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Jacob Hemlock

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

0 · 1,542 views · located in Vandose

a character in “Battle of the Witches”, as played by FyreT1ger

Description

Name: Jacob Hemlock
Quote: “You who have once despised me shall soon fall at my feet.”
Age: 24
Gender: Male
Image
Magic: Yes, gray
Extent of control: His powers are strong but always require concentration to make them work, and if his concentration is broken he feels ill.
Special Abilities: Through manipulation of life force, he can injure and sicken other people, yet he is immune to illnesses. From his study, he has also learned scrying. With a great deal of concentration and meditation he can view other people.
Marks: none

Place of Birth: Eastleigh, Asiali, Vandose

Skills: Knowledge of poisons and human weakness, Cold weather survival Skills
Weapon(s): Gnarled wooden staff and poisoned daggers

Appearance: Jacob is about 5'8" tall with pale blond hair and ice blue eyes. Even though he is a member of the Shadow Sage, he wears white and furs.

Personality: Jacob is quick to learn and quick to fight. He cares little for other people, and cannot let go of anger and grudges. The greatest of his grudges is against his family, particularly his father and twin brother. His brother was allowed to live and grow with the family while Jacob was left to die in the frozen tundra.

BIO: Jacob’s father abandoned him in the northern wasteland of Eliradia to die when he was a small child. He very well would have died if the Shadow Sage hadn’t found him to raise him and teach him his powers. Since he has never forgotten his father’s abandonment, he is a willing tool of destruction in the Sage’s hands. That anger and rage has become a part of him that he cannot be rid of.

So begins...

Jacob Hemlock's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Hmm... Jacob may not always be able to sense magic - the only exception was his brother, even when Jasper wasn't actively using it - but he could read life energy and with that talent he noticed changes in Wyatt's and braced himself.

To all appearances, the pale blond was the underdog in this battle. He was shorter, thinner, and it was true that Wyatt bested him before. He never gave up though. Jacob never gave up. He was known to be tenacious as the claws of cold and ice out on the tundra, his home and his heart.

The woods, the forest, that was Wyatt's home, and just as Jacob knew the secrets of the tundra, Wyatt should surely know the secrets of the forest. The forest could give the black magic user an advantage, and the slighter witch glowered. Not breaking their covers was a practical reminder, but he held his lips in a hard thin line. How could be sure it wasn't a trick? By now, Jacob had no one to trust but himself. The Raven trusted him too. He knew he was strong enough to do this.

Jacob smirked. There was more life energy in the forest he could draw on as well. The humans in the city were stronger than plants and animals, but the forest held greater quantity and less intelligence to notice. He could manipulate those things too. They could both be stronger. "Fine." Jacob snapped his fingers, though the sound seemed unusually loud, and they landed in a clearing , surrounded by conifers so they were still hidden from prying eyes. "Don't run, lest you spring my trap."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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It seemed almost too easy to get Jacob to agree to head into the woods to fight. That fact alone bothered Wyatt the most, but he quickly shoved it to the back of his mind. He had more important things to worry about. He had to focus on the fight and not everything else around him. Not Sylvana or the Witches' Fortress.

"I didn't plan on it." He smirked to himself as he allowed his magic free reign, no longer having to keep a cap on it. The blackness was dancing around his entire body making the paleness of his skin seem even more extreme than before. He allowed a little extra to form around his hand and sent the rest back inside now that the magic had flexed itself. He wasn't about to show much of anything to Jacob about himself. He'd kept the man in the dark growing up and he planed to keep it that way - for anyone.

The extra energy formed small spheres that he released from his hands and sent sailing at his opponent. He needed to test the man to see where his power laid before things got really serious. Test them. Know their strengths and weaknesses. Then go for the kill. His mother's words screamed through his mind over and over.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

To be fair, Jasper had the reaction she had expected from him even if she's hoped he'd be better than that. Sylvana sighed and shook her head as she stared at the ground. Finally, after she'd gathered herself, she looked up at the blonde, eye to eye.

"Jasper, you look down on us simply because of the people and place where we were raised. Judge only by character not a past. And most witches now a days were trained there."

She shook her head again. She didn't know what to say to him after he had basically called her evil. She'd been taken in when she could have been left to starve. She owed them that much and not much more. She trained her magic on her own. The only thing they had trained had been her body and how to use weapons.

"I thought someone like you wouldn't treat us the same as everyone else. I guess I was wrong." She muttered under her breath no longer having the will to look at him. She could feel the tears forming and she fought back against them. All she wanted to do was run away. To leave the town and keep heading north. But not without knowing if Wyatt was okay or not.

She could sense magic she was familiar with, meaning it was likely Wyatt's, but there was a chance of it being Jacob's too. She took a deep breath and glanced back at the healer. "Come with Wyatt when he is finished with your brother. He will finish with him. Then you need to head for the wilderness."

Sylvana turned around and watched as the gate guards stepped away from their posts to switch out with the next shift. She made sure no one else was looking as she crept over to the door, opened it only enough for herself to slip through and shut it behind her. She was free. Funny, she felt more trapped now then ever.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Jacob's body tensed at the billowing black tendrils around his opponent, but he didn't change expression. If this was an intimidation tactic, he refused to be intimidated. The cloud faded and Wyatt started throwing small spheres at him. They were hardly dangerous to him. An advantage to his slighter build was speed and agility. He ducked a few and caught others only to release them again, as he couldn't absorb or use another witch's magic energy to his displeasure. To capture and manipulate another's magic would make him unstoppable. He would rise the Shadow Sage ranks at lightning speed, defeat the puny human king, and then...

One step at a time. Right now he had a job to do: capture Wyatt and bring him back to the tower. He needed to concentrate. While dodging flying spheres, he started counting the time between each one. That was the time period he had to strike himself. He needed to strike before he tired out, though he was far from tired right now. Everyone had a limit and he prided himself in identifying those limits faster than anyone else.

The pale witch fell into a rhythm of his own movements countering Wyatt's then without showing anything at all, he faded into his surroundings. Wyatt would still see him and could hit him physically, but Jacob's mind went elsewhere. He felt the land under his feet and the wind through the trees. He heard bugs and small creatures in hibernation and saw all the trees and plants in more vivid colors. His own magical trap mechanism was visible surrounding the clearing, as an ashy grey painted circle. That string of magic was invisible to all other eyes, but would spring if any foot but his touched it. Magic knew its master, its source.

Not only were the trees more vivid to his eyes, but so was Wyatt. Now Jacob could identify pulses when the other witch threw his spheres. 1... 2... 3... Now! Jacob's eyes saw grey fire leap over to Wyatt's arm right as the next pulse fired. If the fire made contact, it would feel like a pinched nerve.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Katherine Fletcher Character Portrait:
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Jacob wasn't playing the game the way he had when the two boys had grown up. If nothing else, he was being the complete opposite. He was playing it safe. Something more than just coming for his brother was going on. But having been out of Shadow Sage for so long there was no telling what Jacob's real mission was. Briefly he wondered if the gray magic user had learned the truth about Wyatt or hell even about Sylvana. The stories the two of them told were all lies, his less than her own.

The black magic user shook his head. He had to focus. If he went down, Sylvana was the only one who could protect the others. He didn't know Katherine's abilities and Jasper even if he might be a witch surely wouldn't know how to fight, let alone against someone like his brother.

It seemed Jacob was starting to play the game. He saw the energy and released another quick wave to neutralize the magic. It still hurt, but much less than it would have if the hit had actually landed. Wyatt smirked. He started moving. The woods were his natural element. He'd grown up fighting in them and one day he knew he would probably die fighting in them.

As much as he was a magical attacker, he relied on something a lot of witches didn't have - physical strength. He went for Jacob, appearing and disappearing with his transports allowing the magic to have reign so it was less predicable. Once he was close enough, his plan was to take the other witch down without using as much magic as possible.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________


The weather outside of Evanpool wasn't much different than inside of the walls. It was cold, but not as much as it was going to be further north. The white magic user was propped up on a boulder just outside of the closed gate, but not where she could be seen should one of the guards decide to walk outside like they did at night. But she could see the gate. It wasn't where she was looking. While her eyes were focused on the snow capped peaks ahead of her, he r mind was back in the woods behind the town with Wyatt.

She could sense his magic. She understood exactly what was going on. Her foot started tapping on the stone. She was tried of hiding. Wyatt always called her irrational and impulsive especially when it came to doing whatever she wanted. He had always had to rein her in to keep her from really messing things up or as he loved to point out, getting herself majorly hurt to the point he had to use his magic time and time again to save her.

The woman sighed. Nothing had changed. She stood up and brushed herself off. Her head tilted towards the sky. She took a deep breath. She just didn't care anymore. She was tired of hiding. Hiding the truth of who and what she was from everyone. The only person who knew the whole truth was Wyatt because he'd been on the opposite side of the coin from her. Their parents had once been best friends. She was done running.

Turning her attention to where she could sense Katherine and Jasper, her magic gathered around her and she disappeared. One second there and the next nothing. She appeared beside the two of them, her back to the people of the town. She could hear them and their reactions, but she didn't care anymore. Her normally bright, green eyes were clouded over with magic white with a hint of a darker color running through the background. She stared at the other two members of the group.

"Leave now. Head north as quickly as you can. I'm going to help Wyatt. I'm sick of always running. It's time to turn and fight back. Leave before it gets worse or the villagers figure out what's going on." They wouldn't go for messengers. that quickly and it would still take them days to make it back the way the four of them had just come. By that point, the group would be long gone. Or Evanpool.

Her back was straighter than it had ever been. She was standing tall, her head held high. She was confident. She didn't care whether she lived or died. She wanted to live a life before she died not die wishing she'd lived.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Katherine Fletcher Character Portrait:
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The problem with the woods was that it had many places to hide, unlike the tundra. Even with the enhancement of his senses, Wyatt could still hide from him and did. Either temporarily blinding him with a burst of magic to interfere with what Jacob called his life-sight or physically disappearing from the background with those bursts of magic. Transporting around the clearing multiplied his speed exponentially, and Jacob's physical agility couldn't compete with that. He needed to pull back his life-sight before he could even try.

A roar of a wild beast tore from the pale witch's throat. As part of the wilderness around him, many of his human reservations dropped. The most obvious being the cold mask he always wore. He pulled back his life energy slowly, just enough to think about the change in situation. This battle wasn't over yet. He stopped his rhythmic dodge, because it wouldn't help him now. Pulled back a little more. Grab him. Catch him. Kill him! His nostrils flared, his body tensed, and he growled under his breath. Do not kill. Bring him back alive. Those were the Raven's orders. Catch, but do not kill. He may be a wild beast, but that beast was on a chain until he could rise up in the ranks. He needed this prey to break the chain.

Since he couldn't keep track of Wyatt in his multiple transports he pulled a staff out from under his cloak. Because he was forbidden to kill, he couldn't use his favored daggers as he regularly coated them in a lethal poison. Snarling he circled the clearing. If his opponent was moving so was he.

~~~

"I learned something I didn't like and reacted badly," Jasper admitted and rubbed his neck. He didn't know why he felt like he needed to explain himself. Katherine wasn't even there at the time to have a bad opinion of him.

He started and blinked wildly when Sylvana appeared beside them. This was only the second time he'd seen anyone teleporting. "Sylvana!" He reached for her shoulder, but he stopped and frowned at the look in her eyes. It was a cold look, a dangerous one. Did he do that to her? In the short time since he saw her last, she changed. "I'm so sorry."

The most dangerous enemy is the one who has nothing left to lose, and he had a bad feeling that Sylvana had come to that point, but he didn't want her to feel that way. "You're the one who told me that if we stayed, Jacob would kill us. You wouldn't let me go back to talk to my twin brother and now you're going back? Wyatt stayed behind to challenge him, so he could protect you." Jasper took a deep breath and softened his tone. "You are the most important person to him. I know that and I've only known you both for a few days. You said Jacob grew up with you, so he would have to be blind not to see it himself." He sighed and pressed his hand to his head. "Jacob could be here for you just as much as me." He dropped his hand and continued. "You also said I should feel him. I do. I think I have since we arrived. Hatred and anger and fear too. He's afraid of something. He has something to lose. Something we can use against him, reduce his threat. But if you are his target, and you go to him, he'll win. Where would the rest of us be then? How would Wyatt feel about that? Even if you survive whatever he has planned, what would you do for supplies? Katherine and I have most of them."

Katherine. She had no idea what he was talking about. He took a deep breath to calm down. "I probably don't have to tell you that Jacob is indeed my twin brother. The resemblance is uncanny and painful now that I know who he is." It didn't work very well and he ended up pressing his hand against his forehead again. "Jacob...He..." Jasper winced. Let me go, Jacob. Let me be myself. "He's an assassin. He has a mission and won't give up until he finishes the job."

He gave a strained sigh and looked to the gate guards. They could help him but they won't. They won't stop any witch from dying. Jacob is a witch and they'd cheer for him until he killed another witch and then kill him too. They'd kill all five wandering witches without a care. "I don't want him dead, but I don't want him to win either. His victory will only come at the cost of another's life."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Katherine Fletcher Character Portrait:
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For someone who really didn't want to be around a Shadow Sage member, even an ex one, Jasper sure was turning a leaf rather quickly. His words almost caused Sylvana to falter. She knew Wyatt cared about her. She'd learned that one when she was still a teenager because the Shadow Sage, but she couldn't tell the other two members of their group about that. The lie she'd been lying for years had to stick, because if anyone learned the truth, especially anyone from the Shadow Sage, she was dead. Not only would she be wanted for being a white magic user, even though it had been the elders who let her in, but she would be considered a turncoat, a traitor. She would have too much knowledge and power to be let go.

Was that why Jacob was really here? Was Jasper just icing on the cake and Wyatt's location being found the cherry? What about Katherine? Was she working for them secretly? Suddenly everything seemed dark and hostile, but the woman wasn't like that. She trusted a little too much, a little too naive for her own good and way to hard headed to listen to someone who barely knew her. Only the black magic user had ever been able to talk sense into her and that was usually after the fact. Now he wasn't around to stop her from doing something really stupid, like going off to fight Jacob.

"Jasper, one day you will understand, but today isn't that day. I know how Jacob could and will use me against Wyatt, but together we are stronger than separate. We have fought many battles, many beings together. And we have... always come out on top. One way or another. I wish I could tell you the truth. Everything, but for your protection I can't. Please just trust me. Get above the wall and head north. Wyatt and I will catch up with you. And if not," her shoulders shrugged as she looked at the sky a small smile on her face.

"Then whatever higher being controls our fates will have finally succeeded in taking my life when they have failed from the moment of my birth." She turned back to face the male. "I can feel Wyatt. He's going to need my help despite his orders. I know him. I know Jacob and I know myself. Jacob knew the old me. We'll be fine."

With those words, she disappeared again trusting Katherine and Jasper to listen to her.

Reappearing in the trees just outside of where the two were battling, the white magic user studied what was going on down below. Wyatt appeared to be keeping Jacob on the run by constantly transporting himself in and out of sight. It was going to wear him down way to quickly. It would sap at her best friend's strength and give the gray user an advantage he didn't need.

Summoning her magic around her, she allowed it to rein just as free as Wyatt's. Let Jacob see he was out numbered and overpowered.

You shouldn't be here. I told you to take the others and leave Evanpool. Wyatt's words cut through her mind harshly at her disobeying him.

You should know I don't listen well to orders.

Learn to try before it gets you killed...

Wyatt, I'm not the same weak, little girl you once knew.


That was the problem. He'd always see her as the girl who needed protecting and not the woman fully capable of doing it herself.

Don't die on me... again.

I'm not going anywhere.


Wyatt's words were low as he focused on Jacob not wanting his guard to slip. He could feel the three of their powers combined and it was overbearing. Even the non witches would probably be able to feel them. This was bad. They were going to draw too much attention if they didn't end this as quickly as possible. But having Sylvana where he knew her location and could protect her, put his mind at ease and he could finally focus on the battle.

He went in for a leg sweep knowing it was going to be avoided and followed it up with a quick elbow to the ribcage.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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The forest was thick with energy. Sylvana could feel it, she could almost touch magic that wasn't her own. It was like drowning without water. Wyatt's black magic surged as she felt the beast beneath the surface struggling against him. He was always pushing it down, reigning it in. Jacob's on the other hand was lighter compared to the darkness, but he felt his own sinister feelings. Had she walked into the situation and based on feelings alone, she would have been more afraid of Jacob than Wyatt.

Something she couldn't pin point unnerved her. It was unsettling not knowing what it was exactly that bothered her so much about the man and she knew him. Not well enough and too much most days, but this was a side of Jacob she'd never seen, only felt during their few encounters.

The white magic user took a deep breath to calm herself down. The battles weren't the hard part. She just locked herself into a part of her mind where she could concentrate on nothing but fighting. It was going head long into battle that unnerved her. She hated it. Fighting was pointless most times. She just tended to find herself in fights that seemed to always matter.

Another quick breath and she transported herself down to the forest floor, not directly where the battle was raging, but close enough that she could assess the situation before going in, a final last second hold before charging. When she appeared in the bed of the woods something didn't feel right. The airs on her body were standing on end. Everything seemed heightened, but over what was the question.

Sylvana took a few steps ignoring the odd sensation stirring in her body. She could just make out Wyatt and Jacob. The gray magic user appeared to be counter attacking against the black user. That was when the feelings got worse. Something was definitely wrong. Images of a time once forgotten flashed through the woman's mind. A time she never told she'd have to live through again.

A half step caused her legs to buckle out from under her. Everything hurt. She didn't know what was causing the pain, but she knew what it reminded her of. Have the Orb's powers worn off? Am I back to the way I used to be... is this how I'll die? The disease that fought so hard to claim me as a newborn succeeds now? When Wyatt needs me the most?

Her heart rate had gone up to keep oxygen flowing to the major organs. Her breathing was labored as everything constricted; the body trying to fight off the invisible foe it knew nothing about it.

"No..." She whispered, her hand clutched at her heart, her worst fears plaguing her mind. She couldn't even scream. The pain was getting worse and while in the back of her mind, she knew this wasn't the same as all the other times, her conscious didn't rationalize it because of the similarities.

Her eyes grew heavier and she fought to stay awake. She had to help Wyatt defeat Jacob. He had done this. He had to have. It was the only thing that made rational sense. He'd done something she hadn't expected of him, something she'd never seen before. She was paying the price of not thinking all the way through. Wyatt was going to have her head if she survived.

Wyatt transported away to avoid Jacob's attack. He could feel Sylvana moving, but when he appeared again, he couldn't sense the outpouring of magic anymore. Turning his head, he caught sight of her laying on her side just inside the protection of the trees. His already pale face drained of color. He knew the position she was in. He'd seen it before once before almost eight years prior.

They'd been at her family home. She'd saved his life after her family had tried to kill him. In the end, it had all been her brother. She'd gone to confront him and he'd killed her. Wyatt had found her only moments before and begged pleaded with his magic to do the one thing it couldn't. Heal her, to bring her back. She'd been laying in the same position, hand at her chest on her side. But this time he could still see the rise and fall of her chest. It was labored as if it hurt just trying to breath.

Another position he'd once seen her in multiple times thanks to the same brother and his experiments. Her condition had only made things much worse. She had been cured of the problem, but he still feared for her safety. He wanted to go over and check on her, let his magic heal her from whatever had caused her distress.

Wyatt turned to Jacob, fury in his eyes as he glared at the other magic user. All he could see was red. He fought better when angry, he drew on a strength from the beast within his magic. His mother always told him to fight with his mind as much as his strength, but right now he needed to end this. For Sylvana's sake.

He drew on more of his strength and went straight for Jacob, letting volley after volley loose before following them up with physical attacks. He was going to wear himself down quickly, but he planned on ending it before it got too bad.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Katherine Fletcher Character Portrait:
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Jacob's eyes widened as that familiar and unpleasant weakness crept up on him again. He switched to a defensive battle as Wyatt started throwing new magical blasts his way. They were stronger and faster than those little spheres earlier, and when they hit they burned. He hissed against the pain, but he knew Wyatt would wear himself down this way. Since his little girlfriend fell into the trap, the black magic user threw caution to the wind completely. Jacob needed only to outlast his opponent's strength. It was easier said then done.

Not only was Wyatt physically stronger but his magic was purer than muddy grey magic. Jacob did have an advantage though. He had used very little of his own strength through this entire episode, and still preserved it. He took a chance and expended some of that energy to transport himself behind Wyatt, out of the direct range of attack. His opponent may turn around, but it would give him a few moments grace.

From this new vantage point, he again attempted to hit the taller witch with his stick. He aimed for the back of his head this time. Knocking Wyatt out would be the quickest end from his side. Raven never said they had to be in perfect health, just alive.

He didn't want to use more of his energy than absolutely necessary, because he would still have to carry his prey back to base alone. The quickest way was to transport all of them, which would be costly because of both the weight and distance. Jacob had almost never transported more than himself, because he trusted no one else. Getting Wyatt to this clearing proved that he was capable of it.

~~~

Jasper didn't hear Katherine's answer, but he felt something twist in his gut. His nostrils flared. They didn't have time to waste! He leaned in to kiss the top of her hand and said with apparent calm, "If you're not coming, go somewhere safe. I don't want you to risk the tundra alone." He let her go and closed his eyes, nostrils still flaring, body tense. The healer tried to focus on the strange feelings he had. Finding something, he opened his eyes and started running. The weight of his pack felt like nothing, as he chased after his goal. He paused once, touching his head to reduce pressure inside. The feeling grew stronger as he headed out of the city, towards a forest.

Suddenly it reduced strength. NO! He prayed it wasn't too late. He paused again to focus on the thing inside him he identified as Jacob. Why was he so bound to his cruel twin? He couldn't answer that question, but that bond would be what decided life and death for Sylvana and maybe Wyatt too. The healer stumbled along a forest path where he stopped to catch his breath. His formerly weightless pack pressed against his back. Despite the cold, sweat dripped along his skin.

Gripping his walking stick, he started forward slower. He felt he was very close and needed to use caution now. Jasper didn't know what he would find.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Time was moving too slow and not fast enough. Wyatt was near a panic, but that never showed on his face. It was the one lesson his mother had succeeded beating into him thoroughly. Never let an opponent see your emotions. Never let them know what you were thinking. The longer the battle was going on the more he was slipping back into the soldier his mother had created. It showed in his attacks, how he countered. He'd stopped thinking, letting his instincts take over, allowing the magic to tell him the things he probably would have processed on his own. It was the only thing that kept him from thinking about Sylvana and whether or not she was alive still. If he thought about her for too long he was likely to lose his focus and give Jacob the upper hand.

Jacob was behind him. Instead of turning to find out where the other magic user was, he ducked down, spinning his leg out as he went. The stick in the other man's hand skimmed across the top of his head. An unwelcome reminder that he wasn't completely focused on the fight. His black eyes glinted with the magic outpouring. His entire eye was black including the part that had once been white on the edges. The complete opposite of Slyvana's as her's turned solid white.

The two witches continued to batter each other. Wyatt was landing a few hits, but he was starting to take a lot more than normal. His mother would have been furious. This was also where Sylvana had a habit of coming to his rescue and having his ass. Not going to happen this time. Knowing he didn't have much time left, he timed Jacob's movements on attacking him. He took a direct hit from the staff before letting loose an attack at Jacob. All he wanted to do was buy himself some time. He had to get Sylvana away from here.

Wyatt used the moment to transport himself over to the white magic user. He bent down beside her. His black hair was matted to his head, the hair tie holding it back had slipped down loosening the locks. His clothes hung to his frame in sticky mats. His heart rate was skyrocketed but as he bent beside his childhood friend it only went up. It had been so long since he'd seen her like this, he'd nearly forgotten. Seeing it now only brought all the buried memories to the surface and allowed the fears to run rampant.

Sylvana's skin was flushed, her chest was rising and failing too quickly and her breathing was labored. She was struggling and he didn't understand why. He guessed it was Jacob. It was something he would do, but he didn't care. Seeing her like this was tearing him to pieces. Before he fought against a foe he couldn't see caused by a device her brother had created to torture her. Now he didn't know what he was up against, but he wasn't about to lose her again. Rolling her onto her back, he placed his hand over her chest, releasing his black magic into her system.

Normally this would kill someone. But because her heart was too fast and would eventually slow itself down too quickly and cause worse problems his magic served as a tool to slow the heart rate down at a decent rate that wouldn't allow her to be hurt anymore. He felt his magic enter her body and allowed it to search out the problems, to slow the heart down and heal her like it had once down.

His vision swam and he swayed. Wyatt shook his head. He still had to transport them away before Jacob could recover. Only he never got the chance. The magic drained from his eyes and he collapsed beside his friend, his hand still on her chest as he lost consciousness, his magic too depleted to keep him going any longer.

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The forest was getting darker the longer the day went on as storm clouds from the north moved down the mountain to the populated areas. Standing in the protected areas of the upper trees, a Shadow Sage member watched the scene below him. His black cloak was wrapped around his shoulders, hood pulled over his head. He could still feel magic flowing beneath him. Still he'd completed his mission. He was free to leave at any time.

Jacob's mission was nearly complete. He had the two rogue Shadow Sage members as well as someone who appeared to be a personal connection for the gray magic user. Balance was going to be restored to their organization once again. After so many months of upheaval in the upper levels, the people he served, things were finally going to return to normal. At least once Jacob got them back to base.

Maybe there could be something in it for him if he helped. Why not? It wasn't worth passing up the chance. It would make him look favorable to the elders if he helped bring them back in after proving Jacob wasn't going to follow in their footsteps.

"Jacob Hemlock." The witch called down from the trees. He had to be careful how he broached this. "Congratulations on surpassing your goals. You've been proven yourself to more elders than just Raven. Would you like help bringing your catch back to base?"


The slip back to consciousness was slow and painful. His magic still hadn't built back up enough for him to even move. But it was a lot higher than it had been when he'd been in similar situations. Odd. Unless someone else had enhanced it. Only there were no other people around to do that.

Wyatt's eyes fluttered open. He could still tell he was in the woods. Voices carried on around him, but other than the wind that whipped around him, he couldn't make much of anything else out. Under his hand, he could feel Sylvana's chest rise and fall, feel the heat of her body through her clothing. She was alive. Her breathing wasn't nearly what it had been before he passed out. Still he needed to check.

Memories from the past flooded into him of all the times he'd nearly lost her. He struggled to open his eyes. Everything was unfocused, but he could just make out the shape of another human being at his head. It was oddly familiar. His first instinct was that it was Jacob. Adrenaline coursed through his body at the thought of the man being anywhere near Sylvana when she was vulnerable. It allowed his power to rise for just a split second. His vision cleared and he saw it was Jasper instead.

Jasper? He was going to get himself killed and fall into his twin's hands. The day couldn't get much worse. But the sight of a friendly familiar face calmed the black magic user down until he felt like he couldn't stay conscious any longer. He loosened a small amount of black magic into the white user's chest to make sure everything was still alright before he passed out again.

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It came as no surprise that Hemlock was wary of his presence. If he was standing on the same catch below them as the blonde male then he would have probably already killed anyone else who dared be around. That was why he was a spy after all. Killing people to avoid being caught if necessary was the fun part of the game.

But who sent him? He couldn't directly reveal who, but there were other more creative ways around the subject.

"I was sent by an elder higher than your own. One who directly controls Akane Sumner and Milla Silas." While he might not know that both of them were actually Wyatt's parents; Jacob would know their names and know that they were two of the most powerful witches the Shadow Sage had at their beck and call.

"I'll help you transport your prisoners back and then I'll leave. You have my word, but we need to get moving before the locals decide to come and investigate." Not to mention the coming storm which would bring in extreme cold temperatures from the north and likely snow. They were needed back at base as soon as possible.

Everyone was waiting on their arrival and the ones Hemlock was bringing back with him. At least all those who knew about Wyatt and Sylvana being on the capture list. Just having his name attached to the bring in as well as completely the mission assigned, making sure Jacob didn't betray them as well would push his ranking along. It could mean a very good break for him.

All they needed now was to get a move on and transport the prisoners before they woke up. He really didn't want to get into a fight with Wyatt or Sylvana. He wasn't even sure he could. How Jacob had done it was a miracle. If he'd actually had to fight both of them or even Wyatt with a level head, he wasn't sure he would be standing where he was now.

Best to hurry things along.

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Finally, it seemed he had gained Jacob's trust enough to allow his help in transporting the prisoners back to base. They could get a move on before the locals and the weather caught up with them. He jumped down from the trees and approached the group. He was more than happy to allow Hemlock to take charge. As far as he viewed the situation, his mission was over. Jacob had proved himself loyal to the Shadow Sage. Now he could help the other complete his mission and return to give his report. It would look good for him to have assisted in bringing the rogues to justice.

Without a second thought, he went over to Jasper and heaved him onto his shoulder and nodded at the other twin. "I know where it is." He disappeared. There was only one place within the Northern base that they were allowed to appear within. The lower sections which for them was closest to where the prisoners would be kept. Less lugging dead weight around. He didn't have to wait long for Hemlock to appear with both Ward and Silas. Nor for one of the other elder members who ran the Northern tower to meet them. The elder's underlying ran off to report their return to Raven leaving them alone in the darkness.

"Put each of in their own cells. Make sure their chains are secure. We wouldn't want them to be able to use their powers to escape." His words came out in a harsh rasp. The lower Shadow Sage member nodded his head and took Jasper to one of the nearest cells. He tossed him onto the ground before chaining up just the arms. He was a wild witch after all. He wasn't going to be much of a threat nor know too much on how to use his powers.

He imagined though that Wyatt and Sylvana would be getting the full lock up. Especially Silas. The man was a powerhouse. The fact that Hemlock had been able to capture him was a miracle. Of course, it would go into the report that by taking out Ward before she could enter the fight had tipped the scales and caused the black magic user to lose his self control. It alone had probably won Jacob the battle. He would never say that to the man's face, but it was going into his report.

The elder turned towards Jacob. "Your master will be down shortly. I imagine he will want you present for their interrogations. It is time you learned the truth of a select group of members within the Shadow Sage and why your mission was so important."
______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Everything hurt. While it wasn't nearly as bad as when she'd passed out, she still didn't want to feel any of the pain. Yet she did. Of course, she had to rationalize that the pain she was feeling now wasn't nearly as bad as some of the pain she'd felt in the past. She groaned as her eyes started to flutter open.

The air smelt damp and stale. Almost as if fresh air never touched it. She could smell sweat, urine, fear. Her eyes shot open. She found herself in near pitch blackness. And while it took only seconds for her eyes to adjust, she knew where she was before she could even confirm it. They were in the dungeons of a Shadow Sage base. After so long of running from the place she thought would make her better, she'd been dragged back against her will. To face certain death, she was sure. Members didn't just leave them and live to tell about it.

As far as she could tell, she still had access to her powers. Which meant she could fight her way back out and hopefully save Wyatt too. They would be a lot worse on him than her. He was the one who'd brought her in after all. He was the one who'd been breed for them. She had to save him even more than herself.

Summoning her magic around her, she started to form an attack before the blade of a hand crashed down into the back of her neck. She grunted as another wave of pain coursed through her body. The magic she'd been holding released itself and she fought to keep herself conscious.

"Take them away, Hemlock before Raven returns." The elder wheezed.

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There were probably worse situations a person could find themselves in. But for Wyatt and Sylvana there was nothing worse than being in the hands of the enemy completely helpless.

The black magic user had been awake enough to know what was going on and to keep his consciousness from being detected. He let them chain him up knowing that if he fought back now he was likely to die. He was still weak from using most all of his energy and rushing headlong into a fight with multiple Shadow Sage members more than one likely an elder would have been suicide. He would have never made it to Sylvana let alone Jasper. He cursed at himself. He’d gotten the male into this while trying to keep him out of it and Sylvana why could she just never listen?

The door to his cell opened and he cracked his eyes open to glare at the elder standing in the doorway. It was one he knew well. He’d always had to suffer the old man when his parents reported in from missions. He had despised him as a young teen and the feelings only grew as he’d aged.

To make matters worse, Wyatt wasn’t sure there was going to be any way out of this without the result being death. Neither of his parents would help, his father even more. The black magic user wouldn’t be surprised if the man came down to torture him himself. His mother would probably just call him stupid and worthless that all her training had gone down the drain.

Wait. That might be it. It is only a few days from the full moon. If the others can just hold on long enough I will get them out of here. We can’t wait for the new moon for Sylvana. We’ll probably be dead by then. It’ll have to be the full and since they don’t know about that little special ability since Milla lost hers then we should be safe. But… I’m sorry Sylvana. It’s time to play the game again. You might never forgive me, but I’m doing this to keep you alive. Please believe me.

Wyatt glared up at a man he hated almost as much as the man who’d fathered him. The old man simply tisked, a laughter in his eyes. It only made the young man even angrier, but he refused to let the fact be known.

“I haven’t decided if we should get to you or your little white girlfriend. I’m thinking her first. She was never truly one of us and it won’t hurt anything if she dies soon. Of course that’s not up to me. That’s up to Raven who will be down shortly. For her sake, you should have left her in the mansion with her family, but since you brought her to use, you’d best hope for a quick death for her. Taking her powers for us to use sounds like a fair trade off.”

Wyatt schooled his features behind the mask his mother had beaten into him. Being within the very place he had fought so hard to get away from, it was easy to just let everything come back. He could feel the beast within his magic growling in triumph. The beast was going to be the only thing that saved him and the others. He had to let himself go and hope that once this was all over that he could find himself again.

“What makes you think I care? She was just a tool to get the information I wanted Same as the wild witch. His powers would be useful if I taught him just enough.” His voice was low, dark. He almost sounded just like his father.

“Careful, Silas. You might start believing your own lies.” With that the elder left and he knew it was just a matter of time until Raven came down and the “fun” began.

Please leave the others alone. It’s me you’re mad at the most. I’m the one who doubled crossed you on my last mission. I can take anything you dish out. I doubt Jasper can handle anything and I don’t want Sylvana going through this. All of this, it’s my fault. She only wanted a stronger heart back then and to prove to her family she wasn’t weak. I was just an uncertain teenager who didn’t want to have to be a mindless slave doing as others commanded without a second thought. I failed us both and now I’m going to be their deaths. I refuse to let it go down this way. Jacob if you lay one hand on her, I will kill you myself just like I promised once before.

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Time seemed to stand still as the black magic user waited for something to happen. Only it wasn't nearly as long as he thought it was. The Raven was finally here. He could hear Jacob talking to him where he now knew Sylvana's cell to be. Then it was his turn. He stared up from his place on the grimy floor, glaring at the elder. He refused to show any sign of weakness. What Wyatt didn't realize was just how easily and quickly he was reverting back into the person he once was. A person only the female white magic user had saved him from.

By not acknowledging Jacob, he hoped to reestablish himself as the higher ranking witch, just as thing had once been. What he didn't know is that the gray magic user had heard the words he'd spoken to himself about killing him if he touched Sylvana. As far as he knew all of his powers were cut off while he was confined within the room and of course while chained. He was going to have to wait until he was outside to make his move. Especially now that he knew where Sylvana's cell was it wouldn't take too much more to find Jasper and get the two of them out of there. He just needed a little bit of time.

Jacob seemed to be hesitating about leaving Wyatt's cell. Could it be time? His heart was starting to pound in his chest, but his expression never changed. He continued to glare at Raven. He would have his revenge and it would be extremely painful. They had wanted the perfect machine, well they had one, but not on their side which is why he knew the time left on his life was limited. He had to get Sylvana and Jasper to safety.

"Sire, the elders from the other posts are asking you to hasten toward the interrogations of the prisoners." Another messenger witch came running up. He held in his hand a paper outlining what the information the elders wanted as well as how long they expected the tasks to take, which included that the Raven had permission to do with the bodies as he wished. The witch handed the paper over and bowed before leaving. He had another places to be and a select amount of time to complete everything.

Wyatt's eyes narrowed. He wasn't going to get as much time to plan as he believed he would, but at least he hoped it would mean it was less likely that Sylvana and Jasper would be put in harms way. He was the one with the most amount of knowledge the elders would want. It was his powers they would want to strip from him. Please take me in first. Leave the others out of this. Shadow Sage created me. I should be the most valuable one here. Come on. He knew internally he was desperate for anything that kept him in control, but his external facade never changed. The beast within was slowly moving toward the surface and mixing.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

There were faint voices just down the hall. It was hard to make out what they were saying, but one of them she knew without a doubt. It was Jacob. Sylvana forced her eyes to open even though the only thing she wanted to do was fall back into the void and pretend she still wasn't in the amount of pain she was in.

Luckily, the overall pain had lessened since she last woke up, but the soreness at the back of her neck was still fresh. Pulling against the chains that held her, the white magic user tried to find a way out. She'd never been the type of person to take anything laying down and she sure wasn't going allow anyone the satisfaction of it now. She was a Ward and her family were one of the strongest magic users in history. She wouldn't allow things to end like this.

Though, Sylvana knew the group were in the predicament they were now because of her. If she had only listened to Wyatt in the first place, they would probably still be at Evanpool licking their wounds. Instead, she had rushed in not even thinking about what Jacob would have done to protect himself and his fight. Capture, torture, and likely death were all on her hands.

"I'm so sorry."

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Jasper didn't see or hear from either Jacob or that big man the rest of the day. He thought it was only one day, but a lot of the time he was stuck in an exhausted fog. The only markers of time passing were the guards either bringing food and drink or what he assumed were servants emptying the chamber pot. The healer was never allowed out and couldn't get any exercise except pacing around his cell. He had no idea where either Wyatt or Sylvana were or even if they were still alive. Neither the guards nor the servants said anything to him. Meals were announced usually by rapping against the bars with a stick. Was he a dog in a cage? No wonder Sylvana wanted out of this place. Jasper needed to get out too. If it was only one day, he already thought he'd go crazy. Jasper hated this confinement. He did nothing to deserve this!

"Focus, Jasper, Focus! What CAN you do here?" Freaking out will not help him or anyone else. His next lap around he looked for openings or weaknesses in the walls. He didn't know what would happen to him, but he was almost certain Shadow Sage wanted both Wyatt and Sylvana dead, if they weren't already. He swallowed. That couldn't help him either. To focus, he needed to assume they were still alive. They were still alive. He would get out and find them. He would get an explanation. Neither Jacob nor that big man wanted to tell him anything, but Sylvana was willing to tell him about her past with Jacob and Wyatt, even if he didn't respond well. He would get out. He would find them. He would also get their supplies back. The guards took Jasper's pack and stick when he was unconscious. A goal helped clear some of the fog and he could think and plan what to do now.

~~~

In the fifteen minutes after Jacob left his brother in a dungeon cell, he raided the kitchen and hid out in his room with honey cakes. His own room. Jacob had a single bed, a single window, a single desk and chair, and a single trunk packed with all his belongings. He was the only one in this room, and it was a great relief to get away from all the people, if only for a short time.

Somehow, he remained incredibly tired. He just wanted to curl up under his blankets and sleep, but fifteen minutes wasn't long enough for that. He forced himself to remain upright with his back against the cold stone wall. Under the shuttered window, he could still hear the raving storm outside. They just made it in time. If they lingered in the forest any longer, all five of them would probably freeze to death. Even without seeing it, Jacob could tell all paths would be buried in snow and any wanderers would never be found again. Yes, he knew his home well.

Break time is over. Up a single flight of stairs he trudged, still feeling run down and exhausted. He didn't understand how a single use of magic could weaken him so completely. Surely, the test Raven pushed him through used more magic than just transporting two people here. Why was he so tired? He had no answer by the time he reached his tower-master's office. The door was closed, so he knocked on the heavy wood and it pulled away from him, but Jacob didn't consider this surprising.

An hour later the blond, pale witch left the room frustrated. Tomorrow, he could be there for the interrogation, but he should think of it as a warning, not a reward. He brought both their highest level targets to them, but he has to watch his step still. Grumbling, the pale witch stalked to the training gym. Because of the storm, no one could leave the tower, but he had an outlet for his frustration at least.

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Despite his apparent exhaustion, both physically and mentally, Jacob struggled to sleep. He didn't understand why. He had no crowds around him and his room was perfectly comfortable. Even the storm outside went quiet. For unknown reasons, he woke up in the middle of the night, but the faint whisper of a remembered melody soothed him back.

In the morning, someone came to collect him also. Even though he knew he would be there for the interrogation, he didn't know where it would take place. The difficulty was duly noted and resolved. He met his tower master and they arrived in the interrogation room before the guards dragged in the prisoners.

Training in the gym the day before successfully relieved his frustration at what he considered lack of appropriate appreciation for his work. As a result, he kept a clear head for his new mission to guard and observe the proceedings. He couldn't deny excitement at his chance to witness justice for these traitor rogues. As far as he knew, he wouldn't be allowed to dispense any of that justice, but as a witness he could still be important.

For the interrogation he stood behind Sylvana with a hand on her shoulder, making sure she didn't try to run, but he didn't expect her to abandon her lover anyway. From his post he could see pretty much the whole room, with the exception of space behind some machinery taller than his eye-level.

The white stone room was impressive for the number of people and things in it. Not only were Jacob and Raven and the prisoners there, but so were three representatives from other towers as well as guards posted in the front and back of the windowless room. Two more held onto Wyatt's body, while only one other guard, aside from himself, stood with Sylvana. He wondered briefly if that guard was charged to watch him too, but he had nothing to gain by making any moves in this interview. Because he had nothing to gain, it was pointless to post a guard over him.

Harsh light illuminated this room bad enough he needed to close his free hand over his eyes, giving the impression he had a headache, but he didn't keep his face covered very long. Once he lifted his hand again, the light was instantly warmer and more tolerable to his vision. He used a trick he learned to survive traveling on the solid white stretches of tundra. Sunlight reflected off snow and ice enough to blind anyone who needed to go over long stretches of empty land. Unfortunately with bound hands and bound magic, Wyatt and Sylvana may not be able to do the same. Interrogation wasn't supposed to be easy, so he felt no pity for them.

The objects in the room confirmed it wasn't supposed to be easy. Aside from two machines taller than him resembling washboards with heavy and roughened leather straps, large meat hooks hung from the ceiling, a hard metal chair that also had rough leather straps sat in a corner, and a variety of other metallic objects he had no idea how they worked littered the floor riven with narrow channels leading to the farthest edges of the room, all the way around and going out somewhere behind the back set of guards. Jacob shivered slightly, but didn't let go of Sylvana.

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It seemed everyone to watch the interrogations were already in the room when the two witches arrived. Sylvana was lead in first and put on the far side of the room. Wyatt was kept towards the front where his chains were locked into the wall. His arms were outstretched beside him giving him no wiggle room for movement. His feet were still chained together, but allowed to be free. They wanted him to put all his weight on his shoulders later. He knew how this went.

He could see Sylvana held under guard with Jacob off to one side. Had the mask not been so firmly back in place he probably would have growled at the other man’s closeness. He didn’t want him to put a finger on her let alone be apart of the group that tried to kill her. But nothing showed. Not until he took stock of everyone present. He recognized most of the elders. He expected them to be there. They had to make sure any knowledge he gave couldn’t be used by a single leader. They were wasting their time.

Then his eyes landed on a figure he’d hoped to never see again. Standing only a few inches taller than himself with completely straight black hair instead of the mix of straight and wisps, the skin tone was darker than his own and the frame much more robost than Wyatt’s was Akane Sumner.

Wyatt spat at his father, the only sign of emotion from the young man. It was all they would get. He hated the man. For everything. Hated him much more than his mother. He blamed him for being the reason he had to become a slave to the Shadow Sage in the first place. While his mother wasn’t much better in his opinion, she had at least taken the time to train him. Not just abuse him. She’d taught him everything he’d known. His father had only enforced the rules with much more force and made sure all signs of weakness were beaten out of him and that meant never leaving the edge of the forest where a certain magical family would find him before he learned his mother’s lessons. Sylvana’s family.

The white magic user was doing the best she could to control herself. She hadn’t seen so many elders in a single room in a long time. The last was the day Wyatt had been given permission to bring her before the Council to ask to induct her. Once that had been a good day. Not anymore.

Sylvana wanted to move away from Jacob was much as she could, but once she saw Wyatt’s reaction, she stopped. She could just make out the man’s features through the harsh light. She froze. Her entire childhood had been filled with nightmares of the one time she had met the man at five years old. Even when she and Wyatt had first asked for her to join up, she hadn’t wanted to be around the man and it had nearly been ten years since that day. Ten years she had gone without seeing a living nightmare.

This wasn’t good. Not by a long shot. Wyatt was chained to a wall. And while she was still under her own control, didn’t mean it boded well for her. There were still a lot of places they could put her. Many of them she didn’t want to go to.

Akane smirked at the actions of his son. He hadn’t expected any better of a reaction from the boy. Had his magic not been bound he was sure things would have gone over a lot worse. None of the family was on great terms. Though he would have thought Milla would have been the one he hated most. Of course, Wyatt probably assumed he gave the order to her. He would have been right, so maybe that was why he always hated his father the most.

Boy, I would control yourself.

A string of unrecognizable curses came through the link. While Wyatt had no access to his own magic, he could respond when the mind link was created by someone else. He just couldn’t go much else.

Your temper is showing.

As much as his father was getting to him, Wyatt hadn’t moved a single inch, nor had his facial features changed. A few years prior and he would have been pulling against his binds to get at his father over the one phrase that always seemed to get under his feathers.

Akane’s smirk only grew as he walked over to where Sylvana was standing. He ran a finger down the side of her face before she yanked her head away with a sneer of disgust written all over. The man smiled before he grabbed her chin and forced her to look at him and then towards his son.

I warned you to stay away from her.

He said nothing more as he dropped his hand and moved back to his place. He was only there to watch. Showing he cared nothing about his own flesh and blood. The boy had betrayed the organization. He had signed his own death warrant. But he had to given credit. Wyatt had grown up in the years since he’d last seen him. He was impressed. He would have made an amazing soldier if not for the white magic user, but he had been tainted by her from the moment they first met as children.

Sylvana forced the shiver going down her back to stop. He’d touched her and she’d survived. But when she glanced back to Wyatt across the room, she knew things weren’t going to get any better. His expression hadn’t changed. She couldn’t read anything from him. It was almost like the time when he’d… She shook her head. She couldn’t think about that. He was a different person back then. He’d given up the most basic thing he could to save her life and in the end she had found a way to bring it back without dying. Luck of her family. But she didn’t think the luck was going to get her out of this one.

“Let’s begin, Xiuhcoatl.”

Wyatt’s eyes narrowed into slits. Yep, Sylvana knew they were screwed and it was only going to get worse.

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It seemed as if both Wyatt and Sylvana weren’t the only ones who didn’t like Akane. So it appeared that even Jacob in all his evil didn’t like the man who had fathered the black magic user. Ironic really. They would probably get along considering they gave everything to the organization and never thought twice about it or how it would destroy everyone around them

Sylvana felt the grip change on her shoulders from the gray magic user, but didn’t react as most of her attention was glued to the man she’d feared her whole life. At least until he was away from her again and back in his corner of the room. Wyatt was the one she was most worried about. He held all the cards. He had everything they could ever want. And they would use her against him, she was sure. Akane’s presence in the room alone confirmed that.

It didn’t take Raven long to get started. But a future within the Shadow Sage? It was something Wyatt had never wanted even if he’d been bred for it. His personality had rebelled against being used as a mindless slave. He’d wanted answers and while he’d found some of them, only the Witches’ Fortress held the rest of them.

Sylvana’s huffed at the stupidity of the elder a reaction that got a curt glare from Wyatt across the room. His only change since they had gotten into the room. His way of telling her to shut her mouth and not to give them anything. But she couldn’t stand by.

“Rebel witches,” her voice was low. There was no need to talk at a normal level. She smirked. “You mean anyone who doesn’t have black magic or under your control? Other witches who are living lives of peace and fear for their safety from not only their own kind, but their king as well. Those rebels? And what else would someone be doing in Whitemouth? It is the trading capital of the north.” She was insulting him, she knew it. But if the end result was going to be the same, why not dish out their own toxin to them.



By midway through the day, the elders had decided to leave for lunch. Wyatt was still in the same position on the wall relatively untouched. He knew they were just warming up especially after the verbal lashing Sylvana had given them in the morning. She’d upset their tucked feathers more than she knew and she’d gotten the beating for it. He’d tried to warn her to keep her mouth shut.

The white magic user was suspended from her wrists across the room. Her feet didn’t even touch the ground. Over time it would pull her shoulders out of socket. The side of her face was swollen and her lip was spilt and bleeding as well as a small cut at the top of her head, but overall she could have been a lot worse. She would get a lot worse if he didn’t stop talking.

He knew what they wanted. Even though they had both left the Shadow Sage five years prior, they had stayed low, keeping away from each other to not attract attention. Sylvana couldn’t even go home for fear of leading the rest of the organization to her family. It was bad enough both Milla and Akane held that information over her. Of course, her family was far from helpless. Her parents were considered the leading rebels against the cause since Soren, Ondin, and Milla had been in their teens even before they knew about the Shadow Sage and had all been rogue witches.

What they wanted was the information both he and Sylvana had gained before the officially joined. It was a time where he couldn’t get into contact with his parents. The two of them had gone off on their own not on purpose, but they had run into an underground plot that threatened everything. They’d found a fourth type of magic – blue. They had fought the users multiple times and won. They’d found a creature from horror stories and learned the secrets of Gordon’s Stones about where all the magic came from and how to possibly strengthen ones own if it was possible. But the records were incomplete. All they found at the time were two letters – WF. They had thought it was a name until years later they learned about the long lost Witches’ Fortress. Then everything made sense. But he couldn’t nor would he ever tell the elders of the Shadow Sage anything he knew about the underground cavern. He just had to hope that Sylvana was smart, no strong enough not to give in and tell them anything either.

Otherwise, the whole reason they had fled the organization, changed their names, and left each other was all in vain. He wouldn’t allow it to end this way. Only a day and a half left until they were all free.

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It was easy to pick out that he had gotten under Jacob’s skin. The boy was a lot easier to read than his own son. But he had to hand it to him; he handled himself well and recovered within a very short time frame. He switched gears and focused on something else, showing he had an eye for leadership, but Akane wasn’t going to say so.

Noticing the subtle changes, the older witch watched the gray magic user, wondering what was going through his head. He, himself, had his own concerns to deal with. Milla would want information on their son and he hadn’t yet decided on whether or not to give it to her. Then there was the small fact of the white witch. He’d longed to get his hands around her throat since she was a small child. He would be given his chance now. Warning the boy about the dangers she posed to him had done nothing. Maybe now, at the end, he would see everything Akane told him was true.

When Jacob finally started talking, the black magic user could only smirk with a small chuckle to his shoulders. He stood up, allowing only a small bit of his own magic to flow freely. He didn’t need to bother using much or even going into the place he stored Milla’s to accomplish what he wanted.

“Don’t flatter yourself. You are still a lesser witch even compared to the white rogue. The sooner you learn your place the better. And here’s a piece of advice. I wouldn’t sit here entertaining these old bastards when there are two prisoners in the dungeons.”

Akane moved from around the table and left the room. He had no love for his own flesh and blood, even less for the family he’d once defeated, let alone any of the other witches he worked along side. He moved through the halls heading for the one place he would be for a decent amount of time. It was nearing the time to continue where they left off and he was itching to ring the woman’s neck. His magic equally so.

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Akane could still hear Jacob’s comments as he left the room. He had to give it to the witch. He controlled himself rather well, but that wasn’t going to help him gain what he wanted. Jacob was still overlooking the whole point. Maybe he was wrong in his assessment or the boy was just playing stupid. Regardless it was time to teach him an important lesson.

Never underestimate another witch even one chained without magic. Especially not Xiuhcoatl. He is his mother’s child for what that is worth. Whenever the young black magic user did well, Akane wasn’t afraid to claim him, but any failures were placed on the woman. This betrayal should have been foreseen years ago. Milla had turned her back on her only friends and the last remaining member of her family. Why wouldn’t her son do the same thing to the organization that allowed his birth?

The black magic user laughed through the link connecting the two together. Jacob’s words were probably the funnies thing he’d learn all day, maybe even all week. But he was tired of playing nice with those beneath him. You have a lot to learn little witch. A lesson my son learned when he was in the cradle. You will never get anywhere in this world by simply following the orders given to you. Report me all you like. No one even your Raven has any control over me. I am a freelance witch with only a contact. Same as Milla, Xiuhcoatl, and Kyla. You gain that privilege by not following orders and the result coming out in your favor. Like taking down the largest threat to the Shadow Sage, the Salvia family and then having your offspring bring their magical daughter into the fold. Learn your place.

Normally he wouldn’t talk so much. He didn’t even talk as much to his wife as he had to Jacob. But he could see a lot of his old self in the boy. If he could get the boy to see reason much sooner than he had maybe the gray magic user wouldn’t have to be tied to another witch where your sole mission was to raise an extremely powerful magical child all the while still doing regular missions. Raising Xin hadn’t been the hard part, having to deal with Milla was what he hated.

Akane scoffed at himself as he cut the link on his end. If Jacob wanted to continue to talk then it was on him. But for now he was headed down to the dungeons. Likely he wouldn’t be the only one gathering there early. There was so much information he knew the elders wanted from the two of them that they wouldn’t waste too much time.