The Neophyte series: The Adept (3)

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Close Call


Dr. Nicole stepped out of the ward after Wynona teleported to the Academy. Heidi sat in the chair next to my mother, angled slightly towards the window. Sun rays filtered through the perforated blinds and threw their golden shade onto her hair, giving her black locks thin, golden brown stripes as she stared into the distance. She was in deep thought, as I had rarely seen her in, so I decided to step outside for a while.

I owed her this.

I chased after Dr. Nicole who was halfway down the corridor. She walked fast and urgently, as a doctor in a hospital always would. As I caught up with her, her green eyes met mine, startled.

“Forgive my manners, doctor,” I said, searching for the right words. “I just want to thank you for saving my mother.”

She smiled, a genuine one, and nodded. “You couldn’t take me seriously before when I was in a frock, but in my white coat I am a lifesaver?”

I stared at her. “I never saw you any less of a person, doctor. Do not mistake my silence for arrogance. It was my mother that I was angry at, and my mistake was to take it out on you. I do apologise for that.”

She shook her head. “You’re confusing me, sir. What has your mother got to do with us?”

“She set us up without informing me beforehand.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Technically, she didn’t set us up without both our knowledge. I asked about you and she jumped at the chance.”

I read her olive eyes, calm and confident. “I already have a lady in my life, doctor. That is why I showed no interest.”

Her lips parted, cheeks blushed a deep red. “Oh, I see. Well, I do hope you forgive me, sir, I didn’t intend to embarrass you that way.”

“Not your fault,” I said. “Like I mentioned before, my mother did not inform me beforehand, otherwise I would have told her and spared all this…awkwardness.”

The doctor nodded, trying to shake off the redness on her cheeks. “I am happy for you, sir, I truly am. May I ask, is it Heidi?”

She read my face as she waited for a response. I admitted, I was slightly relieved. “Yes.”

Dr. Nicole bit her lips. “I saw the way you relaxed around her. A man like you builds walls only to lower them for the right woman. I wish the both of you well. I’ll be seeing you around, sir.”

I nodded with a smile and she walked away, disappearing round the corner. I returned to the ward after getting water in a paper cup from the dispenser beside the nurse’s station. Instead of seeing Heidi in the chair, it was empty with her leather jacket neatly hanging on it. A nurse was attending to my mother.

“Where did she go?” I asked him, pointing to the empty chair.

“The restroom, I believe,” he replied, scratching onto the clipboard with a pen.

I placed the cup on the table and sat in the chair. The sun was setting as the clouds parted. Puddles on the pavement below were getting smaller, people walking without umbrellas. A man wriggled out of his brown leather jacket and tossed it into his car before locking its doors with a button on his key. His partner walked beside him, pocketing her wand. They scanned the parking lot before making their way to the other side of the road. Their cautious movements and casual dressing told me that they were a couple of Spellcaster Scouts. Must be Virtuosos.

Something was telling me to check on the Academy.

I headed out the ward and walked towards the visitors’ restroom at the end of the hallway. There was only one and it was occupied. I gave it a couple of knocks.

“Heidi? I think I need to head back to the Academy too and I need a favour from you.”

Silence. Slight movements.

I knocked again. “Heidi?”

The sound of running tap water and then silence. I waited for a little while more before the door opened and an elderly man stepped out. He eyed me sceptically, face red with irritation and humiliation. I felt the heat on my face too.

“I am so sorry sir, I—“

“Hey,” Heidi said, appearing from behind, sipping black coffee in a white paper cup.

She eyed me casually, with one hand in her jean pocket like I had not just violated the privacy of an elderly. I turned to her as the old man stormed away in a huff. I blinked.

She raised her eyebrows at me questioningly and glanced at the door of the restroom. “Are you going in, or...”

“I was looking for you. I thought you were in there?” I replied, shaking off the embarrassment.

“No, I was in that one,” she replied, pointing to a restroom just beside my mother’s ward which I had completely overlooked.

I sighed. I turned to her and let the moment roll off my back, “Listen, I’m heading back to the Academy as well. My instincts are telling me that something isn’t right. I need you to stay here—“

“I’m going with you,” she interjected. “Can’t we just stick together? We’re always stronger that way.”

I knew it was an argument I couldn’t win. The truth was, I didn’t want to part from her so soon.

“I’ll ask the nurse at the station to look out for my mother, then.”

The nurse looked up immediately as we approached the station. Her grey eyes bore on me, one hand on the keyboard in front of her and the other on the mouse.

“Can I help you, Sir Tristan?” She asked, her attention fully on us. Her wand was placed beside her with the carving of the Northern star at its base.

I leaned closer, “You’re a Scout?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. I need you to keep an eye on my mother for me while I’m away.”

“Will do, sir.”

“What do you know about the recent explosions?” Heidi suddenly asked.

The nurse glanced around before answering, “You’d want to see this.”

She beckoned us to enter the nurse’s station to take a look at her computer screen. On it, there was a map with red crosses all over Orchidville. There were seven of them.

“These are bombings that happened across town in the last four hours. And look at where they occured,” said the nurse, pointing to each cross. She enlarged the map to let us read the locations.

“The Commissioner’s house is this one,” Heidi pointed to one of the crosses.

“He was bombed?” I asked.

The nurse turned to us, “His wife didn’t make it.”

“Oh,” Heidi uttered.

“Wynona’s mansion is here, where we were,” I pointed to one and traced my finger to the other X’s. “The police precinct, army barracks, fire station, the town hall...these are mostly government buildings.”

The nurse nodded. “They seem to be targeting politically affiliated buildings.”

“The leaders of Orchidville,” I muttered. “She kidnaps the leaders. That’s why Jesse, Dr. Pierce and Lady Bernadette are missing.”

“But that doesn’t explain your father,” Heidi said, softening her voice at the mention of my old man. “And how did you and Wynona get away scot-free?”

I shook my head, “There is a chance that she doesn’t know I am a Sage and she assumed it was my father instead. They also probably missed Wynona. She was completely hidden under the cabinet and only revealed herself to me. We need to warn her.”

“Well, once she finds out who the real Sage of Untamed magic is, she’ll come after you very soon,” she said and then turned to the nurse. “Do you mind giving us a copy of that map?”

As soon as she handed us the map, I lifted my wand to open a portal to the Academy.

“Oh shoot, my jacket!” She realised and pocketed the map. “I’ll go get it.”

She headed towards the ward and stopped directly in front of it, eyes widened in horror the moment she looked inside. I approached her.

“Heidi? What is—“

Frozium!” She cried with her palm out as soon as she got over her shock.

I quickened my pace. “Heidi!”

She ran into the room and swung a fist at the male nurse that was attending to my mother. He blocked her jab and kicked her in the stomach. She fell back but steadied herself.

“He was dead! I saw him lying in a pool of blood earlier,” she explained. “He was trying to smother your mother!”

Arsonion Oblivion!” I yelled.

In one swift motion, he turned and crashed through the window behind him and fell out of the fifth storey. I crossed the room and stopped at the window. No trace of his body. The man was gone and the heart monitor beside my mother started beeping in a long, single tone. She was flatlining.

I raced to her side and began compressions on her chest. “Heidi! Summon her white aura.”

She stared at me, stunned. “Summon? I don’t know—“

“Close your eyes and concentrate,” I explained. “Hover your hands over her just like how you would heal someone.”

She did as told. The shuffling of footsteps were getting nearer.

“I don’t think I’m getting anything, Tristan! She’s not even a Spellcaster, how do I even do that?”

“Everyone has an aura. The white aura is the human’s purest form. Feel it in your hands, Heidi!”

She breathed and continued to do so. Dr. Nicole arrived with her team.

“We have a code blue!” She announced to the others as she stood beside me, “Sir, let us take over.”

“We got this, doctor.”

“Do you see it?” Heidi asked, eyes still closed.

“Sir, let us—“

A faint white aura. I did not stop the compressions. I shook my head at Dr. Nicole who was about to stop Heidi. “Keep going, you’re doing great.”

The aura soon grew brighter and eventually the heart rate was back up. I pulled my hands away and Heidi dropped her arms to her sides, sighing. The nurses behind Dr. Nicole dispersed. She, however, seemed furious.

“That was dangerous,” she reprimanded, her eyes trained on me. “What if that didn’t work?”

“If I knew it was not going to work, I would not have risked it.”

She planted her feet firmly. “By doing so, you’re already putting her at risk. She’s my patient, Sir Tristan, and I would have to answer to my bosses if anything happens.”

“Guys?” Heidi interrupted, “I hate to get in between you two but the Academy is calling.”

The doctor sighed. “I shall leave you alone. But please, sir, leave it to the professionals next time.”

Her heels clicked angrily as she stormed off. I turned to my mother and planted a kiss on her forehead before teleporting Heidi and I back to the Academy.

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