IN THE DESOLATE CASTLE HALLS, WILL UNHOOKED AN OIL LAMP FROM A SCONCE BEFORE CREEPING OUT INTO THE NIGHT.
The moon was large in the sky, the hazy shapes of other planets visible around it. The light shone on the water, as if it was swirling with silver oil, and the grounds hummed with the chirps of cicadas, lit by jittery fireflies. Will heard Vigilo pacing through the corridors one last time, and he stifled the light within his jacket, the emanating heat searing against him. He hid himself in the shadow of an inanimate suit of armour, compressing himself into the darkness. Vigilo's lanky shadow skimmed the walls, Will saw just his legs as he headed down West corridor to the greenhouses. Seizing his opportunity, Will slivered from his hiding place, suitcase in hand, and squeezed himself through the crack of the grand doors.
Outside, he slumped against the door and sunk to the ground, dropping his case beside him and flexing his blistered hand. He unwound the bandages, tossing it aside on the ground and turned his hand towards the light ebbing from the lamp set on the ground in front of him. It was puffy and red, the lines of his palm indistinguishable, the natural pattern marred by a thick scar stitched tightly. From his fingertips had flowed power that had both saved and injured, but as much as he wished he was even, the images of Andrel, injured, terrified in his presence, whirred in his head like the pages of a book flying past.
I could hurt somebody else, he thought gravely, maybe Tayna or Sayara. I can't hurt them. They don't need me...he thought about the reaction of the students earlier that day, they don't want me. Paradam can find me again when I'm eighteen. Maybe by then, I'll have learnt some control.
Acting on his thoughts, he pulled himself up, balling up his injured hand despite its protest, and strode down the pathway, the gravel crunching beneath his feet. He'd thrown on his clothes in the dark, choosing the warmest and most practical of clothes for his life in Vincula. He kept the items that would keep him most warm, intending to turn his trousers into shorts for practicality, he had all of his white shirts, and he took his winter boots for the long trek home. He had none of his magickal items except his wand, he'd deliberated for several minutes whether to part with it, and at one point had left it on his bed and headed out. He'd made it halfway down the stairs before he had the feeling as if a tether wrapped around his chest was strained and pulled taut.
Now, it was locked inside his case, he refused to use it, but he couldn't ignore the sentiment. Perhaps he would keep it like a souvenir, to remind him of the wonderful things he'd seen, and the first friends he'd made, all in a week. And, of the trouble he'd caused, a reminder that it wasn't the world he belonged in, and of the person he didn't want to be.
A little boy from Vincula, that's what I am. I'm happy being just that. Really...I am.
He continued down the path, running between the cliffside and the White Forest, reaching a wooden bench with peeling paint. Driven into the ground beside it was a pole striped black and white, a sign painted with a picture of a carriage. He turned and saw the silhouette of the castle, some of the windows lit brightly, one of them being Paradam's, Will noticed. Leaving without telling him was his biggest regret, the man who had travelled so far to find him, and Will was running. He wanted to convince himself it was to protect his friends, but he knew it was fear, fear of the world around him.
Fear of who he was becoming.