Kallan gets the summons a day before Jim’s visit. The letter has the traditional wax seal of the council. It is written on thick paper making the letter feel incredibly heavy. Now that the council has allowed the duel, it is as good as being bound to it. There are few things that can cancel a duel.
The duel is held in the council room. It certainly adds to the intensity of it. The room is magically neutral so it would not give an edge to Kallan or Soren. They could only rely on themselves, physically and magically.
The council is seated, while two healers stand to the side. They ready for anything, any emergency that could happen. A council member casts a spell and the black floor lights up with what would be the dueling ring. The second when Kallan and Soren step into the circle, the duel would begin and they both would be bound to it. There is no time limit to a duel, it would last for the length it would need to last. Since it only ends when one of their magic yields to the other or until one of their physical body’s could stand no more. The truth is death from a duel has not happened in many years but the truth can not be said for the need of intensive care. One of them will end up in the intensive care unit because they both will fight to the bitter end.
Another council member begins to speak. Reciting the speech given at the beginning of all duels. As Kallan and Soren face each other as opponents. They both listing intensely to the words.
“A duel has been offered and has been accepted. Since the times of old the duel…”
The words are fading and Kallan can not hear the words no matter how much she clings to them. They become muffled and fade into the background. There is a low ringing hum replaces it. As a pin point in her chest begins to feel heavy and the heaviness grows and grows. Until she can no longer stand the weight as her chest collapses in on itself. Taking all the air from her lungs. The feeling travels to Kallan’s throat, as the muscles stiffen and constrict, as her own body in choking itself. Cutting off the air that could not enter her lungs anyway.
Her sight does not fade, instead, it sharpens. Everything becomes clearer and crisper, even the colors grow in intensity. She could see Soren’s face in high definition, she could see every detail. He gives her a strange look as if recognizing something might be wrong.
Then it all stops and everything snaps back as if it didn’t happen at all. Kallan is just as confused as the look on Soren’s face. She catches the last words of the speech.
“…into the circle.” The council member finishes.
Kallan has missed the whole speech and now it is the beginning of the duel. As they both begin to step into the circle, the doors fly open with a crash. Halting both of their steps.
A female hunter flanked by four others march in, towards the council. One the council member angrily stands up about to yell at the hunters for disturbing the duel. But a word couldn’t be said before the lead hunter utters a sentence that no one ever wants to hear.
“There was an explosion!”
Explosion. There had been an explosion. A magical explosion. Dread fills the room immediately.
“This duel is canceled. Go back to your stations and wait for orders.” A council member proclaims.
They all swiftly leave to face the aftermath.
The building that Kallan and the other personnel are lead to is a nondescript building. A family home, that did not look out of place from any city. Now it is blocked off by both the police and casters. The police to keep out the physical and casters to keep out the magical. Kallan ducks under caution tape and walks over the magic line. They are lead into the building by the caster in charge of the scene. With each step, Kallan feels odder and odder until they entered the living room and she understood.
The void is everywhere, especially in the circle of bodies, twelve to be exact. Men and women with blank faces, their corpses emptier then mass created plastic dolls. No sign of life ever inhabiting them.
Kallan feels nothing. Because there is nothing. There is no fear, no dread. There is no panic, no nausea. She can not even sweat. Because there is nothing to react to.
Kallan wished she could smell the scent of ozone that seems to linger with all magic or to feel the heavy oppression of death. Even the feeling of complete and utter loneliness or the taste of decay in her mouth would be better. But there is nothing there is only void.
There is no clue of what they were doing magically. Too many spells involve casting in a circle and that does not account for power level which could widen the pool of spells even further. Their clothes give little indication of the magic they may have favored. There is nothing definitive. To make any decision would have been a presumption and not a fact.
Kallan looks around the room once and knew they would find nothing. It is like as if everything is disinfected and not even knowing what disinfectant is used. The only definitive thing she knew is the same thing everyone else knew.
A strong masking circle was used. So it meant they were hiding something. But how bad that something was, is up for question. Because even what individuals think are naturally “good” spells like healing, can be twisted by having the wrong intentions. And the blowback is disastrous.
Kallan while going through the motions of looking for clues that were not there. Escapes into her mind to the apartment with Oria and Jim having a lazy afternoon.
As she drives back to headquarters. She finally feels again and she tastes it. The alkaline saliva pouring into her mouth. Her chest tensing and collapsing into itself as the tension travels up to her throat. Pulsating as if being choked from the inside out.
Kallan tries of force in deep breaths. So the air would go all the way to her stomach. Trying to open up her chest to air. As only one thought running through her mind.
This is bad. Whatever has happened is bad.