After twilight, in an open field followed Alastair and the other agents as they traversed to the precise spot where they could glimpse the emerging moonbeams at just the right angle. He felt odd wearing the same ceremonial, white robes as the rest of them considering he couldn’t participate in the ritual other than to provide emotional support, but since he was part of the team, they insisted. He heard an owl hooting from the nearby trees, but other than that, the only sounds came from their movements through the grass. No one had spoken in a while just from the solemness of the ancient magic that they were about to invoke. Finally, after several minutes of quiet, Alastair declared, “This is a good spot right here!”
As the agents carrying various tools put their belongings down to where Alastair indicated, Stephen gazed at the scene with an eerie reverence. The custom fascinated him, but he had never participated in anything like this before, so it felt sort of weird too. He could hardly believe that such an irregular activity related to an extremely important business matter, but if this would help them finally defeat Xavier, he was willing to give it a shot. As the agents set everything up, Allison had apparently assessed his mood since she asked him, “Feels kind of strange, doesn’t it?”
“Strange doesn’t begin to cover it!” Stephen answered honestly. “I mean, I know it’s a rare occurrence for you guys too, but considering six months ago I didn’t even know that magic existed…”
“And you probably didn’t know how much work went into creating certain potions,” Allison presumed.
Stephen agreed, “Nope! I also didn’t really think about how powerful a potion could be!”
Finnian piped in, “Like we said in planning, Xavier has used every protection and concealment spell known to man, and this is the only thing powerful enough to break past those barriers. It may seem a little drastic, but so are Xavier’s actions, so…”
Stephen remarked, “Right! It’s an extraordinary thing to do, but I suppose I don’t need to get used to it since this’ll work and I only need to witness it once…”
Alastair cleared his throat, and they snapped back into attention. Stephen could see smoke coming out of the cauldron already as everyone joined hands. He planned to step to the side and observe the operation, but Allison pulled him in to participate. He didn’t see how it helped, but he thought perhaps the symbolism of their leader standing by their side during an important event would help embolden their magic, so he did not object. The smoke shifted between the multiple colors of the galactic pyrite, and Alastair began chanting, “Toninpip acoliton fode Xavier Ryder!” The rest of the group began chanting this in unison, and Stephen could practically feel the force of their magic leaving their bodies. The concoction in the cauldron developed an almost electric quality to it, and the more that they chanted, the stronger the electric cloud became. It started swirling faster and faster, and although Stephen couldn’t contribute any magic to the spell, he began chanting with them. The cloud compressed itself into a ball that got smaller and smaller until it gained so much energy that it suddenly burst, knocking everyone off their feet!
When they got up, they could see a piece of parchment floating above the cauldron in place of the cloud. For an instance, everyone simply stared at the parchment, including Stephen. He could see text on it, which meant that they finally had their answer! They finally had a shot of ending Xavier’s evil regime once and for all! It seemed too incredible to be true! Everyone seemed to nervous to want to read what the parchment said, and Stephen inwardly couldn’t blame them! A part of him feared that, somehow, Xavier had gotten past this barrier too and that he couldn’t be found, and Stephen really didn’t want to hear the news if that was going to be the case! Still, someone had to read it, and as head of the ICI, he supposed it had to be him. He got up and cautiously walked over to the parchment.
A part of Stephen felt worried that if he reached out to touch the parchment that he would unleash something that would reach out and attack him or that he would get sucked into the swirling vortex that had been their previously, but because everyone there watched him and did nothing to stop him, he figured that it must be safe to go near it. When he picked it up, he noted that it felt warm to the touch and had a dry crisp to it as if it were a newly discovered manuscript from yesteryear. His heart beat wildly as he mentally prepared himself to read what it had to say, preparing himself for bad news so that the sting of devastation wouldn’t feel as strong if that became the case. To his delight, the parchment not only had the name of Xavier’s location but its exact coordinates too! With a broad grin, he told the rest of his team, “We got him!”
Xavier strolled into the meeting room with an exuberant look on his face. As soon as he walked in, his followers grew instantly silent. He took a second to savor the fact the room had expanded again, and it made him swell with pride to know that his numbers were continuing to grow each day! He then addressed the group, “My devoted men, I have exciting news to share! We’ve found the final ingredients that we need to summon our new allies here!” The group cheered for a moment, and then they grew silent again to allow him to continue, “Now, I know we’ve been over this a lot, but I can’t emphasize it enough; these allies aren’t from around here, so they’re going to have a vastly different appearance than us. I don’t want any ogling or anyone making them feel uncomfortable. We need them on our side for the siege against Emily’s regime, so treat them as you would a normal Earthling! Does everyone…?”
Xavier trailed off as he noticed a wisp of fog seep into the room. He immediately ordered, “Everyone, run!”
All of the men and women in the area got up and linked arms as one of them chanted, “Lanumaciae… Lanumanciae.. I can’t… Sir!”
The fog grew stronger and stronger, and Xavier himself began to grow a bit dizzy. He could hardly see straight, and he suddenly knew what was happening. “No!” he cried out.
Alastair and his team suddenly burst into the room, and Xavier’s followers began to defend themselves. Alastair and Xavier both fired off as many spells at each other as they could. Xavier felt rather flabbergasted as to how the ICI even found him, but he didn’t have time to ask questions. He resolved to ask the survivors once his followers finished off the main people, which he didn’t think would take long. He had battled it out with them before, and although the timing was a bit tedious, he felt confident about his odds. Alastair sneered, “I’ve waited to officially retire just for this moment, Xavier!”
Xavier didn’t feel deterred by this jibe. “You think you can defeat me? In all your years of heading the… Wait, you’re not in charge anymore! Where is that bloody cose?”
Before Xavier could do a proper search for Stephen, he suddenly felt a sharp pain hit the back of his head! He didn’t think much of it at first; it felt as though someone had hit him with a small rock or something. He felt blood rushing out, and all of a sudden, he lost his balance. He fell to the floor, and he felt the energy from his body slowly draining out, and he realized what had happened- Stephen had shot him, and he was dying! Stephen stood above him, and Xavier no longer had the strength to hex him. Very weakly, he muttered, “That was a cheap trick!”
“You won’t be able to hurt anyone anymore, Xavier!” Stephen regarded him sternly.
“That’s where you’re wrong!” Xavier exclaimed. “This will not stop me! I have powerful allies that can fix it! Blythe is summoning them right now! You’ll see! You haven’t heard the last of me! I’ll be…!” He no longer could muster the ability to move or speak. As he lost consciousness, he assured himself that he was merely falling asleep for a while…
Stephen and Alastair watched the light go out in Xavier’s eyes, and they knew he was gone! Stephen announced, “He’s dead!” The ICI agents celebrated for a moment, but they cut themselves off pretty quickly. Stephen could understand why. He always imagined that this moment would feel more triumphant since a mass murderer finally received justice, but it didn’t. Something felt odd as if it weren’t actually true. He could see Xavier dead in front of him, but somehow, it didn’t feel over yet and he couldn’t understand why. “What did Xavier mean by that bit about his powerful allies?”
Alastair shrugged it off. “It was probably just one last bit of bravado before he passed. Don’t let it phase you! Let’s take a look at what secrets he had hidden here.” Stephen agreed to do so, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of Xavier’s corpse. Something was definitely wrong, but he couldn’t figure out why he felt so strongly about this notion. He left the room feeling very strange about what transpired.
Emily stood on top of the balcony located in front of her castle as a crowd of onlookers and reporters watched in anticipation. Emily triumphantly revealed, “Xavier Ryder’s reign of terror is officially over! He is dead!” Most of the people attending cheered, but she also heard some loud boos coming from one corner. She glanced over to see a group of protesters with signs reading, “Alexander’s Dreamers,” and messages declaring their allegiance to the founder and against her reign. Stephen made a page to his team, and as they worked with law enforcement to hush the protesters so that she could continue speaking, Emily remarked to Stephen, “Something’s not right!”
“I know!” Stephen shared her sentiment. As they gazed out onto the scene celebrating their victory, he had the strongest feeling that they weren’t done with Xavier yet!