Emily and Rose both looked like messes standing vigil by Alex’s bed in the village hospital for the 5th day in a row. “Why isn’t he waking up, mom!?” Cried Emily, Alex’s eight-year-old sister. “All his wounds were healed by your Phoenix tears!” She exclaimed as she broke down in tears for the millionth time in the last few days while helping her mother to care for her comatose brother.
Jaclyn bent down and hugged her daughter tightly, burying Emily’s face in her shoulder. “I’m not sure sweetie… The other healers and I have done all that we can and as far as we can tell there is nothing wrong with your brother’s body. This must be related to the magic that he used to put him in such a horrible state…” She trailed off for a moment before continuing. “Without any other magic users in recorded history, apart from Jeod now of course who is in perfect health, we have nothing to go off of and must simply wait and care for him until he wakes.”
“But he will wake up, right, mommy?” Emily asked with tears in her eyes as she pulled her head back and looked up at her mother’s face.
“Of course sweetie. Your brother is the hero of the town after all! He single-handedly ended the war and saved all of us. Something like this isn’t enough to keep him down. Surely he is just getting his beauty sleep.” Jaclyn responded with a fake bright smile. “Now why don’t you go play with your friends for a bit to get your mind off things?” She suggested.
“Ok mommy, if you say brother will be OK then I believe you,” Emily responded while instantly perking up with the reassurance that only a mother could provide. She quickly fled the room, off to do what children do best: play.
As Jaclyn was about to ask Rose how she was holding up now that Emily was gone, Alex’s body suddenly began emitting a massive pressure! “What the-!” Jaclyn, Rose, and Derek - who had been placed on guard in the room until Alex awoke - all said at once. The pressure emanating from him was massive and Rose was forced to her knees while Jaclyn and Derek both managed to withstand it but not without real effort.
“Jaclyn, what the hell is going on?” Derek asked in a calm but questioning voice.
“I have no idea!” She said back, half in a panic. “I’ve never seen or felt anything like this except when in the presence of dragons and other high tier beasts!”
Alex’s body suddenly began glowing on top of the pressure being emitted and everyone in the room had to shield their eyes from the light show currently on display. “What the hell is happening!” Screamed Derek loudly as he stood in the corner with his weapon drawn and eyes closed, shield positioned directly in front of him in case of attack.
All at once the pressure and light show vanished as if they had never existed in the first place. Everyone rushed to Alex’s side and inspected him but he seemed the same as he had been for days when suddenly his eyes opened! “Alex!” Yelled his mother and Rose in unison.
“Alex!” He heard yelled in unison by two familiar voices as he opened his eyes, the bright light hurting them after so long spent sleeping.
He slowly turned his head side to side and took in his surroundings. “Mom. Rose.” He acknowledged both of them separately. He smiled at Rose and said “I am glad that you survived. My final spell was indeed not in vain.”
“You dummy!” Rose yelled and slapped him across the face. As soon as she did she froze, taken aback for a moment by her own actions.
Alex’s mother smiled briefly with tears in her eyes and said “Alex, I will be back in a few minutes to hear an explanation. There is something I forgot to take care of real quick.” She said and immediately headed for the door. Unseen by Alex and Rose, Jaclyn pointedly looked towards Derek and nodded her head toward the door.
“Oh, yea, I had forgotten we were supposed to do the thing,” Derek said clumsily as he quickly followed Jaclyn out of the room. Reading between the lines and subtlety were definitely not one of his strong suits.
As soon as the others had left Rose really let him have it. “How could you just vanish on me during our awakening!?” She accused. “I was so worried! I was a wreck!” She cried. “Then I hear that you had miraculously come back from the grave and get back to town, but not only do you neglect to visit me, but I also don’t even get the courtesy of a courier letter! I learned of it from my father.” She took a deep breath and continued before Alex had a chance to explain or defend himself.
“To top it off, you nearly killed yourself trying to single-handedly win against an army of goblins and hobgoblins!” She yelled exasperated. “What could have possibly possessed you to sacrifice your own life to stop the goblins? If not for your mother having a legendary Phoenix’s tear you would be dead! What in the world is worth a risk that stupid?”
As Rose took a deep breath ready to continue her tirade, Alex quickly butts in and said “You”.
“And another thing-!” She stopped as she realized what he had said. “What?” She said in a perplexed voice, surprise and confusion clear on her dumbstruck face.
Alex smiled at her and continued. “You heard me. I was willing and prepared to risk my life for your safety, to ensure your survival, as the monster horde descended upon you.” He said with confidence in his voice while staring directly into her eyes.
Rose’s cheeks reddened and she began stuttering. “Wha-Wha-wha-!” She suddenly realized how ridiculous she sounded and chose the solution that made the most sense to her young teenage mind: she quickly fled the room, slamming the door shut behind her.
As she left the smile vanished from his face and Alex grimaced instead. ‘That could have gone better I guess…’ He thought to himself. At the same time, he heard Alice begin laughing uproariously in his mind. “Good job Casanova!” She jabbed at him.
Suddenly the two of them could hear a commotion out in the halls. It sounded like a decent size group of people, and he thought he heard his mother yell something. A moment later the entire council of three complete with elder Justin barged into the room. Behind them, several heavily armored guards entered the room as well.They all stood in a row at the foot of his bed in silence until Justin chose to begin.
“How are you feeling, Alex?” He began with concern in his voice.
“Quite fine Justin, good as new I would say. Five days of rest will do that to you though I suppose.” Alex responded with a bit of mirth in his voice.
Justin did not smile, however, nor did the council, and the elder continued from there. “Alex, you must understand our circumstances here. You are freshly awakened and contain the potential to wipe out entire towns at your will as your strength increases.” He said grimly. “Even in the infancy of your class you nearly single-handedly defended us from an army.” Before Alex could say anything another council member, Amanda, continued from there.
Amanda, as with all the council members, was a bit older and in her mid-fifties. She was definitely shorter than average, had short cropped brown hair, a fair complexion and many wrinkles present.
“The townspeople and soldiers alike praise you as a hero and a savior, which makes sense given your accomplishments, but you are too powerful to be left uncontrolled and without proper supervision. What if you disagreed with a decision of the council? What if you decided you were better suited to run the town?” She said quickly and with steel in her voice.
“I would never-!” Alex began but was promptly cut off by another council member, this time Andy. He was a slimy sort of man, known to make shady deals by most people but never proven guilty enough for punishment. He got things done where others failed though, so the council tolerated his actions so long as they stayed hidden.
He was a portly man of average height with greased back black hair and wore some of the finest clothes you could find these days. Even several feet away Alex could smell the strong pungent scent of his cologne overdose.
“According to you, young man. But who in your position would even admit to future accusations such as that, even if you planned on doing just so? Nobody, that’s who!” He said in a loud and incredulous voice, every syllable accusing Alex of crimes he had yet to commit.
“We simply cannot take the risk. You will submit to our control and create Archons of our choosing to serve in our military or you will rot in the jails for the rest of your life.” He concluded while looking down his nose at Alex.
Justin took back over again at this point. “Surely you must realize the necessity of the current situation. Your power will change the world but to prevent chaos we must carefully curate the future Archons and be sure to limit them to protect humans. Not everyone you might choose on your own will be good choices for this power, so we will help you in this.” He concluded.
‘What do we do, Alice!?’ He thought in a panic.
‘I have no idea!’ She yelled back, also in a panic. ‘Do they truly have the means to hold us in a cell with our magic?’ She asked quickly.
‘I have no idea, but I can’t imagine it is an idle threat with how serious they are. Spell scrolls exist after all and maybe they have some sort of cell that accounts for someone sneaking a spell scroll or enchanted item in with them somehow.’
Suddenly his mother, Derek, and Claire all burst into the room in full combat gear! “Run, Alex, get out of town!” His mother screamed at him as the three of them descended on Justin and the council members. Justin alone was honestly close to a match for them, but thankfully the three council members had focused more on being politicians than warriors and cowered in the corner of the room while Justin held off the three attackers on his own.
Not missing a beat, Alex quickly jumped out of the hospital bed and, utilizing his increased wisdom and intelligence to handle more spells at once, encased the armored guard's feet in stone preventing them from moving. ‘Oof! Just that little bit gave me a headache already?’ He silently wondered.
‘Your mana is still not regenerated from being emptied before. Now that the cracks are fixed it should start filling but technically you are still running on empty as far as your body is concerned.’ Alice explained quickly.
‘Right. Not more magic for now then.’ Alex told himself as he turned and sprinted out the door. “I love you, mom! Thank you!” He shouted back at the top of his lungs as he ran.
Jaclyn smiled joyously as he heard her son shout his love for her while she and her lifetime friends faced off against Justin, the second strongest person in Pine Bluff after Captain Martland. “Step aside.” Commanded Jason of the three veteran fighters standing between him and the doorway.
Jaclyn, Claire, and Derek all looked between each other for a moment before turning their gazes back to Jason and the council and, in unison, loudly said “NO.”