Chapter II: The Riders and the Raid (10)Mature

'Y - you're welcome,' Arlamus stammered with as much anxiety as if they were in a changing room together. With shaking fingers, he wiped away the smudge of black blood on his glasses, and when he could see once more, his eyes widened and he pointed across the estate, gasping 'there!'

Will turned around, and squinted to see through the blizzard, which although had settled a little, still obscured most from sight. Yet, he knew that Arlamus was pointing to the remaining men, one still on horseback outside the gates, the other closer, standing on the base fountain tier a few metres away. Feeling his blood dripping and seeming to freeze on his arm, as well as his exhaustion of fighting and using magick, Will forced himself up, gathering his legs under himself, taking the fallen machete as he rose.

He balanced himself for only a couple of seconds before he tipped forward, catching himself on the porch railing. As the edge struck his stomach, he coughed up the bile he had suppressed earlier. It seared through his throat and made him dizzy, and he felt Arlamus' comforting hand on his back as he felt his insides calm. When he looked up, he saw the figure on horseback, who he suddenly realised was wearing white, not black, raise their arm.

The movement he saw next, Will knew he was being waved at, with such softness and amusement that he knew immediately who it was. As if he was coughing up again, he raised his head and shouted out the name of the one he hated and feared above all else. The one who had tortured and taunted them all, and who had promised would never leave him alone.

'Taksony!'

With that, the horseman reacted. The horse, who Will assumed was Noxian, a creature of speed and shadow, reared, and with a thrash of the reins, it disappeared into the blizzard, speeding away down the mountainside leading to drowned Bootabin. The other man, the one who remained planted on the spot, staring forward, with the hood of their cape lashing against its hollowed, grey cheeks. It bared its teeth, and extending an arm skyward, it melted away in a plume of mist from the bottom up, gone too quickly for the boys to do anything.

Will and Arlamus stared for a few seconds into the empty distance. They looked at the trail of splinters on the path, the wreckage increasing as they turned back to what had once been the entrance of the lodge. Will's chest burnt, now with anger at the familiarity of events. Like last time, blood had been spilt at the hands of the Mastery, both Will's and of the innocent. 

Just as before, Will had survived; and so had the Mastery.

The End

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