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Failure Is Not An Option

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Cold steeped into Tamara’s bones as her air elemental flew up La Bella Durmiente. The chilling wind was relentless in rushing against her face.

As she rose higher, Tamara looked down.

La Rinconada was the world’s highest permanent settlement, isolated and harsh. The shantytown below was like a speck at her elevation. She cast an illusion over herself just in case.

The entrance to the cavern appeared into view on the side of the mountain, impossible to see from above or below. Tamara wondered how the mages found this place, with the perfect hiding spot.

Well, not so perfect.

She got off her elemental, and stood in front of the entrance.

Just a bit more
She gathered what was left of her willpower and prepared for the sight she was going to see. She knew what she had to do.

Tamara had seen death and war, she seen people, friends, family, Aaron, get struck down and fall like if they were puppets whose strings were cut. She has seen more death and chaos in her 19 years of life than actual smiles it seems.

She took a deep breath and walked in. The cave still overwhelmed her regardless.
Faces were still and unmoving, limbs were twisted in odd angles, children whose laughter was silenced, chaos-ridden eyes turned dark.

She kept walking, past the corpses, past the pain. She only had so much time before Alastair, the younger Alastair, arrived.

Alastair. Her thoughts wandered back to him, when he was alive and took her in once Alex Strike got to her parents.

He met the same fate. They all did. Call, Jasper, Celia, Master Rufus, Ravan, they all fell just like Aaron, strings to life cut.
They all died because she failed.

Stop, she thought to herself, tears threatening to fall, You have a mission to complete. You can’t fail again.

They died, but they died to give her a chance of changing fate.
She took a deep breath again and kept walking. She can’t fail them now.

Alastair described everything he saw and knew about the Cold Massacre before he died. That knowledge can’t go to waste.

At the end of the cavern, she saw a familiar blade. Miri was clutched in the right hand of a woman, who was motionless and dead as her surroundings.

Sarah, Call’s mother, Alastair mentioned her.

She saw writing near the knife, just as he described.


Sarah had loved her son, now she had wanted him dead.

She looked at it once, then raised her hand with no hesitation, ice magic following her command, words fading away into nothingness.

Try finding Call now, Joseph, she taunted in her mind, a little smirk forming.

She walked back.

Near the entrance, she spotted a man with a blue face, with his arm flung out as if he was trying to protect something underneath. Tamara pushed him aside, bent down and picked up an infant wrapped in a blanket.

Alastair told her that he was too drained from climbing the mountain to fully heal Call’s leg, resulting in the injury becoming permanent.

She remembered the sliding limp Call always had. She remembered when Jasper, back when he was an insufferable prick, insulted him and she poured down pudding on his hair. She remembered Call always brushing them off whenever his leg got worse.

As gray eyes stared at her, she healed what would’ve been a constant curse throughout his entire life.
Not anymore. Tamara will change things.

The leg shifted back into place, as it was never broken in the first place.
The baby’s grey eyes met brown. She smiled. She spoke gently, “Don’t worry, I got you.”

As Tamara walked out of the entrance, the baby cradled in her arms, shielding him from the cold, she felt a little hope rise up from her chest.

She checked where north was, summoned her air elemental, climbed on, and started for the horizon.

As they were flying away, she looked back the mountain one last time.

Things will change, she thought.

Tamara had a mission to complete. She won’t fail this time.



When Alastair reached the top, he was met with a dead wife and a missing son.

The Cold Massacre, he thought later, left no survivors, as far as he was concerned.