The light shone through the open attic windows, opened and unopened boxes littered the floor. A chest full of antique clothes was in one corner, an old bookshelf in the other, and a chest full of ancient weapons in the third. Chipped wallpaper peeling off of the walls, an old rug covered a majority of the oak floor. The only thing making the scene less beautiful was Zeke’s highlighter blue hair making the room even brighter as the sun came in.
“Hey Zeke, mind moving out of the light,” Max broke the silence we had sat in for hours while pulling out a dagger.
“No, he’s fine, his hair is angling the light towards some of the more worn books,” I argued, causing Zeke to laugh.
“Oh my god,” Zeke whispered just loud enough for Max and I to hear, when I turned to look at him he had a top hat and monocle on that looked like it was from the 1800s.
“ZEKE!” Max howled with laughter, only making it funnier.
“My good lord sir,” Zeke faked an old British accent, “please contain your laughter.”
“Can’t breathe,” Max wheezed.
“Oh I’m sorry my good man,” I only made the situation worse, “I was simply looking for a good book to read.”
I pulled out a book with a purple cover, not bothering to read the title. At this point Zeke had lost it too.
“Oh god, spring cleaning sucks unless you do it with the right people,” Zeke took the get-up off, “Dad would be so confused.”
“Right,” I mumbled, finally looking at the title of the ancient book, “what the…”
“What?” Zeke asked.
“Elven Magic for the Welis Family Females,” I read the book title out loud, “Written by Hecate, the Goddess of Magic.”
“What?” Max whipped his head around, nearly dropping a katana on his foot.
“Ha! I knew you were an elf!” my brother laughed triumphantly at the fact his nickname fit.
“Shut it Zeke,” I glared at him, “I’m not an elf, and this book is probably just a joke that we kept around because it had our last name on it.”
“Um, Willow,” Max backed up against a wall, “why is it glowing?”
“WHAT?!” I look at the book, and then glare at Max when I see he was just messing with me, causing him to fall over laughing.
“Max,” Zeke looked between him and me, “your prediction was just a second too soon.”
“Ha ha Zeke,” I glared at him, “I’m not falling for it this time.”
“I’m not trying to make you fall for anything,” he defended, “it’s actually glowing, look!”
I looked over at the book I had previously set down, and sure enough the text had a faint purple glow to it. We all stepped back in fear as it rose up and flipped to, what seemed like, a random page. Zeke bravely got closer to see what it said, he carefully picked it up and started reading.
“For thousands of years the Wilis family girls have prayed to me, and have made great offerings. Today I grant them the gift of elven magic, every female born to a Wilis shall be completely elven for as long as they keep this book,” Zeke paused to look at me, causing me to reach up and touch my pointed ears, “may they use this magic to help those who stray those from light. But beware, as there are forces out there, monsters, who want this book, so after you learn the magic, hide it. If these monsters get the book, they will kill off the bloodline, and the gods will fade, and the world will fall into a fiery destruction, only at the mercy of these creatures.”
I stumble a little, moving my hand from my ears to my blonde braids, purple strands intertwined with it. I look around, the room suddenly spinning, a headache suddenly appearing. I looked at Zeke who was yelling down the stairs, but I couldn’t hear anything over the blood rushing past my ears. Then suddenly all was black.
When I woke up I was on the couch, Grandma leaning over me, setting a warm towel on my forehead, and for the first time in my life, I noticed her ears were just as pointed as mine.
“I’m so sorry, dear,” she muttered when she saw me awake.
“What are you talking about?” I murmured.
“That book,” she whispered, “it’s yours now, it’s bonded with you, guard it with your life. Because losing it will result in a slow death.”
“Well that doesn’t sound too hard for a 16 year old girl,” I spoke sarcastically, looking around the room I then asked, “where’s Zeke and Max?”
“Max went home for the day, and Zeke is in his room with the book,” she smiled kindly, “why don’t you come get it and bring it back here?”
I nodded and walked over to my brother’s room. I knocked on the door before carefully opening it. Zeke was sitting in his bed, book in hand, and was staring blankly at a wall.
“What are you thinking?” I asked, bringing him out of his trance.
“Do you think this book ever belonged to Mom?” He glanced at the only picture of all five of us to exist. Our, very pregnant, mother’s blonde hair glowing in the sun, our dad’s blue eyes sparkled looking over us. He was holding a two year old blond Zeke and watching over us. I hadn’t been born yet, and neither had my twin.
“I don’t know,” he looked at me. My older brother seemed to know what was coming as he held the book tighter.
“Willow,” he was tearing up, “I can’t lose you too, I don’t want you to do this, you’re the only sibling I’m ever going to have, I-”
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” I cut him off, “but I do know that whatever is in that book, is going to be the only thing keeping me alive.”
He handed it to me before walking with me back down to the living room, a fire had been lit in the fireplace, and grandma had taken a seat in her favorite purple rocking chair.
“Grandma?” Zeke pulled her attention away from whatever she had been staring out at through the window.
“Take a seat you two,” she sighed.
A couple of hours later we were sitting in silence, processing the day we just had. To recap, we woke up and had a normal day, until I pulled out the wrong book off of the bookshelf, learned I was an elf, passed out, reminisced about my dead family, and am now sitting here trying to figure out what comes next.
“I'm scared,” I murmured. Zeke looked at me and pulled me into his side. As often as we fought, us three are the only family we’ve got.
“Me too,” Zeke whispered to me.
Grandma had started to hum one of our old lullabies, causing me to fall asleep on my brother’s shoulder.
“Molly, it's insane!”
“SHUT UP YOU USELESS FIVE TAILED MUTANT!”
“Molly, calm down, we’ll help.”
“Medillia it’s useless.”
“She’s too stubborn for her own good.”
“Willow, wake up,” Zeke shook me awake, “are you ok?”
“You were screaming,” Grandma was still awake, and Zeke and I were still on the couch.
“Just a nightmare,” I mumbled.
“So,” Grandma stood up, “it’s begun.”
Zeke and I looked at each other in confusion. All unasked questions were answered however when we saw our grandmother pick up the book off of the coffee table and hand it to me.
“I can’t do this,” I whispered, “I’m not leaving my only family.”
“Zeke, go with her, take the weapons in the attic, and grab one for Max, you two need to protect her until she learns how to use her magic,” Grandma spoke sternly, “you leave right away in the morning, I’ll let his parents know you’re going to my old cabin for a while.”
“Grandma,” Zeke stood up, “what about you?”
“I’m old,” a tear rolled down her cheek, “I only have enough magic, and enough life left to get you to the cabin, it’s my time.”
“Grandma,” I mumbled.
“Go to your rooms children,” Grandma said, “I’ll see you in the morning.”
I don’t remember following her instructions that night, but two days later I woke up in the cabin she had talked about. All of my memories from the past couple of days are vague and fuzzy. I remember the conversation, then the transportation the next day, purple streaks of light wrapping around the three of us and we were here.
I woke up with the sun in my face, the bedroom wasn’t much different from the one I had at the house. Pastel purple walls with white streaks in a no specific pattern, and dark red dots in places where the lines meet. A dark oak closet in the corner.
A knock came from the door, I shuffled across the floor. Max was on the other side, wearing nothing but his sweatpants and shark tooth necklace.
“Hey,” I mumbled.
“Mornin’ princess,” he leaned against the door frame, “how ya feeling?”
“Sick,” I leaned into his chest.
“Oh I’m sorry,” he rubbed my back for a little while as we stood there in silence, “magic making your stomach hurt?”
“Stress is just making my everything hurt,” I groaned as I flung myself at the bed, Max following.
“Hey,” he shifted so my head was on his chest, “it’ll be alright.”
“I am sixteen years old, just lost my grandma, and am now expected to save the world from evil monsters,” I complained, “and on top of that, I dragged my brother and my boyfriend into this mess.”
“You didn’t drag me into anything,” he tilted my head to look in his eyes, “I would follow you to the edges of the Earth, even if it meant falling.”
“Pffftt,” I laughed as I sat up, “okay mister poet, then follow me to the kitchen for food.”
“Hey I was trying to be sweet!” He yelled as he ran after me down the stairs.
There were three books in the entire house, the one I was supposed to protect, the one explaining where we were, and a decoy.
The book explaining where we were told things like, we mustn't leave and go out into the woods, as only an elf could find her way back. It also told us that using magic for selfish reasons can lead to taking a year off of our lifespan, but helping others can add a year to our lifespan. Or that elves are immortal to everything except their own magic, so I cannot die of hunger or thirst, because I don’t need to eat to survive. It explains the different types of monsters like the Manticor, the Hydra, Medusa, and so many others who will be after this book.
The decoy had the same spells and everything, but the magic wouldn’t work unless you have the correct book. I've compared them, and it’s because the pronunciations are just wrong enough that you can’t tell, but the spell won’t work.
Even though we’ve only been here a couple of days I have learned the simplest spell in the green bound book, the finding spell. It allows me to find lost things and summon them into my hand, or find specific spells in the book.
“What’re you thinking?” Max studied my face from across my room, where he had decided to sketch me.
“The whole magic thing and if I could pull it off,” I went to look at him.
“Don’t move,” he glanced up as I moved back to my original spot, “and don’t stress it, you’re a natural, you’ve already learned a spell.”
“Yeah, the simplest one, I bet all of the women in my family have been able to learn it just as fast.”
“No,” a voice rang in my ears, Max heard it too, “for as long as I have watched over your family, you are the only one who learned any magic this fast into your training, and without someone to teach you.”
“What?” I looked at Max.
“I am Hecate, child, I am not yet strong enough to show myself, but I can talk to you,” she responded.
“So I’m talking to a goddess?” Max stood up to go get Zeke from wherever he was.
“Yes,” she responded, “what would you like to know?”
“What was my mother like?” I blurted out my first thought.
“She was a kind woman, but selfish, just like her mother,” Hecate spat out the last few words, “but at least your grandmother had the sense to fix her problem when she saw it appear.”
“But her death was my fault,” I looked at Zeke, who had just barely entered the room and stopped. Hecate’s presence was gone, and Zeke and I just stared at each other.
“Willow,” he whispered.
A few days later, I was outside practicing a protection spell, casting small force fields and trying to make them bigger. Max kept trying to get me to talk about what I had said, but Zeke and I just kind of avoided each other. We haven’t talked about our mother’s death in two years when I had issues, or our father’s for that matter. So I guess it came as a surprise to Zeke that I still blame myself for the incidents. He’d even asked, and checked, if I’d ever relapsed. Hecate only ever projected to me now, since she triggered the tense atmosphere at the cabin.
“Very good,” the goddess praised when I had finally made one big enough to protect the house, “you may stop now, you’re exhausted.”
Zeke had made dinner that night, venison and some carrots that he’d gotten from the shed, I guess Hecate had put a spell on that shed to have whatever we needed when we needed it, as when we checked it yesterday it had nothing in it until that night when we got rabbit and broccoli. We had our normal dinner conversations, and things went back to normal pretty quickly.
“Dude,” Max exclaimed, “do you think the attic is the exact same?”
At that question all three of us ran up the two flights of stairs, it absolutely was the exact same attic like back at home.
“Oh my god!” Zeke laughed, “MY TOP HAT AND MONOCLE IS HERE!”
“Oh my gods Zeke, we are right here,” I covered my ears, causing Max to laugh along with Zeke, who ran over to the closet and pulled out the hat and monocle. Zeke grabbed something else and ran back down stairs, leaving Max and I confused.
After a few minutes of going through the books, which were all slightly different from the ones at home, as they were laced with magic, Zeke ran back up the stairs dressed like a Victorian grandfather.
“Good day sir,” Zeke lifted his hat, to show he even put on a bald cap, “M’lady.”
“PFFFFT!” Max doubled over, before squawking out a strangled laugh. Zeke just kept going until we all felt like throwing up from laughing so hard.
“Oh man,” Zeke wiped a tear and pulled off the bald cap, his usually spiky hair now flat and ruffled.
“Ow,” I said when my own giggle fit died down, and then started laughing harder when I looked out the window “Oh gods the sun!”
“Geez,” Max said as he shielded his eyes from the rising sun. We’d all agreed that we were just gonna nap on the couch for a while after that whole mess.
“I’ll go, remember the plan.”
“What if they find out?”
We were woken up by the sound of a thud and then some rustling. Zeke was the first one to stand up and grab his weapon, Max grabbed a kitchen knife, and I summoned the book.
“Who’s there?” Zeke called.
“I’m sorry for frightening you,” a small harpy girl popped out of the bushes, “I got separated from the others and crash landed here.”
“Oh you poor thing,” I ran towards her, “what’s your name?”
“Molly,” she flinched when I reached out to touch her broken wing.
“Max, can you go grab a first aid kit from the shed?” I asked, “Zeke and I can take her inside.”
Max nodded and took off towards the back. Zeke put his sword away and opened the door. I cleaned off the table quickly using a spell I found and set her up on it. I got a good look at the girl now, her feathers and eyes were brown and skin was tan. She must be pretty rare, I thought I read that harpies were usually red, gold, black, or blue.
When I had finished patching her up, she hopped off of the table and I put a spell on her to take away the pain. She thanked me and walked over to the door.
“Where are you going,” my brother stepped in front of her, “you can’t go out there injured.”
“Well I don’t want to over do my stay,” she stuttered, suddenly shy looking at my brother, I could hear her heart racing out of her chest.
“It’s fine,” my brother said, “you could stay with me, or Willow if that makes you more comfortable.”
I watched as the harpy followed my brother to his room after agreeing to stay with him. I don’t know what but, something about her just didn’t sit right with me. Max seemed to sense it and he asked what was wrong. I didn’t look him in the eye when I said nothing and walked away to figure it out. I shut myself in my room until dinner. I was frustrated that I couldn’t figure out the red flags I was seeing.
Still frustrated cause I knew I was wrong, I chalked it up to the fact she likes my only living family member. I tried calming myself down with the thought that at least it wasn’t my boyfriend she liked, or we would really have a problem. I really just tried to be happy that my brother has found a possibility, since he has expressed to me he always feels like a third wheel when it comes to Max and me.
“I lived most of my life in captivity, an evil man my captor was,” Molly told us her, obviously fake, sob story, “used the men for his dirty work and beat the women and children into being his slaves.”
That caught my attention, as the book said there are no male harpies. That was when I knew it wasn’t a personal reason I hated her. She was a liar, and if she could lie about this and have Zeke believe her, what else is she lying about?
I looked over at Max, who was just as skeptical as I am. We made eye contact, and a silent agreement that there was something wrong with this girl, and we needed to figure it out.
“Hey Molly,” I asked her, “could we talk in private?”