Walking home from school is my favorite part of the day. It is the only time where no one is bothering me, no one is talking to me; I can simply put my headphones in and forget about my abysmal life here for a bit.
Magiahortus is where I am from, and unlike this World of Science, everyone and everything there is born with an internal magick source gifted to them by the creator of our realm, The Trees. I try not to, but occasionally my mind can’t help but wander to how different my life would have been if I had not been taken here as an infant – if I had grown up with others like me. I think back to when I was younger, full of questions on my heritage.
I had asked my guardian (the only Magiek I’ve ever known, besides myself), Vivian, why we could not just go back. She told me that there was a civil war raging back home, so we were safer here for now and in addition, the rift that allowed us through, only opened enough to let someone in every two decades or so, depending on the level of atmospheric essence present during the time period. She then went into an elaborate discussion with me on the difference between science and magick, how both require knowledge and balance, or chaos ensues. Vivian tried to get me to embrace the wonders of science here, but of course, I was only interested in magick.
I hope to someday go back to the Realm of Magick, but until then, all I have are the few books that Vivian brought with us and the descriptions she gives me. One of my favorite pictures is from a children’s textbook; it depicts the two moons glowing against the blue-white sky, one a deep purple and the other a vibrant red, in the backdrop is a great pearlescent structure with spiraling towers and walkways dangling overhead, hanging down as if on their own. In front of that at the focal point, an iridescent tree similar to that of a great Oak stands, the branches seemingly reaching out to touch the moons on either side.
The thought of its beauty makes me smile. Yawning, I stretch my arms above my head, continuing my walk down the weed-infested, cracked pavement of the faded grey sidewalk. I kick a rock and send it skidding down the walkway, looking up just in time to see a crimson car slow down next to me.
“Looking good… for a ginger!” The vehicle is full of football players from my school, the type that haven’t joined the #MeToo Movement of this Millennia. One of them winks at me and whistles, I glare at him in disgust while they laugh boisterously, revving their engine at me prior to driving away.
Life in in this stupid little Michigan suburb is difficult when boys and men always ogle me like an alien – which in a way, I guess I kind of am. My features are distinct; with iris eyes and hair displaying every varying shade of orange, it also doesn’t help that my skin is exceptionally pale, even for a redhead, which only makes me stand out more. I used to wear contacts when my eyes were closer to the color of lilac as a child, but over time, they darkened and matched closer to those of the humans here. These physical traits are typical characteristics of the clan I was born from, The Catalysts, but here, not so much.
If I was back in Magiahortus, everyone would respect me as a Catalyst Magiek and not be treating me like a social pariah; and I would have manifested more than just one weak Ability by now. Most Magieks accumulate up to three Abilities – a band-like marking manifests on the left bicep for each one that forms, the blackness of the band deepening and expanding as the magick accrues over time.
Sadly, I have only developed one, although most Magieks have all three by the time they are adults… And, being from the powerful Catalysts, eventually I will be able to copy three more from other Magieks: a rare trait specific to that of our Clan called Transference, like the aspect of mutualism here – we receive a new Ability, while the host is strengthened in return. Unfortunately, without all three of my Abilities developed, I am unable to do that.
I want to ask Vivian more about it, but I doubt she will answer. She believes that I need to adjust to the reality that we are not just refugees here, but inhabitants, never to return back to that which we came. I have not yet given up on my dream though, especially now that the timeframe for the rift is nearing, my hopes are high that we can find it. Vivian has never been much of a talker though anyway and she is gone more often than not – especially lately, so I have not had the chance to ask her. Mostly we just train or study, alternating techniques on different days in combat, magick, and science. Today is combat infused with magick: something I am not looking forward to since she always kicks my ass.
I sigh and lower my head to avoid other passersby; scrolling through the music on my phone and shaking my head of all these jumbled thoughts that I tend to dwell on when I have the chance. No use in wishing for a past that never happened or a future that may or may not be, living in the present and controlling my emotions is key to learning how to focus my magick properly Vivian tells me – which is something I need to work on. I skip through the songs until I find Enya with her perfect, soothing voice that calms me even on the worst of days. I prefer being alone and embrace my loner status, which is why I usually walk home instead of taking the rowdy bus. I take another turn down a side street to lengthen the walk, only a couple more blocks to my house.
Up ahead, I see a man in hole-infested blue jeans and dingy black t-shirt leaning against a streetlamp smoking a joint; the skunk smelling plumes of smoke clouding around him. I frown and cross the road to the other side to avoid him, knowing he cannot yet see me due to the fact that I am still a block from him. My developed Ability being that of Foresight, so I am able to see a couple minutes into the future (as of right now) but that timeframe should extend as I grow further into my own.
I think of the faded line circling my bicep resembling a badly done tattoo, hidden underneath the sleeve of my shirt. We are unsure if I can even become stronger in this weak world considering it has no external magick to boost my own, and before us, there was little known about this place, so who knows what kind of side-effects can occur for Magieks raised here. My doubts tell me that I may just lose my magick altogether, but I hold strong onto my hope, considering it is all I have. Vivian being an adult when we arrived, has her power intact, though the amount of magick she is able to us has dwindled.
These thoughts are keeping me so occupied that I do not even notice as I approach the area of the stoner and before I can dart away, he waves and crosses the road towards me. He must be someone from school, although I do not recognize him: I speed up my pace, pretending I don’t see him. Undeterred, he runs up behind me and taps my shoulder, so I have no choice but to take out my headphones and talk to him, being the lady that I am.
I turn around while he is attempting to insert himself in front of me and end up tripping over his foot that is now entwined with my own. My own wandering mind will be my downfall, I swear, as I feel myself losing my balance.
“Woah there!” He grabs my waist with his free hand before I can plunge face-first into the pavement, as I was expecting to and as I was expecting him to as well: I amaze at his quick reflexes.
He drops his hand quickly once my balance is confirmed, at least he isn’t a lingerer. I proudly straighten myself from the almost horrifying moment – how embarrassing, I can’t even use my Foresight well enough to keep from incidents like this.
I take a moment to adjust myself, urging the blood to stop rushing to my face, knowing how much I could resemble the shade of a tomato.
“What the hell was that?” I angrily ask, brushing the hair from my eyes to finally get a good look at the guy.
He is attractive; with hazelnut skin, dark brown hair with chunks of red flashing in the sunlight, and emerald eyes. He cocks his head at me and lifts up his shoe to put the joint out on the bottom of it, tossing it into the garbage next to him. My blush begins creeping up my neck once more and I look down at the sidewalk, awaiting his response. He spins on the ball of his foot to face me and runs his hand through his hair self-consciously.
“I’m so sorry! I just meant to grab your attention. I didn’t realize that the curse of these large feet could’ve been your downfall.” He chuckles at his own bad joke and grins at me, awaiting the expected polite laugh back, the usual social protocol for women here when men make bad jokes.
I want to smile back instinctively, but I was not ingrained with the same defense mechanism as the women here, so I just stare back at him uncomfortably before making my retort.
“So…. Punny.” I reply dryly, replacing his pun for a worse one – feeling quite satisfied with myself.
Unlike most people here, he does not look away or mention the strange color of my eyes, he meets my gaze head on and busts up laughing.
“Oh, that was the perfect response. I feel like I should apologize again for making you stoop so low, I mean puns, of all the things.” He dusts his ashy hands off on his pants and extends one out towards me. “The name is Damon.”
I eye it wearily and debate on not taking it. Physical contact is also not something I am accustomed to, besides sparring of course, and the occasional form of affection from Vivian. Her staunch stance on having emotional disassociation stemming from the fact that our Abilities are formed from Probability, a concept similar to the Nature vs. Nurture of Science: our Abilities manifesting based on our genetic and environmental backgrounds, swaying towards lighter or darker based on our views of the situation.
It is all quite analytical: none of that magick is magick that they believe here, calling the ones they have met of us magicians or witches because they cannot understand that science is just a different type of magick, and vice versa. It is all very precise, just like biology teaches us, it is a delicate balance of numbers that can’t be tipped.
“Anastasia.” I awkwardly grasp his hand and shake it back decidedly.
His palm is cool, unlike my sweaty one, unused to touching another human in such a simple but intimate gesture. It feels strange, so I drop it quickly.
“It is nice to meet you, Anastasia.” He replies, unfazed by my standoffish demeanor. I understand Vivian’s point of view, especially while my Abilities are yet undecided, but I still want to stay to talk, maybe make a new friend. I think of the only friend I have made here in 17 years and my urge to brush off this loneliness conflicts me, but I know the rules and the path that is set for me here.
“Well, did you need something?”
“Huh, what?” He is taken aback by my continued serious demeanor after the potential I showed seconds ago.
“You waved and ran at me?”
“Oh, duh. Sorry, threw me off when we almost plunged to our deaths.” He tries to joke again before continuing. “No, I just wanted to say hello. You are in my English class, third period, right? I am new here.”
“Aah, I see. Now I remember you, you got here a few weeks ago.” I think of the teacher introducing him to the class before I had bent my head back down to continue on the paper that we had to write. I had also been hearing a lot of talk from the girls at the school, crooning over the new guy and I may have heard Marion mention him as well. “Not many people move here so close to the end of the year, especially their Senior year.”
“Yeah, I know – I was homeschooled up until a few weeks ago, had to transfer in just to get the degree. Most of my credits are already done, just here for those finals. Have you gone here long?” He wants to continue the conversation, but Vivian will be waiting for me when I get home.
“Just for high school, I was homeschooled for a while too – but I have got to get going, I am running late. It was nice to meet you though, maybe I will see you around sometime.” I wave him off and continue walking.
“Wait!” He shouts, but I do not look back this time and he does not run after me again. I do not need any more distractions in my life, and something tells me that this emerald-eyed man would definitely be one.
I make my way to Vivian and I’s cottage, set apart from the normal cookie-cutter houses surrounding it with its fuchsia paint, thatched-roof, and bungalow style décor; marigolds, sunflowers, daisies, and petunias dance all around the outskirts of our sidewalk and vines crawl up past our bright blue window shutters lined by oak and hazel trees.
Our neighbors avoid us, like the rest of the town. We are the outsiders, with our odd ways and bright home, it did not take me long to realize that this world does not like the different. I clamber up the steps to our oversized door: digging into my backpack to find my key, knowing that Vivian will not be home until late again if she is not already here.
I find the skeleton key look-alike and insert it into the lock, as soon as I hear the click I utter the welcome chant that was taught to me, “Eros Entrant Nu” and the door spits open, the warmth welcoming me into my home.
It smells of lavender and radiates eccentricity. The vivid colors encompassing our house, finding their way into it as well; the neon green hallway leads me to our den where a warm red couch sits, surrounded by Victorian style chairs and (thankfully) a 21st century television on an oak table that engulfs the majority of the room. I bypass all these, ignoring the sunflower yellow kitchen to my right and Vivian’s closed bedroom door further down the hall, making my way up the winding stairs in our den to my room.
My room: my area of peace and salvation, like it is to most teenagers. The winding stairs lead to a dull golden door, locked, but unlocked with the same method as the front door.
“Eros Entrant Nu.” I whisper, and it swings open, welcoming me to my little slice of heaven. Unlike the rest of our house, my room is not bright or cheerful; the walls are plain white with book infested shelves sticking out from them, and an old, white dresser that Vivian purchased for me a few years ago from a rummage sale sits against one side; a desk littered with writing, sketches, and homework sits across from it, along with my notes of Magiahortus.
I smile with the relief of being home and fling my knapsack onto the mattress on the floor, collapsing next to it. I flip over onto my back and look at the favorite part of my room, the loft ceiling with a skylight in the center. I have always loved staring out this window at night, at the stars of other galaxies so far away, just like mine. Vivian tells me that you cannot see the stars in our realm, but legends say it is because Magiahortus was made after WOS (what I affectionately call The World of Science or Earth) and there were no stars left for us. Though, the humans only have one moon that comes at night and we have two that always shine in our sky – so each was given its own characteristics of amazement I suppose.
I begin concentrating on the sky, trying to use my Foresight to see what lies before me. If only it worked like that.
I jolt up from my bed. Just as I was beginning to relax, of course, but who could that be? No one ever visits and Vivian would never knock. I check my phone: no texts. The only friend I have here is Marion and she always lets me know before she comes over, especially knowing Vivian. Perhaps if I just ignore them, they will go away.
They rap on the door once more. Or maybe they won’t. Ugh, I guess I will have to go check. I slide my phone into my pocket and jump up from my bed, heading towards the stairs. It is probably just a girl scout selling cookies, I could go for some of those coconut ones. I reassure myself once more that no one of any value is knocking at my door and soon I will have a few spare minutes to read before Vivian arrives.
She did teach me a spell to see who was outside before I open the door, but I can never seem get the hang of it. Not enough magickal essence I guess, it is still worth a try though.
“Cinae Mon!” I recite and wait, but I don’t feel that burning sensation of my magick building. Ugh – with all the spells riddling this place, it is easy to forget which ones are which, and my magick depletes fairly quickly around them all, which doesn’t help, what a nuisance. I attempt to use my Foresight to see the person, but it fades out blurrily from its earlier use. At least she got a door with a peephole.
Man, I don’t enough have enough power to see someone on the other side of a door… I allow myself to wallow in my self-pity a little, something I really need to stop doing. I shake off my despair and stand up on my tiptoes to peer into the peephole. To my surprise and small relief, it is no one of any danger, but it is not a girl scout either: it is that boy Damon I bumped into earlier. I don’t really want to answer the door, but he must have followed me here, so he knows that I am home. Maybe my pervert radar was off, bracing myself I open the door for him.
“Umm hey, sorry to bother you… again, but you seemed to have dropped your notebook back there.” He proffers the notebook towards me.
“Oh, thank you.” I say, taking the notebook and seeing that it is the one with notes on Magiahortus. How could I have dropped my magick book? I turn it over to double-check, but there is no doubt that it is mine. I am lucky that Vivian cast a spell on it so that it looks only like an ordinary notebook filled with doodles. In my embarrassment, I must not even have felt it slip from my knapsack.
“You’re welcome. I tried to catch you before you got here, but it kinda seemed like you were ignoring me.” He replies, leaning against the doorframe.
“What, no! I just didn’t hear you after I put my headphones back in.” I lie and my stomach twinges at it.
“Okay, just checking.” He continues his stare, as if wanting something further.
“Well thank you again. I guess I will see you in class tomorrow – byyye.” I go to close the door on him, but he inserts his arm into the door before I can, putting his face inside the door and grinning sheepishly at me.
“Wait, umm, want to grab a coffee or something?” He asks me, his bright smile making my hardened heart flutter. I want to, I want to have a normal coffee date, but that just isn’t me. I have a lot to do in the next coming months.
“I can’t right now.” I try to shut him down, ending the conversation once more, ignoring my frivolous emotions as I was taught so well.
“How about tomorrow?” He asks again, keeping his foot in the door. “You can’t be busy all the time, can you?” He smirks at me. Vivian will be home soon, and I can’t risk her meeting this stranger.
“Well no, I suppose not. Tomorrow, and will you let me close the door?” I continue with my distant persona I have worked so hard too perfect even though my heart is telling me otherwise. Vivian would be proud.
It works, he releases the door from his arm. “Okay, tomorrow, after school, meet at the coffee shop around 4:00?”
“Yes, that sounds good. The one by the school?”
“Yep, that is the one – I didn’t know there was more than one coffee shop here.”
“Well, there is one, but it is on the other side of town.”
“Gotcha, I will have to try that one out sometime. Alright, it’s a date.”
“Uh, sure.” I reply, slamming the door in his quickly retreating face. Crap, I forgot he was leaning in the doorframe, hopefully I did not get any of his fingers. I put my ear up to the door, but no cries of pain, only a shuffled retreat. Putting my eye back up to the peephole I watch him walk down the stairs, he turns around for a last glance before making his way down the sidewalk.
I slide down the door and try to still my beating heart, I get so anxious with social interactions. I was raised to be a loner and so I have followed the solo path dutifully, except for Marion of course. Marion and I met four years ago when Vivian finally allowed me to go to traditional school so I could gain some much-needed people skills. She was the President of our class and an active member of after-school activities, people flocked to her, and her lunch table was always packed.
I kept to myself when I arrived, just happy to be around people who weren’t Vivian. This was also my first attempt at truly coexisting with humans, so I was exceptionally nervous and could barely formulate words when introduced to the school. This with my strange appearance made me a target for bullies I found out and shortly after, I was eating my lunch in the library and debating on dropping out to continue my studies at home once more.
I would have given up right then and there if Marion hadn’t approached me in the library one afternoon. She put her tray down and sat next to me, not saying a word. She did this for weeks until I had the courage to talk to her, and after that, we were eating lunch everyday together. I found out that we were similar in the ways we felt, and she gave me my first chance at happiness.
She is who I want to call right now to discuss this meeting, but she will be at softball practice for another hour. Her parents allow her to do normal activities, like any regular high-school girl. Vivian does not allow me any extracurricular activities; I am a shut-in given small doses of interaction with the outside world to appease me. I am lucky that I am even allowed to attend high school, I had to beg Vivian and insisted that homeschooling did not protect me, it only sheltered me from having a life here.
Vivian is still wary of Marion, whom I have known for almost four years now, and she would be even more suspicious of Damon. Bringing a boy home? Hah! How do I even go about discussing that with someone so against attachment? Perhaps, I will discuss with Marion how to go about this tomorrow at school. I stand up and trot back up to my room, thinking of all the possibilities that could come with having another friend.
“Anastasia!” About an hour later, Vivian’s strong voice cuts through my thoughts – the woman who raised and brought me here. She told me my parents had been murdered by the Spongos leader, Stefan, when we all tried to escape; her and I were the only ones to make it through. She promised them then that she would raise me, and so she did. For that alone, despite her harshness, I am eternally grateful.
“I am here, Vivian.” I whisper, since I do not have to use my full volume for her to hear me; one of her Abilities giving her heightened senses, Heron: a trait specific to her clan, like Transference is with mine. This also makes her the perfect caretaker, as she was able to hear my every move as a child.
She materializes into focus in the corner of my room; her black hair gleaming an ethereal blue, her eyes azure, skin like ebony. She has a better time fitting in with her almost human physicality’s, but there is still discrimination here and her skin color deters some from her. This is something I am not able to understand, at least in Magiahortus, people are prejudice of magickal Abilities and not something as inconsequential as pigment.
Another of her Abilities is Teleportation, a common and practical manifestation for Magieks, not dependent of Clan genetics. She is wearing all black per usual, her short sleeves displaying the three prominent markings announcing her status. The black is not a surprise, our house colors are very deceiving in depicting the owner’s personality, but her clothing announces it more clearly.
I think of my own marking once more, I wonder if I will someday have her strength in power. Having only those few books on Magiahortus, I am not as educated on our magick as I wish I was. Vivian finds the teaching of magick boring and prefers when I study it myself, not understanding my need to understand my origins, having known hers.
“How was your day, Ana?” She asks, using my pet name. She has always been quite formal, so this is the only term of endearment I have known from her. Though not unkind, she has never played the role of the overly doting parent I am used to being displayed around school.
I debate on telling her of Damon once more but decide by her facial features that tonight is not the time.
“Nothing out of the ordinary, had a lot of studying in most of my classes for the finals.”
“How is this going?”
“It is going well, I am ready for school to be over, although I will miss Marion.” I ease into telling her about my idea for after graduation.
“Try not to get too attached, humans die so easily, and I would hate for you to develop an Ability based on sadness.”
“I know, Vivian. I was thinking we would be leaving soon after graduation, so I was just stating that I have appreciated her friendship.”
“Yes, she is a good girl. Where will we be going?” She asks, eying me suspiciously.
“I was thinking that I could help you go in search of the rift. It has been enough time for the magick to break through, right?”
Vivian closes her eyes and massages her temples before answering me.
“Something like that, we can discuss it after training. Are you ready?” She puts her hands on her hips, letting me know that the answer had better be yes.
I want to push her more, but that will not do anything but annoy her further, so I concede. “Yes, I am. What will we be learning today?”
“We will try to continue developing your Foresight, since this seems to be coming the easiest for you.” I can hear the annoyance in her voice, I am supposed to be much farther along in my power than I am, as she lets me know regularly. “Let’s begin, what am I about to do?”
I concentrate on events that are yet to come, they visualize before me, but I am too late – Vivian teleports towards me and taps my skull.
“You are dead.” She says. “Again.”
I know that if I do not foresee what is to come, her advances are going to become more aggressive. A blurry image of her to my right appears, I spin, and tap her forming head.
“I win.” I say, my smugness reaching my tone. I have not won this easily since my marking began forming last year.
She frowns at me and delivers a blow to my stomach, revealing her final Ability, Strength. I fall forward clutching my stomach, “how was that fair?” I yell at her angrily.
“There is no fair in a fight against Stefan or his Hunters. One missed moment, and you are dead or captured. Do you understand that?” I know she is in a bad mood whenever she brings up Stefan.
But Vivian is angry, angrier than normal. Since the approach of the potential reopening of the rift, she has been gone more and more, not even bothering to answer me as to where.
I think this rebellion leader, Stefan, must have forgotten about us by now, but Vivian doubts that. The Spongos Clan holds a similar trait passed down, but parasitic in nature, this Ability is able to absorb the entirety of a Magiek’s internal power, also known as our essence, giving nothing in returns. So, as long as I am alive, there is a threat against them.
“No, I do not understand because you never tell me anything. If we find the rift first, then we can just go home. Why would he risk coming here if it only opens every 20-something years!” I rarely raise my voice, but my frustration at being ignored is spilling over.
Vivian sighs, “Stefan is the most powerful Magiek that our realm has seen since the True Magiek who fixed the rift so long ago. If anyone can find it and break it open, it is him.”
“I thought only the True Magiek could do that.” I say, remembering our studies.
“Well, there may be another way. Another way back without the wait time.” She says restlessly, running her nimble fingers through her hair. A habit I have noticed that comes to mean that she is not telling me the entirety of the truth.
“What other way could there be?” I ask her.
“A key of sorts: a failsafe the True Magiek created that draws a portal through the rift to it, like a magnet, it is said to be hidden somewhere in this realm.” She responds, looking away but not quickly enough as I see the agitation flicker across her face.
A key back?
I can’t help but gape at her. “Why have you not told me this before?”
I search my mind for something like this being brought up during our teachings, but if she had, I would have been much more hopeful of our future return home.
“Because I have searched for it, but I have never found it. So, I did not think it was true – a mere legend.”
“Is that why you are always gone?
“So why bring it up now?” I want to be angry, but the fear is too strong.
“Because I now have this new information and I want you to be prepared if he sends Hunters here to find it – or you.”
“Would he come himself?” I ask her.
She shakes her head, “I doubt it. He would send his minions here first.”
“What would happen if he came here?”
“He would stop at nothing to find the key, even if that meant destroying everything.”
“What will happen if the Hunters find the key?” I spit out my questions in quick succession, taking advantage of Vivian’s openness. She is never this forthright with me, she must be really worried.
“He would have unlimited access to two realms with no repercussions that we know of, so who knows what he could do with that potential. Enslave mankind? Combine the worlds? No matter what he chooses to do with it, the world here as we know it, would end. Having access to our realm’s magick and the science of humanity? He would be unstoppable.”
I think about all she has said, and I am afraid of the quickly forming future ahead of me. At least we have time and I now hold the knowledge I needed.
“So, if we find the rift, then we can just leave, and it would close behind us?” I ask her, contemplating our options. All these years I thought that I was basically stuck here, my chances of return slim, but now… If only we could find it first.
“Yes, ideally, but I do not know how long it remains open once someone passes through. Or if it is even detectable here.”
“Why would it not be detectable here? Would it not be easier with the absence of other magickal presences here – clearing the path parse?”
She sighs dramatically. “Remember your teachings.”
I rack my brain… Here, there is an absence of atmospheric essence, so perhaps sensing magick is more difficult? I have never been able to trace essence, like Vivian can.
“The crack is harder to detect because there is no magick here?”
“Exactly, so even with the leaking of magick, it is not enough for me to find it – that is what I have evaluated thus far.” Vivian replies.
“What about the key?”
“The key would be easier to find because of its magickal magnitude… to be able to draw a portal between realms into existence here, without the presence of magick? It has to trail something, even with a spell hiding it, that much magick can’t just be undetectable.”
“So, have you been able to sense the key at all since we have been here?”
“No, I haven’t, but lately, I have been sensing something. I just don’t know what.”
“Well if we haven’t seen any Hunters, then we still have time to find it before they do.”
“Yes, you are right.”
“Then we had better get looking.” I exclaim and run to my dresser to begin packing the essentials.
Vivian watches me momentarily. “How do you think you will be able to help in this venture? You can barely use your Foresight, Ana.”
“I know… but I am getting stronger and we have no time to waste.”
“I have no time to waste, not you.”
“No, Ana. Until you have all three of your Abilities, you are only a liability to me. You will remain here and continue your studies, even after graduation. I will continue searching on my own, as I have been. I only told you so that you would be better prepared, and I did not want you to worry all these years.”
“Worry? You made me believe we had no hope of returning! Of only living here as a recluse. You took away my life.”
“I gave you a worry-free life.”
“No, you chose my life and that was that, huh? I guess all I can do is wait for the Hunters to find me.”
“They won’t. Remember what this house can do if you are ever in danger.”
“I know.” We also have a failsafe of our own installed.
“You need to stay alive, Anastasia. Please see that. You are the last of your Clan and I promised your family I would keep you safe. So, I am keeping you safe.”
“What if you find the key? Then what?” I ask her.
“We destroy it.”
“How would we get home then?” I panic as I see what she intends to do.
“We won’t, but then no one else will be able to either.”
“What…?” I see her logic. I really do. But… the selfish part of me wants to go home, no matter the consequence. I want to live with my own kind and be myself.
“Why does it matter, Anastasia? Magiahortus is a lost cause – the majority of its resources and magick already depleted from the Civil War. It is run by Stefan and you have no one there, not even a Clan of your own. Is that what you want? To go there and live in hiding for the rest of your life?”
“I have been in hiding my whole life! You are so afraid of someone finding out what we are that you do not let me have a life here. And even if I had a life, no one will ever accept me here, not if they can never see the real me.”
Vivian nods her head at my explanation. “I know, but is this not better than living in fear of death every waking moment? Not just by Stefan, but by the creatures there starving, or perhaps you yourself will starve. Here, you may have to hide who you are, but you can live freely.”
“I don’t know… But I do know that it should be my choice, not yours.” I tell her and turn away.
I now understand Vivian’s no-nonsense demeanor. She had been trying to protect me from this, not wanting me to worry about our fate for my entire life. Constantly searching for this key and the choice we must make, but now her time is dwindling so she had to tell me. I am excited that there is new hope of going back to Magiahortus, but I cannot suppress the rising lump in my stomach reminding me of the other option – to stay. If we stay, then this fragile world would be safe, I think of Marion and her family. Is it worth to risk this realm for my own selfish want to see a place I have never known? To risk my own life and Vivian’s…
“I’m sorry, Vivian. I understand. I will train harder and I am sure my remaining Abilities will come around. We can figure this out and create a plan. We can look together.”
Vivian has done her best to raise me here, in a realm she knew nothing about, and I want to help her as she has for me. She brought gems to ensure our comfortable living, but other than that, she had to learn as she went. I had it easier, being born into it, knowing of nothing else.
“It is okay, Ana. Perhaps we don’t have a lesson today, I am tired now.” I walk towards her, but she does not meet my gaze and without a movement, she vanishes from my quarters once more.
The emotions inside me are conflicting for I am angry at her for withholding this from me, but I am also saddened that she had this burden to bear for so many years. Searching for something that she did not know if it even existed, relying only on the myths of Magiahortus to help her. This outburst of new information though, only makes me feel as if she is hiding something more. I could have been helping her look all these years, instead now, with the uncertainty of Hunters arriving, I can do nothing.
I understand now how little I know of the war ravaging a realm away, I feel so useless. I cannot even protect myself and I am not even given the privilege of knowing more about the coming of these Magieks who want to harm me. I had thought we were safe, that Vivian’s fears were just that, fears.
My fears had always been small; thinking that there was no reason for anyone to want to come to this magickless place. That with the short amount of time the rift remains open, who would wait to return? Even with our longer life expectancies, it just didn’t seem worth it. Yet this key that could use the mended rift’s power to draw a portal at any time? This was huge – if it exists anyway.
I am torn between being angry and feeling empathy for my caretaker, for what would my life have been like if I had known? If I had known that the man who haunted my childhood nightmares could get me, even a world away. I suppose I had always thought that the Civil War would be over by now, but I should have known better. The need for power being greater and the balance being easier to tip with the added ingredient of magick.
I sigh and fall back onto my bed to, looking out the skylight. At least we have time. Even if they make it here, it will take them a while to find this key, especially if Vivian has not been able to find it all this time. I also feel better and safer with the reminder that there is a barrier around this house that keeps otherworldly creatures at bay. With that thought, I drift off.
A man is sitting with his back is to me. He is furiously writing on a piece of tattered, yellow parchment paper with an opulent glass pen, writing faster and faster. His hair is stark white with slivers of red – the scribbling stops – as if he knows I am here. I hold my breath, willing him not to turn around, but he does and those rich purple eyes pierce into my very being.
“You’re waking up.” He tells me.
“What?” I ask, but my voice is gone for nothing comes out.
He continues staring.
I am stuck to the floor, I cannot move, I cannot breathe. My chest constricts and I back away.
I breath in heavily, opening my eyes to the stars above. That was weird. Magieks are prone to having strange dreams when manifesting Abilities, so this was no surprise to me after the conversation I had just had. Someone from one of the photos of my textbook, an old Catalyst appearing to tell me of my doomed fate. Sounds about right with my subconscious.
I sigh and flip on the light next to my bed, is it 9:00PM. Vivian did not even wake me for dinner, my stomach grumbles, acknowledging my thoughts. Such a veer from the usual routine.
I stumble from my bed and make my way down the stairs, casually using my Foresight to see where Vivian is – my vision twists and the future events form, yet it is not dinner that I see or Vivian. I try to look further into the soon approaching now and she is not here, but someone else is…
My instincts kick in: I need to run. Instructions from Vivian surface to my mind, if anything ever happens, I need to escape because I am no use captured. I stand motionless outside my slightly cracked door, breathing quietly as I get ready to push past my would-be attacker. I cannot visualize who they are, their face hidden with a black and green swirling mask, but I can see that there is room to run.
I take one deep breath to steady myself and make a sharp turn, slamming the door open with my arm, barreling past the surprised trespasser. They grunt from my push and a gloved hand grabs my arm; I bite down hard, and they let out a deep yelp and I jump down the stairs, screaming, “Reverta Amavo!”
As soon as those words are out of my mouth, the house begins to warp and mold around the person, only allowing me a small escape pathway to the door. I hear them let out a low-pitched yelp in the background and shout something, but it is too late for me to hear, because I am already out the door running towards the only person I have left, Marion.