“You’re leaving me at the Sanctuary,” I accused flatly. Salem’s grip on me tightened.
“No! . . . I’m coming with you. I’m training under the HeadHunter here, who, if I’m lucky, will give you to me as an assignment. Each Guardian is here to protect all Mages, but has a single Mage to watch specifically.” Salem admitted.
He went up to the giant, lightly-colored wooden door with schwoopy metal designs that acted as both the decoration and security. There was a big, old fashioned golden key as the door’s knocker. Salem used it before took a step back. A man with light brown hair and big green eyes answered the door. He wore the uniform of the Hunters and the usual ‘I’m better’ smirk as well. Something Salem lacked.
“Recruit, good evening. I see you brought us a. . . child.” The man raised his eyebrow. “You know this is a school of Mages, yes? We’re not babysitting your accident,” the brunette mocked. Salem remained calm.
“This is a Mage-child.”
“Mage-ic shows itself as early as six. This girl is three at most,” The Guardian dismissed.
“She IS a Mage!” Salem insisted. The Guardian looked unimpressed, refused to budge. “Fine, but don’t come crying to me once Mageress Media knows you’ve turned away a Mage-child.” Salem turned to walk towards the door.
“Wait!” the voice called. Salem stopped and turned to face the brunette Guardian. He sighed again, but allowed us entry. There was a loud ‘clack’ and the whole room we walked into brightened up, blinding me temporarily. The walls and floors were greystone, the area rug flattened over the main room of the entryway a deep purple. To the right was a fire place with a few red loveseats and a bookshelf on either side of its white marble mantel. To the left was a giant staircase leading to the upper portions of the castle. The wood matched everything from the bookshelf to the couches and stairs. Salem set me down on the couch.
“I’ll be right back, stay here,” he commanded. I nodded, and watched him go up the stairs. The brunette followed him, speaking softly until they were out of sight. I hopped over the back of the arm of the couch and headed for the door.
“Wait!” a voice whispered. I froze in place. ′Did Salem catch me?!′ I turned to see a young man with long blonde hair, sea bright blue eyes, and dressed in green and brown leather armor walking towards me with a small smile. He was shorter than the average man, from what I’d seen. His hair swished side to side with his walking.
“Hello, little Abilintle.” He knelt down before me, holding out a rough, calloused hand. "I am Cyrid,” he whispered.
“Cy-rid.” I let the name play on my tongue.
“It means Onyx-Spear.” he translated. I tilted my head in confusion. “I belong to a clan of elves deep in the forest. We watch the castle, protect its people.” Cyrid’s voice reminded me of a storyteller spinning his wonderful tales. “I’m here to turn you away from escaping the school. You will escape, yes, but give it time. You must learn all you can here, you will need it for the future. I will be here for you, whenever you need me.” Cyrid sealed his promise with a kiss to my forehead before disappearing. I hurried over to the bookshelf staring at the book spines. I noticed a book was missing from the line up at about my eye level. Someone was probably reading it. I pulled out a white covered book with the same smooth material as was on Salem’s jacket. I plopped myself back onto the couch and opened the book. The words on the page were curvy and almost illegible. It looked as though it was written in pen and not how other books were fleshed out on a page. I flipped through a couple pages, finding words I could understand and put them together. I was so focused on the words I didn’t notice that someone was here until they took the book from me.
“I was reading th-!” I looked up to see a woman in her mid-thirties looking down at me. Her long, peppered black hair spilled over her shoulder in a braid, she had moderately purple eyes, mocha skin in a dark purple dress with a yellow sash tied around her waist. She held the book up between her thumb and forefinger.
“It speaks,” Salem teased, coming around the couch to pick me up and set me on his lap.
“Salem, why did you bring me a child? You said you brought me a new student,” The woman said sharply. I pursed my lips. “Alistair, take her away, she’s not who I am looking for.” She turned her back to me and began to walk up the stairs.
“With pleasure.” I heard Alistair, the brunette, sneer. I flailed my arms wildly, which he blocked, picking me up by my collar.
“Wait! HeadMageress Medea!” Salem protested, grabbing a hold of my waist.
“STOP IT!” I screamed, and let out a burst of flaming energy. Waves of fire licked my surroundings before disappearing. CRUNCH! THUD. I hit the ground, but not too hard. I stood up, listening for signs of life. Nothing was singed, nothing was burning, there wasn’t even a smell of smoke. I looked to the front door to see Alistair sitting up and rubbing his head, a dent in the wall the size of his head was there above him. I looked behind me to see Salem staggering to his feet, rubbing the back of his head too. The woman, Medea, looked at me over her shoulder, mirroring my own position.
“A young Mage girl? Mages don’t normally show signs this early, unless. . .” She trailed off. “Where did you find her?!” she snapped.
“I-...she-” Salem couldn’t get a word out. He shook his head, recovering himself. “She’s Alan’s daughter,” Salem whispered. Medea’s eyes widened and her eyes flickered to me again.
“What is your name, little one?” she asked me. Her face was softened now.
“Gale,” I replied.
“And how old are you, Gale?” she asked.
“Four.” I held up four fingers. She looked on both sides of the room and back to me.
“Four,” she mouthed.
“Gale, where are your folks?” asked Alistair. I shook my head.
“Hey! Don’t try to get info out of her! Where is your humanity?!” Salem marched over, angered, and picked me up.
“Siding with the Mages could cost you one day as a Hunter, son. Didn’t she just throw you across the room?” The Guardian said darkly.
“You attacked her!” Salem pointed out.
“Alistair!” Medea snapped. “How DARE YOU?! Manipulate a young Mage girl like that! She is one of my people, she is under MY protection. Go report what went down here today, and don’t leave out a single detail!” Medea commanded. Alistair sighed and huffed out of the room. “Salem, while she may be safest here, no place is truly safe for a Mage. I need you to stay here and guard this girl. There is something I must show you, but not with her. She will know when she is older...Alan always knew he was destined for greatness, always believed HE was the Mage to free us. Fathering the true Heroine of Mages, I suppose, is the next best thing.” The way she spoke of ‘Alan’ was that of admiration and softness rang pleasantly in the air.
“So can she stay?” Salem confirmed.
“She has to. She’s a Mage.” Medea raised her eyebrow like that was obvious. “With Alan HaleStorm as her father, and we don’t know anything about her mother yet, so until we get that information, she’s an unknown child.” Medea decided. “The others can’t know about her yet. She’s too young to be out of the castle. She’s extraordinarily rare. . . I hope you like children. Since you brought her here, she’s sleeping with you until she’s old enough to join the new bloods in the castle.” Medea assigned.
“I get to sleep with a cute girl next to me every night? I’m ok with that.”
Salem carried me through an endless maze of halls and into a medium sized room. The room had a double bed, a wardrobe with matching wood, a white carpet and another door leading to the bathroom. There was a shelf full of books, but smaller than the one by the hearth downstairs.
“I hope you like it, you’ll be in here a while.” Salem noticed me staring at the books and walked over to the shelf, picking one up from the top where I couldn’t reach. He leafed through a couple pages his eyes widening and his cheeks pinkening before putting the book back.
“They don’t really have kid books for your age. You’re kind of a rare case.” Salem frowned.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because your father was a pure mage. You’re going to be amazing one day, and do amazing things. But, you’ve gotta eat your vegetables and get strong first,” he messed up my hair. He leafed through another book and handed it to me.
“Here, read this to me out loud. Let’s see how far your reading comprehension goes.”
“You know a lot of big words for a kid,” I pointed out.
“I read a lot. Now, c’mon, tell me a story.” Salem sat down on the bed, his back against the back of the wall, his arms out wide for me to join him, and adjusted me in his lap. As I read to him, he’d tell me the words I skipped and what they meant. By chapter three, my stomach began to growl. Ggrrrrrrrrrp.
“Alright, c’mon, I’ll take you out for something to eat,” Salem promised. We opened the door, a man in a dark blue sweater and black pants appeared. His hair was curly and black, framing endless dark yellow eyes and a white smile. He looked down at Salem and I.
“Good evening. I’m just visiting from a neighboring land.” he briefly introduced. We locked eyes. “You. . . Come here.” He beckoned me over with his finger. I shook my head. “Come here, child. What is your name?” he asked, softly.
“Noneyo,” I snapped. He chuckled, amused.
“I am Adrian WhiteBridge,” he introduced himself.
“Your majesty.” Salem got off the bed and knelt before the stranger. “Pup, it’s polite to bow before a king.” Salem tried to be subtle.
“Relax, young man, we’ll meet again. She is HIS daughter.” His highness laughed. “He has never bowed before me. Nor would I expect his blood to. Young one, come, let’s get to know each other better.” His highness knelt before me and held his hand out. I hesitantly touched his palm with my middle finger and placed my hand firmly on the nearest wall.
′He speaks the truth. He is not safe, but he is no danger to you, yet.’ The wall spoke. I took my hand away from the wall and tilted my head, before gripping his hand firmly. Well, as firmly as a four year old could.
“What was that?” asked Salem.
“She was using the voice of the spirits to assure her that I am safe. I have confirmed her safe arrival, and now I will be off. We will meet again, Little Miss.” he assured.
I opened my eyes to the light of the sun through the window. I looked down to see the familiar purple quilt on the bed of the castle room Salem and I were splitting. I turned to the sleeping figure next to me, his back towards me, facing the closed door. I jumped on the bed, landing on Salem.
“Wake up! Wake up!” I shouted.
“Ugh? Unn, Gale!” Salem groaned.
“Wake up!” A giant gust of wind blew books to the floor, papers around the room, and pushed Salem off the bed.
“Aah!” Salem gave a yelp of surprise when he fell to the floor.
“Play time?” I clapped my hands together repeatedly, while jumping. Salem got to his feet and looked up at me.
“How do you have so much energy?” Salem rubbed his eyes. “Alright, alright. Let’s get ready for the day, yes?” He held his arms out for me and I jumped in. He caught me easily, turning to walk me into the bathroom. The room had a bit darker shade for the bricks, mostly around the sink, mirror, and sunken bathtub. The bathtub was white inside with dark-green-to-near-black tile. The faucet was a shiny gold, very eye catching. Salem took the long cloth I was wearing. When he shook it out I saw that it was the black sweat jacket he normally wore with his jeans. He turned on the water, checking the temperature every so often until the tub was full.
“Alright, go on.” Salem encouraged me to go in. I sat on the edge, letting my feet swim in the water. It was perfect. I slid in, my feet touching the higher floor of the sunken tub. Salem knelt next to the tub, holding his hand out to me. I smiled at him. A small smile played on his lips as well. Salem put some goo on his hands, rubbed them together, and began to rub my hair. It spread around my hair, dripping bubbles down to the side of my face, one stream of white soap dripped from my hair to my eyes. I couldn’t see! I let out a yell and hit the water repeatedly.
“WHOA!” Salem shouted and disappeared. I ducked under the water, my hands squishing against my eyes, making the pain go away. Something grabbed my hands and pulled me out of the water, and a splash hit the water. I felt the cold air around me, and squirmed.
“Gale, please don’t move, you’re wet.” Salem requested.
“My eyes hurt!” I screamed.
“I know, I know. Shhh,” Salem hushed. I felt something wipe against each eye and the pain was gone. He knelt down and fished something out of the water. It looked like a soap bottle, but it was sharper and black on the sides. Some water dripped off of it but water doesn’t normally turn into a thing. Salem walked over to the sink and turned it on. He adjusted me so my head was under it and he rinsed the soap out of my hair, rubbing against my head and making me calm. Salem carried me to the dorm room and dressed me in a small black shirt, and blue pants.
“Alright, Princess, come on. Breakfast,” Salem announced, picking me up and walking me to the cafeteria.