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Author's note: This is a story that I first began writing in the sixth grade, and then scrapped. I picked it up again over the summer, but have been too busy to really continue it much. The title is tentative, and I plan to finish it at some point. The original idea has morphed into something much bigger and longer, but I hope that I am able to complete the story and turn it into the adventure that has played out so many times in my head.
Many years ago, when the land of Navonia had just been born, five witches and warlocks got together and created the Stone of Linx, the most potent force in the world. This Stone, when in the correct hands, would blaze extraordinary colors, which predicted the future. The Stone would also give its master wondrous powers of the five main skills: Fire, Mind, Earth, Air, and Water. When in the hands of a villain, the Stone would elicit magic too foul to speak of.
The Stone of Linx had been passed down and shared between the descendants of the five Creators, to safeguard it from misuse. But, peace could not be maintained forever, for, after hearing about the Stone’s powers, many outside rulers wanted the Stone in their own hands, and began breaching the borders of Navonia in attempts to steal the Stone. It was sometime during this warring period that the fifth generation descendants forged a fake Stone, giving the real Stone to a powerful Linx witch, descended from the teacher of the five original creators, allowing her to develop all five abilities at once. Using the five skills to their fullest power, the witch was considered extremely dangerous, vanquishing all enemies, and restoring the faith of the Navonian people, who afterwards crowned her as the first Navonian Queen. The Stone was then passed down among the eldest daughters of the royal line, who usually placed the Stone in the care of a trusted witch or warlock, and only consulted its powers when absolutely necessary.
Navonian Queens of Linx origin were not alone in inheriting a share of the Stone’s power. Descendants of the Stone’s five original creators often exhibited extraordinary talents within a particular skill, discovering their talents during stressful, tense, or difficult situations and becoming known as the Children of the Stone all across Navonia. The Queen would almost always keep these Children as her royal advisors after they manifested their powers, entrusting them with guarding the Stone and many royal secrets, only turning away those Children she deemed unfit to handle the Stone’s magic because of their own desire for power. It was soon discovered, however, that the extra powers of a Child of the Stone were not passed down to every member of a family, and tended to skip generations before appearing in a family line again. And since many family lines mixed together because of marriage, it quickly became impossible to predict who would become a Child of the Stone.
Many of the Navonian people spoke of a great darkness consuming the thirteenth Queen of Navonia. However, some elder citizens were well aware of the presence of a second prophecy. Upon the creation of the Stone, the Water and Fire warlocks each had had different visions of the Stone’s future, thus entwining both predictions into the Stone’s deep magic. The believers of each prophecy constantly clashed, with brief warring periods alternating with times of peace during Navonia’s history. None of their fights were ever large enough to become full-fledged civil wars, but there were a few dangerous battles during which lives were lost, causing many of Navonia’s citizens to take refuge in distant lands. Over time, the Water warlock’s prophecy fell into obscurity, with a majority of the population believing in the downfall of the thirteenth Queen- especially with times growing bleaker and the dark day fast approaching. Still, a hopeful handful of people believed in the power of the Water warlock, and refused to follow the precautions set by the rest of society. Not one of these heretics knew exactly what the original prophecy was, yet prayed it foretold a better future for Navonia. For on the surface of the stone was carved one word in the now-unspoken Old Speech: mera, meaning five.
Tammy Edgewater stared out her window, scanning the landscape and slowly taking in the amount of damage she had done to the practice glade. Embarrassment coursed through her, quickly being replaced by anger as one of the Fire Colony elders came into view.
“Who did this?” he bellowed. The younger children in field cowered behind older ones, and everyone glanced around them to see if anyone would step forward. No one did. Tammy subconsciously sunk further back into her room, only allowing her emerald green eyes to peer out over the windowsill.
“No one has any idea who practically destroyed our field?” the man sneered, towering over the dozen people practicing in the clearing. The braver few shook their heads, while the rest merely stared at the ground. Eyes ablaze, the elder surveyed the land, searching for some evidence of the culprit. Unable to find anything useful in the burnt foliage, he stepped into the center of the blackened ground and called the present Colony members to gather around him.
“Tonight there will be early curfew for all students. No one will use the practice field until the Earth warlocks repair it, and no one will use the field without adult supervision. Tell the rest of the Colony that there will be no bonfire tonight. The elders are meeting.”
The Colony members dispersed to spread the news, slamming the charred gate to the practice field behind them and almost sending it off its hinges. The elder groaned loudly in agitation and continued pacing back and forth in the center of the field. Tammy’s cheeks burned scarlet, and she slowly lowered her window shade, unable to watch the outside spectacle any longer. She would have to be more careful next time. Ionea had always told her to be more careful, but once Tammy began using her Fire skills, the only way to increase her power was to feel as angry as possible, a problem that plagued every Fire user. The Colony elders had quickly found a solution to the always-burnt practice field, employing Earth and Water wizards to come restore the area once a week, only calling them in otherwise when there was horrible destruction- such as today’s debacle. If Tammy’s actions were discovered, she could face dismissal from the colony- not only for ruining the glade, but also for not going straight to the elders after it happened.
Tammy sighed. If only she wasn’t always getting so upset. Then she wouldn’t have to climb out her window and onto the field at random hours during the day to go release her anger in the field. Even curfew couldn’t stop her, and Tammy would often find herself burning grass with small flames for amusement at three in the morning. Her actions had not gone unnoticed for long, and the elders had decided to allow Tammy to practice her magic unchecked, whenever she pleased. Tammy was well aware that this was only because her father had been a prominent candidate for the Council of Elders until his death, but did not question the Council’s leniency, easily accepting their condition of having to do cleanup duty after the nightly communal bonfires.
A soft vibrating from across the room disturbed Tammy’s deep thought. Tammy leapt up and picked up her message stone, pressing her hand onto the center of the smooth gray surface. It was a message from Ionea.
“Peter, Leah, Tammy, Darren, and Hailey,” the magic teacher’s clear, cheery voice stated. “Your group practices will now be held at four o’ clock instead of at three, beginning tomorrow. There has been a slight change in my schedule. See you tomorrow!” The message ended abruptly, leaving Tammy confused. Ionea never changed the practice times without giving them a good reason. And she always told them in person.
Suddenly, Tammy’s mother stormed into the house, obviously annoyed that she would have to cook tonight since there would be no communal bonfire. Lucinda Edgewater was a prophetess, only living in the Fire Colony in accordance with the Navonian law that a married couple from different Colonies would live in the Colony of whichever skill their child displayed. Being able to see the future was a great and rare gift, making the community of prophets very small and fragmented, but still powerful. Lucinda was no exception, often helping the Fire Colony prevent disaster and crime, and simultaneously keeping watch on Tammy. Fortunately for Tammy, Lucinda did not report her daughter’s more minor offenses to the Council of Elders’, preferring to punish Tammy at home with chores. Tammy was familiar with this exercise. She pulled her wavy, bright auburn hair back into a tight ponytail, rolled up the sleeves of her tunic top, and took off her brown leather boots, displaying more of her lightly tanned, muscular body. She then picked up a sponge and a bucket of water, and set to work scrubbing the dirty floor, quickly becoming absorbed in the monotony of cleaning and forgetting about Ionea’s strange message.
Leah Cheyenne shifted uncomfortably in her seat. It was close to sundown, and her professor still continued on about Navonian history, not even glancing at the now pinkish sky. She normally enjoyed class, especially history, but, after hearing Ionea’s message about the change in practice time, her mind couldn’t help but wander. Something incredibly important had obviously come up, but a permanent change in practice time without an explanation was totally out of the ordinary. The last thing she needed was problems with Ionea, who had been tutoring her since she was barely old enough to walk. The practices were her only personal time these days, and a change in practice time meant she would have to trade chores with her younger brother. Leah needed to think. She hesitantly raised her hand.
“Professor Wendle?” she said quietly, “I think our class time is finished.”
Gilbert Wendle pushed his glasses further up on his long nose, and let out a long breath as he realized that it was now past seven thirty. Embarrassed for keeping his students for so long, he stood up and awkwardly shuffled to the center of the room, straightening out the wrinkles on his khaki pants as he walked.
“You are free to go, but please remember that the National Quarter-Century Tournament is coming up, and our Colony will soon begin testing for its representative in the six final champions,” he said, trying to put an authoritative air in his voice. “Junior and Senior Champions will be chosen after competition between the top students under eighteen, and the Colony’s adults will also soon be competing to represent our great Mind Colony.”
All of his students gave him a confused expression, with the exception of Leah, who looked completely absent-minded. Something is wrong, Gilbert noted, having expected Leah to have a smug grin on her face at being the only one who knew anything about the Tournament.
“I’ll explain more about it tomorrow,” Professor Wendle added hastily, “Don’t worry about it for now.”
With that, he returned to his desk and silently began grading papers, and his students took his silence as their cue to leave. Leah packed her bag uncharacteristically quickly, and tried unsuccessfully to be the first one out the door. Sitting at the front of the room had its disadvantages, she noted mentally, impatiently tapping her foot while waiting for the other students to file out of the crowded room. Gilbert took this as a chance to question Leah.
“Is everything all right?” he asked her, taking on the expression of a concerned parent.
“Fine,” Leah said, feigning cheerfulness, “Why?”
“You seemed a bit…out of sorts in class today. I know things haven’t been great at home, but I want you to know that if you ever need someone to talk to—”
Leah cut him off, “We’re just fine at home, thanks. My mom may be sick, but my brother and I are managing. Dad’s been making long trips to Quigley Forest to visit the Healers, but we’re still doing fine.”
Wendle looked stunned. “Are, are you s-s-sure?” he stammered.
“I’m just…a little nervous about the tournament, is all. I need to study harder and there isn’t really much time with my schedule and all,” Leah said. Professor Wendle had always been a father-like figure, and had become increasingly so with her father’s regular absences. There’s no reason to be rude, she chided herself, especially not now.
“I’m almost positive you’ll be the Mind Colony’s Senior Champion. Just practice your powers. Use your knowledge to your advantage. Mental control. At the last Council of Elders session, they were talking about the tournament, you know. About you. I’ll speak with Ionea about some extra practices, perhaps?”
“No, no,” Leah responded quickly, not wanting to discuss her magic tutor’s cryptic message with her favorite Mind Colony teacher. “I’ll work things out with Ionea on my own. But thanks for your concern. I’m sorry if I was sort of rude earlier.”
She was not lying about the apology. And she was genuinely grateful about Wendle’s position on the Council of Elders. He always told her about what was discussed at the meetings, even though the information was supposed to be confidential. Professor Wendle nodded and turned back to his papers. He was not an emotional man, and usually tended to keep his true feelings to himself. Leah turned around and exited the classroom, realizing as she walked that in her short exchange with the Professor, the large classroom had completely cleared out. And Gilbert Wendle, while grading his papers, looked up at the empty room and smiled.
The waters of the Trinity River were calm. Darren Thorne lay on the soft grass next to the riverbed, admiring the flowing water as it lazily made its way downstream.
“It looks pretty, doesn’t it?” Darren’s friend Hailey Conrad said, plopping herself down next to him. “Peter’s almost done making the raft. I was trying to help him, but you know how he gets.” She shook her head, exasperated, making her long white-blonde hair fall out of the loose bun she had tied it into.
“Maybe I should go check on him,” Darren said, laughing. Trying to be casual while alone with Hailey was almost impossible for him, so Darren often came up with excuses to get out of the situation when he felt he was going to embarrass himself. He stood up, shaking the grass out of his clothes and curly black hair, and walked towards the patch of trees by which Peter was standing, angrily muttering to himself.
“That’s never a good sign,” Darren said to no one in particular. Peter Freebird was the type who was very easily agitated. All Earth practitioners shared similar emotional personalities, but Peter had an especially short fuse. Regardless of his personality issues, however, Peter never seemed to have any problems attracting female attention, with his light brown hair and blue-green eyes. His skin was tanned from constantly being outside practicing, and unlike Darren, Peter’s arms were muscular from working with heavy stone and other Earth elements.
“You didn’t have to come you know. I’m pretty much finished here,” Peter said flatly without looking up from his work.
“I know, I know, you’ve got it, you know what you’re doing, and you don’t need any help,” Darren said, throwing up his hands in fake defensive stance, “But if you change your mind, I’ll just be napping over here under this tree. Go ahead, take your time, I’ve really been needing to catch up on sleep with all the extra work I’ve been getting to practice for the tournament trials.”
Peter glared at his best friend, but continued working, and Darren smiled to himself as he turned his back to Peter and sat down under the nearby dragonfruit tree. Provoking Peter wasn’t a smart thing to do for those who valued their current appearance, but Darren knew that Peter wouldn’t pick a fight with him. Besides, reverse psychology always served the purpose of getting Peter do things he didn’t want to do.
“Aren’t you hilarious. Get your lazy butt up and help me carry the raft to the river. I’m done putting it together,” Peter said in an irritated tone.
“Can’t you just use your incredible Earth abilities to just move the raft there?”
“Sure, sure, but I’d much rather you use your amazing Water talents to just move the river closer,” Peter replied effortlessly. Darren let out a small chuckle and rose to help Peter take the raft down to the riverbank, where Hailey stood trying to create a light breeze in the still air.
“Ready to go?” she asked, hand on her hip. “You’ve taken long enough. If we don’t leave now, we won’t be back to the Commons before curfew!”
The Commons was a park shared by all the different Colonies. Each Colony had a separate set of rules from the other, but all citizens in the Colonies had to have reached the Commons within an hour after sundown. After that, the paths leading to the different Colonies would be closed, with the dark imposing the threat of attack by the many creatures that roamed the Navonian wilderness.
“We’ll get you back before the creatures of the night awaken” Darren said in a poor attempt at being charming. “We’re leaving now. Sit down, you two.” Peter and Hailey sat down on the raft as Darren pushed it into the river, hopping on just as the raft left the safety of the bank. The water guided the raft slowly downstream, the river gradually growing deeper and wider in size. Finally, the trio reached the beginning of the rocky area of the river, which created a set of small waterfalls that, with the addition of rapids from a Water practitioner, was perfect for high-speed whitewater rafting.
“Time to go,” Darren said to himself. Standing up, he raised his hands and focused on happy memories to increase his powers. The water grew in speed as Darren’s concentration increased, finally reaching enough speed to move the raft, causing it to bounce from rock to rock and spin in all directions among the turbulent waters. With gravity doing most of the work now, Darren eased his control on the water and sat down again, still maintaining enough speed so that the water would not return to its otherwise still state. The raft bumped into a large boulder and almost flipped over, completely soaking the three and causing them to scream in enjoyment. The icy water sent chills down their spines, but the initial discomfort was quickly replaced by sheer joy and the immediate recollection of the fact that this was a small break from endless schoolwork and magic practices. It was essential to make the most of these rare moments for fun.
“My turn, boys,” Hailey said with a crooked smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. In order to increase their powers, Air practitioners were forced to concentrate on love of all emotions, a thought that made Hailey wince. Being a cynic, this aspect of using her powers always irritated Hailey, but was necessary if she wanted to improve her talents and utilize Air to the best of her ability. Focusing on memories of her parents, Ionea, and her four best friends was usually enough to create enough wind on a breezy day, but today’s windless day was an exception. A flicker of annoyance crossed Hailey’s face, the only insight to Hailey’s inner thoughts that was only noticed by Darren, who had been staring at her. Wracking her brains for more memories of ‘love,’ Hailey blushed a little, stealing a quick glance at Darren before allowing some memories of she and him together to enter her mind. She wasn’t sure if Darren returned her feelings, but these last few thoughts were enough to cause a sudden gust of wind, which sent the raft hurtling down the river at incredible speed.
Peter and Darren screamed at the top of their lungs, the noise of the wind and water drowning out their sounds. Hailey, slightly embarrassed, shifted her weight away from Darren, struggling to maintain control of the Air and balance the raft at the same time. Hopefully he didn’t notice anything, Hailey thought, Not that he would, because I was only thinking it. Meanwhile, Darren, although maintaining a façade of total enjoyment, was having his own inner monologue of conflicting emotions, all about Hailey. He was almost sure he saw her look at him and blush a little, and that was obviously a sign, but what if he had just been imagining it? Darren sighed softly. Relationships were difficult.
With his two friends completely lost in thought, Peter was the only one steering when the raft approached an enormous rock that almost completely blocked the path downriver. Crossing the river from right to left, where there was a gap in the stone just wide enough to fit the raft, was practically impossible when steering alone in such a powerful current.
“GUYS!” Peter shouted. “A LITTLE HELP HERE?!”
Hailey and Darren were knocked back to reality, and suddenly realized the seriousness of the situation. Panicking, Darren tried to slow the water down, but could not focus hard enough on happiness to stop the water. He grabbed an oar and started paddling furiously, which made little to no difference.
“HAILEY!” Darren shouted, “Do something, please!” He tossed Hailey an oar, who caught it and also began paddling with shaking hands, but in her fear, she dropped the paddle in the water and watched it float away behind her. Watching Peter and Darren’s efforts suddenly struck an adrenaline rush inside of Hailey. We could die, she registered, right now.
Standing up, she let every memory of love of all kinds flood her mind. Suddenly, she could feel the power of Air entering her like never before, weighing down her body and causing her to reel with the pressure, causing the raft to sway back and forth.
“What are you doing?!” Peter shouted angrily, without turning around. His voice was muted by an immense buzzing in Hailey’s ears as he became completely unaware of her surroundings, only conscious of two things, love and power. With a groan, Hailey focused all her efforts on pushing the Air out of her, and suddenly, felt a rush of relief, as though a heavy load was just lifted off her shoulders. Hailey opened her eyes and was surprised at her surroundings. The raft was completely intact, the river calm, and the large boulder behind them. Darren and Peter were staring wide-eyed at Hailey.
“You just saved our lives,” Darren said incredulously. “You made the raft go up in the air...” his voice trailed off and he let out a low whistle. “Wow.”
Peter was speechless, only nodding. Hailey, completely out of breath, was unable to manage anything beyond a smile. A minute of silence passed as the raft floated further downriver, with Peter and Darren mindlessly steering it towards the riverbank. Hailey was still unsure of what had just happened. She had flown the raft, apparently, over the rock. But she had never been able to use that much power. That was only something that full-power Air witches could do. And she wasn’t supposed to gain her full powers until her eighteenth birthday, just like everyone else in the Colonies. Feeling heat rushing to her cheeks, Hailey subconsciously lifted her hand and sent a light breeze into her face. And only full Air witches can effortlessly command Air for mundane things whenever they please. Hailey let out a small squeak as she became aware of what had just taken place. Darren had been waiting for her to figure out what she had done. He patted her shoulder.
“Yeah,” he said, “You manifested your powers. Meaning that not only are you a full Air witch, but you’re also…” he couldn’t manage the last words of the sentence.
“A Child of the Stone,” Hailey whispered.
“I guess it’s time to call our meeting to order?” Dylan Jensen stood up, clipboard in hand, and ran her eyes across the room. Once again, more than half the club members were absent. Sighing glumly, Dylan silently took attendance and placed the clipboard on the wobbly desk that she had dragged to the front of the room in an attempt to make the classroom in which the club was meeting look more official.
“Don’t feel bad, Dylan…maybe we just didn’t advertise enough? Liam and I will print more flyers next time…we can hang more up all over school…you know, on lockers and stuff…” Anisha Tareen’s voice trailed off, and she gave Dylan her winning smile and sat up straighter in her chair.
Dylan looked gratefully at her best friend, who always tried to make her feel better. Anisha’s shoulder-length black hair, caramel-colored skin, and delicate features made her effortlessly charming, allowing her to easily make friends and escalate the social ladder at Rosemary Boarding School. Befriending Dylan and joining the MOCA club had tarnished her reputation, but Anisha didn’t much care about other people’s opinions, with her self-confidence only increasing her popularity.
“Somehow, I don’t think it would help much. People just aren’t interested in the Magical Organization for Community Action. I guess combining community service with my love of fantasy wasn’t such a great idea after all,” Dylan stated, further expressing her disappointment by adding, “I don’t even think there’s enough of us to go on that trip to the orphanage I had planned. Anisha…can’t you, you know, ask your friends?” She glanced hopefully at Anisha, who was now fiddling with her bracelet and purposely looking away from the club’s leader.
“I try you know,” Anisha replied, “I try every time there’s a meeting, every time there’s an trip or fundraiser…I talk about how great MOCA as much as I can, but I can only encourage people to join so many times. If they had really wanted to join out of genuine interest, then they would have come to more than one meeting, and stayed the entire time.” Anisha’s voice rose as she grew angrier with Dylan. “All of us are trying to get more members, Dylan, so don’t single me out. All those kids who just follow me around like little puppies aren’t the kind of members we want anyways. We need dedicated people. Not kids who just come because they think it’s the new in-thing or whatever.”
Dylan’s face flushed as she preoccupied herself with rearranging the items on the school desk. The other two attendees watched in silence, each waiting for someone else to speak first. After a few long minutes, the tension finally passed, and Dylan quietly handed out information about the orphanage trip, along with teacher consent forms.
“Give these back to me by next meeting if you want to go,” she said without feeling, “Our sponsor, Mrs. Robbins, will answer any questions you might have.” Picking up her messenger bag from the corner of the room, she turned on her heels and abruptly left the room, without giving any of the other club members a chance to open their mouths.
A few uncomfortable moments later, Chandra Waterstone finally broke the silence. “Well that was awkward,” she remarked, trying not to make contact with Anisha, “I guess we won’t be seeing Dylan at dinner tonight.”
“Yeah, because she’s going to be locked up in her nerd cave all night,” Anisha scoffed, leafing through the papers Dylan had handed out.
“Nerd cave? Last I checked you liked the movie marathons on the Sci-Fi channel,” Liam Walters muttered. Anisha shot him dagger eyes.
“I’m not trying to act like anything, I was just making a point. You think I like being followed around all day? No. I keep telling everyone to leave me alone, but people think I’m just joking. They think I’m a celebrity or something…it’s stupid, I know. I mean all my dad does is make salad dressing,” Anisha said defensively, “I wasn’t thinking when I said that.”
“Obviously,” replied Chandra.
“I’ll talk to her,” said Anisha, “And I’ll fix everything. I promise.” She grabbed her designer leather tote and flipped her hair over her shoulder, easily striding across the room in her four-inch stiletto heels as though they were old sneakers.
“Parker!” an obnoxious voice shrieked from across the hall.
Startled, Parker St. James jumped, dropping his books on his foot in the process. Cursing, he picked his books back up, and put them in his locker.
“I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” the voice said. Parker heard the clicking sound of high-heeled shoes moving rapidly towards him. If I move fast enough, Parker calculated, I can still make it to the east stairwell, and out the window of the first floor boy’s bathroom. Deciding this was probably the best plan, Parker grabbed his backpack and walked rapidly towards the stairs. But the girl was closer than Parker had judged, and adjusted her pace so that she could catch up to Parker.
“And the witch descends,” Parker muttered, just as a bony hand descended upon his shoulder.
“You don’t have to run away from me,” the girl said, “I don’t bite.”
“Charming.” The girl stuck out her hand, “I’m Audrey. Audrey Dasan. I’m sure you’ve heard of me. The governor’s daughter? I just transferred here from Womersley Academy downtown.”
Parker blinked in surprise.
“Um, no, I haven’t,” he managed after several seconds, “I’ve never heard of you.”
“That’s surprising. Nearly the entire state of New York has heard of me.”
“I guess I happen to be in the minority.”
Parker examined Audrey. She was pretty, no doubt, but in a mess-with-me-and-I’ll-ruin-you kind of way. She was short, too, Parker noted, wearing four-inch stilettos and still barely hitting the top of Parker’s shoulder. Her glasses appeared stylish and expensive, making her look fashionable rather than nerdy. Parker doubted they were real.
“So,” he began, “Can I help you?”
“Well,” Audrey stated matter-of-factly, “Principal Anderson said that you’d be able to tell me about the school, like what kind of stuff there is to do around here besides studying. I’m shadowing some girl tomorrow, and then I get the weekend to settle in. I officially start class Monday.”
“That sounds lovely,” Parker said sarcastically, “But I have somewhere else to be right now.”
“Oh come on, I’m sure you’re enjoying talking to me. You look like you don’t get too much attention from girls. Especially rich, pretty ones.”
“There are many adjectives that I would use to describe this conversation, but ‘fun’ isn’t one of them.”
“Please? Would you really leave a poor girl helpless and lost?”
“This is a school, Audrey. I’m sure someone will give you directions. You did unfortunately manage to find me, didn’t you?”
“Look, just give me a quick explanation about this place, and I’ll take you out. Anywhere you want. I’m sure you’d like that.”
Parker shuddered. “Hold the date. I’ll help you out. No charge.”
Audrey flashed Parker a devious smile. “I’ll make this quick. Just tell me some of the clubs and stuff, what’s going on, what people like to do, cliques to avoid…you know, your basic new school guide.”
Parker raised an eyebrow. Audrey looked like she would fit in just fine. Remembering that she would not leave him alone unless he gave her the information she wanted to hear, he launched into a description of the inner workings of the school- where to go, what teachers to talk to, what not to eat at the cafeteria, and who to avoid. All the while, Audrey listened intently, nodding ever so often and prompting Parker with questions.
“And who are your friends?” Audrey asked, pretending to be curious.
“Well I have a few,” Parker said, beginning a description of each of his friends. Audrey looked particularly interested in hearing about Anisha, but Parker was so wrapped up in his monologue that he did not notice Audrey’s change in facial expression. Nor did he notice the rapidly passing time.
“And we’re all a member of this club called MOCA- Magical Organization for Community Action. My friend Dylan made it, and, we meet every Thursday…” Parker’s voice trailed off, as he suddenly remembered where he’d had to go.
“Crap,” he muttered. Somehow, while talking about the school, Parker and Audrey had wound up in the courtyard outside the school, with the MOCA meeting room being at the end of the east wing, back where he had met Audrey. Glancing again at his watch, Parker turned around and dashed towards the building.
“Where are you going?!” Audrey called, “We were kind of in the middle of something important here!”
“I told you I had somewhere to be!” Parker shouted without looking back. Dylan was going to kill him if he didn’t show up to the meeting today. Already there weren’t enough club members, and the last thing Dylan’s self-confidence needed was lack of support from friends. Parker quickened his pace and took a shortcut through the Rose Garden, via a small dirt pathway that led to the east wing by going around the crowded courtyard. With only reaching the meeting on his mind, Parker was not paying much attention while running, soon found himself laying flat on the ground, head throbbing.
Parker’s friend and fellow club member, Logan Ryst, lay on the ground opposite Parker. Being less injured, he stood and helped Parker to his feet.
“Is the meeting over?” Parker gasped, unable to speak both due to shortness of breath and sharp pain in his head.
“The MOCA meeting? I dunno, I didn’t go. English teacher made me stay back and fix some assignment, so I figured I’d just get the information from Dylan at dinner tonight. We’re the only ones who ever go to the meetings, remember, just us five of Dylan’s friends?” Logan smiled at Parker, and carefully draped Parker’s right arm around his shoulder. “If I were you, though, I’d concentrate less on getting to that meeting and more on letting me help you to the nurse’s wing.”
“Why? Wh- AH!” Parker tried to say more, but found himself clutching the back of his head with his left hand. He felt something wet trickling onto his fingers. His eyes widened in shock.
“When you ran into me,” Logan said, gesturing at the cracked lens of his glasses, “You fell backwards too. Only you, my friend, hit your head on that rock over there.”
Parker carefully turned his head to where Logan was pointing, seeing a large, jagged, decorative rock, which now had some specks of blood on it. Parker lifted his left arm up in disbelief.
“How the- OW!” Parker screamed. Logan grabbed Parkers hand, and pressed it firmly onto the bleeding part of Parker’s head.
“Keep pressure on that until I get you to the nurse’s wing!” Logan said forcefully. “Now come on, we have to get moving.”
Logan slowly walked Parker out of the Garden, after which he called out to a few friends who helped him carry Parker to the nurse’s office. The nurse was not pleased upon hearing Logan’s account of what had happened.
“Mr. St. James, are you able to read? Do you know that there are ‘No Running’ signs posted? Yes? So then why do you feel it necessary to run through the Rose Garden like a charging rhinoceros?” Madame Sienna, as the school nurse preferred to be called, was rebuking Parker as she checked his vitals and dressed his wounds. Parker mumbled in response.
“You were late? I don’t care where you were trying to get to, or why. Walk. Watch where you are going, and—”
She was cut off by another rant of garbled words.
“And what did I tell you about talking right now? Don’t!”
Parker glowered momentarily at the nurse, quickly switching to a grateful smile that Logan had been able to get him to the nurse’s wing in time, and that his favorite school employee was stitching and bandaging his head. Madame Sienna also was head of the school’s Psychic Club, and taught a mythology class, so gaining her title, and Parker was particularly fond of her, even finding her scolding slightly comical. Parker sat as silently as he could, occasionally yelping in pain, but finally, Madame Sienna called out to her assistants to put Parker into a wheelchair.
“You’re lucky there’s no concussion, but I’d prefer you’d keep off your feet a until Saturday. Mr. Ryst here will be your chauffer until then. I’ve given him some pain medication, but if anything becomes to unbearable, you know where to find me,” the nurse told Parker. Logan wheeled Parker, who was still mumbling thanks to Madame Sienna, out the door.
“You’ve got to be more careful,” Logan said, “That’s your third visit to the nurse’s wing this month.”
“The other two were small things…” Parker said quietly, “I was only trying to get to the meeting on time. I didn’t want to let Dylan down again.” Parker had a bad history of meeting attendance, but was always there to support his friend in fundraisers and other club activities.
“Whatever,” Logan replied, continuing to wheel Parker along in silence.
They soon came to the dormitories, passing the girl’s wing first. Suddenly, the boy’s heard a familiar voice among the crowd, shouting apologies to a girl clad in jeans and a black coat who was racing towards the girl’s dorms with tears in her eyes. There was no mistaking the girl’s square glasses, thick brown ponytail, and large olive-colored messenger bag. Dylan Jensen was crying, and making her way to her room. And following her was none other than her supposed best friend, Anisha Tareen.
“Looks like we missed an eventful meeting today,” Parker observed.
There was a loud boom, followed by a great creaking noise, as four servants pushed opened the wooden doors. A light thud, accompanied by a cloud of dust, sent the servants into a coughing fit, causing them to drop the red carpet they were rolling out, sending it flying diagonally in the wrong direction. Panicking, the servants rushed to pick up the carpet, straightening it out so that it went in a straight line from the front door to the single throne sitting at the end of the massive, currently empty room.
“She’s coming!” one of the servants whispered, just loud enough for the others to hear. The four quickly stood in formation, standing in line with the tallest on the left and the shortest on the right. The queen was very picky about such things, dismissing a servant for even the smallest mistake.
A figure, clad in a long orange gown and golden heels came into view, and strode gracefully into the room. Flipping her very straight, very long black hair over her shoulder, she appraised the looks of the room. The servants had done quite a good job, hanging rich purple and gold drapes over all the windows, including the main window, which was behind the throne. They had lined the throne pedestal in a shiny gold fabric, complete with purple and red borders, and hung long streams of sheer red and purple fabric across the ceiling, complete with accompanying golden chandeliers. Maids would later place tables around the room, adding sculptures, flowers, and a vast array of traditional Navonian cuisine.
The woman smiled, an obvious sign of approval, allowing the servants to let out a sigh of relief. She then waved her hand, sending the four men scattering in all directions, while she continued to walk around the room by herself. After making one round, she came to the pedestal, on which a single, large, straight-backed wooden chair sat majestically. Covered in rich maroon velvet, the plush chair appeared inviting and imposing at the same time. And it would be legally hers in only a few more hours.
Making sure no one was watching, the woman sat down in the throne, and sighed with pleasure. Queen Ayana Delsin of Navonia. The title sounded absolutely grand. Her coronation ceremony would take place tonight, and the people would finally respect her as their true queen. Although Ayana had governed the nation for almost twenty years now, she had never received a proper coronation ceremony, for the crown, which had been passed down from the first queen of Navonia, had fallen into disrepair, and completely fallen apart during Ayana’s mother’s reign. A new crown had been commissioned immediately, but had only recently been completed, making Ayana, at the age of forty-four years old, the oldest queen to ever be crowned. Legally, everything in the palace belonged to Ayana, however, she had never felt like a true ruler without a crown and the support and respect of the people.
Touching the large amethyst ring that sat on her long, bony finger, Ayana recalled how the particular gemstone had come into her possession. Just by being wearing it, the woman could feel the power pulsing through her, power that, no matter how long she had owned the ring, would never fully belong to her. The ring was supposed gift to be passed down to Ayana after her mother’s death. It was during her mother’s reign that trouble with Navonia’s bordering nations had begun. Delgradan, at the east, was threatening war on Northerlend, at the north, and both countries were requesting an alliance with Navonia. Meanwhile, Terradime in the west was about to erupt into total civil war, and wanted to split into two separate countries with different governing bodies. Bellavia, Navonia’s neighbors to the south, was the only nation that had somehow managed to retain piece, and wanted the other lands to follow suit. Seeing that Navonia was the country in the middle of the others, Ayana’s mother Queen Hestia formed an under-the-table alliance with Bellavia’s Queen Brie, who gifted the Navonian ruler with a great purple amethyst that was enchanted to guide its wearer to make the right decisions. With the help of the ring, Hestia was able to retain peace in Navonia and the surrounding lands, without having to consult the Stone.
A young Ayana and her brother Gilliam watched Hestia’s power grow while wearing the ring, and both secretly hoped that it would someday be passed down to them. Ayana, being the older child, knew that with her coronation, the ring would be hers. Conveniently enough, Ayana’s father, Ryder, became terminally ill, and, while on a trip to the Healers to pick up a tonic for her husband, Hestia was bit by gooseturtle, and contracted a minor infection. Seeing this as her opportunity, twenty-four year old Ayana poisoned her mother, gaining both queenship and the powerful ring.
In her reminiscing, Ayana did not notice her brother enter the throne room. Gilliam Delsin, though seven years younger than Ayana, could easily pass as her twin, with his same straight black hair that he preferred to wear at shoulder length, and matching black eyes.
“The guests will be arriving shortly. I’ve told the maids to begin bringing out the food,” Gilliam said, causing his elder sister to jump. “Is everything alright? You look rather…alarmed.”
“Just thinking,” Ayana said, trying to maintain her usually calm demeanor. To this day, not a single soul knew that Queen Hestia Marie Delsin had been murdered by her own daughter, and Ayana made sure that things were kept that way. The queendom belonged to her, and she had merely taken over a bit earlier than planned. Besides, she and she alone knew the proper way of governing a nation, and intended on turning Navonia around with help from good friend Sequoia, expert in Olde Magic.
“You ought to get a move on,” Gilliam replied, a slight smile on his face. “You don’t want to give anyone…the wrong idea.” Gilliam chose his words carefully, and Ayana shrugged off his rather slow speech as something unique to his character. She had no way of knowing, however, that at that particular moment, Gilliam had a secret of his own- he knew about Ayana’s past actions, and intended to impose the proper consequences.
“Do you guys want to be late?” Peter asked, hurrying along his two sluggish friends.
“We have to wait for Leah,” Tammy replied, “She’ll be really upset if she finds out we went ahead without her. She’s really excited about the big lecture today.”
“If she’s so excited, she should be here already,” Darren snapped. He was about to make another sarcastic remark, but his words were cut off by the incredible yawn that erupted from his mouth. There was nothing worse than coming to school two hours early just to hear a lecture, he thought, no matter how fascinating the topic.
“We’ll give her five more minutes. If she’s not here by then, we’re going to go ahead. All the good seats are probably taken by now, so we need to leave soon if we want to get any seat at all. Are you sure you don’t know where she is?” Peter asked, turning to Tammy, Leah’s best friend.
“I’ve messaged her only about ten times already, but she hasn’t responded to anything. She’s probably just swamped with chores at home. Her dad left on another trip to the healers a couple of days ago.”
Peter nodded in sympathy. He, along with Tammy, Darren, and Hailey, had been helping Leah’s family when they could, and all of them were concerned about Mrs. Cheyenne’s rapidly deteriorating condition. Darren again opened his mouth to say something, but was consumed by another yawn, followed by a great stretch of his arms. The three walked closer to the middle of the Commons, looking behind them at the path from the Mind Colony to check if Leah was any closer.
Suddenly, a figure catapulted into Tammy’s back. Tammy turned around to confront her aggressor, but quickly softened upon realizing it was Leah.
“Sorry!” Leah said hastily, wiping tears from her odd golden-colored eyes. “My brother got sick this morning too. Mr. Wendle is taking care of them both. He didn’t want me to miss any school, especially with the tournament coming up.”
Tammy gave Leah a hug, and took Leah’s extremely heavy backpack off of her tiny friend’s sagging shoulder.
“Don’t worry. Everything will be fine,” Tammy said, struggling to find comforting words. The two boys stood by silently, nodding their heads in agreement.
Leah sniffled and pulled away from Tammy. Wiping her nose on the sleeve of her purple tunic, she began walking the path to the Colonial Magic Academy, the school common to every person who lived in the Colonies. It wasn’t the most creative name, everyone acknowledged that, but the school was a historical landmark in and of itself, and was the best location for everyone in the Colonies to study together and get to know one another. Navonia only had three schools, one for each part of the nation- the Fates, the Furies, and the Colonies. It was these same three parts that competed against each other every twenty-five years in the Navonian Quarter Century tournament.
“Where are you going?” Tammy asked, running to catch up but losing balance under the weight of two backpacks. Peter took Leah’s bag onto his own shoulder, easily managing the weight of both, and, grabbing Darren’s hand, followed Tammy and Leah.
“School!” Leah exclaimed, already looking happier. “You don’t expect me to miss out on hearing a lecture about Gregor Lovely!”
“Of course not. You’re from the Mind Colony. I’ll bet they had his posters up for months,” Darren managed in between yawns.
“Only you would rejoice in more studying,” Tammy said, ignoring Darren’s remark. Glad to see her friend feeling better, she added, “You’re definitely a shoe-in for the Mind Colony champion.”
Leah looked doubtful, but appreciated the compliment. Suddenly, her dark brown brow furrowed, as she realized there were only four of them going to school.
“Where’s Hailey?” she asked, looking straight at Darren. Hailey may have been completely oblivious to Darren’s feelings about her, but the other four were not. Blushing, Darren looked to Peter for help.
Always the diplomat, Peter cleared his throat. “Hailey…Hailey manifested her powers yesterday. She’s going to meet us at Ionea’s today.”
Leah’s jaw dropped. “Manifested her powers? Do you know what that—”
Peter cut her off before she could begin a lecture on Children of the Stone. “Yes, we know what that means. And so does she. Which is why she is staying at home today.”
“And none of you could bother to tell me?!” Leah said, exasperated. The other people in the Commons looked at the group of four. Lowering her voice, she continued, “That’s sort of a big deal. Could none of you message me?”
“I only found out this morning,” Tammy said defensively, “Peter and Darren here were whitewater rafting with Hailey when it happened.”
Leah pushed her straight bangs out of her eyes, and gave the two boys the most piercing glare she could muster. Which, coming from such a tiny person, was not very intimidating at all.
Resisting the urge to laugh, Darren replied softly, “We wanted to tell you in person. It’s not something you can just tell casually through message stone. We’re all shocked.”
Leah closed her eyes, held her breath, and counted to ten, an action that anyone outside the Mind Colony found comical, yet at the same time respected the Mind users for their extreme mental discipline. “Well, I’m not going to let this put a damper on my day. I’ll question Hailey and Ionea later. In the meantime…” she said, voice turning to a high pitched squeal, “Gregor Lovely!”
Peter, Tammy, and Darren could not resist chuckling at their friend’s rapid change in emotion. Together, they ran the one-mile distance to the school, arriving just as the doors to the lecture hall were closing. Scanning the packed room for a place to sit, the four were met with angry glares from teachers for being late, and sneers from students who had already claimed good seats for themselves and their friends.
“Great,” Peter muttered, “We’re going to have to stand.”
Hailey opened her eyes and looked out the window, surprised to see that the sun was already high over the horizon. Still groggy she rubbed her eyes and looked around the room, almost falling out of bed when she saw her mother and several other Air Colony women crouching over her.
“Good morning, Hailey,” an unfamiliar but friendly-looking blonde woman said, smiling.
“Um…hi?” Hailey was not pleased to have an entourage greeting her as soon as she woke up. She turned over onto her left side and pulled her pillow over her face, hoping the women would leave if she fell back asleep. The bright sun was streaming in from the window on the left of Hailey’s bed, making sleep impossible.
“Gah!” she muttered, reaching blindly for her blanket to pull it over her head.
“There’s no need to be annoyed, Hailey,” a soothing voice remarked, “It’s natural to be confused and disoriented after what happened yesterday. Drowsiness is also sometimes a symptom.”
Hailey blinked, still facing away from the women. After what happened yesterday…What HAD happened yesterday? she wondered. The events from her whitewater rafting trip seemed a world away, as if they belonged to someone else’s dream rather than her own reality. Hailey groaned and pushed the blanket and pillow away from her, exposing her face to the women. A chorus of gasps exploded from their mouths, as the sunlight shone straight onto Hailey’s body.
“Oh no…you’re gasping. Why are you gasping?” Hailey asked, feeling anxious. “Is there something wrong?” Agitated and embarrassed, Hailey pulled the blanket back over her head.
“Nothing’s wrong, love,” Mrs. Conrad enthused. Hailey lowered the blanket just enough to reveal her pure blue eyes and the bridge of her nose.
The friendly-looking woman from before shoved a handheld mirror into Hailey’s face. “See for yourself, dear,” she said, holding out the mirror expectantly.
With another groan, Hailey pulled her right hand out from under the blanket and took the ornate silver mirror from the woman. She examined her reflection slowly, one facial feature at the time. Everything looked the same except…
“What is THAT?!” Hailey shouted, hurling the mirror across the room. One of the women stopped the mirror mid-flight, preventing it from shattering. Hailey shut her eyes tightly and pinched herself, hoping that she would wake up from this nightmare.
“Closing your eyes isn’t going to make it go away,” an obnoxious woman standing further away said glibly. Keeping her eyes shut, Hailey scowled.
“You know what it is, dear. Your tattoo. All Children of the Stone get them,” Mrs. Conrad consoled.
Hailey knew what the tattoo was. She had seen Children of the Stone before on the Queen’s broadcast network, and had always admired their beauty and fighting skill. The tattoos had seemed so natural on their faces then, and still did in Hailey’s memory. She had even been lucky enough to meet with a visiting royal advisor when she came to the Air Colony, and was thrilled with her grace and incredible talents. But as much as she admired Children of the Stone, it was another thing entirely to be thrust into this new world of power. Hailey was sure, no, Hailey was positive, that she did not want everyone fawning over her newfound powers. And she was especially sure that she did not want any strange-looking tattoos.
“Just look again, please. It’s going to take some getting used to. The banquet’s being held tonight, so please keep an open mind.” Hailey’s mother handed the mirror back to her daughter. Reluctantly, Hailey took it and peered at the tattoo again, running her finger over it to make sure it was real. It was smaller than she had thought it at first, consisting of three indigo swirls, facing the right, under Hailey’s left eye. The entire pattern was only about the size of her thumb, but stood out against Haileys’ otherwise pale features.
Hailey sighed. She handed the mirror back to her mother and sat up in bed, taking a moment to properly view her surroundings. There were seven women in the room, excluding Hailey, and each was looking at the young girl expectantly.
Lifting her hands, Hailey sent a small breeze around the room, and caught it in a small orb of air which she held between her two cupped hands. She pushed some of the air towards the mirror, causing it to fly up into the air and land in Hailey’s hands.
Smiling, Hailey cleared her throat and announced to the women, “You’re right. I guess I could get used to this.”