RSS Feed

Category Archives: Magic Fun

Magic Fun, Pt. 6

Spencer stifled a yawn, his fourth one in almost as many minutes. He usually slept like a rock, but last night none of the Eagles slept well due to Alexia’s outbursts, which continued through the night. Even Dexter had bags under his eyes and sighed more often than usual. Sam had arrived back during the morning’s early hours, but spent another four hours pacing across his floor, his boots adding a constant thudding that filled the quiet time between Alexia’s episodes. Finally, the man burst into the bedrooms and summoned the Eagles for their first training session. As he pulled on his leather jacket, Dexter saw that the clock next to his bed read 5 a.m.

That was hours ago. Spencer glanced at the large grandfather clock in the storage room. 10 a.m. He tried to hold back another yawn, but failed, drawing Sam’s attention. “Let’s take a break, we’ve been at this for a while. Be back here in ten minutes.”

“Could we perhaps eat something?” Lilly sat in an old armchair, her head resting in her hand and her eyes closed. Her and Elania received the brunt of Alexia’s screams, but instead of showing her tired state, Elania spent the last five hours glaring at Alexia.

“Eat?” Sam asked, confused.

“Yes, you know,” Spencer said, “food? Breakfast? Bacon? Eggs?”

“Biscuits,” said Jonathan dreamily.

“What are biscuits?” Spencer asked, curious. Both Jonathan and Lilly looked at Spencer in disbelief.

“Food. Right.” Sam stood and stretched his back. “Back in fifteen minutes then.”

More than one teenager rolled their eyes as they began to file out of the cramped room and down the hallway into the storefront. Vince sat behind the glass counter shoving an egg and cheese bagel into his mouth, washing it down with a huge cup of orange juice. In moments he was face-to-face with six pairs of eyes staring hungrily at his food. He slowly pulled the sandwich towards him as he chewed, not willing to lose even a bite to the hungry crowd before him. He swallowed. “Hey guys.”

The group watched his sandwich hover in the air until Vince jammed the rest into his mouth. All six empty mouths let out a long sigh once the food disappeared. Vince watched, puzzled and slightly distrusting. Sam pushed his way between Dexter and Elania. Handing Vince a few bills, Sam asked him to make a run to the nearest fast food joint down the street. He took the bills and pulled a cap on over his ears. He left the store quickly, not looking back to see if the starving group would wait patiently for him to return with food, or resort to cannibalism. He didn’t know where those kids came from, but he knew they weren’t what he considered “normal.” Who knows what they’re capable of? He shrugged his shoulders and hurried towards the restaurant.

 

“Ok, let’s get back to it,” said Sam as he closed the storage room door. Already tired before they filled their bellies, the teens were nearing comatose now. Sam frowned as he scanned the sleepy faces staring back at him. “Right,” he said, “why don’t we start with-“

“If you start going on about the histories of some one or something, or why someone did something and what someone else did about it and what they were wearing and what their last meal was, I think I’ll just lie down on the floor and take a nap,” Dexter was rubbing his eyes as he spoke. The rest of the teens nodded their heads in agreement, except for Lilly, who seemed to enjoy Sam’s historical ramblings all morning. She opened her mouth to object, but a quick glare from Elania stalled the words in her throat.

Sam cleared his throat. “I was going to say we should start with the basics of magic. But if you’re too tired,” he let his words trail off as he watched each pair of eyes widen with a new found excitement. “That’s what I thought.” He leaned against the closed door and crossed his arms. “Before we start this, you need to understand some rules. Number one: no magic in front of the common population. So that means no magic outside of these walls. Unless you have no choice, which brings me to number two: you are not to leave this building. Now-“

“Isn’t the entire reason we’re here is to learn about and use our abilities?” Elania had smuggled a hash brown into the room and was nibbling it as she spoke.

“Not necessarily,” answered Sam. “You are here to learn, yes, but hopefully not use outside of your worlds. My hope is that any help we need from you outside of your worlds will not require your abilities.” He watched as multiple pairs of eyes rolled, but noticed that both Elania and Dexter’s eyes narrowed in confusion. Sam continued before they had a chance to ask what help outside of their worlds meant. “The survival of Sunrise and Sunset have always been directly linked to the magic abilities of those living there, but the last couple generations have not produced many with the ability. Your homes are dying, and you are the only chance they have, and that possibility is only available if you can effectively use your abilities and reset the balance.”

“So, right now, we are useless, is that what you’re saying?” Jonathan asked.

Sam nodded.

“Ok,” said Dexter as he sat up straight in his chair and ceased rubbing his eyes. “You seem to know a few things about situations like ours, so tell us, how much longer do you think our worlds have?”

“Before we cross the point of no return?” Sam thought for a moment. “Two years, three at most.” Dexter frowned.

“How long will it take for us to become useful?” Jonathan asked.

“I think I can get you guys to a working state in a few months. A few others and myself will be training you, individually and as groups. But you must put your whole hearts into this, or it will be for nothing, understand?” He was met with glassy eyed stares and a few slight nods. “Right,” he clicked through his teeth. “Ok, so, before we jump into it, does anyone know anything?”

Silence. Sam nodded to himself and repressed a sigh.

“Alright, we’ll start from the beginning.”

 

They had been shuttered in the small room for hours yet again, but this time they didn’t mind a bit. After a brief overview about basic magic knowledge (Sunseters practiced Black Magic while Sunrisers practiced White, a fact that only Spencer seemed surprised at), Sam began instructing the group on the most basic, and yet most important, element of magic: focus.

The first step was to picture something calming, something repetitive: a sun, perhaps, for the Risers, and a flame for the Setters. Next, they were to clear their minds of everything but that calming item. The first hour after breakfast was spent in a frustrating silence, that finally began to relax once the students began successfully achieving their goal. Spencer was the last one to cease his mumbling and groaning in frustration. Once he was quiet for a five-minute span, Sam interrupted their meditations and instructed them on the next step.

Step two was more difficult, and took up the better part of the next two hours. The goal was to hold their focus, and then to direct their energy into that focus. Sam explained that sometimes it helped to picture waves of light moving into the sun or flame. To a common person, this could be seen as a routine step of meditation, but to those with magical abilities, this could be disastrous. To focus your energy was to focus your power. Any well-trained magician would never focus their magic to this degree, but for novices, this exercise was vital in understanding their abilities. It was with this exercise that Sam finally began to feel the strengths and weaknesses of each person. He could feel that Alexia was the strongest White and Dexter the strongest Black. Jonathan was the weakest White, and Spencer was the weakest Black. This wasn’t surprising to Sam; he knew that the teenage years were a stage where abilities mature alongside bodies and personalities. Spencer might be weak now, but that was only because he was young. Give him a year or two and he just might equal his counterparts. Alexia, on the other hand, was troubling. She, too, was still young, and her strength would continue to grow for a few years. Sam imagined that she had the potential to become extremely powerful. Given her shy and skittish personality, he’d have to tread carefully with her.

As the students concentrated, Sam inspected each with his own powers. As time progressed, he noticed the lights flickering occasionally and the portal stones nearby began humming quietly. Clearing his throat, Sam interrupted everyone’s deep concentrations and suggested the group take another break before they move onto the next lesson. Once the Eagles had filed out of the room, Sam pulled out a small notepad and began jotting down his observations and any other relevant thoughts. Then, he jotted down a quick shopping list and sent Vincent off to the grocery store. After locking the door behind Vincent’s retreating back, Sam headed upstairs to begin gathering a few items to help with the next lesson. As he was turning to go back downstairs, a small wad of paper flew out of the small fire and bounced on the wood floor. Sam hastily set the items down on a dresser before swooping the paper off the floor.

Tutors, tomorrow, 10 a.m. Use them wisely.

~Agatha

 Sam frowned, then wadded the note back up and stuffed it into his pocket before heading downstairs.

 

“Both Magics are rooted in the Four Elements: Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. Black and White Magic can often do the same things, especially basic abilities, but they do them differently. Whites have better control over Air and Water, which means they are more skilled in the healing arts, while Black Magic tends to have more control over Fire and Earth. It’s not uncommon for them to be referred to as soldiers.” Spencer grinned widely and looked at Dexter, but his excitement was met with a furrowed brow as the older Setter listened to Sam.

Everyone sat in a circle, now, and a small circular table had been placed in the center. It the room felt crowded before, now it was completely stuffed. Each chair was pushed against a wall or shelf, while Sam’s sat halfway between the portal stones. The occupants had at least one knee resting against the table before them. Atop one of the shelves, Sam had placed a small fan that hummed in the quiet between his words. On the table sat the items he had gathered from his room moments before.

“You’ve already learned the basics of reaching your abilities. Usually, you would have been trained from a very young age, and slowly, but you don’t have that kind of time. The next lesson isn’t taught until students have proved a mastery of the previous lesson, and even then, they are taught under strict supervision.” Sam sighed, scratching the stubble on his cheek. “But, I’m all you’ve got. Until tomorrow that is, and I don’t know how long the others will help.”

“So, let’s get to it, shall we? Now that you know you can draw your abilities inward, you must understand the divisions and abilities of each of the Four Elements. We’ll use these items here,” he gestured to the table, “to help distinguish between the Four, and then to help harness and direct the different powers to be found in each Element. The candle represents Fire, the crystals Earth, and, well, the bowl of water is self explanatory.”

“What about Air?” Spencer asked.

Sam pointed to the empty space next to the bowl of water. “Air is the easiest Element to work with because it is everywhere, but it is the last Element studied. Young students are typically not trusted with the knowledge because they haven’t developed the discipline needed to work with an Element that is so easily accessible.” The Eagles stared blankly back at Sam. “Ok, say you haven’t eaten for days, and you come downstairs to find a giant plate of donuts on the counter. You’d eat the entire thing in one sitting, wouldn’t you? Without any thought to how it might make you feel after, or perhaps to how it would affect others. It’s the same with Magic. You spend years knowing about this power that can be harnessed, but you just don’t know how. Until one day, you begin to learn, and once that door is opened, there is no closing it. Fire is usually the first Element studied, because out of the Four, Fire is the hardest to harness, and the hardest to study in secret.” Understanding showed on only Elania and Dexter’s face at first, with the others slowly realizing the facts. Only Spencer didn’t catch on.

“What are donuts?” he asked. Next to him, Elania rolled her eyes. Sam blinked.

“Right,” said Sam, shaking his head to clear his thoughts, “step one, go back to the previous exercise. Envision your focus, then feed it again. Only this time, I want you to pay close attention to how each wave reacts to the items on the table. You won’t notice any visible reaction to Air because it is reacting from the start. Ready?” They nodded and closed their eyes. After a few minutes, Sam could feel the energy begin to concentrate around certain kids, the strongest being around Alexia. It came as no surprise when a slow grin spread over her face. Strong indeed, thought Sam.

A few minutes later, Elania and Lilly also smiled, and Sam knew his students were not average magicians. He felt Dexter relax a moment later as he was able to see the differences of Elemental Effects. Jonathan took a little while longer, and Sam could feel his frustrations begin to mount, but eventually he found what he was looking for. Instead of pulling back, he picked one anomaly and directed his energy into it, and the flame atop the candle winked out. Instantly, the Eagles opened their eyes and looked at Sam, confused.

“Jonathan blew out the candle, which caused the Fire effects to disappear,” he explained. All eyes shifted to stare at Jonathan who slouched down in his chair. “No worries,” continued Sam, “just don’t do that yet.” Jonathan nodded sheepishly.

Sam pulled out a lighter and relit the candle. “Again,” he said, and the teens closed their eyes once more.

Sam was mid bite when his ears popped. Chewing slowly, he waited for a moment until everyone in the room was either busy chatting or eating, or, in Spencer’s case, both, then snuck away to the portal room to greet his guests. A tall, elderly woman stood beneath the stones and smiled at Sam as he entered the room. She stepped forward and extended her hand, introducing herself as Bernice. Sam could feel her strength in Black Magic and was immediately confident in her abilities to help train the Setters. Frowning at his lack of a White Magic instructor, Sam led Bernice into the storefront was making introductions when his ears popped again. Excusing himself, Sam returned to the portal room to meet what he hoped was a White Magic trainer.

Sam froze when he saw who stood under the portal stones. “Kellen.”

“The one and only,” Kellen smiled smugly and adjusted his diamond cuff links.

Damn it, Agatha, Sam thought. He gave a slight nod at the White trainer and stepped aside, inviting Kellen into the store front and into the Eagle’s nest.

Advertisements

Magic Fun, Part 5

Posted on

The sun was getting low in the sky when Lilly and Alexia made their way into their room. It was small with three beds taking up the majority of the space. A small chest of drawers stood next to the door, and beside that an old wooden chair collected dust. A worn rug filled the space between the beds, but did nothing to silence the squeaky wooden floor beneath. Alexia curled up on the bed to the right of the door and watched the sun through the window. Glancing to the left, Lilly saw a large book she saw Elania carrying earlier on the bed across from Alexia. Lilly chose the middle bed and rested her elbows on the windowsill, her head in her hands as she watched the first sunset of her life.

Only a quarter of an hour had passed before Elania entered and closed the door behind her, but the room had darkened quickly. Lilly glanced behind her, but she was unaccustomed to seeing in the dark. Alexia did not take her eyes off of the sun as it finally sank behind the mountains beyond. Once the sun disappeared, her breathing quickened and she began to shake with fear. Elania had sat down on her bed and flipped through a page or two when the girl across from her started screaming.

Across the hall, Spencer snored into his pillow. Dexter lay in the same position he had been in when Jonathan came in hours ago. Jonathan sat on the middle bed, his back against the wall, his legs crossed at his ankles. He stared blankly at the closed door across the room. In his hand he flipped a small stone pyramid. The leather cord threaded through it let off a faint scent as he bent it between his fingers. With the exception of Spence’s snores, the room was quiet. Vincent had told them that Sam was away on unexpected business and handed them a handwritten note:

Had to fly, be back by morning. Have a good night’s rest- training starts tomorrow. Sweet dreams. Sam.

 

Spence seemed to be the only one following Sam’s advice about getting a good night’s rest. The room darkened quickly as the last rays of the sun entered through the single window next to Spence’s bed. Jonathan couldn’t ignore the anxiety brought on by the increasing darkness, but he fought his battle quietly, finally resolving to close his eyes just before the sun disappeared beneath the horizon.

Only seconds passed before a scream ripped through the building. Jonathan’s eyes shot open and he bolted to his feet. Spence sat up in a panic from being woken while in a dead sleep. Dexter hardly moved, only his eyes moved toward the door, his brows shifting downward. Footsteps passed their door, making their way quickly to the girls’ room. Jonathan opened the door and peeked out just in time to see Vincent disappear into the other room. He followed hesitantly, entering the room and the chaos it contained.

Alexia lay on her bed, her knees brought up tight against her chest, held there firmly by her arms. She rocked back and forth, her sobs broken only by an occasional word. “Dark!” she cried, her eyes open but staring blankly into the room. Beside her, Vincent shook her gently and called her name, but the girl continued to scream. Lilly paced across a rug identical to the one in the boys’ room, her hands moving from her hair, to her pockets, to crossed in front of her, to being wrung in desperation. She yelled at Alexia to stop screaming, then yelled at Vincent, asking him what was wrong with her, and then to tell him to make her stop. Elania sat on her bed, a large book open in her lap. She watched the scene before her with a look of disbelief, complete with wide eyes and gaping mouth. She hardly blinked, not wanting to miss a second. Jonathan stood in the doorway but was pushed inward as Spence nudged past him. Jonathan glanced behind him, checking to see if Dexter was trying to come in, but the hallway was empty. Turning back to the fracas, he realized that the last member of their group would not have fit in the packed room even if he wanted to.

Vincent had switched tactics and was shaking Alexia while yelling her name. Frantically he glanced around the room and frowned. He turned and raced out the door, his footsteps fast and heavy as he clambered down the stairs, only to come running back up two at a time, carrying a small lamp into the room. He pulled the old chair next to Alexia’s bed and set it down. Getting down on all fours he searched for an outlet, finally finding one behind the bed. He switched it on and adjusted the shade so the light fell heaviest on Alexia’s face. Kneeling down, Vincent took her face in his hands and called her name calmly until her eyes focused on his. Her shaking and yelling subsided, leaving the room in a tense silence as everyone held their breath, waiting.

Her breathing slowed as she stared at the boy he still held her face in his hands. Slowly, he moved her disheveled hair away from her eyes and tucked it securely behind her ears. Her breaths came slower as he spoke, his words calming her until her eyelids began to get heavy. When She began to drift off, Jonathan went back to the boy’s room, closing the door behind him with both a sigh of relief and a shake of his head. He wasn’t quite sure what he had witnessed, but he had a feeling something had just shifted amongst the Eagles.

***

 

Sam’s robes fluttered in the shifting air. He wasted no time; his steps were jogging the second his feet touched ground in Shepherd’s Castle’s main portal room. He sped through the cold stone hallways as quickly as he could, but slow enough that passers by could see the dark gray hue of his robes and move out of the way. Only the oldest Grays wore robes as dark as his, and only the most foolhardy stood between an old Gray and his destination. Sam checked himself and slowed his speed slightly. He was already on the Council’s bad side; plowing through innocents in the heart of HQ would do nothing to help his cause. He stared straight ahead, ignoring the many glances in his direction, slowing only when reaching the antechamber of the High Council.

The room was small, the dark purple wallpaper made it look even smaller. Small benches covered in purple velvet were pushed up against the walls, and large wooden planters held various flowers in full bloom. As he crossed the room, two guards eyed him from their position before the main chamber’s massive doors. Beside them, in a small alcove, an old man sat hunched over a desk. Sam announced himself and handed the man a crumpled piece of paper, then waited as the old man adjusted his spectacles and inspected the note. After a moment, the man looked up and tapped his boney fingers on the desk.

Sam shifted impatiently, wondering when the old man would do his job and inform the council of his arrival instead of… glaring? Sam sighed as he realized the old man was still angry about his last visit to the High Council. “My presence has been requested,” he tried to pacify the grump, but only received a grunt in response. Sam fought his rising frustration and raised his hands, palms forward. “I come in peace?” he offered, but the old man rolled his eyes, his thick glasses magnifying the gesture. The old man sighed and scribbled a short note and tossed it behind him into a small hearth. Sam nodded in thanks and took a seat on the bench opposite the glaring old man.

He waited only a moment before the chamber doors were pulled open. A small woman stepped through the doorway and announced to the mostly empty antechamber that the council would see Samuel Gray. He took a deep breath and followed the woman into the chamber. The guards pulled the doors closed behind him.

The room was huge, its high ceilings intensifying the size even more. Floor to ceiling windows covered one wall, letting in ample lighting through lace curtains. The other three walls were covered in paintings both large and small, and all hung in intricately carved wooden frames. Sam knew the names of most of the figures in the paintings, and had even known a few of them personally. The woman, a Gray he knew only as Nell, led him down the length of the room until the stood before an immense, U-shaped table.

The High Council was seated around the table, their faces all blank masks. Three representatives of White Magic sat one side, three representatives of Black Magic on the other. In between the two sides sat the High Seat, the elected leader of the Council. Sam didn’t recognize the representatives, but he knew Agatha well, and he knew this High Seat was not one to be trifled with. He bowed as Nell took her place against the wall behind the Council. The Servant to the High Council was always a Gray, giving the Council some access into the inner workings of the sect. Once a Gray was chosen for the position, however, they found themselves practically abandoned by their peers.

“Why have you requested an audience with the High Council, Samuel Gray?” the White, an old woman sitting closest to him, got right to the point. Sam wondered if the representatives had heard about his last visit. He cleared his throat before answering.

“My sincerest thanks to you who-“

“Mr. Gray,” a middle aged man opposite of the old White interrupted him, “we haven’t got time for sugar coating, so please, enlighten us with your purpose, or leave.”

Sam’s teeth clicked together as he shut his mouth and glared at the Black representative.

“Kellen, dear,” Agatha said, leaning forward in her chair and plastering a strained smile on her face, “Mr. Gray will need more than a few seconds to speak the apology he is wisely here to give, so if you would be so kind as to give him an opportunity, we can put this whole thing behind us and more forward, yes?”

“Apology?” Sam scoffed. “Apologize for what exactly?”

“For your abhorrent behavior during your last visit, of course.” Agatha’s words were sharp.

“My behavior was a direct result of the High Council’s lack of action regarding a vital matter. Let me remind you that your inaction cost the Grays dearly.”

“And let me remind you, Samuel Gray, that the Council’s inaction was in response to an extensive investigation into practices in which you were a participant that have long since been deemed illegal and immoral. We investigated, we deliberated, and we deemed the evidence insufficient against those charged. We released your fellow Grays, and we are not to blame for what transpired after the fact.”

“On the contrary, the Council is directly responsible for releasing innocent men and women into an agitated crowd without first providing evidence of their innocence. You delivered innocent people into the hands of an angry mob, standing back and watching as the falsely accused were circled, overpowered, and executed in that courtyard.” Sam fought his rising ire as he pointed out the window, reining it in with deep breaths. “You watched them die and did nothing. I will not apologize for demanding justice!”

The room settled into a tense silence. Representatives from both White and Black shuffled papers and glanced around nervously. Agatha tapped her fingers on the table as she studied the man standing before her. After a few moments she sighed. “Mr. Gray and I will speak privately. This meeting is adjourned.”

The six representatives stood and shuffled out, leaving Sam to follow Agatha through a small door hidden behind a huge painting. The room was windowless, lit only by a few candles set in the corners and a small candelabrum atop a massive desk. Papers and books were strewn about the surface of the desk, and more of both formed untidy stacks on the floor along the walls. Agatha removed her traditional red robes, revealing a more modern pink button down shirt and black slacks underneath. She sank into a huge cushioned chair behind the desk and rubbed her eyes. “Why are you here, Sam?”

“I need help.”

Agatha glanced at Sam in mock surprise. “You? The great Samuel Gray? The millennial who accomplishes every task without aid from another? What help could I possibly be to you?”

Sam took a calming breath and decided it would be best to ignore her sarcastic tone and get right to the point.

“I was contacted by twin worlds that I had once thought lost.”

Agatha sighed and rolled her eyes. “Sam, this is nothing new. Worlds break contact and reinitiate all the time.”

“This case is different.” Agatha shook her head, but Sam continued. “They’re dying, but they were able to send six kids through to act as their Eagles. If they are going to find the lost worlds, they need to be trained as quickly as possible because they don’t have much time. I need White and Black tutors to train them individually; I can handle the team training.”

Sam waited for a response, but it was slow in coming, and it wasn’t what he was hoping for. “Some say we should have charged you along side your group of ‘falsely accused’ Grays, as you called them.” Sam blinked in surprise, but his eyes immediately narrowed in anger as she continued. “I fought for you and kept your name off that list, but now I wonder if I was wrong to do so.” He glared and she nodded in reply. “If I were to trust my instinct, I would say these worlds hold a special place in your heart, and I am then forced to wonder why?”

“Because they are dying and need our help!”

“Bah! You have lived long enough and seen enough worlds die that you know this is a lost cause. What is different about these two?”

He knew where she was going with her questions, but he had saved an important detail just for this situation. “They were last listed in Brookfield’s inventory; he acquired them just before he was set upon by a Celtic ambush. His portal was destroyed and the globes disappeared. We feared they were destroyed also.” Agatha scratched her chin impatiently, but did not speak up during his pause, so he continued. “About two hundred years ago, a group of Whites came across a small stash of globes hidden in an old, wooden chest said to have been discovered in the catacombs beneath Paris. Most of the globes were broken, but a few were still living, and we were able to identify them as belonging to Brookfield. I believe the globes were scattered, traded between nations as expensive trinkets, with one man in particular searching for them specifically. I have only heard him referred to as The Magician, but I believe he has the remaining globes from Brookfield’s inventory, and I believe my Eagles and I can find him.”

Agatha’s eyes narrowed at his final words and she watched him for a silent moment. “Your Eagles?”

He chewed his lip as he realized his mistake. Unfortunately, Agatha missed nothing, but he was confident she wasn’t aware of the entire situation, and he wasn’t about to come clean. “I just need a few experienced tutors for the kids.”

“That’s it?”

“And I need you to authorize my freedom so I can help search for the man who possesses the globes.”

“No.”

“I need to get out-“

“You aren’t giving me the whole truth, therefore I will not authorize your freedom, however temporary it could be. You will get two tutors, one from each Magic, and it will be up to your Eagles to save their worlds.”

“They won’t stand a chance in the outside without me! I need your authorization!”

“You won’t get it! You have my decision, now get out!”

Furious, Sam left the hidden room and made his way back to the portal room and his hopeless Eagles.

Magic Fun, Part 4

(Frequent, smequent. I’m not doing so well in this category, but it is constantly on my mind, so that is something, I suppose. This section is shorter than the others, but it moves the story along enough that I was happy with the results. Only a few quick edits were done, and there are likely errors here and there, but I think I’ve found most of the big ones. My editing skills were never awesome.  As always, hope you enjoy, and feedback is always appreciated. 🙂 )

 

Elaina closed the door behind her and immediately moved to the nearest bookshelf. She paid no mind to the others in the room as she read titles from dusty books, touching items stuffed in every crack and crevice. She reached behind a stack of books and pulled out a small box. Jonathan watched from his seat as she turned in over in her hands, blowing on it gently to clear an especially thick layer of dust away. She inspected it closely for a minute before placing it back behind the books and moving on to the next shelf.

Everyone else sat awkwardly around a small round table. Sam held out the box of food to Jonathan who managed to grab it just as Sam let go. The contents shifted to one side, causing Jonathan to lean sharply as he tried to rebalance the box, almost falling out of his chair. Across the table Dexter watched with an amused smirk. Sam had cleared the table of a large crystal ball and the purple tablecloth. He carefully placed the ball on an empty shelf, then wadded the cloth into a ball and tossed it into a corner of the room. He snatched the food from Jonathan and had the contents spread out on the table in seconds, sampling as he worked. Finally he gestured to the food and stuffed another bite into his already full mouth. Both Dexter and Jonathan watched as Sam fought to keep the food in his mouth as he chewed. Only Spencer leaned forward to examine the spread.

“Chinese.” Sam had finally managed to swallow and was pointing to the various things in front of them. “Chicken. Pork. Fried rice. Ribs. Plain rice. And my favorite,” he grabbed a small dumpling and held it up, “crab Rangoon.” He popped it into his mouth and it crunched. “Not technically Chinese, but still good.” Spencer picked up a Rangoons and examined it slowly before stuffing it in his mouth. He chewed slowly, his eyes widening, until his hand shot out and grabbed two more and began stuffing them into his mouth. Lilly was sampling the chicken and fried rice while Alexia watched.

The Rangoons didn’t stand a chance between Sam and Spencer and were gone in minutes. Sam brushed the crumbs off his hands and reached for the chicken. “Master Damian’s message only told of your arrival,” he said as he piled the chicken onto a small paper plate. “What exactly does he need from me?”

The Risers glanced at each other, confused. Dexter pulled a letter from his jacket and handed it across the table to Sam. He put a forkful of rice into his mouth before unfolding the paper. He leaned back against the chair as he began to read, but his chewing slowed as he read.

 

The sky darkens as the sun fades away from our worlds forever. Use these children wisely, because they, and you, are our only hope for survival.

Your faithful servant always,

Damian

 

Sam glanced at Dexter across the table, then to Elaina who had momentarily stopped her exploring in order to study Sam’s face as he read. Damian had told Dexter that no one but Sam was to read its contents. Sam looked at the others and sighed. This is impossible. He folded the paper and, with a quick wave, it disappeared into thin air. Spencer’s mouth dropped open in awe, giving the others a view of half chewed chicken. Sam rubbed his eyes, half in weariness, half in desperation. He needed to talk to the High Council. He needed help. And he needed it years ago.

His appetite suddenly gone, Sam stood and told the others to finish while he prepared rooms for them upstairs. After the door closed behind him, the room fell into a tense silence; the only sounds were that of Spencer chewing and Elaina occasionally moving things around on the shelves.

 

When the bedroom door clicked shut, Elaina spun on the two sprawled out on their beds. “What did the letter say?” she demanded, her eyes trying to pierce holes straight through Dexter. Spence lifted his head and looked at his sister and then to Dexter, but the two seemed caught in an epic staring contest, and he once again resumed his place as the third wheel in their relationship.

Dexter rolled his eyes and draped an arm over his face. He wasn’t interested in talking.

“I know you read it, Dexter, if not to satisfy your curiosity, then to spite Damian. You’ve always hated my uncle.”

“What’s wrong with Uncle Damian?” Spencer’s question was ignored by the others, and he finally sighed and shook his head in annoyance. He hated feeling invisible.

Dexter lifted his arm a fraction and glared at Elaina. “And you’ve always given that lunatic every ounce of trust you could muster. Without question.” Spencer opened his mouth, but immediately snapped it shut after a quick glare from Elaina.

“Damian has never done something he didn’t believe was in Sunset’s best interests. He has spent his life trying to keep us alive.”

“And you? Are you doing what is in Sunset’s best interest? Or do you consider yourself to be the town’s best interest?”

“I am one of Sunset’s best chances, as are you,” she glanced at her brother, “and him.” Spencer grinned as Elaina restrained a groan.

“Chance for what?” Dexter snapped. “For continuing that pitiful town’s worthless existence?”

Elaina’s jaw dropped as he continued. “We aren’t chances; we three were given chances,” Dexter sat up and spread his arms wide. “This is our chance to get out of that decrepit ruin we call home and live a little. I’m not going back! Sunset is better off dead anyway.” He leaned back onto the pillow and flung his arm back over his face.

Across the room, Spence stared at Dexter in shock. Elaina’s mouth worked but she could not put a coherent sentence together from the anger rising within. She balled her fists and took a step toward Dexter, but froze when the door opened, barely missing her as it swung into the room. Jonathan stood in the open doorway and immediately began to apologize, but was stopped short when Elaina spun around and ran from the room, leaving him alone with the other Setters and a thick tension neither one volunteered to explain.

 

Sam paced in front of the fireplace, thinking of his options even though it was too soon to fully determine what they might be. There were too many factors still to be decided on, and premature brainstorming always got him into trouble. He shook his head, trying to rid himself of his thoughts. Despite the warmth outside, a fire burned in a blackened hearth beside him. He eyed it impatiently. He knew the council would holding their morning meeting, so he sent his message straight to the high councilor’s secretary. Sam silently prayed she deemed the matter urgent enough to bring it to her employer’s attention immediately, or else he might be waiting a while.

He paused and rubbed his tired eyes, wishing he could shut his eyes for an hour or two, but he knew he wouldn’t be napping any time soon. Recent developments have seen to the utter destruction of his napping plans. He sighed and began to curse the passing time but stopped as he saw a folded piece of paper fly out of the flames and land on the floor at his feet. He snatched it up and quickly unfolded it. He hadn’t even finished reading it before he turned and made his way into his closet to make preparations.

Magic Fun, Part 3

Posted on

(One day I’ll come up with a title, I promise. I was hoping to get a bit further with part three, but I hit a good stopping point and I stuck with it. Hopefully I can focus on this a bit more in the future and the posts will be more frequent. Enjoy!)

Lilly toyed with the small stone pyramid in her hand. A new cord had been threaded through it, letting off a faint scent of fresh leather. A small wooden pendant shaped like the sun shared the same cord. The stone was once her great grandfather’s, and the pendant carved by her father on her last night in Sunrise. She ran a finger across the delicately carved sunrays as she remembered the events only hours ago.

The small group sat together near the massive hearth in Sunrise’s Great Hall. The old man sat amongst them as he retold stories of his past and recounted lessons learned the hard way. Three young Risers listened intently to his every word. They were the new Eagles, chosen for a task unequalled in all of the town’s history, and they were grossly unprepared.

The old man’s sixteen-year-old great granddaughter sat among the three, her long blond hair hung straight down as she sat on the bench. Her hands gripped the edge of the wood as she listened intently. She was the only person in the room with a smile on her face, but it disappeared after catching sight of the frown her father wore. He sat apart from the group, alone in his anger and fears. As he listened, he carved a small, wooden sun out of a chunk of wood he found just before entering the Hall. He focused his attentions on his project in an effort to keep from making a scene and forcibly dragging his daughter away. He glanced at her and immediately wished he hadn’t. Her smile tore open another hole in his chest, and he had to breathe deeply and release slowly before he could once again focus on the carving.

Beside Lilly sat Jonathan. Though their mothers were sisters, they looked like they could be siblings. Jonathan’s blonde hair was cut short, but their blue eyes were identical. Next to Lilly’s smile, Jonathan sat motionless, brows creased in thought. His eyes were fixed on the elder, glancing down every few minutes to look at the token resting on his leg. He had heard the stories of the Eagles, but he never believed them to be true. Even now he felt a nagging doubt creep up as he listened to the old man.

Alexia completed the trio. She was the youngest at fourteen. Her hair, light brown and naturally wavy, was fastened away from her face with girlish bows. Her lips trembled and her eyes were closed while the elder spoke. Her token sat ignored on a nearby chair since halfway through the old man’s instructions on its use. She didn’t want to travel; flying was for birds, not humans. The thought of leaving her home and everything she knew and understood terrified her. Behind the fear was anger- anger at having no choice, anger at Sunset, anger at her strength with White Magic. She wanted to run, but in a town where the sun is always just above the horizon, there was nowhere to hide.

The group sat for hours, no one speaking but the elder. No questions were asked, for he told the three everything he knew. When he stopped speaking a foreboding silence filled the room. Lilly sat with her elbows on her knees and her chin resting on her hands. Her eyes drooped wearily, but she had absorbed every word. Jonathan had hardly moved, his eyes struggling to stay open. Alexia still mumbled, her body shaking slightly from the chilly breeze moving down through the now cold chimney. Once the silence set in, she opened her eyes to see the elder leaning back in his chair, his eyes closed as if he were already asleep. Next to the hearth, Lilly’s father sighed. He stood and, after a good stretch, ushered the three to their homes where they would sleep one last time.

 

Lilly didn’t sleep a wink, her excitement so great that it kept the weariness at bay, if only for a time. Even as she sat toying with the token, she knew if she sat still for much longer she would be fast asleep. She sighed. “Do you think they’re on their way?” Her voice hinted at her lack of sleep, holding little of the excitement she tried to instill upon her fellow Eagles. Alexia lay huddled in a corner of the small room, made even smaller by the shelves that lined every wall. Various odds and ends filled every inch of space, but, to Lilly’s surprise, not a speck of dust could be seen on anything. Alexia turned towards the wall and scooted even further under the bottom shelf. Lilly sighed again. Alexia hadn’t said a word all day, why would she answer a question that no one could possibly know the answer to? Lilly scanned their surroundings again and rolled the token across her fingertips idly.

The door to the storage room creaked open and Jonathan poked his head through. “Vincent says you don’t have to stay in here…” His words trailed off as he noticed Alexia on the floor. Lilly opened her mouth to rouse Alexia, but snapped it shut again after seeing the younger girl attempt to scoot even further under the shelf. Lilly rolled her eyes and followed Jonathan out, closing the door behind her.

The storage room was the first doorway off of a small hallway situated in the back of a cluttered shop. Two more doors opened off of the small space before it ended in a narrow flight of stairs leading up. Though the floor in the storage room was wood, the hallway was covered in a worn, dark green carpet. The two made their way into the main shop where a young man sat atop a stool in the back corner. Jonathan had already explored the shop and made his way over to speak to Vincent, but Lilly wandered around the small tables and shelves, fingering the stones and flipping through the books as she went. Sam ran an occult shop, and he pulled double duty as a fortune teller, it seemed. As she explored, Sam sat in the viewing room with a client, no doubt telling the customer exactly what they wanted to hear. Lilly slowly made her way to the counter and leaned over the glass, listening to Vincent and Jonathan’s conversation.

“I always see people going in an out here,” Vincent was saying, “but I haven’t noticed anyone new.”

Jonathan nodded his head in reply. “And Samuel? When do you think he’ll be done?”

Just as Vincent opened his mouth to answer, the door next to the storage room jerked open and two men emerged into the hall, still deep in conversation. Jonathan watched them silently, not knowing that Vincent watched him. And Vincent didn’t notice Lilly’s curious stare directed at him.

Vincent looked to be about sixteen. The frames on his face held thick lenses, making his dark brown eyes appear almost inhumanly large. He wore black jeans under an oversized white t-shirt with a picture of a cartoon character on it. His hat was pulled down enough in the front that it looked to be resting on his glasses. Vincent’s eyes followed the two men as they made their way through the store. They paused at the store’s entrance and spoke another minute before shaking hands. With a quick wave, the customer turned and exited the shop. A quick burst of air moved through the small space as the door opened and then closed behind the man, ruffling Samuel’s floor length robes as he pulled the garment off. Turning, he made his way to the back of the shop, stopping to hang the robe on a hook in the hallway. He breathed deep and began rolling up his shirt sleeves as he made his way to the counter. He didn’t seem at all surprised to see Jonathan and Lilly. “You must be the Risers,” he said, pausing his efforts to roll up his sleeves in order to gesture in their direction. Jonathan nodded while Lilly replied with an affirmative.

“I’m Sam.” He shook Jonathan and Lilly’s hand then turned a glare on his employee. “And you are late with my lunch.”

“I, uh,” Vincent stammered and looked frantically at the clock hanging on the wall behind him. “You were with a customer-“

“Well, I’m not now.” The two stared at each other over the counter before Vincent jumped up from his chair and ran out the door.

“I hope you ordered enough for everybody!” Sam yelled after Vincent. The door closed slowly as a breeze caught it, sending fresh air into the stuffy shop. Sam closed his eyes and breathed deep. The breeze disappeared and the door slammed shut, snapping Sam out of his thoughts. He sighed and stared out the front windows.

Shaking his head, he turned back to the two teens across the counter. “Alexia is, uh,” Jonathan searched for words, but Lilly finished his sentence. “She’s hiding,” she said, gesturing toward the back hallway. Sam nodded. “The message said the new Eagles were young, but it didn’t say they were still kids.” Sam spoke quietly as if to himself, but Jonathan shuffled uneasily under the man’s inquisitive stare. Lilly had heard, but she ignored Sam, instead she turned and began to meander through the store again.

“My uncle didn’t say why we were chosen,” Jonathan said, “but perhaps you know?”

A low voom reverberated through the shop, bringing with it a slight change in pressure, causing their ears to pop. Lilly’s head jerked away from the book she was flipping through and looked around the small space. Jonathan forced a yawn and shook his head, tying to unpop his ears. Only Sam seemed unphased as he placed his elbows on the counter and leaned over. “I don’t have the answer to that question,” Sam nodded toward the back hallway, “but I imagine it has something to do with them.”

Jonathan narrowed his eyes in confusion. “Them?” Sam blinked. “Oh!” Jonathan jumped as he understood. “The Setters are here?” Sam nodded as Lilly made her way back to the glass counter to stand beside her cousin. A moment passed before the door across from the storage room creaked open and three figures emerged.

Their footsteps were quiet as they moved to the entrance of the hallway, but there they stopped. In the front stood a young man with icy gray eyes under a mop of disheveled blonde hair. His glare scanned the room, finally settling unblinking on the three standing only a few feet away. Movement behind him materialized into a young woman who pushed her way past the one standing before her. She ignored the Risers and Sam as she slowly walked through the store and stood before the front windows. She squinted as she looked out. “It’s so bright,” her words were barely loud enough to be heard. The third Setter was a young boy, his head could be seen peering around the glaring teen. “Which one of you is Samuel?” The young man’s stare did not relent as he watched the three strangers.

“That would be me,” Sam didn’t cower under the boy’s glare. “And you are?”

“Dexter, from the town of Sunset. Behind me is Spencer,” the young boy bound around Dexter, a huge smile on his face. “And that,” Dexter glanced at the young woman who still stood at the shop’s windows, “is Elaina.”

Jonathan watched Elaina as she pressed her face against the glass and looked toward the sky, her eyes squeezed almost shut against the sunlight. “What is she doing?” Jonathan whispered to himself.

“Seeing the sun for the first time,” Sam answered. “You will understand better tonight.” Sam watched as the other two Setters joined Elaina at the windows and looked at the sky.

“Tonight?”

“They come from a world of darkness, Jonathan, you from a world of light. This world, the Common World, is a world of both. Tonight, you will experience your first sunless sky, and you will feel just as they are feeling right now.” Sam stood and raised his arms into the sky in a deep stretch. “Might as well get started,” he said quietly to himself.

“Now that you’re all here-“ Sam’s words cut off as Vincent burst through the door, his arms holding a box stuffed with various boxes and bags. A strange scent filled the shop as he hurried through and placed the box on the counter. He plopped himself back down on his stool and panted, clearly relieved to be done with his errand.

“Took you long enough!” Sam glared at his employee, but turned away just as a smile appeared on his face. Vincent didn’t see, instead he slumped over the counter and continued panting, unable to utter a defense. Grabbing the box, Sam nodded to Jonathan and made his way through the hallway and into the viewing room. Lilly and Jonathan followed, stopping in the storage room to collect Alexia. The Setters followed only a few moments later, leaving the small shop empty except for a gasping Vincent.

Untitled Magic Fun, Cont.

Posted on

(The first part is here.)

He waited.

The fire crackled madly, devouring the logs as a starving pig would devour last night’s table scraps. Damian sat motionless, watching as the fire spit glowing embers into the air as it began to die down. Getting up, he tossed another log onto the fire. He didn’t know if Sunrise would get his note, and he doubted they would reply, especially so quickly, but he hoped he was wrong. He stood up. Giving one last long look at the flames, Damian turned his back and began to walk out of the kitchen.

A quiet rustling sound caught his attention just as his foot crossed into the next room. He glanced over his shoulder and froze. Sitting in the cleared area on the cluttered table was a triangular piece of paper that hadn’t been there a second ago. Slowly he turned and walked back to the table. He picked it up; it was warm from the flames, but the paper appeared completely unsinged. He breathed in a shaky breath and began to unfold the note, holding the paper before him as if it were made of thin glass. He took another shaky breath and read.

We will come.

Without pausing to put the note down, Damian turned and left the house. He walked quickly through the remains of the once great town and toward the graveyard. There would be fresh piles of stones marking the most recently passed. It was Damian’s routine to visit the fresh graves every evening, but now he walked right by the stones, saying a silent prayer and promising a later visit as he passed them by.

In the rear of the cemetery sat a stone of a different sort. It was a thin ring carved out of a single slab of granite, the bottom planted into the ground, the top almost ten feet into the air. Runes were carved into the front, saying what Damian could only guess. It looked delicate, but the stone had been strengthened by Magic, both White and Black, and Damian knew there was very little that could harm it. The Portal Stone was Sunset’s access point, allowing travel both in and out. It was here that Damian waited patiently for his guests.

They came in a quiet instant, the only clues of their arrival being a mild breath of air and a low voom, as if someone just blew out a candle. Two Risers stood under the stone ring, their expressions were calm, but their eyes took in the new surroundings with something akin to panic. A third man sat in a wheelchair between the two. His eyes were closed and a smile split his face in two. Damian could not guess his age, but he was very old. What was left of his gray hair fluttered in the breeze. Even though his wrinkles were deep, Damian could easily see the similarities between the old man and the one who stood closest to his chair. The old man opened his eyes and gestured. His son stepped behind the chair and rolled his father forward, the third Riser falling in behind. Damian stepped forward to meet the men he hoped would save the only world he knew.

 

The Town Hall was the oldest building in Sunset, and the largest. Damian’s kitchen would have never held more than two comfortably, so he brought them to the large building on the other side of town. He lit one of the huge fireplaces and hung a pot of water above it for tea. The newcomers were quiet, only answering politely when asked a direct question. The man in the wheelchair communicated with nods or shakes of his head, or whispers between he and his son.

As he poured the tea, Damian began to tell the three of the recent troubles Sunset experienced: the lack of food, the lack of water, the lack of surviving babies.

The old man whispered to his son, who then turned to Damian. “My father asks when the troubles began.”

Damian stared into his tea as he recalled the day the first baby died. He spoke softly. “The day after the last Eagle, my father, passed. That was about fifty years ago. That was the day our Luck ran out.”

The son glanced at his father, but the old man kept thoughtful eyes on Damian. His son whispered into his ear, and the old man nodded. The old man cleared his throat as a large ball of light appeared before him. Damian gasped at the show of White Magic. He had never seen it used before, and the light was bright enough that his eyes stung before he looked away. The old man began to whisper into the glow, the Magic giving enough strength to his voice that Damian could hear him clearly as he began his tale.

“Fifty years ago, Sunrise experienced one of the most tumultuous times in its history. Crops in one field died, while the fields next to them produced yields that were so large we were required to build two extra granaries to hold them. Some of our food stores were decimated by rats, some by insects, and some turned to ash overnight. We had just enough food to survive. Our families also were affected. Some women gave birth to multiples, some had still births. Children became ill, women became barren, healthy men died after being sick in bed for only an hour. Our livestock suffered as well.

It was August, fifty years ago, when everything changed. The town shook under a horrible storm that hovered above us for weeks. Our homes were breaking under the relentless wrath unleashed upon us. We huddled inside, soaked and cold. My son’s wife was in labor, a labor so difficult we were sure the child would not survive, and we were doubting she would survive as well. My son would not leave her side, even as the roof above was torn away and the wind came into our home, bringing the storm with it. I held my wife against me as I waited for my death. The roar from the storm was deafening, the rain blinding, the wind tore at our clothes in its frenzy. We closed our eyes and cried our last goodbyes as we waited for an end that did not come. What did come was silence.

We opened our eyes to see the blue sky, the sun shining through our broken roof. My wife cried, and I cried beside her. My son was not as fortunate. As the storm fled, it took one last soul with it, leaving my son to raise a newborn alone. My daughter in law was the last human death Sunrise has seen.”

The Risers sat in silence. The old man watched Damian. His son looked into the flames, lost in his memories, not even wiping away the tear that slid slowly down his cheek. As Damian’s gaze moved to the third man, he realized that he was looking at the old man’s grandson. The youngest of the three stood against the stone fireplace, chewing absently on his lower lip.

“When your father died,” the old man continued, “he shifted the balance of Luck. Our worlds are connected, your’s and mine, and we have always worked together to ensure a balance. When the Eagles from Sunset severed our alliance, the scale began to tip. Your father’s death cast the last stone on the scale, tipping it completely in Sunrise’s favor. If we are to help you, we are to restore the balance back to not only Sunset, but also to Sunrise. We will ensure your future, while also ensuring our deaths.”

Damian was speechless. The old man’s grandson stepped forward in anger, pointing a finger right under Damian’s nose.

“What has this man done for us, Grandfather? What right does he have to take so many of our own away? He has done nothing! Sunset severed the alliance, let them reap what they have sown!”

Damian’s mouth worked, trying desperately to form words, but the old man spoke first.

“Grandson, it is us who have taken from them. We have taken all of the good, while leaving all of the bad for them. Yes, Sunset broke the ties between us, but they have already paid with their own lives, and their world’s very existence hangs in the balance. It is selfish of us to keep their share of the good, and they must in turn, give Sunrise back its share of the bad.”

“But Grandfather-“

“Enough!” The old man’s son glared at his only child, but his words felt heavy as he spoke them. “Your Grandfather is right. We must right this wrong, before the imbalance is permanent. My son, you have never known the pain of loss before, and I do not wish it upon you, but we must carry our share, and you must lead our people in this time of suffering.” He stood and turned to his host. “Master Damian, you must send your Eagles to the Common World; our Eagles will meet them there.

Damian gaped. “Our Eagles, sir?” He was answered with two blank stares. The grandson glared. “You see, Father? They haven’t even continued the most mundane of traditions. To receive help from the outside, one must first help themselves on the inside.”

“Wait for us outside.” The youngest cast one last glare at the old Setter before doing as his father commanded. When he was safely outside, the old man’s son turned back to Damian. “You must find three capable of this great burden we will set upon their shoulders. Three strong in the Magic.” He watched as Damian stared at him in silence. “You do have three who have the Talent, do you not?”

Damian nodded slowly. “Yes, there are three. There are only three. They are young, but they are all Sunset has.”

The man nodded. “Give them the totems and send them to the Common World, to Samuel Gatesman-“ he paused as Damian’s expression once again turned confused.

“Totems?” asked Damian.

“You don’t have the totems?” There was desperation in the man’s voice. Damian shook his head.

“Every Eagle is given a totem when they are raised. It is passed down from the first Eagles. Without one, an Eagle cannot travel, and he is grounded.” Beside him, his father reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, runed stone pyramid with a worn leather cord strung through it. He handed it to his son who in turn handed it to Damian for inspection.  “The totems needed to get to the Common World are all the same, while totems used to travel to other Uncommon Worlds are all unique to the individual Eagle. You must find these totems, Master Damian, for without them, the Eagles of Sunset will not fly.”

Damian nodded and handed the old man’s totem back. He listened as the man instructed him on how to use the totem, stressing exact words to use when instructing the new Eagles. The old man watched the lesson through narrowed eyes. Behind them, the grandson appeared through the doorway.

“Grandfather, it is time to be going.” The old man nodded and allowed himself to be wheeled outside. They passed through the empty city in silence, the sounds of the old man’s wheels against the pebble pathways echoing off the wooden buildings nearby. Finally they stood beneath the portal stone. The old man nodded in reassurance as his grandson rolled him under the arch, the two of them disappearing in an instant. The old man’s son remained behind. “When you are ready, send a message. The Eagles of Sunrise and Sunset will fly together once again.” He grasped Damian’s hand in a firm handshake and disappeared under the arch.

Damian sighed. The weight upon his shoulders didn’t feel any lighter, but his limbs surged with the strength of purpose and hope. Walking quickly, Damian made his way back to his darkened house and returned to the graveyard, a shovel and pickax firmly in his grasp.

This one turned into something surprisingly fun…

Posted on

The last thing I need is another project, but sometimes an idea pops into my head that just won’t go away. Rarely do these ideas turn into something I like as much as this one below. It’s just a random beginning, and maybe I’ll do something with it, but for now, hopefully I can focus on something else for a while.

***

The sun never sets in Sunrise, nor does it rise in Sunset. The towns are neighbors in a hidden world, and yet they lay a land apart. In one, the sun rests peacefully atop a hilled horizon. Its light is bright and unhindered, its rays bringing the scent of dew and soil, fresh baked bread and frying meat, of new beginnings and happy endings. In Sunrise, it is as if all things were possible, and the people who call it home know only the fruits of their labor, whether hard or easy. They smile upon waking, and again when they lay their head upon feather-filled pillows before sleep takes them away. They bask in their peaceful existence in the soft rays of a sun frozen in the act of ringing in a new day.

Its neighbor is not so fortunate. In Sunset, the great ball of light lowered itself behind jagged peaks and stopped. Not one of the few inhabitants of the town knows when this happened, but theories abound. They live their lives by candlelight, as the sun is only high enough to cast a red glow across half of the sky. Only the brightest of stars peers down upon the tired population, twinkling tirelessly above a people who have never known anything other than a life of tiresome work and little reward. The landscape has gone barren, refusing to produce even scant fodder for the few pigs that manage to survive the harsh life. The people here are downtrodden and tired, pausing to face the dusky glow behind the mountains only to shake their fists in contempt.

The two cities have one thing in common, however, and that is Magic. The blood that runs through Sunrise is strong with White Magic, and the inhabitants use their powers to improve their lives even more. White Magic is of the light, while the talents of Sunset traverse down a darker path. Black Magic was once a talent of the majority of residents, but as their numbers have dwindled, so has the number of those able to wield it.

One of those few was an elder by the name of Damian. His beard was scraggly, and his once pristine black trousers and button-down shirt were now worn thin and gray. His shoulders slumped forward as if the weight of the world rested upon them. And in a way, it did. Damian knew the stories his forefathers had passed down, stories about the Magic that pumped through their veins, about its strengths and weaknesses, and about White Magic. He knew Sunset had once thrived in the darkness, and he believed it could again. Black Magic built Sunset, that much was clear, but Damian believed that played a part in the town’s decline. A very big part.

And what better way to combat Black Magic than with White?

His father once told him about Sunrise. He described the color of the sky above and the soft crunch of tall grass underfoot. He described the homes inside and out, and the people who lived in them. The Risers were tanned from the sun, their hair was fair, their eyes either blue or gray, but never dark like the Setters. They laughed often and spoke only of what was to come, preferring to leave the past where it belonged. Damian’s father knew these things not from his ancestors, though. His father was the last of Sunset’s Eagles, a trio of talented inhabitants who acted as ambassadors to Sunrise, and to the world beyond. There were always three, and only those strong in the Magic were selected for the honored position.

His father never told him why they failed to select more Eagles. He refused to talk of the work that the group did with the Eagles from Sunrise, only that it was always as a team, and only out of necessity. When he died, he took many secrets with him, leaving Damian alone and seemingly in charge. As a young boy, he didn’t want to lead his small herd of pigs to the stream; as a man, he became the reluctant shepherd of Sunset. The people looked to him for guidance, but he had none. They looked to him for aid as their children kept dying in infancy, but he had nothing more than sympathy to give. His town was dying, and he was powerless to stop it. So he turned to the only place that might be able to.

When he was a very young boy, Damian watched his father communicate with an Eagle from Sunrise. Using simple crumpled paper and a stick dipped in ink, he wrote a quick note and set it aside for a moment to let the ink dry. Damian couldn’t read then, and the message on the paper was never made known to him. His father folded the paper into an intricate sunburst and threw it into fireplace, the flames snatching the paper and turning in to ash in seconds. His father stood before the fire and stared silently into the flames. After a few moments passed, a small triangle shaped note flew out of the flames and straight into his father’s waiting hand. He unfolded the paper and read the note quickly. Nodding to himself, he ripped the paper in half and tossed it back into the flames. After he was certain no trace remained, he called a meeting with the other two Eagles, and after a lengthy talk held behind closed doors, the ambassadors never traveled to Sunrise again.

Damian replayed this memory often lately. The act of sending the message was simple and required very little digging through his memories. It was the shape of the note that had him stumped. He had sat at the only table in his tiny house and folded every piece of paper he could find in every possible shape he could imagine. He was surrounded by small piles of oddly shaped folded paper, the highest reaching almost as high as his waist, and yet none of them were the right shape. He spent months folding, creasing, cursing. Months watching the stream go dry, more townsfolk dying. So much time spent, time he didn’t have. But he finally figured it out.

It sat flat on the wooden table in a space cleared of his past attempts. Damian stared at it in disbelief. He had all but given up, only sitting down a moment before because he found this paper stuffed in the back of his kitchen cabinet and decided to give it one more chance. The chair groaned as he sat back and exhaled; he hadn’t realized he had held his breath as he folded the paper. Closing his eyes, he recalled the memory one last time just to be sure, but he already knew. For the first time in ages, Damian smiled.

The kitchen was small enough that all Damian had to do was scoot his chair over about a foot and he would easily stoke the small fire he had lit earlier. The chair legs were loud as they moved over the uneven floor, but its occupant paid the noise little attention. Grabbing the fire poker, he poked at the logs for a moment before finally getting up to throw two more on the fire. Wood was scarce in Sunset, but this fire was worth a whole cord of firewood. Damian sat back down and gently unfolded the sunburst. He grabbed the pencil resting atop his ear and stared at the blank paper in thought. Slowly, he lowered tip to paper and began scribbling. His message was short, and he replaced the pencil over his ear and began to fold the paper back into the required shape.

Damian watched the fire as it spread eagerly to the new logs. The flames grew, spewing heat back into the room and warming his toes through his boots. The heat was a welcome bonus to his actions, and for a moment he thought that even if he received no reply, it was well worth the effort. He took a deep breath and let it back out. Grabbing the sunburst off the table, he tossed it into the flames and watched the flames consume his very last hope.