“Please Syeahrs, let me go .” Alex asked again for the hundredth time. The harlequin giggled a little at his request. She never seemed to grow tired of him no matter how irritating the boy ‘walker made himself.
“I’m sorry Alex, but I can’t do that. I need you here.” She responded playfully yet sympathetic to his predicament.
“Why not?! The campus is under attack they need me to help defend it!” Alex responded in exasperation at her reply.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure they’re doing fine without you. You’re not the only powerful planeswalker there to protect it, and besides why would you have been put to sleep if they needed you?” He wasn’t making any progress with her as usual. He might as well get her game over with so he can leave to help out. If he’s lucky he might wake up before it was to late.
“Alright, I’ll play, but first answer a question for me.” Syeahrs cocked her head in what he could assume was curiosity, then began to preform slow backflips. As she stopped mid flip into a curled handstand she finally spoke again.
“Sure Alex, fire away. I don’t mind.” He took in a deep breath before asking. Then after framing the question he began.
“Why are we doing this every time I sleep? You’re clearly real, because I wouldn’t be having this dream every single night for the past eight months.” Syeahrs finally finished her handstand by switching to cartwheels around her associate.
“Oh that’s an easy one. Because I want you to grow.” Now Alex was really confused.
“What kinda if asinine answer is that?”
“Sorry Alex, just one question tonight. Now let’s begin”
“Fine if you’ll let me, what’s tonight’s game going to be?”
“I think tonight we’ll play hide and seek.” Alex let out a sigh. Syeahrs, The Unbound Victor, as she called herself once, had changed the the game they played every night. First they dueled, then they raced, she even had him play a slightly more difficult version of tennis. And every time she beat him while giving him advice or words of encouragement to beat her. She had to be the most frustratingly helpful opponent he had ever faced.
“What’s the twist?” The planeswalker asked tiredly, knowing full well there would be one. Finally, after several more passes his opponent slowed to a stop to stand in front of him, only a few feet away. Then while placing her hands on her hips she leaned forward so close his face almost touched her mask.
“You will be hiding and while I look for you there will be a weapon hidden as well. If you can find the weapon without me capturing you first, and you can use it to beat me, you win.”
“It’s that simple?”
“Then let’s get started.”
“I thought you would never ask.” Without a second thought the harlequin backfliped. Her foot came dangerously close to his face, making him flinch out of reaction, and when his eyes opened again she was gone.
That wasn’t the only change the young Mage soon realized. The empty he guessed temple room was replaced by an infinite abyss. Spires jutted from nothing, and moved in seemingly random directions, along with a mishmash of floating platforms like the one he now stood on. Suddenly, he felt a strong wind pushing against him. Not enough to move him, but enough to make him think carefully about where he jumped. And if that wasn’t enough heavy rain, thunder, and lightning began hammering his senses. It was good because it would help him hide, but also bad since it hid his opponent as well.
Soon, more changes followed as random platforms jutted fragments of brick and stone wall. Along with lamp posts, billboards, and cars all of which looked to be from the campus.
“Hi!” A tiny and excited little voice yelled in his ear.
“Ah!” Alex yelled back startled for a second before realizing who it was. He glanced over towards the voice he heard to see a miniature Syeahrs standing in his shoulder. “Feth Seahry, how many times do I have to goram tell you not to do that?”
“Sorry sorry, I just got really excited!”
“That’s what she said.”
“It is what I said!” She happily replied not catching the joke at all. Her crudely made mask slipped a little off her face. He remembered when she had made it during a particularly intense game of pictionary Syeahrs made him play. Seahry didn’t have a mask when they first met and guessed she wanted one to be more like her “big sister” as she put it. “Anyway now that the stage is set what’s your plan?”
“Oh the kind that may get one or both of us in trouble.” The three inch tall girl jumped up and down, utterly delighted by the idea and completely unaffected by the wind and rain.
“That’s the best! Whadda we do?”
“You should have let me go back.” The blue robed ‘walker told his fiery counterpart in moderate irritation. The pyromancer next to him looked bemused by his current state of being.
“Why so you can attempt to repair a bruised ego. Who cares if he got the better of you? It was his mind. He had… What was that saying they used again? “Home-field advantage?” That feels right anyway.”
“You’re not seriously using their terminology now?”
“Why not? I find several of them rather endearing, and besides we have other concerns at the moment.” Jace’s expression hardened for a brief moment as the conversation took a change in topics.”
“He has never been so openly hostile to a civilization before. Maybe a rather large amount of distaste and loathing for it, but never such… active aggression.”
“I know. Do you think we should monitor him as well? Or take more “direct” actions.”
“Let’s keep our distance for now. Gideon seems to have bought us some time at least.”
“Very well, I’ll trust your judgment on this.”
“Good, thanks this situation is going to take a delicate touch if it’s gonna play out right.”
With little else to say, the two mages continued to pack for their new location.
“Come on Alex, all I need to do is tag you, and we can be done for the night. Or you can keep hiding and hoping I don’t find you while you locate the spotlight.” Syeahrs’ voice echoed through the maelstrom raging around the clear as day. Giving him an idea of where she was at least. She had to have been doing it on purpose, because even the jingling of her bells could be heard through this mess.
Alex himself had been jumping around looking for the dammed weapon since the game began. Even after Seahry told him everything she knew about the game it still wasn’t much to go on, but he had a plan for this one at least. Tapping into his blue mana reserves he summoned up just enough for his spell to cast and stay hidden. While some of the potency was gone stealth was more important at the moment.
Several small orbs rolled onto the floor as he finished casting. They all came to a stop at his feet, and with the racket in his right hand he served each one in a different direction. They bounced around sensing for him. Till one finally pinged a positive response.
Syeahrs stalked the darkness searching for her target. She only allowed the sounds of her bells and voice travel in the storm raging around them. She had to give him some help, otherwise how would he succeed? It was a game after all. An important game, but a game none the less. Either he would improve enough to win or they would simply continue the next time he slept. It didn’t make much difference to her. The games were fun after all.
Only a glimpse of Alex appeared in the peripherals, but it was enough for her to track him.
“Sorry Alex, looks like we get to play again.” The jester muttered to herself in mild self satisfaction. Running under the platforms she chased her target. He seemed oblivious, even though she still let him hear her approach. At the edge of their fifth platform she climbed up in front of him cutting off his path. Then with little effort, a net made of bright violet energy sprang forth from her extended palm wrapping around its intended target. Her opponent went crashing down with barely a fight as he tripped over the bindings. “Better luck next time.”
With a poof of smoke Alex disappeared from her trap. Out of automatic reflex the net shrank to hold the considerably smaller pawn snared inside. Seahry uselessly struggled against her restraints, as she continuously coughed at the smoke she had generated.
“Seahry, what…” Was all she had time to say as a blinding beam brightly shone onto where she stood. It was quickly followed by another, then several more as a ring of light from these beams surrounded her. After a brief few seconds of being dazed the masked eldrazi realized he hadn’t found the correct one yet.
With barely another thought she slipped away through the only remaining dark pocket towards the last spotlight.
This had better work. Was the common thought Alex was finding himself thinking and borderline praying. While he liked Syeahrs he didn’t like the constant games she was playing. It was time they ended.
He slid under a half bent lamppost, and leapt over a flipped car. Rain, thunder, and lightning also kept hammering his senses. More than once he had thought the game was up from a lightning strike that had removed the darkness of his hiding spot. Ah well he’s almost at his last location anyway.
He jumped the last platform. His footing slipped some on the wet surface, causing him to go down hard, but he quickly recovered and ran to the last spotlight. He could feel his heart skip a beat with his victory being only a few paces away.
A flash of red and black appeared just before he could reach his destination. Luckily his reaction time was faster than his thought process, as she attempted to fire a barrage of nets, he managed to dodge the first attacks with a dive that quickly turned into a roll that he used the momentum of to perform a handspring. Alex soon found himself in the air above his platform, with the slender figure of Syeahrs standing below looking up at him.
He remained suspended in midair for a moment, as he readied himself for the next part of his battle. In each hand he summoned his silvery rackets. The right one in his normal grip, the left in his reverse grip. They then compressed into two narrow spikes. He really hoped this plan wouldn’t backfire.
Then his descent began. Alex could feel the slight vertigo from his change in direction, a tingling sensation of electrical discharge from near by lightning strikes, and the gale that threatened to blow him off his mark.
Below him, Syeahrs fired off one spell after another. First lightning bolts sprang forth from her fingertips. Then braids of pulsating energy forming nets. And finally, clouds of sickly black smoke filled the air behind the dozens of spells she had already cast.
The lightning cracked as it sliced through the air at its intended target. Alex could smell the ozone as the attacks were directed into the rods he held. More and more of his opponent’s magical energy was absorbed with each strike. He gritted his teeth as the spikes began to burn his hands from straining to contain the ever growing power inside of them. And as the last bit of red energy was absorbed, he fired brilliant beams of white and blue light from his weapons, as if they were oversized wands. The rays pierced the nets and veil of darkness in their path till they struck at their own target.
By combining Syeahrs’ own repurposed power and Alex’s own magical energy made each stream of energy incredibly powerful, and capable of huge amounts of damage. At least they would, had they actually made contact. Instead they simply collided with some sort of domed shield that constantly protected her from his attacks. Alex was positive if he could see her face Syeahrs would be smiling at this pathetic attempt at harming her. He didn’t care though as he continued to pound the barrier with hundreds of the spells. Each one like clockwork impacting and splitting into smaller beams, to run down the edges of the shield until slamming into the ground.
“Really, is that the best you can do tonight Alex?” She called to him confidently. The beams were blinding as she struggled to see in the darkness through the light generated from his attacks. It mattered little to her though, as long as the shield spell protected her.
Then, as if he could read her mind Alex burst from the ground circumventing her barrier and stabbed her with the wand that still remained in his hand. It pierced through her back missing where her spine should be. The tip was just short of exiting her front.
“No, but I think I’ve been doing better don’t you?” Alex whispered into her ear before he fired. And even larger golden beam tore through the remaining section of flesh, and began to ricochet off the insides of the barrier. Leaving her with a choice. Hold the barrier and take continuous damage as the spell bounced around or drop it and be hit by the smaller attacks that hadn’t stopped. She didn’t even get the luxury of Alex also being harmed by his own spells since he disappeared from her presence almost immediately after firing.
The attacks seared her flesh into charred bits, only held together by magic and willpower. Light filled her vision from a new source now. While it didn’t hurt like the others, it felt far more powerful to her. Then she understood why. She was locked into place by the light and at the other end stood Alex pointing the last spotlight at her.
Soon the rain and broken landscape around them faded away into the room where their night had begun. Syeahrs stood blocking his way still to the set of doors behind her. She was also a nightmare to look at. Her costume in tatters, flesh a charred briquette, and her mask untouched. As always he couldn’t read her body language, but Alex was sure he would know how she felt when she spoke.
“You played dirty Alex!” She spit out at him in a mix of indignation and anger. And before his very eyes her wounds healed and her clothes repaired themselves without even a word. His heart sank as he new what the next words would be. Crap, she’s gonna make me keep doing this. “BUT, you didn’t cheat so you win even if it wasn’t fair. You’re free to go just pick a door and leave before I change my mind.”
His harlequin… Enemy? No that didn’t seem right. Rival, pointed at the double doors behind her. Strange, he had never noticed them before oh well. They both had a single word written on the frame above them. He quickly with barely a thought of the consequences picked the door labeled “Error” and ran through it. The world around him fell into darkness, and as his image disappeared from view Syeahrs, The Unbound Victor stared at the now open door.
“Poor boy, he has no idea what he has gotten himself into.”