All Too Much

It was a simple-looking wooden box with two bronze hinges on one side and a matching clasp on the other. Sarah knew that, while it appeared unremarkable, it had been crafted with a great deal of care. The Mistress had given it to her as a gift when she finished her apprenticeship. No magic could pass through the container, protecting the contents from external danger and protecting the world from any threat that might be stored inside.

With more than a little trepidation, Sarah carefully undid the clasp and opened the lid. Inside, the chaos crystal seemed to absorb all light that tried to reach it, leaving the crystal with a dull exterior. Despite it’s drab appearance, it radiated magic with an intensity she had never before experienced. This crystal was probably the most dangerous thing she had ever encountered.

From Aisha’s recounting of events, she knew it had affected Julia in some way, but it wasn’t clear how. Was it controlling her? Had it changed her personality? Unless Sarah was willing to expose herself to the same fate, it was difficult to arrive at any conclusion without Julia to question. It was hard to believe Julia had made this herself. Few mages understood chaos magic, and even fewer had a gift for it. Perhaps Jason had taught her, but that seemed reckless even for him.

With its power, perhaps she could undo whatever was done to Matthew, but she didn’t have the first idea how she could do that. Or even if she should do it. David had been injured. Julia had disappeared with Aisha going after her. Even Thomas was still frozen. And Matthew… She refused to believe he was dead, but what else could it be? Had Julia sent him somewhere? Was there a way to get him back?

Maybe she should wash her hands of the whole mess. Thomas’s problems weren’t hers. She didn’t have the slightest clue how to help Julia, or even if Julia needed help. And Matthew… He had betrayed her. Even the House wasn’t really hers. She was merely a caretaker to help smooth over the conflicts between others. Both Madeline and Matthew had urged her before to leave. Had she stayed merely out of stubbornness? Could she just walk away now?

Mindlessly, she had reached out to the crystal and only just caught herself before touching it. She slammed the lid closed to prevent any accidents. What should she do with it? Concentrated chaos was not something to be left around; at the very least, it could interfere with other magic.

The crystal might interfere with magic . . . Thoughts of leaving were pushed away, and she hurried to Thomas’s room. He was still there, still on the floor on his hands and knees. It would be too dangerous to touch the crystal directly, but even the proximity might be enough. If she could solve even one of her problems, it would help.

She placed the box as close to Thomas as she dared. Then she opened it once more. When nothing happened, the defeated feeling in her chest returned with greater force. Sarah slumped to the floor and began doubting herself again.

A noise caused her to look up. At first, she thought Julia must have returned, but what she saw instead was completely unexpected. In front her, next to Thomas, was a translucent figure. There was no mistaking it; it was definitely Jason.

“This would probably be useful to you,” Jason said while reaching down to pick up the crystal, “but I’m afraid I need it.”

“You can’t! I’m trying to . . .”

“I know, and it was a good idea. Try to have more faith in yourself. You are more than capable of dealing with the challenges you’ve been handed. Right now, though, I need the crystal more than you. I’m sorry.” When he finished speaking, he faded out of sight, taking the crystal with him.

“Jason! Explain it to me!” There was no response. She wanted to cry, to scream, but she just sighed. No one would tell her important information that she needed; she was just expected to manage on her own.

Thomas collapsed to the floor as if finishing a fall that had started long ago. He looked at Sarah with relief. “I assume the attackers have been dealt with?”

Of course that was what he was thinking about. It was the last thing he was aware of, after all. But when she thought about all that had happened since, all she could do was to start laughing uncontrollably.

Leave Feedback

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s