Passing through a portal takes place for a fraction of a second, much like passing through a doorway. The sensations however, are completely different. When you pass through a portal, you know that you are passing through a portal. It is impossible to ignore.
Every hair on my body stood on end and for a timeless instant I floated almost frozen in a sea of everything. My curly hair slightly undulated like it would in water. There was no time to draw breath, for it was over almost at once, but for that short space of time I felt a part of every particle in existence and almost lost myself to the immensity of what was.
And then my feet hit the checkered tile floor of my school. I immediately took several steps to the side to avoid being trampled by other students entering from other portals, all linked to the grand arch that held the bluish-purple swirling void. The arch was pure white and carved from moonstone. The material was rare and held an immenseness of magic. No one witch or warlock could shape moonstone on their own, the power of it was too great. It was also slightly painful to look upon, like sun hitting snow. So I didn’t look directly at it without sunglasses.
The grandness of the moonstone arches and portal travel was not the top most things on my mind. I had been touched by a vampire and had no idea how to demolish the ever present door in my head. It wafted power and secrets and the note with my name dripping with my own blood seemed to blare. It demanded my attention almost subduing the bustle that was taking place physically around me.
Witches of the Southwest, was the title of my school. The first story of it held the moonstone arch portal and serviced classes to all the students too young to own a broom. Children dressed in uniform black rushed about with their packs of books bouncing on their backs. They carried almost all of their magic things with them, having not yet developed enough power to create a portal-pouch.
At the center of Witches of the Southwest, was a cylinder tower stretching a football field width in radius. The floor of it was checkered black and white, and it had no visible roof. When I craned my neck to look up it would stretch on and on and there zipping to and fro across and down where the students on broomsticks and the occasional teacher too.
The ownership of a broom was a sort of coming of age thing. And it was what created the vast separation between the elder and younger students. That, and the lack of uniform on the older students.
Running on automatic, I mounted my broom and mindlessly dodged the buzzing students. I made my way to class, as my friends had doubtlessly already done. What was I to do about the door? Who should, or could I tell about the invitation? It was not such an easy thing to just rush off to a teacher. If they knew of what had occurred, I’d be executed.
I was not the first witch to receive an invitation to the Society of the Night, and those who had gone for advice in the past had mysteriously disappeared, and then were given a funeral by their loved ones. Witches, as a society at large, do not take threats. We students are a multitude of snakes and spiders and should one of us be discovered particularly venoms, we are to be killed. The environment will survive there are plenty of other pests to supply.
Receiving an invitation was a hush-hush subject, thus stories of it were gossiped about it of course. I was under the impression that the students had gone looking for that sort of idiocy.
What the fuck was I supposed to do? Could I tell my parents? Could I tell my friends? For the time being I decided it was best to try and ignore it and act like nothing has occurred. Despite my reckless behavior and angsty attire, I am actually a fan of life.
So I slapped an arrogant smile on my face, and did a summersault with my broom and played chicken with a random student who screamed and jerked their broom up and out of the way. That did bring a real laugh to my throat. I zipped over to a threshold along the silver walls of the cylinder tower. There, I entered into a classroom and zipped above the heads of the many students, searching for a seat.
Sadie, ever sweet and supportive Sadie, had saved me a seat next to her. I dropped down to the dais where the teacher would soon be entering. With the snap of my fingers, I dismissed my broom into my portal-pouch. It disappeared into a puff of smoke. I then rushed up the steps and through the crowd of desks and students to Sadie.
On the seat next to her was her familiar, a large bushy, long-haired, black cat. Sniff was the cat’s name, and she was just as sweet and affectionate as Sadie. She rubbed her head against my palm when I reached down to remove her.
“Sorry,” Sadie said and collected Sniff into her lap.
I snorted and rolled my eyes. “What are you sorry for? You saved me a seat.”
Sadie shrugged uncomfortably, and returned her attention to the health text book.
I pinched my own book from thin air and it dropped onto the desk with a loud thump. Fortunately, other students were doing the same thing so the thump of mine joined the collective sound of all the other thumps.
As a form of habit, I also took out my pen and paper. And taking after Sadie, I opened the health text book to the chapter we were due to read today. I had of course already read it twice, but I needed something to do to keep people from trying to talk to me.
In the two minutes it took to reach the classroom and my seat, I still had no solution. And as a hush fell across the classroom and the teacher took her seat an idea began for form in my mind. It was then immediately forgotten.
Miss Valerie was a middle aged witch. She was tall and slender, wore her black hair long and down and kept her silver bangs out of her face with a golden butterfly hairclip. She was not an unattractive woman. Being a witch, her face did not bare the beginning of age. She masked them beautifully with magic and make-up.
“As it should be obvious to you by now, witches do not take injury by any natural cause. What can hurt a witch is magic and objects of magic. I hope you all have been paying attention,” Miss Valerie said and with a wave of her hand a cage with an injured rat appeared upon each student’s desk. “You are to heal the rat, and then identify what it was that had occurred to the rat and what you did to rectify them. You have fifteen minutes. Begin.”
Typical of Valerie to begin the lesson without so much as a good morning. It didn’t bother me. I dismissed my text book, cast a general protective spell against disease and misfortune around me, and only then did I open the cage to remove my rat.
Its breathing was shallow and it was limp in my hand. On its side was a gaping black wound. With a crook of my finger, bottles from the high shelves lining the entire classroom rushed towards me. I swabbed a bit of sickness from the wound and placed the sample in five different bottles.
“Curse,” I muttered after inspecting the reaction. At this point, I lifted the rat once more, waved my hand to remove all of its hair, and there I saw the beginnings of bumps along the wounds edge.
The door in my mind hummed and buzzed and for a moment I couldn’t see anything else. With a great effort and much gritting of teeth, I focused on the injured rat.
Unstopping a vile of sunlight, I poured a bit of it onto the wound, and then removed the infection with a simple healing spell. There, I saw the puncher wound. It was oozing black smoke. A few more test showed me the rat had been stabbed with metal. The symptoms of the bumps combined with infection and black smoke was indicative of The Rot. After that, it was simple to determine the rat had been stabbed with a cursed Blade of Rot.
A pinch of sunlight.
A note from a wisp.
The invocation of heat.
The rat blinked squeak and fought me greatly as I stuck it back into its cage. With five minutes to work, I documented what I had done and snapped hair back onto the rat.
“Good as new,” I muttered, and then glanced to Sadie. She was just putting her rat back into its cage. It was still a little pale and hairless, but seemed to be recovering swiftly. On her desk, her pen was zipping back and forth across the page writing on its own accord.
There was a strange squeaking hiss and I glanced behind me to see a boy having trouble with an oversized rat. It was still growing and had saliva oozing from its jaw. The mucus sizzled when it touched anything.
At this point the rat was too far gone for it to be reversed. The only option was to-
A bolt of lightning shot from Miss Valerie’s fingertips and the giant rat dropped dead on the table. If that is not some horrible foreboding, I don’t know what is. The teacher waved her hand once more and all cages, rats, and papers disappeared.
“I shall send everyone a note by the end of the period with your grade, and if need be, additional assignment. Today we will be going over the prevention and application of voodoo,” Miss Valerie said.
Textbooks thumped open once again on the table, and the letter in my head flipped against an imaginary breeze.