Warning: There’s a gif
Credit to Livvielove for Kit’s dialogue!
I stood hesitantly on the edge of the center – alone.
This dark endless expanse didn’t feel empty anymore. It used to be scary because of that. It was this endless black hole that if you fell in you’d never stop falling.
But a few days ago, both Niko and I were in this area together, and both of us were awake in it. That seemed to have been the catalyst for this area to fill up with this other…presence.
The toxic fog somehow took a life of its own and it spoke to us. The kind of voice that really shakes you to the core.
I hadn’t seen it since, and the need to know what it was, was gnawing at me. Apparently the event hadn’t been isolated to this dream realm, it had gotten felt outside too.
Sadly, nothing happens when it’s just me awake here. The place is still, with just a faint humming coming from the tree.
Nikolas was back to being constantly asleep. Out of a need to know if that happens every time we’re both awake here, I’ve tried my best to wake him.
But no matter how much I shout or shake him, he’s fast asleep. I’ll have to ask him to join me here soon.
On some perfect cue, a few moments after I’d woken up, Niko reached out in astral.
“Hey Ashe, you awake?”
It was six am so it was a legitimate question.
“Of a few minutes! How’s it going in Legacy Island II?” I asked, just as Nikolas made the jump over in astral.
“It’s not, I’m on the Right now.” He said with a distinct lack of emotion. “I’ve got news for you to share with the rest of the rebellion.”
“Oooh, let’s hear it.”
Nikolas grimaced. “The Talent Troupe is dead. Last night they got attacked by a curse. All of them.”
“Oh no…” I was kind of hoping on their help one day. They seemed like a good trump card against the Hans, but now…
“We think Assaria caused it. Chances of her being alive still are probably high, but yeah.” He shrugged.
“Can you pass on the message?” He said a little sharply.
“Wasn’t your dad in the Talent Troupe?” I gently prodded. It’s obvious this affected him.
Nikolas slowly clenched his jaw. “Aleccas is with us too. For an undetermined amount of time.” He said, avoiding my question.
I sighed internally; he’s locking himself out again.
“Were you there when it happened?” I attempted.
“I don’t really want to talk about it, can you pass on the message?”
“Yeah you can count on me. Before you go, walk with me? I want to show you something.” I said. He doesn’t want to open up, but maybe I can help him another way.
He seemed reluctant but nodded.
“How’s everyone getting settled?” Niko asked as we walked.
“Really well! Everyone has a place and a role. We’ve been in a victory phase from the Lab, though the Talent Troupe going down is…a worrying thing. Not that they were helping, but I was hoping we could count on them one day.”
I caught Niko raising his eyebrow at me, but he didn’t say anything.
“It’s not all been perfect here though.” I continued, trying to lead into what I wanted to show him. I tried to be subtle, I didn’t want to spook him before I reached the area. “Some people have more trouble adjusting, mostly because they’re missing others you know? But I think hearing from you, now that you’re out of that lab, might cheer them up.” I said, leading Niko into the small area where I knew Jesse and Nato tended to crash. They were the ones that had taken Nikolas getting captured the hardest. They were the best ones to show Niko that no matter how tough things are, there are people here who care about him – if he ever wants to open up.
“They miss you.” I added. “Nato tends to mope a lot, I’m sure knowing you popped in for a visit will make him feel better.” I whispered.
I leaned down to gently pet Nato without waking up Jesse. “And Jesse well-”
“Go away Ashe.” Jesse mumbled, apparently awake already.
I glanced back at Niko, who was frowning. He crossed his arms and looked away.
“Sorry, Jesse, didn’t mean to wake you. Niko’s here-”
“Buzz off,” He repeated, not looking up.
I glanced back at Niko to apologize, but he’d already disappeared.
I’ll talk to him about the tree place later then.
No one’s POV
Nikolas let out a disappointed groan as the spell fizzled into nothing. Aleccas felt the need to step in. He wasn’t sure what spell the boy was attempting, but he could already see several things he could fix.
Niko, however, just as rapidly took back his stance, ready to try again. Aleccas decided not to make his presence known just yet.
Atris took careful steps outside to join them, and the Keeper witch motioned for him to be silent. Nikolas still hadn’t noticed he wasn’t alone.
He was focused, practicing stances and moves he normally would do with his katanas. After a little while of watching, Aleccas finally figured out what spell he was trying to cast. The spell always sort of took the shape of a sword. He was trying to call his swords.
Essentially he was trying to make a teleportation spell on material objects and Aleccas shook his head with a grin. No witch with any kind of self-respect for their own sanity would attempt something like that. A teleportation spell on its own – the kind that can teleport you from one area in the world to another – is impossible.
Or at the very least, you need to have very specific abilities for that. So far, from what Aleccas had seen, there were only three ways of teleporting. Atris, Zac’s tattoo, and an artifact. Some kind of amulet he’d heard about when he was younger. He didn’t know if that was still in circulation though.
Unless Nikolas had found the common element to all of these, there was little chance of him managing to cast a spell that would take an object from somewhere else in space and drag it back to him. Hell, if a spell like that existed and was possible Aleccas would know. It’s the kind of thing his family would’ve perfected.
Even with all these assurances, the Keeper prince still found himself analyzing the spell. The way Nikolas was weaving it was a little peculiar, in that he hadn’t taught it to him. He kept giving a good starting shape to it. The magic did indeed outline the shape of a katana, but there was something missing. The color of the magic was all wrong too.
Despite his own logic, Aleccas was seeing this spell as a start with just a very key, major piece missing to it. What did Atris and Zac have in common? What does it take to teleport? To make something travel space in a second….
Atris chirped, as if he knew all the answers, and the sound caught Nikolas’ attention.
He dropped what he was doing and stared at them until Aleccas spoke.
“You’ve got a good start on that spell.” He gestured.
Nikolas glanced at his hands.
“I’m working on it.” He said with a shrug.
“Maybe if you held back some magic on that second phase you’d get a better result.” Aleccas offered, unable to help himself.
Niko considered it, weighing his hands before attempting the spell again.
“There, did you see that? That’s already better.” Aleccas said, gesturing at the color change. The form already had a straighter edge to it too.
“You know the spell?” Niko inquired.
“I’m assuming you’re trying a teleporting spell.”
“Ah well…no I guess that’s a pretty good term for it, but I see it more as a calling spell. Getting something else to come to me.” He tried to explain.
“If you want your swords, we can pop over and get them.” Aleccas offered.
“Thanks, but it’s fine. This isn’t just for that.” Not only could it be useful, but he could call his violin too…and everything the Hans swiped off him when they captured him.
He readjusted his hands and went to cast the spell again.
“Where did you learn the start of it?” Aleccas asked as he made his way over.
“I didn’t actually, well no one taught me. This is going to sound weird, but I saw it in a…dream.” Nikolas said, hesitating on the term.
“You saw it in a dream? This is an incredibly complex, no I’d say impossible, spell and you saw it in a dream?”
“You don’t think it’s possible?”
“It’s not supposed to be! But you’ve got a great start to it, so it might be.” Aleccas said, only getting Nikolas a little more confused. “Point is Niko, I’m impressed. Again. I heard about the spells you cast yesterday too.”
“Oh she told you about that did she?” Nikolas said, glancing away. Yesterday was…it was a heavy mess that Niko was eager to wash away. He didn’t know how he was supposed to feel about it, but it was nothing good so far.
“I heard you cast a spell so fast your father didn’t even have time to react.” Aleccas smirked.
Nikolas smiled a bit, and seeing the witch’s inviting grin inspired him to share. “Not just one spell, three.”
Aleccas raised his eyebrows.
The young witch seemed to go through an internal argument before he grinned and brought up his hand.
It was going to be kind of hard to replicate it with only one hand, since Atris was occupying his other arm, but he was going to do the spells slower this time to show his old mentor.
“First one I did was the bubble one. I made two small ones, around his hands so he’d be harder for him to cast any spells.” He said, demonstrating and making two bubbles appear in the air. “After that I used a levitation one to drag them both together. And then I made them both expand outward which knocked him off his feet.” Once he’d let the spells go, Atris had settled more fully on his shoulder, so he redid them, this time without explanations and in one fell swoop – one after the other.
“Creation, levitation, and dissolution, all in a few seconds?”
“Yeah, pretty much – on the spot too.” Nikolas smirked.
“Well, they’re a little primitive, but I’m happy they did the work.” Aleccas said with a light tease. “That levitation spell though…I didn’t teach you that. Not like that.”
“You taught me how to move the protection spheres with people when they move. I just took that element and built on it. I’ve been working on applying it to other objects too – small ones.” Nikolas excitedly shared.
He pointed at a rock in the ground, flicking his hands to cast his spell, making the small rock rise up. “I’m going to call it telekinesis or something.”
“That spell already exists, naturally,” Aleccas said, pointing his staff at one of the logs and making it rise without effort. “But this is the kind of thinking that makes me believe you could figure out that teleportation spell.”
“Nobody really ever figured it out?”
“It’s just not doable. Witch magic is about using the environment’s magic. You can tell it to be a weapon – destroy things – you can tell it to move things, you can tell it to transform things! But moving something from across the world in a fraction of a second? Magic doesn’t travel that fast, the best it can do is carry it to you, but that’s a lengthy spell to keep up depending on how far and heavy it is.”
“Yeah see, I was thinking about it last night – wondering how to really make it work. Instead of grabbing it and bringing it to me, I’m really more…calling it you know? Creating a space here and inviting it over, if that makes sense?”
“Hm,” Aleccas took a second to go over it in his head, before he nodded slowly, replying back with more detailed knowledge on the subject.
They spent the morning going back and forth discussing theories, both grateful for different reasons.
Aleccas got to talk about his heritage and to share his knowledge of magic. Something he could only do with Nikolas. There were no other witches near his level of power and interest.
As for Nikolas, it was at once a needed reconciliation and a distraction.
Sadly it wasn’t meant to last. By afternoon Niko’s mind was replaying the events and coming to terms with what it all implied.
By evening, while they were eating supper with Kit and Mouse who’d come back, the thoughts had become a large heavy weight.
It shouldn’t even be something he was hesitating on. It should be natural. Tell her.
When someone dies, you have to make sure their loved ones know. It was selfish to try and keep it from her.
Nikolas grimaced at himself. It wasn’t about keeping it from her. He just…didn’t want to call her. She’d want to know how. She’d want to know why. How would she take it? How would she react to knowing he’d seen their father moments before he died, and those were moments he spent casting spells and disowning him? He didn’t have the…energy to hear whatever she’d say.
But those were dumb selfish reasons for not telling her something this big.
Nikolas took in a breath finally and approached Kit.
“Hey, do you think I could borrow your friend’s phone?” He asked, still convincing himself that this was the best thing to do, no matter how he felt about it.
It was. And this was his responsibility now.
Kit looked up at him with a mildly skeptical look. “Hm, depends on who ye be wantin’ to call?” She grew curious. “Am I allowed to ask?”
“Yeah, I just want to call my sister. I figure she should know about our dad dying.” Nikolas said with a slight shrug.
Kit shifted in her seat. “How old is this sister of yours?”
“Nikita’s just 2 years older than me. She’s 19.” He replied.
“Is she back in Legacy Island?”
“No, she’s in Stonebridge right now.” He said, starting to wonder what the point of these questions were.
Kit nodded staring at something else before looking back at Niko. “Come on, take a walk with me.” She said as she got up.
He frowned but followed her out of the barn.
“Aye, lad, I’m going to be straight with ye.” She said as they walked towards two hay bales beside the main house. “I do believe my friend has a phone, and if I were to ask, he’d lend it to ye, but it’s kind of a fair chunk of change to call across continents.”
Niko paused. “Oh then, maybe it’s – probably shouldn’t then. He’s already letting us sleep in his barn.” He said with a small nod, trying not to show his relief at having something else to support him not calling her.
Kit leaned on the hay bale, carefully noticing Niko’s reaction. “It’s gonna rain tonight, let’s move these into the barn. Help me?” She asked, raising her eyebrows.
Nikolas nodded and moved to set up beside her. “Plus it’s probably a little late to be calling over there.” He added, a little uselessly. He was already looking at other ways to contact her. He just needed to contact Zac and tell him. He groaned internally as they started to push the pile. Nikita won’t like finding out from someone who isn’t him, but maybe if he made sure that Zac made it clear he was the one asking him to share…
“You know, Niko, I have a confession to make to ye.” Kit began.
Nikolas’ thoughts quieted and he turned to look at her.
“Ye remember how I said I don’t follow much news? Well, I mean, it’s not false. I don’t… but I did follow your trial. Rather intently, I might add. I was already on the Right Continent for the Troupe when it started up, and I got curious. I dug into everythin’ I could know ‘bout it. I knew who ye were long before ye introduced yourself to me” She paused to glance at him as they pushed at the hay. “I had never been so… angry at… well… anything before in me life when I uncovered everything. They blew all of this up into a trial… pitting ye against your dad when it was clear as day he was guilty. They just had to make an example of ye.”
She shook her head and sighed. “I didn’t want ye to feel like your whole life would be defined by that trial, so I lied to ye. I wouldn’t ever use it to define ye, but sometimes I wonder if you use it to define yourself.”
Nikolas stared at the hay as she talked, nodding a bit. The trial had been a representation of his life if he thought about it. None of it was about him. Everybody had had their own intentions for it. For his dad, it’d been about defending himself. To everyone else, it was an excuse to hate on supernaturals. To Aleccas, it’d been about taking Xavier away. The trial was supposed to be about Nikolas, and what happened to him, but in the end his absence wouldn’t have changed much.
Kit picked up again. “I know which side of the trial your sister sat on when she was there, lad.” She stopped moving the hay, forcing Niko to stop as well.
He played with the hay, staring at it. “At first, yeah, but…she stood up for me later on. I don’t hold it against her. It wasn’t an easy time for my family. I was very much being a homewrecker.” He said with a dry snort.
“No, Niko. You really weren’t.” She said, looking at him with a steady and serious gaze. “What was done to ye was completely unacceptable… and what was more unacceptable was how not a single person in your family was willin’ to acknowledge that.”
She clenched her first then and punched the hay, catching Niko by surprise.
The frustration in her body language was clear and it was towards something that had happened to him. He’d had people sympathize and give him comfort. He’d had people be on his side…but he’d never had someone be angry like this for him. He was…shaken by it to say the least.
“But bein’ angry ‘bout that isn’t what we’re talkin’ ‘bout. Or at least, not what I meant to talk to ye ‘bout. I’m not ‘bout to meddle between brother and sister, as I’ve not had any ever family ‘sides Mouse…” She paused, a small wave of guilt passing through her at the thought of Haginda. “But for as long as I’ve known ye… and known of ye… there’s not a single part of me that thinks ye were the problem in this equation.”
Nikolas bit his cheek. “You’d be one of the few. Not to sound like I’m building up a pity fest here, but I’m kind of like the boy who cried wolf in my family? I get – got into trouble a lot, I was pretty much known for being reckless and hard to handle. I wouldn’t be surprised if they sent my dads sympathy cards. So, I wasn’t that surprised when most everyone sided with my dad. He was the one who had to deal with me – or more his word was easier to trust than mine.”
Nikolas rubbed the back of his head, hating how it still sounded like a pity speech. He didn’t like it, but he was too far in to step back out now.
“Easier for everyone. Including Niki. She wasn’t a troublemaker, so her relationship with dad was a lot better. It was harder for her to pick a side. I’m just grateful she did stick up for me, cause I’d been a weight on her too. I still am, but she loves me either away. I guess that’s family for you.” He tried to laugh it off, but his throat betrayed him and clenched up.
Kit reached over and touched his shoulder, redirecting his attention back to her. “I don’t see a troublemaker here, lad. I see a young man with spirit and drive and a lot of curiosity. I see someone who’s been told he’s trouble by people who don’t like when the status-quo gets challenged. I see a bright, promising lad who has started to actually believe it. There wasn’t sides to be picked. There aren’t sides within a family.”
Her words were getting to her more than he’d like to admit. He tried swallowing, but his throat wouldn’t let up.
“I can’t speak for your family, but I can speak for mine. When ye made that deal with me, ye became part of my family… and I don’t… I just need you to know that… I won’t let people pick sides against my family.”
The final words were like a blow to him. He felt the tears spring to his eyes and he lowered his head, his hand coming up to hide it. His shoulders began to shake, until he was completely wracked with sobs.
Kit reached over and pulled him into a hug, letting him ride out the emotional stress that was finally being let out.
After so long…after years of just accepting this image of a family…Kit was giving something he hadn’t known to ask for.
Once his sobs started to calm down, he pulled away, wiping at his face. “Sorry, I just…thanks.”
“No need for apologies here, lad. In my books, you’re family to me. I did mean what I said, no take-backsies.” She cast him a smile with a small snort. He smirked back in response, giving his eyes another wipe. “As for your sister, why don’t we tell her together? In person, when you’re ready. It doesn’t have to be today, nor tomorrow. I bet if we ask nicely we can have New Jesus take us there, even. That way… ye don’t have to do it alone.”
He smiled, but it faded, the weight of that responsibility back on his chest. “It’s her loss too, more than me. It doesn’t seem fair not to tell her…just because I’m not ready.”
“Well, I mean… your dad’s not… exactly goin’ anywhere anytime soon. I don’t think a day or two is gonna make that much of a difference.” She gave a self-aware smile of how horrible her joke was. Still, it made Niko raise his eyebrow and then burst out into laughter. “Jokes aside, your sister didn’t lose more than ye, Niko. Ye both lost, so why does it matter who feels it differently… it should be about ye both grieving together.”
“Yeah…and well her reaction is going to be the same whether I tell her now or three days from now on. And that’s going to be some jealousy that I got to see dad, and well, chances are she’ll pull out of me what happened and then it’ll be anger on how I spent those last few moments. Not really things I’m looking forwards to at all.”
Kit frowned, her face gradually shifting into complete disgust. “After all your dad has done to both of ye? Please tell me you’re exaggeratin’ or pull me leg?” She looked at Niko, but he gave a slight shrug. “Oh, for fuck’s sake.” She muttered. “I was tryin’ to give her a little leeway givin’ all ye two have that I don’t know ‘bout, lad, but to be honest with ye it sounds like she’s a right chore. No wonder it felt like ye were bein’ asked to pull out your own teeth when ye asked if ye could call her.” She rubbed her face, still floored by this.
He gave a short laugh. “Niki’s always been…she’s got a very specific view of how she expects things to be. She’s….okay no truth is she’s real selfish. She likes to act like I owe her a lot, cause I kind of messed up the whole family dynamic we had going on with my inability to be exactly what dad wanted. Which was one that profited her a lot, as she was the favored child.” He shrugged. “We don’t get along that well, but she’s my sister, and when it comes to our family now, we’re kind of alone. You’d think that’d make us closer actually. But she’s kind of like dad, in that, she’s really not the type to step in and try to fix things. She’ll shut the door and wait for the storm to pass. And since she cares for me, she hates that I’m the type who’ll head straight into that storm. I appreciate that she cares, but…sometimes I make the connection between that mentality, and the one my dad has. And I really get wondering as to why it’s so hard to just let me be.” Nikolas gestured at nothing as they began pushing the hay again. “Only of course, for life to show me I’m wrong, because being careless gets you caught. But it’s not about being careless it’s…”
Kit picked up for him. “It’s about your youness. It’s about people accepting ye for who ye want to be, not who they want ye to be, or who they are. Differences are what make people stronger, or at least, they should. Take us for example, yeah? You’ve got your magic, but I don’t, yet we both bring something unique to the table. I mean, remember the spells ye used back at the Troupe? So fast! I could never do that, but us in combo… well, we could do some damage, don’t ye think? I don’t need ye to think like me for us to work together. Same with Mouse… or Ne-Aleccas, too. The differences we bring are what makes us… us and no one else. It’s just a shame your sister, from what you said, doesn’t see that.” She sighs.
Nikolas grinned at this. He certainly wasn’t against receiving praise, and this was making him really excited for the training he was going to be doing with her. “We’re going to do some pretty badass things aren’t we? It’s got me pumped for tomorrow’s training. Are you going to show me those kicks you did? Cause my kicks are lacking, I’m definitely not against that.”
Kit smirked. “Aye lad, ye should be very pumped. Tomorrow’s trainin’ is gonna be a doozy. I’ll be trainin’ with ye, I’ve gotten a bit sloppy recently. I’m actually pretty glad we’ll be doin’ this. It’ll be ‘ard work, but good for us.” They reached the barn, setting the bale beside it. “Now let’s go get the other one.”