Short Story by Aaron Shadowrider

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Content for 2013 Wizard101 Wizard Choice Awards

Submitted: October 13, 2013

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Submitted: October 13, 2013

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Lex was not a fool. At least she did not consider herself as one. But she wondered what had made her so foolish as to agree to Evan’s request to bounty hunting. The boy was undeniably charming. After much persuasive talk, he had managed to charm herself and a few of her companions to embark on an insane mission based on a equally insane poster he had happened to find pinned to the board of the town square. The poster had strictly said to bring the fugitive in alive, but after a blood bath with said fugitive and his accomplices, it was apparent his violence and inability to cooperate would result in no such conditions. Thus, the party trudged through the thick undergrowth of the forest, hands empty and spent from a day of useless toil with no chance at any coin. Their exhaustion failed to help them shield the ambush soon to follow. --- The attack was swift and hopeless; a pack of fire-spitters and their fifty foot dragon mother. Apparently, nesting season had come early this year. She shouted out her battlecry and sprung into action, her staff flying as she danced, flames soaring from her fingers. To the side, a wall of ice cut through the ground, maiming hoards as it surged. Aaron and Gavin followed, blasting here, conjuring tempests there, demoralizing them as Lex blazed through, jets of fire charring her enemies. The dragons had no chance, really. She caught Evan’s eye during the dance of death, just as a fourth spitter fell. Evan was in the process of freezing a spitter that looked very much dead, much to her amusement. She was about to make a witty remark about that until a set of fangs crept behind the ice wizard. What followed was a horrible cracking sound as bone and armor gave way. Lex could hear his screams. Loud. Hysteria. Immense pain. She bolted across the clearing in a flash, fear pounding her heart and adrenaline pumping her veins. Time seemed to halt. --- It ran red on the ground, dark and pooling and far too much. Lex knew what she was looking at before she even finished dashing to his side. The angles of Evan’s limbs were all wrong, blood sticky and sickening beneath her boots, and his eyes were staring skyward, unseeing, unblinking. Lex could hardly breathe. The battle waged on around them. Aaron and Gavin were now chasing a pack of fire-spitters now that the dragon responsible for the chaos was gone. She faintly heard Gavin’s shouting to tend to Evan, but that was enough to push her out of shock. Kneeling in the gore, she reached for the thaumaturge. There was a heartbeat, but barely there, faintly pulsing against his ribcage. Trembling, Lex ran her hands across broken chainmail, across torn flesh and crushed bone. Evan shook in pain and coughed into his cupped hands. When he pulled them away, they were filled with blood. Lex drew the thaumaturge close, and did her best to point her staff defensively at the fire-spitters. She heard no advancing hoards, but it didn’t hurt to keep one’s guard up. Keeping one arm around Evan’s shoulders, she peered outward. Nothing ¬¬¬— then Gavin’s face blocked her line of vision, concerned and wanting to know what had happened. “A fire-spitter got him from the side.” She explained. “He needs healing. Now.” “Lex. You have your glider. Use it to fly back to Wizard City and bring Alura here.” “No! He’s fine. He’s going to be fine. He just needs healing.” “Lex. No one here can heal.” Evan convulsed in her arms, coughing blood again, and Lex tightened her grip. “I’m already here with him,” She explained to Gavin. “One of you needs to go. Now.” “I’m on my way.” Gavin replied. Lex had never been so grateful for his practicality. “Aaron,” he continued, “you keep a sharp eye for anything that could be in hostile company. Attack anyone that approaches unless it’s me or Alura.” Aaron nodded, and took a long look at Lex, still in the forest clearing supporting the half-conscious thaumature. “I’m on it Gavin. Get the healer back as soon as possible.” Gavin nodded in affirmation and gave Evan a concerned look. Turning his back, Gavin mounted the glider and took off. With Gavin gone and Aaron on guard, silence fell swiftly. Lex drew Evan to the root of an overgrown tree, trying to keep him as upright as possible. From the labored breathing and the wet sounds that followed, Lex could deduce that he had a respiratory injury. Perhaps a pierced lung. She had seen enough lung injuries to know that keeping a victim upright was the best thing one could do. Evan chucked. “What’s wrong with you?” Lex rasped. “I don’t know. You playing nursemaid. I just never thought that you had a softer side.” Evan gasped. “Every time I see you, you always have your fist in someone’s face.” “Shut up.” A silence settled between them once more. Lex could hear a dripping noise. At first, she thought it was water until she realized only moments later that it was blood. “Tell me a story,” Evan croaked suddenly. “What?” “Tell me a story. You must know some. You know, those fairytales about floating castles and stuff? I’m sure you have that in Marleybone.” For a moment, Lex wondered how even in this desperate state, Evan could still manage to piss her off. But she looked into his silvery eyes and all she saw was fear. So she took a breath and tried. “Well, in Marleybone there is this festival every year. In summer.” Evan shuddered against her, but his eyes were locked onto Lex. “And every year there are floats and stands full of food.” “What is it called?” gasped Evan. “Um. I guess the ‘summer festival’?” “That’s… Very descriptive.” Evan’s voice trailed off into another coughing fit. The blood this time was even redder, even darker. In desperation, Lex began berating Evan as though that would keep him from dying. “You’re an idiot, you know that? You drag us down here. Didn’t even bother bringing a healer. And you wonder why you’re wounded.” Evan’s eyes began to flutter closed, and Lex shook violently him, paying no heed to his gaping wound. “Don’t you die on me. Don’t you dare die on me!” “Think… Think I’ll take a nap… so tired…” said Evan dreamily. His voice was barely audible, coming out in labored gasps. Lex felt panic mounting. “No!” She stuck him across the face, ignoring his wince. “Stay awake if you’re a man.” Evan laughed breathlessly, then fell into a fit of coughing. She could feel as his body tremor violently as he did. The coughing seemed to last for an eternity. For a while she wondered if it would ever stop. “Lex… Tell me a story. Please.” The delay between the labored gasps from his damaged lungs was increasing. Lex chose to ignore this. “I don’t know any fairytales,” Lex choked. She realized that every time she fell silent, Evan’s eyes dimmed a bit more. If she can just keep him focused, keep him awake, then he might have a chance. “But I do know some stories. From Marleybone.” Evan tried to nod, but only succeeded in obscuring his eyes in a shock of silver hair. Lex brushed them aside gently and continued speaking, trying to keep her voice calm even as she felt Evan’s trembling increase. She didn’t realize that she had started speaking in her mother tongue, and Evan’s luminous eyes, fixed on hers, didn’t register any lack of comprehension. “I remember that day when you and my brother pulled me out of the holding cells. You decided to bomb the entire place instead of pickpocketing a key. I thought you were insane. You always did crazy things and made a show out of everything. Always flaunted everything. I hated how you never took anything seriously.” Lex gripped Evan tighter, trying to stop the blood. There was so much of it now. They were both soaked. “But then I asked you to get me back into the ranks, regain what I had lost, I didn’t know you would actually carry out your word.” Evan’s eyes were like glass now. Glossy. Unseeing. The thaumature reached out a trembling hand and Lex gripped it tightly. “After that I admired you. Admired you for your skill. Admired your courage. But I still didn’t like you that much. You always found a way to get on my nerves, pulling pranks and blowing everything up… but you helped so many people… I couldn’t help seeing that.” Lex laughed harshly suddenly. The answering smile, so dim now, was such a pale reflection of his usual grin. It made her heart clench, but Lex was still looking at him and focusing on him, so she continued. “I didn’t understand what you might want in return until that day with the spoon. Do you remember that?” Evan’s expression didn’t change, and Lex failed to realize that it was because he had no idea what she was saying. “You … you picked up every bit of crap we came across… but I never realized until I heard you talking about the rusty spoon you found… that if you cleaned it up then everyone in your house could have their own and nobody would have to share. That was when I knew… when I knew…” Lex’s voice caught, and she stroked Evan’s hair desperately. “That was when I knew how much you were sacrificing for everyone else. When I knew you were good.” Evan tried to smile at her, but his strength was failing. “But now… I need you to know that I knew that… That I know how good you are, how much you are willing to give. Because you make me want to give too.” “Evan?” Evan nodded at her, but Lex knew keenly that he was fading. She shouted for Aaron, and Aaron answered unsatisfactorily. Lex clenched Evan closer. “You’re going to be okay, you understand? There are a hundred spoons in my house. I’ll give you a spoon. You don’t need to dig through the rubble on the streets. I can give you a spoon.” She knew she was babbling, but she can feel Evan fading in her arms. Panic began to pool and seep. Evan smiled at her, a smile of such pained sweetness that Lex felt like she might shatter. But that smile was quickly replaced by an expression of agony. Evan curled up against her and his body tremored violently as he coughed. This time the coughing was longer, more severe. All Lex could do was hold him and hope. “Evan. Evan!” Lex shouted, “Stay with me!” The coughing subsided, but his breath came out heavier and more labored. “Lex…” Evan whispered. “Don’t try to talk.” Lex said desperately, not even noticing that Aaron had abandoned his watch completely to drop to his knees at Evan’s side. She was sobbing now. Tears were falling, falling from her eyes onto the thaumature, but she paid no heed. “I… this… this is the end… Wonder if how it is on the other side… They say… rainbows and unicorns… What do you say… Lex?” “You’re not going to die!” hissed Lex and Aaron simultaneously despite all the evidence in front of them. “Lex…” gasped Evan. “Lex…” One more agonized breath. Then silence. Lex couldn’t believe it. “Evan.” She shook him. “EVAN!” Aaron stepped towards the fallen wizard, silently, as if he were in a chapel, and knelt in front of him as if in prayer. Very gently, Aaron placed his hands over Evan’s brow and closed the eyes of the lifeless body. The thaumaturge’s face was blood-stained and pale, but the look of pain was gone. Lex pulled him closer and held him there, that last time, with the scent and the sound of the forest around them. A soft breeze combed the land. For a moment, it felt peaceful. --- They buried Evan on the cliff side overlooking the sweeping trees of the Wild. Over him, she raised a cairn of stones. Lex didn’t know what to say to the grave, so she said nothing. Eventually, she stepped to the edge of the cliff and looked down at the rocky landscape below, tapering in ever decreasing pieces into the serene landscape of the forest. She wondered how many pieces she would crash into, if she leapt from the cliff onto the rocks below. Would it hurt any less than staying alive? She refused to leave, even when Gavin returned with Alura. Even after everybody had expressed their brief sorrow and left, leaving her sitting in front of the cairn, as though in a trance. Finally, when the setting sun began to cast long shadows over the grave, she rose from the cliff, and found her glider, which had been tethered to a nearby tree. She mounted it, took another look at the gravesite, and flew away. The winds were soft that day, as though muttering words of sorrow. Lex spent her time idly drifting on the currents. She was tempted to lose herself, to remain suspended in the winds, but she eventually decided against it. Powering her pyromancy, she kindled a torrent of flame to propel herself, and flew towards Wizard City.


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