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18+ Violence

The Last Spell 36.2

by SilverNight

Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for violence.

Cyrin cracked an eye open. The ceiling fan overhead spun on, hazy but evident in their vision. Still not dead, then. Their head ached, pulsing with the same pain that they could feel in what seemed like every single one of their cells. But it seemed a little lighter now.

Maybe he’d just gotten used to the pain, and he was about to die. He couldn’t decide how that made him feel. He’d spent a lifetime running from it, but the realization that death had tirelessly caught up wasn’t as bitter of a pill as he’d always thought it would taste. Everyone’s story ended the same way. Maybe Casper was right and he’d lived past the end of his own. Or maybe he had died when he was seven and whoever he was now wasn’t really Cyrin Bridger.

Could he still run?

Filling his lungs with as much air as he could with a sharp inhale, Cyrin closed his eyes and tried to sit up. The immediate pain in his side, like he’d gotten stabbed by a knife made of fire, had him instantly regretting the idea. A whimper escaped him as he reached blindly for the headboard behind him, trying to pull… himself… to it. He felt the back of his head and his shoulder blades come into contact with it, and he slumped against it, already drained from the exertion.

Their head swam with hazy recollections. Cyrin remembered Shane hugging them, but that couldn’t be real. There was the horrible humming of plane engines, and then silence for a while, finally broken by Mireya’s wavering voice. They couldn’t remember if they’d said anything, but she might’ve said she loved them. They didn’t know. There was too much past for the slim amount of future they had left.

Shane. They’d been a coward and not told him the full truth, hadn’t they? A lump that had nothing to do with their sickness had formed in their throat and they hadn’t been able to force the words through it.

If he lived… If a specter could float through death’s bony fingers again…

Another chilling breeze from the open window meant to connect him to the sky blew in, and Cyrin shuddered, pressing his lips together as he willed himself not to cry.

Damn it. Saints damn it.

~ ~ ~

The television hadn’t worked for five days now. Not since something the two of them had watched had upset Cyrin’s mother— he truly couldn’t remember what it had been— and she’d kicked at it in a mindless rage until some wire had come loose. The screen and speakers now crackled with static, and the sound haunted every part of the west wing, too distinct and cutting for Cyrin to identify it as background white noise. Now his mother looked at everything, even him, with hollow eyes, never leaving her armchair. The Rationale had completed its work.

It hadn’t alarmed him when she’d stopped talking to him. No. What had sunk primal horror into his bones had been the time when he’d attempted to climb into her lap and she, unblinking, had slowly and mechanically pushed him off the chair. He couldn’t believe he’d hit the ground.

Something was wrong. Not just with her, but with Cyrin too. They were supposed to be as numb and vacant as their mother, turn into a shell of their former self. That was what happened to everyone who Faded. But their mind had stayed clear, and their heart had filled with fear. They’d wanted to disappear. They had no choice but to remain a witness.

Cyrin had watched as one day, she slowly stood from her armchair for the last time to drift into the kitchen, then returned to her seat, knuckles clenched to white around one of the knives they cut their food with. She didn’t look at them. Her dark eyes— eyes like theirs— stared through the static on the screen as if, for a moment, she could see beyond it and was looking into a brighter plane.

They’d had the foresight to look away before anything more. It had done no good. Their mind had colored in the image of the blade singing a final note against her throat anyway.

Cyrin didn’t look that way again. He’d feverishly eaten through the food, always leaving a little for the next meal. He drank from the tap when the last plastic water bottle was dry. He plugged his ears against the static in the vain hope he could shut the sound out of his head. He took his blanket into the other room when it was too much to sit by the fireplace with her just behind him. And in the moments he was least proud of, he tugged at the doorknob, screaming and pounding at the way out until his throat felt hoarse. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t escape.

For a while, no one had come. When the door had been finally opened by an Aphiran medic— a tired-eyed man dragging two body bags behind him— he couldn’t believe it when he saw the shivering but very much alive child in a library full of books he was still too young to read.

~ ~ ~

For the first time in what seemed like ages, Cyrin felt… properly cold.

Drowsily, he sat up with a soft grunt, rubbing tiredly at his face. His eyes and cheeks felt damp. Blinking several times in quick succession, he opened his eyes all the way, staring into an unfamiliar hotel room. The walls were painted bronze, just like the room he’d stayed in at the Crystal City hotel, but the furniture was in a more classical style than the minimalist design he’d seen before. Unsure of what he was seeing, Cyrin furrowed his brow as he pressed the back of his head to his forehead. Then, disbelievingly, he lowered it.

No fever.

Where in the Saints was he?

Cyrin dragged himself off the bed. To his left, the curtains in the window were billowing inwards, caught in the breeze. He drew them aside. A city at sunset, glittering against the ocean waves in the distance, was the sight that greeted him. The clash between old and new was impressive— blocks of skyscrapers surrounded a palace of mighty stone, a marble-pillared museum, an ancient domed observatory that looked up to skies too bright to find stars in. The smell of salt and a pine forest in the air only confirmed where this was.

He’d been taken to Starlight City.

Processing, Cyrin slowly closed the window, leaving the curtains pulled aside.

It was all coming back to them now. Shane had told them the group was going to Starlight City for an event the Houses were throwing. Because Sparrow would be there, and he still had the First Spell. They couldn’t hear anything from the rest of this new hotel suite, so the team must have gone already. Judging by the sunset outside, the event had probably started.

The event. Didn’t the Houses celebrate their anniversary in Starlight City, at the Summer Palace, this time of year? Cyrin could remember their family attending those, and they’d only stopped being included in the invitations once they’d fallen from grace. It was a fancy, formal event, filled with various people of influence and importance all trying to one-up each other. If the group had gone there, they’d probably left in their best clothes.

Cyrin tried to peer out the window at the Summer Palace. They couldn’t tell for sure, but they thought they saw the sprawling line on the plaza that they’d expect to be there.

So… he was alive. That was a realization he didn’t know how to unpack, and there was no time to go over the implications of surviving a universally fatal condition, twice. The job wasn’t over yet, and he was already late. It would have to wait, no matter how many questions were quietly floating around his head. But there was one question he should try to answer now.

Cyrin turned away from the window, rubbing the bronze armbands around his wrists.

Which of the Heirs might have a suit in his size?

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Thu Jun 27, 2024 8:58 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...

Hi again Silv, I'm back to catch up! I'm pretty concerned by the sad face in the description but will persevere nevertheless.

This is definitely more cohesive than the last part. I think now you've established the back and forth between the flashback and the more delusional musings of Cyrin as he's fading in and out of consciousness.

The part with his mother was beautiful and heart wrenching and you can see why Cyrin doesn't think about or talk about her often, because what a thing for a little boy to experience.

The last part was a complete shock. I can't tell if I feel like it was rushed, or I'm just completely disoriented because I was expecting them not to survive, or at least for them to be incapacitated for a whole lot longer. I also thought the gang had left Cyrin behind so now I'm left wondering if I'd misunderstood and they did bring him, or if he's now magically there and I'm supposed to be suspicious of how he got there.

I'm going to hold judgement either way until the next part I think, as I need to get my bearings back.

I'm not sure if these ramblings were helpful, but I'm ready for the next part either way!


SilverNight says...

Hey Icy! The source of the confusion might've been that the group did take Cyrin to Starlight City, but Leilan and Shane had a conversation later about leaving him at the hotel there while they left for the party (not about leaving him back in Crystal City). This is definitely a more confusing part by nature of the hazy narration, so thank you for sticking through it!

IcyFlame says...

ah that makes more sense! Thanks for clarifying for me :)

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Wed Jun 26, 2024 9:46 pm
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Plume wrote a review...

Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Wow, I will be forwarding my therapy bills to you!! What a rollercoaster this chapter was. When I said I was excited to delve into Cyrin's family life, this was not what I meant! Like I am so glad they survived (somehow... and also twice? Curious if maybe this is going to lead to a cure perhaps for the Fading?) but you really had to throw in that absolutely devastating flashback. I'm not even sure how to accurately encapsulate my reaction to it, honestly. My jaw dropped, though. It was thoroughly heartbreaking to read, and the fact that they not only had to watch their mother slowly die before taking her own life to then being deprived of human interaction and contact after that for a period is just AUGH it's devastating. Bravo, though; the way you wrote it made it all the more tragic. (Now I'm lowkey eager to go back to Cyrin's parts and see if you wove in any foreshadowing to this).


Shane had told them the group was going to Starlight City for an event the Houses were throwing. Because Sparrow would be there, and he still had the First Spell.

I honestly needed this little refresher too, so thank you to Cyrin's brain fog.

Their head swam with hazy recollections. Cyrin remembered Shane hugging them, but that couldn’t be real.

Now I know why these two get on so well. They're survivor's guilt buddies.

Overall: owie! I'm not sure my heart liked that! But me overall did very much. Excited to keep reading and man oh man does Cyrin need all the love. (I am though very much hoping we get a confession scene where he reveals to Shane the whole truth; I thrive off drama and urgh I know you'll make it good if you are planning on writing one.) Until next time!

SilverNight says...

Thank you and so sorry for the trauma Plume! Stay tuned for that confession :')

(Side note-- if I've done it well enough, there should be a healthy bit of foreshadowing for this!! Particularly in a couple of earlier flashbacks or any mentions of static. I'm a huge fan of sprinkling things in here and there >:) )

I’ll paraphrase Thoreau here... Rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness, give me truth.
— Christopher Johnson McCandless