|I have always known why all the children in the orphanage I live in call me a freak. I have strange abilities which none of them have. I can freeze the water in the shower so instead of water falling down on me, I get little frozen drops of water falling down on me. Or when I was swimming in the pool out in back of the orphanage, I wanted the water to get cooler. The water dropped about ten degrees all at the same time, so I was swimming around happily in the about 66 degree water when everyone was outside the pool shivering. And there was that day when I bit that boy when I was five because he took my doll. The next day, the nurse said he appeared to have frost bite. So yes, I guess I am a freak.
One day in January, I was out on a walk kicking pebbles and jumping over cracks in the street. I sat down on a bench, bored. I looked up at the sky and watched the clouds roll across the sky. Before my eyes, the snowy white clouds turned to grey just by me looking at them, and then it started to snow.
Just then a guy with a white beard down to his waist dressed weirdly out of style, like the tacky tourists I had always seen in movies, saw me squinting at the sky dreaming of a blizzard.
He walked hurriedly down the street and took me by the arm. I screamed, and tried to get away, but for an old man he sure was strong.
“You must come with me,” He said quietly, pulling me across the street. “Malistaire’s forces are after the wizard stated in the prophecy…” He tugged me into the woods across the street from where we were. Malistaire? Wizard? Prophecy? Who did this guy think he was? I screamed again, this time baring my teeth just so he knows I bite.
He just kept pulling me. We finally stopped in front of a tree with a hollow in it. Then a snowy white owl flew down on to the man’s shoulder, and they whispered amongst each other.
“Sorry tooooo frighten youuu young wizard.” The owl said suddenly, startling me out of my wits. “We are here to take you where you really belong.” Wait, the owl was talking? I figured it was a dream and started to pinch myself.
“No young wizard, this isn’t a dream,” the old guy said as if to read my mind, twisting his beard around his finger. “Just pure reality.” He took out some sort of staff and waved the staff up and down his body. His flashy Hawaiian shirt and camo shorts changed into a robe with a pointy hat on his head which, in my opinion, was weirder than his original outfit. “Now, Gamma, open the porthole.”
The white owl dressed in graduation wear flew up and perched on top of the tree. A swirling, silver vortex appeared inside the hollow. He beckoned me to the thing and pushed me through. I spun down into darkness
Finally, I landed with a thud on carpet with moons and stars and a huge spiral on it. The wizard man came to a halt gently on his feet, his robe flopping as he landed. The white owl fluttered down and landed on his shoulder.
I scrambled to my feet and ran across the room searching for an exit amongst all the weird looking items and books.
“I am sorry, young wizard, but there was no other way than to push you. Anyway, I believe we have gotten off to a bad start. My name is Merle Ambrose, headmaster of Ravenwood school.”
When he saw me looking at him like he was an alien, he sighed and explained, “Ravenwood is a school of wizardry. You will be taught seven types of magic: Fire, Storm Ice, Death, Life, Balance, and Myth. Now, normal wizards would go off to do quests, but you are here for a reason.”
Ambrose waved his hand and six kids appeared before me. I looked their clothes, clean, fancy robes complete with hats and shoes. That was when I began to feel a little embarrassed in my old, faded jeans and my I love New York T-shirt.
“You were called here because our ice defender was captured and killed by none other than Malistaire. You were meant to be his successor.”
I stared at him, at which he gave a sheepish grin and continued, “You see, the Defenders are a group of students called together to protect these.” He waved his staff over a glass ball that I hadn’t noticed. Seven radiant gems appeared: one light blue, one red, one green, one black, one purple, one yellow, and one orange. “These are the gems that make the magic that happens in wizard city. If there weren’t any of these gems, there won’t be any magic whatsoever. And here are the defenders.” He gestured over to the line of wizard kids.
The littlest on the right hand side dressed in purple and green and with her purple, yes, purple, hair pulled back into pigtails started the introductions. “Hi, I’m Sophia Rainhaven and I am a storm wizard.”
Then the boy next to her dressed in black and white rolled his eyes at her and continued “I’m Ian Darkblade, and I am a death wizard.”
Then it went on to a girl dressed in red and orange. “Hi, I’m Megan Ashcloud, and I am a fire wizard,” she said with a wave and a wink.
A girl with light green and dark green robes said “Hi, I’m Emma Roseblossom. I’m a Theurgist, a life wizard.”
Then a boy with red and kaki robes on, “What’s up? I’m Daniel Spellthief and I’m balance.”
Then the last one on the left side dressed in blue and yellow robes stepped forward; he seemed to have a lot of dignity “How do you do, I’m Galen Dreamweaver and I’m a Myth wizard.”
“And that’s where you come in,” Ambrose said. He pushed me at the end of the line next to Galen. “You are officially the new ice Defender. Your job is to protect the ice jewel from Malistaire.”
Before I could ask who Malistaire was, Ambrose answered for me. “Malistaire once taught death school, and Mr. Darkblade can certainly tell you that. I must say he was a very good teacher, intelligent too. But after his wife died, he went mad. He made the death school separate and fall from the other schools. And now he’s using his many creatures to take over the spiral.
“Malistaire just now has learned that the source of magic comes from the gems, and he wants to destroy all the gems except the death, which he will use to rule Wizard City. And that makes your jobs as defenders more dangerous. So you have to be on the lookout.
“Now of course, Miss Savannah, you aren’t properly dressed for being a Defender yet. Miss Ashcloud, please take Savannah to the robe shop. Here.” He handed Megan a satchel of coins.
“And, young wizard...” He took a long thin box of his desk and handed it to me. I opened it and saw a long navy blue stick with a beautiful gem on top. “This is your wand.”
Then he handed me what looked like a set of playing cards. “These are your spell cards. You use them in battle,” he said, gesturing to them. “They show you what spells you can cast within your pip range. Pips are little balls of magic,” He pulled out a card with a blue and yellow snake on it. Then he pointed to the number 1 in the corner. “This shows the number of pips needed for the spell. I presume you are catching on, Miss Swiftsong?”
I hesitated, confused. “Swiftsong? That’s not my last name! I don’t even know my last name. But I know Swiftsong isn’t!”
Ambrose laughed. “Actually, it is. You’ll find that everyone here has a unique last name, even siblings.”
He then turned to Megan, “After she’s in her robes, show her around.” Ambrose smiled. Megan took my hand. Right before she transported us, I looked back at the room with Ambrose and all the other kids. Ambrose gave me a tiny wave as if to say “Good luck.”
“Ow! Ooh! Uh, Megan, is robe fitting usually this painful? OUCH!”
“Not really,” Megan said, looking at the latest “Wizard Weekly” issue. “It helps if you are concentrated on something else. It worked when Sophia just got here. Would you like me to distract you when your robe is being made?”
I looked at Victor Darkwood, the robe shopkeeper, and nodded quickly. Megan closed her magazine “This is the story of how the magic jewels were made,” I leaned in closer to listen.
“Take it easy, I might hurt you.” Said Victor. I straightened up, but I craned my neck in so I could hear well.
“Once, an old man was walking along a dirt road. Two men jumped from the bushes and beat the man up and stripped him from his clothes. So he lay there half dead at the side of the road.” I winced, both from the story and because Victor had pricked my side.
“Now, seven peasants on their daily stroll came across this man. They took him to their home and began nursing him back to health. But this man turned out to be a wizard. Knowing he wouldn’t last forever, he repaid his saviors with magic.
“He was also a wand crafter, so he asked all the new wizards what qualities they wanted to see in their wands. Katarina Icebreaker, the newly founded ice wizard, said she wanted courage. Alia Sootshield, the new fire wizard said she wanted passion. Stephan Starcaster, the balance wizard, said wisdom. The new storm wizard, Sarai Stormcrown said creativity. The life wizard, Calamity Unicornrider, said reverence. The myth wizard, James Soulwhisper, wanted individuality. When it was Morgrim Skullfist’s turn he turned over to the dark side asking for a wand more powerful then all than all of his comrades. The most powerful in existence.
“And of course, the wandmaker obeyed all of their commands including Morgrim’s request.”
Victor took off the robe and pushed me off the stool. While he went to sew the robe, I sat down next to Megan. I nodded to her to continue.
“A couple decades later, all the wizards, after years of helping others with their magic, got together to decide what would happen when they died. They needed something that would continue their magic when they weren’t alive. They called upon their gemcrafter, and they asked him for seven gems to be made.
“After they had each received their gems, they took up their wands and prepared to transport their magic, while the death wizard secretly plotted. As six of the wizards teleported their magic the death wizard pretended. When all their magic was gone, the death wizard killed them all and held their gems hostage. It is because of this that he became the most powerful necromancer in the entire world.
“But most of that did not last, for he was very old. About a decade later of causing misery and pain, the death wizard returned home. He became very sick. He knew he would die soon. So he took up his wand and his gem and transported his magic as his last act. He died soon after.
“Centuries later, who was but to come but Ambrose. He found the gems and made himself a master magician. But he used his magic for good and started a wizard generation, which went on for years. But Malistaire came to the ruins after Ambrose. He found the death wizard’s old wand and he has used it ever since.
“Now this is the really cool part. Where those gems lay, it’s said that the wizard’s spirits lie in their gem, and come out for really strong reasons.” She smiled, “Look’s like I finished just in time,” She gestured to Victor coming out of the back room holding the most beautiful robe I had ever seen.
One glance at the robe was enough for me. I ran to hug him, and he chuckled and laid the outfit in my arms.
I ran my cheek along the silky fabric. “100% spider silk shipped from Krokotopia,” said Victor proudly. “Very rare stuff.”
“Thanks,” Megan said laying out the precise amount of coins on his hand. “Oh, should I pay you extra for the Krokotopian silk?” “No need,” Victor said. “Just knowing my butt is saved from Malistaire is enough.” Then he literally pushed me to the dressing room “Well, go try it on!”
“Oh. My. Gosh.” I said for the about billionth time. “This is sooooo soft!”
Megan looked at my light blue and white robe and chuckled. “Krokotopian silk?” she said playfully. “Please. Check this out.” She held up the hem of a much prettier robe. “My robe is a hand-me-down for generations. Made with Bernie’s ashes, a tear from a Seraph, sewn by one of my descendents, dyed with a Krok’s blood, and washed in the Marleybone Ocean. So, yes, it is absolutely priceless.”
She laughed at my bulging eyes, and then she pointed to a nearby food stand. “Dragon leg?” she asked.
“Uhh,” I said hesitantly, “I don’t want my robe dirty.” I was actually kind of freaked out. Dragon legs? What’s next, pixie blood flavored ice cream?
“I know it’s kind of creepy,” Megan said, as if to read my mind, “but it’s just like your average…uhh…what do you call it? Oh, turkey leg! Yeah.”
I laughed. “Well I don’t see why n—”
“Oh! I knew you would want to!” She yanked me over to the stand, pulling out the satchel of coins Ambrose gave us.
“Aren’t we using that money for my hat and boots?” I tapped my head and pointed to my worn down converse as I said this.
“Oh, yeah.” She said, putting away the still bulging bag. She pulled out another satchel, this time even bulgier. She pulled out about ten coins and handed it to the man at the stand, who handed us two legs of meat a lot bigger than turkey legs.
Megan handed me my leg. “Oh! Let’s sit over there!” She yanked my hand, making me almost drop my leg.
“Hi Daniel! Hi Sophia!” she shouted across the street, making me see two people that I hadn’t noticed before.
The two wizards were sitting over by the balcony. I don’t know how she saw them through this clod of people. Daniel was munching on a Dragon leg, and Sophia was eating some kind of frozen treat. We sat down next to them.
“Introducing her to the dragon leg?” Daniel said with his mouth full of meat, “Nice.”
Sophia patted me on the shoulder. “He is disgusting.” She said giggling.
“Well?” Megan said suddenly.
“What?” I asked.
“Do you like it?” Megan asked in a “duh” sort of voice.
“Oh,” I took a tentative nibble of the leg. Oh. My. Gosh. Heaven.
I bit off a large amount and swallowed greedily. A huge lump ran down my throat. I stuffed even more in my mouth and chewed quickly. Ohhhh, heaven.
Sophia looked at Megan as if to say, she is more disgusting than the boy! And Megan looked satisfied, even smug. Daniel looked pretty impressed.
I think I had found a new favorite food.
But as I walked away with Megan to throw away our wrappers, I heard Daniel whisper to Sophia, “And she hasn’t even tried Ninja Pig pork chop yet…”
I had to say I looked pretty dashing in my new outfit. With a frost-touched cap slightly tipped sideways on my head and canvas wraps up to my knees, no one could tell I was a level 1.
Megan and I hurried back to Ambrose’s office after our shopping day. “Ahhh, that’s more like it!” He said as I twirled in my gorgeous outfit. “Ahh, yes.” He said holding up the hem of my robe, “Krokotopian spider silk. Yes, very impressive. Good job Miss Ashcloud.” Megan beamed.
“Oh, and Miss Ashcloud, am I right in thinking that you have to defeat a certain banshee on Firecat Alley?” Ambrose asked.
“Oh, yes sir.” Megan said, glancing at me.
“Why not go do that before the day comes to an end?”
“Okay.” Megan gave me a sad look and ran out the door.
Ambrose turned so he was facing me. “Now, Miss Swiftsong, I have asked Miss Roseblossom to show you around Ravenwood and help you get started with your quests.”
I gave a start, for Emma had just appeared right beside me.
“Hi Savannah! This is going to be fun!” She took my arm and raced me to the door. Once again the office disappeared from my sight.
“Oh, you must be Savannah Swiftsong!” The happy, rather plump fairy flew around the classroom. “My newest student! Welcome to Ravenwood! I can assure you a great time here at my class!”
“Thank you.” I said shaking Professor Greyrose’s tiny hand. “I’m sure I will.” She beamed at me.
“Oh, Savannah,” Emma said, tapping my shoulder. “I have to talk to Professor Greyrose about new spells. So can you sit tight for just a minute?” I nodded and sat down on the closest desk.
Minutes went by, as Emma talked with Greyrose. Something about water, a mill, and Kelvin, I didn’t have the faintest clue what they were talking about.
Finally, they stopped. Emma tapped me on my shoulder, and I stopped whirling my wand about and walked out with her.
“Wow that was fast.” Emma said as we were walking through the commons on the way to Unicorn Way. “You caught on so quickly!”
“Yeah, I guess.” I looked up at the arch to Unicorn Way. I knew it was supposed to be the easiest spot in Wizard City, but I couldn’t help feeling the slightest bit nervous.
“C’mon,” Emma said. “Those monsters aren’t going to defeat themselves!” And we ran inside.
As it turned out, defeating monsters was easy. I was able to finish off a dark sprite with a single thunder snake.
“Race you back to Ceren Nightchant!” Emma called, already a couple yards in front of me.
“Hey, you got a head start!” I called back, racing after her. It had been a few hours after we had entered Unicorn Way and I was doing great, if I said so myself. I was already on the Seraph quest. Well, make that almost done with the Seraph quest.
I was catching up to Emma pretty fast, and I could see our destination ahead of us.
“Tie!” We both shouted together, after touching a confused Ceren.
After I talked to him, Emma said “Well I think we had enough for today, the sun is setting, and the Nightside will open soon. C’mon let’s go talk to Ambrose.” We linked arms and marched happily toward the commons.
“A level 4? Already? Amazing, Miss Swiftsong, great job.” Ambrose beamed. “It seems we are a bit ahead of schedule.” Emma and I glanced at each other, grinning from ear to ear.
“You are comfortable, I assume, Miss Swiftsong?” I nodded immediately. Oh, yeah.
“Now, Miss Roseblossom, you may show Miss Swiftsong to your home.”
“Ok, sir.” Emma took my arm. “Hold tight!” I felt us spinning around, which I recognized at once as the dizzying sensation of teleporting.
I opened my eyes and wasn’t only dazzled by the bright sunlight.
“Wow,” I said, looking around, “this is where you live?”
“No, all the defenders live here. Although, the boys act like they own the place.”
We walked up the path to a huge forested mansion with a beautiful garden and a bubbling waterfall beside it. It was breathtaking.
“The best part is about it is that it’s a lot bigger inside,” Emma said proudly.
We walked up to a tower about five stories high. “Oh,” said Emma pointing to a huge garden somewhere to the side of the tower. It appeared to have every kind of flower imaginable. “That garden over there is my haven. I will spend hours gardening there.” She sighed, contented. Then she said, “Well, go on inside,” and pushed me through the door.
“Wow, you are right.” I said looking up the spiral staircase. It looked like it would never end. “It really is bigger on the inside.”
“Professor Ambrose cast an extension charm on the inside, so when you see five floors on the outside when you have ten on the inside,” Emma explained. We walked up one story, and came out into a bright cheery room with two beds on each side. It was very clean, not a speck of dust to be found.
“This is the girls’ bedroom,” said Emma. “Nice, isn’t it? Really, you should be glad you live here because the boy’s is the exact opposite; it is a wreck. I can’t believe they can live in that pigsty.”
I walked down the row of beds, scanning every corner of the room. Emma patted a bed right next to a window. “Here is your bed. Ambrose had it made weeks before you came.”
My eyes widened; it just looked so soft. So I launched myself on to the bed and let myself sink down into the cushy mattress. Emma grabbed me by the arm and had to drag me over to a huge cabinet, which was the same honey wood color as the four beds.
Emma flung the doors open. The sun was in such a position that it shone through the window and hit the clothes in the closet to make them shimmer as if magically.
Emma then fingered out a fraction of the clothes that were either dark blue, light blue, white, and purple. “These are your clothes. You can tell by the color, Ambrose had these made a long time before your arrival too.” I looked at the clothes in awe; they were beautiful. Then I ran a finger along the fabric to make sure they were as soft as they looked.
“Oh,” Emma said, swinging the closet doors shut, and nearly smashing my fingers in the process. “I almost forgot.” She danced over to the other side of the room where on hooks, four short dresses hung. “This,” She said swinging on off its hook, “Is your nightdress, you wear it at night.”
“I think I knew that,” I giggled.
Then Emma twirled into an open door at the rear of the room. She emerged holding several items. “This, she said, holding up a soft looking bathrobe, “Is your robe. These,” She said, holding up a small bag. “These are your cosmetics. You know, for hygiene and stuff.” She shook it. A mild commotion came from the bag, like small items jiggling about.
Emma took the stuff back into the room. “Oh, and I’m in the bathroom.” She called to me. I could hear her put away my stuff, and then she danced back out.
“Now, that you know your way around the room,” she said “I will show you the rest of the house.”
She took me down a floor to a bright, open area with windows covering almost every square inch of the walls. “This,” she said, “is our living space,” She swept an open hand across the many couches and bookshelves and wall hangings.
I barely had time to look around before Emma took me through another door.
I found myself inside a huge room. There were targets everywhere, rows of puppets against a wall, a large dueling circle on the floor, and for some reason, a refreshment table.
Then I noticed Sophia Rainhaven, who was shooting spell after spell at a puppet with a target on it. Finally, the puppet exploded.
Sophia walked over the table, to pour herself a cup of water. Emma and I went over to join her.
“Hi Savannah,” Sophia said brightly, taking a sip of water, “did you see me training?”
“This is the training arena,” Emma said “It used to be our storage closet, but we decided to renovate the space a little bit. I mean, who has time to go to Diego’s?”
“So now we come here to do training exercises and stuff like that. It’s really fun. Come back when you’re interested in taking lessons!”
“Continuing our tour...” Emma said, pushing me through the door.
We went up a few stories. About half way up the staircase to the third floor, a ripe smell met my nose. “Blech,” I said, clapping my hands to my nose “What is that smell?”
Emma was pinching her nose too. “Mainly sweaty socks, moldy food, and other garbage.”
We finished climbing the stairs and came upon a disaster of a room. Clothes were stacked so high, you probably had to wade through them. I thought I saw fumes coming from the bathroom.
“Mixed all together into the boy’s bedroom.” Emma said, apparently disgusted.
“How can they live in this?” I asked, wrinkling my nose.
“I have no clue.” Emma said. At the same time we rushed for the next set of stairs. We came to the next floor.
Emma and I entered a room with a peaceful sort of feel. Maybe it was because of the dim, hazy glow cast by the sun or the books stacked up on shelves several feet high.
“This is our library,” said Emma. “We have every single book in the world here.”
“When you say every single book in the world…” I began.
“…I’m just exaggerating, of course,” Emma giggled. “But we do have a lot of books. Come on…”
“The next four floors are rooms we have but never use and storage. But there is something amazing up there I want to show you!” We ran up all the way to the top, laughing and shoving each other out of the way.
Emma pushed open a door to a warm room with plants everywhere.
“This is my rooftop greenhouse,” said Emma. “The boys ask me about it all the time: ‘Isn’t your garden enough?’ They’re just joking, really. But—”
“They’re both really nice,” I said. I was rewarded with a radiant smile from Emma.
“Well,” she said as we walked out of the greenhouse, “I guess this completes our tour. Unless you want to see the kitchen, but there’s nothing interesting there.”
We hung out around the house until everyone out on their quests came home. Then we had a delicious dinner Galen made himself: dragon legs, baked not fried. Then we hung out in the living room, exchanging stories and laughing, before we retired to our bedrooms. The girls stayed up longer than the boys; for they knew they had to tell me everything about being here. But we eventually went to sleep.
But before I did, I went over everything that happened today. I had made some really cool friends, who didn’t think I was a freak, because we were all freaks! But in a good way. And one thing was very clear; this was a heck of a lot better than living in that orphanage.
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