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Jasper Galen

"Mysteries and secrets define my past, but hope defines my future."

0 · 1,501 views · located in Vandose

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

Description

Name: Jasper Galen

Image

Quote: “I see your face but I know not who you are.”
Age: 24
Gender: Male

Magic: Yes, gray
Extent of control: His magic comes naturally without much effort, but he does need more refining. In general, he can't always distinguish between what he does with magic or other means.
Special Abilities: Jasper can speed up the Healing process of both humans and animals through manipulation of life energy, but he doesn’t get sick himself. He also has visions of another like him.
Marks: none

Place of Birth: Eastleigh, Asiali, Vandose

Skills: Through training with a well-known Apothecary most of his life, Jasper can identify all presently known poisons by smell and appearance in their raw form. He can also make medicine from raw materials wherever he goes.
Weapon(s): Gnarled wooden quarterstaff used for walking and fighting if necessary.

Appearance: Jasper is about 5'8" tall and slender with callused and herb-stained hands. Frequently he has to brush shaggy blond locks out of his chiseled face and blue eyes. As an Apothecary he wears a russet robe over his normal clothes including a green tunic and brown pants.

Personality: Jasper would prefer not to fight if he can help it. Despite this, he is very skilled in using his staff to defend himself. Generally Jasper is a private person that keeps his history and his goals to himself, but he would be willing to talk to people about superficial things and teach anyone about his work. He is also pretty generous with his time and has patience for most people.

BIO: Unlike others of his kind, Jasper doesn’t remember feeling a great deal of fear or threat in his life. Because his father’s business involved making healing potions and unguents, Jasper’s ability to heal others quickly and his lack of common sicknesses was attributed to his father’s skills and teaching. The boy was named his father’s heir and as such learned his father’s trade as soon as he was able to understand it. He was close to his father and his family life was fairly comfortable, but from the age of five he had strange dreams about a boy or man that looked like him but wasn’t. In innocence, he asked his mother about the dreams and she completely freaked out. It scared the boy and he never mentioned it again, but the dreams persisted despite efforts to forget them.

As a grown man and Master Apothecary, he has left home to make his own way and seek the answers to that question he had as a boy: “Who is this other man in my dreams?”

So begins...

Jasper Galen's Story

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: 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: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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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.

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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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.

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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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.

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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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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There had been times in Sylvana’s past when she’d wanted to die before. But she never could have imagined a more painful way to get there than what she was living now. Out of all the battles, everything she had lived through and overcome, this was to be her fate. Ironic really. The very place she joined to change her life for the better was what would ultimately take her life.

While Wyatt had by no means been spared from the torture, the majority of the punishment was on her shoulders. Somehow, somehow she had managed to keep her mouth shut. Screams were never out of the question no matter how much she’d tried to keep them in. Akane’s mental torment was probably one of the worst things she had to live through. He knew her parents. He’d fought against them once before. He’d helped to kill them once too. All the things and images he’d shown her had caused to her lose her stomach to the point of bile.

Everything hurt, but yet was numb. She could feel every single wound, tear, bruise, and yet at the same time, she felt nothing at all. She knew she was dying. It was easy to tell, but it would be a slow process that she knew the elders would drag out for as long as they could. But she could feel the day was coming to an end. Because they were so high up into the snow covered mountains, the sun went down long before the day had actually ended, which meant that the moon rose earlier too. It gave the night predators a much longer hunting time compared to their daylight comrades.

As if her internal clock was telling her to rest, that the day was over, she felt a shift in air. She sucked as much air into her lungs as she could even though it burned her throat and caused white hot agony to rip through her chest. She knew what she was feeling. It had been so long ago. But it had been the only way to win the fight. To save the world and every witch in it. Forget the normal people. The witches had been in more danger then than ever before. They alone had stopped it.

Now everything Wyatt had said made perfect sense.

A single tear fell down her face as she mumbled out, “I forgive you…” She could barely even hear herself speak. What she did hear was the sudden, dark laugh from the black magic user’s side of the room.

Wyatt’s mask had finally broken. He looked up at everyone in the room, a wicked smile on his face as he laughed at everyone present. His eyes were completely black as if he was holding onto his magic. Only it was the other way around. Without access to his magic, it was what was calling the shots, the male locked into the background where the beast normally resided.

Black magic swirled around his body completely uncontrolled and showing only a taste of the power Wyatt had kept hidden from everyone, especially the elders. His wounds healed almost instantly. Smirking at Raven, the male flexed his magic just enough to cause the chains holding him prisoner to shatter and then he was free.

Hell broke loose.

The other elders attempted to put him back into the caged bubble with no luck. The beast tore through them, uncaring about whether or not injuries they received killed them or not. Even Akane, the boy’s father, hadn’t known he’d inherited Milla’s moon trait as she’d lost it prior to the boy being conceived. He stood a better chance against his offspring, but even pulling on a second magic he fell to the wild magic. Wyatt stood over his father’s body, knowing he had to keep him alive just for the sake of Milla. He could finally see the truth that had been hidden from him since his birth, but couldn’t do anything about it.

There were only three conscious people left in the room. Two who weren’t threats and the other whom he wanted dead more than any other. He turned to face Raven.

“You should have learned your lesson to leave me alone years ago. I’ve been waiting for this since the night you took us to see your little experiments. Tell what elders remain why they lost their two greatest assets if any of you survive.” His voice came out in an animal like growl, completely different than the male’s normal tone. Wasting no time, the two went at each other, but it was no contest. With the full moon backing Wyatt’s black magic and him unable to control the beast that was his magic, the elder was on the floor within a few minutes.

Turning, he faced Jacob, the smirk back on his blood covered face. His own from the wounds and the injuries he’d caused to everyone in the room. He walked over to his former friend. He didn’t need to kill him or even hurt him. The boy wasn’t a threat to him. But other things would make it much more interesting. He flexed the magic, allowing the gray magic user and probably anyone within a few miles radius able to feel his magic.

“You still think you want this? Still think your magic is inferior to what this is?” He laughed as he lashed out to knock the boy out. He didn’t care what happened now as he turned to face the white light in the room. He’d stopped seeing her as another person and just the undercurrent of white magic that she held. Her own was trying to combat the darkness around it – to save him, even if she didn’t know it.

Wyatt stood in front of his childhood friend. The person who’d stood by him through everything. The smirk only widened as the beast raised Sylvana’s head up to look at him. He kept eye contact as he slammed his magic straight through her chest. She gasped out just as more blood ran down the side of her mouth. His hand fell and so did her head.

Then everything snapped.

“NO!” Wyatt screamed out as reality of everything that had happened within only a few minutes came to him. He looked around the room, panic dancing in his eyes. The beast was still fighting him for control, but he had to save Sylvana. He couldn’t touch her anymore. Her wounds were caused from black magic. Black couldn’t heal it only make it worse. The only magic that could heal her now was gray. But no healers existed within the Shadow Sage, except…

Jasper.

Wyatt used the power still surging around him until he found the gray magic user. Being thankful for once to the beast within his magic, he ripped open the door to the cell and destroyed any and all magical barriers within the room.

I need you now. Even through the mental link, his voice was strained. Knowing it would cost him later; he transported Jasper down into their cell. Right into the middle of the carnage, he had created. Heal her. He didn’t trust himself to speak anymore. He had taken the chains off and laid her body down on the floor. The pool of blood was thickening around her and the male’s chest tightened. He’d promised to protect her and he was going to be the reason she died.

Hearing footsteps outside of the cell, Wyatt wrapped his magic around all of their signatures, includes their weapons and bags that were locked up as they carried a specific scent unique to the group and they disappeared further up into the snow covered mountain a few days journey from their original destination.

If you wish to know the truth – follow. The beast projected to Jacob as the three witches had disappeared seconds before the door flew open.

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A harsh, cruel, resounding laugh pulled Jacob from his own attempt to shut out the world. At first he thought it was his master, though he never heard Raven laugh like that before.

That thought was quickly quashed with the sudden powerful pressure accompanying it. Heavy weight fell on him, and he gasped for air. This power sought only to crush and destroy. NO! He shouted in his mind, and his magic answered. A grey cloud rolled over his entire body and then appeared to turn to glass. Jacob could reach through the glass, but no others could reach in.

Wyatt broke the chains! The monster he became plowed through the elders and his father. The same father who was going to watch him die. Jacob snarled, and since his magic also wasn’t completely controlled, a shard of grey glass aimed for the father. He reeled it in, somewhat, not that anyone in the room fighting for their lives would notice.

His master fell to the beast, and Jacob swallowed a lump in his throat. Raven was the only father he ever knew.

Then the beast came for him! He pulled back defensively and pushed all his strength to shield himself if nothing else. He wasn’t going to die today! The beast didn’t attack, but pushed its own strength forward. That crushing strength! Jacob’s fear showed in his cold blue eyes, but he was indeed still alive. The monster pushed him away like a fly. He hissed as he hit the stone floor, curled up and protecting his head. The magic glass broke around him and he laid still.

Jasper too, far away from the proceedings, screamed and rammed his body against the hinges of his cage door. He didn’t have time for caution. Fear! Pain! Death! They pounded against him like heavy stones. He needed to heal. He needed to help!

Suddenly, the door ripped out of the wall. Jasper froze. Surely… Before he could finish the thought, he found himself in the middle of a white room stained with blood. It looked eerily similar to the room where that woman abused him every day since he arrived, but it had a variety of strange and terrifying contraptions. The six bodies scattered around the room captured his attention the most. Who or what would do this? The only person still on his feet was Wyatt. The healer shuddered. This was that terrible cold and darkness he felt when they met.

Heal her. A strange but pained voice pressed on his mind, directing his eyes to the one body in the room directly in front of him. It must be Sylvana, but her body was so damaged he almost didn’t recognize her. As a healer though, he couldn’t deny the request. He swallowed back both bile and tears, and kneeled down in the pool of her blood. It was a good thing he wore red robes over his clothes.

Closing his eyes, he pressed his right hand over her chest, where most of the blood was coming from, and rested his left hand on her head. Just like the last time he tried this, the magic pulled him under and he cried out, but he remained aware of himself too. He gritted his teeth against her pain. This felt worse than what Jacob did! Broken bones, terrible wounds, and bruises. Her heart!

Under the magic trance, Jasper’s body was outside of his control. The tears he tried to hide flowed freely. His stomach convulsed, but the bile did not fall on his patient. He could hear and see nothing beyond him, but he felt his brother, and pulled him in too. Jacob couldn’t resist in his unconscious state, but the magic did no harm to him. In the same way, it came to Jacob’s defense when he was in need, the magic bolstered up its other half. The twins would no longer be separated.

Jacob cried out and pulled up when the connection between them broke. The beast, his brother, and the white witch were gone. Abandoned again, he shouted, “Damn you all!”

The door burst open to his mother with a contingent of guards. He froze and met her eyes. The woman was only two inches shorter than him, with her grey-streaked brown hair pulled in a bun. She scanned the room and guards wrenched his arms behind him. As he was the last one standing, he got the blame again. He snarled and fought fruitlessly with the guards. Not again. He wouldn’t pay for Wyatt again! “I had nothing to do with this!” He shouted to his mother.

Because he was physically no match for these burly well-trained guards, he gave up temporarily and twisted his head to Raven’s body. “Look there. My master.” Pain edged his voice, but he refused to cry like his brother. “Why would I hurt him?”
Morgana, his mother, didn’t want to take orders from her adopted son, but she had reasons of her own for wanting to know. She tried to hide it, but her eyes darted in Raven’s direction, and a choked gasp came from her throat. She took a moment to recover, and her voice returned burning like poison. “What did happen?”

“A monster.” Jacob grunted back. “See for yourself.” He lowered his head and his stomach clenched. He despised letting his defenses down, but he had no choice if he wanted to get out alive. “See with my eyes,” he finally whispered and closed his eyes. Forcing his resistance back even as the first thorny probes pierced his mind, he clenched his teeth against the pain. The thorny probes forced him to relive those moments of terror, and he squirmed in the guard’s grip. No further than today, woman!

Stubborn child! She let him have his way that much though. “Very well. Let him go.” She said out loud to the guard holding him. Jacob rubbed his shoulders when released.

“Release me to avenge my master, and…” he paused and turned to Akane when he heard the big man groan. “I’ll get the information he wanted too.”

“What is that?” his mother interjected.

Jacob curled his lip in disgust. “I’ll tell him…” he pointed to Akane. “…and no one else. Master Raven didn’t want anyone to know but those in this room, and that one is the last one left.” Since the guard released him, he stalked over to Akane’s body. “I admit, I’m surprised he showed you mercy though. If I was in his shoes, I wouldn’t.” Jacob pressed one of his feet on one of Akane’s injuries, intending to induce greater pain, but he held himself back from killing the old man too. “Before I go, let me tell you something. I hated my father for abandoning me to die, but I have to grant him one thing. He didn’t stick around to watch it happen. You, on the other hand…” the slighter witch pressed his weight harder on the injury. “You would have done the deed yourself, if allowed. I hate you for that, but I have to thank you too. Your words at lunch yesterday set me on this new path.” Jacob released the man and returned to Morgana. “So, Mother, have I your permission to leave?”

Morgana met Jacob’s cold eyes, and swallowed. She saw something there she hadn’t before. “You realize you only have two options now: Success or death. Death either by the monster’s hand or ours.”

Jacob nodded solemnly, but that fierce look in his eye hadn’t wavered. He posed a question to her, and she answered but no others knew of the exchange. “Very well.” She directed one of her retinue of guards to make sure Jacob had everything he needed for his journey, and called the rest to help her prepare the bodies. “I will succeed,” the boy called back and thus answered the call of his heart and magic to meet his brother and party.

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The pristine colored snow around the three of the witches was turning red and pink around Sylvana as Jasper continued to work on her. Her skin was nearly the same color as their surroundings. She’d lost too much blood. Her body had been put through the ringer over the last two days.

Wyatt paced back and forth wearing a path down in the thick snow, but still it didn’t calm his nerves down. It only made the passing of time much more noticeable, enough so that his gut told him his best friend wasn’t going to pull through. The wind whipped through him and he winced. He could take the cold, but the others…

Putting himself to use was going to be the only thing to keep himself grounded. Going over to their stuff, he dug out the cloaks. He put Jasper’s around his shoulders before draping both his own and Sylvana’s over her ice cold frame. Finally with nothing left to do, he collapsed down across from the gray magic user.

His own pale hand reached out to touch the white magic user, but he stopped just short every time he got close. I have no right to touch her. No right to be near her at all. I failed her even worse than I thought I ever would. How could you ever forgive me for what I’ve done? All I tried to do was get us out of there. But without access to my magic, I couldn’t control it. So many years of fighting the inner magic and this is when I lose control. When I have none to begin with.

“Syl…Kyla… I’m so sorry.” Tears fell down the male’s face as black as the color of his magic. “I never meant… I’ve controlled the beast for so long, but without access to magic… Please, Kyla, please. You’ve pulled through so much more before. I’m not Eth. I’m not your brother.”

He’d never been so emotional before. His mother would have been stomping him into the ground for the way he was blubbering on. Before he’d ever been reunited with the white witch, whatever he did, he did. He was never sorry for anything. Until her. She’d opened his eyes to the way he was raised and taught him the other side of things. And now when all he wanted was the calm retreat, he was given the openness she’d taught him.

Being so high up the mountain, the wind whipping around them, pressing the cold down, they were easy targets for the creatures that called the place home especially in the pitch blackness. As much as he hated to leave them, he had to find wood or at least something he could burn even if it meant poop.

So Wyatt set out and returned a few minutes later. He set up a small fire between a couple of rocks so the heat would stay trapped within the small space and keep the group warmer. Next he moved their supplies to the small base camp and then returned to Jasper and Sylvana. All he could do now was wait for the gray magic user to finish trying to heal his best friend. And then hope against every fiber in his being that she was going to survive.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

The smell of death and blood filled Akane’s nostrils before he even opened his eyes. He was alive. Whatever small miracle that meant. Being killed by his own flesh and blood would have royally sucked, but as it stood being defeated by him as a lot worse. Of course, Akane knew for a fact that his son was stronger than him, but he had never seen power like that before. Even drawing on Milla’s black magic, it hadn’t been enough to stop him.

But he knew exactly why he was still alive. The boy would have recognized the feel of his mother’s magic. He now knew that he controlled the woman’s magic. A damn shame that secret couldn’t have stayed away from him. It wasn’t like he didn’t already hate him and while he wasn’t too fond of his mother either, the boy hated his sire a lot more.

Akane growl out as Jacob came over and pressed down onto one of the wounds making the already searing pain worse. Why hadn’t he gotten tossed around too? It wasn’t like they were friends or anything. Why spare the gray magic user? He wasn’t going to ask especially not with the male’s foot in his bleeding wounds.

It was, however, Jacob’s words that caused some of the pain to lesson. He laughed as he raised himself to his feet, allowing his black magic to heal himself. It would take time, much slower than if another user did it, but he preferred not having to lean on anyone else.

“Good to know you took something to heart,” he smiled as he straightened completely up to his full height despite the pain he was feeling. “But unlike your weak father, I would much rather have done the deed myself of killing the boy. I never wanted him in the first place, but orders are orders. Go find him and learn his truths. Just be careful what you wish for.”

The black magic user didn’t wait around. With all the elders dead including Raven, which was a major blow, he was the highest ranking official in the tower. He wasn’t taking orders from anyone. Let the brat do as he wanted. He didn’t care. What he cared about was finding Milla before news of what happened leaked to her from anyone but himself. Once outside of the room, he transported himself away to where he knew she was, based solely on the connecting feeling of their magic.

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Jasper also grew pale as he fought both the pain and the consuming power of his untrained magic. Even with the fur cloak Wyatt draped over him, his body trembled. Sweat dripped from his head and face, landing on Sylvana's body. As it landed it seemed to melt into her skin. A sharp cold fear lanced in his stomach. What if he couldn't do it? What if in trying to save her, he died himself? Those thoughts only increased the trembling and sympathy pains plaguing him. No! He couldn't let those fears win!

Even though the cruel woman in the tower took away his freedom and caused him pain, one thing she gave him was a better knowledge of his own magic. He could feel that magic consuming his body and Sylvana's. The magic was hot and powerful, while the ground below him was cold and numbing. Inside the consuming magic, he couldn't move, but his thoughts remained his own. He focused those thoughts on healing her most life-threatening injuries. Anything left after the magic had done its work could be handled manually, will be handled with the knowledge his father taught him. They will both survive. It was still a strain on him, but his fears and doubts no longer got in the way.

During what felt like many hours, the healer felt more pain than he knew in his entire life. It hurt to breathe; it hurt to move. His head felt heavier than the mountain where they landed, but he couldn’t give up. Wyatt, Sylvana and his family needed him now more than ever. He was so tired, so tired… He collapsed next to the girl with an arm around her for heat.



Even though he heard the older black witch's words, Jacob forced himself not to respond. The old man confirmed Jacob's suspicions about him and laughed about it. Well, he decided, for my next freelance mission, I'll finish the job Wyatt failed. So far this freelance thing felt surprisingly easy. Of course, his mother knew she was no match for him, and Raven... Jacob swallowed tightly and more vigorously tossed his traveling gear together. I am NOT my brother! Not only were his emotions interfering with him, but he felt his magic was fighting again too, which only worsened his mood. He dealt with that by waspishly ordering the guard to help him pack his bags. His mother's orders were to make sure Jacob had what he needed, so ordering the pest to help him was perfectly within those orders.

After both Akane and Jacob left, Morgana had her own struggles. She didn't let any of the remaining guards touch Raven. He'll curse her for her weakness, but she didn't want any strangers touching her brother. She held one of his pale hands in both of hers, and rested it against her face. He tried to pull away. He's still alive! Hmmf! Jacob wasn't paying as much attention as he usually does, and Morgana smirked. The consequences she told him still stood, but he'd probably like to know the truth. The truth. Akane said something about truth before he transported himself away.

"Brother, you're a bloody mess. Had both me and that pet of yours convinced you were dead." She let go of his hand and rested it over his chest. If he was to stay alive, she had work to do. The guards officially confirmed the other elders were dead, which could be expected, as both were at least ten years older than Raven, and physically weaker in general. One of Raven's own complaints about other elders was that they didn't put enough effort into their physical fitness. Morgana frowned as she attempted to patch his injuries. She noticed at least one thing that would keep Raven from his own fitness routine, but she kept it to herself as she transported them to a room where she knew more of his pets could be found. Most of Raven's pets were grey magic users with varying strengths. Jacob was stronger and older than these, but they were stuck with them."Children," she called to the startled young witches, "Take care of your master." She left them no room for questions and disappeared again.

Finally he was ready to go, and met Morgana again. "I'm already on a mission and I won't stop until its done. Don't interfere!"
The woman smirked again, this boy. "I won't interfere. I just wanted to bring you something, so you can contact me with your progress on the mission." She handed him a small hand mirror.

"Is this one of...?" the boy choked on the last word.
"Yes, he wants you to have it."
"What if..."

"You said yourself you won't fail, so why should you be afraid of your master's gift? You wanted to go on this mission to avenge him and get the information he wants, so why would I or anyone else want to stop you? Press your hand to the face and see for yourself how this gift works and why it was given." Jacob did so and his mother stepped out of his path. In the mirror, he saw Raven, as he was now. Alive and being tended by other grey witches, some Jacob knew. He smiled a genuine happy smile at the sight. "It works two ways. You can see into this tower, and we can see you, so step carefully, boy!" Jacob pressed his hand against the mirror again and it went blank. His master is alive, but he still didn't trust him. Hmmf! Well, i'll show them all!
"Thank you," he spoke aloud and transported himself out of the tower. The mirror he tucked in his knapsack and kept it there as he followed the call of his magic to the mountain where his enemies waited.

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While Wyatt wasn’t exactly known for his patience, his mother had instilled in him the ability to appear calm even when his insides were a wreck. Hell, she’d even taught him how to control his insides especially when in battle. But having to sit by and do nothing while he watched Jasper try and heal Sylvana was probably one of the worst things he’d ever been through. His nerves were a wreck and had he been any other person, he probably would have been pacing through the thick blanket of snow with sweat running down his face.

It seemed like an eternity had passed before a stir in the air alerted the black magic user that anything had changed. He studied the other male more closely seconds before he lost consciousness. With the only person who could heal his friend now out of commission, he could only hope that the white magic user had been healed enough to survive.

Moving the few steps over towards them, Wyatt bent down and picked up Sylvana first and moved her over to the fire. He adjusted the cloak around her to keep her as warm as possible and then headed back for Jasper. He did the same for the male once he was near the fire. Knowing he would need to prepare food for him to regain his strength, he didn’t want to make it too earlier, not knowing when he would stir.

But at least Sylvana had seemed fine. Her heart rate had been steady beneath his finger tips and her skin tone had even regained some color. He knew she probably wasn’t safe yet, but at least for now she wasn’t dying. The scene from the dungeon replayed over and over in his mind. He could still hear the beast laughing at him the whole time. A lifetime of fighting it back by always being in control and one slip up had nearly cost him everything. He didn’t feel remorse over the lives of the elders. They probably deserved much more than they had been given.

And then there was Akane. He’d have been dead too had it not been for their short fight. His magic had sensed something familiar inside of Akane’s magic – Milla’s. And even though the black magic user wasn’t sure why the beast still hadn’t killed the man, he was extremely grateful. Until he could get to the bottom of that situation, he needed to make sure the man who sired him stayed alive. After that, he would be fair game again. Only this time, the level of pain he would put him through would rival anything he had dished out on the boy growing up. Simply because he had touched Sylvana.

But for now, all the black magic user could do was sit and wait for the other two to regain consciousness and tend to the fire. Alone with his thoughts had never been a good thing, but it was time he stopped running from the creature he feared the most and did his best to tame it – his own magic.


((sorry it took so long.))

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For a few moments, the beast didn't seem to realize he was there, but Jacob didn't push. He simply waited to be properly acknowledged. It's not like he was in any hurry. He had no deadline on this mission. The most important thing was that all of them got out of the cold and away from night hunters. Yes, all of them. If he wanted to be on Wyatt's good side, he couldn't harm either of those he considered his inferiors. The smaller witch hid a grimace at that.

With them both unconscious presently, it was too easy to finish them off, and he wouldn't be as messy about it as the elders. All it took was stopping the heart, which he was perfectly capable of doing on his own. It would even be merciful compared to what he witnessed these last couple days. Mercy? When did he care about mercy? He glared at his brother's face, not that the idiot could see it. What's that? Did he flinch? In an unplanned use of his life-sight, Jacob caught a slight flare up of his twin's energy. Even knocked out, his twin recognized him, and he didn't like it. Jacob ground the toe of his boot in the snow next to him. Playing nice will be more difficult than he expected.

Quietly he turned back to Wyatt, when the beast answered him. Apparently, the monster didn’t want him dead yet. He even sounded tired, which surprised the smaller grey witch. “I see.” It was simply an acknowledgement that the black witch spoke to him. There was another long silence, before the other spoke again. Jacob merely nodded. Even though the words weren’t a question, he could guess Wyatt wanted to know what he planned, but the grey witch wouldn’t explain his reasons out in the open.

Suddenly, a stronger voice replaced the tired one, an angry cold voice. Jacob jumped as he felt the tinge of fear again. Would he kill him anyway? No, Wyatt was looking behind him. Behind him? Slowly, he turned his head not sure what to expect.

Seriously?! As if spying on him with a magic mirror wasn’t enough, someone sent a stupid human babysitter after him too. He growled under his breath and balled his hands in fists, but he still knew he was physically no match for a guard. For the sake of expediency, he incapacitated the guard as quickly as possible, but didn’t kill him. Someone else will most likely do the job for him, anyway. This was Jacob’s absolute last chance to make a name for himself, and it was a fair guess anyone with him would face the same consequences he did. “There done. “ He looked back to Wyatt and rubbed his hands together. “Even if I left him be, he wouldn’t be able to follow us to where I plan on going, but I don’t want nosy jerks around either. So if you want me to help you find a safer campsite, get the wild witch and I’ll hold the girl.” He paused and met Wyatt’s black eyes, anticipating a protest. “She’s lighter than he is, and I’m obviously not as strong as you.”

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Knowing that Jacob was right about getting them to another place, Wyatt had no choice but to yield. Only he wasn’t going to roll over like an obedient dog that he’d been raised to be. He stood with a shake of his head. There was no way he was going to allow the gray magic user to be the one with Sylvana, but on the same token he wasn’t sure if he could trust himself with her anymore. He’d betrayed her in the worst possible manner and yet he knew she’d hold no grudge against him.

The black magic user glanced to the sky where the full moon was slowly starting its decent. With the moon would go his increased powers. Everything would go back to normal and the beast would be contained. He had access to his magic and his control was back in place, but he felt like he was shattered into a million pieces. His own magic had managed to do in a single second what the elders hadn’t been able to do in days. Break him.

“I’ll take both of them if you’ll take the gear, but know if this is a trap, I will make what the elders did child’s play.” The soldier was still present under the mask. He couldn’t afford to allow it to slip now. He couldn’t trust Jacob’s intentions even now. They would never truly be safe until the other learned the truth for what it was. How he reacted and did would say more about his character than anything else. Would he stay loyal to the organization or would he break away as the other two had done.

Without another word, Wyatt went over and put Jasper onto his back, using a piece of extra material from his bag as a strap to hold him on as well as the cloak to stay up. Next he bent down and picked up the white magic user bridal style. He could have used his magic and saved his physical strength, but he didn’t dare trust himself yet.

The only thing going in their favor was that Jacob had taken out his babysitter and well at least now the two unconscious people would get his body warmth while they were out in the cold.

He’d left Jacob to gather up the gear and put the fire out before turning to him, “Lead the way.”

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After his tirade, Jacob turned away from Wyatt and poked the fire, trying to restore a version of normalcy for himself. He wasn't used to expressing his feelings like this, and it scared him. Inside the tower, it was dangerous policy to tell your superiors if you don't like them especially. Questioning orders could be the end of you, and of course any weakness was not allowed. Was it a weakness for him to trust Wyatt in the first place? He gritted his teeth and dropped a stick in the fire. He didn't have time for that!

What matters now, is he will finally get answers to his questions from five frackin' years ago! And when this mission was complete, he'd have more information than anyone else, and finally be trusted at home. How could they NOT trust him after he kills their rogues and gets all information they want, however useless it seems? Much better, now he really can be calm. He picked up another stick and turned to Wyatt over his shoulder.

The Witches' Fortress? Why did he want to go there? The rest of his old friend's statement was even stranger. "That doesn't make sense. How can someone be a target before they're even born? Even those born with magic can't even be confirmed as witches until their powers express." He paused and looked at his own hands, thinking about when his power expressed, and then shook himself out of the reminiscing. "Even if you expressed magic early, you still need training before it's worth anything. Case in point." He pointed to Jasper on the ground.

"Because he's never had any training, any time he uses his magic it totally incapacitates him. He's easy bait for a witch hunter. I'm surprised he even lasted this long. I'm also surprised you want to keep him around. Maybe your ... father, " he spat the word. "Maybe's he's right in saying you've gone soft. Five years ago you would have considered him dead weight and cut him off already." He paused again and then mumbled, "yet you killed the elders." He shivered and moved away to gather his supplies. "you won't..." Dammit! He was showing his weakness too much! It's wise to be wary, but stupid to tell an enemy you're scared. Recovering somewhat, he added, "You won't have to worry about anyone bothering us here, and your pets won't wake until sunset at best. Might as well get some sleep."

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Jacob was retreating away after he’d yelled out, so Wyatt did his best to give him his space. It wasn’t like he could go somewhere else, so just appearing normal was about the best he could do. When he thought the other male was done brooding over the fire, it appeared as if his words had finally clicked in the gray magic user’s head.

“It’ll all make sense when we finally tell you everything. And believe me; the elders know a hell of a lot less about magic than you think they do, especially since they just woke up one day as adults with theirs.”

Wyatt sat back and listened to Jacob tell him how he should have done things. It was funny being able to see just how well the mask he’d fashioned for the Shadow Sage had actually fooled everyone. Maybe that was why his betrayal came as much a shock. But yet within seconds, Jacob was back to acting like he normally did. He was cutting off the conversation and telling him to sleep.

Fat chance of that happening. It wasn’t just not trusting Jacob. His body never needed much sleep. So resting his eyes would be as far as the black magic user went towards sleep. He would still recover strength and his magic just at a slower rate.

“Jacob, you might not believe this, but I never cut anyone who was dead weight back then. You never saw where I took them or what I did with them. I’ve changed less in the past five years than you have. I see now she was right that we should have told you, but your love for the organization was too strong. You never started to question things until now and for that I am sorry.”

But he was going to rest and wait on both Sylvana and Jasper to wake up. Then Jacob would get the answers he so desperately sought, even if they weren’t going to be what he wanted to hear. Only how could he explain what happened in the dungeon? How could he explain what it was like to fight his magic every day without letting him feel the beast?


______________________________________________________________________________________________________


A low groaning started out in the back of her throat. Only it didn’t hurt so bad. More like a severe case of cotton mouth. Her eyes felt heavy as she fought to open them. When she did Sylvana wasn’t quite sure where she was. The last place she remembered being at was locked in the dungeon of the northern most tower of the Shadow Sage. Where were they now? What had happened since she’d lost consciousness? Just how long had she been out?

The first thing she noticed was the fire going not too far away and then the fact that it looked like they were surrounded by walls of ice. She thought it would be cold, but the fire was giving off a nice amount of heat within the space. Another groan tore from her throat as she forced herself to sit up.

Wyatt was leaning against of the walls, his arms crossed at his chest. A normal resting position for him. He was looking at her, asking if she wanted help, but afraid to move towards her. Why?

Across the way was Jacob. What was he doing here? And then there was Jasper not too far from where she was at. Why were they all in an ice cavern? Was she still dreaming?

Sylvana shook her head as she fought to get into a sitting position. Her mind was a whirlwind of activity. She remembered being suspended again. Her shoulders had been on fire and then laugher. An evil, twisted laugh. Finally, it dawned on her. Without being able to use his magic, Wyatt hadn’t been able to control it when the full moon had hit. But what came next?

She glanced over to her childhood friend who refused to meet her gaze. He’d done something he wasn’t proud of, but what? The scene was a blur in her mind. There were grunts, groans, cries of pain and the moans of the dying. She could see new blood added to where her own had laid. Then she saw a tall, dark figure completely shrouded in black coming at her. She remembered the words just on the edge of her throat about forgiveness and then nothing but pain.

The white magic user crawled painfully over to where Wyatt was sitting, grabbed his head with both her hands on either side, forcing him to look at her. His black eyes were down casted. He was ashamed for having lost control.

“Xin,” her voice was forceful despite the lingering soreness covering her entire body. “It wasn’t your fault. The moment the moon rose, you were gone. I will never fault you for something out of your control.” The male started to protest, but she cut him off. “And I don’t want to hear your lame excuse about ‘I should have had control no matter the situation’ crap. Without access to your magic you have no control over what it does. Now stop.” She leaned forward and brushed her lips against his before pulling back.

Wyatt’s hands had clenched his pant legs. Not from the action itself, but to keep himself from reacting. Jacob might have believed he’d run away with the white magic user, but that day in the woods when he’d attacked the source of magic he felt, had been the first time in five years they’d seen each other.

Sylvana pulled back and as if for the first time noticing or rather remembering there were two other people there, her face flushed red and she moved away to lean back against her own portion of the ice wall.

“What are we doing here?”

“Waiting for both you and Jasper to wake up. We also need to tell him the truth.”

The girl’s eyes widened and she looked at him as if he’d become a devil of old lore, her head shaking as quickly as she could make it.

“No, no, no.”

“We have to. We should have done it years ago like you wanted.”

“He’s changed too much. He’s under their control completely now. All of our hard work of taking his missions and giving him the stuff that kept him under the radar went down the drain. He’s been exposed to the evil we tried to keep him from…”

Suddenly she remembered the male in question was still there and her face turned an even darker red. She sunk into herself as she’d exposed something she knew he probably wasn’t going to like and that Wyatt was right. They had to tell him.

“Fine. But if he decides he still wants to work for them, you know what we have to do.”

The black magic user nodded his head in understanding.

Jacob would have to die.

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"I'm stronger than I was five years ago," Jacob mumbled as he curled up in a blanket and unconsciously separated himself from the rest of the group. He wasn't strong enough to stop what happened in the dungeon, though. Was he strong enough for what he set out to do? He curled up tighter, but said no more. There was nothing he could say in response to the elders insult. Because he always had his magic, he was incapable of comprehending that magic could suddenly appear later in life. Nothing Wyatt said made much sense to him right now, but the only thing he could do was wait for the girl.

Hmmf! Why shouldn't he love the organization that saved him from freezing to death, raised him, and trained his magic? Shadow Sage was his family, whether Wyatt liked it or not. Yes, Jasper was related to him in blood, but abandoned him just like his father. As a result, Jacob had no attachments to any blood relatives. If it weren't for the magic, they would have completely forgotten about him. He didn't know how, but he was absolutely certain that his twin only found him out here because of the magic. Why wait so long, though? Nineteen years! He knew about him for nineteen years. Why didn't he come for him sooner? Biting his tongue, he completely turned away from everyone. They can't see any sign of what's going on in his head, and he needed to focus on the task at hand anyway. Jacob closed his eyes and waited for the spinning wheels in his head to slow down and let his body rest.

Several hours later, a painfully familiar sensation came to Jasper's attention. This time, he didn't rush though. He remained still until the worst of the pain and dizziness passed. Ugh! How could he finish his job like this? With a groan, he rolled over and absently registered the different texture of the ground below him. It didn't seem as hard as the stone he remembered from his cage, and made a crunching sound when he moved. Snow! Damn! How long was he out? Why wasn't he cold? How did he get outside in the first place? He opened his mouth and closed it again. His throat hurt, but he thought he heard low voices nearby.

Keeping his eyes closed, since he remembered how painful light was last time, he crawled a little closer. The cloak wrapped over him slipped off his shoulders. Without thinking, he opened his eyes to put it back in place. He hissed and squinted against the light reflecting on white walls. Wait! How was he on snow and surrounded by walls? Pressing a hand against his head, he attempted again to speak and failed.

"Take this," an irritable yet also familiar voice brought him back and plopped something warm in his free hand.

Jacob gritted his teeth against what he overheard the girl saying about him. Both Wyatt and the girl's embarrassment at his presence, also reinforced the fact he already knew they were lovers. Forcing himself, he pushed a wooden bowl towards her, but he didn't actually put it in her hand, like he did for his stupid disoriented brother. After he woke up from his own nap, he started cooking a hunter's stew and toasted some bread with honey over the fire. "Eat, then talk." He turned to Wyatt, "and in addition to the questions I asked earlier, I also want to know why you think you had to protect me. I lived in Shadow Sage my entire life, and both of you were outsiders. Granted, I was still an apprentice when you arrived, but I'm pretty sure I knew more about my family than you thought."

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Graciously taking the warm bowl of food, Sylvana sat with it cupped between her fingers just staring down at it. This wasn’t going to be easy to do. She wasn’t even sure where to begin with the story. Going straight into what Jacob wanted to know was likely to confuse him more than anything.

Finally, she started munching on her food glad that the meal was giving her a reprieve to try and think about how to go about the whole situation. It would have been a lot easier to do five years prior, but now there was nothing that could be done about it, save to get it over with.

“For you to fully understand everything, you’re going to need to know where magic actually came from.” Wyatt began.
The white magic user looked over at him. Once upon a time it had been her telling him the story while they sat in the open field having just ended their first fight with the two blue magic users. This was her lesson to teach.

“Once upon a time there was a name named Gordon,” she laughed at herself. This wasn’t a fairy tale. “Gordon craved power above all else. He devoted his life to finding it and searched all over the kingdom eventually learning to harness said power. It was found within specific areas, each one different from the last.

The first magic he ever created was blue. But because he was so power hungry it only satisfied for so long. He continued his search until he had white magic. Only even with these two people didn’t fear him. So he went until he found and harnessed black magic.”

Sylvana sighed lightly as she took a small bite of her food. She was skipping out on a lot of details, like where each of the powers had been found. She didn’t think they were important in the long run at least not to the whole of the story they had to tell.

“When even the black magic failed to keep him happy, he started playing around and experimenting. He alone created gray magic only possible in their base forms. You see normally the two would fight it out until one magic over came the other, but in a pure state the two merge perfectly together.

But Gordon was just a man and even with all his powers he couldn’t live forever. As he was nearing death, he wanted a way to preserve his magic. Shadow Sage has it all wrong. They search for the crystals of the Witches Three, but they aren’t… what they search for were Gordon’s stones, each one containing the powers of the magic spread across the land in hope no one would ever find them.

Only you see, the elders know the stones don’t exist anymore because they ordered their destruction.” Sylvana shook her head as her mind wandered further into the story. Where the crystals were actually destroyed and all the effects it had afterwards. A place she would eventually get to, but that still cut too close to home.

“Over time, long after Gordon had died, the stones started leaking powers into the nearby populations. Its why there are still certain areas today where one type of magic is seen most. Except blue. It’s still a mystery even to us. We’ve only seen two people with it and they were twins. But here’s where it gets interesting. You see, so long as the stones were intact, the powers people received were limited until something called The Counter was born.

The Counter had both the powers of black and white later on in his life. He wasn’t born with the powers. He received them and the title after having died and been brought back under magical meanings into the form of a cat. A cat who traveled with a woman named Soren who had only white magic since the time of childhood. That man was my grandfather and the woman my mother.”

“My own mother had her own reincarnated companion in the form of a wolf. She had black magic. Milla.” Wyatt interjected.

“You see, both of our mothers had powers beyond what anyone had ever seen. And now the villagers began to fear the magic. Curse it. They were always hunted.”

“Meanwhile unknown to almost everyone, people who had woken up one morning with the ability to do things no one else could started forming a group called the Shadow Sage, where only black magic users were allowed to join. They didn’t have very much power and they sought to increase their numbers and powers through training. Pure in nature, the good members including those of white and gray magic created the Witches’ Fortress to train the new witches so they wouldn’t cause problems in society.”

Sylvana nodded her head slightly at the black magic user’s words. He knew more about the organization than she did. He had literally been born to serve it.

“But both of our mothers traveled the world freely. They didn’t know what was coming. But they had their stones. A white and a black one. They were called Counterparts, having received the most powers from the stones. The Counterparts were the most powerful beings in the world. And technically there four, but only three ever found. Just like there were four stones and maybe only one left intact.”

She hoped they weren’t over whelming either of the two gray magic users. This was only the beginning of the story Jacob wanted to hear. If he couldn’t handle the beginning of magic then he was never going to accept where the story turned and the evil that had possessed the minds of those who were in control.