There was no light in the sky that night, none at all. The moon was hidden behind a veil of clouds, and the stars were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps it was the lack of light that made the glowing golden pillar so striking.
It hovered over a small patch of trees that were nestled in the mountains. For a moment, the pillar seemed to breathe-in and out, in and out- and then it shivered and began to sparkle, growing brighter and brighter until it shone like the sun. And then it disappeared. There were no witnesses.
Just a few miles away, a small family slumbered in a humble cottage, unaware that tomorrow would bring a new mouth to feed: a baby girl that their father would find lying in a small cove of pine trees, wrapped in a shimmering golden blanket. They didn’t know that their lives would be changed by this small being. For now, they slept.
Far away, in large town, the wailing of baby could be heard. A woman rocked her three-month-old boy as he screamed. She whispered to him the story she had been told as a child: of a nonsensical world where there was no such thing as magic. A small smile came to the child’s lips as though he found it ridiculous. The child slowly quieted, staring into her tired blue eyes with his sparkling emerald ones. He slept.
Even farther away, two men stood over the body of a beautiful woman. One held a glowing sword; the other, a flickering staff. They were both breathing hard. The one with the sword seemed to realize something; he burst into tears and dropped his weapon, which went clanging to the ground. He fell to his knees beside the woman and clutched her to his chest, burying his face in her hair. His shoulders shook with sobs. The other man stared for a moment before slowly walking away, his eyes glittering with maliciousness and his mouth dancing with a wide smile. He smiled as a roar of rage caused him to spin around. He smiled as the sword point entered his chest. He smiled even as the last breath passed over his lips.
There was no light in the sky that night. It was peaceful, still. No one would expect that a night like this would be the beginning of the end.
My name’s Wolf Shadow. Wolf like the animal. What my mom was thinking when she named me Wolf I’m not even going to guess. It’s got to be one of the most ridiculous names in the world. No one should have to be named after an animal. Gotta think optimistic, gotta think optimistic. Well, maybe I’m lucky. It could’ve been worse. At least I didn’t get named Bunny.
It was my first day in school. Not just any old regular boring school, a magic one. A school of wizardry. Most kids looked forward to going, I mean, who wouldn’t want to have the chance to learn magic? Yup, that would be me and unfortunately, I’d been accepted. Up until then, I was attending the school that was just a short walk from my house. It taught the regular stuff – potion making, herb-gathering, how to change your appearance, etc. – nothing too exceptional. And then I showed an ability to do magic and suddenly I’m standing in front of the gates with my book bag and a box of cookies my mom had been thoughtful enough to give to me before she abandoned me here.
More people began to show up, and the chilly morning air lost some of its bitterness. Soon there were about two hundred of us. I recognized a few people that had lived close to me, but for the most part, everyone was new and strange. I saw a few people with oddly colored hair and couldn’t help thinking that this was an insane asylum disguised as a school. Oh gosh. I knew it was only a matter of time before I got put in one of these.
The gates began to part on silent hinges. Behind them stood an old, old man with a hunchback, a wrinkled face, and tiny silver glasses perched on his large nose. When he smiled, his lips quivered a bit.
“Welcome, students of Ravenwood!” he exclaimed in a surprisingly deep voice. “Welcome, future wizards of the Spiral! Come in, and we’ll get you settled into your schools.”
We followed him into a large room full of benches that were turned to face a wooden podium where a stork stood leafing through a mass of papers. He glanced up when our group entered.
“Take a seat!” the old man called. “Take a seat!” He raised his voice against the clamor and clanging of people trying to sit by those they knew. Who knew benches could make so much noise?
“Quiet!” the stork yelled. “QUIET!”
The old man smiled gratefully and leaned on his walking stick to look at us.
“Students, welcome to Ravenwood Academy. I am Headmaster Ambrose. Behind me you see the seven professors who will be teaching you while you attend our school. Each one is certified in their magic subject and is here to help you achieve the greatest extent of learning possible. In a few moments you will be placed into the school that the Book of Secrets decided you would be best in. From there you will be allowed to choose one other school to study from. Although you will have regularly scheduled class time, most of your learning will be taking place outside the classroom,”
“My students, you come here in a dangerous and turbulent time. The forces of evil conspire against this magic, this school, this way of life. They are attempting to obliterate good even as we speak. Not only are you coming here to learn magic, it is also my hope that you come here in order to help protect the Spiral. I must warn you now – magic is not to be tampered with. It may seem fun and games, but it will hurt you. I ask, please, that you keep your head about you and proceed with extreme caution that you and others might benefit from your abilities.”
He smiled at our grim faces. “And now, on a lighter note, I present our teachers!”
There was a hesitant bit of clapping which stopped almost as soon as it began.
“Professor Halston Balestrom, teacher of Storm magic.” The frog bounced his way forward and stood, trying to look grave but failing entirely. “If your name is called,” the Headmaster continued, “You have been chosen to study Storm magic. Diviners, follow your professor, please. Mr. Lincoln,” He nodded to the stork who began reading names. I waited eagerly for mine to be read– this was my first choice of school – but no Wolf Shadow was called.
“Professor Lydia Greyrose, teacher of Ice magic.” An old fairy dressed in different shades of blue fluttered forward. Her matronly grey bun bobbed as she smiled at us. “Thaumatuges, if you’ll please follow Professor Greyrose.…” Again, students were called – about twenty this time – and led away.
“Professor Dalia Falmea, teacher of Fire!” he gestured to a tall women with soot black eyes, a long red dress, and yellow-orange hair that was piled messily atop her head. “Pyromancers, Come up here and Professor Falmea will take you around campus.” Mr. Lincoln shot off another thirty names. The kids stood and nervously joined Professor Falmea, who led them out a door.
“This is Professor Malorn Ashthorn,” the Headmaster said, gesturing to a boy that seemed just a little older than us. “Don’t be deceived by his appearance. Even though he’s quiet young, he’s undoubtedly one of the most powerful Necromancers ever to set foot on Ravenwood grounds.” The boy smiled and his white teeth stood out against the tan skin of his face. A group of girls behind me started giggling. Another thirty-five kids disappeared out the door.
And I started to worry. There were only three schools left: Life, Myth, and Balance. There was no way I was gonna be Life – no boys had ever gotten into that. And Balance students, Sorcerers, were really rare. That left Myth. I swore to myself that if I was put into Myth I was just walking home no matter the consequences.
“Professor Cyrus Drake,” the headmaster called. “Teacher of Myth magic.” A tall, thin, gaunt man strode forward, his long yellow robes swishing around his ankles, and his bald head gleaming. He peered down his long nose at us as the names were called. Not mine. I barely suppressed the urge to get down on my knees and let out a thankful prayer. His scared kids followed him out the door.
“Professor Moolinda Wu,” Headmaster Ambrose said. “Teacher of Life magic.” A large white and brown cow clad in a green robe waltzed gracefully to the front. She smiled kindly at our depleted group. The last of the students – all girls – were called up, and they exited, leaving me, the Headmaster, the stork, and the last professor. I was about to blow with excitement. Me! A Sorcerer!
And then my world exploded.
“Professor Arthur Wethersfield,” said the Headmaster. “I’m afraid you don’t have any new students this year.” The man-sized dog sighed and his furry shoulders dropped.
“To be honest, Merle, I did think….” he sighed again and walked out, shaking his head.
“Now, Wolf,” said the Headmaster as he walked towards me. “I’m sure you’re wondering why you weren’t called.”
“Yes, sir,” I replied. Inside, I was fuming. Of course I’d been wondering! What did he think I was doing, sitting here thinking of the weather? His mustache twitched as if he knew I was a little bit irked with their way of handling things.
“Something extraordinary happened when we consulted the Book of Secrets about you,” he continued. “And –“
“Book of Secrets?”
“It’s the magical artifact that determines what school you are placed in. Very old. Very smart. Very dangerous. Now, when we consulted the Book of Secrets about you, it said something very odd. Extremely odd. We didn’t believe it at first; we even thought that someone had tampered with the book at first.”
I waited a moment, but he didn’t go on. “What did it say?” I finally asked in a hushed voice. The situation seemed to call for secrecy.
“Ah,” he said smiling a little, “Well, I’m afraid I can’t tell you. Not all of it.”
Oh of course. Silly me. I mean, I totally understand bringing up the subject if you can’t talk about it. I do that all the time, too.
“But… I can tell you that you are destined for something great.” He winked. “But I already knew that. All my students turn out to be great in one way or another.” He stared at me for a moment. “You’re going to wish you’d never come here – I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true. Despite that, I think you will stay.” He heaved himself up with a sigh.
“Did it say anything about… my school?” I could tell by his face that he’d been waiting for me to ask.
“Of course it did. You know, Mr. Shadow, things often happen and we can’t even begin to guess why. Sometimes…those things don’t make sense. They challenge the rules and beliefs that we previously had. They seem impossible. And-“
“Did I not get into a school, sir?” Can I skip this year?
“Goodness no!” he exclaimed. “Of course you did!”
“Well, then, what is it?” I was long past the point of agitation.
There was a pregnant pause.
“Mr. Shadow, I’m pleased to inform you that the Book of Secrets has chosen you to become a theurgist.
You’re in the School of Life.”
Well. I wasn’t expecting that.
Somewhere in the Spiral
The man angrily swished his staff through the bubbling image of Ambrose and the startled boy with brilliant emerald eyes. He seethed quietly in the dark.
“I thought he was the one. They all told me that he would be the next Sorcerer!” He swore softly under his breath and then grew thoughtful. “Still. Ambrose has found himself a formidable wizard indeed. He can complete his team now. And with a male theurgist, too….” He shook his head as if it would get rid of the thoughts. “Not now,” he said, striding towards a spiraling staircase and beginning to ascend. “Not now. Later, maybe. After the Sorcerer.”
The stairs led to a small, square, brightly lit room. Tapestries covered the wall, mostly depicting grisly scenes of death, but one was of a beautiful young woman holding a tiny baby in her arms. He carefully pushed this aside and touched the grey wall behind it. Instantly, the wall began to disappear. Behind it stood a carved wooden pedestal; on the pedestal rested a golden sword hilt.
The man rubbed the hilt possessively.
“The Sorcerer first,” He whispered, “Wherever he is.”
Walking into the Life classroom was one of the worst experiences of my life. Professor Wu was in the middle of talking; as the door opened everyone looked up at me. I could feel my cheeks grow warm. I was blushing now of all times! How like a girl.
“Did you need something?” she asked distractedly. Great. Just great. Why can’t the heavens open up and strike me down with lighting?
“Um, yeah. I’m Wolf Shadow….” She didn’t take the hint. “I’m kind of a…um…Theurgist.”
“I think you might have the wrong class, dear,” she smiled.
“The Headmaster told me to come here. I’m actually a Theurgist. Wolf Shadow. I’m Life wizard. So since this is the Life classroom I should be here.” As I babbled, her already large eyes grew larger.
“Ooh! You’re that one.” She blushed a bit. “I’m terribly sorry; I forgot all about you! Go ahead and take a seat.” The only free seat left was the one immediately in front of her, next to a young girl with bright blue hair dressed in bubblegum pink robes. She smiled at me as I sat down. Oh boy.
“And you’re enrolling in school two weeks late because…?” The Headmaster of Ravenwood School frowned at me over his glasses.
“My family and I went on a trip around the Spiral,” I explained. “We only just got back.”
“Will I still be able to come to school? Do I have to wait till next year?”
He smiled as if guessing that I would welcome any time off from school. “I’m afraid not. I’ll have to find out which school you’ll be joining. And you’ll be a bit behind the others in your class, but I think you can catch up. Wait here.” He heaved himself up from the desk and walked out of the room.
It would be kind of nosy to poke around his books, but it wasn’t like I had anything else to do. I picked up a particularly boring looking volume from one of the piles on his desk and flipped it open. It was written in some archaic language. But the pictures were interesting.
I heard a weak cough behind me. Headmaster Ambrose was back. Quickly setting the book back down I stood.
“Come with me,” he said shortly, leading me up a set of stairs. We entered a circular room with bare floors and bare walls. “Wait here,” he instructed, leaving once again. Maybe I wasn’t going to be getting into the school after all. Thank you!
A few minutes later he returned followed by all of Ravenwood’s teachers.
“Did I do something wrong?” I asked. “Am I not supposed to be here?”
“No, you’re right where you’re supposed to be,” the Headmaster said through a small smile before he turned to the group. “Teachers, Guardians,” he begins, “it has finally happened.” He stood quietly for such a long time that finally the Myth teacher – I’d know him anywhere – said in a bored voice:
“What’s happened, Ambrose? There’s a great deal of things we’ve been waiting for and – “
“There is once again a Sorcerer among us,” Headmaster Ambrose interrupted. Crap. This can’t be happening.
“Her?” One of the kids finally broke the awkward silence. “But that doesn’t make sense. The Prophecy predicted a boy. Besides, girls can’t be Sorcerers!”
“Nevertheless,” Headmaster Ambrose gestured to me. “Teachers, Guardians, I’d like you all to meet Destiny. The Thirteenth Sorcerer.”
For a long time now one could speak. “Great,” said the boy who’d spoken before. “This changes everything.”
They boy’s name was Joshua Firestar. Alias Josh ‘Run away’ Firestar. Better known to me as my captor. Babysitter. Whatever. He was probably one of the most popular kids at school, a well deserved title in my opinion. With caramel skin, mischievous orange eyes and a forever smiling face, he’d been pegged as a trickster from day one. My kind of guy. Unfortunately, we were sworn enemies until he stopped being so bossy.
My second week here. They wouldn’t even let me speak with my family. I didn’t even know where my family was. After they’d discovered I was the Sorcerer, Ambrose had insisted that my family had to go into hiding in case the people trying to kill me decided to use them as bait.
Oh yeah. There’re people trying to kill me. Surprise!
So now I was tagging along with Josh no matter where he went. And unfortunately, that meant going with him to his private lesson with some kid named Tiger or something who apparently couldn’t tell fire from…. Well, let’s just say he wasn’t the best at Pyromancy.
“I could stay in my room,” I suggested, jogging to keep up with Josh’s long strides. We were already late for his lesson in the Fire school.
“It’ll be fun. You can sit there and read while I try and get him ready for his next test.”
“Wow. That totally sounds like fun. Almost. Ok, not really. Could we go do something fun like…I don’t know…bang our heads a million times against an angry Cyclops? At least we’d get some results.”
He just pushed me inside the school.
“No man-handling, dude.” I protested.
“Hi, Wolf,” he said, flinging my bag full of books on the closest table and completely ignoring me. “This is Destiny. Destiny, this is Wolf.”
“Your name’s Wolf?” I asked. Not tiger. Dang it.
“Wolf Shadow, Theurgist extraordinaire, at your service.” I smiled at his eagerness. What a dork.
“You’re in Life?” That was cool.
“I’m special,” He replied sounding bothered and angry. “You’re probably Death or something stupid like that.” Ouch. But didn’t see how that was supposed to be offensive. I mean, look at Flint. Best darn Necromancer I’d ever met. And he had a killer sense of sarcasm, too. Besides Wolf’d be bowing or something if he knew what school I really was.
I frowned at him and slid towards my books.
“You’ve sure got a way with the ladies,” Josh observed. “Anyhow, let’s get started. K, I want you to hold your hands like this and….”
“Listen,” Destiny said looking up at me, “I’m tired of following you around. I know you think you’ve got to protect me, but I’m perfectly capable of looking after myself. Besides, Ravenwood’s safe. I’m really grateful that you’re trying to look out for me, but I’m the same old Destiny I was before I came here. I’ll be fine.”
“K,” I said, getting angry. “I’ll explain it to you one more time. You are a Sorcerer. The Thirteenth Sorcerer. If we let you get kidnapped or killed, it’s going to be a disaster. People could get hurt. It’s really important that you stay safe, and it’s my job as a Guardian to make sure you stay safe, and it’s your job as the Sorcerer to make sure you’re safe. Which means I need to look out for you. You’re really special, Destiny.”
She brushed aside my compliment. “Everyone’s special,” she said mockingly. “What about that life kid, Wolf? He’s special, but you’re not dragging him all over the place to talk with a bunch of boring people! I’ll gladly trade him. I’m a giver like that.”
I wanted to smack myself. “You don’t get it! You’re a –“
“Sorcerer, yeah! I know! Big deal! Man, if I knew you were guys were gonna make all this fuss I would’ve just asked to be homeschooled.” She shook her head and held her hands up, examining them.
Destiny scowled. “I don’t want to be a Sorcerer. I just want to go home!” She suddenly stood and began walking away.
“Destiny!” I yelled after her. “Destiny! Get back here!” She kept walking. This girl was making me super mad. I ran after her and caught her by the shoulders. “You can’t leave, all right. You want to know why? Cause you’re the –“
“If you say Sorcerer I’m going to kick you,” she warned.
“Last one who can help us,” I finished. Whew.
“I’m seriously fed up with this. Let me go back to my family.”
“Fine!” I’d finally lost my patience. “Just fine. Come with me, and I’ll prove it!” I gripped her wrist as she reluctantly followed me to the Library.
“We need to get into the Room of Scrolls,” I told the Librarian in a lowered voice. He looked from me to Destiny and seemed to recognize her.
“Of course!” he squeaked an excited whisper. He dug around in a drawer and shut it in disgust when he couldn’t find it. “It’s in here somewhere,” he laughed nervously, “Just let me find it….” A few more drawers.
“Here it is!” He proudly held up a small bronze key. His somewhat dusty face gleamed with pride.
“Thanks,” I said, taking it from him. The Library was steadily beginning to fill with people, and so it was harder than usual to duck into the secret door that led to the Room of Scrolls. But we did it.
The room was dusty as though no one ever came in. And they didn’t. The Room of Scrolls was the place where every single magical prophecy and prediction that had ever been made was kept. It was also the storage place for all the magical weapons, spells, and tons of other stuff that I had been forbidden to mess with. Opposite the door, a honeycomb bookshelf took up the entire wall, filled to the brim with scrolls in various states of decay. Another wall was filled with weapons: swords bows and arrows, daggers, spears, and armor. The third wall was empty because I’d accidentally somehow managed to cause all the priceless magical artifacts to disappear.
They still hadn’t been found. And if you looked really closely my nose hairs were still neon green from the growing spell the Life teacher had put on them. Never get her mad. Ever.
I walked to the wall of scrolls and gently took one and handed it to Destiny.
Josh looked at me. “Go on,” he said finally. “We don’t have all day.”
I unfurled the scroll. It crackled in my hands, and I was almost afraid I’d break it. The worn yellow parchment combined with fading black ink made it hard to read what had been written:
In the last age -
When the Black Moon is at its full –
The Thirteenth Sorcerer will be born from the sky
More powerful than those before
And the world shall rise or fall by the Thirteenth
If he should fall, the world shall fall
He will awaken a great evil,
And seek the sword, and the gems,
And the pages lost, and the isle forgotten
But the darkness will reclaim its own.
“He?” I asked Josh. “The prophecy’s about a boy, Josh.”
Josh shrugged. “You can’t get it right all the time. It could by a typo or something.” He took the prophecy back and carefully rolled it up. “That’s why you need to stay,” he said as he stuck it back in the bookshelf, burying it under scrolls so it couldn’t be spotted as easily. “Come on.”
Josh led us out and back up to the front of the Library where he returned the key to the Librarian.
“Have a good day!” he called, putting the small key in a drawer and waving at us.
“See you later, Harold.” Josh called back. The library doors shut behind us.
“K,” I said once we were out in the sunlight. “Fine. I’ll stay. But please, Josh, let me do stuff by myself. I’m perfectly safe here, I promise.”
“Did you not get any of that? There are people who want to kill you!”
“Whoa, what?” said a startled voice. It was that Life kid, Wolf. What was he doing here? He stared at Josh, horrified. Josh winced.
“I was…kidding.” He looked uncomfortable. Well, he shouldn’t have been yelling at me in such a public place. “I didn’t want you to find out this way,” he murmured to himself. Then: “Wolf, watch Destiny for a few minutes, I’m going to go talk to the Headmaster. Stay here!” He ran off. Watch me? Watch me! I don’t think so. I glared at Wolf; he still looked worried.
“Listen,” he started. “I know we got off to a bad start, and I’m sorry. I know you probably don’t want to talk to me, but why does Josh think people want to kill you?”
“He was kidding,” I said coolly. “We were just joking around.”
“Didn’t sound like it,” Wolf mumbled.
“Yeah, well. Why would you care anyway?” We sat in silence until Josh showed up.
“Come with me guys,” he said.
We soon found ourselves in the Headmasters secret room, the one where I’d first met the Guardians. They were all there now, and I could guess why. The Headmaster stood there, looking tired.
“Wolf, Destiny.” He nodded to us as we sat down. Josh carefully shut the door behind us and made sure it was locked. The Headmaster at once focused on Wolf.
“Wolf, you already know that you are a very special student. That’s why we need your help. As you know, Sorcerers are very rare, and very powerful. We have a prophecy that tells of the coming of the Thirteenth Sorcerer, and how she will help keep the world from falling. That Sorcerer is here now.”
Wolf still looked confused. If he hadn’t figured it out by now, he was hopeless. I already knew that of course.
“There is a group of students, called the Guardians, who have sworn to protect the Sorcerer so that our world may continue to survive in peace. We have a student from each school. Each school, that is, except Life. And so we ask you to join forces with us.”
Wolf was quiet for just a moment. “Of course I will.” I waited for him to realize who he’d be protecting and back out. But he didn’t. Josh slapped him on the back and the Headmaster and other Guardians looked relieved.
“Then introductions are needed!” The Headmaster exclaimed. “You’ve already met Joshua Firestar, our Pyromancer. This is Ethan Spark, the Diviner.” He pointed out a short, stocky boy with spiky yellow hair and lavender eyes that rivaled Josh’s for mischievousness. “And Grace Frostwind, the Thaumatuge.” Grace was a strikingly beautiful girl with ice blue eyes and lustrous silvery white hair. “Flint Moon, the Necromancer.” Wolf winced as the tall boy with hollow cheeks, blue eyes, and dark blonde hair was pointed out. Honestly, all this animosity between opposite schools is completely pointless. “And Sam Duskcloud, who is our Conjurer,” Sam looked plain next to Grace; she was dark skinned with thick black hair and brown eyes that almost looked black.
“Guardians, I present to you Wolf Shadow, our newly inducted member, and acting Theurgist.”
There was a light smattering of applause. Hold on! I never got one of those.
“Wolf, I’d like you to meet Destiny, the Thirteenth Sorcerer.”
Wolf’s mouth dropped open. Finally.
Wolf insisted on walking me to the dorms, being all kinds of nice now that he knew who I was Josh and Grace smirked as he led me out the doors. Idiots. I left him outside without even a goodbye.
My dorm room was, of course, at the top of the tower. After climbing the steep marble stairs all the way up there the first day, I had just about cried when I realized that I’d have to do the same thing over and over. Why couldn’t I have a room on the bottom floor? Oh, that’s right; because I’m the Sorcerer and I’ve got to be protected. Well they did a good job on that, then. Everyone who wanted to kill me would be too scared of climbing all these stairs to go through with their plan.
The door to my room was made of thick slabs of wood and heavy metal hinges. It swung open with just the slightest creak. Inside was the standard furniture one would expect in a rental room: a bed, a desk and chair, and a large dresser. That was it. Not even a Welcome to Ravenwood, Good Luck Surviving sign.
I sat down on the bed and stared at my hands. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for sending me here. It couldn’t get any better than this. I was living the dream.
“What exactly are we protecting Destiny from?” Wolf asked me the next day. We had just escorted Destiny to her class, and were now on our way to meet with the other Guardians.
“That,” I said, “is an excellent question. We’ll answer it at the meeting.”
“What’s the prophecy they we’re talking about?”
“Also an excellent question. We’ll answer it at the meeting.”
“Why’s the Sorcerer so important?”
“Very excellent question. Wait for the meeting, and I’ll answer it.”
“Who are we protecting her from?”
“Honestly, Wolf, we’ll answer most of your questions at the meeting. We can’t talk about it here anyway.”
“Eh.” I cut him off, pointing to a small tower ahead of us. “That’s the place. Come on, we’ve only got about an hour before Destiny’s done with her class.” Wolf pushed the door open and we climbed the winding staircase. At the top was another door, this one made of strong metal, and imbibed with a variety of spells that made getting in without being a Guardian impossible. Not even the Headmaster could enter unless we helped him. Which was pretty awesome when you thought of it.
Inside was a small room lit by a roaring fire. A table stood in the middle of it, surrounded by seven chairs in various colors. Grace, who was reclining in a blue chair, glanced up as we came in and smiled. I took a seat in the red one, Wolf in the green. Ryan and Sam – seated in purple and yellow-green chairs, respectively – were summoning little elementals and encouraging them to fight each other. Flint lounged on his black chair reading a book. The seventh seat – a white chair – sat empty at the head of the table.
“The Guardians Council will now come to order!” I banged on the table a few times to get their attention, but also because it was fun. “Our newest member needs to know the basics. Jump in as you see fit. First of all, the Sorcerer. A little bit about him, or in this case, her.”
“Sorcerer’s go back in time to when the great wizards ruled the Spiral. A few years’ after they disappeared, we think the first Sorcerer appeared. But we’re not exactly sure. It’s been pretty hard to track how many Sorcerer’s have come and gone through the ages, but there’s never been more than one at a time. They’re notoriously hard to kill; only their own weapons, or a talisman imbibed with their power can do so.”
“Actually,” Sam interrupted. “There is one more thing….”
“Yeah,” said Grace,” But we don’t want to tell him that yet.”
“Anyway,” I continued, “that’s not important right now. Where was I?”
“Death,” Flint caressed the word and grinned evilly at Wolf.
“Yeah. So that’s how they can die. You can’t…push them off a cliff or anything. They’d just come back again and then you’d have to start all over. Most Sorcerer’s die fairly early; the oldest one on record lived only to twenty-three.”
“Wait,” Wolf interrupted. “If you don’t know how many Sorcerer’s there’s been, then why’s Destiny called the Thirteenth Sorcerer?”
“Because of the prophecy. She’s the thirteenth Sorcerer since the prophecy was made. Speaking of the prophecy….” I handed him the dusty scroll which he opened and proceeded to read. “I took the liberty of…borrowing this for a while.” Wolf’s eyes scanned the scroll and widened. He carefully gave it back.
“I thought Sorcerer’s were only boys.” Wolf said.
“Yeah, well,” I shrugged. “I told you we didn’t know much. We can guess and all that, but we don’t really know.”
“What happened to the last Sorcerer?” he asked. “The one before Destiny.”
“He’s the one who lived to twenty-three.” Sam said.
“How’d he die though?”
“He was killed….”
“Because he murdered a woman.”
“Not all Sorcerer’s are good, Wolf,” Grace commented grimly. “In fact, the they’re pretty much all evil.”
“The woman’s husband killed the Twelfth Sorcerer with a weapon that had been imbibed with a tiny bit of his power, though not enough to really kill him for good, thank goodness. That might be why this time the Sorcerer was a girl; that slight amount of power could have been enough to alter the gender.”
It was silent for a moment.
“One more question: Who do we have to protect Destiny from?”
Ethan answered. “Ever heard of a man called Malistaire?” Wolf’s mouth dropped opened. “That would be him. He’s got a vendetta against Sorcerers.”
“Typical evil psycho reasons; he wants to control the Spiral, and the Sorcerer’s standing in his way. The last Sorcerer also killed his wife, Sylvia.”
“That was the woman?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “So he’s already killed one Sorcerer. Let’s not make it two.”
“If he’s the only one we’re worrying about, why don’t we just get the Headmaster and the teachers and go lock him up or something?”
Flint snorted. “Well of course he’s got a bunch of minions and goons working with him. Monsters and wizards who’ve been banished. Not to mention the Black Hand.”
“What’s the Black Hand?”
“They’re kind’ve like us,” Ethan answered. “Except, you know, bad. They’re like the opposite of the Guardians; we exist to protect the Sorcerer, the exist to destroy the Sorcerer. We don’t get along very well.”
“To elaborate,” I cut in, “the Black Hand has five people, one from each school except for ice. Who knows why. Anyway, they attend Dragonspyre Academy which means that along with learning regular magic, they also know a lot of dark spells. The leader’s fifteen, but he’s so strong that even I can’t take him one on one.”
“He’s a Necromancer.”Grace said slowly, glancing at me. “His name’s Valkoor…Firestar.”
Wolf shrugged. I took a deep breath: “He’s my cousin.”
“How’s your class so far?” I asked Destiny. She wobbled her head, a sign I took to mean that it was going good.
“Great. Professor Wethersfield’s really nice. He says I’m doing really well for someone my age.”
“Yeah.” She suddenly stopped walking. “Remember that talk we had yesterday?”
“How could I forget?”
“I was being serious. If I have to follow you around for the rest of my time at school, I swear I’ll run around picking fights with people just to annoy you. And then I’ll leave.”
“Really?” I groaned. “If I have to explain this again I might just kick you out myself.”
“Come on,” she groaned back at me, “I won’t ask for anything ever again.”
“Are you suicidal? There’s no way I’m gonna let you wander around on your own. You can’t even cast spells yet.”
That struck a nerve. Snottily turning away from me, she began walking towards Ravenwood.
“Please, Destiny.” No answer. “Fine, give me the silent treatment. See if I care.” Still no answer. “You’re acting really mature. Grow up a bit.”
She flipped her hair over her shoulder and walked a tiny bit faster. I shook my head and followed.
“Where are you going?” I finally asked.
“To my dorm. Apparently there’s nothing else I’m allowed to do here. I hope I don’t fall out the window bemoaning my fate. That’d put a real damper on your plans, wouldn’t it?”
“Fine!” I threw up my hands, exasperated. “Do whatever you want. But if you get in trouble don’t come crying to me.”
“Thanks, Josh!” she beamed, running off before I could take it back.
It had been a week and a half since I’d been inducted into the Guardians. A week and half since I’d discovered that Destiny was the Thirteenth Sorcerer. A week and a half of glares, silences, and eye-rolling from her. It hadn’t gotten any better, either.
It’s not like I liked her either, though. I mean, all right, I was a little awed at first, but she’s so snotty. And her second school is Death. I think she chose it just to spite me. Girls.
The Guardians have been taking turns watching Destiny…from a distance. She seemed pretty serious about running away. And guess who’s turn it was on her grumpiest day? Yeah, me. The rest of the Guardians got to go on the field trip with the other students, and I was stuck with a girl who hated my guts. And all the rest of me, too.
“What do you wanna do?” I asked her as we ambled along the empty Commons.
She sighed. “K, here’s my dilemma. I don’t like you. And I have to spend a whole day with you. It’s not gonna help if you try to be all friendly with me. Why don’t you go work on homework or something, and I’ll go get all my wildness out by wrestling fire elves or something.”
I didn’t’ even bother to argue, it was no use with her.
“Or we could go kill something,” she mumbled.
We walked towards Unicorn Way.
“I suppose you’ve already finished this.” Destiny asked sarcastically.
“Yeah,” I said. She scowled. “Do you want me to he-“
“If you finish that, I’ll punch you.”
“Ok, ok. I’ll just watch.”
“Good idea.” She stalked towards a black fairy and engaged it in a battle. I found a nice tree and sat with my back against it, watching her with half-closed eyes. Every now and then, she’d shot me a glare for some reason. Whatever made her feel better. Towards the end of the battle, she summoned a gigantic shimmering gold ball that blew the fairy to dust.
“Hey!” I yelled at the show off, “Do you have to make it so blatantly obvious that you’re the Sorcerer?”
“Let me have some fun,” she rolled her eyes, “No one’s here. What’s the worst that could happen?”
Somewhere in the Spiral
“Impossible,” breathed a tall man. He leaned towards the portal that showed the picture of a smirking girl and a scowling boy. The girl simultaneously stuck out her tongue and crossed her eyes. The man looked closer: her eyes, though brown, had a thick rim of gold around the outside. He seethed quietly.
“You’ve done a good job keeping your secret, Ambrose. But you weren’t careful enough.” He snapped his fingers and a boy came running in, looking tired and worn.
“Yes, Master?” he asked with a bow.
“Get the Hand,” the man snapped, still staring at the portal. The boy bowed again and ran out of the room. A few moments later, five teenagers entered the room: a boy in black, a boy in red, and one in greenish-yellow, followed closely by a girl in green, and a girl in purple.
“You called?” the youngest one asked. His eyes roamed the room, stopping on the magical screen and widening.
“The Sorcerer is back. Luckily, we caught her early-“
“Her? The Sorcerer is a girl?”
The man paused, staring at the boy in red who had just spoken until he became uncomfortable.
“Luckily, we caught her before she’s had much training. Go now, while there’s still a chance of apprehending her.” He glanced again at the picture. “Bring the boy, too, if you can. Do it quickly, before the rest of their pathetic group returns.”
The group nodded and exited the room as the man’s staff bit through the circle.
“Aren’t you bored yet?” I asked. Destiny growled something under her breath but otherwise ignored me. I leaned back against a wall. In the past two hours she had dragged me all over Unicorn Way, and had never once let me help her with her battle. My feet hurt, and I was tired I closed my eyes for a moment, lulled by the almost silence.
Destiny’s voice woke me from my reverie.
“Can I help you with something? I thought all students were supposed to be on the field trip.”
My eyes flew open. Destiny stood a few feet in front of me, facing five kids. Their leader, a boy about our age, smiled a little. It made his pleasant face seem friendly.
“Actually, yeah. We-“ he gestured to his group, “are looking for someone.
Destiny seemed to be keeping from rolling her eyes only with extreme difficulty. “Oh, ok. I know exactly who you mean.” She mumbled. The boy grinned.
“Sorry. It’s a girl we’re looking for. Black hair, brown eyes.”
“Well,” I said, standing, “Now might not be the best time. Pretty much all of the kids are on a trip to Krokotopia right now. You should try back later.”
“Her name’s Destiny,” he continued as if he couldn’t hear me. Destiny visibly stiffened. Almost too low to hear, the boy finished, “We’ve been told she’s the Sorcerer.” It was my turn to stiffen as his piercing black eyes met Destiny’s gold and brown ones.
“Don’t know anyone like that,” she said, starting to turn away. “Sorry we couldn’t help. Come on, Wolf.”
Behind us, the boy chuckled. “I’m sorry too.”
Destiny screamed as she flew up into the air and crashed into the ground. I whirled around. The boy in black grinned at me, still pointing a smoking wand at Destiny.
“Whoops,” he said. “Clumsy me. I don’t think I was supposed to hit her that hard.” He pointed the wand at me and shot a stream of grey smoke towards my head. Dodging it, I rolled away from Destiny and felt a flash of heat skim my cheek. A wall of fire separated me from the groaning Sorcerer. I summoned my own fire and shot it towards our attackers. It was no use; they skipped out of the way and threw more spells in my direction.
To the right of me, I heard a crack. I could just barely see Destiny spin around then fall down with one of her arms bent sickeningly under her. It was kind of cool in a disgusting way. Almost without thinking, I took a running leap of the chest high wall of fire. Landing safely, I proceeded to help her up.
She wheezed, coughed, glared, and then full out growled. Uh-oh, she was angry. She summoned another giant golden ball and shot it towards the teenagers. Where it touched them, it left angry red burns that seemed to be growing by the second.
“He said she wasn’t trained!” howled the girl in green as she tried to heal the burns without success.
“He said she hasn’t had much training,” the leader growled, wincing as the burns spread over his face. Suddenly Destiny shoved me down. Purple and red streams of light shot over our heads. Somehow two of the kids had gotten around us and were attacking from behind. Destiny and I stood back to back.
“Hand over the Sorcerer,” the boy in black said in a livid voice. “It’ll be much less painful. You are two against five. You won’t last must longer.”
Mustering the last of my strength, I pushed a mental message to Josh.
Hurry, help us. Some kids are attacking us!
I waited. No answer.
“We’re on our own,” I hissed to Destiny. “Can’t get a hold of Josh.”
She grimaced and muttered something that sounded like incompetent protector.
“Want me to get that?” I nodded towards her arm, keeping one eye on the kids in front of me.
“Just focus on getting rid of these idiots,” she snapped, cradling her arm across her chest. “The sooner they leave, the happier I’ll be.”
“If you’re sure….”
“Less talk, more attack!” A barrage of tiny insects flew out of the tip of her wand and buzzed towards her attackers. They circled around their heads, crammed themselves down throats and into eyes.
The boy in red spat out a few and shouted a spell; immediately, the bugs lit on fire and sprinkled down as a fine, grey ash.
“Weak,” the leader sneered. “Too bad you don’t have some real help. You might actually beat us.”
Destiny fumed, but she fumed silently.
“Try reaching Josh again,” she ordered, shooting curses as quickly as she could.
“K.” I focused again and commanded my brain to send a message to Josh: Come quick. Five kids trying to kidnap Destiny.
A message came back almost at once.
On our way. Hold out a little long; don’t let them take her alive.
Don’t let them take her alive? What was I supposed to do, kill her if it looked like they might win? What should I say? Sorry Destiny, but Josh told me to kill you if it looks like we might lose. It’s not you, it’s me. She already hated me enough.
“Josh’s on his way,” I mumbled to her.
“Great,” she griped, “we’re saved.”
“Well if you’re going to act like that…!”
I felt the spell lift me up and spin me around. I was flying much higher than Destiny had. Was the ground really that far away? No, it was getting closer…closer…too close.
I slammed down and bounced a few times, and then my head connected with something hard and everything went black.
“Nice shot!” one of the girls cheered. “But you got the wrong one.”
The boy in black smirked. “That was just a practice shot. Here goes the real thing.” He leveled his wand at me and shot out a spell. I dove aside and ran into the wall of fire. Staggering back, I tried to put out my robes as I surveyed the walls. They were just high enough to try jumping over, I decided. But then they gave a sudden flare and gained at least four feet in height; and now they were all around. I was boxed in.
“Had enough yet?” a voice taunted from behind me.
“I would if I were her!”
“Now, now,” said a falsely stern voice. “You insensitive jerks. You have to remember she’s only a little girl with hardly any training. I bet she’s frightened!”
Obnoxious laughter came from all sides.
“K, just end it. We should be heading back.”
There was no way to see where the spell would be coming from. I held my breath and hoped that wherever they were going to take me, at least I’d have more freedom. And maybe a room on a lower floor.
“Not so fast.”
Josh’s voice came out of nowhere.
“Been a long time since the Hand’s been out and about,” Josh said,
“it’s good to see you too,” came their leaders voice.
“That wasn’t a welcome,” Grace’s voice was hard. “Where’s our friends?”
“Why would we tell you?”
“Over here,” I hollered helpfully. “They hit Wolf with something.”
“Grace, put out that fire. The rest of us will take care of these guys.”
“You’ve always been full of yourself, Josh. What makes you think you’d ever win against us?”
I heard a shriek and I guess Josh had answered using his magic. Suddenly, the flames sputtered and died, replaced by a light snowfall. Grace beamed at me from behind a small snowstorm. Behind her, the Guardians and what I guessed now to be the Black Hand were fighting each other.
“What happened to Wolf?”
“They got him with some kind a spell. He went up really high then hit his head on the ground. He wouldn’t listen to me when I said,” I coughed a few times to clear the smoke out of my lungs, “to duck.”
“K. We’ll yell at him about that later. For now, let’s get you guys out of here.”Together we eased around the battle and darted towards Wolf’s prone form. He was covered in blood, and both his legs were bent oddly. My stomach rolled; I’d never been able to deal with stuff like this. I hadn’t even been able to kill chickens for dinner back at home.
“They’re getting away!” hollered an outraged voice.
“Here, grab his arm,” Grace tugged on me to get my attention.
“You think they’re just gonna let us walk away?” I was incredulous. Grace opened her mouth to answer, simultaneously ducking three or four spells that shot over her head.
“Well…no,” she admitted. “But we should at least try.”
“You need to go help them!” I dropped Wolf’s arm to pull out my wand.“One more person could make all the difference.”
“Listen, I’m in charge and I say….”
“No, you listen. I’m the Sorcerer. I’m in charge, and I’m telling you to go and help those guys out now. Scare them away or something until everyone else comes back. Not even the Black Hand can stand up to all of Ravenwood.”
Grace rolled her eyes. “If you’re going to get all high and mighty on me, then….” But she quickly joined the battle. The Guardians had maneuvered themselves to for an impenetrable line that stretched before me and Wolf. They grimly cast spell after spell in an attempt to hold off the Black Hand, but it wasn’t enough. If the others didn’t return soon, we wouldn’t make it.
“How does it feel to be hiding behind people, Sorcerer? Aren’t you strong enough to at least help them? Or are you afraid?” the panting voice was so close it surprised me. There, staring spitefully at me over the head of Ethan, was the leader of the Black Hand.
“Fight your own battles!” he yelled as he summoned a dark, ethereal being. It glided towards Ethan, its black cloak undulating, and almost destroying all the light around it. Ethan sank to the ground without a sound; the being slithered over him. As its cloak slid away, Ethan emerged, encased in what looked like a thick layer of dark ice.
“That’s not an ordinary wraith,” Josh gasped. “What the heck is it!”
The boy smiled wickedly. “You don’t want to know, trust me. Suffice it to say that I think the Black Hand has won again.”
“You always say that,” Josh muttered, shaking his head, “and every time you do, we end up beating you.” He summoned a giant fire monster that charged the wraith, and frowned when it did nothing but pass through the dark being. His frown turned into a look of fear as the wraith turned its black hood to him.
“Grace,” he said franticly, “take Destiny and get outta here. Leave Wolf; he’ll understand.” The coldness overtook him and he dropped to the ground. Even I could feel the chill, and Grace and I had to be at least ten feet away from the dark monster. Grace shivered next to me.
“We won’t make it out,” she mumbled to herself. “We’ll have to stand and fight.”
“Are you serious? They’ll blow us to bits!”
“Correction: they’ll blow me to bits, drag you and Wolf away, and turn you over to their master. You’ll probably survive a little while. Longer than the rest of us, anyway.”
“You sure know how to make me warm and fuzzy in the face of danger.”
“I’ve always been known for my pep talks,” she drew her wand as Sam – the last Guardian – dropped to the ground.
The boy in black, upon seeing it was only me and Grace, quickly banished the wraith. He strode forward, the four other kids fanning out behind him.
“I haven’t seen you in a while, Grace. You’re looking good.”
“It was really fun when you and Josh were around….” wait, Grace and Josh? What was he talking about?
Grace rolled her eyes. “Yeah, you were really attached to Josh.”
“I don’t want to hurt you, Grace. But I will if you don’t hand over the Sorcerer and the boy. Make the right choice, Grace. We used to be good friends….”
“Wow, you really haven’t stopped being…you. And if by good friends you mean you annoyed me then you’re absolutely right. Besides, you kept on trying to off Josh whenever I wasn’t looking.”
The boy shrugged and smiled. “What can I say? I was jealous. Now stop wasting time. No one’s going to come rescue you. Do you want to fight, or give us the kids?”
Grace’s answer was a gigantic hailstorm that missed him by a few inches. There was a slight pause, and then spells shot towards us. A golden wall popped up in front of us; Grace looked at me in awe.
“Was that you?” she asked.
“It’s either me or the universe.” I shrugged.
She grinned and caused a heavy wind on the other side of the shield. Our attackers paused in the spells to avoid being blown over. A large icicle crashed into two of them, pining them to the ground.
I pointed my hand at the boy in red who was trying to get to Wolf. A shimmering cloud darted from my wand and spread itself over Wolf; when the boy tried to touch it, he was thrown backwards.
The battle continued on for what seemed like hours. Grace and I made no progress in taking out any of the other opposing wizards, and we were getting weaker. Finally, just when all seemed lost, a familiar voice rang out.
“Students! What is the meaning of this?” The astonished voice snapped my concentration, and my golden bugs swarmed wildly over the heads of Headmaster Ambrose and what seemed to be the whole of Ravenwood, bouncing of the foreheads of a few unlucky students.
The Headmaster’s eyes alighted on the Black Hand. His mouth pressed into a thin line. “You will do no more harm here!” he thundered, pointing his staff at the group. Without further ado, all of them disappeared, and it seemed as if they’d never even been. Behind the Headmaster, the students of Ravenwood stared.
Grace nudged me. “You can get rid of the wall. Better hurry; you’ve probably used a ton of your energy up.”
Belatedly, I realized that my shimmering gold wall was still spread out in front of us, separating me and Grace from everyone else. As soon as it was gone, I felt the adrenaline leave to be replaced by an aching tiredness.
The Headmaster hobbled forward and glared at me from under bushy eyebrows.
“Apparently we can’t even leave you alone for a few hours,” he said in an ornery voice, “it’s amazing how much trouble such a small girl can get into.” He turned back to the other students. “All of you need to get to your classes; Theurgists, get Professor Wu and tell her we have injured students. I want the most competent healers to report back here to help.”
The students all darted off obediently. I slumped to the ground. I wasn’t going to be able to move for a month. Grace knelt down and gently wrapped an arm around my shoulders.
“It’s ok now,” she said softly. “Nothing really bad happened.”
“This time,” I huffed, too tired to talk. “Next time we won’t almost die. I bet they’ll just bring us a good luck card or something.”
“Nothing like this is ever going to happen again,” she assured. “You nearly had them this time, and you’re only going to get stronger. Soon, they’re the ones who’ll be hiding.”
“I feel guilty,” I admitted after a short silence.
“Why? You fought them off. No one died.”
“Wolf nearly did….”
Grace looked slightly amused. “I thought you didn’t like Wolf anyway.”
I scowled at her and split my lip open. Disgusting.
The Headmaster cleared his throat. “Here come the healers.”
A band of about twenty students marched towards us with Professor Wu in the lead. A few moments later, the Theurgists had all of us floating in the air, heading towards an obscure tower.
“So,” said a soft voice, “you’re really the Sorcerer then?” A girl a few years older than me was spreading a glowing green paste over my broken arm.
“Yeah,” I mumbled, “I guess the secret’s out.”
I winced as the broken bones began to mend themselves; it hurt like anything.
“Sorry,” she said sympathetically. She took out her wand and began to prod at my cuts and bruises. After a few moments, the girl scowled. “These stupid things aren’t healing.”
I could only groan.
“How’s Wolf?” I asked to take my mind off the pain.
“He’s pretty bad.” She said bluntly. Well. That’s just great. “There’s a few broken ribs, both legs broken, a few burns, several broken fingers, tons of cuts and bruises like yours that won’t heal, a mild concussion, and there was some light internal bleeding but we fixed that up right away. Whoever attacked you guys didn’t need him to live very long.”
This was all my fault. I closed my eyes: maybe it was just a dream.
“Lindsey,” came a stern whisper. “You’re needed in the Theurgist Ward. Quickly.”
I felt Lindsey start. He mumbled something under his breath.
“What’s wrong?” Caleb quietly asked the whisperer.
“The Theurgist from the attack today needs an operation. Fast. He might not make it.”
I woke up from the chilling cold to unbearable heat. Around me were a few healers. A girl my age from one of my fire classes smiled when she saw my eyes open.
“How’re you feeling?”
“Just great,” I replied with a shiver.
“Wish I could say the same for your friends,” she frowned. I felt my heart jump uncomfortably in my chest.
“No!” she said hastily, “Of course they’re still alive! But Wolf….Well, he’s gonna need some pretty heavy duty healing. Speaking of which,” she glanced at the door, “I probably need to go help.”
I swung myself off of the bed I just realized I was on.
“I’ll come with you.”
She blushed. What can I say? The girls love me.
“It’s not gonna be pretty,” she warned.
“That’s what you’re here for,” I winked. She rolled her eyes, but smiled.
She was right. It wasn’t pretty.
Wolf looked bad; dried blood all over his face and clothes, swollen fingers, and a mass of bruises and cuts wherever I looked. The girl led me to a chair before quickly joining the throng of Theurgists that were gathered around Wolf. Before long, all I could see was a green glowing, a crowd of kids, and a giant cow.
I sat and watched for a while’ no one paying attention to me. Not that I was, you know, jealous or anything.
Then, suddenly, there came a: ”Pssst!” My head darted around a few moments before I saw Destiny.
The first words out of my mouth were: “Wow. You look pretty bad. See what happens when you don’t listen to me?”
She punched me.
“I’m not supposed to be here,” Destiny whispered, looking guiltily around. “But I had to find out. Is everyone going to be alright?”
“Sure,” I said. “It’s just you and Wolf who got the nasty injuries. The rest of us’ll be fine as soon as the chill wears off.” I shivered again for emphasis.
She looked relieved.
“Thanks so much for coming, Josh. I don’t know how much longer I could’ve lasted without Wolf.”
“Sure,” I said again. “What’re friends for?”
And then Destiny looked uncomfortable.
“Josh,” she said carefully, “when Grace and I were fighting that boy…the one in black. He said…something weird.”
“He was talking to Grace and he said that it’d been more fun when you and Grace were with them.” She glanced at the Theurgists who were still flocking around Wolf. “Did he mean what I think he meant?”
To lie or not to lie? That is the question. Destiny seemed to see the reluctance in my face.
“Don’t lie to me,” she warned, only half teasing. “I’ll knock the stuffing out of you.”
“But you owe me!” I complained. “Fine. But….”
“No buts. I’ll think the same of you regardless of what he meant.”
I must’ve looked relieved because she grinned wickedly.
“I didn’t think too much of you before, so this shouldn’t make any difference at all.”
“Don’t spare my feelings.”
I fidgeted and spit it out as quickly as I could. “Grace and I. We were best friends when we first started school, only we didn’t go to Ravenwood. We went to Dragonspyre. Both of us were pretty good wizards, and Malistaire….”
She bit her lip.
“Malistaire seemed to notice. We knew he was bad, but Grace and I, well….That’s all we ever learned: how to be bad. How to twist things to your advantage. When Malistaire asked us to join…we did. I was sixteen. Grace was fifteen. I introduced my cousin to Malistaire and he got accepted into the Black Hand too.”
“Valkoor. The leader of the Black Hand. The boy in black.” I swallowed hard. “He was a good kid until I got him involved in the Hand. I think I might’ve ruined him forever.”
I must’ve gotten quiet because Destiny reached over and laid a hand on my shoulder.
“Why’d you leave?” she asked.
“He...Malistaire never told us what the Black Hand’s purpose was. Well, he never told all the Black Hand. Grace and I knew. He was going after the Sorcerer. Together, Grace and I snuck into Ravenwood and copied down the Prophecy, the one I showed you. We gave it to Malistaire.”
“That’s how he knew to be on the lookout for the next Sorcerer.” Destiny guessed.
“Yeah. Because of a stupid decsion Grace and I made. I think I finally came to my senses after I realized that Malistaire wanted to murder a kid probably about my age. Just because he was a Sorcerer. Even after all the horrible things I’d already done, I just couldn’t do that. Grace agreed with me. We made plans to run away to Ravenwood and do anything we could to help make sure the Sorcerer lived to defeat Malistaire. I tried to convince Valkoor to come. He tried to kill me. After that, I realized that Black magic just isn’t good for you at all. Grace and I ran that night.”
Destiny was quiet for a moment. “Wow. I don’t really know what to say.” She gave a half-hearted smile. “It’s a little weird to think Valkoor could’ve been here if he’d listened to you. Even weirder to think that I could’ve just finished beating you up if you hadn’t turned all goody-goody.”
“Do you forgive me…us?”
“Do you forgive me for nearly getting everyone killed?” she countered.
“Touché,” I grinned. “Of course I do.’
“Well, then, I do too.” She thought for a moment. “As long as you don’t mind me seriously hurting and or maiming Valkoor the next time I happen to meet him.” She absentmindedly fingered a thin black cut that ran from her temple to her cheek.
“Whatever you need to do, Tiny. Whatever you need to do.”