Zeke sat by Moralie’s bed holding her hand. He debated whether it was okay to do so since he had only met her today, but he wanted to show her that he was still there with her. He thought that his presence would be comforting. It was during this time that he noticed how cold she was beginning to feel. She had been so hot before, but now she was cooling. He knew that this wasn’t a good thing. She was getting weaker. She was definitely at life’s end. He didn’t know if Rafe and Simon were going to get back in time. Something had to be done.
He stood up and ran to the door. He called for one of the healers to come and see about Moralie. A young man dressed in white arrived carrying white crystals in his hands. Zeke pushed him inside the room and asked him to perform healing on Moralie. The young healer looked at her and quickly raced to her side.
“What’s wrong with her?” the healer asked.
“The Reaper’s Curse. Hurry, do something!” Zeke looked at him urgently. “I know how to beat it, but I’m afraid that she’s slipping away.”
The healer nodded his head and waved the white crystals over Moralie’s body. White light radiated from the crystals in waves that flooded over Moralie. Color was beginning to return to her cheeks, but Zeke knew that this was only temporary. As soon as the light would disappear, she would begin to revert back to her pale complexion. Zeke just hoped that this would buy Rafe and Simon some more time.
The healer did as much as he could before he started to feel drained. “The Reaper’s Curse is strong. I can’t fight it. I’m sorry, this is as much as I can do.” He bowed and slowly walked out of the room.
Zeke sat down and held Moralie’s hand again. It had gotten warmer, but he could feel the temperature dropping slowly. He wasn’t sure what else he could do. He thought about looking up spells to add some time to her life, but he knew that another spell could complicate things and end up killing her faster. He was at a loss of what else to do. He just had to have faith that Rafe and Simon would come through in time.
“Don’t worry, they’ll be here soon,” he told her. He felt her weakly grip his hand. This brought a smile to his face. She’s a fighter, he thought. In this moment he felt that there was still hope.
Zeke was growing tired. It had been a very stressful day. He just wanted to close his eyes for a brief bit and rest. His eyes were so heavy now, but he fought to keep them open. He didn’t want to miss anything while he was asleep. He was afraid that Moralie might pass away while he slept and he would have to report to Rafe that he let her go on his watch. He was not looking forward to having to do that. He slapped himself to keep his eyes open. Maybe he just needed some water on his face.
Zeke stood up and walked to the doorway to find the bathroom. He stepped into the hallway and saw a few healers running down the hall. There were some raised voices and shouts coming from the main entrance. He hear someone say, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but you can’t go in there unless you know them.”
“I must find him!” said a woman’s voice. “I know he’s here!”
“If you could only tell us who you’re looking for, I’m sure…” Then more shouts were heard. It was then that Zeke saw three healers thrown down the hallway followed by a gust of wind. His eyes grew wide with fear. He knew that it was him that she was looking for. He froze in place for a moment while he thought about what to do. He could run to the bathroom and hide, but that would leave Moralie in danger. What if this woman tried to finish the job that was started with Moralie? He had to protect her, even if it meant that he would get hurt.
Zeke walked back to his room and quietly closed and locked the door. He didn’t think that the lock would stop this woman, whoever she was. She had strong magic, he had sensed it in the hallway. He needed something that would protect him and Moralie. He grabbed the spell book and started looking through the pages for a protection spell.
The building shook as another wave of power rushed through the halls. She was getting closer. It was only a matter of time now. Zeke tried to fight the panic that was racing through him. He calmly flipped through the pages and trusted that he would find something that he could cast. Nothing looked powerful enough. As he got to the more complicated spells, he wasn’t sure if he had enough power to pull them off. He had used two minor spells today and not enough time had passed for him to regain some of that power back. Whatever he used, it would have to be good.
The handle to the door jiggled as someone on the other side tried to gain entry. Zeke was positive it was her; his time had run out. He closed the book, it wasn’t doing him any good. He would have to call upon a spell he knew or make one up on the spot. His master told him that a good wizard was able to think on their feet. He just hoped that he would be able to do that.
The door handle stopped jiggling. Zeke wanted to be hopeful that she would just go away, but he knew better. He prepared himself for battle. He backed away from the door and stood by Moralie’s bed. His clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. He was ready.
The door suddenly burst into millions of tiny wooden splinters. There stood a rather old looking woman with straggly gray hair wearing a white and gold dress that was clearly meant for a woman with more figure. The straps were falling off her skinny shoulders. The glamor had worn off and she was in her natural form. She was saving her power for the wizard. Her eyes narrowed in on Zeke and she licked her lips.
“I knew you were here, boy,” Lyssa hissed. “I see that your friends have left you alone. The fewer people in my way the better. My business is with you.”
She stepped into the room with her skeletal finger pointed at him. She started whispering something that Zeke wasn’t able to hear. Her index finger began to glow a bright and deadly purple. It got brighter as she got louder. She was chanting words that Zeke didn’t understand. He assumed that she was using dark magic to accomplish her goal. He hoped his light magic was going to be enough to save them.
Zeke didn’t want to wait until the witch was done chanting to see what would happen. He remembered a protection spell that Gresar had taught him at the beginning of his apprenticeship. He closed his eyes and said, “Icy winds from beyond this field, come to me, create a shield!” Instantly, a gust of icy cold wind flew in from the open window. It swirled around him and Moralie and created an ice bubble around them. A purple spark flew out and hit the ice shield and fizzled away. He heard the old witch curse as she was too late.
“Such a low level spell, little wizard,” Lyssa said. “Surely you’ve got more power than that.” She whispered some more foreign words and the lights began to dim. Black smoke appeared from underneath her and slowly crept up the sides of the ice shield.
Zeke watched as it soon engulfed the shield in darkness. At first, the smoke just sat there, but then he heard the ice begin to crack. The smoke was eating through the ice. He would have to use something else. The shield was a low level spell and wasn’t going to outlast the witch’s magic. He needed it to last long enough for Rafe and Simon to get back. He wasn’t sure if he was going to be that lucky.
“You can’t hide in there forever!”
He knew that. He just needed the power to reinforce the shield. He focused his magic energy on strengthening the ice from the smoke. It was hard to concentrate as the witch cackled. He then heard Moralie struggle for air. He turned to look at her and saw that her breath was visible. He realized that the cold ice wasn’t helping her condition. I’m killing her, he thought to himself. He would have to bring the ice shield down in order to save her. If he did that, it would surely spell doom for both of them. He had to make a decision fast. He looked up and saw that the ice was starting to crumble. Pieces rained down onto him and the floor. It looked like his decision was being made for him.
Zeke pulled his energy back from the shield and let it come crashing down on him. The ice shattered as it hit the floor. The smoke that it was holding back fell down and covered him. The smoke was thick and smelled of burnt wood and something rotten. It caught in Zeke’s lungs and burned. He coughed in an attempt to get the evil smoke out, but it clung to his lungs with a vengeance. He imagined that he would be coughing this stuff out for the rest of his life.
Lyssa clapped her hands and the smoke swirled around Zeke. It slowly rose up and jumped into his eyes, his nose, his mouth, his ears and began to fill him. She watched as Zeke struggled to take a deep breath, but the smoke was making it difficult. He clutched his throat in a feeble attempt to open his airways. Lyssa gave Zeke an evil grin as she took a few steps forward. “How I wish to know what you’re thinking as you take your last breath. It must be about your dear, sweet mother or maybe it’s of your master. Yes, that’s probably it. You never got to live up to his expectations. How sad that is. You gave it your best shot, but to no avail. Maybe in your next life, kiddo.”
Zeke wanted nothing more than to shut her up. He had some power left, but not much. He closed his eyes and focused on expelling the smoke. He was pushing against a stream of dark magic that was threatening to tear him apart from the inside. He pushed with all of his might and prayed that it was enough. He felt an tingling sensation that started at the bottom of his feet and rushed to the top of his head. It was magical energy that was pulsing through his body. He didn’t know where it had come from, but he planned on using it. He accumulated the energy within him and used it to forcibly eject the black smoke out of his body. Lyssa was caught by surprise as smoke poured out of his mouth and gathered on the ceiling.
“What trickery is this?” Lyssa shouted at him.
A golden light surrounded Zeke as the last of the smoke left his body. His eyes narrowed on Lyssa as he raised his hands toward her. She cowered away from him, unsure of what was actually happening. She saw that he was whispering something. She strained to hear what it was, but gasped as his voice suddenly grew loud and clear: “Your dark soul I hereby banish, and from my sight you shall now vanish!”
The golden light encapsulated itself around Lyssa as she screamed. The light intensified and in a sudden flash, the dark witch was gone. Zeke felt the magical energy drain from him. He fell to his knees and tried to catch his breath. It was then that Rafe and Simon entered the room. They were out of breath as well. They ran to him and held him up as he started to fall over.
“Zeke! Are you alright?” Rafe asked. “What happened?”
“I sense a dark presence was just here,” Simon said. He looked around the room and saw that there were no other threats. “Whatever just happened it’s over now.” He looked up at Moralie and saw that she was okay. He turned his attention to Zeke and saw that he was now sleeping. “Should we wake him up?”
Rafe shook her head and patted Zeke on the head. “We should let him sleep for a little while longer. We’ll have the healers do what they can for Moralie until he wakes up.” She rested his head on her chest. It had been a long time since she had held someone in this way. It reminded her of someone she lost long ago. She was happy to do this for Zeke now. She held him tightly and allowed him to sleep for a while.