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I was never really one to take many chances in my mundane life. Yet, in moments like these, I threw my reservations to the wind.
A gentle breeze blew about the small village of Kern, quivering trees outside my mother’s seamstress shop. My fingers worked aimlessly to sew a deep velvet dress of the prettiest adornments, while my eyes were averted to the world outside. A tall figure hung quietly in the distance, looking in my direction with eyes of the most crystalline blue. Then, without warning, the figure simply disappeared. Confused, I continued sewing with my eyes on my work, but my mind off in the distance with the mysterious stranger.
“Hello?” A boy’s voice as smooth as the velvet in my hands rang through the store. “Who may I ask owns this shop?”
I stood from my hard wooden bench and walked over to him. I gasped upon seeing the same pair of piercing blue eyes, not accompanied with pale skin, long and uneven dark hair, and prominent facial features.
“Umm… my mother does, but she is currently running errands,” I said softly. “I am Lea Rai. And you are…?”
“Adam Slade.: He crooned, with his lips curling to form a playful smirk. “Are you always so open with strangers, Lea? It is not safe, especially considering I am very bad news.”
“Perhaps you are right.” I said with a slight chuckle. “It is 1789, and things are not as safe as they used to be.”
“Indeed you are correct.” I was just wondering if I could leave a jacket of mine at your… humble establishment. It has a tear in the seams, and I would hate to have to dispose of such a lovely jacket.”
“I will personally manage its care, Mr. Slade.”
Adam handed me a jacket of a soft cotton material. I ran it over my fingers, feeling the texture. I looked up, words forming on my lips to speak to Adam Slade. Yet, it was too late. Just like the wind, he was gone.
I worked hard at fixing the jacket, focusing on each seam and each piece of thread with unusual precision. I had a urge to impress Adam that grew with every time I pictured his face. I had finished the jacket rather quickly, and even mother was impressed. Yet, days passed by without word from the boy and I worried that he had no intent to return. The fourth day since Adam and I met was a slow day in the shop, and I found myself fumbling aimlessly with the jacket. If he was not going to pick up the coat, I planned on adding buttons and pockets to make it more attractive for selling.
As I ran the jacket through my small hands, a withered piece of paper fell from an inside breast pocket. I picked it up carefully by the frayed edges, running it through my dark fingers. It was folded, and I took great care in opening it to read.
‘BODY MANIFESTATION SPELL – CONTROL A BODY, DEAD OR ALIVE, BY USE OF THIS SIMPLE HEX.’
My mouth dropped slack, and my eyes seemed to widen. This boy was some type of demon for wishing to do something so evil. Perhaps he was insane, thinking he could hex people though it was clearly impossible. Perhaps he was not lying when he said he was bad news.
As if on cue, the shop door opened and Adam Slade stood in the doorway. His playfully bright eyes became stoic and dark as they laid upon the paper still intertwined with my fingers. His body stiffened, and his expression became as cold as the breeze he was letting it.
“Your job was to fix the jacket, not snoop through it!” He boomed angrily through the small room. “Who do you think you are?!”
“Excuse me, but it fell out!” I shouted back with equal force. “If you wanted to keep this thing a secret, you should have come to get your jacket days ago!”
Adam closed the door with a bang and slumped against the wooden pane.
“How much do you know?” He whispered gently now.
“Enough to recognize that you must be insane or a demon.” I murmured, throwing the paper to his dark boots.
“I am neither. I am a wizard.”
“That’s not possible.” I sighed.
Suddenly, everything in the room began to quiver. Things rose from their resting places, and I saw Adam raising his hands higher as they floated higher.
“Lea, I mean no harm to you. Please do not be afraid.” He said, resting everything down. “I never wanted this.”
I saw Adam’s eyes soften as his lips spoke, and sadness overtook his demeanor. My heart filled with such a pity as I led him to a chair in the corner of my workspace. Soon, he was talking again.
“My father was deranged. He was absolutely crazy, but only found faults in me. He said he could save my soul by placing with a group of people who would take care of me. But he only did it for himself, as I was too much a burden to his already ruined mind.
“The people he gave me to were a black magic cult called the Intimidators. Surely I was excited when I heard their name. The hex you found is one of the most evil. I tried to escape time and time again, as I have been for the past four days. But I have no home, no family. I could never tell anyone, because it is against their code. Breaking the code is instant death.”
“Why have you told me such information?” I whispered.
“I just broke the code. Because for some reason, I trust you. You fascinate me.”
“You fascinate me too. Stay here, in the extra room at the back of the shop. You can work here to pay, my mother won’t mind. My father doesn’t even come here, so he doesn’t have to know!”
“Everyday, I’ll be putting your life in danger.” He said, leaning in to me. “But I will repay you personally, by teaching you basic magic. Over my dead body will I let those monsters hurt you.”
Adam spent weeks living in the shop. He cleaned up while my mother and I ran the business. At nights, he locked up and stayed in the back room alone while mother and I returned to our cottage. I knew about the Intimidators lurking in the dark, and feared every night for him.
Adam taught me simple spells, like how to control water and make things levitate without touching them as he had. This latter spell came in handy on days at the shop where I didn’t feel like moving much. He informed me after a week of spending time together that he stole the body manifestation hex from the Intimidator’s main book to stop them from using it, as he’d seen it ruin many lives. His story made me sad, though he said my story of a dull life made him sad.
“ADAM!” I heard mother yell from outside one day. “You are too handsome for your own good! Girls are lining up outside to catch a glimpse of your smile, boy!”
“The prettiest girls in Kern are out there.” I mumbled, sewing ferociously and fighting my jealousy.
“Not possible. The prettiest one is right here.” He smirked, his crystal blue eyes meeting mine and holding my gaze.
“Excuse me you two!” Mother shouted. “But Lea, it’s time to go home.”
I expected to meet her back at the house after I helped Adam lock up. But it never happened. We heard a rattling by the back alley and I was Adam coming running like his face as white as pure silk.
“LEA!” I shouted through the eerily quiet store. “The Intimidators found me! They know I broke the code! They’ll kill us both, we have to go!”
Frantically, he tugged my arm and I followed, knowing I had no choice. I imagined my mother who was probably home now, sitting by the fireplace and waiting for me before starting to prepare supper. I was afraid I would never be the one to help her set the table, or give my father his kiss as he came home again. But I knew in my heart that I loved Adam, enough to know I had to follow him.
We ran into the woods, under the cover of tall trees and the distant moon. Adam held my hand tight, knowing I was scared. He began to sweat, breathing heavy and panicked.
“What, Adam?” I whispered.
“I hear voices, Lea. I think they might be here.” He cupped his hand under my chin and lifted my face so it was near to his. “Hide under that tree there. If I don’t return, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner that I’ve fallen in love with you.”
His plump lips, whose smirk I saw in my dreams, met mine. The fear subsided for just a moment, and all that enveloped my senses was him. Then he pulled away, his gaze full of uncertainty as it met mine.
“I love you too.” I mumbled weakly as he smiled slightly, indicating that he already knew.
Time seemed to tick by slowly as I sat miserably under the tall tree. Finally, I heard the cry. Hours had seemed to pass and an anguished scream pierced the quiet night. I knew it was Adam, and my heart ceased beating for a few moments. He called my name into the sky, and I knew at once that he was telling me to go on. Then the air was silent once again. They had killed him.
Before I knew what I was doing, I was running. I tried to keep my breathing and footsteps quiet, my hands vigorously pushing away branches and bushes that were in my way. I found a place to hide as a small stone cave appeared as I ran. I huddled up inside, believing I was far away from them and safe. Surely, they would assume that a silly girl like me would have ran home, not deeper into the forest.
“Lea, I told you I was bad news.” I heard a velvety, yet disembodied voice call.
“Adam! Oh, you’re alive!” I cried. “Are you hurt, my love?”
“Yes, won’t you come help me?”
I ran to his smooth voice, and found him standing upright. I tried to run into his arms, but realized quickly that it wasn’t truly him. His body looked limp, pale, and bloody. His crystalline blue eyes were empty, with no expression of love, sadness, or even pain. By the time I realized what was occurring, I knew I had already been fooled; The body manifestation hex.
I was shoved to the ground, being assaulted with no mercy. I tried to fight back, but I could not overpower the knives or the slew of magic that they wielded. They had won over me. I saw my life flash before my eyes, and soon the sight faded into darkness. A small light was still emanating and I tried to move toward it and away from the pain. I saw Adam’s pale figure standing in the brightness.
“Did I not tell you? Only over my dead body would I let them hurt you.” He cooed softly.
The light faded away, as did Adam and everything else.