Crystal Clear

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The man approached the crystal, the light of the treasure glimmering sapphire against his wine-colored irises. Magnificent power radiated from the treasure, forming a warm breeze around it, a cocoon of pleasant air. His sleek, ashen hair fluttered back, away from his angular, sickly face. The collar of his impressive, navy blue silk jacket. An aura of confidence surrounded the man, and despite his absolute glee on the inside, he stayed remarkably placid. The only sound in the hallway was the click of his steel-toed boots on the onyx tiles. The man had always been proud of those boots. They acted as a weapon in themselves, with their unbreakable metal tips; the cool, solidity terrifying to whatever poor soul found itself beneath it. He’d used those boots so many times, and he even ranked them higher on his personal arsenal then even his shotgun. Such a brutal death, he’d give with his steel-toed boots. His favorite death to give, as well. Oh yes, in this business of the dead and gone, the man was definitely a key player. Or so he thought. When we take a step back, we are all really just pawns in a bigger chess game, manipulated and played by something bigger, something few people can even begin to imagine. But the man would never find the opportunity to learn that lesson for himself. Glowing radiantly and drawing him ever closer, the orb swirled and fogged with energy. What an assassin like him could do with that power… well, he wouldn’t stay an assassin, that’s for sure. He’d be a king! He’d take down the boss with a single flaming arrow, shot off of a bow he’d create with his new powers. Ha, how they laughed when he told them what he was to do. They taunted him with remarks about how he’d never succeed, he was a dead man. But soon they’d see, when he killed the boss and took his place. Then, they’d all bow down to him. Yet, somehow, the man knew this was just a wild fantasy, a story he’d created to entertain himself on the long journey. The boss had chosen him for the job specifically because he trusted him; this man would never rebel. He’d get the job done, and do so quickly and obediently.

But a man could always pretend.

Shaking off the thought like it was an insect on his mind, the man continued toward the center of the vortex, the breeze becoming a wind, whipping his thin, long hair around his face. An aquamarine haze grew steadily around the crystal, and the man could feel its power already reverberating through him. Even before he’d touched it, the man could feel the hunger for power, the newly formed addiction to the great rush that was this orb. The elderly gentleman (what was his name? He no longer remembered the trivial detail) had warned of this lust for power. However, the closer the man became, the more it invigorated him. For a moment, he froze, simply reveling in the absolute ambiance of the spot, the constant, heart-swelling rush that the pulsating power brought. Little time passed, though, before he remembered his mission. Steadily, he crept closer and closer to the source of the thing, and with each step, the man became more addicted to its radical intensity. He became drunk on its power, his head swimming with the devious possibilities. The closer he came to the thing, the foggier his mind became. All thoughts of the mission faded from his brain as he approached it. The crystal itself could stun without the promise of power. It’s milky cerulean hue glimmered and glittered, shooting beams of turquoise light in every direction. The ball thrummed slightly, an inaudible but steady sound like a heartbeat. Thinking of all that he could do with the power just in his grasp, he allowed himself to become delirious from the sheer overabundance of magic. He imagined taking the orb, and finishing the boss with one lethal blow to his heart. With the crystal in his control, he’d conquer nations, leaving trails of destruction wherever he traveled. He’d no longer be just a simple-minded assassin hired for an odd job here and there- he’d be a brutal and prevailing king! Then, everyone would fear him. And his murderous steel-toed boots. A cold smile slipped onto his cruel face, and he reached a pale, bony hand toward the orb.

An electric jolt zipped up his arm, and he exclaimed in surprise and pain. The crystal vibrated loudly, as if rejecting his touch. The ground shook, and a loud roaring, like crashing waves, filled his ears. Panic crashed around his skull like a tsunami of fear, and he staggered away from the thing in a last effort to escape. But so bogged down by the foggy high the crystal had supplied him with, he aimlessly stumbled in circles until the panic became devastation, and he collapsed to the ground, gasping for air that refused to come. An invisible force seemed to crush him, pushing down on his body that had once been able to survive several knife fights and three bullet wounds. Now, he seemed as fragile as an infant. The electricity rippled through him, and he yelped pathetically, his howls echoing down the corridor, filling the room with a brand of chaos that had not previously been. The terror only intensified the amount of pain that he experienced. What the man didn’t understand was that, when in proximity of the crystal, you became one with it. It’s power began to flow through you, intermingling with your blood, entwining with your soul, gluing itself into your mind. And, should you not be strong enough to embrace it, it strangled you. A ring of turquoise formed around the man’s neck, and he swatted at it as though he’d be able to hold it off at all. Yet, the ring slowly became tighter around his neck, and he choked on his screams. This was torture, it was like nothing he’d ever experienced. He’d have much rather been shot one hundred times than to feel this sort of agony. Glancing down at his arms and legs, he realized he had started to change, his skin transforming to look like the cursed orb. Some sort of gravity from the orb itself compelled the man toward it, and he as he turned, he witnessed a bruise-colored hole that had sprouted from the orb. Desperately, he clawed at the tiles, trying to grab hold of something, anything! He drew closer and closer, still shrieking madly. Finally, he could no longer struggle, and his body lifted from the ground. The final sound the man heard was the clatter of metal on the bluish-green tile, and his own, last, pathetic scream before the crystal finally devoured him. The elaborate display vanished, leaving only his last shriek echoing down the hallway, and a pair of dented, lackluster, steel-toed boots.





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