Chapter 11:

The Cost of Wishes, Part 1

Setting Sun Story: Beta

Old Library Gates - Adam - 11:10 AM

The sight has burned deep into Adam's mind. Perhaps it's a message from the Savior Himself.

For a brief moment, as the barrage of blue fire first crashed down, it seemed as though the red of the world had dissipated, like a portal had been opened to the past, or maybe even his own future.

The artillery continued incessantly, and a blinding blue sky, infinite in depth, showed itself behind clouds of white, and the peeking eye of an intense yellow Sun that stung to observe.

He still can't discern what really happened in that moment, as the world surrounding the brilliant sky felt a little off. A warped image of Baustas, hazy and distorted in those fleeting seconds.

What he does know, is that the librarian saw it too; smiling an out of place smile at Adam.

The librarian's smile turns into a recognition of sudden urgency, sighing as Adam returns to his own eyes, the red light of the world cascading back down over the compound.

"You need to leave this place now," the librarian orders, his voice saddened and low.

"What the hell was that just now?" Adam asks, his imagination firing on all cylinders.

The librarian hesitates, locking eyes with Adam.

"Go home, and find your mother. That's an order from the Deacons," He pressures.

Adam still has a million and a half questions, but for the first time, it feels as though the librarian's speaking directly to him.

11:12 AM

The courtyard gates lock down under the librarian's command behind Adam, leaving him stranded on the Western Main Road sidewalk. He doesn't have a moment to gather himself.

"Move it brat!" Yells the voice of a running, middle-aged man.

All morals out the window, the man pushes Adam to the side, knocking the back of his head into the gate. It doesn't knock him out, but discombobulates him enough to send him sliding down the ground.

"What's going o-?" Adam starts to ask.

The man gets only a few feet further, before a giant ax comes flying horizontally, chopping his right knee, cleaving his leg from his body, and skidding along the ground next to him.

Frozen in fear, Adam has no choice but to witness an enemy commander, his armor grinding against itself as he stomps along the sidewalk, as he picks up his ax, and looks down over the amputated man.

He screams as he grabs at his thigh, furiously pumping blood onto the street, down to a leg no longer present.

Adam can't see it all, but the man peers up under the commander's white veil, to a thick and old helmet, blue lights shining through the eye-sockets.

The commander's head turns slowly, the sound of his metal frame grating Adam's ears. The survivor puts up a begging palm.

"P-please, please, I beg you, don't do this to my family! I- I have a wife... KIDS!" He pleads through compulsive groans and whining exhales.

The commander takes his weapon back up, impatiently chopping down into the man's stomach, spraying the ivory veil with blood.

Adam tries to find a way to stand, wrapping his hand behind him around the gate's lattice, his fingers struggling to find a grip.

As the commander turns his view to the boy, Adam's vision becomes obscured. Out of nowhere, a hooded man squats before Adam, stroking at a brown beard.

His ghostly forearms are bare beyond the coverage of his wispy black cloak, just barely granting vision of strange tattoos that run along his pale-white inner arms. His skin looks as though it'll flake off into dust at any moment.

"Mmm. You'll be of no help," the mysterious man groans.

His voice is calm, yet eerie. A bored statement amidst an overwhelming riot of commotion.

The executing ax dangling over the ghost's head, he seems to evaporate from Adam's vision as suddenly as he appeared.

"Keep your feet up Jun! Go go go!" Exclaims the voice of Erin, approaching from a West facing side street.

The blade about to fall over Adam hangs a moment longer. Adam covers his head and shuts his eyes before hearing the grind of the commander's armor, turning to the coming Baustians.

Adam peeks an eye through his fingers, up at the mountainous mass.

Erin and Jun are retreating back, a stormy ocean of enemy soldiers chasing after them. They dodge balls of Light that pop along the walls of the depressed road.

Erin spots something.

"That one's alive!" Erin yells, dodging another explosion and pointing forward.

"I'll take care of it, hold them back for a second!" Jun calls in response.

"Oh what a grand idea! I'll just take them all on at once!"

"Well you have to do something!" Jun says matter-of-factly.

They reach the main road, passing under a large stone archway that connects the roofs of the houses on either side.

The commander, still standing before Adam, takes aim, pulling the ax far over his head and back. The tip of the blade sits at Adam's eye level in preparation.

His entire body shaking, Adam pulls at the top of the ax head, altering the trajectory of the commander's motion.

The ax, aimed for Jun, launches far over her head, above the archway, and down over the chasing troops.

A speeding soldier on a flying machine takes the brunt of the attack, the lobbed ax smashing down into his chest, yanking him off the craft.

The blue light fading from its form, the device crash lands in the main street ahead of the two New Bloods.

"Perfect!" Jun says, eying the machine.

With a nod to Erin, she sprints ahead, diving through the raised railing of the sidewalk where Adam cowers.

The commander's soulless stature faces to his opponent as he draws from his belt a long rapier.

In one pull of her fingers, Jun unwinds the tethers on her chakram. She widens her legs, and brings her body low to the ground.

As their duel begins, Erin grabs the downed flying machine.

"Now how does this work- aaaah~?!" Erin lets out a pleasured chirp as he grabs the handles, having automatically folded down to shrink the machine's space.

The lines of light reappear as he feels a powerful drain from his body, a feeling more potent than that of summoning Aether. With a satisfying click, the machine's bottom platform juts back out from the handles, coming to life as the lines reignite in a dark-red.

He cranks the throttle, causing a similarly colored mirage to boost away from the machine's base. Having no understanding of the machine, it pulls itself right out of Erin's hands, taking off for the archway.

It blows up as it connects, toppling the stone and blocking the coming soldiers from getting any farther.

Erin dusts off his hands, pretending to know exactly what he was trying to do. He turns to Jun, a smug look on his face.

She isn't watching.

She opens her fingers, releasing the chakram in her right hand at the commander's chest. Armor like his won't be beaten by a small blade, as he puts his hand to it, swiping it away.

Luckily, that throw wasn't her plan.

The blade ring hits the ground, rolling back in Jun's direction. She takes this moment to close the gap, the commander thrusting his stinger-like sword out at her.

In response, Jun straps her left chakram back to her side, signing the circular symbol of Wind in the direction opposite the commander as she drops to the ground on her side, avoiding the thrust.

She pushes through the symbol, sticking her foot out to slide along the ground toward the commander's legs.

As she passes the rolling chakram, she uses the silver attachments to her gloves. Running the wrist-bound metal over the chakram, it magnetizes to the gadget, spinning in endless motion around her arm.

She pulls it up to her chest, shooting underneath the rapier's shiny edge, getting closer by the heartbeat.

Jun flicks her wrist, sending the chakram off of the magnet and into her hand just as her foot connects with the commander's greave.

It's like pushing against an iron wall... exactly as hoped.

The commander drawing back his rapier, Jun pushes her back leg against the cobble, and drives her front up toward the commander's upper body.

Slamming the chakram in hand below her, and swiping through the Wind symbol with her other, she cannon spikes, a rising twist kick to the commander's head.

Her toed strike knocks his helmet and veil from his head, leaving his massive square head, buzzed hair, and dead blue pupil-less eyes for all to see.

Spiraling into the air, she looks at him, upside down. Throwing her hips, she fires and lodges a blade right between his eyes.

Watching his skull split just above the nose, his skin tearing and leaking fluid from his brain, Jun wants to puke...

She wishes she had more time to think about what she's just done, but down on the ground, shaking in fear at the commander's presence, is a boy that needs her help.

The commander falls forward, moving the chakram from its spot on his head, popping out on the ground before him.

Jun lands into a roll, taking as much downward momentum off of her feet as possible.

"You need to get out of here, it isn't safe!" Adam hears before he can really catch his senses.

Erin's already pulling him to his feet, and sending him on his way.

"Head for the North End! Beneath the High Tower!" He issues, pushing Adam along.

Looking at Erin, but not interpreting him, Adam remembers his mission, shaking his head and stepping down under the railing to the street. He takes off down an alleyway, heading deeper into the West End Residential District.

Erin says something to him, but Adam isn't listening.

Behind the two soldiers, an explosion sets off, leaving the library in a blaze.

Paulcin Residence - Adam - 11:24 AM

The enemies still working their way to the West Main Road, Adam is able to slip by without any further conflicts. He reaches his street.

The heavy smoke and fire encompassing the area leave the houses looking unfamiliar. Seemingly in the clear however, Adam jogs along to find his home without a problem.

It's in shambles. The entire building burnt to the ground, his suspended bedroom lies broken, having fallen over the first floor.

A fog still remains on the scene, it must've just happened.

"M- mom?" Adam quietly calls to the wreckage.

After looking on for a moment, Adam creeps toward the foundation of the front door in silence.

Another blue light, this time, the color of snow freshly melted to water, flashes in the bedroom plot. He hears the deathly scream of a man, followed by the repeated gush of flesh being opened over and over.

All is quiet once more, before a soldier appears behind Adam, grabbing him by the neck and choking him.

He grabs at the arm constraining him, digging his fingers into the fabric of the coat over it. An arm guard lies beneath, his attempt worthless. Adam reaches up for the eyes, but a white projectile, a saving snipe, flings from the smoke, curling its screen in backwind, and jabs itself in the soldier.

Adam shrieks, ripping the arm from him and cowering forward as the soldier falls back.

He whips around, spotting a giant shard of Ice embedded in his head.

It pops like a crystalline bomb, leaving a hole in the soldier.

He looks back to the origin.

Exiting the smoke, Clara's faces bears the emotionless look of a demon, her eyes oddly returning to a red color, fading from that icy blue. She wears a brown hooded robe over her pajamas, a patch of the Savior's symbol ironed on the breast.

Unknown blood splashed across her face, she coughs.

"Welcome home," she opens, wiping the red mist with her sleeve and putting a hand on her hip. Watching Adam with one eye closed, she winces, wondering how to explain things.

About a half hour later...

The ashen rubble clearing from the air, Adam and Clara hide under the burnt kitchen counter.

Their broken dining table is propped up in front of them as a blind. The battle rages on as the enemy slowly advances on the Deacons’ Tower. 

Here in the West End, tired foreign soldiers walk about, entering the houses that still stand, flushing out any possible survivors.

“It won’t be too long before we’re spotted here,” Clara whispers, brushing Adam’s arm to keep him calm. “I’m gonna get us out of this, okay?”

She leans forward, opening one of the surviving cupboard doors, and dragging from it the Special Tasks jacket. With a solemn sigh, she runs her thumb along the PATRIOTS tag.
“Nothing to conquer your pride, huh?” she says to the leather before draping it over her son’s back.

Adam has his neck tucked down in his arms, which rest on his scrunched up legs.
“What’s going on here?” Adam asks, his voice muffled against the walls of his emotional nest.

Clara turns away.

“You used… some kind of, what was that? Magic? Like the chosen,” he continues to press. 

“Shouldn’t that be impossible?”

“I can’t give you answers right now. You’ll only have more questions.”

“I saw it.”

"Adam, I can't-!" She says in a loud whisper before looking to her side, finding a sliver of a smile upon his cheeks.

Clara cocks her head to the side, thrown off by the expression.

“Saw what?” She inquires.

“The sky. I saw that sky. The one that the Savior’s Prophecy mentions. It was blue… like I had never seen before,” Adam says, taking off in his typically imaginative ranting.

His mother bites her lip. No explanation comes to mind. She’s spent so many years listening to his fantasies and dreams. Each morning, waking up to find him growing more and more talented everyday.

Without his father, she was always certain he would be pulled right into fray of Baustas, Julian seemed to be enough of a brother, but to this day he remains exactly like his dad; unwilling to bend for anything.

It’s as if some fifteen year test has come to pass. He really can face the world, maybe even awaken and find his own place in it.

She nods slowly.

“You’ve been dreaming about that for a long time, haven’t you?” She asks softly.

“You’ve actually been listening?”

“Of course I have!”

“Then, then what do you think it is? I think it was a message from the Savior!” He throws back, a sudden glint of light in his eyes.

“How about I get you somewhere safe, and we’ll talk about it some more?”

“So you do know something,” Adam says, returning to his aggressive questioning state. Clara puts a shushing finger to her mouth, winking, and stands up to inspect the streets around them.

Soft tears begin to melt in her eyes out of her son's sight.

“That’s right, darling… you got me!” She confirms in a tender and shaking call.

“Why couldn’t you tell me?” He whispers.

Clara fondles at her hidden necklace, holding a hand out to Adam.

“It’s a long story… Now get up, it’s time to go.”

Adam lets go of the combativeness, and reaches up. Instead of grabbing hold of her hand, a piece of ash falls into his palm. The sketch of the butterfly, its canvas in perfect condition. 

Adam drifts into his own mind as he realizes what this situation actually means.

Even the lovely parts of his home are lost.

Years of creation. Years of ideas, of wonder that all sprung to life in his mind, able to grace that wall of his bedroom. Lost in a flash to the flames.

He gazes longingly at the drawing.

“Adam…” an angelic voice calls out from deep in his head.

“Adam, take my hand!” Clara yells, pulling Adam out of the daze to see her face peering upward in worrisome shape. He follows her glance to the sky.

Dropping down from the smoke with black wings is a dragon, a blade at its tail and armor on its top. Opening its mouth, the hellfire that burnt the city begins to swell inside of its throat.

Adam grabs hold of her hand tightly, and no later is he being dragged out of the ruptured home, into the street. The dragon lands, crushing any sign of the house’s foundation.

A rider, too strapped with round goggles, but also an aviator’s cap, points to them. Fully charged, the dragon’s flame spews out, licking the houses behind them as they turn the corner beyond another home.

The fire eats away at the walls like acid. The dragon lifts up, following at their tail.

Down the same narrow alleyway Adam entered from, Clara leads him. She pulls Adam to her chest as she puts herself flush against the wall. Adam is between a rock and a soft place, the raging hellfire dousing the opposite side, forcing Adam to feel the burning heat on the back of his neck.

She sidles them in farther, before taking off in a sprint.

The end is still far off, Clara thinks as the dragon latches itself onto the building outside the alley, curling its long neck in, and prepping more flame.

Adam makes the mistake of looking back. As if from the underworld, the fire rolls around the inside of dragon’s neck.

Something else strikes him as peculiar. The dragon has implanted on its head a plate. It pulsates with that blue glow.

“Dammit! We can’t outrun it!” Clara yells, throwing Adam to the ground behind her. 

She turns to face the dragon, signing with her index finger a snowflake in one fluid motion. Top to bottom, to top-right, to bottom-left, to top-left, finishing at the bottom right.

That same icy blue blinks to life with a twinkling click. Just as flames engulf the entire alley, she punches and holds her fist in the symbol. Like a shield, a glassy wall of Ice spreads before her.

It struggles to retain its form against the force of the dragon, reflecting her own face brightly in the hellfire’s light. Eating away at the wall, the fire tongues at her feet, and passes just over her head.

It burns, but Clara suppresses her urges to cry out. Adam can only watch, mystified.

The moment the dragon lets up, Clara sweeps her hand from its charging point, sending the wall of curved glass soaring to the dragon’s head. It stuns it, causing the rider to grab his own head in pain as well. In another second, she sends a daggered shard of Ice at the rider.

When it connects, the dragon too goes limp in death.

Adam gets to his knees.

“You killed him,” He says, unsure of everything around him. 

Clara looks over her shoulder, the red of the flaming walls before her illuminating her silhouette.

“Anything to protect you,” She admits lightly, beckoning Adam to get up and follow her.

Adam stands up as the first flash of purple Lightning cracks overhead. He jumps.

“Even the Deacons are out to play, this really is the end,” She says.

Adam notices a drop in tone when she talks to herself. He hopes to learn more about this ‘other her’ when they get out of here.

She puts a hand on her hip and thinks for a second.

“I bet you we can get out through the West gate,” She throws out.

Adam shakes his head.
“Those guys are swarming the Main Road,” Adam says in a panic. 

Clara looks up and down the street. Having moved most of their enforcements for the West down in the Residential District, only a few wanderers remain.

“What the hell was that sound? Wasn’t there a dragon surveying this area?” Says a wandering white-armored soldier.

“Yeah, I saw it fall a minute ago, it must’ve found survivors!” Another calls out.

Together they move at the alleyway.

Clara looks back at Adam.

“You’re never gonna get anywhere if you don’t take a risk or two, but you know that, don’t you?” She asks rhetorically. 

Adam takes a breath. His shoulders are tense and his legs feel like gelatin. In this nervousness he’s beginning quite quickly to believe that he may not be a good fit for some heroic role, but the die’s already been cast. He’s seen what he needs to know.