Chosen One, 37

Chaos Is Easy to Take Advantage of While Everyone Is Distracted

Ao3 Link

They had one day off a week at the academy, and the only bad thing about that was that it was only one day long. Still, Isaac tried to make the most of it when it came around, only wasting half of it studying and doing something fun for the other half. ‘Half’ being defined very loosely, since he got up late and only studied until lunchtime, but whatever.

Unfortunately, his leisure time was not to be today. The minute he stepped outside of the cafeteria with Peter and Skip, Isaac could hear bells ringing, and not the normal churchy kind. “That’s weird,” Isaac said, looking up. The bells were low, ominous.

“I think they’re alarm bells,” Peter muttered, frowning.

“So what, the city’s getting attacked?” Skip asked, crossing his arms. He looked worried.

“I don’t know…”

“Should we do something?” Isaac asked, stomach clenching now. A lot of others had come outside as well, also looking around for the source of the bells. “Like to hide somewhere, or…”

“There’s a shield around the academy,” Peter reminded Isaac. “I’m sure it’s fine.”

“I guess…” Isaac found himself not so sure. Something felt wrong. Maybe it was just the bells worrying him. But something felt wrong.

But he wasn’t sure what, couldn’t say what, and everyone looked worried and upset. Who was Isaac to say he was more worried than anyone else?

They milled around, for a bit. Some of them wandered off, bored when the bells didn’t stop, muttering about false alarms. Isaac wanted the bells to stop before he wandered off. He wanted to be told that nothing was wrong, but there were no faculty to be seen to reassure them of that.

Then a shadow passed overhead.

Isaac and the rest of them looked up, saw it. “Oh, fuck.”

Dragons were way bigger than the stories about them let on.

It soared over the academy, going on for what seemed like miles. It had to be the size of the dormitory building if not bigger, Isaac thought, and his mind couldn’t handle that, couldn’t figure out how to position something that big that could move like that, or move at all.

It was headed towards the castle, and as they watched, it began to circle.

“I didn’t know they were that big…” Peter said quietly beside him.

“I didn’t know they were that thick,” Skip added. “Its wings are massive.”

All around them there was muttering, shouting. All of them watched the dragon, rapt. As if nothing else was happening in the world.

“Fuck.” Isaac looked away, towards the back end of the campus.

Someone broke into the Vault while that was happening, a voice in Isaac’s head whispered. Oliver had told him that, way back in the museum in the winter. The last time a dragon had attacked, it had kidnapped prince Gavin. And at the same time, while everyone had been watching it, someone had tried to break into the vault.

Fuck.” Isaac gave the dragon one last look, broke into a run.

“Isaac?” Peter called after him.

“Someone’s going to break into the Vault!” He shouted, keeping up his run. He felt bad, he knew Peter couldn’t follow him at this speed, and that made him feel like an asshole. But he hadn’t seen any of the faculty or anyone, nobody headed for the Vault. Which meant there might not be anyone else trying to stop it.

He might be wrong, Isaac knew that. He hoped he was wrong. Then he’d look like an idiot, he’d have missed the dragon and everything would be fine.

But he wasn’t wrong. Something was wrong, but it wasn’t Isaac. Not this time.

The stately looking house in the back corner of the academy looked just like it always did, fancy and out of place in the grounds. He ran to the front door, panting, and pulled. The door was locked. “Oh, fuck you,” Isaac muttered, taking a step back and bringing the Pillars into his vision.


Isaac looked over his shoulder, saw Oliver approaching him, out of breath. “Oliver? Where’s Yancy?”

“With the archmage. He told me go come here just in case.” He smiled. “I guess you do listen when I talk.”

Isaac couldn’t help but smile back. Now that Oliver was here, he felt a lot more secure. “Sometimes,” Isaac said, looking back at the door. “They’re locked.” And there was a thread of Shadow running through them.

“They’re never locked,” Oliver muttered, but he pulled on the door and confirmed that Isaac was right. “Hold on, I’ll…” Oliver tugged on Light, and Isaac watched the doors completely refuse to move. “What the…”

Isaac reached out and tugged that thread of Shadow, and the building rippled. “Shadow is good at making you believe things that aren’t real,” he muttered.

“An illusion.” Oliver frowned, pulled on Shadow himself. The house disappeared, proved itself to be three feet back from where they were standing. “Not a very good one. The best illusions use Light as well.”

There was a loud crack and Isaac looked over his shoulder, saw that the dragon was now perched on one of the castle’s towers. He looked back at the house. “It doesn’t need to be good, it just needed to distract us for a minute. And it did.” He marched forward, pulled on the real doors, got annoyed when they didn’t open, pulled on Dark instead. The doors broke open, falling out of their hinges as they did.

“Didn’t know you had that in you,” Oliver commented, as the two of them went into the building.

“It’s the only spell I’m good at,” Isaac muttered, not taking the time to wipe his feet as they proceeded through the statue room and through the back hallway. “I guess we know someone’s in here who shouldn’t be.”

“The wards on the Vault will keep them out,” Oliver said, not sounding at all confident.


Neither of them slowed down.

It was a big house but it wasn’t huge, and soon they were in the hallway leading to the Vault. Where it was clear that the new doors were thrown wide open. “Fuck,” Oliver muttered. “Most of the wards are inside the doors.”

“Who could break through them?”

“I don’t know.”

“Should we wait for Yancy?”

Oliver took a deep breath, and shook his head. “He’ll be here soon. We have to at least try to stop them.”

“And if we can’t?” Isaac demanded. The two people who were supposed to be guarding this door were nowhere to be seen.

Oliver was silent as they approached the doors. “Yancy will be here soon.”

That was not very reassuring, and Isaac could hear his heart pounding in his skull as they approached. But they didn’t have a choice.

They approached the open doors, beyond which was a small room with another door at the back, closed. All around the room were fading strands of power, where the Pillars had been woven together. It was how advanced spells were done, ones that were meant to last a long time. It was a highly advanced skill that Isaac didn’t even understand, but what he did understand was that all of these strands looked like they’d been severed.

“The wards,” Oliver said, looking around. “Someone…cut through them all.”

“Isn’t the whole point of wards that you can’t do that?” Isaac asked, stepping into the room and heading for the interior door, which was made from a heavy metal. “Not all of them.” There were heavy threads of power on this door still, obviously put there by whoever was inside the Vault.

Isaac wasn’t optimistic enough to assume that they’d deterred whoever had opened the first door, which meant that was who’d put them there.

“What do you mean? There’s nothing there.”

Isaac glanced at Oliver, then back at the door. “There’s magic on this door, Oliver. You can’t see it?” After they’d made their discovery about the Pillars the other day, word had spread pretty quickly. Not everyone at the academy could see all three already, but now that the secret was out the ability was spreading as mages showed each other how to see the Pillars properly. Some people, Diana told him, seemed to have natural affinities for one or the other and honestly couldn’t see one of the Pillars without being shown, but many had realized that they’d been seeing several Pillars all along or had as kids and hadn’t realized, like Diana.

“I don’t see anything.” Oliver put his hand out, made to pull on the door’s handle.

The powers encircling the door reacted as Oliver got closer, pulsing a little. Not a ward. “Oliver, don’t!” Isaac grabbed him by the arm. “That’s a trap. If you touch it, it’ll…do something.”

“How do you know?” Oliver demanded.

“I don’t, but I can see it and you can’t. It started to look like it was going to blow up when you got near it.”

“The Pillars don’t work that way, Isaac, they don’t have a mind of their own.”

“Yeah.” Isaac looked at them. He couldn’t tell which Pillars had been tapped into to make whatever this was. So he looked to the side of the door, at the wall.


“I have an idea.” Isaac grabbed Dark, and pulled at the wall with a powerful tug. It collapsed outward, leaving a plume of dust and a hole into the next room. “It’s just like a mage to guard a door and not think of the wall beside it,” he muttered, heading for the hole.

“You’re better at that spell than I am,” Oliver said, obviously surprised.

“If I’m only going to be good at one thing, I’d better be really good at it,” Isaac said, feeling oddly embarrassed.

“You’re good at more than one thing…Isaac.” A glowing wall went up in front of both of them as they passed through Isaac’s hole, blocking the scarlet flame that shot at them from inside the room.

“I’d hoped you would try to open the door,” a voice said from inside the room, as the fire dissipated. “Would have been fun to walk through the pieces of you on my way out.”

“Fuck,” Isaac whispered, recognizing that voice with a sinking of his stomach.

“Christopher?” Oliver asked, and the last of the smoke from the fire cleared, revealing Christopher standing in a long room full of shelves, a box in his hands.

He grinned at them. “Oh well, maybe I’ll get Yancy or even the archmage with it when they show up. I’m guessing if you’re here that means the real mages are on the way, yeah?”

“What the hell are you doing, Christopher?” Oliver demanded, stepping into the room, in front of Isaac.

Another grin, and Christopher waved a hand around at the room, at all of the things on the shelves. Some were on the floor, he’d obviously been rifling through them. Most of it just looked like stuff to Isaac, but he could feel a hum in the air that set his teeth on edge. “An arsenal, in here. The biggest collections of magical tools and weapons in the world. And it sits in a room, gathering dust. Forever. Isn’t that just the stupidest fucking thing you’ve ever heard?” Christopher sneered. “With everything that’s in here, we could literally walk down the road, knock down the castle doors and make the king lick our boots while we sit our asses on his throne. But it sits here. Useless.”

“Did you miss the whole building you walked through to get here?” Isaac asked, nervous. “It’s all about why we don’t try to take over the kingdom.”

Christopher smirked at him, and he opened the box and pulled out an oblong yellow rock. The Pillars pulsed around him. “And this is the most powerful of them all.”

“A rock,” Oliver said, sounding worried.

“Oliver…” Isaac really didn’t like the way that Christopher was looking at it, really didn’t like the way the Pillars were reacting, humming around Christopher.

“You never were the smartest cookie, Oliver,” Christopher said, looking up from the rock to Oliver. “I guess that’s why you two get along so well.”

“Oliver!” The Pillars started to resonate before Christopher even touched one, which gave Isaac a second to grab Dark, push Oliver out of the way from the blast of fire that shot right at him. Isaac himself jumped to the other side to avoid being burnt. The fire left a bar of white across his vision, seared the wall down to the stone.

Christopher was really trying to kill them, Isaac realized in a moment of cold fear. This wasn’t a joke, it wasn’t him patting Isaac on the back too hard or punching Oliver for fun. He wanted to hurt them. And maybe he always had.

“Isaac, run.” Oliver stood, touching Light and Shadow as he did. “Go get the first faculty you can find.”

Isaac watched the Pillars in Oliver’s hand, and Shadow in Christopher’s. He shook his head. “I’m going to stay here and help.” If he left, Oliver would be dead when Isaac came back.

“It’s cute that you think you can help,” Christopher sneered. “You’re too much of an idiot to even figure out basic magic, from what I hear.”

That was true, but Isaac wasn’t going to let it stop him. He reached out with Dark to lift Christopher and toss him backwards, but Christopher broke his spell with a wave and did something that had an invisible blade of air swiping at Isaac from the right side. “Isaac!” Oliver shouted.

Isaac swore, ducked under the blade, rolling towards Oliver. With a cracking of wood, Christopher’s spell hit some of those shelves, sent them toppling downwards in a crash of wood and metal as everything hit the ground, seeming to organically avoid Christopher as it did. Oliver shouted and there was a flash of light that blinded Isaac as he rolled, and when Isaac stood, he felt disoriented.

That passed, though, when he realized that Christopher was right in front of him, and Oliver was against the wall near the door, unconscious. “Oh, fuck.” Isaac scrambled to his feet, but Christopher grabbed his shoulders.

“Let go of me!” Isaac struggled, tried to get away from him, tried to pull back.

Christopher leered down at him. “You don’t really want me to do that, Isaac.”

“Yes, I do!” Isaac managed to break free for just a second, but Christopher grabbed him roughly by the wrist.

“You liked having me grab you, didn’t you? You liked having me pin you to the bed and fuck you like an animal. You liked…”

“Shut up!” Isaac wrenched his hand back, grabbed Light and something else, willing Christopher to get away from him. A bolt of lightning shot from his palm, throwing Christopher back into the nearest shelf, where he slumped to the ground.

Panting, holding back tears, Isaac staggered back a step or two.

“Hey.” Oliver was up, and at Isaac’s side. “You okay?”

Isaac nodded, squeezing his eyes shut. “Yeah. He didn’t hurt me.” This time.

“Good, that’s good.” Oliver took Isaac’s hand, squeezed it. And he started tugging at Isaac’s sleeve.

“What are you doing?”

Oliver smiled at him, that nice smile that Isaac liked. “I’m just really happy you’re okay.” He leaned in and kissed Isaac, first gently and then harder, needier.

“Oliver…” Isaac pulled back a little, pushing at Oliver’s chest. “Stop.”

“Why?” Oliver smiled, and that wasn’t his nice smile anymore. “You beat him. We should celebrate.”

This wasn’t like Oliver. “Not right here we shouldn’t!”

“Why not?” Oliver whispered, leaning in for another kiss, his hands coming down to loosen Isaac’s pants. “This is what you want, right? You always have. And I’ve always wanted it too, I was just too scared to admit it to myself. I’m not scared anymore.”


“I love you, Isaac.”

It was wrong, it was all wrong, Isaac shook his head, giving Oliver a hard shove back as Oliver’s hand dipped into the front of his pants. Isaac fell back. “This isn’t like you.”

Oliver smirked, taking a step forward, unlacing his own pants now. “Sure it is. You asked me how many times for this? I’m saying yes to one of those times now.”

Isaac backed away, short of breath, scared. He’d never been scared of Oliver before. This was wrong, it wasn’t right, it wasn’t real.

It wasn’t real.

Shadow made people believe things that weren’t real.

Isaac reached out as Oliver reached for his arm, grabbed Shadow. Pulled on it, the way Oliver had earlier with the house.

Oliver rippled, disappeared. Behind himself, Isaac could hear laughing. He scrambled to his feet, saw Christopher, hand on his stomach, giggling as he watched Isaac. “Really had you believing that, didn’t I? Can you even imagine, Oliver being that assertive? Poor idiot doesn’t even know how his cock works.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Isaac demanded, wiping at his eyes. He looked around for Oliver. Saw him there, sitting at the foot of a shelf, a burn on his front. Groaning. “Oliver!”

“Meanwhile, all he knows is that you attacked him.”

Isaac raced over, crouched beside Oliver, feeling cold. “I’m sorry, Oliver, I’m sorry. I thought you were him.”

“It’s okay…” Oliver managed, trying to sit straight with Isaac’s help. That burn looked bad. “Christopher’s illusions are better than I remember.”

Footsteps behind him and Isaac stood, turned to face Christopher, stomach burning with hatred, eyes burning with tears. He put himself in between Christopher and Oliver. “Why are you doing all this?”

“Because I’m tired of people like Oliver telling me to play nice.” Christopher noticed Isaac reaching for a Pillar and he did something with his hand, making the whole Pillar buzz and shake so Isaac had to draw his hand away from it. “Because I should be allowed to use my power to have what I want, not for some stupid idea of making the world a better place.”

“You’re wrong…” Oliver coughed, getting to his feet behind Isaac. “That’s not what that power’s for.”

“Hm.” Christopher smirked at them both. “That’s not what Isaac thinks. He’s all about getting what he wants, isn’t he?”

“Shut up,” Isaac warned. The three main Pillars were reacting to that stone in Christopher’s hand. The others, the other powers that Isaac was starting to think nobody else could see, weren’t. Maybe if he grabbed one of those. Maybe if he knew what one of those did.

“Oh, right you haven’t told Oliver about that, have you?” Christopher asked, taking a step forward. “About how you were undressing me in your head that whole supper we all ate together? About how you came to my room and begged me to fuck you?”

“That’s not what happened!” Isaac felt like throwing up. Oliver could hear this. He didn’t want Oliver to hear this. He wanted it not to have happened at all.

“About how you didn’t want to leave afterwards?” Christopher smiled at him. “You had a good time, I remember. So did I. You know, maybe after I kill Oliver I’ll take you with me. Fuck you good and proper as much as you want. You’d like that, wouldn’t you, little chosen one?”

“Shut up!” Isaac shouted, closing his eyes shut. He’d never been more angry, more ashamed.

Oliver moved, managing to get his hand on Light for an instant, sending a ripple through the room as he attacked Christopher with a shout.

Christopher dispelled that with a snort, took a step forward. “I’ve always hated you.” He waved his hand, and a long slash appeared on Oliver’s front, blood spurting. Oliver screamed. So did Isaac. “I hate how morally superior you are.” Another slash. “I hate how nice you are.” Another. “I hate how earnest you are about helping people.” One more. “I hate how you pretend you don’t think you’re better than everyone else, how you pretend you only want to learn for knowledge’s sake.” Christopher pause for a second. “I’ve hated you from the first time you offered to help me with my homework, Oliver.” He gestured, and Light rippled, followed by Dark, and something invisible seemed to bore into Oliver’s chest, sending out a spray of blood everywhere and Oliver fell to the ground without a sound, unmoving.

“Oliver!” It sounded to Isaac like he was shouting into a world without sound.

“Nice of you to show us all that little trick, kid. Three Pillars are better than one. Now if I’d been you, I’d have never shown anyone else how to be as powerful as me. Let’s go.”

Blood spread out from underneath Oliver as he lay there on the ground, unmoving. Isaac was shaking. The world felt distant, his body felt distant. He turned as Christopher took another step forward, smiling that smile. Isaac reached out beside him, tangled his hand in the Pillars, all of them, even the ones that he didn’t have names for. They wrapped around his hand, tangled, a matrix of glowing, pulsating power. Christopher stopped moving.

I want to kill him, Isaac thought, and unlike at the banquet, he didn’t recoil from that idea. And a ball of energy shot from his hand, too white to be called white, and flew forward, right at Christopher, right through Christopher.

Christopher tried to take in a breath, couldn’t with that hole in the centre of his chest, blood pumping everywhere. He fell over, whatever effect he was having on the Pillars fading, the yellow stone falling from his hand with a clatter. He didn’t move.

Isaac picked up the stone and dropped to his knees beside Oliver, rolled him over. The Pillars thrummed around him, the three main ones, clearer than ever now that he’d picked up the stone. “Oliver…” He was still breathing, choking on blood. The web of power was still wrapped around his hand. Heal him, he begged. Isaac didn’t know how healing magic worked. But Oliver was going to die. Please, heal him.

Power flooded into Oliver and Isaac watched as his wounds knitted shut, blood vessels and muscles and bone growing back, skin covering them, until there was nothing left but Oliver’s unbroken chest.

Isaac could feel magic approaching now, lots of it. He looked up at the door, waved. Whatever trap Christopher had placed on it disappeared just a few seconds before the doors swung open, admitting the archmage, Yancy, Diana, Lee. Elijah and Elana and Cameron followed, other faculty.

Isaac let go of the Pillars, dropped the stone on the blood-stained floor. And he leaned away from Oliver, and threw up on the floor, nearly collapsing in the puddle afterwards.

“What in blazes happened here…” Yancy asked, as Diana crouched beside Isaac, put a hand on his back.

“Help Oliver,” Isaac pleaded. He couldn’t help but look over at Christopher’s body as Elijah went over there, recoiled from something. What looked like a long insect seemed to be squirming in the hole Isaac had made in Christopher’s chest, and it made him glad he’s already thrown up.

“It’s okay, Isaac.” Diana was checking him with Dark, checking him for injuries. Isaac wasn’t hurt. “You’re going to be okay.”

Isaac looked from Christopher’s body and the insect, to Oliver, pale but softly breathing, to the blood-stained stone on the floor, being picked up by the archmage, then back to Diana and Yancy. He shook his head, feeling dizzy. “I don’t believe you.”

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