The Neophyte series: The Adept (3)

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Funeral for a Friend


Rain poured onto the town of Orchidville like it was mourning with us. The bell tolled in pace, as I lifted the coffin on my shoulder, just like the other seven of us.

After the ordeal at the old factory, Vicky brought Lord Voltaire’s body back to the Underworld while Heidi and I headed to the town hall where Rose had apparently kept the others in. There was a basement underneath that had a passage that led us to a crypt. The Necromancer had lived there for many years, moving back and forth between the Worldly Realm and the Land of Lost Souls.

When the Necromancer died, her spell went with her too. Wynona and Jesse found a way out of the crypt and we helped set them free. Families were reunited and Orchidville was no longer in danger—at the cost of losing a King and gaining an unwanted energy.

Synto’s enemy was defeated and it was now channelling all of its power in Heidi.

My coat grew heavy as it began to soak in the rain. My hair plastered on my face. Many Vampires and Orchidville leaders congregated to the top of a hill to witness the burial of Lord Voltaire. The Vampire King had insisted to be buried in Orchidville, where he first became a Vampire after almost dying from the very first civil war. I was not sure of his history, as Vicky did not mention, only that he already had a plot ready for himself some ten years ago.

Vicky stood on a podium, clad in all black and a veil over her face, exposing her pale lips. A tear dripped down her chin as she prepared to read the eulogy for her King and ardent lover.

We placed the coffin onto the catafalque, sniffles and sobs all around us. Jesse, Dr. Pierce, my father and Brian were among the pall-bearers that I could name. We took our places at the side with the others. Dr. Pierce joined his wife while Jesse, my father, Brian and I stood side by side and watched as Vicky began.

“My King, you lived a thousand years and a full life. You took the duty and responsibilities of a King and took us in—“

Her voice broke mid-sentence. Brian broke away from us and joined at her side for support. She composed herself before continuing. I scanned the attendees—no sign of Heidi. I had not seen her since we freed the captives from the crypt underneath the town hall.

It had been a week.

“…alas your fate has met you, Lord Francis Voltaire son of Theodore Voltaire. May you be at peace, my King.”

Brian helped her down the steps of the podium and the coffin was lowered into the ground. Some began tossing flowers and petals as it descended. Vicky stood tall, as she watched some other Vampires weep while their King was buried.

“We will need a debrief in my office,” I whispered to Jesse. “The war against Synto has just begun.”

Jesse stared at the coffin, “I agree. I need to know all that has happened. Spare no detail.”

I nodded and turned to head for the exit. As I did, I caught the sight of Heidi standing by an old leafless tree, right underneath a low branch. She watched on, cheeks wet with tears. She had come in her black leather jacket, as she was always seen in, hands clasped together to withhold everything in her. I made my way to approach her and her hazel eyes flickered to me.

She turned on her heels and teleported somewhere.

* * *

I returned to my office at the Academy straight after the funeral. I had a hunch that Heidi had returned to her dorm room as well. Since the whole of the North wing was torn asunder, many Spellcasters had lost their dorms and belongings during the battle—including Heidi. Wynona and Jesse helped to set up temporary rooms for them to stay in while we rebuilt. Wynona gave her room to Heidi while she returned to the Worldly realm to rebuild her home with her husband.

I pulled out the book with the in-depth study of the Necrocall and theory of Synto’s dark energy. An ancestor of mine had studied dark energy for decades for the younger generations of Sages to learn. I spent the whole day reading it thoroughly.

And then I found it. A solution.

I brought the book with me and summoned the other two Sages at Jesse’s office. When they came, I wasted no time in explaining my proposal. Jesse and Wynona glanced at each other and eyed me sceptically. I paced the office back and forth while I elaborated on it.

“Energy suppression?” Jesse clarified, “It’s dangerous, Tristan. It might work temporarily but who knows what it would do to her.”

Wynona shook her head. “This is by far the craziest idea you’ve thought of. It’s very unlike you.”

“No, I think it’s very much like our Tristan,” Jesse opposed. “Stubborn and risky.”

I stopped in my tracks and turned to them. “My ancestor tried it before and he said it worked. There were failed experiments but—“

“He experimented on mortal energy,” Jesse interjected. “Not dark energy.”

“It’s something,” I retorted. “It’s better than nothing.”

“What happened to the promise, Tristan?” Wynona asked. “It isn’t supposed to be this complicated.”

“But it is,” I ran my fingers through my hair impatiently. I was unsure if it was frustration or excitement coursing through me. “And I never promised anything, Wynona.”

Silence fell on them for a short moment before Wynona took a step forward. She eyed me with her violet irises, darting back and forth.

“Have you forgotten that you are a Sage? You swore an oath to protect the realms—“

“This is Heidi, we’re talking about!” I snapped. Wynona flinched and Jesse frowned.

“Not another word, young man,” he warned. Then he continued, “Wynona is right. Your involvement with Heidi is getting in the way of your rational-thinking and decision-making that constitute a Sage. You are letting your love for her consume you. This is exactly what I was afraid of. Not only are you risking the safety of the three realms and everyone in it, you are also risking her own humanity!”

I stared at him. “What do you mean?”

“The dark energy will soon engulf her and she will start to lose her memory. The first memory to go will be her childhood, then she’ll forget the people she loves. It happened to her father and it will happen to her.”

I shook my head, “What—how come you didn’t tell me this?”

“We thought you were capable of following instructions,” Wynona said. “Well you were, until you let your emotions get in the way of things.”

I swallowed my throat. “But if we don’t allow that energy to grow, there is a chance for her.”

They knew I would not lose this argument. Jesse looked flustered and sighed while Wynona shook her head in disappointment and frustration.

I took my book and headed out the door. “I will let you know if anything happens.”

“Then you’ll be fully in charge of her now,” Wynona said. I stopped in my tracks.

She moved towards me with her arms crossed. “So if anything happens to her, you’re fully responsible.”

I read her eyes—they were utterly cold and unwavering. I nodded and shut the door behind me. I made my way to Wynona’s room where Heidi was and knocked on it. I shut my eyes, hoping that she’d let me talk to her. She did, after two minutes, and her hazel eyes bore on me as she opened the door, cradling her orange cat in her arms.

“Are you busy?” I asked.

She shook her head and widened the door to let me in. I walked straight in and turned to her as soon as she closed the door. I held out a thick leather-bound book with the symbol of Untamed magic on it—a flame in a circle—no worded title. She eyed me curiously.

“This book,” I began explaining, “contains detailed information about the Necrocall and the theory of dark energy. There is a spell that can be done to suppress yours.”

Heidi put the feline down and then looked back at me. Her hazel eyes widened as she received the book from my hand.

“Are you sure? Does it work?” She asked, flipping through the pages.

“The spell is experimental, hence why we don’t teach it. It was only done to mortal energy, but—“

“Let’s do it,” she cut in.

I read her face; determined and desperate. It was like looking in the mirror.

I nodded and moved close to her. “Close your eyes, Heidi.”

She did as told and I placed my palm across her forehead and pressed the other against her lower spine. I could feel her pulse racing as I shut my eyes and chanted the lines that my ancestor had written in the book. I repeated them over and over as she winced.

“It’s going to hurt but pull through it, all right? Grip my arm if it’s too much to bear.”

She immediately did. I continued the chant and channelled my energy into her, pushing down the coldness inside. The dark energy was fighting mine and I had to channel more from my ruby. Finally, the dark energy was successfully suppressed.

I held her back as she steadied herself. She opened her eyes like she was held underwater for so long and was finally allowed to surface. I took a step back, out of her personal space.

“How do you feel, Heidi?”

“Much lighter.”

I handed her my wand. “Cast Arsonion at me.”

She stared at me and took my wand. “I don’t know, Tristan—“

“Just like our first day of training together,” I took a few steps back. “Cast Arsonion at me.”

Heidi readied her stance and breathed. Then she shut her eyes and inhaled. I waited.

“Concentrate, Adept.”

A faint red aura formed around her.

“You’re doing fantastic.”

The red aura grew brighter, its radiance enlarging. She opened her eyes.

I asked. “Are you ready, Heidi?”

A corner of her lips upturned. “Born ready.”

She pointed the wand at me and cried, “Arsonion!

A red flame shot out and I cast a protective shield around me. She recoiled and stared in shock. Then her eyes flickered to me, bright as they had ever been. She looked exactly as she did when she cast the spell for the first time during her Neophyte training.

“Tristan! I did it! It worked!” She cried and ran to me.

She wrapped her arms around me, elated with her success. I hugged her tight and shut my eyes, silently relieved that the energy suppression spell worked.

So if anything happens to her, you’re fully responsible.

Heidi pulled her face away from me and we locked eyes. She leaned in to plant her lips on mine but I turned away. She pulled back.

“Tristan?” Her voice was small. And hurt.

I could not bring myself to meet her eyes. I unwrapped my arms around her. I cleared my throat.

“Your ranking ceremony will take place tomorrow at midnight. Meet me at the training grounds, do not be late.”

I strode out the door, leaving her dumbfounded.

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