Brant is back, and better than ever in this fanfiction story. Will Sophie Foster be strong enough to fight back, or will she forever fall silent in the darkness beyond life? Read on to find out what happens!
WARNING: THIS IS AN OC FANFICTION, AND WILL NOT ACTUALLY HAPPEN. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE ANY OF THIS SERIOUSLY. JUST FOR FUN
PROLOGUE: SOPHIE'S NIGHTMARES
You thought I was gone. You thought you saw me die. You, mortals, think far too much. But there is nothing you can possibly do now. It is much too late for amending the wound you have created. You have no chances to right your many wrongs. Try as you might, Sophie Foster, there is no way to stop me. I will prevail, and there will never be a doubt about that. Who am I, you ask? Who is the ghostly whisper, whose voice bounces around your mind, pricking your mind with a small fragment of a lost memory? Well, as little as I will tell, I can tell you this much.
My name is Brant.
The world shook, and yet another plume of smoke rose from the treetops.
"What is going on?" Sophie asked. "Fires are popping up everywhere, and the Nobility has no idea what's going on!"
"Insane, right?" Fitz asked, looking up at the still rising smoke. "Not even my dad knows what's happening."
"I have my theories, son," Alden said, appearing next to them from his latest light-leap. "And one of them may include what you've been seeing."
"What? What do you mean?" Sophie said innocently, tucking her memory log harder against her chest.
"Don't deny it," Alden said. "Grady and Edaline told me you've barely slept. That implies that you most possibly had nightmares. That might have something to do with it all."
"Well, if you really think so..." Sophie said, handing him the memory log.
Alden took a look at it, and studied it for quite some time, before he frowned. "All of the nightmares have the same thing showcased in them."
"What?" Fitz asked.
"You mean who," Alden said. "All of her nightmares have Brant in them."
Sophie had almost no control. The mention of the name made her body and mind go on lockdown. That ghostly whisper, that evil laugh, the burn marks on her wrists hurting like new again. Sophie started to breathe heavy.
"Sophie?" Fitz asked, trying to shake her back to full consciousness. "Sophie! Can you hear me?"
She could hear him, but she couldn't make herself come out of the painful daze.
"What happened?" Alden asked. "I'm so sorry, Sophie. Was it something I said. Brant?"
The second mention of the name finally made Sophie give in, and her knees buckled, and Sophie collapsed, unconscious.
"It's what I've been telling you, Grady," Alden said. "We have no idea what caused what happened back there." Alden pats his friend on the back. "Please, don't blame me for it."
"I just want to know why it happened," Grady said angrily. "That's my daughter, Alden. I don't want her mind to be damaged again, so she has to run off to the Black Swan again to get it fixed!"
"Please, watch your mouth," Alden said, lowering his voice. "This may upset you."
"I'm already a great deal upset," Grady said. "How did she collapse?"
"She's been having bad nightmares about a certain person, and whenever I say his name, she seems to...freak out," Alden said. When Grady seemed unimpressed with the response, Alden sighed and said, "The name is Brant."
Sophie had been vaguely conscious, but the name dragged her back under into the inky blackness. The laugh. The cold, ghostly laugh. Sophie began to scream as she could feel fire searing her wrists.
"Sophie!" Grady said, coming to her side. "Sophie, are you all right?"
Sophie snapped out of her daze, breathing quickly. "Uh...I think so."
Elwin looked down at her. "Nothing seems wrong, as I've told you many times before."
"But you can't see everything," Grady said. "You don't know if something might be wrong with her brain."
"Or perhaps it is just a regular fear," Elwin said. "Grady, let me ask you something. If you were a helpless child, getting terrible nightmares about the man who killed Jolie, the Pyrokinetic driven insane by his mad choices, would you fear him too?"
"I've always feared him," Grady said. "Always, but never woken up screaming from it."
"Sorry," Sophie said, blushing, and hating herself for having such a giant reaction.
"It's all okay, Sophie," Alden said.
"So...what do we do about this?" Grady asked.
"If Sophie is all well, I have a plan," Alden said. He continued after Elwin nodded. "There is a certain colleague of the man you fear, Sophie, that is currently locked up in Exile, but still sane. Someone who I know still has Neverseen connections and very powerful ones at that. A genius and dangerous Pyrokinetic." When Sophie's face dropped, Alden smiled with a sigh. "Yes, Sophie Foster. We are going to visit Fintan."
Alden and Sophie walked down until they reached Fintan's cell. They had been keeping him here, too nervous to perform a memory break, and too stubborn to let him try to help if he did have any good left in him. Grady had insisted on going, but they had to turn him down. It would be better with fewer people. Alden looked into the cell through the small bars at the top of the door, seeing Fintan, his face beaded with cold sweat, his arms and legs shackled. He laid against the wall of his cell, almost as if he had nothing to worry about in the world.
When the door opened, Fintan smiled. "I thought you two might drop by sometime soon."
"If you're expecting a release, you can stop dreaming of it," Alden said. "No one's coming to rescue you."
"Oh, I'd never dream of release," Fintan said. "It's cozy in here. You should try sitting and listening to the mad cries of prisoners sometime. Quite calming."
"Fintan, you know why we're here," Alden said.
"Do I?" Fintan asked. "Or do I not?"
"I wish we could order to have your mind broken one of these days," Alden said.
"You would risk your sanity for me again? How touching," Fintan said with a smile. "And, the Council, of all people, know that beyond my amazing personality are secrets. Secrets you can't pry from me in a memory break, but perhaps can acquire from a bargain."
"We're not here to barter for your release, Fintan," Alden said. "We know you've kept in touch with your Neverseen partners."
"Why would I do such a foolish thing?" Fintan asked. "I've heard they're doing just fine without me."
"You heard?" Alden asked.
"Quite so," Fintan said. "The guards talk about the Neverseen around my cell all the time. I hear quite the deal of nice news about us. Sounds like you're having a hard time, eh, Sophie?"
Fintan's cold eyes turned to her, and she tried to stand her ground. Sophie remembered how he had burned down that crystal tower, killed Kenric, and not died. Alden shook Sophie out of the small revelation.
"Sophie, don't listen to him," Alden said. "Maybe don't even look at him. He's playing mind tricks with you."
"I'm not a Telepath!" Fintan exclaimed.
"Gethen is," Alden said.
"Ah, now there's a man who can crash a party," Fintan said. "Remember how he destroyed that castle? Brilliant planning by me!"
"What is he doing now?" Alden asked. "Don't play innocent. We know you're working with Gethen on some kind of...revival plan."
"Revival?" Fintan asked. "Of whom?"
"Don't worry, Sophie, I won't say his name," Alden said.
"Well, one fallen Neverseen I would sure like to revive comes to mind," Fintan said. "Brant."
Sophie fell to her knees, trying to have something to hold onto. She felt a hand reach out, and she took it. But very soon her hand was burning hot. She looked up to see Fintan clutching her hand. It was steaming.
"Fintan!" Alden said, trying to yank Sophie free. "You stop that right now!"
Fintan smiled and released her. "So...revival plan, you say? Tell me more."
Alden glared at Fintan. "You are of no help to us. I shall order a memory break to the Council--"
"No," Fintan almost whispered. "They will never break me. I gave them something far too valuable. They will never see the truth, and certainly not listen to you, Vacker." When Alden turned to leave, Fintan reached for Sophie's hand again, but she backed away. "Try as you might, Sophie Foster, there is no way to stop me." The same line from her nightmares, in the same ghostly voice.
Sophie's legs became wobbly at the thought, and she began to lose her consciousness.
"Easy, girl," Alden said, trying to carry her out of the cell.
"Good luck on the revival plan, Gethen!" Fintan shouted after them. "I hope it goes well! I always wanted that maniac of a Pyrokinetic, Brant, back!"
"Shut it!" Alden yelled.
They walked away from the cell, but Sophie never saw how they left. She was unconscious--again.
"Sophie," Fitz said. "Sophie? Wake up, Sophie."Sophie's eyes fluttered open. Fitz let out a sigh of relief. "We were getting worried," Fitz said. "You were unconscious for a day."
"Yeah, Foster," Keefe said. "A man can only take so many heart attacks form learning you might be dead."
"Peculiar, the effect this has on you," Alden said. "I'm so confused. "I went to the Council today--to talk to them about what was happening. They, like always, insisted there was no problem involving Fintan."
"That's mighty suspicious," Grady said.
"Can I see the memory?" Sophie asked.
Alden nodded, and Sophie reached out her consciousness, and reached the thoughts of Alden's mind. She walked through the depths of it, finding the right memory at last. She watched as it happened.
The Councillors sat on their thrones, looking as regal as ever.
"Alden Vacker," Emery said. "Why have you summoned us?"
"Such a big meeting, I know, Emery," Alden said. "I assure you, Your Majesties, that this is urgent."
Emery nodded, and Alden continued.
"Well, strange things have been happening to Miss Foster," Alden said. "At the mention of the name--" the memory cut out for the name, maybe on purpose so Sophie wouldn't hear it. "--and she has quite the reaction to it. Maybe it has something to do with Fintan..."
"No, not Fintan, he's completely innocent," Dame Alina assured him.
"What did he give you?" Alden asked.
"He gave us nothing," Emery said. "Why would you propose such a thing?"
Emery's face told a different story than his words.
"You know what's going on," Alden said. "You always do, don't you? Like with the plague, you'll sit back and watch Sophie struggle? You could help us! And instead, this is what you do!"
"Anything Fintan Pyren said was a lie, Mr. Vacker," Emery said almost angrily. "If you are foolish enough to believe a word that comes from his mouth then you are as sane as he is."
"Which seems to be very sane, considering there is no memory break that will be ordered," Alden said.
"Alden--" Oralie began, but was cut off.
"Fintan holds far too many secrets," Bronte almost whispered. He met Alden's eyes. "I am sorry, but I will not disobey my place, Alden."
"So, you know some of those secrets, do you not?" Alden asked.
"We aren't getting anywhere," Dame Alina said, annoyed.
"Some things must remain classified, even to you, Alden," Emery said. "Now, Mr. Vacker, don't come to us about this again. We bid you a good day."
They all glittered away, leaving just Bronte there.
"I'm not supposed to be here," Bronte said. "But Fintan and Gethen are working on something bad. Know that whatever you do, you cannot stop him. He will come back stronger than before."
"Bronte, one more sentence," Alden said. "I need to know just a little more."
Bronte sighed. "Mind if I give you a paragraph, friend?" Bronte asked. "You see, Fintan and Gethen are using his remains that they recovered. Some of his DNA."
Alden shook his head. "No. No, not that."
Bronte nodded sadly. "The Neverseen are using Brant's DNA for their own Project Moonlark."
Sophie...Sophie Foster. Listen to me, Sophie. You don't stand a chance. If you object so to my claims, let's see what this will do to you.
Sophie screamed. "AH!" Pain surged through every cell in her body. Her mind felt as though it was being split in two, and images flashed through her head. Her memories. Brant was reading her mind. Somehow, someway, he was.
I will always be stronger than you, Sophie Foster. Always. You will always be the weak girl who was never brave enough to face her fears.
"RAH!" Sophie yelled. "STOP IT!"
Sophie pushed back her consciousness, and the pain stopped. New images flashed through her mind. They didn't belong to her. They belonged to Brant. Now, somehow, SHE was reading HIS mind. She had made it backfire. Sophie was too strong for Brant.
Pictures passed through her consciousness quickly. A familiar place focused on her view, and she saw a figure in a black robe, lying on the ground, writhing in pain. That was Brant. He really was back.
Stop trying to fight me, little child. I am still too strong for you. You may be a strong Moonlark, but the fire burns birds quickly. Sit up and face your worst fears, Sophie. Face me! Look at me!
Brant's face came into view. A handsome young man--his face before the scars--appeared, sweat dripping down his brow, his eyes cold and dark. Brant stood.
I always knew you were weak, Sophie. The time draws near, for you to meet your doom. You will know when the time comes.
Brant snapped, and three spheres of Everblaze hit down behind him, exploding the small forest that lies not far behind him.
You better be able to run fast, Sophie Foster. Because I'm coming for you. And this time, I will have no mercy. Get ready, because you are about to die.
"Sophie," Elwin said softly. "Breathe. Just breathe."
Sophie slowly opened her eyes, allowing the dim light to seep through. Then she jolted up, then hating herself for the sudden movement.
"ALDEN!" Sophie yelled. "I need to see Alden."
"I'm here, Sophie," Alden said.
"I saw him," Sophie said. "He's out there. And he's really powerful. I was able to read his mind for a few seconds, and Alden..." Sophie couldn't bring herself to say it. "He was near Everglen."
Alden nodded, and bit his lip. "You stay here and rest, Sophie," he said. "I'll come back with updates. I'm sure my family is fine behind the gates."
"You'd be surprised," Sophie muttered, and Alden walked off.
Meanwhile, at Everglen
It had only been an hour since Biana had spotted the raging fire outside the gates, and now the inside of the estate was being consumed by Everblaze. Della, Fitz, and Biana were trapped inside, knowing going anywhere could be too risky, and they wanted to see their house burn if it did.
"Brant did this," Fitz said. "He's finally back."
Fitz had a faraway look in his eye, where you could tell he was angrily pondering how to kill Brant.
"Mom!" Biana called, looking out the window of the top floor. "The Nobility is here. They have the fryssin."
They're too late, you know. I am already here.
All three held their heads at Brant's ghostly voice as it echoed through the room.
There was a shadow on the wall, of someone who wasn't there. It transformed into a black cloak, Brant wearing it.
"There you are!" Fitz yelled.
I just dropped by to wish you all good-bye, once and for all, Vackers.
Fitz charged Brant, but the cloak returned to being a shadow. Then the shadow moved across the room, and Brant reappeared.
Pity, it is, how desperate you are to change what has already happened.
Brant snapped, and a fresh sphere of Everblaze crashed down into the room, and the shadow and cloak, Brant with it, disappeared from sight.
The room burned furiously, and they fell and tumbled with furniture until Alden ran up the stairs, grabbing them all before light-leaping to safety.
Alden rushed back into the Healing Center at Foxfire, looking at Sophie. Fitz, Biana, and Della were not far behind him.
"He was there," Della said. "We saw him."
"He was scary," Biana admitted.
"Very," Sophie clarified. "What happened?"
"The house is gone," Alden said. "Nothing we can't rebuild in time, though. The bigger task is that Brant stole one of my very valuable possession. The only thing he took was the magisdian pendant the Council gave me so that I could go to Exile a day or two ago, when we saw Fintan."
"But what does he need with a pendant?" Biana asked.
Alden hung his head. "Using the pendant correctly, he will be able to slip into Exile undetected, and free Fintan."
Brant walked down the tunnel of cells in Exile, until he reached Fintan's. He unlocked it and slid it open. Fintan was waiting for him, a sly smile on his face.
"Nice to see you again, my friend," Fintan said. "Looks like Gethen was better at DNA transferring than he admitted in his letters. Well, time to depart, I suppose."
"Not so fast," Alden said, walking from the darkness.
"You again?" Fintan asked. "You think you can stop us?"
"Yes," Fitz said, coming up with the rest of the gang behind Alden. "We do."
"Normally, I would think we could destroy you," Fintan said. "But now, I don't think. I KNOW."
Alden charged, but Brant was faster. Brant thrust out one of his hands, and a tendril of fire shot out from his palm, knocking Alden back and exploding.
Don't even try it, or we will be forced to terminate you.
The ghostly whisper made them all have headaches, and their confidence wavered. But Sophie threw herself from the crowd.
"I'm not scared of you," Sophie said.
Oh, really, Sophie? You aren't. Fight me then. Or are you too scared? Heh, that's what I thought. Jolie was stubborn that way, too, you know.
"Don't talk about her like that," Sophie said, trying to battle a piercing migraine making its way through her brain.
We are not so different, Sophie. Ready to see how so?
Brant walked toward her, his cloak billowing out behind him. Fitz and Keefe tried to get in Brant's way. Brant disappeared into the shadows, reappearing behind Keefe, pushing them both down and then having Sophie to deal with.
You can't fight me. I am merely too strong more you. You are afraid.
Brant touched her forehead, and she shot back with searing pain.
I think my job is done here. Fintan! I think it's time we have our reunion with Gethen. Seeing that old bloke would be better than dealing with such lower order.
Both villains disappeared, cackling.
As pain surged through Sophie's body, there were only two words she could process. Two words that made her brain want to shatter with the pressure of them. Two words she had been trying to prove wrong for days. Finally, with the last breath, Sophie whispered them.
Sophie tossed and turned in her bed, a splitting headache causing her not to sleep. And even if she would be able to slip in a tad of relief from the pain, the nightmares would come. And the evil laugh would fill her mind. The pain of one small touch to the forehead, and what it had done to her.
Sophie's eyelids felt heavy, and finally, the headache dimmed, and she became unconscious with sleepiness.
Hello, Sophie Foster. Have you come for more?
Sophie's head hurt badly, and she tried to shake herself from the images, but they kept possessing her. She couldn't stop it. Her memories blurred through her mind, and she knew what Brant was doing. He was scanning her memories, and she could do nothing about it but watch.
You will never defeat me.
Sophie tried pushing her consciousness out, sensing Brant's presence, but knowing it was pointless. If possible, he was even stronger.
Then a piercing feeling slid through her head, and her forehead hurt so badly she was afraid she might faint in her sleep if that was even possible.
Much of my blood is what they found from my old body. But some is yours. We share the same blood, Sophie. There is no denying the connection we share.
A piercing headache cut off his voice, and she felt the hard ground below her, but she still could not wake.
Do you really want to wake up? Do you?
Sophie's eyes fluttered open to face Brant's handsome devilish face staring down at her with a wicked smile. Brant summoned Everblaze to his hands and pressed them to Sophie's forehead. She screamed the loudest she ever had, for the pain this time was so unbearable she would rather die. She had no control of her brain as it wandered off into the distance, her consciousness fading.
Shards of memories swam through her mind, but she couldn't quite piece them together. Her name was Sophie, right?
Farewell, Sophie Foster.
Grady rushed through the door of her room. "Monster! What have you done to my daughter, Brant?"
The name caused more pain, but her head was numb at this point. Too many things were going on inside her mind, but yet not enough.
Back off, Grady.
"You think I'll let you kill my daughter, you freak?" Grady asked.
Just try and stop me!
Brant thrust out his hand, and Grady shot back against the wall, writhing in pain.
And you say you're powerful.
Brant was gone then, and in a few blinks of an eye it was morning, and light kept passing in and out through Sophie's mind, making everything black and white. Everything was slow, and Fitz knelt down beside her at one point, and a few tears slipped down his cheeks as he turned to Alden to give a report.
"I don't know what that bastard Brant did," Fitz said. "But he knows how to get to her. I didn't know it was possible but..." Fitz sucked in a breath, before announcing the world-shattering sentence. "I think Sophie's mind is broken."
Sophie's mind was a clutter of unimportant memories, swimming around the vacant space in her mind. The others knew she was long gone, and she wanted to tell them she still had a chance, but then her mind ached at the thought of words. Maybe she didn't have a chance of living. Maybe that was why they were holding a planting for her.
At the planting, many tears were shed, from everyone around.
"So, there's no way to save our little girl?" Edaline asked in sobs to Grady.
"I fear there might be one way, but it's almost impossible," Grady said. "Last night, I heard Brant speaking to her in her sleep. He told her that they share some of the same blood. Brant is a Telepath now, and he inflicted on me last night. Wouldn't it only seem fit that he can also heal minds like Sophie could?"
"Quite possible," Alden said. "But how would we get close enough to ask him? Brant wants war."
"I have no idea," Grady said. "But, if my theory is correct, the only cure for Sophie's sudden insanity is the person that broke her. The key to getting her back is Brant."
Alden walked into the Havenfield living room, distraught. He had no idea what to do. Their hero was gone, broken. He had no one else that he knows that might be able to save them.
“What happened this time?” Grady asked.
The mishaps of the Neverseen ghostly threesome were becoming the new regular, and almost every day, there was some new horror they had performed.
“They raided the Atlantis registry again,” Alden said.
“They need more stupid elf profiles?” Grady asked.
“Not this time,” Alden said. “They blew up the whole registry buildings. The whole lot of them.”
“The Council must be freaked out, then,” Grady said.
“Certainly,” Alden said. “How goes trying to get Brant to meet you?”
“Very unsuccessful,” Grady huffed. “I thought they were famous for slipping notes in people’s pockets. I’ve gotten nothing back.”
“But the note you left is gone?” Alden asked.
“Follow me, friend,” Alden said. “We need a break from all of this.”
Grady followed Alden outside, and they walked out into the Havenfield pastures. They leaned against a tree, and Alden handed Grady a freshly poured glass of lushberry juice. They enjoyed the treat for a moment, until the sound of rustling paper caught their attention. They turned to see a small slit of paper on the ground.
Meet us at the Four Seasons Tree at midnight for negotiation.
“They’re planning an ambush, no doubt,” Alden said.
“That’s my daughter,” Grady said. “I have to save her.”
“You’re really falling for their simple trick?” Alden asked.
Grady nodded. “Of course, I am! They’re the only chance I have!”
“Alright, then,” Alden said with a sigh. “Then let me come with you.”
“Fair enough,” Grady said.
“Let’s go get ready,” Alden said, glancing out at the horizon. “We’re in for a rough night.”
Alden appeared a few blocks from the Four Seasons Tree, not wanting to be too close to it yet, in case it really was a planned ambush. Grady walked over.
“How’d it go with the Black Swan?” Grady asked.
“Mr. Forkle doesn’t agree with me,” Alden said. “But that doesn’t matter. He staged extra Black Swan recruits around just in case.”
“Wonderful,” Grady said. “Now, let’s make this quick.”
They walked in front of the tree, and Gethen as there, waiting for them.
“Come in,” Gethen said, and Grady and Alden walked down the now apparent wooden stairs leading down into the tree.
When they reached the main room, the entrance was sealed. A big polished table was before them, and Brant and Fintan stood at the end.
“I’ll hope you stay,” Fintan said. “You’re a wonderful motivation for the rest of the Black Swan.”
“What do you mean?” Alden asked.
“Did you think we actually care about reviving Sophie?” Gethen asked. “We were just luring you here. Brant? Take care of them!”
Grady charged at them, but Brant’s arms flew out. Grady flew backward, and Alden got a full blast of fire to the chest.
Brant stalked closer to them and pulled Grady up by the shirt.
Don’t try your dopey mind tricks on me, Grady. You know they don’t work. We do need something from you.
“You won’t have it!” Grady said, squirming.
Enough! I will get what I want, and I am willing to go to great lengths to do so. Perhaps if you fail me, there is no point in keeping you alive.
“What do you want, Brant?” Grady asked. “You’re destroying the world! What else could you possibly want?”
What point is there in destroying the world without control? Without torture of the world’s subjects before the world comes to an end? I need you to tell me a small little secret.
“Brant, please…it won’t do you any good to know…” Grady trailed, knowing there was no changing the villain’s mind.
I knew Jolie, almost as well as you did, Grady. She knew much more than she was willing to admit. She gave you something. Something with the answers. Big answers.
“I don’t know how to open it—” Grady began.
I loved her! I know the passwords to the secrets. Now tell me, old man, where did she put it? Where did you put it?
“I know nothing of this conversation,” Alden said. “What are these secrets, anyway?”
Secrets only she knew. How she grew to learn and obtain them, I do not know. We are talking about an item of Jolie that I failed to collect in my past life. I need it now.
“And what is the item?” Alden asked.
“Jolie had a cache?” Alden asked. “Grady, you never told us—”
He was forbidden to tell anyone—even Edaline—about it. He swore on his life to Jolie, didn’t you?
“Brant, how do you know this?” Grady asked. “No one else is supposed to know!”
It’s true, that the fire was a tragic accident. Only because I lost my temper, when she refused to tell me the location of the cache. Some of the world’s most important secrets lie in the cache, and only one person here knows where it is.
“I had a Washer erase that memory,” Grady said. “I don’t know.”
I’ll make the memory resurface. Brant. Traitor. Councillor.
Grady squirmed, and Brant knew he had triggered something. Brant held Grady down by the shoulders and began to read Grady’s mind.
What a stupid hiding spot. Well, maybe you should set the table, Grady. Because your wife is about to join you. Too bad she won’t be alive to share your suffering.
“Not Edaline!” Grady shouted, but Brant was already gone.
Meanwhile, at Havenfield
Edaline was out in the pastures, tending to Verdi, their permanent resident T. Rex. That was, until there was an explosion. A ring of fire suddenly surrounded her, and the only way to escape would be to jump off the cliff and into the water, but she was not ready to make that risk yet.
Edaline. Sweet Edaline.
“Brant,” Edaline whispered. “Why are you here?”
To get a certain object I failed to get last time. Jolie’s cache.
“Jolie had a cache?” Edaline asked.
Yes, she gave it to Grady and didn’t want him to tell you that she had one. Does it hurt, Edaline? That your own daughter kept so many secrets from you? That she died because she wasn’t brave enough to tell me where she had hidden the cache?
Edaline nodded. “It does. But I imagine it hurts more to know that you killed the girl you loved because you were power-hungry.”
There’s no use in stooping that low, Edaline. My brain won’t shatter again.
“We’ll have to see about that,” Edaline said. “I’m no Beguiler, but I have been one to sweet-talk.”
Brant appeared in his cloak, right behind Edaline. He had a wicked smile on his face.
You’re still weak from her loss, aren’t you? I can still break you.
“You’re still the handsome man Jolie fell in love with,” Edaline said. “The man who could’ve had a happy, full life. But instead you caused so many problems.”
Goodbye, Edaline. You had a nice life.
Brant pushed her off the cliff, and she fell about one hundred feet into the ocean.
That was fun. I just killed Edaline.
Brant walked into bedroom that used to belong to Sophie Foster, before she had broken. Brant spotted Vertina, their spectral mirror. The frame was newly polished, but the blue crystal orb pressed into the top of the mirror was old. Brant ripped it away and watched as the color cleared to a transparent white. Inside the cache were little crystals. Secrets.
The crystal orb spun around, buzzing with magical energy. Jolie’s perfect, pretty face appeared in holographic form, speaking the secret.
“Today, I learned something important about Brant’s family,” Jolie said. “He’s really—”
A rock hit the orb, and it rolled across the floor.
“Not so fast!” Fitz yelled.
You want to fight, little boy? Brant asked, grabbing the orb and tucking it in his robes. You want to avenge Sophie?
Brant shot five spheres of Everblaze. Two to the ceiling. Two to the floor. One to Fitz’s chest.
The fire grew, and Brant disappeared. Fitz rushed outside to witness the amazing building of Havenfield crumble to the ground with fire. The fire continued to spread, and Fitz bolted toward where Keefe had been waiting under a tree.
“Any luck?” Keefe asked.
“That man’s insane,” Fitz said. “He just destroyed a house! Now, get us out of here, Keefe.”
“My pleasure,” Keefe said, raising his pathfinder to the light. They walked into the beam of light and were whisked away.
Meanwhile, at the hideout
“Where’s Edaline?” Grady asked.
Pity she can’t be here. You see, Grady, I threw her off a cliff.
“NO!” Grady screamed.
I burnt your house to a crisp, too. Almost killed the Vacker boy as well. Got the cache though.
“You’re a disgrace to the name of elves,” Grady said.
Before I’m done, there won’t be a man, woman, or child that doesn’t know the name Brant. That disgraceful name. The name of the maniac Pyrokinetic. Believe it or not, Grady, but I have won, and you’ve lost. There is no chance for you now.
Brant fingered the crystal orb and slid his finger across the top.
“—adopted,” Jolie finished.
“What about adoption?” Alden asked, walking closer.
“One of the secrets she didn’t want Brant to find,” Grady said. “Well, go on, then, Brant. Replay it.”
“Today, I learned something important about Brant’s family,” Jolie said. “He’s really adopted.”
Is this true?
Grady nodded. “Have you ever wondered, Brant, where your genetics came from? No one in your family is a Pyrokinetic. They fear you more than anything else. But you don’t want to know who your parents are, trust me. It will break you all over again, and—”
And what, Grady? You’ll come to my little stone house every year to give me custard bursts? I’ll be rocking in my stupid rocking chair again? No, I don’t think so. You better shut your mouth, or I will kill you, just like I did to your wife.
“Please, don’t look at any more secrets,” Grady pleaded.
Are you all the sudden caring about me again? Or is this all about you? Or is it all about your relatives who have died because of me? You hate me, don’t you?
“The things you have done to me, Brant, are utterly horrible,” Grady admitted. “I have never experienced worse torture than to talk to you. You monster. And yet you’ve taught me some valuable lessons, too. No matter how many losses we may face, it doesn’t need to change us. But it’s changed me, and I know it’s changed you, too. But none of that matters now, does it Brant?”
Grady punched Brant in the face, stealing the cache and running for the stairs. Alden followed him, but Gethen and Fintan were hot on their trail.
DON’T LET THEM GET AWAY!
Grady came to the end of the stairs, which was closed. He tried pushing the stone slab covering it to the side, but it was just too heavy.
“I can’t do it…” Grady whispered.
Fintan yanked Grady away, burning him. Gethen grabbed Alden, throwing him to the ground.
“Get back in there!” Fintan yelled, shoving Grady down the steps.
Grady tried turning around to punch Fintan, but Fintan lit a flame on his hand, and pressed it closely against Grady’s forehead.
“Move, idiot,” Fintan said.
Grady and Alden moved back into the hideout, where Brant was on the floor.
“I don’t punch that hard,” Grady noted. “Something happened. You opened another secret.”
Brant nodded and got up, wild fire burning in his eyes before he spoke. This secret was the secret Jolie had tried to hide from everyone, so that no one would have to suffer what she had by knowing it. The truth was an ugly thing, and Brant was ready to confess it. This memory would shatter the world. It would shake the earth. Taking in a few final breaths, Brant spoke.
Edaline fell quickly down the cliff, and she panicked as she saw the hard ground getting closer. She conjured up a mattress below her, and when she fell it cushioned her fall a bit. Searing pain surged up her arm. She knew she had broken it. Blood dripped down her arms, legs, and face. She was in a lot of pain, but at least she wasn't dead.
Meanwhile, at the hideout
You knew, didn't you Grady? You knew and you kept these valuable secrets from me! I deserved to know!
"No, Brant," Grady said. "It was Jolie's decision. She only wanted to keep you safe."
No no no! She just wanted to keep herself safe! If I had known about the secrets--
"It's not safe," Grady said.
But just look what I can do, Grady! You can't deny greatness! I was made for this! I was born for this! Where did Jolie find these secrets out?
"I would never tell you," Grady said.
I'm not suspecting you will willingly. But I can be quite persuasive.
Brant lit his hands with purple flames, and they danced across his hands. He put his hands on Grady's shoulders and Grady fell to the floor, writhing in pain.
I've already broken two of your family, Brant said with a sly smile. Maybe I should finish the job I started.
Brant threw Grady across the room, onto the wall. Grady was breathing heavily, barely able to breathe.
"The Black Swan had staged a studying base in the Forbidden Cities," Grady said.
Give me the exact position of their hideout.
"It's in New York City," Grady croaked. "It's underground, in a hidden dark alleyway. THere you will find all the secrets, mapped out and perfectly how you want them."
Ah, I see. I can tell you aren't lying, Grady. No need to call for a Black Swan ambush. Unless, of course, you want me to kill them as well. Admit it, you've lost. It's time for us to rise above. Once I get all of the secrets I need about my past, I will slaughter the Council. But in the meantime, let's go take a visit to New York.