On New Lands
The sisters looked out onto the sparkling ocean and saw hope on the horizon. One was completely ordinary, one was not, and they both new it. The water drifted past the large ship unwillingly, spraying up into the air. It misted on the girls’ faces. Something felt new and right but something also felt wrong.
I was a stranger in a very strange land.
My sister's face was the only thing my mind recognized as I frantically scanned the tight crowd. We stood nervously on a cramped dock located 4,000 miles away from my old home, Kainga. After traveling months on a weathered boat, I traded a horrible place for a bizarre new one. My old home, or what was left of it, was full of cruel war and unwavering sickness. We are simply immigrants.
“Jasmine,” my sister coughed, “Calm down. You look guilty.” I turned my head to meet her eyes, bright and healthy, a lie. I altered her glamour ever so slightly for a realistic finish, covering with my magic any trace of leftover sickness. Then, I moved my eyes to the inspection rooms only a few feet infront of us. A row of white doors lined a brick wall covering a building at the edge of the dock. It was warm out but the surplus of people made it stuffy and uncomfortable.
“Hide your cough, Drew, unless you want to get caught”, I mumbled with a hint of fear on my tongue. I searched for her hand and gently squeezed it. Releasing a breath, I spoke again, “We will be okay. Everything will be okay.”
My gaze returned to the faces around me as panic filled me once again. Makutu, my mind whispered, witch. I rarely used my power in fear of getting caught and it seemed to be taking a tole on my mind. I felt tired and dizzy. I can do this, I repeated to myself, over and over as I stepped forward and into the open inspection booth.
“Hello ladies. My name is Doctor Frean. I will be performing a quick customary inspection on both of you”, a man in white coat started with a kind smile plastered his face. An officer in a dark green uniform stood behind him. He wore a mask of uninterest. I scanned the white room around me while Doctor Frean looked at his clipboard. “Drew and Jasmine Azulic, from Zetam, Kainga?” he asked.
“Yes, sir. That’s us sir”, I exclaimed quickly and quietly. He smiled and nodded his head in response. My eyes widened as Doctor Frean grabbed a pair of peculiar yellow glasses.
“Don’t be afraid. These are for detecting glamours” he promised calmly noticing my curiosity.
I think my heart stopped.
The doctor continued his explanation as he unfolded the delicate glasses, “Some Kana, also known as witches or fairies, can cast illusions where something appears to you and I in a different form than it originally is. It is our utmost priority to make sure everyone is in perfect condition, therefor checking for glamours is a necessary step.” He looked us both in the eye as he pulled the glasses towards his own.
His breath hitched.
No one moved as his hand cautiously traveled down to a gun at his belt. I then wrapped my arm with less caution over my sister as my glamour dropped. “We mean no harm. Only a safe place”, I pleaded in a quiet voice sending goosebumps down my arms. My sister’s face became a yellowish pale and dark circles bloomed under her eyes. Her lips turn a ghostly dry white. She looked like a skeleton. The man in the dark green uniform left the room so fast I couldn’t register what was happening. All I could think of was my sister’s frail body.
I have been casting a glamour on her since the day we left our old home but she was nowhere near this sick before. She didn't act sick, I told myself, why didn’t she tell me it had gotten this bad. I looked at her with concern and confusion while she looked at me with fear and endless apologizes. Apologizes for not telling me and being a burden. She also looked at me as if she was saying goodbye. The doctor's words snapped me out of my worryful thoughts. It suddenly dawned on me what was happening.
“You must understand there will be consequences”, Doctor Frean barked, not with fear but concentration. He was concentrating on not running away and so was I. We needed to get out of there. My sister went still behind my arm as we heard a shout in the distance.
A moment later three men in green uniforms, including the stone faced one from earlier entered the small white room not bothering to close the door behind them. There wasn’t enough time for me to plead our innocence before they knocked me out.
I awoke in a damp cell with a man standing over me. Immediately taking in my surroundings, I noticed the the iron gate at the front of the small space and the sheer height of the young man before me. He wore a casual grey uniform with flames embroidered on the pocket and three stars on his left shoulder. The handsome man smelled of lemon grass and his hair was a deep brown brushed carelessly from his face. He stood three paces from me with what I could have sworn was curiosity laced with worry. Fear enveloped me in a harsh embrace.
I rose from the ground noticing the pain at the back of my head and took a step backward. His eyes watched me while he pocketed his hands. I cautiously reached behind my head and touched the sensitive spot underneath my brown hair.
I hissed at the contact.
In response to my outward reaction the man commented in a dark voice, “Hard fall?”
I snarled at him and replied, “Where am I? Where is my sister? And who the hell are you”, taking a step forward this time. I squared my shoulders in attempt at regaining power.
“Okay, okay. No need for the tough guy act. My name is Adam. You are located in a prison, little ways away from the dock you caused such a commotion at.” I started to speak again but he cut me off, “Your sister, on the other hand, has been quarantined for her illness that could have damned us all to hell if you got your way.”
No. This can’t be happening.
I glared at him. “Bring me to my sister, right now” I snarled with quiet fury, lifting my chin.
“Now that, I cannot do. You do know what quarantine means, yes?”, Adam answered as a grin appeared on his face. That c***y, arrogant, buffoon, I thought. “Before you have a fit, please be quiet and listen. Your sister, Drew...” he sighed with a hint of question as he mentioned her name. He continued at the nod of my head and full attention, “... needs medical attention immediately. The sickness she carries is deadly and could wipe out our entire nation.” His demeanor changed as he continued, “The treatments are very costly but if not done she will be deported back to Kainga and most likely die. You will stay and rot in this prison for the crimes you’ve committed.”
My brows knit together as I spoke full of shame, “We... we have no money. We spent all of it to get out of that hell hole. Our parents, relatives... they’re dead. We have nothing”. I have no idea why I was telling him all this. The words just seemed to spring from my mouth without my consent.
Adam’s face lifted as he confessed, “I know. I have a proposition for you”
“I am not going anywhere, and especially not with you,” I argued as my features moved between worry and anger. He didn’t look surprised. “I will not sell my body,” I warned.
Adam barked a laugh, “I don’t want your body, I want your power. I serve King Wiltern, the man who rules over this continent”. Adam looked at me with question, seeking confirmation that I knew who and what he was speaking of. He seemed to think I as an idiot. Adam struggled for the right words, “We need your special skill set.”
“Why?” I questioned simply while a hint of pink bloomed on my cheeks.
“You know why. There is a war going on and we need as many advantages we can get once it reaches our land. You obviously are not a documented Kana, managing to slip through recruitment somehow,” He retorted. Adam’s hand came from his pockets to hang at his sides. His stance was no longer casual. “So, tell me, what is your power,” He demanded.
My hands found each other as I dipped my chin and clenched my jaw. All that could be heard was the soft sounds of commotion on the streets above and Adams steady breathing. Adam read my body language and whispered with a hint of pity, “You don’t know”.
“I-I was never tested like the other kids. My parents knew what I was, what I am, but they also knew how people treated people like me” I admitted. I shifted my weight from one foot to the other careful not to step on my pale blue dress.
“People like us” Adam corrected.
“What?” I replied.
“People like us,” he repeated, “I am Kana too”. I stared at him. I had never met another Kana before today. Adam went on, “Listen, I know this isn’t what you expected but you will be cared for too. I can personally train you as your powers develop and-”.
“I agree to your terms. I will go with you and do whatever it is you want in exchange for my sister’s wellbeing” I interrupted. Adam looked slightly shocked, like he thought I would have put in more of a fight. Adam reached out his hand and I mirrored his actions. We shook hands as a green-uniformed guard unlocked the cell door.
Adam lead me to an enclosed carriage waiting outside. It had black velvet seats and a window on each side door. I was surprised, at first, to see a dark horse after so many years of being away from my family's ranch but the large creature seemed content as it snacked on an apple. I looked to my left as I noticed the driver’s outstretched hand waiting to escort me up the carriage. I firmly grasped the small man’s hand and clumsily stepped into the vehicle. Adam followed with much more grace.
“So, Adam, where exactly are you taking me”, I wondered, placing my petite hands in my lap. Outside was an ocean village with small buildings and bustling people. The sun shined brightly through my window and I could hear young girl giggled as she walked by our carriage. The day is still young even after all that had happened.
“Why, Jasmine, we are going to the most beautiful place on earth, Puawai.” I rolled my eyes and looked out into the town once more as the carriage began to move.
“What is your power, Adam. You told me you were Kana but you never said what your specialty was,” I questions without emotion. I turned to look him in the eye but he was already looking at me.
“I master fire. I can cast glamours like you because I can bend light to a certain extent as well,” he said with a tone suggesting I had many more questions but before I got the chance to ask he showed me something magnificent. His hand unfurled and flames ran from his knuckles all the way down to the tips of his fingers. I did not smell smoke, or see it for that matter. This is pure magic, I thought as Adam extinguished his flames. Swish. Out of the corner of my eye I saw his dark locks turn from curly and short to straight and shoulder length. His glamour was something I never knew a person could do. My jaw dropped ever so slightly. Catching myself I quickly shut it but Adam still noticed releasing a laugh. I huffed in annoyance and pressed him for more answers.
“Why are you so interested in me? There are Kana all over the continent, so what makes me so special? I haven't even mastered my power yet,” I demanded. He raised an eyebrow at my sudden forwardness.
“I- We are interested in you, Jasmine, because of the conversation you and I just had. I came to talk with you personally because I wanted to see if you were a spy. You see only highly trained Kana can cast glamours. But upon our conversation I learned that you don’t know your power and have minimal experience with magic. With this information we can come to the conclusion that you are extremely powerful,” he explained.
“How do you know I wasn’t lying?” I blurted still trying to process this information.
“Oh that. I can also make people tell the truth,” Adam confessed absent mindedly. He failed to mention he could force people against their will to speak the truth, I angrily thought. That is why I was telling him so much more than what I wanted to. I glared at him.
“Sorry?” he angled confused as to why I was upset. I rolled my eyes again and returned to look out the window.
Adam was right.
Puawai was the most beautiful place in in the world. The palace was nothing like I had ever seen before. It was placed on a hill with greenery so vast and extraordinary my eyes could barely register. Small trees peppered the hill with pale pink flowers and pastel green leaves. Their light barked branches twisted in a graceful and simple way. I could smell their sweet scent as we crossed the bridge at the the base of the hillside. The bridge laid over a bubbling creek you could hear as we rode over. There were a few gardeners amongst the scenery and I found it quite odd that they all had no tools with them.
I looked over to Adam to see if he was as astonished as I was but all I found was his face smirking at me in amusement. I huffed in annoyance and returned my attention to the brilliant scenery letting the wind blow through my hair.
A man and a woman waited at the mammoth castle door that was placed behind gated walls. Both, to my surprise, bowed to us once we exited the carriage. The man then scurried over to Adam and whispered urgently into his ear. Adam looked to me after the man finished his rushed words, “My presence is needed elsewhere. And although I was just dying to show you the rest of this place, you need a bath”.
I looked down at my clothes as heat rose to my face. I was filthy. With the combination of being on a boat for many weeks and thrown in a musty cell that has probably had bodily fluids covering the floor, I was a mess. I gave Adam a vulgar gesture.
Adam chuckled to himself and stated, “Marta here, will take care of you”. He directed his arm towards Marta whom giggled slightly as well and started walking back into the palace. I glared at Adam and followed Marta.
The castle was full of people; royals, servants, cooks, guests. They were all bustling about in the grand hallways. She lead me to a room fit for a queen. The walls where a light blue with windows lining each side. A door on the right side of the room lead to what I believe was a bathroom because Marta headed straight for it. Her voice was young and full of questions, ”I drew a hot bath for you. Towels are in the bottom cabinet under the sink.”
“I don’t think we have been properly introduced. My name is Jasmine Azulic,” I offered. The girl bowed again repeating her name to me. “Where are you from if you don’t mind me asking?” I prompted trying to kill the awkwardness of the situation.
“Oh, not at all Miss Azulic. I am from right here,” Marta said, “I have lived her practically my whole life. And you?” I noticed how sweet and wise her voice was then. She looked young but her voice said otherwise.
I responded simply, not wanting to have to delve into my current situation, “I am from the other side of the sea.” Marta and I continued to small talk for a few minutes but then she asked of my family.
My heart sank at the thought of my poor sister.
I looked to my feet and told her, “I have one sister and she is younger than me by only a year. My parents died when my sister and I were only babies, so I don’t remember much about them. My aunt and uncle raised us on their ranch but they sent us here to escape the war.”
“I am so sorry, Miss. Enjoy your bath,” was all Marta stammered before she left. I nodded my head in thanks stepping into the small room closing the door behind me.
Finally alone, I took a big breath and sunk into the warm tub. My body whimpered in reaction. My eyes felt heavy and I slowly closed them, telling myself, only for a moment.
A loud knocking woke me from my intoxicating sleep. ¨What are you doing! You have been in there for nearly an hour,” Adam bellowed from outside my bathroom door. I sprung up with a shock sending the now cold water everywhere.
“Hold on,” I shouted in embarrassment. I heard him groan and stomp off like an upset toddler.
I rolled my eyes and grabbed a towel from the cabinet. The towel, of course, was ridiculously soft. I looked to my filthy clothes on the ground. Nope, I thought, I will not put those back on. I searched the luxurious bathroom for something other than my towel. My gaze landed on a neatly folded pair of brownish grey pants and a v-neck top. I assumed Marta left them for me. I quickly put on the outfit stopping only for a moment to brush my hair and glance in the mirror.
“Okay, I am ready. What is so urgent?” I sighed, opening the white door. Adam was sitting casually on the bed, running his hand through his dark hair. He was wearing the same uniform as before except slightly less wrinkled.
“You are to meet the king,” he moved, getting up quickly. Adam hurried over to the door expecting me to follow.
“Wait,” I exclaimed, “Why?”
He turned to face me, squaring his shoulders, “Just come on, I’ll explain on the way.” The halls of the castles were stunning. They were covered in paintings and divine colors. Adam slowed his pace to walk at my side. He whispered as we turned a corner, “This place is beautiful but be careful of what lies underneath.” I was going to ask him what that meant but he continued talking, “There are six elements but you can only master one; Air, fire, plant, water, earth and animals. Each element also has a rare amplifier. These amplifiers tell us which power we were born to master. There are also subcategories. For example, with fire one could master basic fire, light, and lighting. There is even more for water; basic water, healing, phase changing and bloodbending.” I looked at him with slight confusion; I thought bloodbending was only in fairytales. He went on, “Bloodbending is when a water master can make a person move with their mind because of the water content in the human body.”
I nodded my head. “Does that mean purebloods are real too?” I questioned.
“Well of course. I am a pureblood. I can master all of my elements ‘subcategories’,” Adam kept walking with his back straight and smiling at the passing royals. We were walking towards a big oak door, the throne room.
The two guards open throne room door. It was exquisite There were pillars lining the walls covered in vines with the same pale pink flowers from earlier. At the back of the grand room two thrones stood upon a raised platform. One for a king and one for a queen. I know so little of these people, I thought. I knew not of how they ran or what their customs were. Adam told me nothing of the war and their involvement. I felt completely ignorant and oblivious in that moment.
My feet kept moving to meet with the base of the platform. Adam walked much more at ease as if he lived in this room. He moved up to the platform to who I could only assume was King Wiltern. The throne beside the king was vacant and slightly taller. Where is the Queen, I thought.
I bowed shallowly.
Do not yield, I thought, in these unfortunate times. I will stand up tall and be strong. Before raising up from my bow completely, I locked eyes with the mysterious king. First, he addressed me as if he was pondering something of great value, “Jasmine Azulic.” Adams dark eyes flashed. The King’s deep voice traveled melodically, “Adam has told me why you are here on our continent, who you came with, where you have come from, what you are and what you’re not but he has not told be who you are. So, Miss Azulic, let us see.”
Six men and women came from behind the columns lining the room. Each one wore the same grey uniform as Adam. Small boxes appeared in the hands of the six people. I could hear a quiet whisper emit from each box, makatu. The whisper was sweet and cunning. Everything in me told me to run.
I looked to Adam for reassurance and he nodded his head with a concerned expression marking his features. The six of them lined up in front of me as the King continued, “The testing will not last long and you will know when it’s done, trust me. The element will call to you. It will not hurt and be over within moments. Anyways, let the testing begin”. I had so many questions bouncing around in my mind but they all vanished as the woman to the far left took a step forward.
She had long, ice blond hair with loose curls and embroidered on her breast pocket was a gust of wind. The blond woman opened the small wooden box and cloud of glistening mist rose from the container. It circled up and around the woman’s head and down her arms. It slithered down her fingers and back into the box.
The lid closed abruptly.
The lady bowed to me and stepped back in line, silently dismissing herself. Well that was underwhelming, I concluded, I guess I am not a master of air. The next in line was a man with fire embroidered on his pocket like Adam. He had cropped dark hair and a broad figure. The man stepped forward and opened his box. It wasn’t a surprise when fire snaked out in a similar fashion to the visible wind. The fire seemed to real from me like I was water about to splash on it, quickly going back into its home. However, before it slithered back, I glimpsed a small black stone laying in the bottom that resembled charcoal. Adam looked slightly disappointed as the box snapped shut.
A woman with pale skin and dark red hair stepped forward next. She looked wise and compassionate wearing a uniform with an embroidered tree on her breast pocket. She opened the box but nothing came out on its own. The pale woman then picked up a seed from the box and blew a soft stream of air onto it. A vine coiled its way from the seed and toward me. It created a spiral around me and blossomed leaves of all colors but as soon as they bloomed they became moldy and limp. The vine sucked back into its seed quickly, as if it was hurt and offended. The woman's face matched the vines reaction.
Adam rolled his eyes.
The next box was being held by another woman but her hair was waist-length brown and she had deep blue eyes. Her complexion was dark and complemented her eyes making her the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. The elegant woman had a wave embroidered with blue silk that matched her eyes on her pocket. When she stepped up the whispers I was hearing grew stronger and more addictively evil. The box opened itself and an orb of water rose from the it. My eyes fluttered and the orb turned to ice. I think my chest cracked open when all my attention went to the magnificent orb. I heard a distant cry, awakening me from my blissful daze. The orb had transformed into small spears and sliced miniscule cuts along everyone's hands but Adam’s and mine.
I felt guilty, all of a sudden, as if it was my fault and it was. I easily turned the ice back to water and covered everyone's hands, instantly healing them with some sort of magic. The box snapped shut but the water hadn’t returned to its original resting place.
The King practically jumped from his extravagant seat. “She is a pureblood,” he roared. Adam looked between excitement and power. I, on the other hand, felt so much emotion I was ready to faint. My power was overwhelming and so powerful. I could almost feel my mind expanding with every second. My skin looked as if it was glowing and small beads of sweat covered me. “Seize her immediately,” he bellowed to his uniformed guards. Seven men approached me forcefully but they abruptly halted as Adam commanded them to do so. “Father, it is not your place to make orders anymore,” Adam growled as he took his seat in the throne beside his father.
“Adam Wiltern,” I announced to myself. My voice was raw and tired as the words escaped. There was no queen, only a father and his son, Adam. But the father was not the king. My mind was moving too fast.
Adam was the King.
“I apologize for my father's behavior. The coronation was last Sunday, Jasmine, and he seems to have forgotten. I am King Adam Wiltern. Apologies for not telling you sooner. The coronation happened in secret and I had to know who you were before our secret slipped out but, in all sincerity, I never lied to you,” Adam disclosed with a cunning smile. He then turned his attention to the guard closest to me, “Prepare a ship. We sail at night fall.”
Adam continued his explanation as he motioned to someone behind me, “The war has come to our shores and we must join if we plan to make it out alive. Disease and pain are spreading and you are the key in. You will come to war with me, Jasmine Azulic, and you will win me glory. Together we will wipe out the entire nation you once called home and expand our empire. Join me,” he said with an outstretched hand.
I stumbled a step back. “No,” I shook my head. “No. I won’t. I don’t know how. I- I won’t hurt anyone” I said, slurring my words together. Adam pulled back his hand and started walking towards me. “I want to leave. Bring me to my sister.”
This is too much, I thought, I can’t handle this. I need my sister.
“Oh Jasmine. You don’t have a choice,” Adam tutted with pity and arrogance, “I am sorry to do this but the world needs to change.” He motioned again to someone behind me and that is when I saw her.
My sister appeared beside me with a blade to her throat.
My hands moved. I reached out in attempt to bloodbend. The soldier dropped to his knees while his face twisted in agony. I stopped then. It was wrong. It was all wrong. I heard Adam laugh as I reached for my sister. She looked horrible. She was just as frail as she was the last time I saw her but now bruises marked her wrists.
I felt the room go still as I turned the water in the air to ice in an angry panic but a flame wrapped around my body. The flame had no smell or smoke but it burned all of me, until my mind was nothing, until they loaded me on a boat and sent me back home. I was a toy. I was a weapon. I was going to burn them all.
The sisters stood at the railing of a ship crossing the ocean once again. The frail girl looked to the empty one in worry and pain. The empty girl remained looking out to the horizon, seeking the hope that once lied there. The hope was no longer there, revenge and possibility replaced it.