The Lost Magic

November 28, 2012
The rain fell in sheets, drenching me as I slowly trudged up the hill to the well. At least the crops will get some water, I thought. It hadn’t rained for years, and the adults were talking about it being the longest drought since the drought 100 years ago, in 796. In Angelia, the name for the vast expanse of land that dominated the small planet, dragons controlled the weather. The crops were getting so dry we had to start watering them from the well, and even that was drying up.
There was talk about the dragons being extinct, but that couldn’t be possible, could it? Last month, a hiker came to rent a room at the inn and spent most of his stay in the tavern, drowning ale like nobody’s business and loudly boasting about his endeavor to find the dragons and ask them to end the drought. He claimed to have climbed the 20,000 summit to reach the dragons’ nesting grounds. That was when everyone started to disregard his story. To climb 20,000 leagues into the sky was impossible, unless you had a lost magic.
Everyone in Angelia has a magic; some are rare and some aren’t. The magic can range in level from being able to light a candle with your mind to being able to fight with and consume fire, and that’s only for the fire element. There are four elements: water, earth, fire, and air. A person’s magic ability is hereditary. If your family has strong magic, then you will too. However, most people only have small magics. All I can do is lift small objects with my mind which is an air element magic. The Angel family has possessed the strongest magic since the kingdom was founded. Legend has it that long ago, before time was recorded; Angel Gray had the first magic. He founded the kingdom of Angelia and gave each new citizen a small piece of his magic. Since then, his family has always ruled Angelia, with the current ruler being Angel Erza, the first woman Angel to rule. The Angel family members all have Lost Magics. Lost Magics are magics said to have been banned so long ago by ancient peoples that they have been forgotten. It is also supposed that they come from a fifth element: Universe. So there is absolutely no way that this mysterious wanderer could have had a Lost Magic.
The people with strong magics are the nobles. They believe that they are above most people in magic level, and therefore believe their titles are important. Their titles are their surnames, so they always have those put first rather than their given names like everyone else in the country. One even said, “Without our title, who are we?” Everyone else in the country thinks they are idiots, but they can’t and won’t say so to their faces for the fear of death. There is only one way you can become a noble without a strong magic. You must complete a deed of great service to your country; only then may one receive the title and surname of Baron. Along with this you receive vast lands and an estate. This must’ve been what the wanderer was after.
Snapped out of my reverie, I jerk my head around to see who is calling my name. I heard the call again and recognized my brother Somiss’s voice; this time he was calling me back to the house, his voice distorted by the fog. Wait, when did it get so foggy? I thought, It was pouring rain a second ago. Trepidation slowly snuck up on me, seeping through my pores and stealing my breath. Get it together Juvia, I told myself, you probably just wandered into the swamp by mistake while you were thinking. This would have calmed me down if I could have seen the cypress trees, the cypress trees that are supposed to be able to be spotted all over the Great Swamp.
I jump at a sound behind me. I have to get out of here. My mind raced as I slowly rotated around, desperately searching for a way out of this mess.
“Juvia!!!” Somiss’s voice sounded even farther away, if it really was him. I knew the stories. Everyone knew them. They were the reason kids were warned at an early age to stay out of the Great Marsh. Legends tell the story of a girl hero, my namesake, Juvia. The story goes that one day, before Angelia was formed, in the first rain after a long drought, Juvia got lost in the Great Swamp. The fog was deep and she could barely see past her own hands. She couldn’t see any cypress trees, and her house, not far away, had disappeared into the fog. From far away, she could hear her brother calling her name. She walked toward the voice and stumbled upon a majestic cypress tree, the only one she could see. Cautiously reaching out, she hesitated to touch the trunk that was four times the size of the trunk of any cypress tree she’d ever seen before.
The second her fingers made contact, the tree shuddered and Juvia noticed something strange. Her fingers were being sucked into the tree! As soon as one of her hands was fully enclosed, roots rose from the ground to imprison the rest of her body. The tree’s shudders turned to rumbles that Juvia soon made out as words.
“Who dares disturb my slumber!?” The tree intoned in a deep, earthy voice.
“’Tis only I, a lowly peasant, who is lost and looking for a way out of this swamp,” Juvia humbly replied.
“I am the Great Cypress and this is the Lost Swamp. How did you get here? You are only a human.” The Cypress went on, “Nobody can leave this swamp once they enter. However, you seem to have a special magic within you, a pure magic. I will consider letting you leave, but if you wish for a passage out, you must pay me a certain tithe. Once you leave, you may never return. I see the good you can do for this land, and you are lucky I can because if you were not who you were, I would use you to satiate my hunger.”
Shuddering, Juvia imagined being eaten by a tree. She knew she had to get out of there before the Cypress changed its mind about her having some kind of magic. Juvia was a rather intelligent young woman and she knew that just getting her out may require something she could not give, maybe even a member of her family. “What is this tithe?” Juvia asked.
“State your wish and I will state your dues.” The Cypress was said to have laughed at this point, imagining Juvia’s idiocy.
“I would like to be freed from this swamp with my life, and never have any of my descendants be harmed in this place. Also, I would like to have this so-called magic inside of me and my descendants awakened, so my descendants and I can help the people of this land prosper.”
“Three wishes mean three tithes. In return, I ask for 2 years of your time for my first two wishes and permission to eat anyone who is not your descendant who crosses my path. Your magic will be awakened now and your descendants will receive their magic on their 16th birthday. And once our agreement is sealed, the way out will be revealed to you.” Juvia tried in vain to find a catch in what the Cypress said, so she had no choice but to agree to his proposal. However, she wondered what good thing the tree was getting out of this. It seemed like he could already eat anybody who came into the swamp and why would he ask for two years of her time? After thinking his proposal through, Juvia said the words that would seal the pact, and unknowingly ruin her life. The Cypress loved tricks more than eating people.
“I seal this agreement with my word and my blood and if I betray let my life turn to mud.” The tree repeated the ancient words of agreement, agreeing that either one of them would die if they betrayed the other. Juvia was released and made her way home, only to find that two years had passed while she was gone; her family had died from a disease while she was absent. Grief-stricken, she struck out for the city to forge a new life, and used her magic to help people. Nobody knows what her magic was, but people assume it was a Lost Magic from the element Universe.
Without realizing it, I realized that I was now standing in front of the largest cypress tree that I have ever seen. Oh no, I thought, this is really, really bad. The Cypress from the story said it would only help Juvia’s descendants, and I know for a fact that there is absolutely no way I was related to her. Actually, she was Angel Gray’s mother, according to legend at least.
Once again, while I was thinking, my body was moving. Now my hand had touched the tree. You really need to start paying attention to what you do Juvia. Your family has been saying that over and over since you were a kid. Focus! Looking down at my body, which was now enveloped in roots and branches, I waited for the rumbling voice.
“Who dares disturb my slumber?!” The Great Cypress was talking now.
“’Tis only I, a lowly peasant, who is lost and looking for a way out of this swamp,” I decided to go what with Juvia said so long ago as my response.
“There was another who said that a short while ago.” The Cypress sounded nostalgic, but I focused on its words more.
“Um, Great Cypress, that was centuries ago.” I hoped that my response wouldn’t be taken offensively because I know am walking on thin ice.
“Time passes differently for me than for you puny humans. Those two years that I took from her have sustained me since that event, which is only two days ago for me. Her two years became transferred into two years of my time so I have been able to live for a long time compared to you humans.” The Cypress spat out that last word in disgust, like someone who can’t believe they are explaining such a concept to a bug. “Anyway, you’ll make a good snack little girl.”
“How do you know I’m not a descendant of Juvia—I mean, the peasant before me? We have the same name after all.” Maybe bluffing would stop the Cypress.
“Hmm... Juvia’s her name?” The Great Cypress seemed genuinely curious.
“Yes, and it’s my name too. I was named after her. Anyway don’t you think you should check whether or not I am related to her? How do you do that anyway?” I had to stall the Cypress long enough for me to figure a way out of here.
“Yes, yes, maybe I should check.” A low hum emitted from the Cypress as it ignored my last question. The hum grew exponentially from the volume of a few buzzing bees to what must be the volume of a dragon’s roar within the span of a few seconds. My ears popped, and the area shook with the noise. The only thing not affected was the Cypress, which stood tenacious and unwavering throughout the chaos.
“Oh,” the hum came to an abrupt stop, “could it be? You are a direct descendant of Juvia. I can sense it in your blood and in your magic. I think you may even be more powerful than her.” This bold declaration spun me for a loop. I did a double take just as I completed my plan. That couldn’t be right, could it?
“W-what did you say?” I sputtered in confusion.
“You humans really are dull. I said you are a very strong, direct descendant of the Juvia from before. Therefore, I must let you go. You may leave,” the tree said offhandedly. The Cypress let me go, and the way out appeared before my eyes. I ran for home.
“Father! I demand that you tell me what is going on here! Who is my mother?” My father had always said that our mother left soon after I was born when Somiss was too young to remember her. When we begged him for more details, he remained tight-lipped about it.
“What do you mean?” My father seemed truly confused. I described my story to him breathlessly.
“I knew you would figure out someday, I just hoped it wouldn’t be so soon. Okay, the first thing you need to know is that you and Somiss aren’t siblings, just half-siblings. His mother is that woman I’ve always told you about, who left after your mother dropped you off here as a baby. Your mother is Angel Erza. Before you say anything,” my dad interrupted me as I was about to speak, “let me finish. I used to work for the Angel Guard who, as you know, guard the Angels. One day I met Angel Erza in person for the first time. I was being recognized for outstanding service to the Angel family. Erza was breathtaking, and I made a small gasp when I first saw her. She’s around my age you know, but she doesn’t look like it. Anyway, she winked at me, and my heart literally flipped. After the formalities she told me to meet her outside her suite in the palace at midnight. I was a young, malleable lad, so I went. Eventually, I came back to my wife at the time, Somiss’s mother, and baby Somiss in this house. I didn’t even know you would be born until she dropped you off here.” My jaw drops. I close it and try to process my dad’s words. Slowly but surely, I reach a decision. I take my old bag that I normally reserve for market days out of its nook. Methodically and distractedly I fill it with preserved food, 3 changes of clothes, my water gourd, and a blanket. My birthday is in 3 days. My full powers should come in by then but I still have a long walk ahead of me until that time.
“Where are you going?” My dad seemed worried. It’s too bad I can’t stay, but I have to do this.
“I am going to find my mother.”

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