The Author’s Apprentice

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Chapter 15: Epilogue

Bradley and Kayla were stranded. They pretty much lived at the Secret Library. It was their home. So when the Library burned down, Bradley had decided to start heading toward the one place they could think to go — the Authors Guild Headquarters. Where their parents were — or, at least, where Kayla’s parents were. Maybe they could find refuge there.

The only problem was, it was a long way to Headquarters, and they didn’t have many resources. They didn’t have money, food, or a place to stay during the nights of their journey. Luckily, Bradley was quite knowledgeable on survival tactics. He knew the basics of surviving in the wilderness; how to build a shelter, start a fire, and which plants were edible. Based on Bradley’s calculations, they were about two thirds of the way there, and would reach Headquarters in about two days if they kept their current pace.

“Do you think the others are doing okay?” Kayla asked. She was sitting by the fire, brushing her fingers through her short, tangled red hair.

Bradley sat down next to her, warming up his cold hands by the flame. “I’m sure they’re fine,” he said. “They’re smart. Besides, they’ve got Stormi.”

Kayla shrugged. “You’re probably right. I just wish we at least knew where they were, or how they were doing.”

“It’ll be okay,” Bradley said. “Let’s just focus on making it to Headquarters. At this rate, we should make it there in about two days.”

“Finally, some good news,” said Kayla.

After poking at the fire a bit to keep it alight, Bradley stood and said, “I’m going to go find some food for dinner. I’ll be right back.”

“Be careful, Brad,” Kayla said.

“I will,” he promised.

Bradley wandered through the woods, searching for berry bushes, edible plants, and anything else they could use as food. He had just spotted a large tangle of blackberry bushes when he heard a voice that made him stop cold in his tracks.

Bradley…

The voice was raspy and hissing, and almost demonic in a way. It seemed to echo in his head, clouding his thoughts. “H-hello?” Bradley stammered, looking around the forest for the source of the voice.

Whatever it was continued to whisper in his head, now sounding like multiple voices whispering over each other.

Oh, Bradley… Poor Bradley…

“Who’s there?” he called, raising his voice in an attempt to mask his fear.

Poor Bradley… An empty soul… A shadow of what could be…

“Show yourself!” he demanded, his hands clenched into fists as his fight-or-flight reflexes kicked in.

You have so much potential, Bradley — potential for power... Let us show you… Let us show you what you could be…

The words seemed to lull Bradley, to ease his apprehension somehow. “What are you…talking about?”
Aren’t you upset that the Author, your mentor, chose an inexperienced, naïve soul over you? A trained warrior, ready to fulfill his destiny?
Bradley considered the words. He was more mature than this…but he had felt a twinge of jealousy when the all-powerful Stormi showed up, taking up all the Author’s attention. After all, he had been the star-student before she appeared.
Exactly, Bradley… Because of Stormi, you were passed up the chance to become the best you could be. Because of Stormi, you were never able to reach your full potential. Well, we are offering you a second chance… A chance to prove yourself…
“What…what do you mean?” Bradley nearly whispered.
Let us show you…
The last four words echoed loudly in Bradley’s head, like a chorus of snakes hissing in his ears.
And just like that, Bradley was plunged into darkness.

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