I pulled a few more cards and typed out the first thing that came to mind. Interestingly enough, I had a few other ways I could have done this but they weren’t the first thing I thought of. CAHprompts is uncovering my creativity and my personal politics today!
Oliver stared at the top half of the sun as it sunk beneath the edge of the horizon. From where he stood, he could just make out the masts of the half dozen ships that were coming into the bay. There, he knew, would be Elliotte. The impatience that had filled him the past two weeks took over and Oliver snapped his fingers before uttering several Gaelic words in a guttural voice.
“Yes?” Elliotte’s voice was static in his ear, but Oliver smiled. The magical communication would become more clear the closer the other man’s ship got. The wards around the island that Oliver was standing on wouldn’t allow the signal to extend very far, and the further away El was, the worse the static would be. They hadn’t talked in two weeks.
“You got it?” Oliver was hopeful, but now that he knew El had made it safely back to the island there was no real concern if he hadn’t retrieved the object.
“You couldn’t wait ten minutes to find out?” El asked. His voice was muffled. Though his words were irritable, Oliver could hear the smile in them.
“Screw the artifact. I just had to know you were on one of the ships.” Oliver told him. His eyes were still glued to the masts of the ships coasting towards the shimmering blue of the wards. The sun was lowering as he watched, setting on the last day either of them would be on this dreadful planet.
“I missed you too.” Elliotte intoned. He sounded more clear now, and the better their signal became the better Oliver felt. The resistance was still in danger. they always would be, until they could leave the island and this world behind forever. “And yes, I did retrieve it. Hell of a quest to send me on, but I managed it.”
“I always knew you would,” Oliver said. It wasn’t true. The night the council had chosen Elliotte to make the dash towards the well-protected sphere was the night Oliver died a little. He never showed it, but he was certain that El would be doomed. He wanted to travel with the questing crew, but with the power, he held inside Oliver was required to stay behind and keep the wards up.
“Listen-” El began to say, but a shout erupted in the background and he cut off. “Dammit. Get the wind up now! No, I don’t care about the rest of it. Throw it over! Get us behind that ward now!”
“El!” Oliver exclaimed. He watched as, almost from nowhere, a dark cloud began to form in front of the sun.
“Go!” Elliotte ordered someone. “Fucking stop them!”
“No!” Oliver’s worst nightmare unfolded before his eyes. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The Phobes were coming, and they had all the vast power of a dark hatred that no one could outrun. They’d released their ‘purification’ mist and sent it right at the ships that held his beloved.
“Oliver, I’m sorry,” Elliotte said. Then the magic cut off. It snapped like a rubber band and sparked against Oliver’s ear. He jumped and his hand flew up to slap at the sizzle. Before the reason for the disconnect could even register he was on the move. His hands waved in the air, his lips moved a mile a minute, and he almost screamed as he watched the wards move inch by inch towards the ships. Half of the first ship made it past the wards before the mist overtook the fleet. A broken sob slipped from Oliver’s lips as he watched all but half of one ship disintegrate. There was no way, no chance that he would be lucky enough for Elliotte to have been on the front part of that first ship. Even if he had, the artifact wouldn’t have been with him. El was a fighter, and he wasn’t about to let the rest of his men go down with the ship unless he went down as well.
Still, Oliver cast the communication charm again.
“Please.” He whispered as he worked to bring it back up. “Please, please El.”
Behind him, a wail began to rise from the city. There were several men who had cast the soul-binding. Women too, though there were less of them. Those who cried out would now see the world in black and white, would know without being told that their husbands were dead. Oliver hadn’t wanted to do the spell, though El had asked him right before he was summoned for the mission. Regret and relief filled him. He didn’t know for certain. There was no finality for him. For Oliver, there was still hope.
“El,” Oliver begged. “Please don’t do this.”
“Ol-” The sound was a garbled whisper in his ear, but that was all it took before Oliver was in the water and swimming towards the edge of the wards. The sound that reached him were more like drowning than words, and Oliver was not going to lose Elliotte to poor swimming skills after everything they’d already faced. He was going to get the other man to shore and then he was going to agree to casting the damn soul-binding spell. Then he would make sure he never saw the world in black and white, no matter what.
Finding the water soaked man struggling to stay above the water wasn’t hard with the communication spell still buzzing in his ear. He followed the feedback loop until he saw the flailing arms and then it was all a matter of magic to get them on dry land again.
Men and woman were circling around now. They were rushing to help or standing back far enough that they wouldn’t have to see who had survived. Those would be the ones who already knew there was no hope for them. Oliver ignored them all, casting charm after charm to ensure that his beloved survived the near-death he’d been subjected to. Slowly the burns and cuts faded, a steady heartbeat tapped out, and through it all Oliver continued to cast.
“Ollie,” El said, and at first Oliver did not hear him. Then the words echoed in the communication charm and he looked up at Elliotte’s face. The charm snapped again as it was cut off and the next word resounded only due to how serious Elliotte was. “Enough.”
The dark haired man struggled to sit up. He pushed his wet hair from his face and a streak of sand ended up streaked across his forehead.
“Elliotte.” A gruff voice called out. The large man that lumbered up to them had a concerned crease in his brow and arms folded across his chest. Beside him stood a tall blonde woman who walked like a ballerina. The supporters always seemed to have a grace about them, and these two were no different. There were more supporters than Oliver thought there would be when he first heard of the Island. The idea that there was a refuge where gays could retreat from the barrage of victimization from the Phobes was a godsend to Oliver and Elliotte. The idea that there were Heteros who had joined the Island and continued to support them even when the Phobes began to attack full force was a greater miracle still. When magic had taken hold on the land, Oliver had really believed the discrimination would kill them all.
“Malcolm,” Elliott said. His voice was hoarse. He did not need Malcolm to ask before he slid his hand into the capris shorts he was wearing and draw out a metal orb that had all sorts of blue lines etched into the shining steel surface. “We got it.”
“At great cost,” Malcolm replied. He reached down and took the orb from Elliott. He raised it and spoke loud enough for those around him to hear. “Those who sacrificed will not be forgotten. We will follow the dream they fought for. We will escape into a new land and we will take magic with us. Gather your essentials, the migration begins at midnight.”
After that, it was a blur of magic and movement as everyone raced to gather the things and the people they could not bear to leave behind. For Oliver, he remained by Elliotte’s side and gathered nothing. They were taking magic with them, and besides that, the only thing he would ever need was the man at his side.
“Ready?” Elliotte asked as they reached the front of the line where the portal stood open. Their fingers twined as they faced the doorway standing on the beach, showing a forest on the other side. Oliver nodded. He did not look back. He did not care what they were leaving behind. As soon as the entire settlement was through the portal that had been ripped between their reality and an empty world in another, the orb would be brought through. Without the orb, the world would falter. The universe would fail. The inevitable heat death would take out all who remained in that reality. And it wouldn’t matter. Oliver and Elliotte would have a new life, a life free of the wasteful, hateful, society that had driven them to destroy everything. They wouldn’t even think about the universe that died to keep them safe. They would build a home in the trees and cast the soul-binding ritual and forget the terrible tragedies they had faced.
Finally, they would have a world of their own.