,” Matt said, quietly.
“Yeah, things can get tough,” said Liam. “But we manage. So, who’s up for some quests?”
I looked at him pointedly. “We have a detention today. All of us. And even if we didn’t we’re grounded, remember? For a month!”
“So nearly in Marleybone,” said Matt, bitterly. “So close.”
Liam and I laughed. Jake was, of course, being his typical quiet self. Maybe too quiet.
“Come on Jakey-boy,” I said. “We’ve got a detention for being naughty.”
Ambrose did not look particularly pleased to see us. It was almost as though he’d aged another couple of hundred years since we’d last seen him. He had huge, dark circles underneath his eyes and his beard seemed to be a shade whiter. He cleared his throat disapprovingly.
“I suppose you’re all here for your detentions,” he said. “Well, from now on, you’ll be going to the library on Mondays at four, for two hours, until further notice. Harold Argleston can instruct you from there. Off you go, now.”
We left the room in silence. When we were out in the open air, Nat grabbed my sleeve. “Is he always this angry at detentions?” Nat wasn’t one to break the rules, so he was a bit shocked by Ambrose’s dismissive tone.
“Yeah,” I said, perhaps too quickly. “It happens all the time.”
“This could be done by magic,” I grumbled “so much quicker.”
“It’s a punishment, Alex,” explained Matt, shaking his head. “They know we know that and that knowing that makes it even more painful.”
Liam stopped piling his section of books. “Matt. That made no sense.”
“It did!” Matt argued, indignant. I laughed. Detention wasn’t so bad, even if the books did weigh about as much as an overweight Helephant.
We spent a few minutes stacking books in silence.“Help me out here, Jakey,” grumbled Matt. “What in the Spiral is a firewyrm?”
“They live in Dragonspyre,” Jake replied. “They’re like lizards, but they breathe fire. And fly, I think. They have wings, anyway. And they eat—”
“Our walking encyclopedia, you are,” Matt proclaimed, proudly, as Jake continued piling books neatly on a chair.
“Don’t be stupid, Matt. I’m not that smart. I just happened to see one when I was over there.”
“What’s Dragonspyre like?” asked Nat.
“It’s pretty scary,” Jake answered. “You can tell it must have been totally awesome at one point, but now it’s just massive mess.”
“It’s hot there, all right,” added Liam. “Almost as bad as Krokotopia.”
“Really?” asked Matt. “I didn’t notice.”
Somehow I found my mind wandering back to the whole Reed deal. I glanced over at him. He was making a deliberate effort to stay as far away from us as possible. I’d never heard of curses. Well, I didn’t doubt that Harold Argleston had probably mentioned them at some point in his long-winded explanations of magical theory - which I would never understand anyway – but I must have missed it. Or perhaps curses were just something Malistaire specialized in? They wouldn’t teach classes like that in Wizard City, would they?
Malistaire. The entire Spiral had been under a dark shadow since before I’d even known it existed. What was it like before he was here? I couldn’t even imagine the Spiral that way. Almost everything I’d known here was about saving the Spiral, getting rid of him. It seemed like something completely unfeasible.
And the prophecy – what was all that about? Were Jake and Liam – and possibly Matt, and three others –meant to be the ones who would finally defeat him once and for all? Would that make me the one who was left out? Why couldn’t they have just got him when we were back at the fort? There were so many questions! I groaned and threw several books towards the nearest pile without even glancing at them.
How was Wizard City meant to get out of this mess?
“Alex,” sighed Liam, “I hate to break it to you, but you just put the entire collection of Wyrmblood’s potion theory under ‘D.’”
“Great,” I mumbled. Those books had weighed a ton.
“Come on; let’s put them over there for now.” Liam grabbed the first volume and threw it into a corner.
Jake frowned, and was probably about to give him a good telling off for mistreating a precious book, when a familiar hooting interrupted.
“Less chatter, more sorting!” Gamma swooped over our heads with a letter in his claws, and flew out of the window.
It was more than a month’s worth of detentions before we found it. Lavender Starteller’s Prophecies and Predictions, a heavy, dusty, and apparently mind-numbingly dull book, was set to be stuck next to her previous novel, Foreseeing Fates. I’d picked it up hastily; eager to finish early and go study for the history test we had tomorrow, and saw a scrappy piece of yellow parchment flutter slowly to the floor.
Well, it couldn’t just be a random bit of paper for once, could it?
Jake picked it up and scanned it quickly. He didn’t even need to say anything.
“The prophecy?” asked Matt, in a whisper. Jake nodded.
“Didn’t Ambrose show you two all of it before?” I asked, frowning at them.
Jake shook his head. “If only. I think he thought it was better not to scare us, or something…”
“How bad can it be?” I asked. “I mean—”
“Shh!” Jake hissed urgently. My voice had subconsciously risen to its normal noisy tone. “Do you still have the other part?”
Matt took out an even more crumpled – if that was possible – piece of parchment. “Ok,” he said, and began to read in a low voice
“Several young wizards will follow the path,
Become the defense from powers dark,
Three from each side of the Magical Arts,
Balanced enough will they depart… What the hell is that meant to mean?”
“Shh!” I glanced around furtively. Nat and Reed were still stacking books on the other side of the room.
“They'll walk streets unknown to wizards before,
To find powers of ancient and mystical lore,
To assist in their quest – on which the Spiral will depend –
But not until they find the sacred Quest’s end.”
“So no one gets these powers until the end of the quest? How does that work out?”
“Shut UP! We can’t have anyone finding out about this! Alex and I aren’t even supposed to know about this--”
Nat had noticed our conversation and had crept up on us almost silently. Stupid necromancers. They always do that.
“Um,” I said.
“Erm,” Jake added.
“Well…” Liam began.
“It’s…” Matt started. “It’s nothing very important. It’s a piece of paper we found in one of the books.”
“What’s written on it?” Nat asked.
“It’s just notes,” Liam invented.
“Why are you arguing over it?”
“Can I see?”
Liam, Jake, and Matt all looked at me. Three whisper chats were in my head all at once and I didn’t hesitate before nodding. Nat was my little brother. We could trust him.
“It’s a prophecy,” I explained, “and it involves Liam and Jake.”
“Oh, that’s cool! Can I see now?”
“It’s basically the ultimate fate of the entire Spiral.”
“… Oh. Not so cool.”
“So, anyway – read it, Matt!”
“The next bit’s kind of half on the page that came out of the book and half on the one we f—”
“Give it here,” I interrupted.
Matt passed the paper to me quickly. I was getting impatient.
“It says,” I began, trying to piece the pages together, “something about girls. Two, I think. So let’s just say that line says that there are two girls in the prophecy.” I paused.
“Go on,” Jake urged.
“But all will face darkness; no doubt there’s a lot
It shall be a long road but they must persevere
For their destinies lie somewhere shrouded in fear.
“Alas, Spiral saviors, your fates are tied
You cannot succeed until one has died.”
“When you hear it out loud, it sounds kinda lame,” Liam said, clearly unimpressed. “I mean, Ambrose said that prophecies are epic poetry… That sounds like Alex wrote it.”
I glared at him. “I’m not THAT bad at writing.”
“Stop talking about how rubbish it is – someone’s going to die!” Jake sounded panicked.
“Yeah, well… Prophecies always just say stuff like that, don’t they?”
“Yes, but that’s because those things actually happen!” Jake’s voice had risen to almost a shriek.
“What are you losers all huddled in the corner for?”
“Go away, butt-face. The last thing we need around here is your ugly—”
“I don’t think that’s appropriate in front of the kid,” Reed excused smoothly, pointing at Nat.
“I’ve heard worse,” Nat said.
Reed gave him a condescending sneer and turned back to Jake. “So what are you so upset about, dweeb?”
“He’s not a dweeb,” I said, coldly. Even after hearing his story, I found it difficult to be sympathetic in the slightest.
“Right, and you’re not a nutty storm wizard.” He snatched the paper in my hand.
“What’s this?” he frowned, glancing over it. “Several young wizards will follow a path… Been writing fairy stories, wickle Jakey?”
“No,” I growled. “He hasn’t. That’s called a prophecy, butt-head. And it’s not just a story.”
Reed looked at me like I would look at a pyromancer in Colossus Boulevard. “You’re having me on, kid. They don’t have prophecies any more. Level ones know that the most significant prophecies were fulfilled hundreds and hundreds of years ago.” He rolled his eyes emphatically. “Besides, prophecies aren’t written that badly. Balanced enough will they depart… What the heckhound is that?”
He paused for a few more seconds, probably to read the rest of the page, while we five glanced at each other dubiously.
“So, which one of you wrote this rubbish?” he sneered.
I suppose him knowing about it wouldn’t be a problem if he thought it was fictional. I glanced at Matt, who shrugged, apparently unconcerned about this new development.
Reed took one more glance at the paper, scoffed, then shoved it back towards Jake and wandered off with a pile of ancient-looking books.
I swear that at that point we all literally sighed out loud in relief.
“That,” said Liam, with great relish, “was close.”
Merle Ambrose sat at his desk, frowning over a piece of paper.
“Any developments, professor?” Gamma had swooped in almost silently through an open window.
Ambrose shook his head in apparent puzzlement. It was a rare occasion that one of the Spiral’s greatest wizarding minds was completely and utterly stumped by something, but on that seemingly unremarkable , cloudy day in Wizard City, something had done exactly that. The something was a neatly copied edition of a poem which lay in front of him.
Several young wizards will follow the path,
Become the defense from powers dark,
Three from each side of the Magical Arts,
Balanced enough will they depart.
They'll walk streets unknown to wizards before,
To find objects of ancient lore,
To help them fight fights on which the Spiral will depend -
but these only upon reaching the Questend.
Two are young girls and the rest are not
But all will face darkness; no doubt there's a lot
It shall be a long road but they must persevere
For their destinies lie somewhere shrouded in fear.
Alas, Spiral saviors, your fates are tied
You cannot succeed until one has died.
It didn’t make sense! Ambrose knew who the six in the prophecy were – after some deliberation – but the numbers didn’t add up. He was certain he had chosen the correct six. They radiated the clear aura that all those well-versed in prophetics were taught about in their very first instruction, and yet the prophecy seemed not to take into account that there were five boys in the prophecy, and only one girl.
Gamma hooted sympathetically. “Would yo-oo-ou like me to take a lo-ook at it, Headmaster?”
Ambrose looked at Gamma. “It doesn’t make sense, Gamma. You agree that the six students—”
“Of course. They are quite clearly those in the prophecy.”
“Could there be mo-o-ore, Headmaster?”
“Don’t be ridiculous Gamma – it clearly says three from each half…”
“You are right, professor… It is unusual for prophecies to quantify their subjects… Do you recall the Firemancer prophecy?”
“Only too well… I suppose it can’t be the same case here, could it?”
“I doubt it, professor.”
There were three from each half of the magical arts – meaning three from the three elemental schools and three from the three spiritual schools. That made sense, at least. There was no balance mage, he had determined that much. Could there be any other students? The poem clearly stated that three from each half of the arts would be selected… Or did it? Ambrose read it again.
Three from each side of the Magical Arts
Each side, not each half. Ambrose shook his head. As if that made any difference! There couldn’t be any more students. If there were three from each side, and there were two sides—
“FREEDOM!” yelled Matt, running over to give Liam a hi-five.
“We’re out of here!” exclaimed Liam.
“No more Krokotopia!” I cried, over the moon. Even Jake gave a happy grin when I ran over to hug him.
After finally being released from our quest ban, one torturous month later, we had defeated the last boss in Krokotopia, which was a relief, since by this time if I saw one more grain of sand I would be perfectly prepared the blow up the entire planet, manders and all.
“We’re in Marleybone, guys!” I shouted, running to report back to… erm… the ghost Krok, whose name I had conveniently forgotten…
Liam was already handing in the quest. “What?” said Matt. “You marked it? No wonder you nearly run out of mana, you idiot!”
Liam simply grinned. “Well I get to level up first, guys…”
“Not fair!” I grumbled, trying to get in front of Matt to talk to the ghost first.
“Calm yourselves, wizards. You will all get into Marleybone eventually,” the ghost explained. “You will need to understand the value of patience before you proceed any further, though.”
“Yes, Krokhotep” – so that was his name! – “We understand,” nodded Jake, demurely.
Krokhotep smiled in a slightly creepy Krokotilian way as he handed Jake another quest scroll and an athame, along with – to our surprise – a training card.
“What is it?” I asked frantically, trying to get a better look. “Is it good? Do I get one?” I turned to the ghost again.
“Not if your erratic behavior continues,” he frowned, looking more than slightly menacing. Jake, meanwhile, took this opportunity to get the spell card further away from me and tuck it carefully into his deck, out of harm’s way.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered. “I’m just over-excited.”
“Pyromancer,” Krokhotep growled, taking Matt’s quest scroll and handing him a new one, with his shiny new dagger and spell card. Matt looked at it for a good few seconds before nodding approvingly and stuffing it into his pocket.
“What spells are we getting, exactly?” I asked. Krokhotep glared at me and shoved a quest scroll, athame, and card my way. “Thank you.” I looked at them.
“Cleanse Charm?” I asked. “What does that do?”
“Gets rid of negative charms on yourself. Like Weakness. That one can be a right pain,” said Liam, rolling his eyes. “Sometimes I really hate balance.”
Krokhotep glared at us again. “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”
“Oh, right, yeah,” said Matt. “Race to Ambrose’s!” We began running towards the exit.
“You need to talk to Sergeant Major Talbot first!” growled Krokhotep after us, shaking his oversized snout in disapproval. “These wizards…”
“It’s dark,” muttered Jake.
“That’s because it’s night time!” Liam yelled, earning us a few strange looks from a group of dogs over the street.
“Keep your voice down, mate,” said Matt. “It’s really quiet here. It’s not as busy as Krokotopia.”
Well, that was one thing he had right. Marleybone was definitely not as busy as Krokotopia. They were – quite literally – worlds apart. Marleybone was as chilly as Krokotopia was hot, windy as it was still, quiet as it was noisy… In fact, the only thing that remained the same was the undeniable appearance of numerous talking animals. It was a bit spooky, actually.
“Hey guys,” Matt said; “my sister wants me to go help her – back in Krokotopia. She can’t defeat Krokenkahmen, or whatever he is, y’know, the one in the dungeon? I’d probably better go. Anyone else wanna come?”
“Back to Krokotopia? Are you mad?” exclaimed Liam in disgust.
“One of you? Please? I can’t stand my sister’s snobby little friend on my own!”
“Who’s that again?”
“That Kymma girl that my mom doesn’t like. She’s so annoying. Seriously.”
I remembered I had met Kymma a while ago, helping Matt’s sister, Saffy, with Firecat Alley. And Matt was right – no one in their right mind could put up with her on their own.
“I’ll come,” I said.
“Aw, thanks Alex,” grinned Matt. “You guys – don’t get too far ahead, okay?”
“We won’t,” sighed Liam.
“Cool. See you later, guys.” Matt turned to me. “Port in a few seconds.” He disappeared in a shower of fiery sparks. One hit me in the face.
“Ow,” I grumbled, wincing, to snorts of laughter. I glared at the twins and teleported to Matt, scowling.
I was sucked immediately into a battle, with the familiar tiny blue-haired thaumaturge and her grinning brother. In first position was Kymma Frosthaven, sneering as she cast a snow serpent.
“Hey Alex!” cried Saffron. I waved in response. “Nice snake, Kymma,” she continued happily. Kymma nodded. I recognized her dark hair and skinny frame from the last time I’d met her, which hadn’t been that long ago. Since, she’d grown even taller than me, I realized. I quickly sorted out my deck before the next turn started.
“Oh, here comes another Nirini,” Saffy groaned. “There are so many of them – and we’d only just defeated one as well!”
“At least we’ve got them outnumbered now, Saff,” said Matt reassuringly. He had this big brother thing worked out alright.
Kymma cast an ice blade, Saffy a well-placed snow serpent, Matt cast a fire prism on a Nirini, and I stuck with my trademark storm blade. I saw a look of puzzlement cross Matt’s face and asked him what was wrong. He shook his head. “Oh, nothing.” I shrugged. I was, soon enough, distracted by a Nirini casting a particularly noisy squawking sun bird on me, singing the edges of my brand new Marleybone hat.
Honestly, my luck was awful sometimes.
The battle continued into the next round of attack. On Saffy’s right, snotty Kymma cast a spell I didn’t recognize.
“Was that a Frostbite?” asked Matt, frowning.
“Yes,” she replied, curtly.
“What level are you?”
“It was… a treasure card.” Her story didn’t sound convincing.
“Are you sure? I thought treasure cards had a special effect, but that looked like an—”
“I’m certain it was.” Her tone indicated the conversation was finished. I looked at Matt, puzzled.
“Frostbite is the spell you get when you defeat Krokopatra, for thaumaturges!” his whisper chat voice sounded startled.
“Well, she said it was a treasure card,” I reasoned, waving my wand to cast a storm shark on Krokenhamen himself. I could not wait until I got an attack-all-enemies spell – more specifically, Tempest. Imagine the time it would save!
“Alex, I know a treasure card when I see one.”
“You made a mistake, maybe?”
“It wasn’t just that! She cast ice blade earlier – ice wizards don’t get their blade until they’re in the master class.” He sounded unusually confused.
“Relax. That was probably just a treasure card too.”
“Can you get blade treasure cards?”
I thought about it. “I’m pretty sure Nat had one once.”
Matt huffed. “Something isn’t right here, Alex.”
“Don’t worry. Nothing’s wrong. It’s not like you to be paranoid. Relax, Matt.”
Matt didn’t say anything else, but continued to look disgruntled for the rest of the fight. Even 0nce we’d finished off Krokopatra he gave his sister a brief smile and ported away without a word.
I couldn’t work out what was wrong. It was only a couple of treasure cards, right?
I teleported back to Jake and Liam and told them what had happened.
“Weird, huh?” I finished, collapsing on the Marleybonian bench in Regent’s Square.
“Actually, Alex, it’s not so weird,” Jake frowned, sitting next to me. “People who can do magic that they’re not supposed to be doing… Well, it generally means there’s something weird about them.”
“So you don’t think they could just be treasure card spells?”
“I wasn’t there, obviously, so I can’t be certain whether they were, but if Matt thinks they were…”
“How can you tell the difference?”
“Treasure cards have a sort of… gold glowy thing. Surely you’ve noticed?” I shook my head.
“I don’t use treasures very often actually…” I mumbled, shrugging.
“Anyway, if they weren’t treasure cards, then she’s lying about her level – or…” Jake shook his head. “No, she can’t be.”
“Or what?” Liam suddenly asked.
Jake sighed. “Well, she could be doing spells without magic, but that is really, really rare… No pupil has been recorded doing it in years! You have to do special training and everything, and get a licence to be allowed to… And you have to be really, really talented. Not just anyone can do it.”
I pondered this for a moment, looking at both of them. All of a sudden Liam’s eyes lit up.
“Say she was doing magic without the cards…” he began. “Could she – just maybe – be a part of the prophecy?”
Jake rolled his eyes. “Great. Just what we need. Another jerk to be part of the team.”
“Another jerk?” I said. “I thought the only two people who were in it for certain were you two?”
“Um…” Jake looked like a rabbit caught in headlights.
“Hey, don’t be mean, bro!” shouted Liam, unnecessarily loudly. “I am not a jerk!”
Jake shot Liam a look of gratitude, then immediately tried to twist his face into “cheeky apologetic.” It came out as “laughing with a bad stomach ache”.
Lucky for me, Jakey is a really bad actor.
“Who else is in the prophecy?” I demanded.
“Okay. Okay.” Jake took a breath. “Well, Matt’s the fire one, obviously. He doesn’t know yet. None of the others know yet. Ambrose thought it was best to keep it quiet before everyone finds out.”
“Well, Reed is the myth person. I’m storm, and Liam is life. Ambrose thinks the death is a guy called Tom something. We don’t know him,” he shrugged. “And now I think this Kymma girl has to be the ice one.”
“What about balance?” I frowned.
They exchanged a glance. “Ambrose doesn’t think there is a balance,” Liam said, “which makes sense after reading that line in the prophecy… What does it say? ‘They are balanced already and go?’”
“Balanced enough will they depart,” Jake corrected.
“Yeah, that. It means we don’t need balance!” he said, perhaps a bit too loudly, judging by the face of a magus sorcerer who took the silence after that to glare at us.
“No offence,” he added, lamely.
I got back to my dorm late that night. You don’t really notice the time passing when it’s constantly night time. You can’t see the sun moving across the sky – and the moon isn’t really the same. It’s the weirdest feeling.
Even so, I found that when I did finally get into bed, I couldn’t sleep. It happened sometimes, I supposed. My mind was just too busy to switch itself off late at night. Usually I could never find a particular reason for my aversion to rest but that night I knew exactly what was bothering me.
I tried to quench the uncomfortable squirming in my stomach as I tossed and turned for hours. It was stupid, I told myself, to be jealous. Even more stupid because they’re in a prophecy which predicts death and generally totally rubbish stuff for pretty much everyone. I grumbled to myself and turned over, listening to Nat’s peaceful little snorts and every now and then, the occasional murmur.
“Pie,” he mumbled unconsciously. “Mmrphsah. Mrff.”
“Yeah, exactly,” I muttered, sitting up. There was no use trying to sleep. I decided to go for a walk. Perhaps that would make me a little more tired.
Ravenwood was cold and hauntingly empty at night. Usually you couldn’t even glance around without seeing several students strolling or sprinting around the rooms, going from class to class, back to their dorms after a hard day’s questing, or to another world through Bartleby. I stared up at the great tree, who appeared to be sleeping, just like the rest of Wizard City probably was. A wind rustled his leaves. Was that the tree equivalent of snoring?
I crept quietly through the tunnel to the commons. The tunnel itself was darker than I’d seen it before, and despite the knowledge that it was totally irrational to be scared of the dark, I couldn’t help but feel a little intimidated. Perhaps I should have turned back, but I continued through the tunnel resolutely. I could see the dim light at the end of the tunnel from the perpetually glowing statue in the commons lake.
I noticed a sudden flicker of movement.
“Hello?” I probed, tentative. “Is anyone there?”
Silence, broken only by the whisper of what I assumed was simply the wind.
I continued walking, unperturbed. If I was going to go back, now would be a really neat time to start running, but I reassured myself that at the very worst it would just be a little stray Firecat. And those little guys wouldn’t harm a fly… Well, for the most part, anyway.
I had no idea where I intended to go, deciding that I’d probably just walk around the lake and go straight back. I was a little drowsy now, anyway, and while I was fully conscious I realized the thoughts I’d had earlier lying in bed were completely ridiculous. It was just my subconscious nagging at me insistently. That, at least, was much clearer in daylight – or nightlight, or whatever the light I was walking around in was.
All of a sudden I felt a cold breeze tickle. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up on end and I felt even colder than I had when I first entered Colossus Boulevard all those months ago. I shivered. Perhaps I should just teleport back. Of course, that would have the downside of waking Nat, which was never a good idea, in any situation. Instead, I turned around and started to head back to the tunnel, but not before the Commons appeared to darken before my eyes, and I looked up to see dark clouds gathering overhead.
Back on Earth, this was the sign of a thunderstorm, and I would be delighted to stay outside and feel the rain against my face, and listen to the thunder.
In the Spiral, however, dark clouds gathering made me want to hide under a table and curl up into a ball. Or run away as fast as possible.
I turned on the spot, concentrating on where I wanted to go and ignoring the concern of grumpy little brothers waking up. I had to get out of here. But when I opened my eyes I wasn’t back in my dorm room. In fact, I hadn’t moved at all. Nothing had happened, other than me now feeling a bit nauseous. I closed my eyes and bent over, putting my head between my knees. Eurgh – I hadn’t felt this awful since I was back on Earth with flu. I straightened up, with my eyes still closed, and felt blazing heat on the back of my neck. My eyes opened and I snapped around.
A house was on fire.
I had to tell someone! I instinctively turned to Ambrose’s office and began to run. The fire continued to crackle behind me and I stared up to the sky. Huge balls of fire were falling all over the commons. Meteor Strike. One of my favorite spells when I was fighting possessed manders or Nirinis with Matt, but not so much in PvP situations, or when a boss used it against us.
Or when it appeared in the Commons in the middle of the night, meaning it was probably the handiwork of the only person in the Spiral vindictive and powerful enough to consider destroying Wizard City.
I barged into the heavy wooden door that lead to the headmaster’s office, which, rather inconveniently, refused to budge, then began hammering on it insistently, yelling at the top of my voice.
“Professor! Professor Ambrose, you have to come and help! There’s a meteor strike in the Commons! HEADMASTER AMBROSE! GAMMA! SOMEONE HELP!”
“They can’t hear you,” said a calm voice from behind me. I refused to look around, instead continuing to hammer on the door like I couldn’t hear.
“There’s a spell on that door. No sound can pass through it. And the door itself is impenetrable.” I heard a small, harsh laugh. “Well, it is for weaklings like you.” I continued to ignore it, though I couldn’t deny that my hammering must have seemed a little less insistent.
“Maybe there’s a reason night time strolls are against the rules, here, Stormrider.” I tried not to let my concern that my name had come into this show. “Maybe you should start to follow them!”
A fireball landed right next to me, scorching a disturbingly large portion of the wall next to me. I could pretend to ignore this for no longer.
I sprinted through the Commons, barely aware of my feet thudding against the ground one after the other and the way in which I was inhaling air in huge, gasping gulps. My heart was racing. I ran over the Rainbow Bridge, glancing over my shoulder. My hand grasped my wand tighter as I pushed myself on. I knew I wouldn’t last much longer. I could see him over my shoulder, dark and tall and ridiculously intimidating, wielding his mighty staff. My legs felt like jelly. I had no control over them and I c0uld feel myself about to fall. I didn’t make any effort to protect myself. I tried to crawl, but my knees stung. My robes were torn and I had no energy left with which to move. My knees were bleeding.
I had a strange sense of déjà vu. Of course! I had dreamed – well, had a nasty nightmare – about this when I was just an initiate. I looked up at Malistaire.
“You will not get away, Stormrider, mark my words. Too many times you have escaped! But not this time. No one’s here to come and save you this time. Not your friends, not your professors, not even some idiotic traitor of a servant! And now, you’re going to die.”
I almost thought that he was going to kill me right there, but Malistaire just continued with his evil-guy-conquering-the-world-monologue. I decided not to listen, instead focusing my efforts on whisper chatting to Ambrose.
“Malistaire’s here! In the commons! Malistaire! Here! Right now!” I repeated it in my head like some peculiar sort of mantra. “Malistaire! Commons! Malistaire!” I felt sick to the stomach and willed my body to move, while Malistaire was still distracted with his big speech thing. I honestly never understood why evil people always did that. Why don’t they just kill people before they have the chance to get away? Seriously, guys. Ego!
“And once every nasty little wizard like you is out of the way, Wizard City will be destroyed!” He raised his staff.
“There will be no more harm done tonight.”
I passed out.
What? I was tired.
Pheew. Sorry it's all blocky. Blogger went and messed it up. I recommend you go see it on ff.net, where it's a bit nicer, though still not paragraphed right. Grrr, frustration.
That took a long time. Expect part eight in… Well, probably next year, hahaha. I am sporadicacal. Hopefully I should actually get part eight done. I think that’s where it starts to get interesting… It’s pretty clear where this is going, I think. Yeah. Well, there you go! That’s all for today!