Zero Power

“MAGUS!” the boy’s scream echoed through the halls as he ran. “MAGUS!!!!” His hurried footsteps on the marble floor combined with the echoes from his shout to fill the empty hallway with a ruckus. He reached the door to the Magus’ meditation room; a tall, wide, solid oak door that was almost four inches thick. The boy had been apprenticing for a month, but he quickly learned not to disturb the Magus during mediation unless he wanted a harsh punishment. He decided he would rather risk punishment than let the end of the world happen. He pulled the iron ring that served as a door handle and stepped in. “Magus!”

A bald man with a long grey beard clothed in a long, simple, black robe sat cross-legged in the center of the empty stone room. He looked up at the boy but did not speak. He waited for the apprentice to explain himself.

“The world is in danger!” He said. The magus continued to stare at him but did not move to stand up. “It’s all over the news! Undead are raining from the sky across the world! Even here!” Finally, the Magus uncrossed his legs and rose to his feet at a slow, patient pace.

“Show me,” he replied. The boy nodded, turned, and ran back out to the courtyard. He ran as fast as he could. In the past month, he also learned that the Magus did not like to use his legs. When he moved, he floated along the top of the ground and could fly at great speed like this if he wanted to. The boy reached the courtyard and turned to see the Magus hovering next to him. The apprentice pointed up at a large black hole in the sky in time for the Magus to see a skeleton fall out of it.

He watched the skeleton shatter on the ground when it landed. After a moment, it magically pulled itself back together then headed to the nearest town. The Magus noted several dozen skeletons ahead of it marching toward the town.

“Stay here, you’ll be safe as long as you’re within the castle walls,” the  Magus said. The apprentice nodded. He was not foolish enough to think he could help with only a month of magical training under his belt. He also knew the sorcerer cast a protective enchantment on the castle and felt safe.

“Yes, Magus. Good luck!” The wizard nodded and hovered forward. The moment he crossed the gate all the skeletons turned around to face him.

“Begone.” He casually waved a hand in their direction. A giant portion of the flat dirt plain jutted up toward the sky creating a dark cloud of dust. Then the upturned earth fell on top of the platoon of skeletons sending another plume of dirt into the sky.

“Now to see about you,” the Magus turned his attention to the black hole in the sky. He studied it for a moment to try and guess at its nature. Several skeletons shattered on the ground, reformed, then started their march toward him. The wizard ignored the skeletons and loosed a fireball at the dark hole. It entered the hole, then nothing happened. “Hmm.” He looked at the closest skeleton approaching and sent a ball of flame from his hand at it.

The skeleton exploded on impact but pulled its flaming bones back together. The flaming skeleton continued its march toward the Magus. He heard a sound behind him and turned around. Dozens of skeletons were climbing out of the overturned earth.

“You can’t kill them,” a woman said next to him. He looked to see a tall pale woman with long dark hair and twisting bone-white horns growing out of her head. “Not without killing me,” she smiled.

“Very well,” the Magus wasted no time. He aimed both palms at her and shot two lightning bolts, one from each hand, at her head. A small, dinner-plate sized black hole opened in front of her face and swallowed the lightning. He was surprised she was able to react so fast. She stood next to him and he expected the lightning to be fast enough to catch her off guard. After the hole disappeared she smiled at the Magus.

“Also, you can’t kill me either.”

“I haven’t tried yet,” the Magus replied. He turned to face her directly and made several quick, deliberate movements with his hands; then, they started to glow with purple light.

“You really should’ve,” the woman said. She lifted her palm to her face and blew a gentle breeze across her hand toward the Magus as if she were blowing a kiss. Black powder-like dust bloomed into a cloud around him.

His vision went black and he felt searing pain coursing through his head and upper body; everywhere the black cloud touched. The Magus tried to scream, but his voice never came. The last thing he felt, aside from the unbearable agony, was warm liquid pouring down the front of his chest and sticking to his robe. He felt himself falling toward the ground but died before he landed.

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