Chapter 15:

The Cost of Wishes, Part 2

Setting Sun Story: Beta


Western Main Road - Adam - ???

A decisive stillness hangs in the hot, hellfire injected air around the alleyway.

Clara waits, her robes and shoes charred from the dragon's attack, for Adam to be ready.

"You're never gonna get anywhere if you don't take a risk or two, but you know that, don't you?"

The words she spoke mere seconds ago melt into his mind. Adam feels the energy pool in his lungs. It's smoky, but he bears it anyway.

In times of anxious despair, Adam would always fill his lungs like this, feeling as though the pit created in his worry could be popped back outward from his sternum if he drew enough in.

It never seems to work for long, but right now, the weight pulled off of his heart allows him to think a little clearer.

What she said back home, and her acknowledgment now, she really has been rooting for him from the shadows. Adam takes another deep breath, again squishing his abdomen to make his body feel whole.

He locks the breath behind a hopeful smile.

The crackle of embers popping over the silent moment, Clara makes a move.

"I know it's felt like I've been fighting you for a long time now, but just this once Adam, trust in me, this'll be over in no time," she promises.

Clara forces his palm into hers, as two enemy soldiers check into the alley.

"Hey, you the-!" The first of the two starts, both of them ready with spears.

Clara turns around, flicking up through her Ice symbol to fire a shard to the first's neck, and a second, blocked by the waving spear of his ally.

The soldier points his weapon, and runs at Clara.

She grabs through the glyph, pulling a Shard to her hand from the elemental icon, and pulling up, her arm folding in front of her face, to keep the spear in a block.

Letting go of Adam, she grabs the raised spear in her other hand, running under it to stab the soldier in the gut.

She kicks the embedded shard, launching him off the ground and into the air, where the Ice pops, flinging him into the street.

Now it's time to move.

She grabs Adam again, and enters the Main Road.

The depressed stone street all but empty.

Aside from the lost bodies of the few who actually managed to flee the Residential District, the mismatched cobblestone road seems to be straight shot to freedom.

"It's empty!" Clara yells, picking her speed up into a fast run.

Adam is confused, the invading army was just about ready to swamp the place.

As they sprint toward the gate, he looks up to his right.

The library's falling apart in a whirlwind of fire.

Oh.

Another disturbance comes from the same direction.

Vaulting the gate, a distinct look of hurried panic on her face, Jun appears.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!"

Before she can make it over, following a low but heavy hum, the siege tank is lit up, driving full speed as it rams the metal fence, dropping Jun onto the top of the tank, and throwing the gate out into the street.

It continues forward, pushing through the railing of the side-walk and flopping down onto the road.

Jun, realizing where she is, turns around wide-eyed, as a soldier pops up from the exit hatch on top.

She donkey-kicks him in the face as soon as he appears, slamming his head against the hatch, pushing him back inside and closing it.

The tank suddenly stops, rolling her into its path.

"Mom," Adam calls silently.

She takes a brief look back, before returning her gaze to the open gate, the daylight red and expansive through its limited view.

"No time honey, keep your feet up and look away," she responds in a strained voice.

The end is in sight for both Jun and Clara.

Just a step further.

The tank rolls forward, Jun’s back against the wall.

“Erin, where are those reinforcements?” Jun questions aloud through gritted teeth.

Erin speeds in on the back of a commandeered hover craft.

"Incoming!" He yells, driving the machine into the side of the tank before rolling off.

It explodes, rolling the tank over onto its side, three soldiers spilling out the hatch.

Jun eyes Erin, real concern on her face.

"Took you long enough," she says through heavy breathing.

Behind him, allied soldiers come running down from the center square, from the library, more enemies from the Northwest connection, and from the roads after the West Gate, even more, pouring out behind Adam and Clara's rush to freedom.

Meanwhile, the mother and child are only steps away.

Adam looks up the North road.

"Uhh, Mom, wait! Waitwaitwait!" He yells out, shaking her leading arm.

A dragon, zooming in at an angle, touches ground, carrying enough speed to drift its claws across the stone, sliding to a halt before their escape route.

"What's one more dragon?" Clara asks, ready to push through Ice.

If being surrounded wasn't enough, a second one appears, swooping down, and latching itself onto the side of the wall above the West Gate.

"And two?" Adam asks, peering up to see his mother's face.

"Well that's just filler!"

"Well?" Adam screams.

"Right, this isn't gonna work," she admits.

Clara's mind runs through any possibility to avoid the fallout of her failing plan. Reality is beginning to set in. There may not be a way to win.

The dragon's swirling breath of fire is her hourglass, the encroaching soldiers her sand.

She exhales sharply, kicking plans to the wind.

As hot fire engulfs the street before her, Clara draws all of the Aether in her body forward, expelling a controlled formation of vibrant turquoise with every molecule of Ice reserves in her.

The cold blue rushes through her veins, up her arms, and out to the guiding symbol of Ice.

In a wide cone from the glyph's make, large, shiny particles of Ice litter the ground, touching the stone and rising up to create a wall. She pushes with both hands through the symbol one last time, causing the wall to move forward into the dragon on its own.

The symbol disappears into a warped gray.

Twisting on her front foot, she backs into the wall to face the soldiers.

She signs a cursive form of repeating waves, bringing forth the dark blue symbol of clarity, Water.

Crossing her arms, she whips both hands through the symbol, spurting out a shotgun blast of high pressure, stinging Water.

Like a firehose, it knocks down the enemies.

One last chance, Clara thinks to herself.

She takes off down the Main Road toward the center of the city with Adam in tow.

The dragon latched to the West wall takes off, following them.

Spitting fire at their feet, Erin watches.

"Archers! Get that thing!" He yells to his reinforcements, who now crowd behind him.

They take aim, but their attacks are good for nothing.

"Adam, this could be the first time I've ever been honest with you, but if something happens, you need to hear this now!" She delivers, moving as fast as she can.

All Adam can do is listen and focus on running.

"If seizing your destiny or whatever- is what you want... then do it! Remove everyone from your equation, and do whatever you have to to get it! But Adam, all that ever really mattered to me is that you are happy! So whatever life brings, whatever path you choose, don't be afraid to accept it for what it's worth. Don't forget to let happiness be happiness! But please Adam, the last thing I'll ever suggest you do, just stop fighting yourself, and be free of this corruption!" She screams.

The arrows bouncing and missing their mark, the Deacons take action. An ear-shattering dose of Lightning emitting from the High Tower shoots the dragon out of the sky.

The West End's old tower still stands. As the zap of purple energy carves up across the dragon's neck, destroying the plate on its head,  the claws of the dying beast latch onto the old relic of Baustas' past, crashing into the building and ripping it from its ancient foundation.

It falls slowly over Adam and Clara.

With nothing else to say, Clara only has one more objective.

She pulls a rectangular object from her robes, and plants it in her boy's arms.

Pulling him in front of her, without needing a sign or summon, she puts out her palm.

A gust of Wind wraps around Adam as her eyes flash a beautiful green. He's blown away, unable to do anything while his mother's face stands out amidst the falling wreckage.

Her robe open, she's still wearing the pajamas from this morning, a sight that immediately drives Adam's mind to the countless mornings of peace that he once pushed away.

He sees now, the loving nature of her eyes, that now return from green, not to dark-red, but blue. He finds reflecting in them the years of self-sacrifice for his sake. Ages of care. Care that he did not return.

The split-second lasts forever, her content smile digging itself into Adam's frontal lobe like a dagger. Her hand still stretched outward, the mountain of stone drops on top of her.



Adam's lower back smacks against the city center's brick design, knocking the air out of his lungs, and rolling him, seemingly skipping him like a rock across the water.

After colliding with the ground head over heels several times, he finally stops at his knees.

His shocked eyes, as if guided by some godly force pointing his head toward the nightmare, stay locked on the unmoving stone and rubble.

The wind displacement of the crash sends choking air and heavy, dirty dust blowing around him.

His head slowly falls to his neck, and his eyes gloss over.

His brain shuts off, entering a state of sleep, organizing and sorting every memory tied to his mother.

Clutching what seems to be an old book, his body seizes entirely.


"Jun..."

Erin shakes her back to life as she watches the colossal ton of bricks smash down, cutting the West End from the rest of the city.

"Jun, we still have trouble," he tries, his eyes darting back and forth between the soldiers, dragon, and her.

"Did she just-?" Jun utters.

"Focus, please," he asks softly, drawing his long sword from his back.

He steps in front of Jun, before the coming army.

'...she shouldn't need you white-knighting her, huh.' Rain's old comment stings. He pulls his cheeks down in a scowl, his eyebrows narrowing.

"I'll show him," he says silently, firing himself up.

Signing Chaos in front of him, Erin faces everything to come.

He looks to his allies.

"Go through the Residential District, I can handle this."

"Apologies, Chosen, but we have your backs here!" Calls out the leader of the group, a tall man, a few years older than Erin.

Erin grunts in acceptance of the support.

With their backs against the wall, the Baustians roar as they push into the street.