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Jasper Galen

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

0 · 1,500 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: Character Portrait:
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One thing Jasper had no trouble with was eating. Once he smelled the food in his hand, he devoured it. Before Sylvana even touched hers, he finished half of his. Never before was he so hungry, and neither did he question it right now. The meal improved his mood and situation immediately. He could look up without pain, and much of his dizziness faded.

Returning to the outside world, he noticed that Sylvana hadn't eaten much of her own meal and opened his mouth to ask her how she felt, but then she started telling the story that Jacob apparently asked to hear while he was out of commission.

Jasper said nothing while she spoke. The beginning of magic? The healer had no knowledge or experience of magic, except that it scared people, before meeting these two. Any knowledge at all was water in the desert for him. Because he had no previous experience or biases, he easily accepted Sylvana spoke the truth, but he still had questions of course.

His twin was a different story. Jacob still didn’t comprehend the idea of not being born with magic, and frequently shook his head during the speech. On top of that, the girl was talking about magic simply being found or created by one man and witches who control more than one type of magic. The one thing he did fully comprehend was what Wyatt said. “I know for a fact there are at least one dozen grey witches in the Northern Tower alone. Even though it was founded by black witches it is NOT just open to other black witches.”

Jasper gave his brother a sideways glance and shook his head. "What does who's allowed into Shadow Sage now have to do with the story?" He paused then as the paler twin's comment, however obnoxious it was, only brought more questions. "Why did they only want black witches?" The healer had none of the biases Jacob did; and therefore no issues, outside of the fear, regarding the color of his own magic. Despite the oddity of a single man finding or creating different types of magic, which honestly Jasper didn't fully understand either, he would be proud to have either grey or blue magic. As far as he did understand, they were the purest forms of magic.

Asking the first question stirred up all the others he held back, and Wyatt now had a taste of Jasper's overwhelming curiosity. Last time he went on a rapid-fire interrogation spree only Sylvana was available, because Wyatt was busy with Jacob. "If they ordered the stones destroyed, why do they still claim to be looking for them? Why did they want to destroy them? Which one is left? You said each of your mothers had a stone, but three of four have been found. Who's the third owner of a stone? Are they safe? Are your mothers safe?"

When he paused to take a breath, he stared at his hands and remembered what was said about the Witches' Fortress. In a more sober tone, he finished, "You also said the Witches' Fortress was founded by grey and white witches so there wouldn't be problems. Is it truly dangerous to be a wild witch?"

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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"That is because your magic is black based. His," Wyatt pointed towards where Jasper was sitting. "is likely white based." Sylvana understood what he was saying as her father's gray magic was also black based. But she sighed as Jasper's question knowing she was going to have to explain part of the story she had left out - where the magic had been found.

"Normally it wouldn't matter. Magic is magic. Only each one was found in different places around the kingdom. Black magic came from one of the worst war torn areas that ever existed to date. It made it powerful and dark. It made people fear it. What better way to rule over other witches and humans? No one feared white magic when it came from the remains of the holyest people in the world. Until people saw that they could still do all the same things regardless of the magic type.

They destroyed the stones because at the time it was believed that those who held the most power from them, The Counterparts, would die when the stones were gone. Why wouldn't they want to take out the two biggest threats to their organization and their goals?" The white magic user asked with a small smile on her face. They would be getting to that part of the story soon enough.

"They send people out to look for them so it would never be discovered that they had two of them destoryed and as a result the one they held was destroyed too. The third stone belonged to a gray magic user. The fourth even we haven't heard about it being found, but we would have to check the cavern to be sure; it was the blue stone." Wyatt took over knowing most of the history from his own questions many years ago. It seemed so long ago now, but he had once been in their shoes.

When the final question came out, the black magic user frowned and shook his head. "There's no one there anymore. The three leaders gave themselves up trying to save the vast population when Shadow Sage killed the heir. Everyone else either fled or was put to death by the king. It's been empty ever since but all the training knowledge is still there."

"I need to finish a bit more. It should help. I hope." Sylvana muttered as she took a bit more of her food to calm her nerves. Never before, outside of Wyatt, had she told anyone the whole truth. "Milla and Soren traveled together. They were friends if you wanted to call them that. One day they ran into a man named Ondin. He was a gray magic user and none too nice. But they all three ended up together. Milla didn't trust Ondin and Ondin believed Milla would betray them.

Somewhere along the line of their travels, Milla met a man named Akane who worked for Shadow Sage. He brought her on board to their side and then things started to go down hill. The elders ordered the destruction of the white and gray stones. It would take out both Soren and Ondin then no one would be strong enough to stand up to them again. Only their plan didn't work so well. Yes, the stones were gone and with it their powers, but they weren't dead. I can't tell you everything about this part because it goes back even further. Just know that my family has guarded a sacred object for generations. With it they got their powers back, Milla's stone destoryed and Milla's brother back into a human form. Remember he was the wolf that traveled with her."

"Milla kept her powers because the elders had taken her magic from it. No one knew where until now." Wyatt's hands clenched into fists. He'd only found out because the beast had been uncaged. He'd felt it then. His father would die by his own hand. He'd see to it. "We'll save that for later."

"My family went about recovering and Milla had gone back with Akane to the Shadow Sage. But the elders were worried. What would happen if the white and gray Counterparts had children? They feared the possible magic any child would have. Because with the stones gone, the magic was allowed to reign free as it once had. No longer were the amounts controlled. One person could get the smallest amount and another become the most powerful in the world."

"So they ordered my parents to have a child. Only their first didn't have the correct about of black magic and was deemed a failure. They still use her, but she's not me. Six years later they had me and were forced to marry and raise me in secret to eventually serve the organization when I was ready."

"Meanwhile, my parents had Rhys first, the same age as his sister Jord. Then Eth came two years later. I would be born three months early four years after him. So yes, because I came early, I'm older than him." Sylvana managed a weak smile, taking another bite. They had skipped a lot of the story, but the finer details weren't needed.

"Both of us had extreme levels of powers, at least according to legends. But the Shadow Sage had someone to fight against me should they ever need and he only lived about a mile and a half from our family's mansion."

How many more questions and disbelief had they created? They hadn't even gotten to their dealings with the blue magic users. This was only history, not the present. The Shadow Sage was still going behind their members' backs and betraying them. Using them and they hadn't even made it there yet.

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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"Black-based, white-based What does that even mean?" If grey magic is formed from the purest forms of both black and white magic, according to what Sylvana said earlier, how could.... Jasper paused in his thought process and realized he answered his own question. He chuckled to himself. White-base and black-base meant one or the other was stronger in the mix. So white-based holy magic? That's what his incredible healing powers were? He never lost a patient in his entire life, and returned Sylvana and perhaps even that little boy poisoned with too strong a potion from the brink of death.

Jacob interrupted his brother's calm analysis of the statements. He jumped up and started pacing in the space he allotted for himself. "Stop it! Stop lying!" He shouted and grabbed his head. After a few more minutes of irritated grumbling, he turned back with a completely different demeanor. Throwing up his hands like he was begging, he pleaded, "Shadow Sage doesn't destroy other witches because they're different, but because they prove themselves untrustworthy..." He paused to glare at Wyatt, and then turned to the ground and continued, "...or not strong enough to do what is required." He turned to Sylvana. "They want to restore the witches back to their proper glory. We have powers that humans can't use and don't understand, and because of that they hate us. Because they hate us, we have to fight them to protect ourselves. Why can't YOU understand?" He sent a glare over all three of them, and remained standing. Why did this discussion induce the same agitation he had a few days ago that wouldn't let him sleep?

His twin, unfortunately also felt that agitation, and reached for his head again. Ugh! Jacob's attitude was hurting him. "Jacob...please, calm down." This was the first time Jasper actually spoke his brother's name in his presence. Despite Jacob's aggressive attitude, the healer's voice was completely calm and even reassuring, but the stubborn brother refused any assurances.

"You don't know anything!" Then he moved to smack Jasper, but didn't take into account that because he is a wild witch, Jasper always depended more on his physical skills than his magic. He also had significantly more experience dealing with temperamental children, which is what he believed Jacob was acting like right now, though he kept those thoughts to himself. Jasper grabbed Jacob's wrist, before the blow landed, and pulled his brother down without hurting him.

"You are correct that I don't know anything, and because of my ignorance, I need you to sit down and calm down so I can understand something. I'll be perfectly happy to hear what you have to say AFTER Sylvana and Wyatt are finished." He gave a mild smirk, and added, "As for being untrustworthy, you haven't proven yourself very trustworthy yet."

Jacob gritted his teeth, and tried to squirm out of his twin's grasp, but only once he gave up did Jasper release him. He pulled away from the group again, only more agitated and embarrassed, because his 'weak' brother outdid him, but he did quiet to let the annoyance hear.

The healer returned to his own food, while the rest of his questions were answered. The statement about the Witches' Fortress saddened him though. No teachers were left, but their supplies remained. Maybe that would be enough to help him use his magic and remain conscious. He didn't need to hear his brother's earlier damning assessment of his powers to know that he needed training.

Looking up, he said curiously, "Blue magic isn't running rampant like the other three, because its stone is still intact? But shouldn't the magic of the stone still be leaking into the population where it's located?"

Jacob interrupted again during the story of Milla and Sylvana's family, but he was more controlled. "That means..." He bit his lip and flushed a little, "Your father is Akane Sumner." The slight grey witch's eyes went wide. All his life, he was afraid of the names Akane Sumner and Milla Silas, but when he actually faced Akane in person, he threatened him...TWICE!

If he wanted to, Akane could have killed him for insolence. Then he shook his head. The rest was lies, so Wyatt's parentage must also be a lie. Besides, if their own black magic users were powerful enough to build up all the towers and bring so many other black and grey users into their ranks, why would they need Wyatt as a weapon? On the other hand, how was Wyatt so powerful that he killed two elders and came close to killing a third? Akane and Milla are known to be very powerful witches, powerful enough to be elders even. But because Wyatt did kill those two elders, that meant... Jacob gritted his teeth again. He can't let his fear win!

Jasper wrinkled his nose. Bearing a child just to use him was disgusting! His appetite faded, and he put his wooden bowl on the ground. "I understand my less than stellar opinion of Shadow Sage was correct, but if you already knew all this history, why did you join them?" The healer's voice was calm for the most part, but a faint hint of his one true bias against Shadow Sage showed itself.

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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At least Jasper was smart enough to answer his own question. It was going to make things a lot easier when it came to the telling of the rest of the story. Because the two witches knew the rest was going to be hard to swallow. History was one thing to accept, the on going cruelty was another. Only the other twin wasn't going to make things easy. He was on his feet, pacing back and forth by his side of the fire.

Sylvana paused as she watched him. The feeling in the pit of her stomach started sinking. This couldn't lead to anything good. The feeling only got worse the more she listened to the words coming out of his mouth. A hand reached over and touched her arm, wrapping around the flesh. It was only then that the white witch realized she had been shaking.

Wyatt cleared his throat as he looked up at the gray witch. His voice was that of the soldier, calm and cold as he began, "I'm only going to say this one time, so listen well. We aren't lying. The Shadow Sage you believe in doesn't exist not with the current elders in control. They don't destroy due to being untrustworthy or even not strong enough. They destroy because they want something the other witch has. They build up their pick of the crop and then take away what makes them a witch. Do you understand that? The Raven only wants you for what he can eventually take from you once you've met his goals."

"Witches have rarely had a former glory. We have always hidden in the shadows of society. Yes, humans fear us because the majority follow the Shadow Sage and cause nothing but strife within the world. We fight to protect ourselves only because of the few who started a war. I grew up in isolation, but I was protected. No one hunted me until the Shadow Sage sent me on missions that put me at risk. It is you who doesn't understand." Sylvana continued for Wyatt. Again she was shaking. She wanted to blurt out the whole truth. To stun him, to make him see what he was refusing to.

The black magic user started to move to protect Jasper until he saw that the wild witch could handle himself. Good. He wasn't useless at all. He had skills and powers that just needed to be honed. Given time and effort it would happen. Maybe not at the Witches' Fortress, but looking at Sylvana he saw the man he'd feared growing up. Possibly Ondin could train him? He might have black based gray magic, but he was the best healer he knew of. But even then the man hadn't been able to cure his daughter, only the power of the orb had cured the heart problems the white magic user had been born with.

Sylvana turned her attention back to Jasper when he started speaking and nodded her head. "We thought so, but we haven't found a single other blue magic user since we ran into the twins. Either they found a way to hide the location, or to control how it leaked its powers out, we have no idea. It could be possible that they came from another place. The only way to know for sure is to check the fortress or to go back into the cavern and ask the Wall of Knowledge."

Wyatt glanced back over at Jacob at the mention of his father. "I'd rather he not be, but there is nothing to be done about it." Then he allowed the other twin to continue before he answered him. "We didn't know everything. A lot of things we learned after we were allowed into the Shadow Sage and put into the higher ranks with more clearance than other witches. That was when we started planning, but we'll get to that soon. Once you know exactly what they've been doing for years."

"I hope its safe to continue," Sylvana gave Jacob a pointed stare. "My parents put a barrier up around the mansion to keep me from seeing Xin anymore. It didn't keep my brothers in. They have no powers. You see, magic knows other magic even if it hasn't expressed yet. So... Jacob its likely one of the elders knew your father and forced him to give up who he believed was the strongest twin..." She let it hang there. It wasn't speculation. It was fact, but she doubted he would believe it.

"After many years, the barrier finally fell and I took a trip with my brothers. I ran back into Xin and this is where the story really begins. My brother tried to murder me and was stopped. It caused a great rift in the family and I used our family's secret to bring my brother back into the fold, only it worked for just a short time. Eventually, the both of us ended up together. He asked if I wanted to join his organization. I said yes, because I was angry at my family for not trusting me with my own magic and I wanted my heart to get stronger."

"Milla and Akane left to ask if she could join. While we waited we were put inside of a blue magic illusion. It was strong and the only thing we could do was run. After a while, once we were out of it and far enough away, we transported to the nearest town. We stayed for the night and then after an early morning argument we ended up outside in the plains held by the magic we'd ran from earlier the day before." Wyatt had skipped out on the more embarrassing details, like the white magic user almost dying from exposure and her having to sleep next to Wyatt's bare chest and for that she was grateful.

"The two introduced themselves as Tomas and Gemina. They knew about the Counterparts and who we were. They had knowledge we didn't know how they knew. Of course, I knew it from all the stories my mother had told me as a child. I only thought they were stories until that moment. We ended up in a battle with them."

"A battle we basically lost because of you," Wyatt frowned at the girl for a second. "She used too much power, but it still worked to our advantage. Because they thought I was unconscious. I learned about part of their plan. They had wanted to test us and see if we would be a threat to them. They didn't believe so."

"After recovering a bit, I told him much of what we're telling you know. About the stones, Gordon, the Counter, and the Counterparts. Everything. What happens next is purely the story we lived through. What we would eventually learn about their plans that we stopped, but Shadow Sage has been doing since before we were born without the results they wanted until after we took out the blue magic users."

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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Wyatt's statement about Raven struck a nerve and he stood up again. His own voice was cold, but his eyes stung. I am NOT my brother! He balled his hands in fists and growled under his breath. "I'm only alive today because of Raven and Morgana." No matter what these liars and traitors said, Raven was his father and Morgana his mother. Raven called him son. No one else in his life said that.

Why the hell did he let these traitors in his haven? Now it wasn't safe or comfortable any more. He already blew any chance of making these people like him to get information. They were telling him things, but he can't believe them. This story can't be true. Shadow Sage was his family. Family doesn't hurt family, but his family kicked him out. He couldn't go home. If he went home empty-handed, his mother told him he would die. Jacob didn't want to die. How can he stay here and listen to this?

Surprisingly, he actually did believe what the girl said about her brother trying to harm her, and it pissed him off too, despite her inferior status. Family doesn't hurt family, which is why he rejected his blood family. Sitting still was now beyond him, and he started shuffling about the ice cave, cleaning up any blankets or other things laid on the snowy floor, but he stopped when he saw Jasper's plate. "Finish it!"

Even when confused, this Jacob was snappy. Jasper had to grit his teeth to keep his temper in this situation. He wasn't used to fighting his anger. To some degree he pitied his brother living a lie, and being kept in the dark about important things, but on the other hand he had an attitude problem that pushed people away. Because Jacob was his brother, he loved him, but he tried his patience more than any other person he met. "Why?" he challenged the brat.

Jacob closed his eyes again and took several deep breaths, damn! He wanted to hit him again. "I know for a fact your magic is depleted. Eat that food to recover." He grumbled a little, but said, "Same goes for you, white witch." She glared at him, but he nodded to her next challenge, and packed up the bags while she kept talking. He could still hear her, but he didn't have to sit still while she continued.

Both twins stopped whatever they were doing when she said that Shadow Sage may have pushed their father to let go of one of his sons. Jasper put his plate down again and stared at it for a few moments in silence. He did want to know what happened that he was separated from his twin, but it hurt to think that there was any reason his father would ever consider letting go of one of his children. "My..." he paused and glanced over to Jacob, who appeared to be trembling, "...our father would rather die himself than put anyone else in danger." Jasper lifted his head. "I learned my code of honor from him." He swallowed and reached over to Jacob, who then pulled away. The healer let his twin be, but added, "How could he possibly give up one of the children he loved? What kind of threat would be more terrifying than losing a child?" Jasper trembled and Jacob tried to force himself back to busy work.

Either his father chose to abandon him in the cold or he was kidnapped by Shadow Sage. He shook his head, refusing to believe the latter. His entire life he knew his father didn't want him. He favored the weakling over him. For over twenty years, he survived the cold thanks to the organization taking care of him. Both Sylvana and Wyatt were outsiders. They couldn't understand that. They'd never understand. There's no point arguing any further. "I'm getting more wood. Stay here!" He snapped at the remaining three and headed for the door they all came in. Of course they still don't trust him, but whether they did or not, he'd never tell any other SS members about his havens. He used them to get away from all those people. Now he needed to get away from his unwelcome and distrustful guests.

Jasper remained frozen at the shock of the possibility Sylvana proposed. Even though she meant to shake up Jacob, it affected the other twin too. Jasper loved his father and his family more than anyone else, and even though he knew they were just human, he didn't want to believe his father would be willing to sacrifice any of his children. If he was forced into it, he obviously wouldn't be willing, but it still felt wrong.

The twins' father clearly wasn't part of the main story, as they continued further about the blue magic users and Shadow Sage history, but the comment about their father broke his concentration.

Jasper raised his hand for a pause. "I don't mean to be rude, but do you mind going back to father? If Shadow Sage is effectively hunting witches..." he squirmed in his seat remembering that feral look the brown-haired man gave him. Now he understood that look. The organization would have wanted to use him also for whatever their dark purposes. "...and they knew our father, is there a possibility he was also a witch?" Jasper paused again. What did that mean? Could his powers be the reason behind the twins' separation? Would he believe that by handing Jacob to SS, it would protect him? Did Jacob express magic before Jasper did? Jasper, in a similar pattern to his twin, groaned and held his head in his hands as the troubled thoughts raced and tumbled over each other in his mind.

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 was nothing to be done about Jacob. He was refusing to believe anything they told him. He had been so wrapped up within the organization and their lies, Wyatt wasn’t sure they would ever break through his barriers to reach him. It was a scary thought that after all was said and done they would have failed the boy and to keep themselves and others safe, they would have to kill him.

It was a thought he really didn’t want to dwell on.

“You are alive because of them, sure. But your life is not what it could have been if they hadn’t have interfered.” The black magic user didn’t know any other life beside being trained in his magic to fight for the Shadow Sage. He only compared it to what he’d seen from Kyla’s. Neither one of them were normal, but her life definitely was better than his had been.

But now all he could do was chuckle. Jacob barking orders at Sylvana was the worst mistake to be made. He’d learned that one a long time ago. She was just more opt to disobey because she didn’t take orders from anyone. Especially not someone she didn’t like and constantly belittled her.

The look on her face said he was right. Even though they both knew he was correct. Only it wasn’t her magic that needed restored; it was the physical body. The only thing that would fix her there would have been to sleep, which is had done quite a bit of. Now they would just have to wait it out, so she would struggle on insisting that she was fine.

Sylvana glanced down at the ground beneath her as Jasper started speaking. “Uh… there are many things that are worse. By now you should see the level to which the elders will go to get what they want. It’s possible your father didn’t even know he had twins. I understand that men aren’t allowed into birthing room, so the fault could lie with your mother. I can’t say for sure because I never asked. I know only what I overheard once before.”

The white magic user watched Jacob storm out of the cave. She wondered if they were now trapped here or not. Sure they could probably bust their way out, but it would be a waste of magic they didn’t need to use. She forced herself from her thoughts to try and answer the other twin’s question.

Sylvana shrugged her shoulders. “I really don’t know. I’m sorry. Both of our family has magic that has been passed down for generations. Other families can get one or two users while everyone else is normal. It’s hard to say. You two could be the only ones. Jasper… I’m sorry we got you into this mess. It’s been our fight since the beginning. We never meant to involve anyone else let alone get them hurt. After we go to the Witches’ Fortress, we will take you wherever you want and leave you. You’ll be safer away from us. Trouble always seems to find us even as children.”

The young woman hung her head down before pulling her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. She didn’t want to tell either of the gray magic users what was really going on within the organization, but it was a necessary evil. She wanted it over with, but with Jacob not handling the situation well, she wasn’t sure he’d be able to take the whole truth. What was meant to become of all of them eventually. She particularly liked her magic and being alive.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Jasper attempted to stand up and go after Jacob, but as was practically his habit the paler twin pushed him back. He sat back and sighed. Wyatt called after him, but Jacob didn't respond at all.

Sylvana curled up and made apologies. The healer got up and held her shoulders gently. "Don't blame yourself for my choices. Everything I've done since meeting you has been of my own volition. If I really wanted to turn around and go home, I would have." He let her go and sat back, "At this point, It's too late for me to turn back anyway. Before we were captured, Shadow Sage didn't know I existed. Now they do, I am also a target. I need to learn how to defend myself from them, and protect my family back in Eastleigh, and..." He paused and glanced to the door. "...and Jacob too."

Jasper hugged himself, realizing for the first time what a great burden he now held. To protect his family, he needed to keep Shadow Sage from recognizing their existence, and to do that it was now impossible for him to go home to Eastleigh. Caleb would have to take over the family business and look after their sisters, but he needed to tell his younger brother. "I don't know how or who, but someone or something protected me from them most of my life, and I have to return the favor. I'm the only one who can. I don't know of any other witches in the family. Heck! For a long time, I wasn't even sure I was a witch, but I had suspicions."

The healer uncurled and stood up, resting a hand on one of the frozen walls. "My entire life I had..." he paused to figure out how to explain himself. "...double memories. I've seen this cave and others like it in dreams. I've felt the ferocity of a blizzard on the tundra, yet this is my first time this far north. Since I was five years old, I've seen Jacob's face in dreams and I wondered if he was myself or someone else. My dreams about Jacob were more vivid than other dreams I've had. I told my parents about these dreams... and they .... reacted badly." He went silent and sat back down to gauge Wyatt and Sylvana's reactions. That was the first time he said anything about his visions since the bad reaction.

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Sylvana looked up at Jasper when she felt someone touch her. At first she had thought it was Wyatt only to find it was the gray magic user. His words didn’t really make her feel any better. All it did was stir the memories that telling their story had brought to the surface.

"You need me. Like I need you." The words floated around in her head. She had gone after the black magic user even when he’d cast her aside and well they’d been together ever since at least until they’d chosen to separate thinking it would protect each other.

“We can easily set you and your family up somewhere to protect all of you.” Wyatt responded. They had managed to stay hiding for five years. Even though Sylvana had constantly been on the move, her family had not. The Shadow Sage had known where they were since long before she was born and still they did nothing.

Both of the magic users nodded their heads. They didn’t really know what it was like to not know what they were, but they understood where Jasper was coming from. In the end, they would probably go about doing the best they could to help him. After all, if Wyatt hadn’t gone to his room that day, none of this would have happened to the gray magic user.

The white magic user looked up at the male as she bit down on her lower lip. “You two are much more connected than anyone would like to think. It means we have to keep the two of you as far away from the elders as possible. Once you’re magic is trained, both of you together will be a mighty force to reckon with. They are going to want our powers and we can’t let them get either one of you.”

Now they just needed Jacob to cooperate and understand what they were saying weren’t lies and believe the true evilness that was within the organization he loved so much. It was betraying him and if they didn’t do something soon it would destroy him too.

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Jasper was quiet for a time. It was a relief that they didn't react the same way as his parents, but he didn't expect what else they said. They would really do that? Set up a safe haven for his family? His elderly parents, if they still lived, and his younger brother and sisters? What about his Elizabeth? What could he say to her about disappearing? She accepted that he was a witch, and didn't turn him in or run away knowing the danger from the human king's soldiers. Could she handle the knowledge that they were other witches who would hunt him too? Could he even put her through that? "We live in a cruel world," he said seemingly from nowhere. "I don't want to be a burden that exasperates it." He sighed and glanced back to the door. Jacob still hadn't returned, but Jasper didn't feel anything was wrong with his twin at the moment. He turned back to his remaining companions.

One thing he did know, Sylvana had been severely injured. He got up again to retrieve his medicine bag from the corner where his brother left it and sat back again next to her asking, "Sylvana, how do you feel? Are you still in pain?" His depleted magic told him nothing about her current condition, but his own eyes saw that she was upset. He had no idea what he could do to help emotionally, but if there was any further healing to be done, he knew what he needed to do to help there.

Jacob may not have answered Wyatt's statement when he left, but that didn't mean he didn't hear it. Now he sat outside in the cold twilight. Because this valley lay below the treeline, there was no shortage of wood and there were also some animals on the forest floor, if he wanted to do some hunting. He sat in one of those trees and gazed into the distance towards the Witches' Fortress. From his place, he couldn't actually see it, but he knew where it was and even how to get there from his home tower. Jacob switched position and looked toward the tower, that he also couldn't see directly. "Your life is not what it could have been." He examined those words. Did he want something different?

While Jasper told Wyatt and Sylvana about his double memories, Jacob, though outside, also considered strange experiences of his own as a child. He never admitted it, but he also had strange dreams. At the time, he thought he was going crazy, and was not allowed to admit any weakness. Even children were punished for weaknesses in Shadow Sage, so he remained silent and coped with what he considered onrushing madness through art and building his safe havens. The artist of the creased and worn portrait he showed them in Evanpool was Jacob himself, but the time he made it was too dark and threatening for him to admit, until now. His stupid brother!

Ever since his brother showed up in person, he felt himself coming apart. Feelings and thoughts he didn't understand, things he would rather forget pushing to the surface, and now his present exile. No longer had he a home. No home and cut off from the only family he knew. The only place he could go was back to the cave with people he didn't like, who told him things that he couldn't believe. Why was his life like this? Dammit! He wanted to calm down, but he can't! With another useless huff, he climbed down from the tree and actually starting doing what he said, collecting wood. The only way he could hold back these frightening things was working.

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With a heavy sigh, Sylvana glanced up at Jasper as he sat back down beside her. She ran a hand through her hair before turning to face him, nodding her head in response.

“I’m fine. Had worse.” It wasn’t a lie. The amount of wounds she had over time very just as equally large as the history that accompanied them. During the course of most of their stories, they had both kept out the more private details. Like her being born with a heart condition. A condition that had kept her from using the full range of her magic for many years. It had almost gotten the both of the magic users killed many times. It had gotten them captured and even though it had worked in their favors it still was a hindrance.

It wasn’t until the day she’d been murdered that her heart condition had been taken away from her. The cost had been great, but in the end it hadn’t mattered. She’d been allowed to live without the condition and still kept her love. Nothing had been better until things started going down hill in the Shadow Sage.

The white witch realized Jasper probably wouldn’t accept her answer. So consenting to be poked and prodded was likely the only thing that would make him content with her answer. Sure, she was still in pain, but it was only a dull ache now. What hurt more was that she hadn’t seen it coming. The beast that was Wyatt’s magic was extremely strong and without the black magic user to control it especially during the full moon, it came as no surprise as to why it had gotten out of control.

She was lucky to be alive. She knew that, but a long time ago, she’d been promised she be protected, safe. Wyatt had never let her down before, even now. While he’d caused her injuries, he was the one who’d gotten her the help to be saved. If only Jacob would come back so they could make him understand what his beloved organization was doing and he believed them, then they might be doing okay given the situation.

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Jasper gave a small frown and raised his eyebrows when Sylvana said she was fine. That's what they always said. He believed her stories about Shadow Sage and her own history, but every time a person he knew was injured said they were fine, he always took that statement with a grain of salt. No, he was definitely not satisfied. "Until now, I was completely ignorant about magic, but I trained my entire life as an apothecary and healer. I hope you don't mind if I confirm that statement to my professional standards." While he was speaking, he turned a corner of his mouth up in a small smirk. Now focused on professional work, troubles about his family and situation faded away.

Covering her with extra blankets, he checked all the places he remembered sensing broken bones and other injuries during his magic trance. His manner was incredibly gentle and deceptively easy. Jasper made no unnecessary movements to avoid causing any further pain. As he conducted his careful ministrations, it impressed him as to how much he was actually able to do in the desperate rush to save her. Powerful magic. They said, with training, he would be a powerful force to reckon with. Jasper pushed that back and focused.

Loaded down with firewood, Jacob's mood had improved. Successful tasks usually did that to him, even if it was something as simple as collecting firewood. He touched the marker of the door and announced his presence while his brother's back was turned. "The wood should last a few days, but I doubt you want to stay here too long." He glanced at Wyatt and walked his load to the far back of the cave where it should be driest. He still didn't like these people, but for now he resigned himself to their presence and didn't bother to hide it. As soon as he dropped the wood, his shoulders slumped and he didn't meet anyone's eyes. He watched what was going on with his twin, as much as he could, more curious than anything else, since he never saw anyone healing before.

"Jacob, it isn't polite to stare." Jasper said without turning his head. To Sylvana he said, "It's my professional opinion that you're improving." Once he finished his ministrations, he looked up to Jacob. "I must say your timing is good though." Whether he liked it or not, Jasper offered his twin a slight smile. Any anger he had before the other man left had also disappeared. Because of how he was raised, Jacob was suspicious of this behavior and tensed up. "Relax. I'm a healer. It's forbidden in my profession to harm you." This behavior confused Jacob further, and did nothing to help him relax. Jasper sighed when he noticed his brother retreating again, but there was nothing he could say right now.

The paler grey witch decided to change the subject instead of analyze more of those feelings and thoughts he didn't understand. "So did I miss anything?"

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Sylvana looked up at Jasper and smiled. A real smile and not the one she usually faked because she didn’t know how to react to what was going on around her. At the end of the day, he was good at his job, magical abilities or not.

“You’re just like us.” She said of his comment. He wasn’t going to take no for an answer and she allowed him to examine her. Yes, she still hurt with unimaginable pain, but still it was nothing compared to what she’d once gone through. What she was more concerned with was getting through to Wyatt so he would know without a doubt that it wasn’t his fault. She knew he was blaming himself especially in the way she could feel his eyes watching Jasper’s exam. Every single movement was calculated to gauge just how hurt she was and to figure out whether or not it was his fault or well his fault due to being captured.

As soon as Jacob walked back into the cave, the black magic user turned to face him taking his gaze away from the other two. He took his old friend in, trying to read anything. He definitely seemed a lot calmer. He just hoped that it would mean the gray magic user might put some thought into what they were telling him. The elders had nearly killed them trying to get the very story they were telling him, even the parts they hadn’t gotten to yet.

The white magic user managed a weak smile at Jasper when he cleared her, at least for the most part. Then she learned to Jacob when he mentioned that they probably didn’t want to stay in the cave too long. He was right. They needed to get to the fortress. It was still a fear that the place wouldn’t hold what they needed, a wasted trip. But they had to find out before they gave up.

“You didn’t miss anything. The real question is, are you ready to hear the rest of the story? Because if you can’t even believe the back story, you’re never going to listen to what the present is, what the Shadow Sage has and is still doing. I don’t want to waste my breath or dredge up anymore memories than I have to. So will you at least have an open mind?”

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"Even if I don't want to hear it, Mr. Healer over there does." Jacob leaned back against the wall and pointed to Jasper. "Besides, you still haven't answered my original questions." He turned his head to Wyatt again. "I promised him that I wouldn't go anywhere until I got what I wanted. Believe it or not, I do keep promises. I promised you all that this cave could keep you safe, and nobody has threatened you, yes? I told you I'd get wood and there it is." He pointed to the far back where he left it. "I could even help you get to the fortress, if you'll let me. I know the tundra better than anyone. I feel it in my bones. Because I feel the moods of the land, I can always find a safe path. Let's make a deal." He paused to take a deep breath, not really certain he should do this, but as his reflection in the forest confirmed, he had no choice but to stay with these folks.

The only way he'd ever be allowed back in his home tower is if he killed Wyatt at minimum and brought Jasper back alive. He saw how Raven looked at Jasper too and knew that the older man wanted both twins alive. He sighed on that reflection. His stupid brother interfered with his plans again! Jacob originally wanted to kill the healer for his own personal revenge, but because his father is interested in him he can't. He can't defy the family he knew. Defiance is what left him in exile. He took another deep breath to refocus his thoughts. "If I listen to your story without starting a fight, will you allow me to guide you to the Witches' Fortress tomorrow? I think Mr. Healer will agree with me that a good night's rest will be good for you." He tipped his head towards Jasper.

The healer felt suspicious about this behavior. Was Jacob actually going to let them in? The shift seemed so sudden. Every time he tried to reach out to his brother, Jasper's effort was always pushed aside. He pushed everyone away, and Jasper could only guess it was a protection mechanism. The healer kept his secrets for the sake of safety, safety for himself and his family. Jacob's only attachments were in Shadow Sage, and Jasper knew they were dangerous. He didn't need Sylvana's story to know that. The healer didn't want to push his brother away, for both his own reasons and the reasons Sylvana already presented, so he responded gently, "It's true I don't recommend rushing out immediately, but I have a question for you, Jacob. How many more caves like this do you know about?"

"About 10. After this one, three more are along the route I plan on taking, so there will be plenty of places to rest."
"Ten. I've had dreams of five," Jasper whispered thoughtfully. Jacob started at that revelation. He never thought his wild witch brother would know about even one. How does he know? He kept that thought to himself and pressed forward.
"So if I trust you, are you willing to trust me?"

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Some things about the gray magic user were so odd. It had been so long since they had all been around each other, that Wyatt had forgotten just how flip floppy the other male could be. But listening to his words, he remembered that he’d kinda always been that. This was just the first time since they had encountered each other that he was showing any pieces of the old him.

With a deep sigh, the black magic user nodded his head. “We will tell you the rest of the story so long as you actually listen to the words coming from our mouths and instead of completely disbelieving them, actually think about it. You know me, at least, Jacob. I wouldn’t blow smoke up your ass just to get what I wanted. I would just get what I wanted and not care about who I hurt.” The persona he had created for the Shadow Sage had been extremely hard not to detect even for Sylvana at times.

“As for the Witchess’ Fortress, we had all intentions of you leading us there because you couldn’t have any buddies already up there because transportation to it has always been strictly forbidden due to the magical barriers around the area.”

The white witch sighed lightly and wrapped the blanket tighter around her shoulders. “I guess we’ll pick back up again. We still have a bit more to go through as we haven’t reached joining the Shadow Sage yet.”

The young woman leaned back against the wall behind her as she glanced into the fire remembering where they were and then knew some of the hardest parts were coming up.

“We left off with the first encounter we had with Tomas and Gemina. We left them, I told the history as I have told you, and then we wrestled… Look we were still young back then. In the mean time my brother used the object he’d created to try and find me again. He nearly killed me and it left the both of us exposed as Xin poured everything he had into saving me.”

It was so easy while reliving the past that she slipped into their real names not even thinking about it. Even though she still wanted to keep the both of them safe, they’d still gone to through the past with their original names and not the names they’d taken to protect themselves.

“Only if you know our luck, we weren’t that lucky. My family found me. Eth… he shot Xin… My brother has never had good aim, but that day he did and it wouldn’t have mattered. He’d poisoned the arrow. The only thing really weighing in our favor was that I’d learned white magic can’t heal black magic. It has an adverse reaction instead. I would have killed him faster had I tried.

“The other thing that helped was my foster uncle, his biological uncle was there. When he saw how distressed I was, he decided to try and save him, forcing me to bring all of us back to the mansion. Instead of waiting around for Ameh, I sent a magical call out. A woman showed up and healed Xin…”

“The thing is, she was my sister. Jord. A woman I’d never met before in my life.” Wyatt finished for her. Another one of his parents’ many secrets.

((Finally. You'd know the site would go down when I get a chance to post. Sorry its so late.))

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Wyatt simply shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t pretend to have any notions about what my magic does or does not think. It did whatever it wanted for whatever reasons it wanted to. I had no control over because your leader decided to keep me from my magic. Sure, he didn’t know about my possessing Milla’s full moon power increase. Had I had access to my magic, that scene never would have gone down the way it had.”

Sure he had been speaking a lot more than normal, but he felt there was nothing to be done about it. He had killed far too many people, didn’t kill enough of them, and had nearly taken out the one person he loved more than anything else. He’d been desperate when he’d gotten back into control. He had to save her. Which was why they were all sitting in the middle of an ice craven that only Jacob could get them out of.

As the situation turned back to the story at hand, the black magic user sat back to allow Sylvana to take the lead once again. She knew their history backward and forwards. She was the one who came up with most of the lies they told everyone. He went along with it because he knew just how smart she really was, even if she never gave herself credit for it.

“Ameh is my foster uncle. He’s lived with my family for many years even before I was born. Ameh is Milla’s brother, again who was once a wolf, but again a story for another time.”

“And yes, you’re correct. Xin is short for Xiuhcoatl. The name my mother gave to me. I’d always gone by Xin unless in trouble until I joined the organization. It was meant to protect the real identity even if the elders knew I had been born for them. The others, like you Jacob did not.”

“As for the object, I wish I couldn’t get into it and I can’t. I can only tell you enough to get through the story. I can’t and I won’t answer any questions about it. Because if you learn the truth, I will have to kill you.” Sylvana leveled a gaze at both of the gray magic users. She was completely serious. Protecting the lives of her family meant more to her than anything. Her family line had protected the orb since its creation. She wouldn’t be the cause as to why they failed.

But when the line of questioning moved towards black and white healing abilities, the white magic user felt herself clenching up. How could she tell this without getting overly emotional.

Wyatt and Sylvana exchanged glances for a brief second before the young woman looked to the healer. She avoided Jacob because him knowing this was going to be a big boost for him. But Jasper deserved to know.

“Black magic can only heal in one regard: with the intention of hurting the person you’re using the magic on. It’s why I tried to explain that gray magic is either a black or white base.” Wyatt stated. He was trying to make it easier on Sylvana. “I could heal her because my magic thought I was trying to kill her even though what it was doing was saving her life.”

They could leave it at that, at least until they reached the next part in the story. The very next part. Something the white magic user still had a hard time excepting to this day, but there was nothing to be done about it.

“Let’s move on with the story. After the woman left Ameh showed up and I did my best to explain away how he had healed so quickly. But I decided to leave uncle and nephew to try and talk while I dealt with my brother.”

“She hadn’t been gone less than a minute when I left Ameh behind to go find her… only when I got there…” Wyatt closed his eyes. He could still see it so clearly in his mind. Kyla’s body lying limp on the floor, her chest no longer rising or falling. He couldn’t feel the impulses running through her body when he tried to push his magic through her system. He couldn’t hear her heart beat.

“Eth had killed. Stopped her heart and no matter what I did, I couldn’t bring her back. I was too late.” The black magic user had managed to keep his voice from cracking as he said the words that proved he had already failed her once.

“My eldest brother Rhys brought him the object which brought me back to life. Instead of continuing with the plan, Wyatt left me with my family and tried to go back on his own. I didn’t wait too long before collecting my things and going after him. His mother had finally gotten back a hold of him and then told him to leave me behind. I was never good at following directions. I waited a few minutes and then traced his energy signature. What I found when I got there was Xin fighting the creature of my nightmares. The Gatekeeper. And he was losing.”

“Badly.” Wyatt interjected lowly.

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Both Wyatt and Sylvana glanced at each other as the white magic user bit down onto her lower lip. This where trust Jacob really put both of them into a tricky situation. Having the information about the Gatekeeper and how to defeat it would be a great advantage to the Shadow Sage, but they both knew at the same time that it might also be the thing that could tip the gray magic user onto their sides. He couldn’t protest against what they were saying if it was written in the language of the dead that only those with magical abilities could read.

“The Gatekeeper is one of the strongest supernatural creatures in existence. He guards the records of all people born with magical powers. It is the only record of everything that has ever happened, is happening, and will ever occur.” The young woman took a deep breath knowing the next few minutes were going to be the most important. If Jacob could believe them about the Gatekeeper even if he wanted to go there to prove it to himself then he might have an easier time believing the rest of the story that the Shadow Sage were doing to its own people.

“Both of our mothers have defeated the Gatekeeper once during their lives to gain access to the cavern for what it held inside. Whoever deals the most damage to the creature is the magical properties it will take on for the next fight. Meaning, it took on black magic. So when Xin was trying to fight something that appeared out of nowhere for no reason, he wasn’t doing any damage to it. His black magic wasn’t going to hurt the creature. I had to throw up a barrier to protect him…”

“But that was after I’d tried going straight hand to hand with the cursed thing and it channeled its magic through my leg. I completely lost function in the limb.” Which should have meant death to the limb and possibly the male’s life. Luckily, neither one of them were normal people.

“I transported us to a nearby cave which also happened to be the same cave our mothers had once trekked through during their journey together. His leg’s circulation had been completely cut off… but for once I wasn’t useless anymore.” Sylvana glanced up at Jasper knowing he was going to be interested in this part more than any other.

“Remember how we said that black magic can only heal if it thinks it is doing more damage than good and that white can’t heal black at all? Well since I had been brought back to life and my…heart condition healed in the process, I finally had access to the full extent of my powers. I could heal him unlike when my brother almost killed him.”

The white magic user took a deep breath. She was revealing a lot more about herself and her past than she ever felt comfortable doing. To make matters worse it was to Jacob, but Wyatt wanted his old friend saved and this was likely the only way to do so.

“I switched our magic. I gave him my white and took his black so that I could heal him. It’s a painful and draining process that nearly took everything out of me to just do the first switch, let alone heal the leg and then switch back.”

“But from her actions she not only saved my limb, I also got my feelings back for her; the very thing I gave up in order to bring back from the dead. When she woke up, we both heard a voice in our heads saying that from our selfless actions we could keep the wish as well as what was given up. Something that as far as I know doesn’t normally happen.” Wyatt commented. He was trying to save her some of the effort of the story. He knew how difficult it was to tell the entire thing.

“Thing is, I knew that to continue on we were going to have to go through the Gatekeeper. Xin couldn’t fight him. So it was up to me. I had to defeat the creature of my nightmares to get us into the craven. I was going to have to siphon from Xin in order to have enough energy… so we began training as soon as we were both well enough rested. We thought it was going to be the toughest battle we’d have… we were wrong.”

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Both the white and black magic users watched the two siblings. Wyatt caught on quickly that Jacob paid much more attention about the Gatekeeper than anything else. What he wasn’t sure about was whether it was because he wanted the information so he could get into the cavern for himself or for the Shadow Sage. Even Milla, to his knowledge, had never told anyone in the organization where it was.

“The creature is called The Gatekeeper. And it knows only one thing. To defend the entrance to the cavern from all magical users who come too close. For only those strong enough to defeat it can gain the knowledge from within. And it’s been my belief that Gordon set up the cavern to stand as a record for himself. But since it was his magic that was passed down, everyone who possesses magic now is there as well. I could very well be wrong.”

Sylvana took a small breath to collect herself and her thoughts. She was giving away some of the most valuable information she had outside of the orb and worse it was to someone she didn’t like, someone she couldn’t trust.

“Its not that there is great power in the cavern and very rarely is it ever found. You see unlike the Witches’ Fortress very few people know about it at all let alone its general location. The only thing to be found in the cavern is knowledge. Most people especially those within the higher ranks of the Shadow Sage crave only one thing. Power.”

Wyatt looked at his old friend when the conversation became pointed at him. He shook his head with a sigh knowing that he wasn’t likely to be believed. “The Witches’ Fortress has things we could all learn to use for our own abilities. If the Fortress were opened again maybe the control the elders have wound wane. But no, the Fortress is a curiosity as it were. I don’t know what’s there, but I’m going to find out.”

“If we live through this and there is no other way for you to believe the story, I will take you to The Gatekeeper myself. Maybe you’ll be allowed to walk through with us; maybe you two will have to fight it on your own. That is up to the creature to decide. It might have to judge you worthy or not. Unlike Tomas and Gemina who sneaked in right after we had decided the creature.”

“This is where we catch up more to the present if you’d like to know, Jacob. You’re questions should be answered soon enough. If not we’ll address them more fully.”

“The twins used us to gain access to the cavern so they could learn fully how to put their plan into motion. They wanted to take the powers of other witches and put it into their own. What they had been trying before hadn’t been working properly. They needed more knowledge to make it work. We fought against them, but having used pretty much all of my powers to get into the cavern I was done. Xin couldn’t fight both fully powered blue magic users as well as protect me. So we did the best we could until we could at least get them to leave and they would have to find The Gatekeeper themselves.”

“We headed back to the cave to recover from our wounds which took a few days. Afterwards while trying to relax and figure out what to do… we decided to try and be kids again.” The black magic user was treading lightly. Jasper would be extremely interested in the upcoming part, but he wasn’t sure how to explain any of this without stepping over Kyla’s toes and exposing her family’s secrets.

“Needless to say our wrestling match wasn’t done in the smartest of places. We got carried away and Kyla was injured. Badly. In our defense, I can heal her to an extent, but the damage was bad enough that I could only get the minor things. I had to end up taking her back to her family and face the very people who hated me. Her mother can back with something in a small vial and told me to give it to her. Another family secret she said and let it at that. Once I’d given it to her, I was kept under guard. Not like any of them could have stopped me, but I let them do what made them feel safe. Whatever was in the bottle healed everything. Soren called it ‘Angel’s Dust,’ I believe. My memory is hazy.”

Sylvana just stared at the ground. She couldn’t remember much of the event even to the present day. She remembered the fall, screaming, and pain. She remembered Wyatt’s healing hurt just about as much, but she didn’t remember him taking her home or any of the other events. What was hazy to her was the warmth she felt, the surrounding comfort before she woke up healed.

With a heavy sigh she turned back to the two gray magic users. “Next we head to the Shadow Sage. What you are most interest in, Jacob. It’s coming, but you’re not going to like how they betrayed you and are likely continuing to betray you.”

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Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Sylvana's offer to take him to the Gatekeeper stirred something in Jacob. She got under his mask again and his eyes lit up. Of course there were strings attached. He slumped his shoulders and replaced the hard mask. "If they all got out alive..." Jacob couldn't promise that, because he needed to kill Wyatt to be allowed back home. She would know he did it and would never offer him anything again.

His brother actually sat up straighter. The healer was also impressed with the offer, and he did indeed want more knowledge, but it troubled him that he may have to fight the beast. He could barely handle his own magic. What chance did he stand against an ancient guardian? Those thoughts weighed heavier on his heart, and he couldn't wrap himself any tighter in his cloak.

Further warnings about Shadow Sage didn't phase him any more, as Jasper already understood them as a threat, and never wanted anything to do with them. He, at least, didn't expect to be surprised at the depths of evil they could reach. Jacob he knew wouldn't take it well, and expected a new battle over the criminal agency he loved. He feared he would need to work as a mediator if it came to that, since all three of his present companions were fighters in personality and position. The healer rarely needed to fight, but... he looked to his brother. That may be changing soon.

Amidst it all though, Wyatt's statement about the Witches' Fortress gave him hope, a weak hope, but hope nonetheless. If they could rebuild the original witch training school, Shadow Sage's power would wane with the competition. Good witches could gather together and grow stronger to overcome! Perhaps, the growing numbers of resistance to Shadow Sage could end this worthless war and no longer require witches to hide and run. A brief smile flitted over his face, and his growing fatigue at the lengthening hours lifted slightly. With new energy, he started on boiling water for that tea he thought about earlier to help everyone sleep. Still he tried not to be a distraction, and listened more to the story, which it seemed would be ended soon. Sylvana and Wyatt said that the next section would catch up to the present and finally answer whatever questions Jacob asked earlier.

Jacob muttered, "It's about time!" at that promise to finally answer his original questions. He shook his head at the comment that he won't like what they're going to say. "I haven't really liked anything you've said until now, anyway, so I have no reason to expect anything I will like."

The healer groaned at his brother's rebuilding his walls against them. He only knew the other grey user for a few days, but he already recognized his moods and quirks. He perked up at the mysterious healing balm. "Angel's Dust?" He repeated in a whisper, but added a little louder, "Is that another thing we aren't allowed to know about?"

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Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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At least Jasper was one who understood the points to the story. Sylvana nodded her head at him as he poked around the fire, making something that she guessed was his tea. She vaguely remembered him saying something about it.

“Yes. But even I know don’t really know anything about it to be frank. Since my mother is still alive, she is the one who holds all the family’s secrets. Before she passes it will become my burden, but until then it is her’s alone.”

She was tired, her body ached. She didn’t like the fact that they were having to tell their entire past to someone she knew they couldn’t and shouldn’t trust. What more was there to do, but to keep going? They’d already started down the path, might as well finish it.

“I’ll take over for the most part here since Shadow Sage was my birthright,” he let the final word hang in the air for Jacob to understand. What happened down in the dungeon was personal not just for his father, but for the elders. “Once Tomas and Gemina were defeated, their plans stopped we felt like the war was finally over. Once Kyla had been fully healed and recovered strength as well as extra training, we’d brought the fight to them. It was hard one, but we left them where they’d laid for dead, as much as she didn’t want to do that. It was poignant as they had been left us in the same state during our first fight.

Not long after we took time to gather our strength back Milla contacted me saying that Shadow Sage had made its decision concerning Kyla joining. We transported back to the house where she was blindfolded and then we headed to the command post. Once we were there, the blindfold was removed. Both of us were taken before the entire panel of elders, including yours Jacob.

They wanted demonstrations of my power. They sent witch after witch against me, but Milla had already told me to hold back. They tested Kyla in the same way. This was the first time many of the Shadow Sage members were seeing the power of a white witch. Many didn’t like the fact that she had the power to kill us if she tried to heal one of us. They put us against each other and as a team. We impressed the elders if you want to go that far.

The elders considered the fact of who Kyla’s family was and with her power level decided they would rather have her working for them then possibly trying to kill her or her out there against them. So she became my partner for most missions unless it was something of higher rank than she was allowed.”

As Wyatt finished taking over most of the story since the Shadow Sage had always been his territory, Sylvana glanced around the ice cavern with a heavy heart. But there was still so much more to the story. And while the past had been difficult to get through, this part was almost just as hard.

“Xin failed to mention one thing. One very important thing. They wanted to know what had happened between Milla and Akane’s house to when he was contacted to come back. Why his sister Jord had responded to a summons. We told them nothing. They didn’t like it. It was something we had already discussed not to mention. They didn’t need to know about the blue magic users.”

The black magic user nodded his head in agreement. “Eventually Raven came to me and said he wanted you vetted. He had plans for you. At the time I didn’t think anything of it and started bringing you onto missions where Kyla normally would have been my partner. Tracking down rogue witches, many times either ones like Jasper, or others who had left the Shadow Sage. Tried leaving. Kyla was put to supply runs.

This went on for a while. You know this. But that mission you want to know so much about? The one where I let the boy get away? Right before we’d been sent on that mission I had been allowed into the upper towers where they were taking the witches we brought back. I saw what they were doing with them. The very thing we’d kept them from knowing about from Tomas and Gemina they were trying to do on their own. I let the boy get away because I wasn’t going to be the cause of another witches’ death.”

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Even though he expected it, he shuddered at the latest revelation. They were hunted and devoured like animals, by their own kind. He paused in his task, feeling sick. As a healer, he could handle blood and a variety of devastating injuries, but one thing he could never accept was people intentionally hurting and killing other people.

Also as a healer, he knew they would all need sleep, which is why he started this brew in the first place. Jasper struggled to force his attention back to his task. If he did it right, no one would have any dreams or nightmares, which would make a huge difference in how well they rested. When ready, he stood and passed it around starting with Sylvana. "To help relieve stress, reduce pain, and restore strength," he whispered as he handed it to her.

Not only was she the only woman in their group, but she had dealt with a lot just today. She had been severely injured, and then pushed to tell a hard tale to one that just didn't want to believe it.

Meanwhile, Jacob had nodded his head to the statements about their testing. "That's normal practice. Even witches raised in the Shadow Sage have to show what they can do at some point, including me. The test isn't always in front of the whole panel, though. I only had to prove myself to Raven." He paused and hugged his bag to his chest, looking away from everyone else and no longer paying attention until he heard Raven's name again. His eyes lit up again briefly, and faint color came to his face. Raven had plans for him! Why did he tell Wyatt, an outsider first? Focus!

As the black witch continued, the expression hardened again. "Yes, I know how many missions I went with you, and I knew why." Even before his first mission, Jacob had recognized that Wyatt was stronger than him, but in his innocence at the time, he admired him for it and felt proud to go on a mission with him, outsider or not.

Five years ago, it all changed.

He crossed his arms, waiting for Wyatt to get to the point. He didn't have long to wait, but it didn't improve his mood. "I don't believe it. Wild witches come in for training, because Shadow Sage is the only place that trains them anymore. That's why he had to come in. Only weaklings and traitors die. Without Shadow Sage, what do you expect to do with all of them? Are you going to train them all yourself? How will you handle that one?" In a huff, he jerked his thumb towards Jasper.

The healer, sensing he was being discussed, lifted his head from his cup and was none too happy about it. Jacob spoke about him like an object or some strange creature that needed to be dealt with in a certain way. Even more than the tragic story he heard today, that statement showed him how the enemy thinks and stirred up feelings he didn't know he had: disgust, anger, loathing. Yes, he loathed the Shadow Sage, and what they were doing; what they had done to Jacob, and to others like him. He gritted his teeth, and balled his hands in fists.

Realizing himself again, he paused and took a deep breath and remained silent, until he recalled the general flow of conversation. Wild witches and training, a possible suggestion to train him. "If you are willing to train me, I am pleased to accept, and I will help as long and as well as I am able."

Jacob lifted up his head and turned on a big grin. "Excellent! I'll take these two to the Witches' Fortress, like they want and then you'll come back to the tower with me. We can be family again!"

"No, Jacob, I will never, under any circumstances, do anything to help those criminals who took you away from me in the first place. You are my brother, and I love you. Because I love you, I can't let you go back there. You shall lead all of us to the Witches' Fortress and stay there. Only outside of the criminal agency can we be family again."

Immediately the bright smile turned into anger, "What! You can't do that!"
Jasper raised his eyebrows, "Hmm... Why not? You want a family don't you? A real family. Real family cannot be found in the halls of murderers."

"He's not! They aren't!" Jacob shook his head vigorously. "He called me son... Raven. He won't hurt me. He won't!"
Jasper rubbed his forehead, but there was no use arguing with his confused twin. "If you say so," he answered with a sigh. "I just want you to know one thing. I love you, Jacob my brother, and I promise never to lie to you or abandon you." With a heavy sigh, he returned to his place by the fire.