Chapter 15:

The Cost of Wishes, Part 2

Setting Sun Story: Beta

Western Main Road - Adam - ???Bookmark here

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

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

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

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

He locks the breath behind a hopeful smile.Bookmark here

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

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

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

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.Bookmark here

The soldier points his weapon, and runs at Clara.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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

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

Now it's time to move.Bookmark here

She grabs Adam again, and enters the Main Road.Bookmark here

The depressed stone street all but empty.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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

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

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

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

Oh.Bookmark here

Another disturbance comes from the same direction.Bookmark here

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

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!"Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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

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

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.Bookmark here

The tank suddenly stops, rolling her into its path.Bookmark here

"Mom," Adam calls silently.Bookmark here

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

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

The end is in sight for both Jun and Clara.Bookmark here

Just a step further.Bookmark here

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

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

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

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

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

Jun eyes Erin, real concern on her face.Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, the mother and child are only steps away.Bookmark here

Adam looks up the North road.Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

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

"Well that's just filler!"Bookmark here

"Well?" Adam screams.Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

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

She exhales sharply, kicking plans to the wind.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

The symbol disappears into a warped gray.Bookmark here

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

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

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

Like a firehose, it knocks down the enemies.Bookmark here

One last chance, Clara thinks to herself.Bookmark here

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

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

Spitting fire at their feet, Erin watches.Bookmark here

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

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

"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.Bookmark here

All Adam can do is listen and focus on running.Bookmark here

"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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

It falls slowly over Adam and Clara.Bookmark here

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

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

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

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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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.Bookmark here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"Jun..."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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

"Did she just-?" Jun utters.
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"Focus, please," he asks softly, drawing his long sword from his back.Bookmark here

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

'...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.Bookmark here

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

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

He looks to his allies.Bookmark here

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

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

Erin grunts in acceptance of the support.Bookmark here

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

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