Chapter Forty-Six – The White Rabbit
It was an unusually warm afternoon compared to the norm, though a chilly breeze still made itself present on occasion, and the ground was covered in snow. Daveon, cornered between an infatuated girl, her muscle-head boyfriend, and a brick wall, thought moreso about his existential dilemmas than the matter at hand. They were problems beyond the situation.
“What do you have to say for yourself, huh?” barked the man looming over him.
In one of his hands he gripped the small remains of a chocolate bar still its wrapper. He bit down into the treat, and swallowed it down as he tossed the trash to the ground.
“Sorry. I wasn’t paying attention just now,” Daveon replied.
“Oh that’s it. You’re dea—“
As he lunged at Daveon, the man’s foot caught on a root that he swore wasn’t there a moment before. He slammed his cheek against the snow as the druid backed away.
Daveon knew he couldn’t be too open with his spells, though he also knew that without magic eyes, these two wouldn’t be able to notice most of what he could do. Though he wasn’t as skilled as Eldrian with tricky, trippy magic, he wasn’t green either—only in another sense of the word.
He could do anything to them, even kill them, but he never would. The fact of the matter is that he could, which is not something he often thought about. It’s presumably the reason wizards are erased from history. He followed a wizard to Canada to find his place, and to do good, but the more he thought about it, the less he knew what that even meant. Perhaps the succubus wasn’t evil. She could have been. But again, so could he.
The man pulled himself up with a red face, and he let loose a gigantic sneeze. There, near his face-print in the snow, was a white bunny wiggling its nose.
“I’b allergic to rabbids,” he muttered. “I love dem, but dey gib me de sniffles real bad. You’ll pay for dis.”
“I’m getting really tired of this. I wasn’t hitting on your girlfriend, all right? I’m just on a walk. Now leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone,” Daveon retorted.
“Too late for dat!” He sneezed a few more times.
As he neared Daveon to attack, he sneezed again and again. His reaction started taking him over completely, to the point of him being unable to confront the druid any longer. His nose was vibrant red, and his eyes were trickling water down his face.
“I’ve got too much to think about to deal with this,” Daveon said as he turned, stuffed his hands into his coat pockets, and began to walk away. “And pick up your garbage. Don’t litter.”
The sneezing man turned at the sound of his girlfriend gasping in surprise. He squinted through his teary eyes to gaze in terror at an army of at least two dozen white rabbits marching to his position. It was like an ocean of white fluff balls.
“What de hell!” the man cried out as he fled from the bunnies as fast as he could.
Deena’s face was barely visible behind the fluffy hood of her puffy, thick winter coat. It was black, of course, and it was worn along with gloves and boots, which was more than required given where she was. It was nearly impossible to see any long distance through the blizzard, and each step brought snow past her ankles. All around her were mountains, as well as where she stood. It was far from civilization.
The witch had travelled to the Alps all on her lonesome. She shivered, even with her layers, but she was fortunately near her destination. A concave shape into the mountainside sheltered her partially from the snow, and to any normal person, it would be nothing more than how it appeared.
“Finally. I found you,” she whispered as she slid her gloved hand over the stone.
A soft purple light drew in a methodical line up from where she touched, and it formed an intricate pattern with a cut down the center. It split, and the rock opened up like a door, causing the snowy winds to become sucked inside with a rush of air.
She stepped cautiously inside, and it closed behind her.
The chamber illuminated via magic braziers extending from the walls in several locations. It was carved intricately, with patterns down the walls and along the floor, and a clear path forwards to another large set of double doors. The ceiling was at least twenty feet high, and if it was only an entrance hall, it was rather wide as well.
Deena slid the hood from her head. Her hair was not tied up that day, so it hung down to her shoulders, however messy it looked due to her previous head-wear. Her cheeks and nose were glowing pink. When she breathed out, it was as visible as smoke.
She looked up. Above her was a large chandelier lit with blue flames. But it wasn’t time to loiter any longer. She proceeded forwards and towards the far door. Each of her steps echoed out and off the ancient walls.
Her attention was caught by a noise she swore was from up ahead, so she halted in place.
“Is someone there?” she called out.
Emerging from the shadows came two figures. The first had shoulder-length white hair and bright blue eyes, while the second’s hair was shorter, and his eyes were green—a beauty mark beneath the right.
“Alumir. Barston. What are you doing here?” she asked with eyes widened.
“We could ask you the same thing,” the longer-haired man, Alumir, replied.
“No. I mean, how? Nobody knew of this place! Do you have any idea what I’ve had to do to find it?” Deena cried.
“I’m sorry to say it, sister, but father knew of this place, and so do we.”
“You know how things are, Deedee. Now, I ask again. What are you doing at mother’s secret lair? You shouldn’t even know if its existence.”
“I didn’t at first, but mother… There’s more to mother’s story than father is telling me. I know it.”
“Don’t call me that,” she snapped. “Now let me inside. I’m going to investigate this place and find the truth about mother whether you two, or father, like it or not.”
The brother wore a dark, fashionable suit, as well as gloves to match. Barston continued to remain silent and in his brother’s shadow in something similar, though his hands were bare despite the chill.
“We can’t let that happen,” Alumir responded.
“Let me through!”
“I’m sorry,” said Barston. “Our father gave us specific orders.”
“You too?” Deena softly asked.
Barston nodded. “I won’t attack you, but please don’t try to force yourself past us. We’ll be forced to stop you, and you’ll never be able to take us both on at the same time. Perhaps not even one.”
Deena stood her ground. With force, she smacked the front of her wrists together with her arms outstretched. Her fingers formed symmetrical curls inward, and swirling around them came a dark purple magic.
A burst of energy sent an elongated shape out from her grip. At the end of the shape was a claw formed by two appendages. It came rapidly towards Alumir with the intent to snatch him up. Clapperclaw!
“We’re years ahead of you, Deedee!” Alumir shouted as he readied a hand of his own.
A clawed hand pointed downwards. With a twist of his wrist, he jerked his arm towards her sister as a dark force emerged from his flesh. Like a snake, a shadowy power coiled around the incoming spell and constricted, and moments before the claw segment reached his body, the magic detonated in a chaotic burst of power. Deena’s spell collapsed along with his own. Shadow Chain!
“I know you’ve been hesitant, Barston, so allow me to do this. You don’t need to exert yourself,” Alumir said as he stepped forwards, seemingly unfazed by the confrontation.
“You’re such a cocky ass,” muttered Deena.
“Sister. Such words aren’t suitable to a lady, especially one of our family. This is why mother said what she did.”
“You’re wrong about her.”
Grasping hands of shadow made chase to Alumir, but he managed to nimble maneuver away long enough to blast Deena with a quick band of power to her ankles. They caused her to fall to the ground. It only took a moment to break them, but her opponent was ready far before. He loomed over her with an arm out, and in front of his palm was a crackling ball of black magic.
“Just go back to your little friends,” he said. “Leave mother out of this.”
“You’d blast your own sister?”
“I had no idea you had emotions, Deedee. What happened to the cold?”
“I warmed up, because I’m pissed!” she screamed as she lunged her hand upwards.
Her hand thrust forwards like a martial artist, and although she was a few feet away, she expelled a burst of invisible force in his direction with drive in her gaze. Push!
Alumir, panicked at what it would do to the bomb in his hand, quickly tossed the spell upwards as he made a short leap back. It exploded above them. He was also too surprised to notice Deena with a shadow ball of her own manifested above her grip. She hurled it in his direction.
A thin spear of shadow pierced straight through the ball, and in the blink of an eye, it had pierced it against the stone wall far from them. There it exploded as the other did previously. Deena turned to see Barston standing with his body lowered and his arms extending in their direction.
“You’ve lost your composure,” Barston stated. “I have to say, you’ve changed a lot since you left home. Maybe for the best. Maybe for the worst. Either way, we need to stop you.”
When she tried to resist again, her brothers proved to be too much for her to handle. They dodged her spells, and when opened up, Alumir landed blows that sent her back against the closed stone doors. It was a long journey to find her way, and she especially didn’t expect to combat her own brothers. She tried to stand, but her legs were trembling.
“Swallow your feelings and head home, Deedee!” Alumir shouted.
She remained silent—her head pointed towards the frigid ground.
“You’re not making father proud,” he continued, “Be stoic. Be calculating. Where’s your loyalty to the family? Those friends of yours must have turned you into a traitor. And to think you’d go so far as to desecrate something that belongs to our late mother.”
“Alumir,” Barston spoke up. “Look.”
Beneath her kneeling was the light of a phone screen. Barston looked as if he was going to intervene, but Alumir raised his hand dismissively.
“Let her make a call to whomever she wants,” he said. “There’s nobody that can aid her on this quest. She must have abandoned them, or she’d have brought them here already, and if it’s that…”
Alumir began to grumble as his face filled with colour before he could finish the statement. He cleared his throat, and soon continued.
“That little bastard that joined us at dinner. Well, he was nothing then. It doesn’t matter. You also know our sister. She never, ever asks others for help. That’s something I can appreciate about you, Deedee. You share out family’s pride. Never need help. Never cry. It’s what makes our bloodline so strong.”
Tears curved down her nose, and dripped off to land on the screen of her phone. It was only a moment that she could hold back any noise. She began to sniff, and her breathing become irregular. Her body fidgeted and shivered in place—still kneeling down with the doors towering behind her. Deena’s face was soaking wet. Water came down from her eyes, and her nose, as her face contorted.
When she heard the click of the phone picking up, she lost all control. Her sniffing turned into sobbing as she cried out loud before her two brothers, like years of emotion came out all at once. She cried so much that she began to no longer know what she was crying about. That’s when she started to worry. Her voice couldn’t even speak—whether it was the emotions, or her pride unable to allow anyone to see her in such a state. How could she ask for help?
An immediate warmth came over her body, like a sudden summer breeze, but it didn’t come from the magic doors reopening. The warmth came from a much smaller, simpler door made from mahogany.
Stay tuned for Chapter Forty-Seven – Don’t Stop Believin’!