Chapter 31 - Prices and Consequences


A lone tower, surrounded by sparse trees and and encircled by a cobblestone path. A small garden of dandelions, a weird kind of flower possessing a lion-like face, was planted nearby, and their sweet aroma, alongside their soft purrs spread all throughout Golem Court.

As Shard thought, Golem Tower didn't look terrifying in the least, and the fact that his life could end in there… it didn't really register. He felt foolish as he slowly strolled around the tower, walking carelessly on the cobblestone path as his eyes were inevitably attracted towards the many windows of the building. Nothing could be seen inside, and Shard wasn't sure himself what he was looking for.

"I'm basically asking to die, aren't I?" Shard whispered softly. his feet had taken him full circle around the tower and brought him in front of the door. There was always a bunch of wizards, both students and graduates, walking in and out of the tower, and Shard's walk surely didn't pass unnoticed. Suspicious sideway glances seemed to drill their way through his head, silently asking what a lone student was doing around the tower. Truth to be told, Shard didn't know either.

It was there that he ended up to every time he stopped to think about his situation. It was there that he ended up to whenever Rose and Kane visited Emer at the infirmary, asking him to tag along. He refused every time, unable to look at Emer in the eyes and tell her that he had sought Moira's help, the one act that according to her went against the Song.

Shard didn't regret his actions, by talking to Lady Blackhope he had been able to pinpoint exactly what Malistaire was aiming for. As long as he wasn't there when the army of the undead rose from the Sunken City he should have been fine. Why then, did he take on the habit of taking a stroll in Golem Court after knowing how dangerous it was?

It was a stupid thought, nothing more and nothing less. After hearing the crucial importance of such a place, he couldn't help but being curious. On one side, he was certain that he absolutely didn't want to die, but on the other, he wasn't so sure. Ever since he had gone consciously against the Song, he knew that things would have changed.

First and foremost, his trust: It had taken a great deal of effort for him to open up to the new possibilities in the city of wizards. At first he didn't want to have anything to do with it, but Emer's insistence paid off in the end. His opinion had finally changed when Shard had heard the Song for the first time in Unicorn Way. That time, his worries had dissipated completely and the simple thought that such a Song was the work of mmmmmmmagic… well, it reassured him that the Spiral was a nice place.

The endless possibilities in the new world of magic were a lie though: He had no magical talent whatsoever, and his destiny was to die in a raid. Call him crazy, but he did feel slightly betrayed.

On the other hand though… he could no longer see magic as the external horror that would tear him into little pieces the moment he opened up to it. He had felt it flowing through his veins, touching his very being. Yes, that magic was heavily tainted in the mysterious boy's will, full of spite and hatred, but it hadn't been always like that… Safir's magic showed it to him. It was a carefree and benevolent magic, imbued with the sole desire of having fun. Magic, Shard thought, wasn't good or evil, but neither was it a tool. It was simply intent taken form.

Perhaps… he had really started to enjoy living in a world where magic buzzed continuously around him but still didn't want to acknowledge it...

One single thing was sure though: if without his intervention the shishSong would have made sure that things would have been alright for everyone except for him… wouldn't that mean that by saving himself he could trigger something terrible? Was he being selfish? Maybe he really was…

Shard's hand was raised without him even thinking about it, hovering at mere millimetres from the wooden surface of the door.

He knew that behind it there was the room where he received his spellbook, but he also knew that there was so much more than that. Rose had told him when asked… Golem Tower was said to contain countless constructs ready to defend it in time of need. It was the epitome of Malcolm Stormheart's career, the genius who along with Professor Balestrom was able to bring about progress in the field of magic.

Malistaire needed something from there… a life orb. Something he hadn't been able to get when he fought Ambrose the first time.

Shard lowered his hand, a decision made. He would look for Alex and help him out to find his uncle, whether the boy liked it or not. Perhaps, if they found him in time, they could avoid the tower getting breached in the first place.

2Yes, that is the best I can do right now2, he thought, turning on his heel and walking away.


Fragment of a Wish


"The boy is walking away, Merle," said Professor Greyrose, wings fluttering to keep her airborne. The large window through which she was peering opened up to the entire Golem Court, from quite a few floors of height.

"He did not try to break in neither today then?" Merle replied. Adjusting the monocle on his eye to better see the words written on the weathered paper, the old wizard skimmed through the contents of the open book.

"Not at all… he just walked to the door and froze. Then walked away."

"The boy must have understood something too then." Only the soft buzz of the Ice professor's wings kept the room from being as silent as a tomb after Merle's statement.

It wasn't a statement born of guesswork, for Merle knew how those novices had started investigating in matters that did not have anything to do with them. Emer in particular was an open book, incapable of making up convincing lies and averting her gaze with guilt whenever she was questioned.

Needless to say Merle's genuine wish was to protect them, but as things were as they were, he could do nothing but observe from a good distance away. Prophecies were ambiguous and fragile things, and thinking too much about them was the best way to ensure that the worst possible outcome would happen. Emer was summoned to be the hero of Wizard City, a savior who could turn the tides of a bleak future.

It was part of who she was, that was clear to see for him who studied the lost arts of astral magic for years. The girl possessed an aura unlike anything he had ever seen. Only few legends spoke of such things, and even fewer were clear about them. Those blessed by the light...

Merle couldn't shield her from it, and did not dare to try and force things along, lest the fragile future he had obtained by summoning the girl go to waste, but he still was uncertain. Even that very morning, when he had taken some time to visit her in the infirmary, he had to fight the urge to berate himself. The spell he cast to seek help… he didn't know that it would summon two inexperienced children. It looked merciless… summoning them to solve all his problems, placing on one of them a burden that should be for adults to carry.

In the whole equation, Shard was another mystery… the boy was different. Dalia had observed him closely, following his demand. What they discovered was baffling, to say the least: the boy didn't even possess enough life essence to be considered alive. Such a thing shouldn't have been possible in anything living, yet the boy was there, alive and kicking. The only one time he had ever witnessed something similar was with her…

Perhaps Shard was truly a creature born in that world… the grey world where magic had no place, hiding underneath an eternal clouded sky and resting underneath the ticking hands of the clock. A world that wasn't really a world. How Emer had ended up there, Merle did not know.

"I see…" Lydia finally said. "If he indeed has understood that this is Malistaire's objective, I can't fault him for being worried." She fluttered away from the window and back to the centre of the circular room where a ward was engraved in the wooden floor. "As for the battle itself… are you sure that we professors shouldn't defend the tower?"

"It may be unwise. With an undead army on his side, Malistaire may be too much for us to handle. It is for the best to protect what truly deserves protection, and just like a tree, abandon the dead leaves behind."

"But Merle… the tower?"

"Holds many secrets, yes. But none of them are worth Bartleby's life, nor the lives of our capable wizards."

"But what if whatever he is looking for turns out to be dangerous?"

"Then we will face the consequences when the time comes. When she is ready… In the meantime, we will acquire precious information regarding his plans."

"You place a great deal of trust in Bartleby's words."

"Do not mistaken my intentions, Lydia. I do not want the child to get hurt, but I do believe…"

"In the universal balance? The starlit path we all undeniably walk?"

"It is a matter of proof, more than a belief. The Spiral… it is built in a peculiar way. A mechanism which works in mysterious ways. You too have witnessed it, that time…"

"I rather not talk about her magic. It was terrible, Merle. What she achieved... it was unnatural. It felt like…"

"Morganthe had always been curious with the laws that bond the Spiral. Her achievements were nothing more than her tampering with them. She strayed from the path…"

"And there we were. The perfect counterbalance to avoid catastrophe. Yes, I do see the trend, but I would rather avoid leaving everything upon her. She is only a child!"

"Whether we want it or not, we cannot take upon ourselves the role of the savior. We would certainly fail and worsen the situation. We do not have to sit idle either though. We are able to help her, keeping everyone safe until Malistaire is stopped. We cannot falter in this endeavor."

"I understand."

"Then we better get back to work. There is still a bunch of wards left to place. Gamma would not want us slacking off, would he?"

And thus the two wizards dived back into their chanting, weaving a complex layer of spells to protect the ancient mysteries and untold secrets that inhabited the halls.

~Fragment of a Wish~

"Leave me alone, cheater. You're creeping me out!"

"Please, this is important! Just listen-"

"I told you to leave me alone!"

Shard jumped backwards to avoid the sudden sparks of electricity dancing around the diviner. Even such a small display of magic was enough to cause pain if it was taken head on. The small voice at the back of his mind that had been telling Shard that magic was to be feared still encouraged him to flee, but he couldn't listen to it if he wanted to make some progress.

Alex Stormheart stood just outside the entrance to Triton Avenue, an annoyed glare darkening his features. He wasn't in good shape, and definitely didn't seem to be in a good mood. He had deep bags under his eyes, betraying a lack of sleep, and his expensive, purple wizard hat was stained with dirt. His wavy, white hair looked greasy as if he had been running marathons when no one was looking.

"Alex, just let me help-" Shard said, his voice coming out in a frightened squeak.

"Pft, as if I'd need your help! Get real," Alex rebuked. The sparks died down as he turned on his heel and kept walking.

It wasn't the first time Alex had walked away after refusing to listen to Shard's words. At first he had thought that it was about the upcoming duel, so their conversation had gone as smoothly as their conversations could get, but then…

Shard didn't want to be the nosy brat and intrude in family drama, but Lady Blackhope had left him no choice. Shard didn't think Alex would believe him if he started talking about the future, and how Alex's quest was deeply tied to the outcome of the attack. Alex, of course, refused any kind of help and just walked away.

This time though… this time was different. Colorful decorations joined roofs, streetlights, and trees in an intricate webbing of festivity. Cardboard figures were strategically placed in every corner of the city depicting witches, ghosts, and vampires. Bright orange pumpkins sitting just outside doors immersed the city in a mood of light-hearted spookiness.

It was Halloween: the time of the year when Death Magic was at its strongest and Life Magic at its weakest. Time was running out.

"Oh, right, b-because you've been making lots of progress on your own. Y-you look like one happy guy who has it all figured out!" Shard's words came out with difficulty. It wasn't like he didn't think what he had just said out loud, but such directness in his words wasn't like him at all.

Alex turned around, a vein visibly pulsing on his forehead. "I am light years ahead of anything you could ever accomplish-"

"T-That's true, but you also need help from time to time."

"Listen, cheater, you may be involved in whatever Ambrose's plans are, but I don't like you. You can't even stop trembling right now…"

It was true, Shard's legs wouldn't respond. It was silly… even when his life was at stake, Shard couldn't even confront Alex, a fellow student, without trembling like a leaf. Regardless, he had to.

Taking a deep breath, Shard tried to explain himself, almost pleadingly, to Alex. "I know, I… don't like you much either. You have to believe me though! I can't tell you why, but I have to come with you. It is important if you want to save your uncle."

Alex, for what looked like the first time in the past week, seemed to actually listen. His cold eyes locked themselves with Shard's very own. A frown deepened his young features for a few seconds, and then, as if he had finally come to a decision he rolled his eyes. "Alright, but do everything I tell you. Today is crucial."

Shard nodded, the tension which had accumulated into his body dispersing in relief. Alex started walking again, his quick steps thumping softly on the stone pavement. Shard, of course, followed soon after wondering just why he ended up following people towards unspecified locations. "Where are we going?"

"Uncle's house."

"Oh… And then?"

"I may have the means to find him."

"I see…"

At least, unlike with Moira, Alex answered his questions clearly. Shard could probably ignore the annoyed tone if it meant having an idea of what was going on.

The two novices descended down a flight of stairs leading down to a huge river dividing the street in half. They turned left and stopped in front of a two-story house painted in shades of purple. Alex's eyes locked on the door, slightly left ajar, and winced. "They wouldn't dare!"

The young diviner sprinted towards the house and disappeared inside without giving Shard much of an explanation. Shard followed, at a lesser pace, unsure about what caused such a reaction.

The entrance hall was rather weird, with purple walls with drawings of rain-heavy clouds on one side, and a collection of paintings, framed by white columns on the other. The furniture itself seemed to be a mix of modern and ancient with sturdy marble chairs sharing space with fragile glass cases. Overall, whoever decorated the room had no idea what they were doing.

The place wasn't without visitors: Alex stood in the centre, facing down three people. They were two boys and one girl, and they looked a few years older than Shard and Alex themselves. The clothes they wore identified them as Ravenwood students with one boy sporting black and silver while the other two were wrapped in purple and gold.

The girl looked like someone rather serious, as her purple eyes assessed the situation calmly. Her blonde hair was tied in a ponytail and her lips were covered with purple lipstick. The Storm wizard next to her shared the same purple eyes and blond hair, alongside a couple more features that made them look like brother and sister. He was shorter and looked more approachable though, welcoming them with a nervous smile. Standing apart from them, towards the wall, stood the necromancer, his features hidden in the shadow of his hood.

"We have the permission from Ambrose to look for clues. You can't just barge in and-" The girl said, addressing Alex with a raised eyebrow. Her purple eyes met Alex's brown ones in defiance, her staff planted firmly on the floor like a banner that demonstrated her rights.

Alex didn't look impressed and interrupted her. "Oh, now they are looking for clues?! After ignoring his disappearance for weeks?"

"Calm down, dude. Nobody is ignoring it. Everyone's been investigating to find out his location," The storm wizard said, attempting to get between Alex and the girl.

"Not well enough then, if in all this time you haven't found him," Alex rebuked.

The diviner seemed taken aback, his voice softening up and his hands fumbling with his wand. "Hey, there were complications along the way…"

"Complications, pft. Just tell that it wasn't a priority."

"It may look like that from an outsider's perspective, but we did risk our lives and…"

"Came out with a bunch of nothing. You know, I've gone to the Council, I've looked around too, heck, I've even tried to interrogate my father about it. You are all just focused on putting up wards, plotting, and flailing around like a bunch of dimwits. Meanwhile people die… attacks continue… my uncle could even be dead already."

"Listen kid…"

"No! Just… get out. It's not like you're going to do anything useful for anyone. GET OUT!" Alex was in a frenzy, the vein on his forehead pulsing so much that Shard couldn't avoid wondering if he was going to explode. His face was red, flustered as a flurry of words hit the other three in waves of resentment.

"We are here to help-"

"You listening?! I don't care anymore! You wouldn't find my uncle even if he was right in front of you. Get out!"

The girl looked mystified by the whole situation and backed away from Alex as one would do in front of an extremely aggressive hound. The storm boy named Artur stood still, eyes closed as if he was taking every word head on. Neither of them gave any hints of wanting to leave the house. The only one who moved was the necromancer, who stepped forth and brandished his staff in front of him. The light in the room seemed to decrease vacuumed away inside the boy's weapon. A sudden pressure engulfed the area as the icy grip of Death Magic took its hold.

Professor Falmea wasn't joking. Death Magic really rose in power during Halloween. Shard found himself backing away towards the exit as his thoughts were stolen by the sudden fear.

"Duncan, Don't." The voice of the girl resounded loud and clear, but it was not heard.

The necromancer named Duncan walked towards Alex, his hand going for the boy's shoulder. Alex tried to back away, but it was clear that the irrational terror had him rooted in place.

"I don't care whether you are suffering, spouting nonsense, or just outright dumb," Duncan began. "You are an ungrateful whining brat who thinks he's more clever than the entirety of us, aren't you? Sabrina and Artur put their life at risk to investigate. I put my life at risk. So, you better stop whining and let us do our job!" Duncan's words were harsh and cold as he took hold of Alex's shoulder with a strong, intimidating grip.

"But… you could've."

"We could've nothing. Your uncle was taken by Malistaire, and Necromancers know fully well how to avoid detection." Alex didn't reply, fists closed as he gritted his teeth in anger.

"M-maybe we could..." Shard started, his tone unsteady as he tried to soothe the others. "Maybe we could all work together?"

Duncan was quick to dismiss the idea. "Tough luck, kid. We were sent here by the headmaster and you didn't. We have a more complete magical preparation and can defend ourselves if need arises while you don't. Do us a favor and stay out of the way."

The diviner girl nodded. "Unfortunately he's right, you know? Let us do our jobs and…"

"And what if I have a way to find out where my uncle is? What if I'm the only one who knows?" Alex spoke, his voice kept in check despite the apparent anger.

Before either Duncan or the diviner girl could rebuke, the diviner boy, who seemed far more calm than any of them said, "Then, we'd really like to find out how you'd do that."

Alex huffed taking out of his pocket a small puppet-like golem. "Everyone, meet prototype 024, I finally fixed it… and it can now lead us straight towards my uncle's magic source."

There was silence as the wizards eyed the small golem with surprise in their eyes. The diviner boy was the first to speak, "Well, that is definitely something. You're in, Novices."


Fragment of a Wish


Golem Prototype 024, a small human figurine made entirely of clay which was capable of moving by itself. That was Alex's answer to finding his uncle. It waited for them to catch up as it ran like a small athlete down Triton Avenue.

"Are you sure this thing will lead us to your uncle?" Duncan asked barely managing to speak while running at the top of his speed.

"I'm sure. Didn't really work until now, though."

"Why?" The diviner girl, Susie Gryphonbane asked.

"Because…" Alex seemed unsure in how to reply. "It's difficult to fix, and only my uncle and I know how they are made."

"You should have fixed it quicker then," Duncan grumbled.

Duncan Grimwater, Susie Gryphonbane, and her brother Artur: the three of them had finally decided to make an exception and have the two novices come along. Shard and Alex had to swear they'd run away if things got ugly though: that was the deal.

The sky above them was bleak with clouds heavy with rain and the air was humid, threatening an incoming Storm. In truth, Shard suspected that this weather was the usual one in Triton Avenue since nobody seemed to pay it too much heed.

They had been running for a while and headed who knows were, but at least they had a lead. They passed the Four Falls Mills, with its continuous production of Storm Magic and headed forward towards another set of houses.

"Is it leading us to the Haunted Cave?" Artur asked, eyeing the entrance to a the cave up ahead.

Shard's first thought was: Not the Haunted Cave again! And yet there they were, in front of the entrance and pursuing a small golem running at full speed. The boy sighed as he set foot in the cave, darkness embracing him in its familiar hug. Death magic rendered the place scarier than it probably should have been and the Ghosts watching from the abandoned houses didn't exactly help either.

They ran and ran, avoiding the thought of what could be watching from the shadows, until…

A tower stood lonely on a patch of land that rose up from a river. Two trees devoid of leaves were at the sides of the building, lifting their twisted branches up towards the ceiling of the cave. Stormdrain tower: the place where Malorn had introduced the novices to Death Magic. It was a place Shard would have rather forgotten, but apparently it had come back to haunt him.

The door was open, the remains of what looked like a Storm Sigil broken on the wooden surface. Death magic seemed to ooze from inside, escaping out, towards the street. Shard could only think about one thing: danger.

"Duncan and I will go inside, Artur, protect the novices," Susie said.

"Alright!" Artur replied.

She then dashed into the building with her staff ready and Duncan in tow. The only sound Shard heard was the noise of boots on the stone floor and then nothing else. Susie and Duncan had completely disappeared into the tower.

"Have you seen that… the sigil is…"

"Indeed, someone broke the sigil."

"What's in there?" Seeing the others' unease Shard couldn't help but ask.

"You don't remember? Malorn told us the great evil which was chained inside!" Alex exclaimed indignantly.

"Oh… thought it was just to scare us."

Artur gritted his teeth and shook his head. "I wish it was like that, but the threat is pretty much real. We might all be in danger…"

"Maybe we're still safe," Alex gulped. "My uncle told me only a Stormheart can undo the second sigil…"

The realization struck them all at the same time: Malcolm Stormheart was taken inside. Could it be… could it be they wanted him to undo the sigil?

"I'm going in, you two run," Artur said before dashing through the door.

"No! My uncle might be in danger, I'm coming too!" And thus, Alex Stormheart did something that could have been considered as foolish as a choice made by Kane: He ran inside right after Artur.

Shard was left alone, the words of Lady Blackhope echoing in his mind: "the quest of a young Diviner, Alex Stormheart, must succeed for you to survive."

"Bet I'm gonna die anyway…" Shard muttered, diving into danger himself.

The inside of the tower was barren of even the most basic of furniture. A hard stone floor, dirty and uneven, met his shoes as he walked into the room. The walls had runes engraved on them and chains… drawings of chains pulsing with the purple glow of Storm Magic. It was a weird sensation that which crawled up Shard's spine: a chilling sensation of impending doom.

The stairway leading up was blocked by rubble, making it impossible to climb. What remained were the stairs leading down in the basement. Shard gulped before moving his first steps down, paying attention not to make any noise.

It took a while to reach the bottom, as the stairs seemed to go on forever. There wasn't any light either, so the descent was all the more slow. The smell of moss, and the ever-present cold in such underground places soon made themselves known as he moved step after step in complete darkness. It felt like descending into an never ending well, one with deadly water at the end.

Finally, after another few dozens of steps, Shard saw a light peeking through an open door. He hurriedly went down towards it, almost stumbling down the last few steps. What he saw once arrived chilled him to the bone.

It was huge room with runes engraved on both floor and walls which emanated a far brighter light than those on the ground floor. A large metal cage with a huge lock stood at the centre of it and inside it there was something Shard couldn't believe.

His body was shrouded in a dark veil and a hood covered the rest of his skull. One of his skeletal hands held the bars while the other held a scythe as a grin spread onto his features. Yellow eyes slowly gazed around the surroundings like a satisfied feline about to pounce, looking at the other people in the room like mere pebbles at the side of the road.

Other people… yes, while Shard's gaze had instantly locked onto the creature in the cage, the room wasn't empty.

The body of a wizard laid sprawled on the stone floor, drenching the runes with his blood. His lab coat, which the man seemed to have worn above his wizard robe, was a mess with cuts and dirt covering every inch. The unshaved face of the man was frozen in death, eyes open in an expression of horror. Malcolm Stormheart couldn't be saved.

Beside the corpse, two familiar figures stood: one was a skeleton in battle gear, and the other a pixie wearing a crown. Rattlebones and Daisy laughed as blood kept spreading in a pool at their feet, whatever objective they had… it had been achieved.

"You are too late, wizards. The blood price has been paid, and the Lord shall return," Rattlebones grinned.

Facing Rattlebones, at the side of the room stood Alex, Susie, and the others. Alex had his eyes wide open in shock as he gazed upon his deceased uncle, Susie and Duncan instead were prepared to fight, and Artur… he was staring mouth agape at the cage.

"That's… Lord Nightshade, isn't it?" Duncan said, tightening his grip on his staff.

"Indeed, meet the one who almost destroyed Wizard City in the past... Prepare yourselves, wizards, for yours will be a quick death." Rattlebones was way too satisfied with himself as he said that. It was definitely disturbing.

"Not if we can defeat him before that," Susie replied, running forward as she drew a Storm symbol in the air.

Kraken

The floor was instantly flooded with water coming from the diviner's spell. From the symbol the huge sea creature lunged out: It was a fish-like human, with palmed feet and claw-armed hands. It's scales were purple and its head possessed what appeared to be a huge fish fin at the top. In hand it carried a lightning bolt… or better yet, Storm Magic condensed into a lightning bolt.

It took a mere instant before the bolt was hurled with violence at Rattlebones. The entire basement shook as the spell hit and lit up the room. Shard had to close his eyes or he was sure he would have gone completely blind there and then because of the sheer luminosity. When he opened them again, Shard could finally see the scorched spot that was once where Rattlebones stood. His bones were now scattered everywhere, his sword and shield abandoned on the floor.

"Ah, that got him," Duncan exclaimed, preparing his own pips to cast a follow up spell.

"Great work, sis, "Artur convened. Then he turned towards Shard and Alex who were still unmoving despite the danger. "You two gotta move. Get out of here!"

Shard didn't need to be told twice. Alex's quest to find his uncle may have failed horribly, but that wasn't his main worry at the moment. What he had to do was put as much distance between himself and that thing in the cage. He hurried on to Alex, and pulled him away, trying to get back above ground through the stairs.

A loud clunk was heard as the two novices climbed up, but they didn't slow down. Shard kept telling himself that Susie, Duncan, and Artur had it covered… that they would be able to defeat that wraith once and for all. Then, their blood curdling screams reached his ears, and he knew they too were lost.


Fragment of a Wish


Alex was a mess when they finally got out of the tower. His eyes saw nothing, and his mouth spoke nothing. Golem Prototype 024 was still waiting for them in the middle of the street, whatever was driving him to reach Malcolm Stormheart had been completely extinguished.

From the basement of the tower no sound came, but an increasing fear was growing in Shard's heart. The lock… he heard it break… the screams… were the others alright?

As if to answer his question, a swirling dark mist started coming out of the tower's door. Something was coming.

Fear. Despite everything he'd been through, he found himself rooted in place. The wraith was coming and there was nothing he could do about it. Death Magic whispered in his ears. It spurred him to go back into the tower. Let it all end. And this wave of Death Magic was so strong that Shard almost did.

There was nothing they could do. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Lord Nightshade was far above anything he had ever faced.

"You idiots, come here!" The one who broke through Shard's reverie, preventing him from succumbing to the magic completely was none other than Moira Nightdust. Somehow, even in that forgotten place she found the way of being there.

"W-why are you here?" Shard managed to say, thoughts failing him in the panic.

"I'm your personal stalker, ya know? Now, come with me or die," she said jokingly despite the situation.

Shard let himself get dragged to the closest house and entered alongside Alex and Moira. They closed the door behind themselves and rushed to the closest window to peek outside. Lord Nightshade didn't notice them as he emerged unscattered from the tower. Alongside him, Rattlebones and Daisy happily celebrated their victory with smug smiles.

"Have you seen that Diviner girl? How she pleaded for her life when she got defeated? That was so fun~" Daisy said, fluttering around like a crazy fly in her excitement.

"Indeed, they all got fixed now. They could serve our master if we come back to recover the pieces later…" Rattlebones nodded, his eye spinning wildly in excitement.

"Yesss! I'll tell some of my fairies to get them once they're back!"

Their talking seemingly went unnoticed by the wraith, who kept on walking down the street as if no one but himself was present. Two wings spread behind his back as he took a deep breath and said, "Freedom, at last."

"Not so fast, Lord Nightshade. You do know that the spell we used to free you has a cost on your part too, right?"

Lord Nightsade's words were cold and calculating as he replied, "I am aware of the cost. Tell me then, What shall I do to earn my right to destroy Wizard City?"

"Nothing difficult, you'll have to steal a simple orb from Golem Tower. The orb has the name of Sylvia Drake under it."

"I see… Such a simple task, but first let me have a little revenge." Lord Nightshade turned around and faced the tower, he lifted his scythe upwards and then struck the air. A deep cut formed in the tower's very walls and with a loud rumble it fell. The stone walls crumbled to pieces and the earth upon it was standing gave in. Just like that, Stormdrain Tower fell in the river below, never to be seen again and leaving a dumbfounded Rattlebones to stare.

"That was amaziiiing! We won't have to bother with those weaklings' pieces when we have the real deal here." Daisy cheered.

"Shall we?" Lord Nightshade asked, unfazed by Daisy's flattery. He spread his wings and took flight, carrying his undead aura with him.

Daisy and Rattlebones didn't follow, instead they dropped a rune on the ground and created a portal. A portal leading straight to the black city with no sky which Shard supposed was the Sunken City. When they disappeared into it, Shard breathed in a sigh of relief... They were alive.

Moira grinned, an uneasy grin that made Shard's blood run cold. "I wouldn't be that relieved, Shard. The invasion is just about to begin."


I'm not sure I managed to get the right atmosphere going, but at least the chapter is here! What do you think? Let me know with a review! ;)