Part 11: The Truth
I blinked. And then I blinked again. I couldn’t seem to get my brain to believe my eyes. Maybe I hit my head during that duel? Maybe I used too much magic.
But no. This was no trick. My master was the Card Dealer. I couldn’t deny that when he was laying right in front of me and I held his mask in my hands.
“A-Adrian…,” I said in a shaky voice. “No…this can’t be real…”
Something clicked in my head. Some things made sense. Why he was always leaving…he was coming here.
“He’s a pretty mysterious guy…always keeping to himself…” Adrian had said those exact words. to me. It chilled me.
Adrian’s eyes suddenly opened. He seemed confused, then his eyes widened and he quickly got to his feet. It took him a moment to notice I was there.
“Claudia?!” He shouted. “What in…what are you doing here?!”
I clenched my fists. “Coming for you, of course!” I yelled. “Why didn’t you tell me?!”
His eyes narrowed. “You need to leave. It’s not safe here.”
“You’re coming with me!” I said. “And you’re going to explain all of this!”
He noticed that I was gripping his mask and his face twisted with what looked like a mix of fear and rage. He quickly ripped it out of my hand.
“Get. Out,” he said, more sternly than he had ever spoken to me in my life. His storm-filled eyes were locked onto me. I backed away the slightest bit. “Get out right now, and go home.”
“I can’t!” I said, standing my ground. “There’s no way for me to get home!”
“Then how did you get here?” Adrian asked me.
“With a ship, but the storm last night wrecked it,” I said. “Besides, I’m not leaving until you tell me what’s going on!”
“Yes, Adrian, tell the girl what’s happening,” said a new voice. We both whirled around to see Clark and a blonde-headed girl come through the doorway where I had come. I gasped when I saw them; Clark had his hand around Leon’s arm, and the woman was holding on tightly to Lex.
“Claudia, help!” Leon cried. From the look of Lex’s busted lip, I guessed she had put up a fight.
“Let them go!” I demanded. “Please!” I turned back to Adrian, who was even more angry than before. He grabbed my arm with his free hand.
“You brought them with you?!” He yelled. “What’s wrong with you?!”
“Let go of me, Adrian!” I tore away from his grasp, then jabbed my finger at him.
“Come along, Adrian, there’s no time for this,” Clark said. He dragged Leon closer to us as he stepped forward. He glanced around the room in a nervous manner. “He is coming, Adrian, and if he sees us all here, it won’t be good for all of us.”
Adrian took a deep breath. Then another. “Alright,” he said. “Claudia, I’m taking you three home.”
“Ah, no,” said the woman. Her long hair was falling in her face as she tried to keep Lex from breaking from her hold. “There’s no way we’re letting you leave here with them.”
“We don’t trust you that much,” Clark added. “The best thing we can to with them is throw them over the side of the cliff. They’ve already seen too much.”
“No!” Adrian said. He pushed me behind him as if to guard me. “You let those two go. I’ll take them home, and I won’t say a word. I’ll come back when they’re safe.” Clark held Adrian’s cold gaze for a moment, then laughed.
“Adrian, if the boss trusted you enough he wouldn’t have to put that spell on you every time you put on your little act,” said Clark. “Elena, be a dear and tie the girl up. I…have a better idea than throwing them over the cliff.”
A look of panic crossed over Adrian’s face when he seemed to realize what Clark meant. I had no idea what he his new idea could be, but I could tell it wouldn’t be any good.
“Clark, please, be reasonable!” He said, his anger turning into desperation.
“I am being reasonable,” Clark replied, waving his hand. “You failed last time. If I bring in three times the amount, and one a witch, the boss will finally look at me and not you. Got it? Now, if you don’t want there to be four times as much, I’d back down.”
“What are you going to do?” I asked. I was almost too afraid to know. Clark grinned at me.
“Well, what do you think. You’re the one who’s been trying to figure all this Card Dealer nonsense out.” He winced when Leon silently squirmed in his grasp.
I looked at Adrian, who shook his head at me.
“What’s the matter, Adrian?” Elena said. “Don’t want your pet to know what you’ve helped us accomplish?”
“Adrian…” I locked yes with him. “Tell me…”
He looked from Clark, to Lex, then back to me.
“Claudia, I’m sorry,” he said in a low voice. His dropped his mask on the floor and ran his hands through his hair. “I’m, so, so sorry.”
“What did you do?” I pressed. “Please, tell me!”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Clark said. “Remember the Nymph? Or what about the Merman? Your dear master here murdered them.”
My eyes widened as I turned to gawk at Adrian. He didn’t meet me gaze.
“Oh, and not just them,” Clark continued. “But tens of others, too. Why, I’m surprised you haven’t figured it out yet. He’s been the Card Dealer this whole time, putting on his little magic shows when a body suddenly turns up, giving my sister and I-” He gestured at himself and at Elena, “time to collect our treasure and go on our way without anyone noticing at all.”
“Adrian!” Lex cried. “How could you!”
“You killed them!” Leon screamed as he tried to wrestle away from Clark. “I knew it was you and everyone thought it was me!”
“Adrian,” I breathed. “Why did you do it?”
He was clearly ashamed. If he was, then why did he do it in the first place?
“I did it because…,” he turned to me. “Because…” He put his hand on his head.
Clark suddenly took a step back, his smile falling. Elena almost let go of Lex.
“Adrian?” I said, putting my hand on his shoulder. Adrian grabbed my arm as he looked up with terror in his eyes.
“You should’ve left when I gave you the chance,” he whispered. The ground started to shake. The lights above us flickered. The dimmed as a cloud of smoke covered them.
“ADRIAN RUNE,” a booming voice filled the area, making my bones shake. Adrian let go of me to put both of his hands over his ears. Clark had pushed Leon away and had fallen on his knees. Elena had done the same. Lex and Leon hurried over to me.
“What’s happening?” Leon whimpered. As he said the words, a blast of lightning shot through the ceiling. Wind rushed through the new hole, making my hair blow back.
And what came through the whole next made my knees weak.
“Adrian Rune!” The same voice boomed again. The man’s piercing eyes fixed on my master.
It was Master Greaves.
~ ♠ ♣ ♦ ♥ ~
Things have sure been crazy! I hope I was able to brighten your day a little with this next part! I’m almost relieved that this story is coming to an end! I’ve been working on it since July 2019, and I’m ready to start a new one. I can’t wait for ya’ll to see the end and to see what I’ve got planned next. It’ll be good! Thank you so much for reading my work, it means so much to me! Let me know in the comments how you liked it! Have a great Saturday and God bless!