The idea for this story is based on another one of Dolphin-Fly's wonderful stories called The Dragon's Crown asking the question, where on earth did Evan get his headband from? It's just my reinterpretation answering the question (sort of… not really? Implied?) because if Phantom and Freud were as close as my headcanon says they are, then he'll definitely be in possession of it and he won't be giving it up that easily.
It'll be quite a long day… for Phantom at least.
The thief had been called away for some kind of mission a little while ago in the middle of a training session with Evan, reluctantly leaving him behind on the Lumiere with the explicit instruction not to touch anything which allowed him a break for the duration of his absence.
So that's how Evan found himself wandering mindlessly through the winding corridors of the airship, peeking curiously around corners and exploring whatever vast places it had to offer.
And it had a lot to offer.
Evan wondered how so many rooms could fit into this one ship. Perhaps it held some kind of magic that manipulated the space inside it so that it's bigger on the inside than the outside would otherwise suggest. Or maybe it was simply just this big.
Whichever it was, he had to wonder why Phantom would need so many rooms. Even with his staff living onboard, isn't this still a bit excessive? Well, he supposed his overseer was an excessive man so it would make sense to have excessive rooms too.
He hadn't opened any doors so far though because it'd be rude to be poking around and he didn't doubt they'd be locked anyway.
Still, he was curious about what lay beyond some of these doors. What could all these seemingly useless rooms contain? There must be hundreds of rooms and hundreds of hallways out here!
Come to think of it… how was he going to get back to the foyer?
He paused and looked behind himself.
The hallway stretched a little ways away before branching off left and right. Which way did he come from?
Oh… He might be lost… But with such a huge ship, there has to also be a large number of people to help maintain it right? So he's bound to bump into someone eventually right?
… Or at least he hoped so.
Evan sighed and leaned heavily against a door.
A beep and a click sounded through the hall and he started.
The electronic lock he had accidentally slumped up against was now lit up in green, signifying that the door was now unlocked.
Evan looked down at it hesitantly.
He didn't want to pry into Phantom's business and it was rude to simply stride into people's rooms while in their homes like he owned the place, not to mention a room that was very pointedly locked for the sole purpose of keeping unwanted people out at that, but his curiosity was almost like a growing hunger.
One peek. He won't even go into the room. He'll just have one peek and then he'll leave, quick and simple.
Affirmed by this decision, he squared his shoulders and cautiously pulled down the handle, pushing open the door a crack through which he peeked into the room.
Complete darkness met his eye.
He opened the door a little wider so that the light from the hallway spilled in but much of the room still remained in the shadows of darkness. What little he could make out wasn't much.
A red carpet lay on the marble floor in front of him, stretching into the darkness beyond with thin white alabaster pillars standing on either side of it and he thought he could see the silhouette of a painting to the left but other than that, there wasn't much to see. The room must be pretty big if the long stretch of light from the hallway couldn't even reach the far wall.
Feeling somewhat disappointed, Evan moved to close the door again but a sudden tremor shook the ship and, surprised, his grip on the door slipped and he stumbled inside.
The door swung shut behind him before he could get up from the floor and an ominous click echoed through the air.
Evan quickly pushed himself back up and fumbled around in the darkness for the handle, gripping it tightly once he found it, and pulled downward.
His heart sank when he realized it wouldn't budge.
A small dot of red light underneath the handle indicated that the door was locked. Unless he got lucky a second time and just happened to push in the code again, he wasn't getting out.
He bit his lip, fighting the panic and despair that was rapidly welling into him.
Okay, okay so he was trapped in a room he really shouldn't be in without lights and a possibly low chance of getting help even if he banged and screamed at the door. His connection with Mir was too premature for him to communicate with him at this distance but everyone should notice his absence sooner or later which would prompt them to search for him. Until then, it was most likely useless to make a ruckus now. It'd probably take a few hours before they noticed he was missing. He'll have to be calm until then.
But despite his reasoning, he still felt that terrifying fear of being locked up in this room, at the thought that they'd never find him again and that he'll be stuck in this black emptiness forever. He had no way of telling time, a way to estimate how long it'll be until someone found him, and that made it all the more frightening.
He wished Mir was with him. Mir would have made this a lot more bearable. But he wasn't.
He was alone.
Evan shivered and he hugged himself.
He had never really been truly alone before and to suddenly be isolated in darkness now…
His breathing quickened as did his heartbeat but he fought to quell the bubbling panic threatening to surge through him.
Was he really this helpless without Mir?
Evan chewed on his lip.
He didn't want to be helpless. He didn't want to be weak. He wanted to be stronger, to grow, not only in strength, but also in mind, so that he might not repeat the same mistakes again, so that no one could use him again, so that he would definitely save people this time.
This would be a test for him. He'll get out. It's impossible not to.
He took a deep breath and slowly let it out to calm his speeding heart before he started to survey his situation again.
There was no getting out the way he came obviously but maybe there's a small chance that there's another doorway out? It's possible. With a room as big and extravagant as this, it wouldn't be surprising if there were multiple exits out.
But he'll need to see his way and oh… heh… maybe there was a light switch somewhere.
Evan started to sheepishly feel around the walls for a switch, straying further and further from the door as he did so. Finally finding one, he flicked it but the moment he did, something whizzed past his head and landed in the opposite wall with a resounding thunk.
Freezing, he stared into the darkness towards the noise.
That had sounded like an arrow embedding itself into wood. He would know because he grew up around Henesys and Henesys was an archer town.
It was a trap. This room was most likely booby trapped which meant that whatever was in here must be valuable.
He slowly retracted his arm from the switch, his heartbeat skyrocketing again.
It was lucky he wasn't any taller or else that arrow would have embedded itself right into him.
Maybe it'd be more prudent to wait by the door until help came then.
He slowly made his way back towards his starting point, trying not to touch the walls and inadvertently trigger something else to attack him.
But partway through, he felt the floor sink beneath his right foot and he only had a split second to throw himself on the floor before he felt a barrage of arrows fly overhead past him in a deadly whir.
When he was sure there would be no more arrows—some had flown over him a few minutes after the main volley was over with—he picked himself up on all fours and sat heavily on the floor, trembling slightly.
At this rate, he wasn't going to make it to the door before something else happened to him.
He was sure that trap hadn't been there before or else he would have triggered it on his way to the switch so maybe the switch was what activated the traps.
It was no longer safe to continue towards the exit. He could just stay here until someone thought to look into this room but… considering how it was initially locked it would be unlikely anyone would consider checking this area.
The realization made his throat tense and his eyes water in fright.
He was trapped alone in a dark, dangerous room with no help for the foreseeable future. What was he going to do now?
He bit his lip to keep the sob from escaping his mouth.
He couldn't cry now. Crying solved nothing. He would have to use his head then because isn't that what he was training himself to do? To use his head and to strengthen his mind?
He waited until his heaving chest and the tremors that wracked his body subsided before assessing his options again.
Going back to the door isn't looking likely and even if he made it back, there's no guarantee anyone would find him even if he hollered. His voice and efforts might not even reach beyond if the door is thick or reinforced, which he suspected it was if there's something valuable in here judging by the traps.
So the only way to go is forward.
Evan stared out at the immense darkness before him made all the more menacing by what might lie in wait.
He couldn't haphazardly go through that. It's far too dangerous. At the very least, he needed some kind of illumination to guide his way.
But what could he use for illumination?
No lantern, no candles, not even a match, how…
Evan's eyes widened as a thought struck him.
He was a mage was he not? He could simply use his own magic! Of course!
He wanted to smack himself silly for failing to remember that. It was who he was for goodness sakes! How could he forget that most basic fact? Just because Mir wasn't around didn't mean he was totally helpless. It just goes to show how much he had depended on his friend. He could see that clearly now but right at this moment, he needed to learn to depend on himself because Mir wasn't always going to be around to protect him.
Maybe he could even teleport out! But no… something was preventing him from doing so... He'll still need to push forward.
His magic was weak though without Mir or his wand to help amplify it but it'll have do. He'll need to learn to be resourceful with what he had.
He held out a palm face up in front of him and concentrated his energy at that point.
Wisps of orange light seeped up from his hand and collected into a small orb that floated higher and higher until it was approximately eye-level. He gently moved it a little to the side so it wouldn't obscure his vision and found that, to his satisfaction, it casted a pool of light that allowed him to see a few feet in front of him.
He eyed the expanse of darkness and took a deep breath, preparing to defend himself against whatever the room might spring on him. When he felt he was adequately ready, he started to venture forth, slowly and carefully, his body tense and his fingers twitching with every step he took.
His footsteps echoed on the marble floor as he walked, his eyes constantly scanning his surroundings warily for any signs of danger.
What could this room possibly be guarding for it to hold traps? He remembered one of the other rooms where Phantom had stored his valuable possessions. Even that treasure room wasn't this secured. Whatever was contained within this room, it must be very personally valuable.
If that was so… Phantom was going to be so angry if he found out he'd broken in and Evan groaned slightly at the thought.
Soft purple light suddenly surrounded him and he looked down at the source below his feet quizzically.
Phantom's insignia shone back up at him on the floor surrounded by a circle of sigils and lines but before Evan had time to step off of it, a torrent of glowing blue and violet cards surged up from the ground with the heavy whoosh of a waterfall.
Evan threw up his arms to shield his face, managing to throw up a weak barrier in his surprise and haste. It wasn't enough to protect him against some of the cuts and scratches incurred by the sharp cards but it was enough to prevent him from being slashed into ribbons.
Grimacing, he lowered his arms and yelped as he teleported away just in time as the torrent slammed into the spot he had been standing a mere millisecond ago.
Like a flock of birds, the cards quickly regrouped and shot towards him.
Evan let out a choked shout as he turned tail and ran as fast as he could away from the razor-sharp cards threatening to cut him into pieces should they catch up to him.
Other traps triggered as he ran and he found himself in a variable obstacle course as he dodged, evaded, teleported, or otherwise burned down the things that whizzed at him.
The cards were gaining on him, however, and he was getting tired the more minutes passed. He can't outpace them forever.
Panting, he looked around for anything that might be able to deter them.
Something… something… like a door or a way to deactivate them but there was no door as far as he could tell and he didn't know enough about magic to be able to cancel whatever spell was moving these cards nor the power to do so even if he did know.
Okay, so if there's no way to halt them via direct methods, then under what conditions were most likely to stop them from attacking him?
Um okay so to figure that out what did he know about these cards…?
Evan stumbled but quickly regained his footing and continued, several cards burying themselves into the floor while the rest swooped after him.
He knew Phantom made them and he knew it was a trap to protect whatever was in this room. What if he found it and held it as "hostage?" Would the trap stop then?
But how? He'd be dead before he reached the treasure and this room was bare of everything except these traps and those pillars to his left…
Evan furrowed his brow and veered off towards one of the beautiful alabaster columns. He weaved in between the supports and watched as the cards flowed smoothly around them like a flowing river instead of smashing through them like they did to the traps he'd managed to evade.
Struck with an idea, he concentrated a ball of blue-white energy into his hand and smashed it against one of the pillars as he ran past. He heard a sharp crack and the sound of crumbling as his attack collided but he didn't have time to look back to observe his handiwork. He only hoped it worked because he was rapidly growing too exhausted to outrun these cards.
He looped back to the column and was relieved to find a chunk had managed to break free from the now damaged alabaster.
He stooped down to pick it up as he ran past and he gulped, hoping against hope that his plan worked.
He abruptly swung himself around and held the piece of alabaster in front of him, squeezing his eyes shut in anticipation of the sharp edges of the cards.
When none met him, he cracked open his eyes and stared in wonder as the mass of purple and blue in front of him seemed to freeze in midair as it came towards him like a frozen wave.
Letting out a soft breath, he slowly backed away. The cards followed him but otherwise did nothing.
Okay so he's managed to stop the cards. That's good. But he still had other traps to look out for and frankly, he was too tired for that. How far did this room go anyway? He'd been running for at least a good fifteen minutes already. You'd think he'd see an exit by now.
Evan frowned in puzzlement.
He hadn't seen any ornaments or furniture either besides the columns, which made sense because if traps were lying around, it wouldn't make much sense to put things in their way. Well, except for a few things.
While it made sense not to have valuables lying in the way of the traps, it definitely didn't explain the alabaster pillars. They were so counterintuitive in this room and not only that but…
The silhouette of the portrait near the door flashed through his memory.
Why that one portrait? What purpose do these things serve?
He squeaked at a sudden pain in his hand which caused him to inadvertently drop the alabaster.
Blood started welling from the two thin slices on his flesh made by two of the cards while he had been distracted in his thoughts.
The cards were shifting in front of him now and he didn't waste any more time to start fleeing again.
He was starting to feel desperate now. He needed to think of something else and quick but as he ran he noticed that somehow the room seemed more… warped. Was it his exhaustion affecting his vision? Could be. He certainly couldn't think clearly from his fatigue.
He stumbled about, dodging the traps that came his way more clumsily now.
The ball of orange light he had summoned earlier was just barely managing to stay aloft, flickering in and out with greater intervals of darkness each minute that passed.
He wasn't going to last very long. Heck he might die here. But he couldn't give up without a fight. He just couldn't. He still had Mir, mom, dad, and Utah. They'd be so devastated if he died. He couldn't let that happen. He couldn't make them sad.
The next few minutes were a blur as he struggled to keep going, to keep alive, but in the end, his legs buckled and gave out beneath him, leaving him collapsed on the floor and the cards rapidly closed in and engulfed him.
He tried to cover himself against the onslaught in vain but he knew he'd lost. He was going to die right here…
Except he didn't.
Blinking in confusion at the utter lack of pain, he peeked cautiously upward to find that the cards were simply… whirling around him.
When none of them plummeted towards him, he slowly uncurled himself and sat back on the floor, staring in puzzlement at the cards flashing by.
His fingers grazed soft material and he realized that he was now sitting beside the the long red carpet that stretched through the room.
He frowned in befuddlement. Why did the cards stop? What was so special about this spot? As far as he could tell, it was the same as any other part of the room.
He hesitantly stood, scanning the floor around him until there, beneath him, he spotted Phantom's emblem indented into the marble floor.
He stooped down on his haunches and pressed a finger against it curiously, feeling the smooth concaves of the mark.
A light suddenly spilled out from the dent and he snatched his finger back, crying in alarm when the cards suddenly closed in on him, whirling around him faster than before. Another circle of purple light appeared beneath him and it was all he got a glimpse of before his vision was completely obscured by the cards.
Evan shut his eyes, preparing for the worst, but when the frenzied sound of fluttering cards began to cease, he cracked open an eye to find that they were dispersing, opening before him like a curtain to reveal… a sea of glittering treasure.
So this was what Phantom was guarding with all those traps. This was a lot more than what he saw in the treasure room. Compared to this, that room was like a broom closet!
He moved to take a step forward but abruptly halted.
Just because he got into Phantom's vault didn't mean that it was safe. Phantom was a thief after all and who would know how thieves thought better than a thief himself? It wasn't too farfetched to think he would set up traps at the goal to catch looters unawares.
Evan scratched his head contemplatively.
So how was he supposed to know if there were any traps? He didn't want to jump into another train wreck like he had just done a few minutes before. He was too tired and shaken to pull off something as reckless as that again. Maybe he could sense the traps? It could be possible if they were magically activated but he had no experience in that and he didn't know the first thing to go about it. Besides, that left out all the other traps that triggered mechanically.
He glanced around the room.
It looked normal enough. All the treasure piled in front of him stretched all the way around the room. The occasional glass cabinet dotted the area, showcasing the more delicate objects. Bright elegant chandeliers and sconces lit the room, causing the wealth before him to glitter and sparkle beautifully.
Eyeing the treasure distrustfully, he gingerly started to pick his way around the room, hoping to find an exit of some sort. A normal door, a trapdoor, signs of a hidden door, something.
Evan sighed in disappointment. It's to be expected, he supposed. As long as anyone did manage to get in this room uninvited, they might as well be trapped here with no way to use any of this treasure.
He collapsed on the floor unceremoniously, careful not to touch any of the loot.
He heaved another sigh.
He sat there for a few minutes, resting and gathering his lost energy.
There were quite a lot of things here. Gold, silver, platinum, treasure chests, ornate swords, antique items, jewelry, and of course, gems, all haphazardly thrown about the room in large piles. He would have thought that they would be more organized than this mess around him.
If this was where Phantom stored his wealth, then why did he leave some of it in that other room where anyone could have simply walked in and swiped a few things? Maybe they were fake? A trap? A trick?
Evan hummed as his mind started to drift, wandering aimlessly from topic to topic.
It was as he was absently contemplating whether Mir would still be ticklish when he grew in his harder scales that he felt something… different.
It wasn't anything big. It was just a faint sensation, like an itch at the back of his mind.
Confused by this unfamiliar feeling, he knit his brows, trying to concentrate on it to find out just what it was.
It became a little clearer but not by much. He did notice, however, that when he tilted or turned his head, the sensation seemed to change, either diminishing or intensifying.
Ah! Maybe he was sensing something!
Excited, he started to follow the direction the sensation was pinpointing but stopped himself just as he finished scrambling back on his feet.
But what if it wasn't something good? As much as it could be a way out, it could just as easily be something harmful.
He hesitated, trying to focus a little more on the tingling at the back of his skull to try to see if he could determine its nature.
He couldn't but he did start noticing other pinpricks scattered throughout the room. What they could be, he didn't know but so far he's detected five of these.
Maybe if he got a little closer?
Cautiously, he edged towards the nearest pinprick located somewhere within the piles of treasure.
He tentatively put his fingers on one of the gold pieces and when no adverse consequences reared its ugly head, he started to slowly shift through the mountain of wealth.
He was getting closer. He could feel it.
Encouraged, he started digging through the treasure a bit faster until finally, the source of the pinprick revealed itself amongst the many treasures around it as a… square-shaped ruby.
Feeling slightly disappointed at the anticlimactic find, he moved to put his fingers around it and—
Evan snatched his hand back and clutched at his fingers, staring down at the gem gleaming back innocuously at him.
Well, it's to be expected he supposed. It didn't make it any less annoying however.
He regarded the stone closely.
It looked like any other ruby peppering the treasure piles around him. Maybe that's why the room was so disorganized. It helped detract attention towards this one gem that may be one of the keys to getting out.
He brightened at the idea but his joy was short-lived as he wondered how he was going to even pick it up and he groaned. He was getting tired of all these stupid traps Phantom had put up.
He examined the ruby again.
It looked like any normal run-of-the-mill ruby. He couldn't pick up any clues at all on how to handle it.
His gloved hand hovered cautiously over the gem as he tried to detect whatever magic it held within.
All he got was that… it held magic. He wasn't advanced enough to pick out the details of the spell surrounding the ruby.
Evan growled in frustration and resisted the urge to throw something, the events of the day starting to seep in and erode his patience and he sat back to stew in his anger for a few minutes.
He just wanted to get out of here. Was that too much to ask for?
Evan growled again and chucked a piece of gold as hard as he could into the vast sea of treasure where it was swallowed up by the thousands of other gold pieces.
Feeling somewhat better, he turned back towards the ruby.
He touched it again and flinched at the electrifying pain that shot up his arm and he wondered what kind of magic could possibly be protecting this thing. Does he need to break it before he could touch it? Was there a way to bypass it completely? Or was there a specific method he needed to use?
He didn't know and he was steadily growing frustrated again.
He took a deep breath and attempted to relax himself. He wouldn't be able to think clearly if he got angry again.
He glared at the ruby and poked it slightly on the side, his finger quickly retracting at the sharp sting.
Did he just… He thought he saw it… change a little somehow. Like the glitter inside shifted slightly or something.
He drew out an enlightened gasp, suddenly inspired.
Hadn't he read about this somewhere?
Normally, when magic was stored in gems, nothing about it changes because it was simply a container for all that energy but there were also instances where one could solidify magical energy, giving it an appearance of a jewel that would grow smaller and smaller with each use. In that case, one could see the magic inside work as it is being used since the gem was magic itself.
Understanding dawned on him.
It didn't hold magic. It was magic. And you handle magic by using magic.
Eager to test out his new theory, he gathered some magic onto his palms and slowly lowered it towards the ruby, waiting for the sharp, stinging pain on his hand.
But it never came and he let out a little laugh of triumph as he picked it up and held it at eye level, feeling pride swell within his chest.
Ha! He'd figured it out!
Excited, he hurried to the other locations and proceeded to pluck each of the five gems from their hiding places among the hoard but once he had finished gathering all of the pieces, he found himself at a loss as to what to do.
He glanced down his hand and stared at the shapes: the ruby square he found earlier and a sapphire, emerald, topaz, and amethyst triangle. They looked like they should fit in a pattern but how… he didn't know. He had tried to arrange the triangles around the square earlier into different combinations but nothing happened which led him to think that he's supposed to place them... somewhere.
Evan stared at the masses of treasure.
Yeah, that'll be easy.
There has to be another way…
Groaning in dismay, he sank to the floor and laid there, too tired to even get frustrated anymore.
He'll never get out…
He stared at the crystalline chandelier in a daze for a good long moment, allowing his vision to blur the light and leave afterimages when he blinked to clear his sight again, tracing the elegantly curving arms of the chandelier. It was very pretty.
They… sort of looked like a perfect fit for these gems.
Excited at the finding, he quickly stood from his spot and looked around himself for a way to reach the chandelier.
There didn't seem to be anything tall enough to stand on that would allow him to get to such a height. If only he could just fly up!
Well… maybe he could. Of course, he won't be able to do it by himself. It'd be impossible since that would require the strain of sustaining his own weight using pure magic to lift him up. But he has these solidified pieces of magic in his hands to help him accomplish the feat. Of course, it might mean a landing that would smart but it was worth it if it meant he could get out of here already.
Clutching the gems in his hands, he took a deep breath and concentrated, drawing bits of magic from both himself and the jewels to propel him upwards. He rose steadily up to the chandelier upon which he quickly placed the gems into their allotted places and braced himself as he plunged back down onto the ground feet first.
He gave a pained grunt at the impact and he fell onto the floor with a groan.
That hurt a lot more than he thought.
He hoped this worked because if it didn't then the gems were pretty much stuck up there.
Evan peered up towards the chandelier anxiously, hoping to see a sign that it worked.
A few moments passed and a sickening feeling of dread had just begun to rise within him when Phantom's insignia flashed on the ceiling above the chandelier and all at once, a whirl of cards descended and twirled around him like a miniature tornado just as they did earlier when they transported him into the room and he felt a burst of relief.
He relaxed himself as the cards circled around him, eventually clearing to reveal… a short hallway lit by flickering candles on sconces with a door at the end.
Evan looked behind himself to find a dead end. So there was only one path to go.
His brows furrowed as he glanced around anxiously.
Were there traps here too? He'd come too far now to randomly get filled with holes by arrows, cards, or what have you. He hoped the way out was beyond that door.
He proceeded slowly but no resistance impeded his way. He reached the door and tried the knob expecting it to be—yup locked.
Evan sighed, trying to teleport to the other side but once again found that something was preventing him from being able to do so.
He impatiently looked around himself to see if anything could be used to unlock the door. He'll even try his hand at lock-picking if it meant getting out already!
Maybe he should try knocking.
Yeah right as though that'd do anything, Evan thought, rolling his eyes but trying it anyway, giving the door three curt knocks and then giving it two more as an afterthought.
The sound of a lock clicking open on the other side had Evan gawking at the door.
Well, he wasn't about to look away from good fortune and he swiftly entered through the door to find himself in a dimly lit circular room full of bookshelves filled with books, a lot of which were also stacked and piled on the floor.
Evan blinked at the unexpected finding. He'd have thought he'd find actual treasure in here after all the traps he went through guarding this room, not books.
He walked up to one of the bookshelves and skimmed the titles.
The Complete History of Maple World Volume One, Dawn of the New Era, The Lost Years: A History, The Crowning of Majesty... These were all history books. Why on earth were they stashed here?
Befuddled was an understatement as he turned to leave through the archway leading to another part of the room. They were history books, nothing special as far as he could see. They weren't super-secret documents or even a collection of rare books. They were ordinary history texts that one could buy for ten mesos at any bookstore in the world. It simply wasn't the kind of thing Phantom would bother with yet here was a whole archive of history books and Evan's head was reeling from puzzling at the utter bizarreness.
He wondered if the other parts of the room would be just as weird as this one.
Beyond the archway was another small corridor with three doorways branching off to the right, left, and straight ahead.
He walked to the left doorway and peeked in.
It was a rectangular room dimly lit by sconces, just like the first room, decorated with expensive-looking purple and blue tapestries. Shelves holding various pieces of jewelry and other miscellaneous things lined the walls, locked behind protective glass. Some of the things looked like they could be worth a fortune but others looked like they were there for purely sentimental reasons such as that strange red and yellow flower sitting in a simple glass vase looking out of place next to the beautifully crafted miniature sculpture of a raven that looked like it was made of diamond.
Huh. Well, he guessed it was good that there was some normalcy in here.
He looked into the right doorway to find a gallery of sorts with artwork hung on the walls. Some of them, however, were hidden behind the red velvet curtains that interspersed each of the paintings or taken down and covered with a white sheet and Evan resisted the urge to peek at them. They could be very personal.
The last room was smaller than the rest but almost utterly dark with nothing but the light from the corridor to dimly illuminate what lay inside.
Evan summoned another orb of light.
Fiery red and royal purple silk tapestries trimmed and embellished with intricate gold designs draped over the entire room, completely covering the walls and adorning the ceiling, decorating the room in graceful majesty.
At the far end of the circular room, within its deepest shadows, was the silhouette of two showcases and an object mounted on the wall.
Evan walked over for a closer look, curious.
The first showcase on the left was… empty.
But inside the second display case resting on a plush, velvet cushion was a wrought purple headband decorated with a beautiful golden design ending in two circles edged in gold and set with a cross each in the metal of the same kind attached to which were a pair of small red and gold dragon wings adorning both sides of the band.
Evan stared at it for a little while longer before turning his attention to the other object in the room.
Mounted on the wall over the display cases was a red staff, its broken head resembling a crimson sun. An orb of a scarlet gem gleamed in the darkness, seeming to emit its own light from within. Even in its damaged state and even without touching it, Evan could sense an incredible amount of magic emanating from it and it must have taken someone with a lot of skill and power to wield it.
"Are you having fun?" a silky voice asked from behind.
Evan jumped and spun around guiltily.
Phantom stood leaning against the red, gold, and violet curtains draped over the entryway, his expression indiscernible.
"I-I'm sorry sir," Evan stammered, mind whirling wildly in panic. "I just somehow stumbled down here and I was just curious. I didn't mean to go down this far I just wanted to get out and I didn't steal anything, I promise!"
He grew alarmed as Phantom approached him as he babbled and he immediately shut his mouth, bracing for what the man may bring down upon him for trespassing into an area that was obviously not for him to enter.
But Phantom simply walked past him, instead moving to stand beside the display case and placing a gloved hand on top of it.
He gazed at Evan with piercing amethysts and the intensity made him gulp nervously but he didn't look away. This felt important.
"These," Phantom began quietly, "were once Freud's. This," he gestured towards the staff, "was the very staff he carried into battle and it's the very staff he held unto his very last breath. And this," he continued, tapping the glass below his hand gently, "was Freud's crown. This signified him as the leader of the Dragon Masters and it was a symbol of his status, authority, and power, power which he wielded wisely and benevolently. It's crafted from a rare metal imbued with magic along with the golden claws of an Onyx Dragon and forged using dragon fire. It is of the finest make."
"O-oh," Evan uttered, looking at the objects with disheartened eyes and swallowing back a lump in his throat. "They're… they're really… amazing…"
A long pause filled the air before Phantom spoke again, voice low and solemn.
"When you are ready… When you have proven your capability to take up the mantle… At that time… I'll pass his crown down onto you. It is your rightful inheritance."
Evan snapped up to look at Phantom with wide eyes but his expression was a careful blank. He could still pick out flickers of something in his violet eyes, however, before the thief strode towards the doorway and Evan took the cue and followed him out.
"In the meantime, I would like to say how amazingly lucky you are to have first, somehow manage to punch in the right code on the right door. Second, to have gotten through the first room which is a veritable maze that changes its safe-path every week or so without consulting the portrait giving a hint of the week's layout all the while surviving the continuous loop the pillars have facilitated onto the room."
They were standing at the end of the hallway Evan first found himself in and Phantom put a hand on his shoulder and a burst of cards immediately swirled around them.
They ended up in the foyer and Phantom gestured for Evan to follow, continuing where he left off. "Third, to have found the keyholes in the correct chandelier and put in the correct combination of gems and fourth, to have somehow found the way through the door to those rooms."
Evan stared. Had he really been that lucky? Opening the two doors yes but everything else?
"What would've happened if I didn't put in the correct combination or put it on the wrong chandelier?" he dared ask.
"You'd die a horrible, suffering death as the magic of the gems fry you inside-out," Phantom replied simply, smirking.
Evan gulped and shivered, trying hard not to imagine that particular scenario.
"So… what now?"
"First, you should get those wounds tended to. Second, you should tell Mir you are safe."
Evan almost smacked himself. He'd forgotten all about Mir.
"And third, you should get some dinner and go to bed. It's late. We'll discuss this in the morning."
"Am I in trouble?" Evan asked apprehensively.
Phantom frowned slightly. "I suppose I can't exactly penalize you for being so unfortunately lucky. Besides, I believe the various traps you were subjected to today were punishment enough."
Evan let out a breath of relief.
They walked into the medical room where Phantom procured a basic medical kit and proceeded to help Evan clean out and bandage the cuts and scrapes he had been inflicted with during his wild run through the room full of death traps.
Once he was finished, he put away the kit and led Evan back out.
"Now, reassure Mir, get something to eat, and then go to bed. I don't need to accompany you the rest of the way do I?"
Evan shook his head. "No sir."
"Then I bid you a good night. But before I go, I'd like to say that I'm rather impressed by the skills and resourcefulness you have demonstrated to have gone so far without Mir, a wand, or prior knowledge about the area. However, luck can only get you so far before you get killed. You still have a long way to go."
Evan beamed at the compliment. "Thank you sir!"
Phantom gave a curt nod in acknowledgement and said, "Good night then."
With that, he turned and left and Evan wandered in the direction towards Mir.
It's been a long day for him but perhaps it was worth it to have gained a little bit more knowledge, a little bit more progress in his path as a Dragon Master and to have come a little bit closer to the day when he could wear his inheritance with pride.
But until then, he knows Freud's shadow will continue to haunt the very halls of the Lumiere and dog the very steps he would have to take to prove himself in the eyes of a man who clung to that shadow. However, it's a challenge he will gladly undertake if it meant finding his own place in the world and if it meant he would never have to see the past plague Phantom's eyes like that ever again.
Eeeeh somehow this one simple story idea where Evan stumbles into Phantom's hidden vault got blown into seventeen pages which is good, I suppose, in giving me at least a general feel for his character.
3/6(+) It seems every time I finish one story, two more ideas pop up. Brain, stahp ;_;