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“Sir please, we just want to talk!” I rap the hard wooden door once more and shoot a glance back at Lydia. She returns a worried shrug before giving her pegasus a few assuring pats.

“Who...?” A hoarse voice echos from within the crumbling abode.

“We are with the Ravenwood Bulletin. It’s the student newspaper back in Wizard C--”

“I know what the Ravenwood Bulletin is!” My eyes roll contemptuously almost by instinct. So this is how things are going to go.

“Do you think if I wanted anymore abuse from you people I would have moved all the way out here?! Go on, boy. Hop back on that fancy pegasus of yours and hightail it back to your academy before your dinner gets cold.”

I try to spit out a retort at the door in front of me but I can’t find the words. In defeat, I step back down the cracked cobblestone steps and look out across the world.

An island amongst the clouds. Wizard City proper is barely a speck on the horizon. I guess this is as good a place as any to be a hermit. A barren plot with nothing but a dead tree and a rotting house. I breathe in the scenery as Lydia grabs my arm, “What are we going to do now?”

“I don’t know.” Her eyes pierce mine seemingly demanding a better answer. “Maybe we can cover the weird reports coming out of the sewers or -- or maybe, I don’t know. Maybe there is something weird going on in the Dark Cave. There’s always something strange happening there.” Lydia holds the gaze, as if lapping up my audible disappointment.

Suddenly she turns back towards the house. “I expected a lot more from someone with the title Hero of the Spiral!”

“YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ME!” The voice shakes the island, throwing Lydia and I to the ground while a frenzied pegasus cry fills the air. I scramble to try and calm our only way off the rock as the tremors fade into an eerie silence.

“Then tell us what we don’t know,” Lydia says quietly. “Please, we have only come to listen and learn from the person who was there.”

Another eerie silence, as if the island itself was debating on whether or not to allow the stranger within. Then the sight of the door opening slightly ajar. No words; a soundless offering.

Rotting floorboards and worn stonework. The inside is in much the same state as the outside. In a room directly adjacent to the entryway sits a man in a half-splintered rocking chair surrounded by shattered dishes and decaying foodstuffs.

Haggard looking. Matted black hair and a sullen expression so deep and permanent that it looks as if it were painted on. Thin. Bone thin. And eyes so red and tired staring blankly at the peeling wallpaper.

The eyes moved first -- feverishly scanning up and down our bodies, yet not. It was as if he wasn’t searching us necessarily, but something else. Once satisfied they turned their sights toward a ripped sofa across from the figure, inviting us to sit down.

“Are you him? The one that killed Malistare?” I ask as Lydia and I take our seat on the couch.

“I was there,” came the voice. It sounded as if it came from the body sitting in front of us, and yet the lips on the figure did not move.

“So was that a yes?” I press, putting on my reporter persona. “The Hero of the Spiral was still a young student but one decade ago.” The voice lets out a weak and scratchy chuckle, like it was dusting-off some part of itself that it hadn’t used in many years.

“It should have ended a decade ago.”

“I traveled through so many worlds. I fought through so many challengers. I battled my way up to the highest peak of Dragonspyre and slew my fellow Necromancer. I saw him embrace the spirit of his wife and move on. I did it. I triumphed.”

“It should have ended there.”

“But something else stayed behind. Something my magic didn’t detect at first, or -- or maybe I just didn’t want to acknowledge it. It was something else -- something sinister, something evil.”

“I returned home to parades, but everywhere I looked I saw the shadow of it standing there watching me. It stood there. In the corner. Even after the celebrations had died. Never breathing. Never talking. But always watching.”

“It never slept. And neither did I.”

“With bloodshot eyes I began pouring over hidden texts and forbidden scrolls. I consulted wise masters and ancient wraiths. I know Death. I know Death. It was some last gasp of Necromancy, I was sure of it!”

The figure before us springs to life, suddenly erupting in a fit of painful coughing and wheezing. Lydia runs to his side, settling him back into the chair as the episode subsides. His eyes close for a long moment as if the conversation had been a great strain.

“So it wasn’t then? It wasn’t Necromancy?”

“No. No it wasn’t. When I voiced that conclusion, the pieces began to run in the papers. Spiral’s Last Hope Loses It. Hero Heading for Early Retirement. The Savior Needs Sleep. I became a crazed relic. A trophy that no longer looked up-to-snuff on the mantle.”

“So did you move out here to hide from us or the thing following you?” He leans back, the last few fibers of good wood in his chair straining.

“Both. Though it hardly matters now with you here.” A hollowed exhale escapes his chapped lips as his pupils begin to dart around the darkened room.

“What makes you say that?”

“Because the other had already found me some time ago.”