Chapter Thirty-Seven – Christmas Eve
Alchia gazed down at her wrist. “It just hit midnight. Let’s wrap this up. Face it, weirdo. There’s nothing you can do against two of us.”
In an instant, Eldrian was there no longer. He was at their right, and with the Staff of Lightning tightly squeezed within his grasp, he thrust out his free palm to emit a sparkling burst. Pure, crackling energy fired in the direction of the girls like a beam of lightning, illuminating the area in a flickering glow.
Poppet leapt forwards. She was hurt, but not at all out of energy. With two hands up, she created a ward of magic to absorb the bulk of Eldrian’s attack, but she knew it wouldn’t hold. She was thankfully only one half of a team, however, and Alchia immediately started a spell of her own. Two hands went up, and then thrust down against the frosted grass.
Coming from beneath the ward as well as Eldrian’s lightning strike was a small but growing wave of flames. It crawled along the ground, melting any snow and burning any grass in its wake, and as it neared the wizard, it burst up like an attacking shark. Bunsen Inferno!
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.
Chapter Thirty-Four – Learn to Adapt
Few can explain the intense feeling during a moment of indecisiveness in a simple and short description, especially when the light of attention is shining directly towards you. Your body feels hot, and your stomach uneasy. There feels as if a real weight is pushing down on your shoulders—one made of the impatience of others, whether it truly exists or is a figment of your own imagination.
“I-I just don’t know,” stuttered Arlandria. “I need more time.”
Eldrian patted her on the back. “Don’t worry. I’m here to help you.”
The two of them, along with Kevin, stared up at the menu board above the cash registers. Burgers, wraps, drinks, meals, sides, and more, filled the list of selections, and besides a few others sitting at tables, the place was basically empty.
“What’s a hamburger?” she asked.
“You don’t have hamburgers?” Kevin replied.
“No. It looks good, I guess, but why are there so many different kinds? Sorry… I’m making things difficult.”
Chapter Thirty-Three – Madness Unleashed
Poppet was frozen with fear. Around her neck, the unnaturally tight grip of finger bones squeezed as the tips began to pierce through her flesh. The smell—it was terrible. Rotting skin and ancient bones wafted a scent to burn her nostrils given her terrifyingly close proximity, and this was further scarring with the creature’s jet black eye-sockets somehow still staring directly into her eyes. His jaw pulled open, and despite the lack of a tongue, or flesh whatsoever, a course voice came as freely as a man still living.
“You’re tiny… like a baby,” he grumbled.
Her eyes stayed staring. This had never happened before, but there was something about him that struck her silent. All she could do was mumble in response. There, balanced on her toes, she remained grappled by a nightmare.
“It feels like it’s about midnight,” he continued. “The perfect time for a snack. And I don’t know about you, but,” he said as he lifted Poppet closer to his face. “I. Eat. Babies.”
“What are you doing?” shouted Renatta’s voice from afar.
Chapter Thirty-Two – Heaven and Hell
“No way,” Deena mumbled. “This is highly improbable.”
“That’s my speciality,” Eldrian replied.
Standing before the two of them, as well as Kevin, was a gorgeous figure almost divine in appearance. Her skin was pristine, she had a gaze like vibrant emeralds, and her hair was golden and lengthy. Unlike before, she was now garbed in traditional North American attire instead of torn fantastical garments—a lime coloured shirt beneath a thin white coat, and a pair of blue jeans. Through her hair was a ribbon to match her eyes as well. To a normal individual, she would look to simply be a lovely young lady, if it wasn’t for her long and pointed ears.
She smiled. It was a warm, subtle smile, and such an expression was commonly on her face. Perhaps it didn’t represent a concurrent joy, but instead an offering of friendliness to those around her.
Once again, they were in Deena’s living room.
“You actually ran into an elf?” Deena asked.
Chapter Thirty – The Dark Mage Rises
Two wizards, vastly different in both style and technique—Kevin had never seen one wizard battle another before. He could barely keep up. Without magic eyes, he figured, he would be unable to tell illusions apart from reality, and it was simply difficult to comprehend it all. His heart pumped nonetheless. Nothing he had seen was this exciting, and he could only imagine how the actual combatants felt.
Kevin tried to follow. Eldrian had blinked, but so had Ouray. At least, that’s what he guessed had happened. Neither were in the same place anymore. He saw a frozen spear come from Eldrian. It nearly met its target, but the martial artist was too quick. This continued for a few moments. His poor friend could barely land a spell, but at the very least, he had not been crushed into the ground again—as close as a few strikes had been. Were they taking this too seriously? Kevin thought to himself. He realised that he had no idea what a wizard battle taken seriously looked like. Was it crazier than this?
“I’ve never fought or even met with a wizard with a body as strong as yours,” said Eldrian, catching his breath.
“Neither have I.”
Chapter Twenty-Nine – A Whole New World
“Come, little one. Proceed farther. Do not be afraid, for I am only here to help you.”
The voice was of a woman’s, and it was calm, like words spoken from one’s own mother. It emitted a sense of warmth and safety despite it being so alien. However, it was unclear where it came from other than deeper into the woods. It was as if the gaps between the trees whispered—luring.
“Who are you?” asked the little girl. “I’m cold. It’s dark, and I’m scared.”
“Continue forwards and meet with me, and I will keep you warm and safe. I will return you to your home.”
The child stepped cautiously between the density of the forest, rubbing her hands up and down her goosebump-covered arms. A chilling breeze caused a shiver to travel down her spine. She was lost, and this stranger’s voice did sound trustworthy to her. There were few other options in her mind.
It wasn’t long before she broke into a clearing. Up ahead, the speaker stood still. It was a beautiful woman with long black hair and crystal blue eyes. Her skin was fair. It reminded the child of her mother, and she made her way over with arms ready for an embrace.