The Shock of Survival
In the wake of the final battle against The Oppressor, Benedict, Ophelia and Dylan face their magical community in triumph. But that triumph rapidly loses its shine as they realise the war is not so easily left behind. Returning to, and relearning, the lives they had before proves to be more difficult than even they had anticipated.
The Oppressor was defeated.
Three young heroes stepped into the manor where they were greeted with cheers and exhilaration from their fellow magicians. Benedict Whitford, Ophelia Grey, and Dylan Hargrove had become household names over the last three years. They had only been seventeen when they joined the war. They were the next generation—the strongest, most promising magicians of an age.
Of course that had meant they’d also been thrown into the front lines of the war by the Elders, their strength and promise used to concoct a plan full of danger and, ultimately, triumph.
Benedict looked as though the only thing keeping him upright was the flanking presence of Ophelia and Dylan. Dylan wasn’t doing much better. And Ophelia…
She wore an exhausted smile on her elfin features as she greeted everyone who met her with a nod and a crinkling of the eyes. It seemed as though the smile was exhausting her even further. Though all three of them wore unkempt clothes—torn and skin smudged with dirt—the change in Ophelia was perhaps the most startling. Her long, blonde hair fell in lanky, tattered hanks around her face, and her high cheekbones only made her hollow cheeks appear more gaunt.
A couple of Elders were trying to shush everyone at the manor, but it was a job that was far easier to attempt than achieve. Finally, Benedict succeeded where the Elders had not.
“Friends!” His voice rose above the crowd, supernaturally loud to compensate for the noise of so many different voices. There was no doubt his clear English-accented voice could be heard in strongholds all around the country. “Friends. We have defeated a terrible enemy today. But I know that this will strengthen all ties. Without the Oppressor, we will be able to return to our communities in safety and see them grow.”
Cheers erupted anew at this pronouncement. Dylan stood up next to speak as Benedict, looking grateful, stepped back.
“We thank you all for errythin’, but wow.” Dylan offered a wide grin to the avid audience. “We’re knackered!” This got laughs, as it was meant to. “I mean, we’re just gorra go home and sleep. Mebbe forever.” More laughs. Dylan lifted his hands, though technically he didn’t need to wait for the laughter to die down in order to make himself heard. “So we’re gorra go, and again thank you.” His Scottish brogue was strong, stronger due to the extreme exhaustion. He made eye contact and nodded to several of those assembled before looking down to Ophelia to see if she had anything she wanted to add.
“Thank you,” was all she said. Like Dylan, her Scottish accent was more pronounced. “Thank you all.”
Benedict’s hand found hers, and they shared a look of weary camaraderie. He said something to her that was inaudible to the others.
There seemed nothing more to say. While the celebrations continued in earnest, the three young heroes slipped out.