D∂rk£r †h∂n ß∫∂çk – Celestial

Darker than black:

By Jack Brady. 2011 copyright

Chapter One:

Adrian looked up at the sky.

Good enough day for transmutation, he thought. This goes here, pour that there, and…. set. The transmutation was getting harder. He knew that. Every art becomes harder as you progress. Nothing new, he told himself. Happens everyday.

He picked up his finger and dipped it into the container of black ink, and slowly stroked around the tree.

Three circles around, three stars around.

Finally, the tree was ready. Adrian slowly closed his eyes recalling the right incantations

Instantly, his eyelids fluttered open. “My May ei sok loo thuc sa ra bon chuoose. May all the dark gods relinquish this tree of its damage to this town.”

The tree quivered. “Or pymant ikl shilli din mee loos. Your payment is to keep all the magic the tree comes with.”

The Dark Gods considered the exchange, and settled on an agreement. The tree crumpled to a pile of ash.

And maybe they could clean up the waste, He thought.

Well, hopefully the governor would be happy. He left his note on the pile of ash explaining the deed was done. Besides, what silly fools of this town, thinking the tree was demonic. Everyone knows that it was just a tree, even they should, but it was cheap money.

Too bad he couldn’t actually meet the governor and get his money without waiting a day. Adrian grumbled. Time for food.

Hayley stood in the forge. What am I doing here? Too bad no one was there to help. Then again there never was. Three to the righty three to the lefty, make the blade nice and mighty.

Stupid idiots, so what if I’m a witch, get over it already. Just because I have unnaturally red hair doesn’t mean I’m that weird.

And it was true, she had blood red hair, not to mention a small mysterious tattoo on the back of her neck.

If only she knew enough spells to do anything to them. Instead she’s stuck in a forge with a piece of metal and told to do some community work instead of being a normal kid.

Twelve. And already they were calling her a witch. So what if her mother was a witch, does that mean she is too?

Burke started approaching. He was the only one that wasn’t so obsessed with his religion that he didn’t care to be around magicians or that stuff. He says he was blamed for irreligious acts and was sentenced to a lot of work around the town. Burke was middle-aged, but they became friends over the years.

“Had a good day, Hayley?” He asked.

“Not much. What’s-his-name came by and asked for a sword. Threw me off task, and I’m still working on it,” Hayley answered.

“You mean the church man or whatever,” Burke said.

“Yeah.”

“So hows the sword coming?” He asked looking at the anvil with scorch marks on it. “And how can you burn metal?”

“Don’t ask. I never said I was good at this,” Hayley replied.

“Okay okay, no offense intended,” He said shying away.

“But the sword, well this is it,” Hayley held up a twisted piece of metal.

“Please, Hayley, give the sword or whatever that is to me and maybe we can get our chores done today and actually go home before sunset,” His words were tired, and it seemed like he practiced these words.

Hayley handed him the metal after he put his gloves on. Ever since a week or so ago, she started wondering if being a witch wasn’t so bad. The question always bugged her, like a rock in your shoe only felt every dozen steps.

“Hey Burke, do you think I’m a witch?” The words surprised even Hayley, and she never intended for them to come out. Maybe Burke didn’t hear her.

She started walking away but stopped when Burke replied. “If you are asking me if you should be a witch, then I say do whatever you like. If you want to know if I thought you of a witch, I thought you had the potential to do great things, even if that means being a witch.

“Some people have great potential like you, and never use it on anything except for themselves, and they grow up to be very unpleasant to others. If I were you then I would start to practice magic, and get the best out of my life, assuming they would accuse me of doing it anyway.”

Hayley did not expect the answer. Not only did she expect that, but she didn’t think Burke would ask her to be a witch. Even if he didn’t ask, that’s still what she got from it.

“I think you’re right,” Hayley said. “Maybe I should practice.”

“Now I’m not saying I believe in any of that, but maybe it will work, you know, just in case. And remember if you become some famous witch, remember I helped you, remember me please, I hate it when I don’t get credit.”

Hayley smiled. “Of course.”

Burke said, “Finished,” and held up the sword. “Now be a good witch and go take this to Mr. What’s-his-name.” He smiled.

Hayley stared at him. “I’m a witch you idiot. I’m not allowed to be seen in public.”

“Oh yeah, but Miss Hayley, I advise you respect your elders more often.”

We both laughed.

Theo looked up at the sword. “You want me to take this to someone, then you gotta tell me who to take it to, instead of calling him ‘What’s-his-name’.

The blacksmith grumbled. “Fair enough, just give me a second to go look up his name.” He called to someone back at the forge.

A reply came back. “Um, you know the guy, that man, uh oh here it is. ‘Mr. Pomeroy.’ Lives with his wife and two daughters, somewhere near the church,” The voice was from a girl, somewhere near his age.

“Okay, that’s better,” Theo replied.

With those words Theo started running down the road, sword wrapped in a blanket. Church is over there, right. Maybe. I think. Yep, there it was, the building standing high up over the trees. There was a house right there, and he went to go check if Mr. Pomeroy lived there.

Theo was a messenger, and he secretly practiced alchemy just for fun. He never found interest in Christianity, so he tried multiple religions. None really were interesting enough to make him believe in them, but so far alchemy and magic was pretty fun.

He rapped on the door. Someone answered. “Hello how can I help you?” The person that answered the door was a woman.

“Are you Miss Pomeroy?” Theo asked.

“Why yes I am, how can I help you?” She was getting a little irritated. Theo hated people like this woman. So little patience.

“I have a delivery for Mr. Pomeroy,” He handed over the sword.

“Oh, okay, I wonder what Thomas wants with a sword,” She said under her breath. She left Theo and went inside. Theo grumbled. No tip.

chpt 2

By Jack Brady. 2011 copyright
Adrian looked flipped through the book. Inanimate objects, that should work. Adrian flipped to page 679 and studied the chapter. Four black, three green, one brown.

Adrian added the colors to the star. The broom stood in the center of the star. One circle around it, green, two circles around it, blue, and he finished. He wiped his hands on his shirt, and picked up the book again

Incantations, lalala lalala, there it is.

“Rat buon chai theee la thucn sa ran. Gives this object life so it may walk with us along the earth.”

The broom flicked into the air. It started sweeping the floor madly and started to sweep it outside.

“Close enough,” Adrian said staring at the broom cleaning his house.

Adrian was a sorcerer. He didn’t even know why, but he started sorcery when he was young. Maybe the gods turned him to face down the road of magic, but who knows, sometimes even the gods can’t guide fate. Or maybe sorcery was disappearing and magic guided him through it.

Adrian was only 11, and already he was turning trees to dust and making brooms crazy with dirty floors.

The broom started on the walls, and Adrian never thought the walls could collect dirt. Apparently the broom did. The broom went to the ceiling and whacked at it and dirt fell to the floor. The broom swept the dirt before it touched the polished-clean floor.

“Practice makes perfect,” He said to himself quietly.

“Had fun on your errand, Hayley?” Burke’s voice called from the forge.

“Better than ever! Only a few tomatoes this time! And guess what, they all missed!”

They laughed.

“You know, if you keep it up, then maybe you’ll be able to walk around town with people ignoring you! Ignoring! Hah!” Burke was teasing her, but Hayley never minded. Him being the only person that doesn’t run from a witch, you get used to it.

“Let’s see, Witchcraft and Other Types of Magic. Looks magical enough,” Hayley flipped through to the table of contents. “For Beginners.”

“Better get cracking,” Burke said. “I’m not doing your chores for nothing,” That was true, Burke was doing twice as much work so she could practice magic.

“Where did you find it anyway? I don’t know any local libraries that sell irreligious books,” Burke added.

“Actually, there are a few hidden cults that helped me out here,” Hayley said. “And if you let me start, those extra chores won’t be for nothing.”

He laughed, remembering his statement earlier.

Hayley ran off, half reading the book, half walking to the bunker they had to sleep in.

Hayley propped herself up at the back of the bed, where she rested her back on the wall.

The book seemed interesting enough, and maybe Hayley could actually do something with her life for once.

For beginners………… Page 13

Hayley flipped through the book to page 13.

Hayley started reading.

Magic has never been invented, nor has an always controller. Magic will not always go with you or if in particular has had a bad day, then maybe even backfire. Many magicians of all kinds have learned that the hard way, and this book should help you with your magic experience, from necromancy to alchemy. These are guidelines and that every magician should follow.

1) Never feed a troll.

2) Magic is not a tool, but instead you are.

3) Magic picks favorites. Pray that magic likes you, or not, I suppose.

Hayley stopped reading. It was getting late outside, and pretty soon she wouldn’t be able read without a candle.

“BURKE GET INSIDE IT’S COLD OUT THERE YOU’RE GOING TO GET SICK!”

“Okay, okay, geez mom stop it, I’m coming,” Burke teased.

“Hey it’s not my fault you’re my only friend and I don’t want you to get sick,” Hayley answered from the bunker.

Theo stared at the tree. Theo slept in the tree, up in the branches, and surprisingly no one seemed to notice his bed up there, and so far his practicing there hasn’t been bad either.

Theo climbed up in the tree with some dirt he needed for the spell. Once in his bed, Theo plucked a leaf and placed it in one of his hands and the dirt in the other.

Slowly recalling the finger movements, he began tapping them with the dirt hand.
Then with the hand and the leaf he began tapping his index with his thumb.

Slowly his entire body started to fade into the exact colors of the tree. Theo’s hands morphed into leaves and his arms branches. Theo place his legs/branches on his arms until he became part of the tree.

Good enough, he thought. His eyes started feeling suddenly heavy and he started to close his eyes and fall asleep.

Theo opened his eyes to the morning sun and dew on his face.

He started to wiggle his legs in precise movements to undo the camouflage spell.

Soon enough his arms became normal and he jumped down from the tree.

Theo looked for his sandals and slipped them on. He started towards the town center to look for work to do. Even if he was a sorcerer, he wasn’t quite turning coal to gold. Not yet.

Chapter 3

D∂rk£r †h∂n ß∫∂çk

The Alchemist stared at the to-do list posted on the well. Then village had sulked into their homes too much of cowards to even walk along side an alchemist.

Every villager had to earn 3 points per day on the chart. The easier the chore, the less points.

Adrian observed the hardest chore.

The message read:

MANY PEOPLE OF ROTTERDAM HAVE BEEN AVOIDING A PARTICULAR TREE NEAR THE CENTER OF THE VILLAGE. MANY RUMORS HAVE BEEN SPREADING. AFTER NUMEROUS ATTEMPTS TO RID THE TREE MANY HAVE GIVEN UP ON IT. REWARD FOR RIDDING THE TREE WILL RESULT IN +30 POINTS.

20 points! Then Adrian could easily avoid having to come to this dreaded town for nearly a week!

Adrian reread the note. If the tree was in the town center then… Adrian looked for any tree that stood out.

Adrian spotted a certain green figure. It stood about 10 feet tall, and Adrian walked over to it.

The first thing he noticed was the smell. It smelled of something moldy, Adrian guessed.

But the biggest thing that stood out was the leaves on the tree. The tree’s leaves were nearly brown in most parts, and in others just a yellow color.

Adrian instantly realized this tree was the work of magic, he knew that when he read the note, and when he saw it, his suspicions were only confirmed.

While examining the tree, a kid Adrian’s age ran up to the tree and began tapping his fingers while staring at the tree. He had blonde hair and very sharp features, almost elf-like. He seemed to be very involved in whatever he was doing.

The kid’s finger’s stopped tapping and Adrian realized a green mist had been growing around the kid’s body.

“Hello?” Adrian asked weakly. He wasn’t used to talking to people, and was cautious not to scare the kid off.

The child made an effort to look at Adrian but continued on his work.

“That looks like, sorcery?”

“Yep.”

“My name is Adrian. Yours?”

The kid continued his work without looking at Adrian. Adrian didn’t realize how desperate he had been to talk to people.

“My name is Theo,” he said without looking at Adrian.

“Hayley! New chores list for the week! Go check it out!” Burke yelled while hammering at a sword. “Maybe you can mess with that tree a bit with your magic. Heard it’s worth a lot of points.”

“Yeah, it’s like 30 points, enough to last both of us for a week!” Hayley replied

“Enough chit-chat go earn me some points, girl,” Burke commanded.

Hayley started down the road with her magic book in hand, browsing through it hoping she would find something interesting.

Hayley came up a hill she instantly recognized as the hill to Rotterdam.

The thing that creeped Hayley out was when she walked up to the town, and to her relief, nothing was thrown at her. Even more unlikely, the town seemed very quite, no riots about the witch coming to town. No one was even in Hayley’s sight until she saw two boys about her age standing in front of a poor looking tree.

One of the boys was tapping his fingers repeatedly. He looked younger that the other one, and had a deep blonde hair.

The other one looked older than Finger-Tapper. The boy was desperately trying to start a conversation with Finger-Tapper.

Hayley hesitantly started walking towards them.

“Hello?”

Theo and Adrian jumped to the girl’s voice behind them.

“Uh, hello?” Adrian quickly answered.

“Um, yeah, hi, I j-just c-c-came to look at th-the c-chores,” she said, stuttering at Adrian.

Theo turned to look at Adrian. Nothing was unusual, except for the green mist around the tree. That couldn’t be it, the girl looked like she practiced magic herself, she dressed like it, at least.

“Something wrong, Adrian?” Theo was done with his sorcery, and he could actually contribute to a conversation.

“N-N-No, j-j-just an odd thought,” He said, stuttering also.

“Okay then, should we all introduce ourselves. I’m Theo,” he said. “Anyone else wanna introduce?”

“Yeah, I-I-I’m Hayley,” she said.

“Adrian.”

Theo instantly knew there was something between the two, but they weren’t acting romantic or anything.

“Anything happen that I missed out on?” This was annoying Theo, and he didn’t get annoyed that easily.

“No, I was just thinking something funny. So, are we all here for the tree?” Adrian asked, returning to his normal sense again.

“Tree?” Hayley asked. “Oh that thing. The reason I came here is because I need to do some chores.

“Wait, Hayley. You’re that witch’s girl, am I right?” Theo questioned.

Hayley nodded silently.

“Back to the chores. Theo, lets fill her in on the tree.”

“Okay.”

“So, if you haven’t known about the tree, well, its been creeping lots people, and taking it down is worth lots of points.”

“Yeah I knew about that, I was just curious if you guys were doing it too,” Hayley stated.

“Anyone up for it?” Adrian asked.

“Duh, you idiots,” Hayley said, as if talking to babies.

“Shut up, Hayley,” Theo said.

“Okay, then, my house, tomorrow morning?” Adrian suggested.

He gave the others the directions to get to his house and smiled as they walked off towards their own houses, exhausted by the work done today.

Chapter 4:

Adrian stared at the others.

“Well?” He asked the others.

“Um, for a start, the tree obviously uses magic. But of course the type that is used is unobvious,” Theo said.

“Black magic is all about bringing things to life and casting curses, and maybe that has been causing some effect on the tree,” Adrian said.

“Oh yeah wait a sec,” Hayley reaching for something from her bag.

“Here we go, I got this book on magic and stuff. Maybe it can be a help,” she said, handing the book to Adrian.

Adrian flipped through a few pages and started reading aloud. “Black magic was a type of magic mages and witches used to keep their cults more secretive as churches and villages started to riot on them. Myths and legends say that black magic was magic evolved into something more dark, as the name suggests.

“Black magic specializes in curses and death, much like necromancy.” Adrian interrupted the text. “So, I’m guessing we got enough homework, so go home and study more. Everyone got it?”

“Uh yeah,” Theo said, surprised. Adrian couldn’t blame him, either. Adrian wanted to get away from Hayley, there was something that was odd about her. He recognized her, weirdly. But the name Hayley didn’t even sound that familiar.

Hayley nodded. “So I guess I’ll be going now, if no one needs me…”

“Wait, where and when should we meet next time?” Theo asked, probably pondering the question himself.

“Uh, what about my place? It will be easy to find and practice, let alone research. Follow this road, and then take a left, there’s a bush, jump through it and you end up in my house, comprendo?” Adrian said.

“Yeah,” Theo and Hayley said in unison.

“That’s not English. You should watch what language you speak around certain people,” Theo said.

“Yeah okay mother,” Adrian said in counter of Theo’s words.

“Well guys, let’s split, if were done,” Hayley said to end the argument.

Adrian watched as Theo started walking away, and was soon followed by Hayley also.

Adrian sensed something with Hayley. He didn’t quite think it was love, there was just something about them that made them share a similarity.

Something, Adrian though to himself.

Hayley watched as Theo turned off towards a different road.

While walking, she thought about Adrian, why she thought she knew him. He seemed so familiar, but the name wasn’t helping much.

There was something, just something, she thought. If only I knew Hayley told herself.

Just then it hit Hayley. She wasn’t even in Rotterdam anymore. In fact she had no idea how she got there, it only seemed that she was following the path. Hayley looked around and found she was in a huge place, with people swarming around her, looking like they had things much more important to do.

Hayley was completely stunned. She knew of no place like this, but it seemed this wasn’t quite the same time period. Everything, it was such, newer. As if villages upon villages were built upon each other, and the people were wearing clothing much more advanced and civilized, and looked as if they might burn up in their clothes.

“Hello?” Hayley asked, hoping someone would notice her. Unfortunately, no one payed any attention, and she wondered what she should do.

She walked into a single-room store, and noticed many people sitting at chairs with cups being brought to them. A mist hovered above the cups, and she identified it as steam.

People rushed in and out, grabbing their steaming drinks and out to work, not one noticing Hayley.

She brushed her fingers passed a man, and her fingers went through him.

“Is this some kind of a joke?” Hayley asked to no one in particular.

“I wouldn’t quite call it that,” a man said from behind her. She spun around and faced a man around 20. The man had a color of eye Hayley had never seen.

“So now you see me. What great luck I have,” Hayley said. She also added a few words I can’t say because this is for school.

“That’s not nice, and you kiss your mom with that mouth?” The man said disgustedly.

“My mother died a long, long time again, I figured you knew that, everyone suddenly knows everything about me,” Hayley said.

“No, no, that wouldn’t be fun if I knew everything about you. Then what would the challenge be?” The man said, smiling.

“Challenge?” Hayley asked, wishing people would explain things to her more often.

“Oh I’m sorry, I thought someone had told you,” He said, truly sounding sympathetic. “You and your friends are to be tested. The things they believe and don’t will be mixed, and few have been chosen to receive this test, less to survive.”

“Thanks, you made my day. Now I know my friends get to die, and that I’ll probably die too. Thanks for the info. Now, if you don’t mind, I think I might need to get home,” Hayley said, trying to keep her cool.

“One more thing, until you beat the test you can’t leave this, dimension,” He said, creeping Hayley out.

“Okay, fine, what’s the test,” Hayley said, moaning.

“That’s up to you to figure out,” He said.

And in a wiff of purple smoke, he disappeared, leaving Hayley very confused.

Theo didn’t quite get Adrian’s “assigned” homework to him. Would he be mad if Theo didn’t get the stuff done?

Nah, He thought to himself. Better to try but be optimistic.

Now, what was he supposed to do. Maybe he should walk back to the tree tomorrow and see if his sorcery had done anything.

Theo soon came to his hidden tree, and, grabbing a few leaves and mud, climbed into the tree.

Once Theo started his spell, he began to think about the others in the group. He remembered Adrian and Hayley’s stuttering, and, for a moment, it seemed that they knew each other, but neither of them were acting like long-lost friends or anything.

The spell started to morph Theo and change him into the tree. So far – so good.

Then something went wrong. The tree started to change colors of all sorts, and then into shapes of all sorts. Finally the tree settled into an unwarming face-like shape and a skin tone-ish color.

The monster thing started to talk, its image constantly disrupted by flames flickering across its face.

The voice made Theo vibrate. “It’s been a while, Theodore. I’ve been waiting, but since you stopped Christianity, your prayers have decreased greatly. It’s a sad thing, Theodore,” the voice sounded angry at Theo. And this monster knew Theo’s real name, it wouldn’t be that hard to guess, but rarely anyone knew him by Theo, period.

“I really don’t think I know you, and I really am not all that comfortable this close to you,” Theo said, not even sure how close he was to this, this, person, he finally decided on.

“WHAT! YOU’VE FORGOTTEN ALREADY! THAT’S SAID, THEODORE. VERY SAD! TO THINK THAT EVERY SINGLE DAY I THINK ABOUT YOU AND, NOW, NOW YOU’RE SAYING YOU DON’T KNOW ME? REALLY SAD, THEODORE,” The voice was getting ticked off, and Theo had close to 0 experience with this type of problem.

“LOOK AT MY FACE AND TELL ME IF YOU DON’T RECOGNIZE ME. SHOULDN’T MY VOICE GIVE YOU ANY CLUE! I’M DISAPPOINTED, THEODORE!”

Soon Theo was being picked up, and brought closer to the monster’s face by an invisible force.

“Al….. ex?” Theo said choosing his words carefully. Then flashbacks came, and things started going downhill from there.

Chapter 5:

“Adrian, is that you, my boy?” The old voice came from the shanty town area most of his life involved.

“Yes, it’s me Master,” Adrian yelled, while walking into his house. “We’ll have guests over tomorrow, fellow magicians,” Adrian informed.

The person Adrian met was small, probably large for his age, which was to old to count.

“Ahh, I see. So, who will be having over?” he said in a questioning voice.

“One girl, one boy, both magicians. Met them working at the tree, the evil one people have been talking about,” Adrian said.

“Good, maybe I can teach them a few tricks of my own?” He said.

The old man, or as Adrian was forced to call him, Master, was a nice man, who secretly taught Adrian magic as a child.

“Yes, that would be great. We were meeting to fix the tree, but there’s nothing odd about it except that it glows green, and it smells. Also, the tree regrows every time some one chops it down. Like, in minutes,” Adrian said, informing the old man.

“Okay, I’ll think about it. But right now, you should get some rest. Something tells me you won’t sleep well tonight,” the old man said.

Adrian looked at the sunset, and admired its beauty for a while before walking to the house and climbing into bed.

Soon after, Adrian drifted to sleep.

“I hate you! I never want to see you again!” The toddler screamed. “Never!”

It was the first day they had gone without thanking each other. The other boy was 17. He had kidnapped the toddler from their parents, which might have been a good thing. Although that wasn’t the reason he was screaming.

“Theodore, you know better, I have to go work. If I don’t work, then we’d both starve.

“Never! I will never talk to you again!” Theo said.

“You just did,” Alex said, a small chuckle spawning at the edges of his lips.

Theo kept silent, ignoring Alex.

“Rosey, remember her, our neighbor from next door? She will watch you at her house. Then I’ll be home, and you’ll be having so much fun you’ll forget I left, okay?”

“…” was Theo’s reply as Alex headed out the door.

“A-l-lex.. it can’t be you,” Theo said.

“OF COURSE IT IS! EXCEPT NOW, I’M DEAD, AND YOU HAVEN’T PRAYED FOR ME IN EIGHT YEARS NINE MONTH SEVENTEEN DAYS! I COUNTED THEODORE, AND YOU HAVEN’T PRAYED ONE BIT!” Alex, or his ghost boomed.

“I-I-I’m sorry, I didn’t-”

“OF COURSE YOU DIDN’T! YOU NEVER MEAN! YOU NEVER THINK! I DIED THAT DAY, REMEMBER? THE DAY THAT YOU SAID YOU HATED ME! I REMEMBER! I RE-LIVE IT EVERYDAY!” Alex said, his voice volume rocketing skyward.

“Alex, I’m sorry, I never meant to, um, do anything that made you mad. I never wanted to make you feel bad. When I prayed for you, it felt wrong, mourning for you. I just thought that, if I showed you happiness maybe, maybe it would make you feel better, my happiness, and on top of that, I didn’t know ghosts were real,” Theo said, on the defensive side.

Alex started to turn different shades. Soon Theo couldn’t see anything but black, and then his vision returned. Alex was nearly twice as big, and it looked like he was turning even more red.

“Don’t be worried,” a voice that sounded completely out of sync, a voice that wasn’t even Alex’s.

“Huh?” Theo asked. He was still shivering, shocked by the realization that his dead brother tried to kill him a minute ago.

The shape that was once Alex changed into a more comfortable shape, and it kinda looked like a child. Theo let his guard down. Just a bit.

“Congrats,” the more comforting voice said. Theo had trouble recognizing if it was a boy or a girl, and it’s annunciation was incredibly good, like the words were chopped up from other sentences.

“You’re not Alex, are you now.”

“Alex never existed, well, not since he died. Actually, I have no say in that. Anyway, back to the point. Congratulations, Theo, you’ve pasted the test. Now we wait for your friends to finish,” it said in that odd accent.

“Test?”

“Oh, y-y-you didn’t know, I’m sorry,” it, or he, as Theo decided, said, breaking it’s perfect English. “You had, a, uh, challenge, or test. The reason, is because my boss doesn’t like you.”

“Yay, someone doesn’t like me,” Theo said sarcastically. “Who’s your boss anyway?”

“I can’t tell you. You’ll know eventually,” He said. “But until then, relax, you beat your first challenge.”

The boy faded away, until Theo was left with the flames, as they slowly died down.

“I just asked for some straight answers,” Theo said, to no one in particular.

In a not so different situation, Hayley stood, also wishing for straight answers. She still wasn’t quite in the mood to translate, not even close.

“So, what am I supposed to do,” Hayley said, walking through crowds of people, literally.

Hayley tripped over something, and looked around surprised she had any contact with anything.

She got up and standing, or floating, was a small, round, green machine, with dots as eyes and a thin line as a mouth that went around it’s entire body.

When it spoke, it’s lower half separated where it’s mouth was.

“What are you supposed to do? Don’t you know what you’re supposed to do? Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do! It’s written when you were born! How can you-” Hayley cut him off.

“That’s nice, chirpy,” Hayley said, giving him a name. The floating thing had a chirpy voice, hence it’s name. “Of course I know what to do? How could I have forgotten,” Hayley mocked, with sarcasm in her voice.

“Do know? It doesn’t sound like that? I’m not sure, do you know? I don’t think so. You had sarcasm in your voice. It’s not nice. My name is Toby, not Chirpy. You’re not nice.”

Hayley had already been walking off ignoring Chirpy.

“You’ll need me later Miss! Don’t you forget that!” Chirpy yelled, oblivious to the odd-clothed people swarming around him. “I’m you’re only chance to get home!”

Hayley continued walking, until she realized that these people could see Chirpy.

She started back towards Chirpy, and once she got there she had no difficultly getting through the phantom people.

“You said something about getting me out of here. Uh, I’ll take you up on that offer.”

“Yes Miss! Now, for directions, all you have to do,” Chirpy said, flying up over the crowd, “is find out who Adrian is! I’ll give you a hint, you’ve definitely seen him before! Now, once you’ve done that, come and tell me and you’ll be out of this place!”

Hayley walked off to a coffee shop, or so she figured, because it smelled like it.

She walked to a chair and sat down, only to hit the floor as she sank through the chair, unable to touch anything in this, odd place.

Hayley thought it good to stand up, so she did, careful she wouldn’t sink into the floor.

She wondered who Adrian was. She thought maybe he was related to Burke, maybe his son. No, she discarded the thought. Burke wasn’t even married.

She watched as two teens walked side by side, and she thought they made a cute couple. Then two adults came up from behind them and herded them into a car, where they drove off out of sight.

Then Hayley realized the two were siblings, and the adults were their parents.

And then Hayley thought that maybe Adrian was her brother.

She called for Chirpy, but he didn’t respond.

She tried calling him by a different name. “Toby! I got an answer!” And with that, the unmistakable helper came down and waited for an answer.

“Adrian is my brother, isn’t he?” Hayley said, already knowing the answer.

“Good job, Hayley! Now, go meet your once lost brother!”

And soon, Hayley was being lifted into blackness, and she entered the same road she originally was on, the road home.

Chapter 6:

Adrian woke up in his bed, hot with sweat. He walked down to the nearest lake, and made sure no one was watching. He slipped off his clothes and walked into the freezing water.

He remembered his dream and wondered if it was just a dream. But it was so vivid, he could recall almost every detail of it, like it was happening right now.

Adrian got up and put his clothes back on. He wondered what he should do next. Maybe he should go look for Theo and Hayley. He didn’t, remembering that they were supposed to meet him here.

Coincidentally Hayley started walking towards him, her red hair barely keeping up with her against the wind.

She came up beside him and sat with him on the bank. “You will not believe what I just figured out,” she said, catching her breath.

“Same here. You first.”

Hayley cleared her throat. “I’m pretty sure we’re siblings. You do look familiar, and that’s the way I got out of some awkward village. Weirdo people, if you ask me.”

“Let me guess, some weird guy said it was a test,” Adrian said, already knowing the answer.

“Yep. Now what new did you have?” She asked.

“I’m not sure it’s as good as yours, but okay here it goes. I went to sleep and had a dream. I was looking at myself when I was younger. Then I was seeing what I saw when I was that age, and I could do whatever I wanted. Then some guy came along and said I passed. Figured it was a test.” Adrian shrugged.

“Whoa, hey, that sounds like something I read! Here lemme get it…” She reached behind her and grabbed a dusty old book.

She flipped to a page, then started reading:

Phasewalking is a rare skill that Alchemists preferably pick up, mostly at random times. Signs and symptoms of being able to Phasewalk are having odd dreams of childhood memories. Being able to Phasewalk means you can change certain past decisions a person has made, or to see various versions of what could happen in the future.” Hayley stopped reading and said, “Sounds like you,” she said.

She handed the book to Adrian, and said, “Study it, find out more about your special ability, besides, here comes Theo right now.

It was true, and as Theo came to sit by them, he said, “I had a rough day yesterday, anyone want to know about it?”

“Yes, but we know it was probably some test,” Hayley and Adrian said in unison.

“Well, long story short, I tried to hide myself into a tree to sleep, and the tree turned funny shapes and colors. Then it was my dead brother trying to kill me, and then someone said I passed a test.”

“Cool. Something similar to us happened. I have a time travel power, and Hayley has something she might want to announce.”

“Yeah, Adrian and I are runaway twins, except I followed him for a while, then went back to mom, she went crazy and I’m suddenly a witch. So yeah, we’re like, twins,” Hayley said. “It looked like you guys had seen each other,” Theo said, scratching his arm.

“Yeah, although I didn’t think I quite knew I could time travel or phasewalk or whatever,” Adrian said.

“So what should we do next. I guess we had our own fun with our dreams, or tests or whatever, so should we go back to work on the tree? I say we do. I don’t really know, but maybe we should see if anything special happened,” Hayley suggested.

Then they were walking towards the tree

When they arrived, Theo almost tripped himself. The tree had gained so much size it reminded Theo of the common folktale Jack and the Bean Stock.

“Guys, I think we should leave. This might turn out messy if we don’t.”

And Theo completely believed his own words. They started walking backwards, and then turning it into a frontward run.

“Follow me!” Adrian yelled. They did, and Adrian led them to his house. Theo instantly realized it wasn’t quite like the lake house they were at before, this was more poor, and Theo marveled at how it still held itself together.

Theo couldn’t shake off the fact that his sorcery earlier hadn’t worked. He had done the finger and incantations right, so why hadn’t the tree shrunk to a holdable size. The spell was supposed to work on all living things, so it should have worked on the tree. But one thought kept nagging at Theo. Maybe the tree wasn’t alive.

Adrian broke the silence. “In case you didn’t notice, the tree was still moving. If we don’t go back there quick and evacuate anyone the village, then something may happen.”

When Adrian said ‘something’ Theo had gotten chills sent up his spine.

“Theo, you alright?” Theo jumped. He realized he was staring at the ground and he looked up.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just thought something funny,” He said, regaining his senses.

Hayley said, “Adrian do you still have the book? Maybe it has something to help with this problem.”

“Okay, I’ll go get it,” Adrian ran off.

Before Theo could start his next sentence, Adrian was back.

“Here we go…” Adrian got involved in the book for a minute, browsing through various pages and subjects. Finally, he satisfied for one page.

“If you wish to cause dread in your town, or gain revenge, or simply just for fun, then turning a local life form into a talk of disgust, then this is how. The easiest way is to draw specific lines on or around it. Then a few incantations or wordings and its done. Level of difficulty: Beginner.”

“So we know that it could have easily been a child that picked the spell up from a book,” Adrian suggested.

“No, there was one detail of my test I didn’t tell you about. When my person came to say I was finished, he said that his boss was after us. And I don’t think a child is a very good boss for odd spirits controlling our life.” Theo said. “Some one’s out to get us, and they’re out for blood.”

END OF BOOK ONE.

BOOK TWO HERE:  HERE!

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