Wave dropped Sara and studied Lucinda curiously. "Smart fish." He said to her. He twisted his hand in her body, making her bite back a scream as blood started seeping from the hole in her chest. "You knew that Wave Magic nullifies other magic." He looked at her with begrudging approval. "They only way to stop me was to take her place. If you just opened up the portal, I would have cut right through it and into your pretty little friend."
Lucinda spat at him and put all her anger into a glare. "I…won't let you…hurt her." She said defiantly. With every word, blood trickled from her mouth. She needed a plan but she was out of options. The moment he took out his hand, her blood would start flowing out freely. Her vision was already going blurry from the pain and blood loss.
The entire guild was silent. The shock of the scene snuffing out anything they might say. Then Wave pulled his hand out of Lucinda's chest. It was covered in blood that dripped onto the floor. Lucinda took in a shuddering breath. She put her hands over the hole to try and stop the bleeding, but it wasn't helping. There was simply too much blood. She fell to her knees.
She tried reaching over to Sara, but every movement sent waves of pain through her. And with the blood seeping from her wound, her consciousness was starting to fade. She fell to the ground in a heap. She stared at Sara blearily while her vision grew darker and darker.
Wave looked at the crowd and shrugged. "Well she isn't lasting long." He took a step past her and towards Sara, who was staring back at Lucinda with wide eyes. If she looked much longer…her mind was going to break. "Now let's see if you're going to let me do the same thing to this other girl before you give me what I want."
He reached for her, but before he could, the entire building felt like it was being crushed by magic. All eyes, moved to the entrance to see Jack and Will standing there. Will said nothing as he quickly ran over to Lucinda, completely ignoring Wave and placed his hands over her wound.
Jack was murderous. Every step he took towards Wave increased the pressure in the building. The sheer force of magic must have roused Bertrand, because the old man opened his eyes weakly and started muttering to himself. "M…Must stop…" That attracted Rosemary's attention. She turned to see Bertrand watching Jack and attempting to reach out to him. "Can…Can't…let him…N...N…Not again…"
Rosemary instantly understood what he meant. She turned and almost ran to Jack, but it was too late. He was only a few paces away from Wave.
Wave shook himself out of his shock and he opened his mouth, but the moment he tried to say something, it died in his throat. He was looking into Jack's dark, empty eyes. The smile on the pumpkin was one of mirthless laughter and dark intentions. And with every step, his eyes became wider and wider. Fear clutched at Wave's heart. For the first time in his life, he was afraid. Truly afraid. But that recognition came too late. He could see nothing but the void inside those eyes. And they swallowed him whole while he screamed.
Wave woke up somewhere dark. He groaned as he rose to his feet. "What the hell happened?" He asked himself. He took a few steps forward in the darkness, only to almost trip over something. He managed to catch himself on something made of stone. "What the…" There was just enough light for him to make out the stone's shape.
It was a tombstone.
There was a name carved into it, but it was too degraded to read. Upon realizing this, he looked around and he could see other tombstones. Dozens of them, hundreds of them, scattered throughout what looked like a giant field.
Then he heard the footsteps.
They were calm and steady. Neither rushed nor slow. A leisurely pace.
"Enjoying your stay?" A voice said. There was no lightness in the voice. No joy. No happiness. Only dark intent and inquiry. "I've spent years building this place. Keeping it maintained. Filling it with residents…"
At that point, Wave could tell where the steps were coming from. He turned behind him and saw a man walking closer. His pants were black and he had a cape waving behind him. He recognized that cape.
"Hmph. 'Pumpkin' Jack. That's what they call you now. The Master of that pathetic guild." Wave shouted out scornfully He was scared for his life, something deep inside him trembling in fear, but he was masking it well. He heard something along with the footsteps now. Something whirling in the air. Like someone was waving a stick or baton around. Wave gulped nervously. "But I know what you were back in the day. What they called you back then…" He looked around and a deep dread filled him. "They say they never found the bodies."
Jack was close enough now that Wave could see the rest of him. His raven hair fell to the small of his back. His green eyes flashing with cold fury.
"Hallowed Realm." Jack said calmly. "My magic. I created this pocket dimension. This is why no one ever found proof." He looked around at the graves. "Two hundred and twelve." He said. "That's how many times I was tried for murder and assassination. I wasn't convicted once."
Wave could see what was making the whirling noise. Jack was spinning around a scythe. The blade was large and oddly colored. The top half was black. But the bottom half, the actual blade, was orange. Like a pumpkin.
Jack stopped whirling the scythe as he walked within striking range of the other man. "…However that is no longer accurate." He said, eerily.
Wave took a staggering step back as Jack brandished the scythe at him. Small flames started appearing on top of the tombstones, the embers dancing greedily as they illuminated the two figures. Wave trembled now. Sweat ran down his neck and his eyes were wide fear. Jack's eyes gleamed darkly, his green irises almost appearing black.
"The correct number would now be two hundred and thirteen."
The guild was gathered around Lucinda, each of them trying to think of a way to help. Will held her in his lap as he did the best he could, tearing off a large swatch of his cloak to try and stem the bleeding. But it was useless. Lucinda's eyes were closed and her breath was getting weaker and weaker.
Charlotte and Azusa were trying to comfort Sara, but she wasn't responding to anything. She held her head in her hands and she stared manically at the scene in front of her.
Not far away, Jack's pumpkin mask was sitting on the ground motionlessly. The eyes were burning with gleeful flames as if candles were lighting it from the inside. They had watched with rapt horror as Jack walked up to Wave and wrapped them both in his cloak. The two were absorbed into the pumpkin without even a struggle from Wave.
Rosemary was feeling Lucinda's pulse by holding her wrist. She closed her eyes and shook her head. "It's no use. Her heartbeat is fading. If we don't find a way to stop the bleeding, we'll lose her."
Julio was shaking from head to toe. He was more worried about Lucinda than he had been for anything in his entire life. "D-Don't we have any medicine that could help?" He glanced at Bertrand, who was half sitting, half lying on the ground next to him, looking for an answer.
But the elderly man shook his head. "There's no medicine for wounds that horrible. She'll need immediate surgery if she's to last even an hour more." He closed his eyes sadly. "If it weren't for her, it would be Saraphina lying there. She knew her life was lost the moment she decided to save her friend. There's nothing we can do."
Crest was pained to admit it, but he nodded his head in agreement. "Even if we called a hospital now, they wouldn't make it in time to save her."
Erk couldn't believe they were just giving up like that. "Are you serious?" He practically shouted. "We're wizards! Isn't there some kind of healing magic we can use?"
"Healing magic is a Lost Magic."
Everyone turned to see Jack standing behind them with his pumpkin mask back in place. The flames in its eyes were gone, but now there was only a dark void staring at them.
He joined Erk, Julio, and Bertrand, but his gaze never left Lucinda. Bertrand stiffened at his approach, and there was a full amount of fury in his eyes, but he said nothing. He swallowed anything he was going to say and went back to worrying about Lucinda.
"There is only one person I know of who can still use it." Jack went on. "But she's all the way in Magnolia. She can't help us."
Tears started welling up in not only Erk's eyes, but in the eyes of the others as well, even Rosemary's. But Erk just wiped them away. "So we're just supposed to…we're just supposed to let her die?"
Everyone was silent as that reality fell on them.
Lucinda was going to die.
"No." Jack said firmly. He banished all the dark thoughts in his mind, he banished the anger and sorrow and grief and defeat. There was still one chance.
Julio was still shaking as Jack set his hand on his shoulder. "Julio…we must save her."
But Julio shook his head rapidly and he flinched away from the touch. "We…we can still figure something out." He said tearfully. He wasn't even bothering to hide the tears anymore.
But Jack held him firmly. "You're the only chance she has." He said, almost too harshly. But then he softened his tone as fear appeared on Julio's face. "I know you're scared, but we have no other option at this point…without you, she'll die."
Julio hesitantly raised his hand to touch the flute hanging around his neck. Everyone else watch watching in confusion, except for Rosemary, Bertrand, and Crest. They alone understood what Jack was saying. A small amount of hope started filling them.
Becky watched Julio curiously, still holding her injured side. "I thought you said only one person could use healing magic?" She asked.
Julio stepped away from Julio and motioned for the others to do so as well. "He isn't using healing magic." He said. He nodded at Will. "Give them some room."
Will didn't hesitate to obey his Master. He gently laid Lucinda on the floor and stepped back. He could barely feel her heart beat anymore. Whatever they were going to do, they needed to do it fast.
"Do it, Julio." Jack commanded. "It's her only hope now."
Everyone had made a ring around the two, Lucinda on the ground and Julio shakily standing near her. But he still hadn't moved.
He closed his eyes tight and took a deep breath. "But…But what if I…"
"Don't worry." Jack reassured. "It won't end like last time. You've been training for six years now. You can do it."
Julio raised the flute to his lips. He started off low, the sound of the flute was soothing as if lulling something to sleep. A lullaby. Each note was crystal clear, each one played with purpose.
Erk glanced at his Master. "What's going on?" He asked.
Jack's eyes never left Julio as he continued playing. The music wasn't as low now. It was rising in pitch, his fingering became quicker as well. It started off low and slow, but the song was quickly picking up pace.
"Julio was came from a long line of powerful wizards." He said suddenly, taking Erk by surprise. "His family is well known and powerful. But despite this, Julio himself is very weak. He has almost no magic at all."
Julio's song became filling the room in earnest. It wasn't as fast anymore, it became balanced. The lullaby became something else. It was more like he was nudging something awake.
"He became the family shame." Jack went on. "So his family forced him to come here to train when he was still young. "That flute is the family heirloom. They hoped that in using it, Julio would become a more accomplished wizard." His green eyes gleamed behind his mask. "It holds a very powerful magic."
The feathers inscribed on the flute began to glow with a red light and magic began pouring out of it in waves. Julio's hair was blown up as if by a strong wind. A glowing red magic circle appeared beneath his feet, making the others step back in surprise.
"His ancestor was a truly powerful wizard, one that could have become one of the ten wizard saints if he wanted." Jack said seriously. "He had so much power, that he once took an almost impossibly strong magical beast and bound it to him."
Julio picked up the pace. His music wasn't just trying to wake something up anymore. He was calling it. He was summoning it.
"A ferocious beast whose feathers burn as if on fire. A beast that never dies, but upon its death it bursts into flame and is reborn from the ashes." He grew excited with each word. "His ancestor took those ashes and molded them into a flute, so that it would be forever lending its power to his family line. With it, they can use their ultimate spell!"
Red feathers began appearing on Julio's skin like tattoos. The boy opened his eyes as he played his song and red light poured out of them.
Ashes began pouring out of one end of the flute just as the feather tattoos on Julio tore away from his body. The two began mixing together above him. Fire and ash coalesced into one giant orb above Julio's head. His song hit a high note and the ball burst apart as something screeched from inside it.
Wings made of flame spread out across the guild, revealing a bird cloaked entirely of flame. It stared at them all uncaringly. It had eyes only for Julio, who had parted his lips from the flute and stared right back at the phoenix.
The phoenix hunched forward and let out a loud, angry call. It flapped its wings, showering them all in burning red feathers.
Everyone stared at the majestic birds in awe. Jack took a step forward. "The tears of a phoenix are said to cure any poison and heal any wound." That caught the attention of everyone else in the room. They tore their eyes away from the phoenix and looked at Jack, their eyes filled with hope. "It's even said that they can bring a person back from the brink of death."
Julio was breathing heavily. Almost all of his magic was used up. He couldn't talk. He simply didn't have the energy. So he simply pointed his flute at Lucinda. The phoenix stared at him for one long moment before turning its head to look at Lucinda.
It began to make a keening sound at the sight of her. Lowering its head, it kept one large eye just above the girl's body before it blinked just once. It made the keening noise again, more softly this time as it opened its eye and a single tear fell down and landed right on Lucinda's wound. The tear began to glow as it seeped into Lucinda's body, causing everyone to rush forward, completely ignoring both Julio and the phoenix.
They watched as the hole in her chest started stitching itself back together. Color returned to Lucinda's cheeks and she took a deep, shaky breath.
The phoenix let out a call and spread its wings as Julio lowered his flute. It gave the boy one more look before fading back into ash, swirling back into the flute.
Jack walked up to him, putting an approving hand on his shoulder. Julio managed to look up and smile at his Master before his legs buckled. But Jack saw it coming. He caught Julio before he hit the ground and lowered him gently. "You've done well, my seedling."