I felt an odd sense of stillness in my office. Heidi was not on the chair where I last left her. She was nowhere to be found. She wasn’t supposed to leave.
I burst out of my office and searched for her. I asked all the Spellcasters I ran into and they all replied with a negative. I zipped down the hallway and headed straight for the training grounds in the East wing. Deserted. No sign of anyone except for a slightly rotund ginger cat that roamed the Academy from time to time. I recognised the feline and bent down to pet it. It licked my hands.
“I know, Butters, I’m looking for her too.”
I straightened myself and headed for Nurse Hilda’s office back in the South wing. I shoved the door and startled her and some other injured Spellcasters in it.
“Has anyone seen Heidi?”
Nurse Hilda shook her head and the others stared back in utter confusion. Only one responded with an affirmative.
“Where?” I asked, striding to him. He was a Virtuoso with a cast on his leg.
“I saw her at the Gardens. I think she was heading for the portal.”
In wasting no time, I summoned a portal to the Worldly realm. It was night out when I entered it, cold winds greeting me. Sirens wailed in a distance, getting louder and fading away as the ambulance passed me. I was on the streets of Orchidville, walking past somber faces and many that were clad in dark colours.
I headed straight for the Lucky Orphans. I knocked on the door and Mrs Tabitha answered. Her eyes widened as she saw me.
“Did Heidi come by?
“Heidi? I’m afraid not, sir. Haven’t seen her since Dora’s funeral.”
I nodded and thanked her. I needed to think. She could be anywhere. Was she taken? Did she leave?
I summoned a portal to the Underworld instead. I walked through it and saw Vicky immediately. Lord Voltaire was not in sight.
“Where is he?” I demanded.
Vicky’s red eyes bore on me. They were wet with tears. She pulled out a dagger and readied her stance. Brian stood by her with his knife as well.
“I’m sorry, Tristan.”
I held up my wand. “I’m sorry too.”
I shot out my flames as I cast the spell but they rolled away in time. The two elite Vampires swung their knives at me but I swerved and ducked, retaliating with different spells. Brian gave a right hook and I blocked, then twisted his arm and Vicky gave a roundhouse. I ducked and her boot landed on him instead, knocking him out. I pointed my wand to her, channeling my energy from my Sage’s ruby.
“Where is Voltaire?” I demanded again.
Vicky threw her dagger at me at such a speed that I did not evade in time. It pierced through my shoulder and I grunted from the shock and pain. I pulled it out and shot back at her. She kicked it away.
“Why are you doing this, Vicky? Heidi trusted you!”
She swung a fist at me and I avoided. “I’m just following orders.”
“You’re her friend! Not just a blind soldier to that maniac.”
“Have you forgotten your duty as a Sage, Tristan? The Necromancer is far too strong for us. Heidi is the only one who can stop all this—“
I threw a jab at her jaw and booted her in the chest. I just needed her to be distracted. Vicky fell back and I pinned her under my boot. I pointed my wand to her eye.
“I’m not here to parley, Vampire. Where is your King?”
* * *
The deserted suburbs were still with stagnant air and no breeze. The chill that clung on to the atmosphere hovered over the houses as I scanned in its silence. The night wore on and I was far astray from finding leads on the whereabouts of the two Sages and other leaders. But Heidi was missing and I had a bad feeling inside me.
I headed straight for her old home. If Vicky was lying, I would slaughter her myself.
Two muffled voices were heard as I approached the front porch of a white, vine-devoured house. Its openings of broken windows stared back at me in the dark. I felt an aura but it wasn’t Heidi. It belonged to a Vampire.
“Heidi!” I called as I stormed into the house.
The voices stopped and I could not feel the aura anymore. I shut my eyes to feel where the aura was going, churning my energy from the Sage’s ruby.
An old factory, just by the foot of the hills on the outskirts of town.
I opened my eyes to teleport myself there but I was tackled to the ground. Vicky kicked my wand aside and pinned my shoulders down.
“I can’t let you kill him,” she said as she released her Vampire claws.
I gritted my teeth, “You think I will let him kill her?”
“Dammit, Tristan, damn you!”
She let me go. I caught my breath. Vicky fell back, tears flowing down her pale cheeks.
“Do you think I want that? Do you think I intended to raise her like a sister only to have her killed?”
I sat up and eyed her. Vicky seemed like a broken thing, sobbing with her red eyes glowing at me.
“If we don’t get rid of that energy in her,” she explained carefully like I couldn’t understand her language, “you know what she’s going to turn into.”
I did not offer any verbal reply. Vicky rubbed her face with her hand, wiping her tears in frustration.
“She’ll become the next Necromancer, Tristan. With her knowledge of a Spellcaster and that energy in her, we knew it was only a matter of time. Lord Voltaire and the three Sages promised her father that this was to be done.”
“The Sage that promised to do so was my grandfather,” I said as I stood up. “I am not my grandfather.”
I took a few steps back and teleported myself to the old factory.