“Is this really necessary? I think my legs are gonna die at this rate.”
Burnout sat in the center of The Court’s chamber. He had agreed to the examination, but he hadn’t expected to be stuck in the same spot for over an hour.
The Court didn’t respond. He was walking around George, carefully stepping around the metal circle on the floor.
Will stood in the doorway. “You were forced into a magical sleep. Until we figure out where it came from, you could be putting everyone near you at risk, especially with your new magic output. So until the Court says so, you’re staying there. And the longer we distract him, the longer it’ll-“
Will mock glared at The Court. “You did that on purpose.”
The Court stayed silent.
Will sighed. “What did you find out?”
“Not as much as I would like. I succeeded in removing what remnants remained of the spell, but its origin is confusing. The spell appears to have entered visually at least several weeks ago, but he was not targeted. I believe the spell was worked into a manuscript and was designed to be set off at its creator’s whim.”
They both looked to Burnout.
“Um…I was researching magic at the college. Could it have been in one of the books there?”
“It’s possible,” The Court answered. “A prank or a trap set by the tome’s scribe. Something that should not affect anyone after his death. I have heard of such things done to keep apprentices from using advanced spells.”
Burnout glanced at the clock behind The Court. “Mind if I get going? I need to be somewhere.”
The Court nodded and Will stepped back while the young hero left the room.
Once they heard the door shut, Will turned to the mage. “Could that spell work on anyone?”
“Most,” The Court said. “A few would be immune. Trained mages, magic creatures, and anyone with Hero Blood should be immune. I suppose if you had far less magic potential than the average person, you could shake it off with willpower. Why?”
“Just a bad feeling. Could anyone make these things today?”
The Court thought about it. “A few that I know of, but they are spread around the world. I suppose an untrained mage whose innate talent was Runes, they might be able to pull something of the sort off, but they have to have a decent understanding of sleep magic as well, or it would require their magic to run. No mage I know of fits those requirements.”
Will nodded. “Thanks. I’ll double check with my guys, see if anyone like that’s around town.”
“Very well. Please inform me if anything of note appears.”
“You should really learn to cook. You can’t live on fast food forever.”
Jack gritted his teeth. He’d been hearing Paige’s voice more and more lately. He could bear it when other people were around, shove it under the noise of a crowd. But when he was alone…
“Don’t be silly, Knight. We promised we’d never leave each other alone, remember? We’re a team through and through.”
“Stop it,” he whispered. “You’re already dead, and I’m alone. You can’t change that.”
“Come on, Knight. If we let a silly thing like death stop us, how could we call ourselves heroes?”
It was just like her too. She’d always had an answer. She’d always been ready to stand her ground and fight it out, whether they were on a mission or deciding on dinner.
“After all, you always were a little hopeless on your own weren’t you? Always running headfirst into battle. A knight in shining armor who didn’t even give the princess time to get captured first. So much for fairy tales huh?”
“Heh. Like you were ever a princess. I’d love to see the prince who could rescue you before you got yourself out.”
“Why would I let a prince rescue me? I had my own knight already.”
“Some knight. I failed Paige. All those years of training, all the promises. None of it mattered.”
“Of course it mattered. Do you think I would have loved you if it didn’t? You never failed. Nothing you did could have changed that night.”
“I wasn’t even trying!” Jack screamed. “You were right there, and I was doing all I could to save my own skin!”
“You thought I would be fine. You couldn’t have known my shield would fall.”
“I knew your limits Paige. I knew it couldn’t last much longer. I didn’t get to you in time. I never managed to reach you in time.”
“Never stopped you from trying though did it? Believe it or not, I loved it when you would charge in to rescue me. No matter how pointless it was.”
Jack felt his eyes grow moist, but he blinked it away. “I promised, didn’t I? I told you that I’d come for you, even if you don’t need me.”
“Even if I told you to stay away. I know Jack. But…make another promise for me. This time, just this once, really stay away. I’ll be with you no matter what, so don’t come looking, okay?”
A tear rolled slowly down Jack’s face. “Okay…okay. Just, wait for me will you?”
For once, the voice stopped. For once, he wished it hadn’t.