Chapter 5: Behind the Mask

For a third time, you get a dove from Alice with a set of coordinates. You find her sitting on a bench in a park, looking quite downcast.

"What's wrong?" You ask. This time you aren't keeping your mouth shut. Instead of a verbal reply, she simply pats the seat next to her on the bench. You cautiously sit down next to her. Chester circles in between your legs.

You two sit in silence for a long beat. The quiet feels heavy, but you decide to give Alice her time.

"It's Edwin; It's my father." She finally speaks.

"What?"

"When I was a kid, I loved hearing stories about Illuden and Marcana history. I knew all the classics by heart. I always daydreamed about fighting monsters and saving cities."

"What does that have to do with your dad?"

Alice inhales. "The Prophecy of the Dead. The prediction of the Necromancer? I was interested in that story the most. I was always intrigued by the lost spell and the twin amulets. However, something weird happened when you got the two halves." You reflexively take out the two gemstones. "See… you wouldn't know this unless you read some obscure texts about the amulet… but when the two halves are reunited by a Bearer of the Mark of Merlin, the amulet becomes one again."

"So… one of the halves is a fake?" To make sure you didn't just screw up at being a Bearer of the Mark, you try to press the amulet pieces together, willing them to become one with all the magic you can muster.

Nothing happens.

"I… I think so. And if one of them is a fake, I can only believe that either Gemini or my father is the Necromancer. Why else would you have a fake one if someone didn't want you to fail?" Alice finally brings her head up to look at you.

"But it could be Gemini? Why do you think it's Edwin? I mean, it could be someone else entirely. Someone that tricked Gemini or Edwin into possessing a fake instead."

"Ever since… ever since my mom died a year ago, my father hasn't been quite the same. I think he's… trying to bring her back and in the process," Alice waves her hands around, gesturing to the air, "he's doing all this. He's never cared about Prophecies or ancient texts—He's always thought that they were nonsense stories not based in reality."

"That… still doesn't mean it's him," you retort. You hear Chester grunting at your feet, displeased at the conversation. You pay him no mind.

Alice frowns at you, unconvinced. It's pure Illudo of her—once she has her mind set on an idea, not much can dissuade her.

"I'm going to talk to Edwin. I'm sure we can get this cleared up." You start to get up and you can feel an energy flow around you. It feels like the magic that Robert exudes when he teleports.

But I'm doing this. And I'm going to figure this out.

"No. Don't. I'm telling you—it's him." Chester thumps his foot expressing apprehension. Alice nervously gets up to stop you. However, the last thing you see is Alice's outstretched arm before you feel yourself whoosh off into the either and then appear in Edwin's office.

Edwin stares at you, surprised. "Uh… to what do I owe this… surprise?"

You struggle to catch your breath; you've never cast something so powerful before. You hear a low growling from Chester, his eyes trained on Edwin. Ears back against his head—reminiscent of how he was when you encountered the undead creature.

"I uh… did you know that one of the amulets was a fake?"

"Is that so?" Edwin remarks, curiously. You see him slowly get up from his chair.

"Yeah... Alice says that the amulet pieces should have joined together when I received them—"

You feel time slow down as you see dark lightning arc from Edwin's fingers in your direction.

Simultaneously, you see Chester jump up onto your chest, brightly illuminated with some sort of magic. Before you have time to duck out of the way, you feel arms around your stomach and a wild rush of wind.

You find yourself back at the bench. Alice kneeling at the ground and staring wildly at you.

"Got… them…" Robert says under labored breathing. You feel him collapse to the ground behind you.

"Robert!" Alice rushes over to him. You look behind to see Alice kneeling, grabbing his arm to check his pulse. His sleeves are singed, presumably from the lightning; His skin underneath looking like a very nasty sunburn. After a beat she says, "I… I think he's going to be okay."

"You were right," you mutter out. Alice smiles sadly.

"Unfortunately." Alice sighs and sits back, looking up at you. "And now my father knows that we know." "So, what do we do?"

"I actually don't know. If he's smart—and he is—he will be long gone from his office by now."

"There's gotta be a way to find Edwin, get the real half of the amulet from him, and stop him before he destroys the world." Alice stares off, trying to think of a plan.

"Well, you can still figure out the Spell of Illumination and you have one good half of the amulet."

"Maybe I can trick Edwin to give me the other half of the amulet?"

"Do you know enough to do that? He didn't get to be head of the Illuden for nothing. My father is a master of Mentalism and, with this new dark magic he's harnessing, we have no idea of the power he has."

"I can do it." You look at Chester, Alice, and Robert. "I've had good teachers."