Chapter 43: Without, Part I

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 1012

The smaller Razalek moved his hands, bringing them near his torso. He took a deep breath, inhaling the air of the ballroom-like room.

"It comes from the lungs," he said. His hands lowered, exhale drifting out into the open air through his nose. "Most executions will come through the nose, though in some circumstances it may be more appropriate to cast from the mouth." He looked to Zidane, who was still sitting on the floor in front of him. "Who told you the answer of 'both'? Was it Miz Ezyta?"

Zidane shook his head, politely saying no and speaking a word Lance had never heard before. And then a thought instantly sparked inside his mind.

Gurenok, he repeated, looking to the Razalek. Finally, a name for this guy.

Gurenok gave a curt nod. "Your answer of 'both' will suffice. As you pointed out, breathing through the mouth and casting through the nose is an example—a rather outdated and peasant tactic at best—but, many times you will only need to use your nose... You can cast with this method only, yes?"

Zidane nodded quickly.

"Anything large?"

Again, he declined in the same way. Gurenok uncrossed one of his arms, a small icicle appearing in front of him. Air moved off of it like steam, trailing behind as the icicle floated to Zidane and stopped in front of him.

"I'm going to release this," Gurenok said. "Catch it."

The icicle dropped, and Zidane's breath shot through his mouth in a quick exhale. Despite the fact that Zidane's back was facing him, Lance could tell the icicle had been caught. He took advantage of his mind's eye, watching the second view without bothering to think hard enough to teleport closer.

Gurenok spoke again: "Now turn it to water."

Lance saw the ice turn to drops, the second command echoing in his head before the water had fallen more than an inch.

"Back again."

The rain droplets became dozens of tiny icicles and hovered. The next command Lance didn't hear, but suddenly Zidane's fingertips straightened and half the icicles embedded into the wall twenty-five feet away. Zidane's fingers turned, firing many more icicles up the wall and into the ceiling.


The remaining spikes dropped, shattering against the floor like glass. Lance backed away from the secondary vision, watching Gurenok smile from halfway across the room.

"Well, I do believe she's taught you well."

Lance sensed the slightest movement from the side of Zidane's mouth; a tremble that didn't push itself into a smile or even a smirk. Gurenok didn't seem to mind; he bowed his head and stepped back.

"I believe it's time for the next step."

The next moment, Ezyta had suddenly appeared, taking one stride closer to Gurenok, eyes never moving from Zidane.

"I need you to steal documents for me."

Zidane's shock spread to his face. He glanced to Gurenok, then back to Ezyta. "What about..."

Ezyta smiled with mostly her eyes. "You're just beginning. We had a deal, remember? You help me, I help you. Step one of this is already complete; now we begin step two. Once your part is done, I'll repay the other half of mine in full."

Zidane grew quiet. His posture slumped down, almost deflating. The ball that Lance's stomach had twisted into didn't let up, even as Ezyta looked out towards the center of the room. The female Razalek's hand reached out, palm down and fingers spread. A large object shaped like a square appeared above Lance, blocking out his view of the amazingly intricate chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The square was lowering, looming towards him and spiking a response to get out of the way.

He stood by the wall nearby, watching the square cast a massive shadow onto the floor. The shadow stopped growing, the square stopped moving, and Ezyta spoke.

"Shadow pulling is a mobility cast. By manipulating both yourself and your surroundings, you're able to get around much quicker than before. For this cast, we rely solely on shadows."

At her command, Zidane stood up, finally turning around to see what she was looking at. He took a moment to observe the shadow and then the object casting it. Something light and cold pressed against Lance's stomach—a slight feeling of fear from Zidane.

"Close your eyes," Ezyta continued. "Think of nothing except your own shadow."

Zidane did as he was told. Lance could feel his own focus drop towards his shadow—or at least, where his shadow would be if it were present. He smiled a little bit, amazed at the details, and watched Zidane stand. Lance could sense his attention was locked on the darkness below his feet, focusing on it as if everything else in the world didn't exist.

"Now drop into it."

Zidane suddenly dropped into the floor, disappearing and leaving behind nothing but the shape of his own shadow.

"What do you see?" Ezyta asked.

Zidane's voice came as a thought, one that rang out into the room.

"I don't. I just feel."

A brief smile curved one side of Ezyta's lips. "Good." She looked to the large shadow in the middle of the room. "Can you feel the large shadow that I placed?"


"Pull towards it."

Nothing happened. The room remained still for a moment, then a moment longer. Zidane's shadow suddenly darted forward, disappearing into the larger one. Lance felt Zidane's astonishment alongside his own, and suddenly the shadow split in two, the right half drifting away from the left.

"Get to the other side."

The other half of the shadow was speeding away, but Zidane was barely even a flash, a glimpse of darkness across the flooring. The large shadow stopped moving. The left and the right half began shrinking, moving into dots as Ezyta's voice came again.


Zidane's shadow was more obvious this time; he was a fraction of a second slower, but this delay allowed Lance a better glimpse of something more than just lines against the floor. The few lines he'd previously seen were a part of another shape; many lines making up a long, narrow blur. And then it was gone, immersed into the circle.

Both shadows stopped shrinking. The one Zidane was in expanded as the other disappeared completely.

"Rise out."

Zidane was lifted from the shadow, rising up and landing softly on his feet. The circle above him vanished as he slowly turned to Ezyta, blinking as though he were arriving out of a daze. The Razalek smiled.

"You'll be working for me from now on," she said. "I have documents I need you to steal."

Sensing Zidane's interest, she slid her thumb along a curled forefinger, removing a transparent blue ring. The ring expanded, becoming a long scroll. This scroll hovered in front of her, the paper transparent while the foreign writing was opaque.

"This is what they look like when opened, but as I just showed you, these scrolls can been hidden to look like anything. You need to pick up on the right vibrational frequency and pull whatever it is towards you." She motioned with a hand towards the open room. "That lesson we just went through will act as your transportation. Are we clear?"

Zidane nodded. "Yes, Ezyta."

"Then we start now."

The memory faded, the room being replaced with a wide hallway. Statues were carved from the walls, but a sudden change brought Lance's focus away. Sensing Zidane had appeared, Lance looked to the right side. The crossbreed stood against the wall, one foot pressed against it. He hadn't changed much since the last memory, but from this distance, Lance could tell he had grown taller.

A grin came to Zidane as he pushed himself off the wall. "You probably got questions."

Lance shuffled his hand through the back of his hair, glancing away. "Uh, yeah," he said before looking back. He gave a reverse-nod, a motion towards the crossbreed. "How'd you get your powers?"

"They kicked in after a few days of being here," Zidane replied. "Maybe it was just being in the right environment, having enough of the energy here made me respond to it, I'm not exactly sure."

Lance nodded. "Ezyta and that other guy..."


"Yeah, Gurenok. They were talking about some tasks before? And that was the whole reason they brought you here?"

"And the reason Ezyta stopped choking me to death," Zidane said with another grin, stating what Lance didn't want to. "I know Razalek culture is pretty different than human—I think it's obvious from this hallway we're in right now—but to make it short, Ezyta's royalty. In order for the next heir to get the throne, they need to complete certain tasks. Some take years, some a few days, but overall the process takes about eighteen years to complete, sometimes a little longer. When I met Ezyta she was seventeen and completing one of the last ten."

He paused, interlocking his fingers behind his neck and looking up.

"I really can't go on without giving anything away, but I think that's all you need to know right now."

Lance stifled the urge to ask anything else, nodding and agreeing quietly. Sensing his impatience, Zidane smiled and once again vanished. Lance looked around, surprised when Zidane walked past him. He had changed; his clothing darker, his body a few inches taller, but these differences only held Lance's focus for a moment. A realization hit him, one that punched his stomach and nearly caved his chest in.

The similarities to Arzo were back, but they were different this time. It wasn't the ever-present anger—that had decreased. It was a quiet, screaming seriousness, a deathly maturity that no child was supposed to have. What surprised Lance the most, however, how he thought Zidane had changed; there'd been a breach of something when he was with Zooka, however slight that breach may have been. So how much of that had been erased?

Zidane was halfway through the door when Lance found himself in another room. Wide and long, with the same deep red color scheme as the hallway. Zidane entered the red, mirror-covered room, stopping after a few steps. His stare never moved from Ezyta, who reclined in a chair on the opposite side of the room.

Lance looked a little closer, realizing the chair was made of light blue wisps; some physical manifestation of whatever energy Razaleks used. He watched how the energy making up the armrests curled around her hands, delicately moving around the markings and outstretching to her fingers, healing away any tension that would've been present there. Her pale-blonde hair was stretched out, floating, bringing Lance to notice the other Razaleks tending to it. At first, Lance thought they were brushing their assigned section, but upon inspection he saw they were hovering an open palm above her hair, allowing unseen energy to run through each strand. Their other hands stayed below, keeping the section afloat. 

Submitted: December 04, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


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