189 Days Until Triumph And the Uncertain End
The sun beat down on the car making it warm, but not hot. Heia lightly snored on the seat next to him as Phil sat in the shotgun seat fast asleep. Evester hummed something to himself as they drove to where the bus was supposed to be waiting. Zeydar looked to Heia and moved her hair out of her face. He and Evester were the only two awake. Evester, because he was driving. Zeydar because he couldn’t sleep. The car was making him sick. Everything was making him sick.
“She’s so peaceful asleep.” Evester laughed. Zeydar looked up to see Evester looking back at them through the rearview mirror.
“Is that what it is?” Zeydar asked dropping his hand. His throat constricted and his stomach flipped again. “How much further?”
“A little sick but nothing I can’t manage.” Zeydar didn’t want to say that the walls felt like they were closing in and he wanted to blast the car apart. That would help no one in the long run and would only hurt his cause. He wanted to seem like he was in control. He knew no one believed it, but he had to at least pretend it mattered.
Because he was.
It was just that sometimes his powers got the best of him and demanded him destroy. It wasn’t good but he had them under control. Part of it was the drugs, and he knew that. Those had to go first. The other part was the LowerLands being so different. That he could not change. Controlling his breath, Zeydar performed training techniques was he had practiced as a child. He could hear Tyler’s voice training him, but tried to focus on anything else. Focusing on Tyler would make other memories resurface.
He practiced sensing magic, sensing how it flowed through him, and how his body reacted to it. He practiced letting it ebb and flow, focusing on his element, and remembering the familiarity to it.
“There they are.” Evester woke Heia with his voice. Zeydar felt her stir in her seat and move. Zeydar opened his eyes to see the van in the distance. Pushing Phil awake, Evester sped up the car. “Headset Phil.”
“Give me a second.” Phil yawned after being disoriented for a second. Then he began digging for his headset somewhere in the front out of Zeydar’s sight. When he found it, he began to give the coded message of their return. Heia rolled down a window and Zeydar felt as if he were drowning. His head was pounding. He felt like he was underwater and unable to breath or calm down.
In and out, he tried to steady himself.
“Here.” Phil helped Evester put on his headset.
Zeydar took out his own, from his bag, as Heia put on her’s. Zeydar heard the chatter and the welcome. His head screamed more. His skin began to burn and his throat began to constrict. He wasn’t sure if he were about to puke or pass out. All he knew was that his magic was making him feel as if he were bleeding and the lights and noise were too much.
“No one followed?” Uly asked.
“No.” Zeydar set out the search magic once more, releasing the magic hoping that by doing so it would stop. There was nothing of note. There had been nothing of note for hours. But the magic scratched at him worse.
“Excellent.” Kim sang. “Welcome home.”
Home. Zeydar looked to the crowd who stood outside the bus waving. Was that his home? Were they supposed to be? Or where they a means to an end?
Evester stopped the car and everyone got out. Uly began speaking to Evester immediately about next steps and plans.
“Superior Zeydar!” Kony ran up to him. He and his sisters seemed to be the only ones who didn’t use his title in jest. Heia, Trace, Kori, Kony, Karla. They all used it as if there were weight to it. Robee never used it and Shawn called him “the star.” EverDanger only ever seemed to use it in jest or his name. His title had been what he had fought for, for so long, and yet it held no weight.
It turned his stomach and hurt his heart. What had he been fighting for if not for that? What had he cared so much for?
When he thought he was steady, the weight of the world pulled at him and Zeydar leaned against the car, trying to focus on anything. Anything to make him feel that he was okay.
“Look.” Kony then performed a spell and Zeydar erased all previous self doubt and pain for a moment. Yes, the Circles didn’t understand the implications of his title, but the mage before him did. All he had to do was truly prove why it matter, why it had ever mattered.
Why his life mattered.
“Zeydar go get some sleep!” Kim called out to him. “First scout team get your stuff!”
Zeydar heard the first team respond, and moved to the bus where Evester was already laying down and trying to sleep. Zeydar laid down where he could, covered his head and tried to focus on anything, but the shivers that overtook him.