The four of us watched in horror as green light exploded from the tip of the witch's wand straight into Madison Patrick. Madison's eyes rolled back into her head, her body shuddered once, and she collapsed onto the ground.
Josephine, Carlyle, and Trevor gasped behind me.
The witch, who I thought would be ecstatic to have just ended Madison's life, glanced at the end of her wand. Her brow furrowed, and she frowned.
"Why did you not save her?" Her voice came out tinny and hollow.
There was a long, outstretched moment of silence. I gazed at the charred clothes on top of Madison's chest. I swallowed back a bit of bile from the smell filling the stone-walled space.
"We tried. We just got here too late," I said.
"No, Lex, we were here just in time," Josephine squeaked.
I narrowed my eyes and took a step away from my friends, the people I had spent ages on this journey with. We had come all this way to subdue the witch and save Madison's life. We had arrived at the tower too late, and there was nothing we could have done to save her. The witch had been casting her spell before we entered the room.
"We were too late," I said again.
Trevor shook his head and glanced down at his sword. "We could have saved her."
"No, we didn't have the time," I said.
"You could have," the witch said, eyeing me.
Finally, it clicked into place. I blinked at my friends and swept my eyes over the sullen looking witch. She had used all her magic on that last spell. She hadn't wanted to kill Madison at all. She had wanted to kill me.
"Whoa. Wait a second." I stepped back from all of them, holding my hands up. "You had expected me to travel across the continent, defeat the wraith, drain the swamp with the formi inside, and beat the harnessed rider to what ... to sacrifice myself for Madison Patrick?!"
None of them could look me in the eyes.
"I barely knew her! You barely knew her!" I pointed out to my so-called friends. "Sure, I was trying to save her life, but I wasn't prepared to die for her." The words were true, and I'm not sure what kind of person that made me. While I had failed to save her, so had they. No one stepped up on this one.
"You have the amulet," Carlyle finally said, eyes sullen and lips taut. "It would have brought you back."
"How was I supposed to know?" My voice rose, panic bubbling into my throat. "You guys never told me that!"
"They couldn't," the witch said. "It would have only worked if your intentions had been pure, if you were actually willing to sacrifice yourself for her." She shook her head, looking at me with disappointment. "I can't believe I planned all of this just to get to you." With that, she turned and marched out of her tower.
I stood there, jaw open, stunned.
"You weren't the person we thought you were," Trevor said.
"No one had to die today." Tears welled in Josephine's eyes.
"So are we letting the witch go?" I asked, putting my hands on my hips. "Because she's, you know, a murderer now."
As if in a trance, the three of them repeated, "No one had to die today."
"You can't tell me you wouldn't have done the same thing!" I slammed my foot down, hoping to break them out of whatever had just happened. This wasn't all on me. This wasn't all my fault, but they were making me feel like it was.
They continued repeating the sentence over and over again, "No one had to die today." Slowly, my companions shuffled out of the room, leaving me behind with the body of Madison Patrick.
- - -
Thanks for reading the parody series YA Gets Real! It's a parody series of shorts that make fun of the tropes we know and love in Young Adult literature. There are quite a few books where the main character does sacrifice themselves for the sake of others. I won't give any recommendations for this one, because that would give away too many endings. ;)
Cheers! Another YA Gets Real will be posted in two weeks! Stay tuned!