|As soon as I saw the heading on that scroll, I took an eager step forward. I would finally get to figure out what this all was about!
“What’s that, Sir?” I asked politely
“Sit down,” he requested. I did. “This is the reason for what happened today in Colossus Boulevard, as I’m sure you’re wondering.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “Is that a prophecy?”
“Oh, yes,” he said.
“I didn’t know there were prophecies in Wizard City,” I mused.
“But there are,” he chuckled. “In fact, there are a great number of them. All prophecies that have happened already as well as those that are yet to commence were written before the dawn of the Spiral, when the giants, titans, and dragons ruled the land.”
I nodded to show that I understood. Professor Wu had told us that story countless times.
I hesitated before I asked the next question. “Does it…have something to do with me?” he nodded. “Then why did you try to hide it from me?”
“I didn’t want to frighten you, Miss Spiritheart,” Ambrose said simply. “Goodness knows how you would take the news in your first weeks in Ravenwood. Besides, I wasn’t sure back then.”
Okay, I’d take that. “How did you find this, though?”
“Funny you should ask,” said Ambrose. “About a year ago, I went to Bartleby with a potion that would help soothe his mind. It was at that time that he chose to mention that I might find a certain room just to the side of Dragon’s Mouth Cave. This was news to me, so I decided to make the journey to investigate.”
“Was it there?” I asked.
“Yes, in fact,” said Ambrose. “I followed his instructions and found myself in the Hall of the Prophecy, a legendary room in which few people are permitted entrance.”
“So were there prophecies in there?” I asked.
“Just about every prophecy ever made,” said Ambrose. “I explored a little bit. Then I came across a most peculiar statement called the Prophecy of Light. I was most intrigued by it, so I copied it down.” He handed me the scroll.
“So I can read it, then?” I asked excitedly. He nodded, and I unrolled the parchment.
The scroll was covered, not by words, but by a picture. My first thought was that it could’ve been a bit more elaborate. The people in the picture had dots for eyes and sticks for arms and legs.
“Oh, I am terribly sorry for my lack of quillmanship,” said Ambrose cheerfully. “I have never been particularly known for having artistic skill.”
“Uh, okay,” I guffawed. Then I studied the picture some more.
Four wizards stood side by side against a person I recognized as a badly drawn Malistaire. At least Ambrose had enough skill to portray three girls and a boy. And their approximate ages. Hey, that kind of looked like…
“Is that us?” I asked.
He nodded. “If I was just a little more skilled in the artistic field, the resemblance might have been clearer.”
I looked back at Malistaire. Even in this picture, he looked very menacing. He also appeared to be glowing, shown by the little stars that Ambrose had drawn around him.
My heart sank when I realized what this meant. “Malistaire’s getting powerful again.”
“Yes.” Ambrose gave a sad smile.
“And…” I looked back at the four wizards across from him. “…we’re going to have to defeat him.”
“It could’ve been anyone,” corrected Ambrose. “But so far, you were the most excelled family of four I’ve ever met. I really think you have the potential.”
I studied the picture a bit more. On the hand of the tallest girl (possibly me) was a strange rune that I had never seen before. I squinted. It looked like a leaf intertwined with a heart.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“That,” said Ambrose, “is the mark of a true healer.”
“What’s a true healer?” I asked.
“Normally you don’t learn this until Magus Life Magic, but it can’t hurt to tell you now,” said Ambrose. “Although, it might be a little bit tricky to understand without the knowledge of the properties of life.”
“We learned that already,” I said.
“Oh, did you, now? Good,” said Ambrose. “A true healer can heal herself and others spontaneously, without a wand or a spell.”
“Isn’t that impossible?” I asked.
“Theoretically, yes,” he said. “That’s why true healers are so rare. No one knows how they are singled out, besides from the fact that they have always been life wizards and, for some reason, young ladies like yourself.
“I believe,” he continued, “that Sylvia Drake was a true healer.”
“Really?” I asked. “Then why did she die if she could just heal herself?”
“They can only heal others, but when doing so, their magic can rub off on them too,” said Ambrose. “I’m afraid to say that poor Sylvia could not heal herself at that point.”
“So are you saying that I’m a true healer?” I asked.
“It could very well be,” he replied.
“So how do they do it?”
“No one knows,” said Ambrose. “Well, maybe except for Bartleby, but he’s in no state to tell us.”
There was the longest of silences. This true healer thing certainly did seem to explain what happened at Colossus Boulevard, but did that mean…
“So…we’re definitely going to have to defeat Malistaire, then,” I said slowly.
“You can choose not to, if you want,” said Ambrose. “Of course, if it is truly your destiny, I’m sorry to say you can’t evade it for very long.”
I massaged my temples with my fingers. “Okay…I’m going to need to think this through,”
“Please, take all the time you need,” said Ambrose warmly.
“Thank you,” I said. I started for the door and stopped. “Say I did decide to do this. What then?”
“Just stay together,” Ambrose advised. “I don’t think you’d do much good against Malistaire separately. And remember this, Miss Spiritheart; I have full confidence in you and your ability to save the Spiral.”
The next day, just as we had decided, Chris and I continued with our Gobbler quest.
To get to the Gobbler King, we had to defeat Prince Gobblestone, whose suspenders were putting on a large amount of strain. In fact, right in the middle of the battle, just before I was about to cast Leprechaun, one of the buttons popped off and hit me in the eye. I had to resist a strong urge to cast at Chris instead as he rolled around on the ground laughing.
“You had to admit it, though, that was pretty funny,” Chris said as we were coming out.
I rubbed my eye. “I guess…”
After we talked to Mindy Pixiecrown about the king’s decree, we were supposed to talk to Ambrose about it. I was slightly nervous about this; Ambrose might bring up the Prophecy of Light again…
But Ambrose treated me the same as ever. Maybe it was because he felt sorry for me, or maybe it was just because I was with Chris at the time. But he seemed to understand.
When we told him about the Gobbler King’s attempts to take over Wizard City, he (sounding sincerely sorry about it) sent us both to defeat even more gobblers. Two of each kind.
I groaned. I was getting sick of them. Literally.
Defeating the Gobblers was as dull as it was disgusting. And it took an excruciatingly long time. A couple of times, Chris and I had to take turns at the minigame fairgrounds to earn more mana or health. It took nearly an hour, but at last we were done. Then we had to go back to Ambrose’s office and…well it’s pretty straightforward from there. Chris and I both agreed that it wasn’t our most fun quest.
We were about halfway to Colossus Boulevard again (to defeat Baron Greebly) when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of light behind me. Someone, a friend, had teleported to me.
I gritted my teeth. It was probably one of the people who had begged to be my friend yesterday. Or, and my eyes widened in horror, what if it was Nolan? Then Chris would know he was my friend and would probably be furious…
But to my immense relief, it was Catherine Fairyblossom, one of my fellow initiate life students who I had known long before what had happened yesterday. Behind her was a small girl who looked exactly like her, only in miniature.
“Hey, Sarah.” Then she noticed me looking at the girl clinging to her leg. “Oh, this is my sister, Madison Goldengate. She’s fire.”
The girl, Madison, giggled.
“Do you need anything?” I asked.
“Well, actually, yes,” said Catherine. “There’s a bit of a problem on Unicorn Way; none of us can…”
“Unicorn Way?” I gaped at her. I hadn’t been to Unicorn Way for ages. And she, a level fourteen, hadn’t either. “Then why do you need me?”
“Well, there’s this over population problem, but it’s not the monsters that are usually there. I mean, they’re the same, really, but they’re a lot more powerful and know more spells.”
“On Unicorn—” Chris began.
“Yes! On Unicorn Way! These monsters appeared right out of the blue and I think we need your help.”
“But you don’t need Sarah, do you?” asked Chris. “It’s monsters, not Malistaire’s henchmen again.”
Thank you, I thought.
“I told you!” said Catherine, now slightly exasperated. “These monsters are different. But when we tried to get a couple of Magi to defeat them…”
Chris and I exchanged looks. Magi? On Unicorn Way?
“…it didn’t even seem to hurt them even a little bit. They’re multiplying or something. I don’t know.”
“So,” I said, “you think I can do better than a group of Magi?”
“But,” said Catherine, “yesterday…you…ugh!” She threw her hands up into the air. “Just come with me.
Without warning, she grabbed me by the arm and dragged me through the tunnel to Unicorn Way.
To my surprise, in the courtyard, I saw the three slightly bemused faces of my siblings staring at me when I walked in, each of them standing beside one of their friends.
“What’s going on?” Savannah demanded.
But I wasn’t focused on them. My eyes were on the street, which indeed seemed to be flooded with more Lost Souls then normal. Yet something about these seemed to be different. They weren’t floating around with the usual less-than-confident manner those lowly 65-health-Lost Souls had. There was a definite confidence, even smugness about them as they floated up and down the street.
I turned to look at Catherine, who was already facing me. “You need to do something,” she said. “It’s not just the Lost Souls. There’s also Skeletal Pirates and Dark Fairies. It’s horrible. They attack us while we’re on sidewalks and gang up on us four to one. Stuff like that. The novices are getting scared—look.” She indicated a group of children sitting on the steps of the gazebo, about Sadie’s age, quaking in fear.
“Please,” she said. She spoke to all four of us. “Can you help?”
“Well,” I said, looking over the sea of faces, “we’re not miracle workers.” The looks on the people’s faces told us that they thought otherwise.
“Alright…” I said. It couldn’t hurt. The worst thing that could happen was that we’d all get sent back to the commons. Right?
“Want me to come with you?” said a quiet voice right next to my ear.
I smiled to myself. “No thanks,” I said to Chris.
The minute I grabbed hands with Savannah, Savannah with Sadie, and Sadie with Samuel, a shimmery, golden wisp appeared and started swirling around us. People from the crowd oohed and ahhed. And something else happened. I began to feel more confident, like I could do anything, maybe even put a stop to this…
As we walked down the sidewalks, I noticed that something seemed to be keeping the Lost Souls away from us. Whatever Catherine had said about the Lost Souls attacking people on the sidewalks didn’t seem to be holding true for us.
Where to begin? They had to be coming from somewhere. That’s when I saw Lost Souls, Skeletal Pirates, and Dark Fairies streaming from one particular building at the back one of the street’s cul-de-sacs: Lady Blackhope’s tower.
My siblings’ faces mirrored my surprise. Lady Blackhope was the easiest Boss in Wizard City. This wouldn’t be hard at all!
A little too easy, I thought. Suddenly, I thought of something. If Lady Blackhope was this simple-minded, this weak, then how was she doing this?
I realized our mistake a second late, when we didn’t see Lady Blackhope in her tower.
Instead, there was a woman of about eighteen, laid back on a golden throne I hadn’t seen in this room before. I know I shouldn’t have thought it in the first place because it felt too prejudiced, but the first thought that came to my mind was, Death. I couldn’t help myself. Just like Nolan, she obviously preferred to wear just black.
With a jolt, I saw that the clothes she was wearing also reminded me of the clothes worn by Ian Ghostbringer and Patrick Nightwalker. Was she part of Malistaire’s Black Hand too?
Even if she wasn’t, she appeared to be the cause of the trouble. She was smiling, laughing even, as she gave her wand a couple of lazy flicks, summoning creatures who headed straight for the exit door...
…which slammed shut as we entered. Suddenly, the woman’s eyes swiveled around to the four of us. They were bright amber with slits for pupils, giving her the ludicrous appearance of an overgrown hawk—minus the beak. Although I could easily picture one, big and yellow, on her face.
The woman smiled evilly and raised her wand so that it appeared to divide her face in half. Her hair stood on end, forming a kind of halo, even though there was nothing heavenly about this picture.
Then a bright flash of blue light filled the air. Unprepared, I closed my eyes a second late. When I opened my eyes, it was only after I stopped seeing spots when I saw exactly how much danger we were in.
The hawk-like woman had gone. But she had been replaced by as many creatures as were able to fill the room. I could even see some on the stairs to the next floor.
“Argh, no!” I shouted. But it was too late. Sadie rushed to the exit door the moment she saw the creatures, bumping into a Lost Soul and forming a dueling circle in the process.
“Great…” Three Lost Souls and a Skeletal Pirate had joined, but as I had suspected, they were much more powerful than their normal kin. And many more surrounded us, waiting to fight.
A powerful emotion rose up inside of me, but it wasn’t fear or concern or anything like that. Instead, oddly, it felt like courage. Or something like it. Kind of like a “bring it on” feeling.
The golden glow flared.
I looked around, my lips twisting into a smile. I was surprised yet pleased to see even Sadie wasn’t looking even the least bit scared.
So the fight began.
It was like yesterday all over again. Except that we knew what to expect this time. Our spells were more powerful than ever. Leprechauns threw coins by the bucketful. Literally: they came surfing down the rainbow with dozens of pots. Snow Serpents bit with rows and rows of pointy teeth. A fire plate caused by a Fire Elf remained long after three rounds, causing damage endlessly.
Yet it was long, tiring work, even worse than Gobblers. The amount of creatures seemed infinite, and at times, I could’ve sworn they’d multiplied, like Catherine said. These creatures knew more spells than I’d expected they’d know. A Lost Soul actually cast Wraith, almost completely depriving Samuel of health.
And then there was the issue of health. The length of this battle made me think that we ought to have lost our health completely a fair few times. But I simply had to think it and our health was immediately replenished.
Time passed. But what really drove me crazy was that it was impossible to tell how much. There were no windows, no clock, and I had left my watch at Earth. And we were becoming tired. But there didn’t seem to be any difference in the monsters than when we first arrived.
I wish this would just end, I thought as a giant death shield supposed to take off 99.9 percent of a spell obscured my view yet again.
Something started tickling my left hand, in which I held my spell cards. I looked and saw a tiny, gold wisp floating among the cards. It traced a shimmery, rectangular outline in my hand. And then there was a card which had not been there before.
I grabbed it and held it up to my face. It said, Tornado. Nothing more. No amount of pips needed, no amount of damage, not even a picture. Nothing.
I decided to try it anyway. It had evidently appeared for a reason.
It was our turn, and I went first. I held up the new spell card. It was green, so I decided that it was a life spell. I concentrated and traced the life symbol in the air. Then I closed my eyes, waved my wand, and gathered up the energy of the new card
Almost straightaway, I felt a strong wind that whipped my ponytail around in circles. The minute I opened my eyes, I became conscious that my bangs had been blown in my face. The others were also having similar problems. Savannah was clutching her Frost-touched cap with both hands, afraid it would fly off. Sadie’s hat had blown off. And Samuel’s cape was blowing into his back. It looked as though he would be scooped up into the air. But aside from these minor drawbacks, we were all unharmed.
The monsters weren’t so lucky. They appeared to be losing strength. The Lost Souls were fighting against the wind with poor results. The Skeletal Pirates were being blasted apart. The Dark Fairies were being blown all about, their tiny wings helpless against the wind.
At last, the windstorm was over. And we found ourselves in a completely empty tower room. The floor was littered with bones and the occasional eye patch or bandana.
“Wow!” Savannah exclaimed. “Where did you learn a spell like that?”
“There was a card,” I said. “It appeared…hang on, I’ll show you…”
But to my surprise, the card had vanished.
“Huh? Where did it go?”
“Hey!” Samuel shouted suddenly.
I only had a few seconds to look at what Samuel was pointing at. Near the door was a black-cloaked figure holding a detailed staff. He was about my height, but did that mean he was my age? I couldn’t tell. All I could see of his face was his mouth; the rest was under his hood. But before I could get a good look at him, he vanished with a puff of black smoke.
“Huh,” said Savannah. I didn’t answer. I had just thought of someone I knew, someone who liked to dress all in black and wear hoods, and someone who liked to carry staffs rather than wands…
No, I thought. He would never do that.
But could it be? What I had seen of the young stranger looked pretty much like him. Even his skin color, although that may have just been darkened by the shadow.
I pushed the thought out of my mind, resolving to deal with it later. Right now, we had to tell everyone what had happened. And get our first ray of sunlight in three, maybe four hours.
Exiting the tower was like coming out of a bat cave. It was as though we were looking directly into the sun every minute. It made me envy fire wizards, who could look directly into the sun without suffering any eye damage at all. We had to do a kind of staggering walk along the sidewalk to get down the street. But the effects of the sun wore off at last. A whole bunch of students were waiting in the courtyard, probably for our arrival.
“Did you do it?” asked a small girl wearing Novice robes.
“I don’t know,” I said, and that was true. Although we had defeated all the monsters in Lady Blackhope’s tower, I had no clue if we actually stopped the trouble.
From the crowd came cries of disappointment and confusion, but then a voice echoed across the field: “Allow me.”
The voice had come from the gazebo. It was Merle Ambrose. He had only just teleported here.
“The person causing all the trouble on this street has fled, probably when she saw the extent of power in these four.” He waved a ringed hand over us. “This beautiful and historic street is now safe. To our younger wizards, you may now continue your quests without any further danger.” The crowd of wizards cheered.
I noticed that Ambrose had deliberately not mentioned that the woman was working for Malistaire, probably not to arouse any fear in the students.
Thankfully, before I received even more friendship requests, Ambrose walked up to me and said, “Miss Spiritheart, a word in my office?”
“Okay,” I said. I already knew very well what he wanted to discuss. Rather than dwell on that particular unpleasant subject, I instead marveled at the déjà vu of this scene. Both today and yesterday, after a horrific battle caused by Malistaire’s henchmen, Merle Ambrose had arrived just a second late and invited me to a pleasant chat in his office about the dreaded Prophecy of Light.
“So, Miss Spiritheart…” said Ambrose conversationally, closing his office door behind him.
“I know what you’re going to say,” I said.
Before Ambrose could do so much as look disappointed, I said, “But I’ve thought it over. I’ll do it, but you’ll have to ask the others about it before…” I couldn’t say it.
“A courageous decision,” Ambrose said. “I believed you had a chance, and I thought you would think so too.”
“Well, I’ll do it.” I said. “But what do I do now?”
“I think you deserve a break from all this responsibility,” said Ambrose, to my surprise. “Have fun, do quests, take classes.”
I was doing a mental back flip at his words. Yes yes yes yes yes! I was screaming inside my head. I so needed a real long break from this Prophecy of Light business. Even though I had only really known about it for a bit more than a day.
“And I almost forgot,” said Ambrose. “He handed me the scroll. “Keep this. You might be able to make some more sense out of it.”
I pocketed the bit of parchment. I’d have to show this to Chris. He’d help me figure it out. Nolan too.
Or maybe not Nolan, I thought, remembering the mysterious figure in the tower. After today, I didn’t know whether to trust him or not.
Merle Ambrose watched Sarah fondly as she exited his office.
“She’s a brave one, she is,” hooted Gamma.
“Yes,” said Ambrose. “And I feel certain that her siblings will be the same.”
He peered out his office window just as Sarah teleported away. True, he had no doubt of her abilities. Or any of their abilities, really. But he couldn’t help feeling a bit worried. He had half a mind not to let them do it at all. But he knew destiny always caught up with you sooner or later. And it was better to be prepared than to not have a clue.
Besides, now wasn’t the time to worry about Malistaire. Merle knew him. He was likely to bide his time until the next chapter of his scheme.
No, he wouldn’t worry that much about them until the time came. He had a much more pressing matter on his hands.
He knew that Malistaire was capable of a lot. After all, he had taught him once. But now he had achieved something that Merle had thought impossible.
“But how did he do it?” he wondered aloud.
“Do-o-o what?” asked Gamma.
“The creatures,” said Merle. “They appear to be what they were before. In fact, they’re the exact same.”
“Then why are they mo-o-ore powerful?” asked Gamma, finishing Merle’s statement.
“Malistaire has found a way to train his minions to make them more powerful then they actually are. I would not have believed it possible until now.”
Gamma hooted nervously. “What would they be capable of do-o-oing?”
“Stronger spells, I think,” he replied. “Better intelligence, more health, and maybe even more sometime. But what we really should be worrying about is what Malistaire will do with minions like these. Any ideas, Gamma?”
“Hmm,” Gamma thought. “He’d fill the streets, replace some of the bosses…”
“He may do more than that soon, Gamma,” said Merle gravely. “With these new minions at his side, he might even be capable of attacking the school. I fear that Malistaire is building up an army so as to make him unstoppable.”
“Oh dear,” said Gamma. “Should we expect an attack so-o-o-on?”
“I think we are safe for now,” said Merle. “He’ll wait until he has enough minions to attack, just to be on the safe side. But even so, we ought to be on our guard, just in case.”
So slowly, the day drew to a close. Chris and I worked on our Gobbler quest some more. And we were about to finish, but we were distracted by Kirby Longspear, who wouldn’t leave us alone until we collected his shipment barrels.
We did quests until the moon rose up in the sky. Finally, Chris yawned and said, “The Gobbler King can capture Wizard City right now, for all I care. And I’ll still be going home to get some sleep. So, tomorrow then? Same time same place?”
“Same time same place,” I replied. I waved goodbye to him. Then I teleported home.
I landed in the front yard only to find Sadie asleep on the porch steps in her pajamas. I gently shook her shoulder.
“Sadie, what are you doing here?” I softly asked. It must be later than I realized.
Without opening her eyes and barely moving her lips, she said, “Waiting for you.”
Then she laid her head back down, asleep again.
I still don’t know how I managed to get Sadie from the porch to her room without waking her up. I know that if someone had even touched me in my sleep, I’d be wide awake the next instant. It wasn’t like that for Sadie, though. After attempting several ways to pick her up, she still remained fast asleep. Finally, shrugging, I just slung her over my shoulder. Gently, of course. And I carried her like that up a flight of stairs and across the hall to her bedroom.
“Goodnight,” I said to her.
Then I tiptoed across to my room.
I lay awake for a long time, thinking about the prophecy. At last, when I could bear it no longer, I conjured a bit of light with my wand and retrieve the scroll from my bedside table.
I looked at the poorly drawn picture until I thought my eyes would burn out. But no matter how hard I studied it, I wasn’t able to make anything out other than what Ambrose told me.
At least I was able to push that from my mind. For now.
I should’ve known that this period of blissful relaxation was too good to last. And I’m not talking about the time when my other siblings actually found out about the prophecy. Or the magic, which we discovered appeared even when we weren’t fighting for our life, or when I was with only, say, one of my siblings. I was actually starting to like that I had some control over it now. I’m talking about a period weeks later in our life, when things took a turn for the worst.
How? Well, I’ll just say that over this month, things were going really well for my family. Savannah and Sadie hadn’t had a real argument in weeks. Samuel hadn’t screamed once ever since we got here. Unless you counted at Colossus Boulevard. But that had done us more good than harm. This wizard thing was really tying us together. I was starting to think that nothing could break us apart.
Boy, was I wrong.
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