Jack couldn't run anymore. His lungs felt as if they were engulfed in flames, each breath scorching his throat even drier than the ancient wellspring in the Sahara Desert. Every step he took shot a wave of agonizing pounding through his head, blurring his vision and churning his stomach. Knowing that he would soon run out of stamina, Jack slowed down and quickly surveyed his surroundings, determining the best direction to go. After hastily considering his options, he darted to his right, out of the alley and into a giant dark forest, hoping it would offer him some sort of coverage. Weaving around the towering trees, he managed to find a huge tree stump, large enough to cover him and hide him from his pursuers. Jack flung himself behind the stump and curled up against it, hoping he would go unnoticed. From where he hid, he could clearly hear the voices of those in his pursuit, yelling out his name and mocking him.
“Where are you going, Jackie boy?” shouted one of them, smirk evident in his voice.
Jack didn't respond, of course, only covered his mouth and nose with his sleeve, almost like if he didn't they might hear his breathing. He stayed as still as possible, so still you might have mistaken him for a corpse if not for his heaving chest.
Before long, the two men realised that Jack was hiding and no longer running away, the lack of footfalls and the silence of the forest indicating such plainly. Upon figuring that out, the men stopped running and called out once more, perhaps attempting to lure Jack out by provocation.
“You hiding, Jackie boy? You hiding from me? You scared?” the previous man yelled, looking around.
“Or 's it me yer' hidin' from?” his partner shouted afterwards, his gruff voice getting closer. “Too much a coward to face us, eh?”
Jack stayed completely silent, willing them to go away. Normally, he would have been able to take them down if he wanted to, knowing that his magic would likely overpower theirs. However, he sensed that they had something up their sleeves, something that would turn the tables on him if he ever tried to fight them. The confidence that oozed from their every word only made Jack more inclined to believe that idea, so he continued to play safe and keep hiding. He wasn't about to take any chances after yesterday.
While he was trying to catch his breath and figure out an escape route, a crystalline cracking sound suddenly arose from somewhere close by, breaking Jack's train of thought. The sound resembled crystals fracturing, slowly being torn apart by some unknown force.
“Come on, Jackie boy! We just want to introduce you to our new friend, that's all!” one of Jack's pursuers called out. The men were very close now, close enough that Jack could hear their footsteps and conversation.
Jack knew he shouldn't look, shouldn't run the risk of being found, especially not with whatever made that crystalline cracking noise lurking about. Whatever it was that made the noise was very powerful, he knew, considering he could quite literally feel the magic from the creature on his skin, sending tingling sensations down his arms. However, despite knowing this and his best efforts to stop himself, the temptation to look was too strong for Jack to resist. His desire to learn more about what the mighty creature was and the magic it wielded only further fueled his curiosity and his increasing urge to take a glance, resulting in him having a small peek around the stump he was hiding behind, rendering his previous attempts to refrain from doing so completely futile.
What he saw blew his mind. It was unlike anything he had seen before, coloured bright pink and larger than the Himalayan Mountain Trolls he had learnt about last year, the creature's form like those of Magma Golems. It clearly wasn't a Magma Golem, however, as in place of magma and hard rock, there was only crystal, all of it dyed a brilliant pink.
So fascinated was he by the beautifully terrifying creature, Jack foolishly failed to remember his needing to hide, thus exposing himself for many seconds too long. Only when one of his pursuers pointed out his position did Jack recall the troublesome situation he was in and dash away from his hiding spot, using the cover of the night to hide as he ran. Using the darkness to his advantage, he kept running in one direction for a few seconds before quietly sprinting in another direction and then dodging behind a tree, hoping to trick his pursuers into going in the wrong direction and lose track of him. Indeed his plan worked, Jack knew, as he listened as the two men in his pursuit ran in the direction he had previously gone in and got further and further away.
After he couldn't hear any noise from his pursuers anymore, Jack cautiously stepped out from his hiding place, careful not to make a sound. He made sure to stay away from any twigs he might snap, recalling and avoiding the way people's covers were blown in the movies he and his dad used to watch together.
Jack teared up a little, remembering his dad and their memories together.
A long time ago, when he was 4 years old, Jack had been woken up by the sound of his dad packing his bag. Confused, the little boy had descended the stairs to see what was happening, unsure why his father would be preparing to go somewhere in the middle of the night. When he reached the bottom of the stairs, he saw his dad bent over his bag, face covered in cuts and blood.
“Pa,” little Jack had said, “where are you going?”
His father had replied, “Pa's going to get you some toys from a carpenter in another town; he'll be back soon.”
“But Pa, you look hurt!” Jack had remarked, worried.
“Oh, it's nothing. I just tripped and took a little fall, it's not that bad. Pa will heal himself, so you don't have to worry, alright? Take good care of yourself while I'm gone, my boy. I'll be back!” his dad had responded, and then he had left, not even letting Jack say goodbye.
It had been almost 8 years since then, and Jack's father hadn't been heard from ever since the day he left. Jack stood still for a moment in silence, wondering about his father. Where was he? What was he doing? Why did he leave? After all this time, was he even alive?
Suddenly, an explosion erupted in the distance, shaking Jack from his thoughts. A giant cloud of green flame spread across the sky, cloaking everything in a sickly greenish hue for a few seconds. It burst a moment later, leaving behind only a symbol of a snake slithering through a ring, a frightening symbol that Jack recognized from experience. What it signified wasn't anything good, not good at all.
It was the sign of the Soul Snatchers.
Jack ran. He ran as far as he could from the snake in the sky, from the sign of danger. The Soul Snatchers used that symbol to summon their ranks, meaning that many of them would soon gather underneath it, and underneath it was far too close to Jack for his liking.
While running, Jack pondered over what had recently happened. If the ones chasing him were Soul Snatchers, the crystal golem that mesmerized him must have been made of Dark Magic, thought Jack. Dark Magic was the most forbidden form of magic, likely already evident in its name. Unlike Elemental Magic and Normal Magic, Dark Magic required a sacrifice of a soul, causing it to be frowned upon by all sentient Magical Beings. Soul Snatchers disregarded that, however, and continued to sacrifice souls and use Dark Magic despite being shunned from the magic community.
Speaking of Soul Snatchers, Jack knew of only one place safe enough to hide from them.
He ran deeper into the woods, evading all alleys and streets. It was night, but he knew this city well: where what forest was, what tunnel led where, which road was which. Thus, though it was dark, Jack was still able to determine where he was and what direction to go using the mental map he had of the city, one he had made after his hours upon hours of exploration. He always did love exploring the woods and nearby ancient ruins whenever he was able to slip out of that horrible prison of a school he went to, after all.
Author's note: I know it's bad, sorry. The story I was rewriting had parts that seemed pretty random and I had to follow along with it so the flow isn't smooth. Sorry about that. Here's some eye bleach to cleanse your eyes of this monstrosity that I call a rewritten story: