The Morning After

  • Baron

    Adam woke to a throbbing headache. It seemed as though waves were breaking against a dam in his mind, threatening to shatter the integrity of it.

    He sat up, going to rub his head with his hand. After a few seconds of nothing happening, the events of the previous evening came flooding back. Father’s return, the fight, his arm, the murder. Adam shook his head; the pain of those memories almost overwhelming him. Still, the throbbing bombarded his mind. Beyond the ache of his physical injuries and mental trauma, the pounding continued.

    Adam closed his functional eye, sinking deep into his thoughts, reaching for the Well, the source of Father’s magic. He had ripped it from Father’s control last night, severing his connection to it. Now the Well dashed its waves upon his mind. Was this what Father had felt for all those years? How had he stood the constant noise without going mad?

    Adam opened his eye, gazing at the still sleeping form of his son. When he had run after Father, taken his magic, and… Adam faltered. Killed him. He had killed Father. Again the memories rushed forward, the pounding of the Well amplifying the pain. He pushed them away, burying them under the concern for his son. Protecting Radish had been his only thought, removing the threat from ever attempting to harm him again.

    Gently removing Radish from where he had cradled him to his chest, Adam stood in the now darkened library. The only illumination in the room came from his golden eyes and the softly glowing purple runes and scars on his torso. Closing his eye and returning to the Well, he reached out his remaining right arm. Letting a trickle of magic through the dam in his mind, he willed a flame to appear in his palm. With a sudden spark, a golden tongue leaped to life, burning softly in the stagnant air. Adam stared at it, wondering at its beauty.

    The throbbing in his head became worse with every passing moment he sustained the flame. Reluctantly, Adam closed his hand, snuffing out the light. This magic, this power, Father had been unable to let go of it. The search for maintaining his hold on the Well had consumed him, resulting in the soulbond he had formed with Adam. This bond allowed Father to use the magic without the throbbing pain but also allowed Adam to use the power. Now, as the sole remaining member of the bond, Adam had to endure the power of the Well.

    Adam sighed, the frustrated rumbled emanating from deep in his throat as he carefully sat down. The Well, should he even keep it to his own? Father hoarded the power, several times mentioning to Adam that he, the Vasilias, was the only one capable of using such. Adam once more looked at his son, seeing the golden runes he had engraved upon the tiny body. His son would never know this magic, nor any other if he followed in Father’s footsteps. Adam nodded, at last sure in his course.

    He waited until Radish woke with a start, his bright eyes searching the room frantically for his father. When he found his father’s eyes, he sat up quickly, racing over and embracing Adam’s leg. Adam reached his arm around the small golem, hugging him. Then, picking him up, Adam placed Radish on his shoulder. The two turned, delving into the darkened passages they had raced through just last night.

    Radish seemed to have pepped up since being placed on his father’s shoulder. He looked questioningly into Adam’s eye as they went deeper.

    Adam rumbled in response, “there’s something I need to do.”

    The reached the entrance to the Well, Adam could feel its rushing power emanating from beyond the sealed door. The pounding in his head was worse than ever. Setting Radish down, Adam felt nervous.

    “Wait here,” he told the small golem, before stepping up to the door. Placing his hand on the runes that littered the center, they lit gold, releasing the locks that held the entrance shut with a series of clicks. It felt natural: like he was coming home.

    The chamber was a circular pit without a bottom. The air seemed to glow, though no light was present. A small ledge protruded from the entrance, extending above the void. Adam stood there now. He could feel the magic of the Well swirling about him, the waves and ripples of power. When they made contact with his body, trickles of fire would wash off his body. Sometimes violet, sometimes gold, it didn’t harm him. Adam’s anxiety increased. Between the now constant pain in his head, the void beneath him, and the memories of Father’s fire, Adam was ready to flee.

    Steeling his nerves, Adam closed his eye, searching for the dam that held the Well in his mind. Seizing it, he reached out, grasping the magical wards that kept the Well in the physical world. The runes littering Adam’s body glowed, the parchment in his mouth igniting bronze.

    As one, the barriers shattered. The Well that had stood for a millennium was free, the magic rushing out like a flood, brushing past Adam and nearly knocking him into the void below.

    Pulling himself to the door, Adam nearly collapsed to the ground.

    “Not doing… that again…” the golem panted. Radish rushed over, but Adam waved him off. He couldn’t help the smile on his face as he noticed the pain was gone. With that, Adam stood, plucking Radish from the ground and placing him once again on his shoulder. Radish giggled, happy that his father was playing with him.

    As the two left the empty chamber behind, Adam thought back to Father and sobered for a moment. They couldn’t stay here. Adam couldn’t. The thought of living in this place disturbed him. They had to leave.

    The pair made their way back to the library, where Adam gazed at the two granite doors that blocked their path. Held closed by massive springs, the doors were almost impossible to open. Adam squared his shoulder. He would not be trapped here.

    The doors held the first three times Adam slammed into them. With all three tons of his strength, the doors held fast. With a fourth, almighty shove, a fracture began to grow. It took the remaining day, but the crack grew, splintering the mighty stone. Adam and Radish were free.

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