They ran until they reached a large building. It was like a castle, standing tall like a fantasy excerpt against the painted violet sky. Small stars had begun to break through the late evening strips of magenta that lined the sky down by the horizon, where the sun had almost set. The stone walls of the castle were cast in the violet light that wavered in the night sky, giving it an eerie, ancient feeling. Even the air that rushed around it felt ancient, like thin parchment that could crack at any time. Blake looked around, looking at the dark ruby-coloured tops of the castle and at the symbols that marked the ground. He was about to step over them when Merlock pulled him back. “Runes,” he muttered. “There are runic symbols there. We can’t go through.”
“No, you can’t,” a voice replied. It was the voice of a man. They turned and saw a man who was dressed in a white shirt and jeans. He looked at them curiously, his luminous silver eyes darting between them. All of a sudden, marks appeared on his body, swirling vine-like tattoos that raked across his shoulders and chest. He seemed to emanate a silvery glow as he walked towards them. “You should not be near the castle.”
“Who says? Are there rules against it?” asked Blake angrily.
“Blake!” Merlock whispered tugging at his arm.
“How dare you!” The man flicked his wrists, and silvery blue flames erupted from the ground, swirling around him like water and crashed down onto the ground. As it grew closer to Blake, he conjured his energies using the relium salvus and sent a wave of rippling golden and orangey flames at the ones that were nearing him. The flames collided causing an inferno of silvery golden blue-orange fire to fly into the air. When the fire cleared, the man stood still, his silver eyes still observing Blake. He threw his hand into the air, and something Blake did not expect happened. He suddenly felt lighter, and he was lifted into the air, suspended by an invisible force. He flailed and threw his arms out, but he was stuck in the air. Merlock slapped the ground with a hand, and the earth shook as he released power into it. At that moment, a line of earth in front of Merlock’s hand cracked, and rocks flew up off of the ground, pelting a new shield the man had put up. With his attempts stumped, Merlock tried something else.
He cupped his hand, and a green glow appeared. He clasped his hands tightly, and it became a red glow, shining through the spaces between his fingers. He released the light, and a trail of energy traced through the air toward the man, imprinting it like fire. The light struck the man’s shield, and he went flying, causing Blake to fall to the ground. When they got back up, Merlock slipped his wand out of his sleeve and flicked the tip. The end grew and folded out while the tip became a glass-blown shape like a crescent moon. It glowed, and Merlock touched it to the ground by the runes, drawing other shapes in the ground.
The man rose, and rubbed his hands together, creating a silvery blue ball of flames between his palms. “Ah, ah, ah!” said Merlock. “You throw that at us, and the runes I put on the ground will transfer the blow to the runes that protect the castle.”
“Who are you?” he asked.
“No, we ask the questions,” replied Merlock. “Who are you?”
“I am a Shadowslayer and a wizard, the last Wizard-Warrior of all time. My name is Gale, Gale Saunders.”
“No,” said Blake, stepping forward. “You’re wrong. I’m a Wizard-Warrior.” He held up his palm, which burned and prickled.
“As you are… it does not matter. You cannot be here. Leave before someone like Gaius forces you to leave.” The man snapped his fingers, and vanished in a flash of blinding light.
“That was odd,” said Merlock. “Everyone here seems so… antsy.”
“I don’t know, but I really don’t want to stick around to find out!” They both ran to the right, away from the towering stone castle and the small stores. They ran until they got over to a different kind of place. There were stone tiles on the ground with patches of earth where beautiful flowers were growing. Trees lined the sides of the streets and people walked around quickly. Most people were gathering around a man in flowing white robes with glittering blue eyes. Blake immediately thought of Spencer.
They watched as the man spoke, his voice drawing them closer somehow, like a siren’s song that wasn’t necessarily beautiful. It was harsh and placid, rough yet smooth. They walked over and listened as he spoke. “I am Gaius Akron, the High Wizard that lives in the castle down there. I have something I need to tell you all. It is about Gailger.”
The whole crowd gasped.
“He has been sending Shadowbeasts more frequently. Recently, a hoard of them attacked The Burning City.”
“What type of Shadowbeasts?” asked a lady in the crowd. Gaius paused.
“Sancti. They trudged into the city and tried to rip it apart, but luckily we were able to gather enough Slayers of Gwydion to kill them and return them to their homeland. The city’s flames were almost doused, and the whole place was wrecked. Magi were sent to rebuild the place, though they would need the aid of necromancers which they hate to seek.”
“Why? Why didn’t we let The Burning City fall? They would never help us! They would only engulf the place in flames!” yelled a man. Gaius turned, his face angry. He pointed a finger at the man, and spoke a simple charm.
“Frendo!” he said. The air around him shimmered, and his hand was all of a sudden outlined in bright cobalt. It twitched, and the man’s body was suddenly folding inwards, crushing in on itself. It squished until he fell to the ground in a crumpled heap, a pool of blood beneath his limp body. A dark shape rose out of his body. It had black horns and a long sword that had coils of green smoke rising off of it. It looked like a spirit. Gaius stared at it, his face still angry. His blue eyes glowed brightly enough that he seemed blinded. “A Phasmitus!”
The creature began to waver as it moved backwards. It raised its smoking sword high into the air, and all of a sudden, a sword was stuck through its core. It was pulled back, and the creature collapsed, its body turning into smoke. The man with the sword shoved the sword into the ground, and it opened up, causing the smoke to fell in. The ground closed, and Blake realized who it was. It was Gale.
His silvery eyes were shining just as brightly as the marks that extended along his body. As he walked, silvery blue trails followed him. He sauntered onto the elevated plane where Gaius stood, his blue eyes watching Gale intently. He whispered something to Gale. The crowd began to clap loudly, cheering and whooping at the death of the demon that had taken vicinity in the body of a man. Gale pulled away from Gaius and the two of them smiled. Gale bowed, and his eyes flashed over to Blake and Merlock. Merlock’s fiery hair blew in the wind when he stepped forward so that Gale could see him. They exchanged some kind of thought, and Merlock stumbled. Blake could feel the energy crackling between them. He pulled Merlock back.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“He tried to kill us, Blake!” said Merlock.
“I know that! Just forget about him! Can we go somewhere else?”
“Okay.” The two of them walked off, farther into the city. As they walked, Blake remembered Gaius’s immaculate, unblemished blue eyes. His mind strayed right up close to Gaius’s eyes, and then moved back out so that Blake could see that it was Spencer. He felt a knot in the pit of his stomach, and he knew what it was.
It was guilt that he was feeling. They walked until they reached a large building with a copper coloured roof. There was a large sign on the front with shining and rearranging letters. ‘Hotel Leto’ it kept saying. The letters would rearrange, and the ‘H’ would disappear. They stared at it for moments. The moon was reaching up, and faint glows indicated the hiding stars in the night sky.
“Should we stay?” asked Merlock. His green eyes were sharp and just like Blake, his features angular. Blake’s eyes became golden, and he stepped through the door. When they saw the lady at the counter, Blake realized something about her. Her body looked slimy, and as she spoke on the phone, her tongue shot out of her mouth over and over. Blake’s eyes changed back.
“Oh, no! NO way am I going to talk to… it!” Blake whispered angrily. Merlock sighed and walked over. In a minute, he walked back with a room key and went over to the elevator. Blake followed him, and they went to the top floor. When they got into the room, Blake collapsed onto one of the beds and immediately fell asleep.