252 Days Until Destruction and The Uncertain End (part 4)
Zeydar walked through the streets of Valaria, the crowing jewel of humanity. Valaria: the most beautiful city in the world. Valaria: the city of architecture and brilliance. The buildings stood tall and glistening under the dome skyline. Parks littered the grounds in all directions, making the world green, fresh, and energy sustainable. The world sparkled and glistened as he had seen in picture and video, but seeing the city for the first time was something else entirely. The world was living, filled with people of all walks of life. She was bigger than Arcadia, and she held so much more importance. It was… perfection.
“We will be at the Academy and Star Campus. Call us if you need us.” Tyler spoke to Zeydar. Despite the other Magicians not wanting him to go off, Zeydar had been given freedom. Afterall, the other Magicians were not Superiors, Tyler was. “I will take your Staff.”
“Okay.” Zeydar handed him the visible long Staff, but not the bracelet that was on his wrist. That one was never to be removed unless in the safety of the Star Campus. Tyler did not ask for it, which meant he did not want it. Zeydar may not be able to walk around with his large Staff but this one was necessary. He was a class 1 star after all.
Zeydar walked from Tyler and the others to go into the city to explore it. The CloudCities were all designed the same with streets and layout, with the Star Campus in the center of the city. It was how they were designed, the architecture and the grandeur of it all. He’d be able to move around easily without help. What he wanted to do was try the world famous food, to see the world famous sites and museums, to go to the Grand Valarian Hanging Gardens.
Heading towards a cafe he’d listed and gotten the address for, Zeydar admired the buildings, hoping and wishing that one day he could live there. Valaria and Arcadia were the same in structure at their base, but Valaria was so much more. Valaria was the towering skyline, that was metal and glass but inscribed with art, and frosted and stained glass. Valaria was structurally sound and a beauty to behold, with its sculptures and gardens, intricate streets and pathways, made and laid to look like cities of old history books but all its own. Valaria was one of a kind.
Street after street, Zeydar found himself in love with the city. He found himself in love with everything about this world. He wanted it more than anything. Daylight was shifting, and Zeydar explored shops, food venues, museums and galleries.
A voice caught Zeydar’s attention as he approached the next cafe on his list, and last he thought to visit before he had to return to Star Campus. It was night now, not too late to be considered an issue, but nearing curfew for Campus. It was very late, Tyler would say, not that Zeydar cared. He never got a chance to explore. “Mother I understand.”
Zeydar’s heart flipped in his chest as he examined and recognized the celebrity before his eyes. Evester Igialistal? Before him was a woman in a suit and jacket, imposing but stunningly beautiful. That must be his mother Estashia, the Queen of Valaria. Zeydar had heard much about her. She was as beautiful as they said she was with deep brown eyes, rich and flawless skin, and brown wavy hair that was thick and pulled back to a bun. She stood glaring at Evester who looked every bit like the image of him on EverDanger’s homepage.
“Do you?” She was worried, Zeydar figured.
“Just let me be. I’ll be home tonight.” Evester waved her off, trying not to let the scene develop more than it already was with all starring at the closest thing their world had to a true royal family.
“Mother. Let me be. You made me come here for this family reunion anyway. I just—“ He cut his words off signaling to those who watched them. Estashia’s eyes traveled to catch all those who were watching with her intense gaze. Estashia said a few things more to Evester that he could only hear and with a wave she was off.
Evester? Could Zeydar get his autograph? Would it be possible to get a picture? How he could not wait to tell Tyler he ran into a celebrity. Would Tyler get jealous? Did Tyler even care all that much? Probably not, he liked Kim more. Zeydar liked Uly the most, but Evester was the leader. To waste this opportunity would be — he didn’t want to think of what it would be.
“Evester…” Zeydar took a step forward and Evester’s eyes shot to Zeydar. Evester held Zeydar’s breath for a total of three seconds before slipping into a slick smile, a slight tilt of his head in the direction away from the cafe, and a turn to walk. Evester went off on his own away from the cafe, not waiting to see if Zeydar would follow.
Deciding to ignore the cafe, Zeydar chased after Everster hoping that he’d be able to get at least something. He was a Class 1 Star. He held at least a little power even if this wasn’t his city and he was not yet a… Superior — still a sore spot for him, to say the least. Besides, this was one of his idols.
Evester weaved through the city with ease and control not waiting for Zeydar even as he glanced back every so often. Zeydar followed him to what looked like a club, but Zeydar was not sure. He had never been inside one before. His wit told him not to, that following Evester had been enough and that he should return home. It was there at the door that Evester turned back to Zeydar, and motioned for him to follow inside. Zeydar knew not to. Unfortunately, curiosity and desire trumped it and he followed Evester inside, flashing is star ID as he did.
The music pounded and the people moved. The lights flashed and the overall smell was not something Zeydar was prepared for. Low visibility, high distortion in sound, Zeydar’s mind was freaking out and he felt the magic of the world automatically soothing him. He had reached for it, to balance him, to center him, to realign his senses fast enough that he’d be able to protect himself in the case of danger. Not that he was supposed to touch magic like that…
Spotting Evester within the crowd, Zeydar made his approach.
“Sweet Dreams.” Zeydar heard over the crowd, his senses tightened and the magic guiding him. The person talking to Evester was older, but not by much.
“The vision drug?” Evester asked not caring that Zeydar was near.
“A little but it’s not mainstream yet. The commission doesn’t know how to find it or to look for it. Isn’t it what rich kids like yourself use to get high.”
“It’s a medical drug. Why would we?”
“The medical version has nothing on this. This? It was snuck out of the Star labs that created it and reproduced in the Tower. Reproduced with the strength of the version the Stars make before they make it medical and pull it down. This is illegal grade.”
“Highly. You’ll have to mix it.”
“Sounds even more dangerous.”
“I thought you’d liked that.”
“Count me in then.”
Zeydar felt disappointed in Evester. It was clearly illegal and dangerous. Why would he try it? Then Zeydar remembered EverDanger’s modus operandi and discarded the thought. He just needed the signature or picture or whatever and then he would go. He just needed to know why Evester had him follow.
“Grab a few others and we can get started.” And guy told Evester who looked up. The others with Evester started calling others over, or moving from the circle to go and dance with people, taking the drugs with them. Evester looked around and his eyes landed on Zeydar. Zeydar knew this was the moment and did not break eye contact.
Evester’s lips curled into a smile and approached Zeydar. Evester then asked loudly over the music. “So you did follow?”
“You were the one who told me to.” Zeydar answered over the music. “Why?”
“Thought you’d want to have some fun. You know who I am.”
“Who doesn’t?” Zeydar asked sarcastically.
“You’d be surprised.” Evester moved closer to him, the words lower in volume and tone.
“You live in Ovaria.”
“I do. I’m here on holiday and am bored. Want to join in with some fun?” The way Evester said fun had Zeydar’s skin crawl.
“Would you get lonely?” Zeydar mocked back.
“It’s always more fun with more people?” Evester answered. “So you in or not?”
“Sure.” From the way he was asking, from the way he had followed Evester’s summons… there was no way he could say no now. Evester smiled and dragged Zeydar to the bar to get two drinks without using IDs. Evester used his name and face alone. Zeydar watched as Evester mixed the drug in the drinks out of the watchful eyes. Zeydar hesitated when Evester handed it to him.
And that was what makes you stupid, Zeydar thought. With a shrug Zeydar drank with Evester. Once they had downed the drinks Evester led Zeydar out to the dance floor where others danced, telling Zeydar that Everster didn’t particularly care who he was with.
For once Zeydar did not care. He was free, perfectly free of all responsibilities and he let himself enjoy that. Evester led Zeydar to dance with faces that Zeydar did not recognize. His mind was spinning with the magic that was reacting to the alcohol he had drank. Zeydar was slipping for Evester’s gaze and letting himself do whatever.
Whatever tasted of fruit parfaits and alcohol.
Zeydar could care less for the physical intimacy, in some ways figuring that perhaps this was far better than saying he got an autograph. Afterall who could say they’d partied with Evester Igialistal? Even if he couldn’t prove it, this was far better. Evester wanted to have fun and at least wanted someone on the same level as him for that fun.
Only Zeydar never got to that level.
While everyone else around them was getting higher, dreaming, flying. Zeydar was falling, dulling, and filling with dread. The world he had run from for almost a year and a half came crashing back. Dulled lights, faded senses, the grasp on magic fleeting from his fingers. The effort he had put into taking minimal of the drugged tea to detox himself slowly after so many years, failed all in that single moment. There was no high. There would be no after effect. This, this was what they had been using on him all those years. This illegal amount of Sweet Dreams, was what they had used on him and he had never understood. He had never known that it was this because the medical variant was wrong.
Reproduced with the strength of the version the Stars make… The words came crashing back. The memories of the tea sessions of appointments, of learning he was being drugged. His class number, the Superiors keeping him from his birthright. The Stars had no reason to create a drug like this, but for one purpose and his name was…
Evester’s hands moved towards Zeydar, who, all at once, no longer wanted to stay. He was furious, distraught, and lost all at once. All his efforts were wasted. Why? Because he had wanted to seem cool to an idol? No, because he had not known. He wouldn’t have done it if he knew. What had he done? How could he have done something so wrong?
No… what was wrong was that his Superiors were feeding this to him.
“No.” Zeydar pushed Evester away.
“What’s wrong?” Evester asked. Zeydar could see the confusion in Evester’s eyes, after how close they had been this whole time.
“Nothing.” Zeydar answered as the drug dealer came up to them.
“Yo. What’s wrong? Can’t be angry with the onset dreams. The dreams then become bad.” The man said. “You are still coming up. Keep yourself in a happy place and when the dreams begin trust me its worth it.”
“I— Okay.” Zeydar decided then to disappear, when Evester was not watching. There, in the darkness, and pounding of the room, he waited for his chance. Without another word, he left. Zeydar didn’t want to ruin this high for Evester, but he no longer wanted to be in this place. He wanted to go. He needed to go. So he left.