|A candle slowly sparks into flames. It is a small flame, but it still provided much light.
However, it did so with no reason. Almost as if by magic.
Two figures sit talking.
“How is he progressing?”
“He is very young…they are always hard to figure out at first.”
“But at a guess?”
“I don’t know. Well, I suppose. He doesn’t know his own power.”
“We can work on that.”
“In time, but we mustn’t jump the gun. If we tell him now, it will make him suspicious.”
“Better than to let Ambrose-”
The second figure suddenly stiffened.
“I forbid you to mention that man ever again.”
The first figure flinched, than hastened to correct its mistake.
“Of course…of course…I am sorry…”
“This war has gone for too long. It needs to end…preferably in my favor.”
The second figure sighed. “I am merely…disappointed. Disappointed that she d-” It stuttered and stopped at the word.
After a long pause, the first one hesitantly completed the sentence.
My life doesn’t make sense.
Why can’t I have a normal life? A life where I can be accepted, or at least a life where I don’t need to be an outcast. As you might have guessed by now, I’m not normal. Whether it was making a bright room darker, or wearing “dark” or “dreary” colors, or having an odd attraction to zombie horror movies, there was always something I was doing that was abnormal, or strange. I should also probably mention that I don’t have parents. No, I don’t live in an orphanage.
I’m pretty solitary; I live on the streets. Pretty nomadic. It’s not really all that bad, if you like the lifestyle. But you’re probably wondering, “How does he actually survive like that?” Well, I haven’t exactly been living on the streets for that long. Only two weeks.
I tried living in an orphanage at first, and let me tell you, that didn’t last very long. At least, not after I finally decided to pluck up the courage to run away.
My name’s Blake, by the way.
It was night. Particularly cold and dreary.
I warily scanned the park.
Scraps, leftovers, the trash cans if I needed to.
I spotted bottle standing on a bench, all alone.
I eagerly walked over, and shook it. I heard something sloshing inside of it.
I tipped it over and took a sip.
I quickly drained the rest of the bottle, sighing with relief. First thing I had gotten to drink in several hours.
Of course there were water fountains, but a guy can get tired of water eventually.
I sighed again, and trudged over to my temporary home. To be exact, the tube at the playground.
I sat down inside and took a small badge out of my pocket. It was the only thing I had from my parents to remember them by. Not a picture, not a letter, no, just this, old, black, badge. There was a skull on it, if you looked closely enough, and several words. They were hard, if not impossible, to make out, but you could make out several letters, in this order:
The only whole word I got out of that was “of”. Not much I could gain from that. And Mas…what could that mean? Masonry, masquerade, mass…none of it made sense. And “eath?” Breath, heath, leather… Death?
Why should that be strange? I thought. It doesn’t make any sense, just like the rest of my life.
I decided to get some sleep. Strangeness is never easy on someone.
Better to be well rested for when it came.
I woke up to a strange smell.
Not the way dirt normally smells. Musty, in a way. Didn’t smell great, bottom line. As though something had recently died near me.
Faced with this possibility, I raised my head slightly, being careful not to bang my head on the top of the tube. Craning my neck to look around, I saw a trail of dirt. I wasn’t spread out, but a more or less line, zigzagging and back-tracking, and not seeming to have any particular direction.
Time to make some observations.
Was it normal?
Did I know what could have caused it?
Was it safe?
Should I follow the trail to see where it goes?
Now you have an idea of what normally goes on inside my head.
I groaned, and pulled on my black jacket. Blinking and squinting in the light, I studied the trail. Apparently, whoever-whatever- had caused this trail had ambled around aimlessly in the park, until they had (by coincidence or on purpose…) Walked right into my tube.
I paused suddenly.
What would someone want with me?
I’m no criminal. I just live a simple life… A very, very simple life…famous last words.
Looking ahead, the trail lead into a clump of bushes, past the park.
Always wanted an adventure. Following the trail beyond the bushes, I found the trail lead up and down the sidewalks of the streets, out of sight. Some adventure. Maybe I should see if someone left a scooter in the lost-and-found in the local public school. I wasn’t very prepared for a possibly day-long hike, so, guess what I did. I went anyway. I swear, I’ll be the death of myself yet. Taking a few final sips from the water fountain, I started trekking up the street. While I was walking, careful not to step in the dirt, I decided to see what it was. I found a large dead leaf on the ground, and scooped up just a small sample of the dirt in it, and brought it up to me nose and eyes for a closer inspection.
I gasped suddenly, and dropped the leaf. It smelled suspiciously like something that didn’t belong in the middle of a city park. You probably haven’t ever been in an old grave yard before, have you?
Well, (and here I speak from personal experience, having several times slept in an old hollow oak tree at a graveyard,) this dirt smells suspiciously like the kind that sits without water or any other kind of nutrients, like sun, for years.
So, what, a gravedigger came calling?
I hesitated. Could I really reach an all-time-high of stupidity by going any further? Then again, why had I come to this point? Was I going to give up now? After I had already come this way? Sometimes, I wish I had more answers than questions.
As I walked on, I felt a funny feeling in my head. It was an odd buzzing and trembling feeling, like the kind you get when you sit staring at the television for several hours straight. It was only buzzing at first, but then I heard murmuring, and eventually I was able to make out several words.
“Walking…following us…he approaches…”
Pulse quickening, I started to walk faster.
“The…one…he knows not…”
I started to jog, wondering if I should scream, cry, or do both.
“Approaching…closer…I see him…I SEE HIM!”
Time for option four: Run like a maniac.
While I ran, I looked behind my shoulder, and saw a dark figure carrying something long following me. At this point, the buzzing had turned into a roar, accompanied by an electric crackle.
I thought tridents went out of style, like, two thousand years ago?
Whoever it was, they were carrying a long trident that glinted in the mid-morning light. They didn’t even seem to be walking. More…gliding.
Just then, out of nowhere, a column of wind and black dust materialized out of nowhere.
A boy stood in front of me. He seemed to be only thirteen or fourteen years old. He was wearing black (what? Robes?) and a black hat to match that looked like something a jester in Medieval Times would have worn. His eyes were red, just like mine…did I forget to mention that?
Anyway, his eyes blazed. He yelled to be heard over the roaring, and extended his hand to me as he did.
“Do you want to live?”
I hesitated. I looked behind me, seeing the…fish?...raising the trident, electricity crackling on the top.
I looked back to his face. “If it means getting away from that? Definitely.”
I reached over, grabbed his hand, heard the angry scream of the fish-creature behind us, started to spin, and then everything went black.
I fell onto the ground on all fours, coughing and sputtering. I collapsed on the ground and closed my eyes, and listened to the voices around me.
“Did you save him?”
“Yes, Headmaster Ambrose. He was about to be fried by a rogue Triton.
I think it was,” the voice hesitated, “one of their Tritons, Professor. Probably trying to take him out early.”
The other person breathed out, then continued, sounding relieved.
“Good. If you could give us a few minutes, Ethan..?”
I heard footsteps shuffling, then a door being opened and then closed.
Silence for a few seconds. Then, “Why are you still down there, Blake?”
I trembled and groaned as I sat up, my side aching. “How do you know my name?”
I looked around and spotted the person that was talking. It was a man wearing a pointed hat, something a magician might wear. It had stars on it, and he was wearing a robe to match. He had a long white beard, and he was holding a staff in his left hand.
He smiled, and it seemed so natural for him to do that, as though he was born smiling. “We have been watching you for many years now, and we have decided that it is finally time for you to join the Ravenwood School of Magical Arts!”
I stared at him. “The Ravenwood School of what?”
He merely smiled some more. “Magical Arts, young Wizard.”
“What did you just call me?”
“Why, a Wizard! And from all that we have seen by watching you as a child, one with mighty potential and power, too.”
I carefully chose the next words. “You’re crazy.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Oh, am I?”
He raised his staff, and I flinched, thinking he would hit me with it.
Instead, he traced it through the air, creating green light as it went. When it was finished, a picture of a bright leaf made entirely out of green sparkling light glowed in front of me. In wonder, I reached out to touch it, but it dissipated with a ping sound before I could. That wasn’t the end of it though. Less than a second later, I felt more green light glowing. A hum started up, getting louder and louder, but pleasantly so. Not too loud, more like the hum from a vibrating chair. Felt like one too. Green light enveloped me, and I felt my body starting to feel uplifted, all the aches from sleeping in a large plastic tube gone. I sighed as it was done, and felt amazed by the fact it had all happened and finished in less than six seconds.
I looked back up at him. “Not crazy, huh?”
He laughed. “Afraid not. But soon, you yourself will be a Wizard, too.
Just after you consult my book, here.” He gestured to a lectern, upon which there was a big brown book. Curiously, I opened it up carefully, but very eager to see what was inside. I was almost disappointed at what was inside; questions on myself. Oh well, I thought. If this is what it takes to be a wizard.
After I had answered all the questions, I turned to the last page, which was blank. As I watched, though, the page started to sprout all the colors of the rainbow, morphing and changing. Eventually, the page stopped spinning and morphing, and I was able to read what it said.
YOU HAVE CHOSEN THE SCHOOL OF DEATH, the title proclaimed. Beneath that, there was a small cartoon picture of a cartoon wizard smiling and waving a wand, sitting on a large pile of skulls with a skeleton.
On the sides there were pictures of real people. Necromancers, I thought. A boy and a girl, each one holding a different staff. The girl was holding a staff that looked like something a shepherd would carry, the boy a curving staff that ended in a hooded head that had its mouth open, as though it were screaming. I proceeded to read the description.
“Death Wizards are often Solitary, Driven, Serious and Intelligent.
Famous Necromancers include Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, and Ophelia.
Death Wizards use drains, taking strength from their enemies and healing themselves.”
I shivered, then smiled grimly to myself. This made sense, then, after all. Nice change of things. Dracula, Ophelia; it made sense.
Everything suddenly did. Now I realized that my life before now…it wasn’t that it didn’t make sense; it made too much sense. If that was possible. I felt myself recounting the things that had once mystified me; my strange likeness of places dark, damp, and cold. Attractions to zombies and skeletons. I even started thinking about one time when I found a skeleton of a goldfish, and it had begun to walk…I had sworn to myself that I would never speak of that, but it seemed to me now that not speaking of those kinds of things was not going to be common, here in whatever-they-called-it.
I noticed that although it was morning when I was, well, teleported, I suppose, by that wizard, it was morning, but now it was already twilight, and I heard the masses of students talking and laughing as they all headed in one direction. I even heard other sounds I would not have expected to hear: the clip-clopping of hooves, the roar of something similar to the Triton, I had heard them call it, the swishing of heavy and huge wings, and sparks and giggles and flashes of light; magic.
I yawned as I followed another student through a tunnel; I forgot what his name was, but I remembered that he was supposed to be leading me towards my dorm room. Boarding school, huh. But boarding school or not, something told me I wasn’t going to be going back to Earth any time soon. As we passed through the other end of the tunnel I gasped, a sound I was making a lot recently. I heard the other Wizard chuckle.
“Novices,” he teased lightly.
I wasn’t listening. I had just stepped into a place that was beyond what I had expected a wizard school to be.
A massive tree, its trunk at least a hundred yards around, most likely more, its branches extending over the entire plaza, hundreds of feet long, with countless leaves, making an enormous natural ceiling. But what really caught my eye were the school houses. I couldn’t see them all around this gigantic tree; at the moment, I only saw two, and two more in the distance. They each had different colors, the two I could see best were green and purple, at least, I think it was purplish, because it was hard to tell with it raining and lightning flashing and a cloud right in front of it to tell.
I would have just stood there and continued to stare, but the other wizard tugged at my arm and pointed at a smaller building that I supposed was my dorm. As we walked to it, a bunch of girl wizards ran past us, giggling and being followed by all manner of magical creatures; miniature snow men, small dragons, unicorns, salamanders, pigs carrying swords- I blinked. This was a little much to take in on my first day. I walked into the boys’ dormitory, and sat on a bed that was marked with a skull and the words “Blake Soulflame: New Necromancer” on it.
Soulflame? Was that my last name? Hmm…
I like it!
I smiled, and jumped onto the bed, pulling the covers over myself.
“I wonder what I will learn tomorrow.”
I woke up to the sound of arguing.
“An adept death could totally take an adept myth!”
“No way,” the other one insisted. “Myth summons tons of minions, dude.
Death wouldn’t stand a chance.”
“Oh, sure they summon minions, but they can’t do anything besides that! Besides, don’t you know that when death wizards use certain spells, they attack and get health back? No contest!”
“Well, why don’t we ask the novice?”
I felt the impact of a book hitting my chest I sat up and rubbed my eyes in the light. I saw two boys, one in green robes, and one in black. It was just a rough guess, but I guessed the guy in black robes was death, and the one in yellow was myth. They stared at me expectantly.
“So?” the one in yellow asked impatiently.
“Which would win?” the death one asked eagerly.
I hesitated, then grinned at the one in black robes. “Oh yeah, death would win.”
He grinned, then slapped me a high five. “Oh, this one knows, heh-heh.”
The guy in yellow just frowned, muttered something about newbies, whistled to a flaming dog (I rubbed my eyes at this point to make sure they were working properly,) and walked stiffly outside.
I looked to the death wizard, and grinned slightly. “Would death win?”
The guy shrugged. “All really depends…I would root for the death guy, though. But maybe that’s just because I am death. Who knows.”
Hmm. I picked up my new robes and wand I had bought yesterday at the shopping district (apparently, Ravenwood School has a new-children’s
fund) and paced around. “Hey, want to go to death class together?”
He frowned. “Well, I’m actually in initiate’s death class…”
“Oh.” I was disappointed. “So what level are you?”
“Dang. I’m just a novice. Level one, I guess. So, I’ll see you at break?”
“Yeah, guess so.”
I left, and as I was walking away, I called over my shoulder, “Hey, what’s your name?”
“Ethan Nightbringer,” he called back. “You?”
I quickly learned a lot about the school’s recent events. About how the death teacher, named Malistaire (why did that name sound
familiar..?) had fled from the school for reasons more or less unknown, but according to most people, to wreak havoc with his Necromancy. Apparently, some people even called him the Necromaster.
I was disappointed that my particular teacher had, to use the phrase, done a bunk, along with the school (darn it.) But there was a former student of Malistaire, named Malorn Ashthorn, who taught us in the death tower. He explained to us that we should always have a second school to go along with our main focus. I wasn’t sure what my second school should be, but I only knew about two schools so far, the myth and the death. I would need to decide once I learned about the others.
I think someone told me that there are seven in all. After listening to a lengthy monologue from Malorn, I quickly learned the spell dark sprite. I was disappointed to learn that it wasn’t one of those “drains” that the Book of Secrets had talked about. Malorn told us we would learn our first drain at level five, which was when we graduated to become apprentices. I saw some strong people walking around, who had graduated up to Grandmasters, but Malorn told us it was gonna be a long time until we graduated to those.
Anyway, I had learned the dark sprite on my first try, which raised a lot of eyebrows, including Malorn’s. They started asking me how long I had been practicing necromancy, and it was hard to convince them that this was my first time, and that before this morning, I had been sleeping on the streets of a place called Earth, where magic didn’t exist. This was about where I lost everyone.
After the day, I walked back to Ethan. He was really excited when I met him, and he told me he had found a secret.
He led me over to the waterfall in the commons, and pushed me through it. Where I had expected there to be solid wall, there was instead a tunnel. At the very end, there was a black door with a skull on it.
“I cant open it,” Ethan said. “Its locked, or something.”
I walked over to the door and studied it. I pressed my hand onto it, and suddenly the eyes in the skull turned red, and the door vibrated beneath my shaking hand.
Pushing the door open, I craned my head around to see what was inside.
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