Chapter 5

Chapter 5

A Chapter by thegirlthatwrites

The outdoors had never been someplace I was entirely comfortable, and I never pretended they were. I liked fresh air, but that could easily be gotten simply by opening a window and sitting by it. Felix was always the one that wanted to go outside, whether it was raining, snowing, or the sky was clear and the sun was shining. So as anyone else who has a preference for the indoors over the outdoors can assume, by about an hour into our journey, I was already growing tired. Not of the view, or of the people, but of the uneven terrain, the bugs constantly in my face, and the pieces of nature that just kept falling all around us.

"It's autumn," Felix snickered, flicking a leaf off my shoulder as I shot him a glare. If he thought that an hour fully exposed to nature was going to make me forgive him for his decision to leave, he better have another think coming. "It's supposed to fall down."

"I just wish it would not continually fall all over me."

I felt somewhat guilty that I was not as in awe of the outdoors as Felix seemed to be. On our estate we had a rather large yard, and there were parts of the forest that we were able to go into. I had seen leaves change color, seen all the seasons and all kinds of weather. There were just more trees around me than ever before as we trekked through the forest, away from my home, and it hardly was something that sat well with me. Still, I held my tongue about complaining...too much. I only complained when I was certain it was just Felix's ears that would hear, and not the other two that were leading the way.

"You seem to know your way pretty well," I pointed out, "so does that mean you've been this way before?"

"Oh, no, this is our first time!" Charmeine perked up. She seemed so eager to reply, having gone the length of the hike so far without saying a word. "We're just really big fans of hiking and we went all the time with our mother, so it's kind of natural, I guess."

I titled my head to the side, looking at the girl carefully as she turned to face forward again, skipping a bit ahead of her brother and letting out a giggle as a bird flew right by her. "Your mother seems like an interesting woman."

"I physically felt that skepticism slap me in the face," Lowell remarked as he shook his head.

"Oh, hush, you!" Charmeine sang, pushing Lowell's shoulder lightly. "Felix! Can you hear everything that's going on in the forest?"

"Yeah, uh...just a lot of...noise," Felix muttered. "It's hard to distinguish it all."

"Oh, don't worry. It'll come in no time. Practice makes perfect after all."

"Like my magic," I offered, giving Felix a light nudge with my elbow with the hope he would realize I was trying to be at least a bit encouraging.

Once I mentioned my magic, Charmeine became noticeably quieter, falling into step silently beside Lowell again. For a long time it was silent, other than our feet hitting the ground. Felix had a look of complete concentration on his face, I could not see what expression was cast of Lowell's and Charmeine's features, and I was mulling over many of the same questions from earlier.

It was strange to be thinking of all these questions now. A week ago, if I had a question or a few that sprang to mind, I would write them down and go off to the library where I would likely find an answer. If I could not find an answer, then Gloria would answer or lead me in the right direction. Now it felt as though I was drowning in my own mind, with no means to get answers other than from a chipper ten year old girl and a boy that seemed entirely disinterested in following out his mother's orders. Which was something I was, in fact, very skeptical about. What mother trusts her two kids to go off on a rescue mission when one of those children is only ten years old? Granted, Charmeine was better about answering questions than Lowell, but there was also a certain level of danger that the little girl was being exposed to. For a moment, I began to think to myself that Gloria would never have let me get myself into such a dangerous situation, but thinking of Gloria and what she would or would not do cast an even darker mood on my thoughts than before.

"How far into the town?" I asked. I felt like one of those kids I would read about in the books, demanding to know when they would be "there yet".

"A few more miles," Charmeine replied instantly, clearly anticipating the question. "And once we get there, we can get a nice meal, and then figure out what we're going to do."

I wanted to point out to her that there was no "we" in the sense of the four of us. There was the "we" that was Felix and me, and we would be splitting from Charmeine and Lowell as soon as we could. Assimilation could not be that hard, and we would be able to make out way. People in books always did it one way or another, and they did not have the added advantage of having someone that was gifted like I was with magic. We would certainly be able to find our way outside the estate, but after some time had passed, the beacon had to die out, and we would be able to go home. Wishful thinking was what it was, but at least I was still thinking.

"So this beacon..." I began cautiously, ignoring the slight huff that came from Lowell when I mentioned it, "how long does it last?"

Charmeine turned to look at me with a raised eyebrow. "Well, I mean, that all depends on how powerful the person was that cast it, and how much energy they put into it. Could be a few weeks, could be a few decades...Did you never learn about them? The dark beacons?"

It was my turn to raise an eyebrow at her questions. "No. Why would I?"

"Told you she would deny it..." Lowell muttered, casting a wary glance back at me. What on earth had I done to him that made him feel the need to be so accusatory toward me?

"Deny what?"

"Rae, do you know what kind of magic you've been learning?" Charmeine asked quietly, her tone similar to one Gloria would use during my earliest lessons when I would mess up and she would ask me if I knew what I did wrong.

Felix and I exchanged a bewildered glance. "Magic."

"Well, yes, every witch learns the basics. Household, healing...but you've learned beyond that, haven't you? Offensive stuff? And you've learned telekinetic? And vision bending?"

"I mastered telekinetic a couple years ago." It was one of the first areas of magic I was trained in. When I began with simple household spells, I began telekinetic, too. Gloria was a complete expert on telekinetic magic, and the books spoke about it so casually that I had no idea why she was making it sound as though it were a symptom of a terrible plague. "Offensive and defensive combined. We just began vision bending earlier this year."

Vision bending was the trickiest bit of magic I had attempted yet, as it required someone to bend reality into an illusion. The most difficult part was keeping reality straight in your mind while you used magic to alter the outer reality into an illusion for yourself or someone else to see. It was fairly advanced, but Gloria said she always had faith in me, and I had read almost every word on the subject that we had. Besides, Gloria had promised that the sooner I mastered vision bending, the sooner we could get into mental magic and teleportation, two of the most difficult kinds of magic there were to learn.

"And do you know what kind of magic that's considered? Telekinetic and vision bending and some of the offensive tactics you've been trained in?" Charmeine asked, her tone still just as soft and quiet, though we had come to a complete halt by this point.

"No..."

"What do you mean 'kind of magic'?" Felix asked before I could cut in. "I mean, I'm not even gifted, and I know that there's just magic. Magic is magic is magic is magic."

With a gentle sigh, Charmeine shook her head and looked down toward her feet. "No, no, you really didn't know."

"This is bull," Lowell stated, crossing his arms sternly. "You don't just learn dark magic without realizing what's happening."

"What magic?" I demanded.

Dark magic. I knew what it was, as I had read about it before, in fiction. It was always subjective, anyway. Spells and curses that were considered "unethical" in one book were perfectly ethical in the next, but, above all else, they were fiction. In reality, there was no such thing as light magic and dark magic, but just magic. I was barely seventeen, there was no way Gloria would have taught me dark magic, if there was such a thing. There were certainly powerful spells, the kind that were found in the books that were kept in the glass bookcases in the walls of our library, but power did not mean the spells were "dark".

"You really don't know?" Lowell asked, looking just as incredulous over my disbelief as I was about his accusation.

"She's gifted," Felix cut in. "No dark. No bad. She can do magic, that's all there is to it."

"But there are certain kinds of magic that most witches and warlocks aren't capable of doing," Charmeine tried to explain quietly. "Or they struggle greatly with it. You've been studying healing magic for over ten years, have you not?"

"Yes..." I admitted quietly, never a great fan of having my greatest weakness with my magic pointed out to me.

"But my guess is you're not very good at it, either?"

"Maybe, but-"

"It's because you're hardwired to destroy," Lowell remarked nonchalantly.

Was that something I was supposed to just accept? Something I was supposed to just know? Working with telekinetic forces had come so easily from such a young age, and vision bending had seemed so natural, but yet after all these years, I still struggled with healing even the smallest cuts and injuries. Everyone has their flaws, I knew that, so I had just accepted healing magic to be one of my flaws. Weather manipulation I had tried, and entirely failed at, but Gloria was not strong enough in it either to try to help me overcome and learn it. She had told me, shortly after my first failed attempts at weather manipulation, that some witches and warlocks had certain magic that they never seemed to be able to grasp, but until now, I had never considered what determined that. I thought it was just the luck of the draw.

"I don't destroy," I defended, indignant over the assumption.

"I destroy," Felix pointed out honestly, even tacking on a little laugh at the end, as if that would lighten the mood completely.

"Which comes easier: offensive or defensive magic?" Lowell asked directly.

Offensive had always come easier, just because that was within my control. You never knew how strong the opposing force was going to be, which meant the defense could be too strong or not strong enough. It was difficult to muster a good defense that lasted. If the offensive attack was strong enough, Gloria always pointed out, then there would be no real need for a defense. Still, raised to always be cautious, I had tried to put extra study into defense, as well. Even if taking off the arms of a training dummy would always come easier than putting up a shield that was strong enough to counteract a curse being thrown at me. That did not mean that I was "hardwired" to destroy, though. It was a normal difficulty to have...wasn't it?

"Keep moving," I muttered, ignoring and Lowell's question and beginning to walk forward again. What gave him the right to pry into my magical abilities? There would be no reason for him to ever see them on display once Felix and I were a safe enough distance from the house. "You were the ones who made us leave our house, so let's go."

I ignored the grumbling sound behind me as I walked forward, not entirely sure if I was going in the right direction, but still trying to keep my chin up a bit higher than it had been before. After a few seconds, Felix was walking alongside me again, and eventually Lowell and Charmeine gained on us enough to lead again. There was no more talking after that, or at least not until we reached the opening of the forest. One moment there were trees everywhere and uneven ground beneath my sneakers, and the next there were dozens of boxy buildings and something completely flat beneath me. It was a road, with the forest on one side, and a bustling little town on the other side.

That was when Felix took off. "Felix!" I shouted, running after him as he crossed the wide road. From around the bend came a blaring sound as a giant object sped toward my moving body, and suddenly a smaller body collided with mine to send me flying onto the concrete sidewalk. I spun over onto my back, watching the truck speeding away down the road again. I was about to check on Charmeine, but she was already standing, dusting off her jeans.

"I'm sorry, I didn't think-" I began to apologize, cut off by a surprisingly warm smile from the girl and a shake of her head.

"Come on, we need to get Felix before he eats half the town," Charmeine insisted. "He's vanished off somewhere, and Lupos tend to be hungry after a shift, especially their first."

I nodded in agreement silently, pushing myself up just as Lowell finally came sauntering across the road, looking rather smug. I rolled my eyes, starting off immediately to try to track down wherever it was that Felix had gone off to. Even without a Lupo's sense of smell, I was able to smell every single thing. There was a strange smell that hit me when we went by the gas station, but a far more pleasant one hit when we passed by the bakery, which was not very far from the fast food restaurant that smelled as though half the place was being deep-fried. It was no surprise that when we walked in, Felix was at the counter, chatting with lively mannerisms with the young worker.

"You're going to need some money for that," Charmeine reminded Felix with a giggle, walking right up to the counter next to him. From her backpack, she pulled out a wallet and handed a small, rectangular piece of plastic to the boy behind the counter. "Order whatever you want. Rae? What do you want?"

I stared up at the brightly lit menu behind the counter, having to squint a bit in order to deal with the brightness levels. We were inside, why on earth did it need to be so gaudy and fluorescent? Half of the food options were either "combo" meals, or foods that had terrible pun names that made them seem far less appetizing. I had never had a meal that was not cooked in my own home, and the idea of eating out was fazing me far more than it was Felix. Then again, hunger was hardly the predominant feeling in my stomach, even if a pang of it had hit while we passed by the bakery.

"One of...those?" I replied uncertainly, pointing toward the least disgusting looking option on the menu.

"Don't sound so pleased to be eating with such peasants as us," Lowell said as he stepped away from the doorway, shooting me a cool look before going to find a booth for us all to sit at.

While the food was prepared, I slowly inched more toward where Felix was drumming his fingers impatiently on the counter, and Charmeine was making pleasant small talk with the worker. From where I stood, I looked around, unintentionally staring to long at some of the customers and workers. They all looked like me. Not like me, but there was nothing especially menacing about any of them. Were these really the humans that Gloria said were constantly going on "witch hunts"? That were fighting against each other, and against supernaturals and magic? The ones she said shunned magic because they did not have it? None of the ones I saw or had seen so far looked intimidating or hateful. Most of them seemed fairly content, or just tired.

"All done!" the worker chimed, placing down all our food in front of us.

Charmeine dealt with the money while Felix carried all his own food in full arms and I carried the rest, placing mine and Charmeine's down carefully on the table before throwing the plastic basket full of food down in front of Lowell. He had a cell phone out, something I had seen the people who came to the house use multiple times and that I had read about in more recently written stories, but that I had never actually touched before. He caught me staring at it and I quickly ducked my head down, stuffing a fry into my mouth. As I chewed on it, I wondered how I could ever have thought it appeared disgusting. It was absolutely incredible.

"Hey, Felix..." I began to say, looking up and trailing off when I realized that he was not listening at all.

Instead, he was stuffing piece after piece of food into his face, staring without any subtlety at the worker behind the counter. When he realized that I was watching him watch the boy, he gave a shameless shrug. Through a mouth full of food he manage to mutter, "He's cute." For the first time in quite a few hours, a smile broke through my face and I let out a laugh. There is some old maxim about how laughter is the best medicine, which is complete bullshit, but it did help to ease up the tension that had been growing on my shoulders. The words "dark magic" had plagued my thoughts since the forest, but when I began to laugh and started to tease Felix a bit over how smitten he was with the worker, my mind finally seemed to be somewhat at ease. It even felt pretty natural when Charmeine joined in on the teasing, blending into the conversation so naturally I did not even think to second guess it. Even the way Lowell was silently eating, poking at the buttons on his phone or staring at a folded up map, seemed to fit surprisingly naturally into the meal. It was the closest to normal I had felt since dinner the night before.

When I was certain that no one in the restaurant was looking, I passed my hand over one of Felix's extra napkins, using telekinetic forces to bend and prod it until it took the shape of a small paper wolf. Felix seemed rather pleased with it, which only made me feel a bit less stressed, until Lowell suddenly brought his hand down on the makeshift wolf to flatten it.

"Hey!" Charmeine exclaimed, knitting her brows together. "Why did you do that?"

Lowell did not respond but quickly started to get up out of the booth, motioning for us to do so, as well. Quite contrary to what he seemed hopeful for, we remained stationary, until the sound of a door slamming caused us to snap our heads toward the door. We stared at who, or what, had just walked into the restaurant. Lowell, Charmeine, and Felix were all moving, but I was stuck staring, both in awe and in horror. Charmeine and Felix both grabbed my hands to pull me out of the booth at the same time, and I just barely had time to swing my bag over my shoulders when what walked in turned its black eyes to stare at us.

It was a Heart.


© 2014 thegirlthatwrites


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thegirlthatwrites
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Added on November 5, 2014
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thegirlthatwrites
thegirlthatwrites

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I just really like to write, and there's not much else to it. more..

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