Chapter Thirty-Six – Night Trap
Twas the night before Christmas Eve, when all through the city, criminals were stirring, and he showed them no pity. From roof he did leap by each chimney with care, and even by himself he did so with flare.
The Dark Mage. He thought it was goofy at first, but truthfully, it grew on him. Nobody knew who he was. He was free to help anybody in need without the worry of someone seeing his face, and taking him down. He wondered why he hadn’t done this in the past, at least to such an extent. Though, he knew he couldn’t let the rest know, especially Deena. She’d be furious.
“It’s the 23rd,” he thought to himself. “Almost Christmas. I got everyone a gift, I helped a bunch of people already tonight. It’s a good holiday. New city, new start. A better start.”
Eldrian glanced down from the rooftop. Just a moment ago, the man beneath his feet had another man at gunpoint. But now, he was wrapped up completely by an old rope taken from the nearby dumpster. The thug never even saw it coming. With a whip of his finger, Eldrian captured him from above, and he watched as the victim fled to freedom.
Thanks to his friends, and the chaos that followed them, he had already improved greatly. He could tell. Spells came more easily, and he’d already been practicing a bunch of new ones. He actually started to wish something disastrous would occur just so he had an excuse to use them. Safety was nice, but he wasn’t the type to stay idle for long. Boredom was a fate worse than death.
So he flew. With his cloak fluttering behind him, he moved to the next building, and then the next, enjoying the freedom he felt blowing through his clothes.
He stopped for a moment on top of a particularly tall office complex, leaning a hand against the air conditioning unit to catch his breath. The sky was clear. Despite the city’s light drowning out most of the stars, he could make out several, and the moon was bright and clear. A click caught his attention, and then the grunt of a young man. He spun his head, and his yellow eyes locked on to somebody threatening him with a pistol.
“I don’t know who the hell you are,” the stranger muttered. “I don’t know who sent you. But you aren’t catching me.”
Eldrian looked down. In the man’s hand was a briefcase nearly overflowing with cash. On his shirt, there were stains of blood and tears in the fabric.
“I wasn’t planning on catching you,” he replied.
“Well, you’ve seen too much. All right? You hear me? You’re dead!”
An invisible wave fell over Eldrian. It felt like a tickling blanket, but only for a moment, and when he turned around, he saw a faint aurora flowing through the air from a specific direction. He shivered.
“Did you feel that?” asked Eldrian.
“Feel what? Shut up!”
“You’re just great to talk to, aren’t you?”
Eldrian was distracted. Something happened, and only he could see it. He immediately decided it must have been due to his innate connection to magical things, including his magic eyes. It was much more interesting than these random thieves.
“That’s it,” snarled the man. “Take this!”
He pulled his finger back against the trigger, however, the trigger wasn’t present—the entire gun was gone. The man panicked and looked around himself, but then he noticed the weapon in Eldrian’s grip instead, though he still seemed to be paying more attention to the direction of the brief magical wave than the criminal.
“How—“ the man stuttered.
“I gotta go,” said Eldrian. “You can have this back.”
From the palm of his hand, a shock of energy exploded. The kinetic force sent the pistol in a straight line towards the young man’s forehead, and it made direct contact. He fell backwards and the money spilled all around him, but when he looked up, the wizard had vanished.
“So what do you think, Alchia?” Poppet asked. “Are we far enough from the city to be safe, but close enough for this to work? Pointy Ears said about here would be fine. I think. I don’t really pay attention when he talks. He’s so boring.”
The taller girl nodded. “It should be. Thank goodness we’re in Canada. You head outside of any city, and there isn’t another one for miles. Nothing but empty land and trees.”
Withdrawn from her pocket, Alchia removed a pink crystal. It refracted the starlight beautifully through its translucent, almost glass-like form. The glistening gem brought great interest to the eyes of Poppet, who looked upon it like a puppy may gaze upon a treat.
“It’s so pretty… I wonder how much it’s worth,” the short girl mumbled.
“Priceless. It’s magic, Poppet. And this isn’t for us to gawk at. We need to use it.”
“Then how come you’re staring at it to?”
“I-I’m not!” she said as she glared intently at the crystal.
“I can’t believe we’re supposed to destroy it.”
“If it’s easy to destroy, it can’t be worth a lot to non-magical folk. He told us it would break easier than glass, and it wouldn’t even cut our hands. That’s no gemstone. That’s like, a cheap souvenir. A beautiful, sparkling souvenir. Mmm.”
“Snap out of it, Alchia. We need to shatter that thing while it’s still night time!”
“Right. Let’s do it. Anyone who’s sensitive to magic should feel this, so I wonder who will show up. Most people should be asleep, but we already know these wizards are night owls. One of them has to notice. And if not, we’ll get a different one!”
“What if we get the spellbreakers instead?”
Alchia shrugged. “Pointy Ears has our back. He’s an elf, Poppet. Those are super duper rare and they’re great with magical stuff. All right. Three. Two. One.”
She rose the hand up in the air, and with all her might, she squeezed. It started to crack. Lights inside the crystal began to flash rapidly, and the scratches turned to chasms, until it finally gave. The crystal shattered in her hand, and instead of turning to shrapnel, it disintegrated into a fizzle of glittery smoke. A wave then burst free, and although it surrounded them, it directed itself where she was facing. An aurora wafted through Edmonton. Then, it disappeared just as quickly.
“Now we wait,” Alchia said softly.
“Boring! I don’t want to wait,” pouted Poppet. “How long?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never done something like this before.”
Beside some trees, the two “sisters” rested—waited. Twenty minutes passed before anything occurred, so it took some consoling from Alchia to keep Poppet from going mad.
A strange man, garbed in dark blue with a hood concealing his face by shadow, stared at them with glowing yellow eyes. When he spoke, his voice echoed, and sounded unnatural.
“Hey. Did you two see a weird colourful thing this way? I know. Weird question,” Eldrian said.
Poppet practically leapt into position as she shouted, “Heck yes we did!”
“And who are you?” Alchia asked.
The Dark Mage looked quickly between them. These were either wizards or spellbreakers. He had no doubt in his mind. Daveon mentioned a witch of Poppet’s description, but nothing about the dark-skinned woman beside her. He remained cautious.
“Are you the little girl who was controlling skeletons?” he asked.
“I’m not that little!” Poppet snarled.
“I can see why he got you confused with… Nevermind. So, I bet that was you. I don’t care what you do with your magic, as long as people don’t get hurt. Grave-robbing definitely feels like it’s in line with illegal. I think that counts as not okay.”
“Yeah? Well, guess what, old man? I challenge you to a wizard battle!” Poppet shouted as she thrusted forward a finger.
Eldrian practically lit up. “A wizard battle? Merry Christmas to me! I accept. If this is how I need to stop you from stealing corpses, than I’ll do it, and I’m going to assume you baited me here to either kill me or something similar. That’s a good reason to stop you too.”
“Just me and you,” Poppet grinned.
Alchia crossed her arms, and she backed up to lean against a tree. “Have fun, Poppet.”
“I will. Don’t worry.”
“Me too,” said Eldrian. “Let’s get started.”
“I’ll make you my toy!”
From Poppet’s finger tips came tiny glowing spheres. She opened her palms up, and with a thrusting down of both her hands, long glittering bands of silver fired from each of her fingers to snake towards him. Puppet Strings!
Eldrian leapt upwards to dodge. However, to his surprise, they didn’t continue forwards. As soon as he moved, they lifted into the air to follow behind him, and a couple wrapped tightly around his ankle. He felt his energy begin to drain, as if the strings were sapping his body’s control away, but fortunately, he was able to correct himself in the air with magical flight.
He hovered long enough to focus his palm down at the ground. Tiny icicles began to fire from it like a machine gun, but he directed them in a line from left to right across the grass. Hail Storm!
The tiny pieces of ice cut through Poppet’s puppet strings, so they dispersed into sparkles—as did Eldrian’s spell as he landed back to the ground.
Eldrian squeezed his fists tightly closed and held them with his wrists pointed upwards. Focusing, he was able to manifest rapidly twisting pockets of wind around his arms, as if his skin was becoming engulfed by tornadoes. Then, he slammed his wrists together, and at the same time, his hands opened wide. A giant blast of spiralling wind came out in a cone. Wind Tunnel!
Poppet screamed as the breeze launched her backwards to tumble across the ground, and she eventually slid to a slop—disoriented. Her eyes then opened wide. Eldrian was already nearby, having moved through teleportation, but she was quick enough to react. As she pulled herself up, she raised both of her hands to create a transparent ward of energy to absorb a blast of lighting from Eldrian’s hand. Both of them hopped backwards.
“That’s it!” the little girl screamed with red in her face.
She launched herself a few meters into the air, and with hands high above her head, sparkles began to manifest one by one in the sky. Eldrian thought it was the stars at first, but too late did he notice they were something more. Each fired down towards him like tiny meteors. Starlight Symphony!
A crater exploded by his feet, causing him to stumble back. Another was absorbed by a ward he quickly cast. Unfortunately, the one after that exploded at his side and threw him to the ground. He rolled just as one collided with the soil at his left. Then, some smashed directly into his stomach, causing him to gag as the wind escaped from his lungs.
“Woo! Kick his butt, Poppet!” shouted Alchia from the sidelines.
“Beg for mercy down there!” Poppet yelled.
There were too many projectiles, almost like a rainstorm. On his back, Eldrian had to think fast, and he did just that. The ground began to rumble. A small earthquake hit the area, at least, that’s what the others assumed at first. A fissure split open just begin enough for Eldrian to fall into, and after a moment, Poppet ceased her flurry of attacks. Her foe had disappeared into the ground.
“Where is he?” Poppet cursed. “Where could he have gone? He must be around here somewhere.”
“Over here!” yelled Alchia.
Poppet turned her head. She panicked for a moment, thinking Eldrian had actually gone after her best friend instead. To her relief, she saw that Alchia was fine, but she was frantically waving her hands and shaking her head.
“No! That wasn’t me that said that!” Alchia yelled. “He threw his voice!”
Sure enough, Eldrian was actually behind Poppet, also flying in the air. A crackling ball of purple and black hovered over his right hand, and he pitched it like a baseball directly into the witch’s back. It detonated, and it sent Poppet down towards the ground like a meteor instead. Shadow Ball!
An explosion of dust came up from the witch’s point of impact. She flopped down on her stomach and stuck out her tongue.
“Owie,” she mumbled.
Eldrian landed beside her, and his hands crackled with electricity. He didn’t fire however. He positioned himself in a readied stand, and waited for Poppet’s next move.
“I won,” he said. “Unless you want to keep going.”
She pulled herself up, to his surprise. Her legs wobbled. Her face was covered in dirt. However, she frowned at him, and although she didn’t yet cast a spell, she looked ready to rip off his face.
“We never lose,” Poppet growled.
A ring that almost looked as if it was made of solid emerald, nearly crushed him as it appeared around his arms and midsection. The ring squeezed, and for the moment, he was unable to move. His head twitched to the side to see Alchia nearby—just finishing a spell.
“But you said—“ Eldrian started.
Poppet pressed her wrists together. A wispy white light swirled around her hands, and it grew in size and velocity over a moment of time. Suddenly, her arms burst into a storm of wind and snow, and in that moment, she thrust her hands forwards. An explosion of extreme cold, strong wind, and tiny pieces of ice, caused Eldrian to yell out in pain and fly several meters backwards. Frozen Outburst!
Luckily, the emerald band broke as well, but Eldrian groaned as he stood up once again. Now Poppet had an ally standing beside her, and there was only one of him.
Eldrian did something he secretly had hoped he would need to do. He started to maneuver both of his hands around in front of him, and a purple sigil manifested on the frosty ground in front of his feet. As he continued the incantation, a staff rose up made of a dark wood—trimmed with silver and gold, and decorated with jagged motifs resembling bolts of lightning.
He gripped it in one hand and swung it to the side. It lit up with a vibrant, crackling energy.
Stay tuned for Chapter Thirty-Seven – Christmas Eve!