Chapter III: Letters (1)Mature

ARLAMUS CAST A SPELL WHICH DARKENED THE WINDOW PANES AROUND THE HOUSE, ALLOWING THE FAMILY TO SLEEP THROUGH THE DAY.

He slept on one of the sofas, Mrs Wilthric and Persephone curled together on the other, whilst Will and Andrel slept on the arranged camp beds, side to side near the window. Andrel was obviously asleep, his mouth disfigured drowsily against the pillow, his eyes closed and still.

For Will, there were too many things on his mind for him to sleep properly. He could feel his hands trembling at his sides beneath the sheets, something he was prone to now. The Mastery had affected him in many ways, one being the ability to send him back to the caverns every time he thought of them. The memory of pain ran up his leg, reminiscent of when it had been snapped by a Mastery soldier to stop him escaping, and he remembered the agony in the middle of his forehead whenever he thought of the Evil Eye.

He felt himself changing at the hands of the Mastery, turning into a jittery, terrified little boy that he had thrown aside years ago in Vincula when he'd realised that he couldn't survive that way. He wanted badly to resist, to retain his strength and willpower that he had assembled through his struggles, but like so much, it was falling apart around him.

They attacked in public, Will puzzled as he led awake, the attack of the Shades still bothering him. Are they so desperate to take me? He should have expected it, from the moment he'd been forced to reveal Maga to the Mastery - risking the fate of all magi for the safety of his own sister - he'd lost the security that he'd once had outside of the Sanctuary.

Now, it was his only refuge, and this he mourned.

'You must be strong, Willow,' said Maga, her soft voice reinforced with power. He sat up, cupping her favourite form - a speck of light - in his hands. It comforted him that the glow spread to every corner of the room, leaving nothing around him washed with darkness.

'It's not me I worry about,' he whispered. He looked around at the surrounding family, listening to their soft, lethargic breathing, tensing whenever it broke rhythm. It didn't matter how many wards, enchantments or shields surrounded them, Will couldn't shake the fear that they would return and destroy this perfect moment when the world seemed to hum around him with peace.

'I didn't think it could get worse...but it did,'

'In the depths of your soul, did you expect it to ever get better?'

He shook his head. 'No...but some naivety might do me good right now. Pretending that everything's fine...I haven't let myself do that in so long that I...' His voice locked tight in his throat, tears rising to his eyes, falling through the light in his hands that he knew wasn't really there, but just another fragment of madness.

'Will...please,' said Maga with such a sadness that he swore she was real, sitting beside him. 'I cannot bear to feel your sorrow and know there is nothing I can do...'

Maga was a friend to Will like no other, and thus cared for him like no other. Their pain was each other's, a fact which gave him both great comfort and great guilt.

'Just...keep talking. That's enough,' he murmured, reclining back and pulling a blanket over his head, trying to lose himself in light and warmth.

The End

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