|Tara woke with a jolt from her dream, an image of Mark running towards her with a snarl on his face frozen in her head. Caitlin! she thought. Her eyes flew open, but then she closed them again due to the bright sunlight streaming in through a large glass window. Squinting, she sat up in bed, leaned sideways and yanked pale blue curtains over the crystal clear glass.
Tara yawned, rubbing her eyes. Where am I? she thought as she looked around. She got out of bed.
Tara was in a small room, no larger than 15 feet by 15 feet. There was only room for her bed, a night stand and desk in the corner. She curiously walked over to a window that was right by the door in front of her bed and peeked out. She saw a pond, waterfall, bridge, all sorts of wizards running around to do quests…
I’m in the commons! Tara realized. She walked back to her bed.
Tara rubbed her head as the memory of last night came rushing back to her. She began to panic. Mark and that other guy had gotten away. Why had she let them? They could be right outside her door!
After another bout of panic-ness, she slowly calmed down. Merle Ambrose had said she was safe, and he was no liar. He would have blocked dark magic in all the worlds at the least. I have nothing to fear, Tara thought firmly as she changed into her Marleybonian Precious Cloak. She shoved her Feline’s Icy Boots onto her feet, plopped Doctor’s Visor of Severity on her head, whistled for her pet snow serpent, Sheba, to come, grabbed Staff of the Ice Wyvern and opened the door to face the day.
Tara closed her book with a satisfied, “Uh-huh.” She reached into her backpack and brought out a HUGE journal. Next to Oddities of the Spiral: Volume 3 she put a check, then stood up from one of the small library desks and walked to the east library shelf.
“You’ve finished another one?!”
Tara smiled and let go of the book. She watched it zoom to its home shelf before she replied, “Hello, Emily,” and turned around to see her friend’s disbelieving face.
Emily haughtily crossed her arms over her chest. “I can’t believe it. I have been in the spiral two months longer then you, and yet I haven’t read half the books you have!”
Her expression softened into a strained smile. “I hoped I’d find you here. You may have already guessed, but word travels fast here.”
“Yeah. I guessed. Probably half of the spiral knows. It was scary, and to think they got away…” Tara shuddered.
“Yep. Anyways…” She frowned for a second, as if she was trying to remember what to say. “Oh yeah! Hey, guess what?! Guess guess guess!” Without waiting for a reply, Emily swept with a flourish out of her cloak (Robe of Exertion)… “A book!” A huge smile took up most of her face. “Ta-da!”
“Wow, I didn’t know you had pockets in these things!” Tara joked.
“Ok, ok! Oh, Emily, thank you! You know me so well!” Tara said with honest appreciation.
Emily beamed. “I hope you haven’t read it. Especially since…” She waved a hand towards the shelves.
Tara accepted the book, titled Rare and Mysterious Beings of the Spiral, Including Types of Wizards. Tara looked up into Emily’s smiling face. She had big, slightly angled brown eyes, and a small, playful smile. Her light brown hair was tied back in a pony, with some strands framing her face. Most of the top of her head, though, was covered by a Druidic Cowl. On her feet were high-heeled Boots of the Verge. She was currently the same level of wizardry as Tara, 37, and was also in MooShu, but her subscription access pass to the worlds had run out.
Tara remembered her manners. “Oh, Emily, thank you! And no, I haven’t read it. However did you get it? The book I just finished was the last before the Advanced Section!”
Emily shifted uncomfortably. “Uh, well…” she tried. “Ok, fine. Haley and I stole it from the Advanced Section. That’s why I’ve been giving you the ‘silent treatment.` There was a curse on the gates and…ugh.” Emily explained, shuddering at the end (F.Y.I. Haley is Emily’s sister).
Tara hugged her friend, then went back to her desk to return the nine volumes she had read that morning.
“So, when did you remember my birthday?”Tara questioned oh-so-nonchalantly.
“Huh?! What are you talking about?” Underneath her friend’s surprise Tara could hear a hint of guiltiness.
Tara sighed, and let go of Thaumaturge’s Handbook- Surprise Everyone by What You Know! It flew off to its home.
“Well, my birthday is in September- maybe you’ll remember next year. Oh, and by the way, you really stink at lying.” Tara answered.
“I did not forget your birthday!”
“I never asked!”
“I still didn’t!”
“You did too!”
“Girls!” Harold Argleston hissed.
Emily stuck out her tongue at her right as Tara let go of her book. It was heading towards the north shelf, and unfortunately, well, Emily was apparently north.
The book hit her square in the face and sent her sprawling. “TARA!” Emily jumped up and roared, then lunged towards Tara. Tara quickly dodged her, giggling. She leaped nimbly around her desk, while Emily crashed into it.
“GIRLS!” Harold roared.
Tara ran towards his desk at top speed. She jumped over it, and at the top of her jump cast a floating spell. She landed softly on the other side, while Emily… let’s just say she sent the librarian’s papers flying.
Passersby and Tara were clutching their stomachs laughing. Emily stood up and examined a treasure card as Harold rose too, looking livid. “I think this is yours.” Emily said smiling, placing the card in his hand and patting it. Then she ran over to Tara and they both ran out the door, holding hands and roaring with laughter.
“Hang on, oh hang on Tara, please, or I’m gonna pass out.” Emily gasped.
“Ok.” Tara waited as Emily caught her breath. She finally stood up straight.
“Ok, fine. I did forget your birthday. It’s already December, nearly January, and I can’t believe I forgot! But the book was also because of last night. I… I feel really bad for you.” Emily shuffled her feet.
She perked up. “Anyways, I have to go eat lunch. I may not be around for a while, because we’re going with some friends.”
No sooner had Emily finished talking when a messenger skipped up to Tara. “Tara, Tara FairyPetal? Um, Professor Ambrose wants to see you in his office, and he says it’s urgent. Really urgent. Please get there at once.” the messenger conveyed, then skipped off again.
Tara sighed. She had been expecting the message all morning, but she was still reluctant to see what Merle had to say.
Emily smiled at her nervous look. “You’ll be fine. I’ll see yah around,” she reassured, and with that she teleported away.
Tara took a deep breath. Gathering up her courage she ran through the pond and into Merle’s house. She didn’t see him in the main entrance, so she went into the spiral room.
Gamma flew from his perch to hover in front of her as soon as she walked in. “The headmaster is in his rooooom.” He jerked his head towards a door Tara had never seen before. She walked over and stood before it, straightening her robe and hat.
She knocked. “Enter,” came an old, weary voice from within. With a final deep breath, Tara entered the room where her life would change.
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