Butterfly Enigma II

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Shadow

Of all the classes in which Kallima was enrolled, she felt the most out of place in Basic Shadow Magic. The teacher, Mr. Lawrence, and the students all shared similar features: black hair, black eyes, and thin, sharp bodies. He and a few students had almost black skin, though most were pale like vampires. Granted, Sable stood out with her bright blue eyes and grey skin, but she was not the only mixed-breed in the room. One boy, who sat at Kallima’s table, showed his earth fae mother in his own mid-tone skin and thick build. Another had a green tinge to her dark hair and silvery eyes, a reminder of her grandfather's elven genes.

Kallima, though, stood out like a light in the midst of the class. She stood heads over her peers, her red hair looked like a fire among the dark locks they possessed, and her skin was too pink compared to the others. Lawrence had called her out on this the first day, asking if she was lost when she sat down next to Sable. Over the last three weeks, though, she had become accepted into the class as an intelligent albeit untalented outsider. How she would fake her way through the course was still a topic of debate between Ignatius and Shay.

As Lawrence droned about tapping into the energy need to perform shadow magic, Kallima found a small, strange bit of comfort in the shuddering gargoyle next to her. Sable jotted notes down rapidly, hoping, Kallima guessed, to find some way to access her power. Kallima had been using the time as an extra study hall, but her notes this day filled up just as quickly as Sable's. Mr. Lawrence's lecture about the brain functions while using power legitimately intrigued and educated her.

For instance, the reason she discovered that the reason she had traveled through time may have stemmed from her recollection of having lived in it since she was a baby.

"When dealing with the shadow element, you will find that stoicism is a powerful tool," Lawrence said. "I've said before how important it is to empty your mind when dealing with shadow."

He placed his hand on the desk then raised it, a wriggling mass of darkness quickly solidifying beneath. As he spoke, the shadowy mass morphed into a tall shape. Then Lawrence’s face contorted in anger, sending dissonant ripples through the black goo.

"Emotion can cause chaos if it’s too strong. Subtlety is essential to the control of shadow power. The key,” he said, “is distance. Shadow can seem cold, mysterious, or frightening…”

“Secretive,” one of the paler boys called.

“Yes, secretive. This is a good aspect, though. A great deal of good can be found in the shadows. Protection, renewal, rest. Escape.”

A small hum came from Sable, making Kallima grin. The tall fae scribbled in her book, “different emotions = different magics” and followed this with “research dr. emotion.” Then she returned her attention to the teacher’s demonstration. The inky mass began to solidify into a model ship beneath his hand.

“Shadow is constantly changing, constantly evolving. To really harness it, you must be devoted. And patient. I want each of you to make a miniature replica of your home out of shadow. Just a few inches high is enough.”

As the educator observed the first table, Sable leaned close to Kallima.

“That must be, like, what I’m doing wrong,” she said. “I’ve never looked at shadow, like, as an escape. I thought it was a prison.”

“Why? The Shadow Realm is great,” the half-earth fae named Mateja whispered, butting into the conversation.

“What’s the Shadow Realm?” Kallima asked.

The thick boy chuckled and said, “Only the coolest place ever. No gravity, no bright lights, no time restraint. An hour in the Shadow Realm is about five minutes in the Fairy Realm.”

“Six minutes, Matt. Like, I used to compare times with Dad. It’s an even ten-to-one ratio,” Sable said.

Kallima grinned gently.

“How old were you?” she asked.

“What? When Dad…?”

“Yes.”

“S-seven. Well, almost seven. H-he might still be alive, actually.”

“What, was he in the rebellion?” Mateja asked.

“He was in the king’s army, yeah.”

“What rebellion?” Kallima asked. “The Baker’s Uprising?”

“Yeah, him and Gavin fought together to put them down. Gavin was pretty beat up, but he lost track of Dad. No one… No one’s seen him. Since then.”

“Are you finished?”

The three students raised their heads to Lawrence as he loomed darkly over them. He sighed and waved them on.

“Create, please,” he said.

Mateja was the first to pull a shadow up from the tabletop, followed by Sable. Kallima imitated the motion, knowing well that her performance would be, well, nothing. Mateja formed a humble cabin out of the blackness. Sable constructed a miniature of wide thatch bungalow and let a smile pull her lip. Kallima, though, growled gently to make Lawrence think she was at least trying. The shadow cast by her hand, though, remained perfectly still. The teacher shook his head and rolled his eyes. Then he turned his attention to the gargoyle.

“This is your house, Sable?” he asked.

“It… was…”

Her demeanor shifted to a sadder tone, and the house sagged as though the frown put a heavy weight on it. A hole opened up in the roof as the paint peeled.

“It looks… like this now. I- I sleep up here…”

She pointed to the attic space. Then it quickly dissolved back into the air, and she sighed.

“Sorry to disturb you,” Lawrence said, patting her hair. “A. And an A for you as well, Matt. Kallima…”

He folded his arms together and glared at the tall fae. She folded her hands in her lap and braced herself for another scolding.

Lawrence shook his head and asked, “Are you finished with this farce, yet?”

Kallima blinked.

“What do you mean, sir?”

“I mean that you are a worse shadow fae than Sable, and this is the first task she has been able to perform. You cannot move a shadow, let alone give it form. You do not even look like a shadow fae.”

“Shay says-.”

“Enough. Stay after class. I’ll write you a note,” the teacher said and held up a hand.

Without another word, he moved to the next table. Sable whimpered a soft apology, but Kallima waved it off, reminding the gargoyle that she had gotten her first A. Mateja tapped Kallima’s shoulder.

“So what are you really?” he asked in a tiny voice.

“I’m- I’m a shadow fae.”

“Mr. Lawrence doesn’t think so.”

“Kali…”

Kallima sighed and pulled the boy’s ear close to her lips.

“You swear, on your life,” she hissed, “that no one learns it from you?”

“Scared now,” he said, “but too interested to say no. I swear on my life that no one learns it from me.”

The redhead cupped a hand over her notebook and, very lightly, scribbled ‘dream fae’ on the page. Mateja slapped a hand over his mouth when he read it, and his eyes popped almost halfway out of their sockets.

“Dude, are you serious?” he sputtered hushedly. When Kallima nodded, he said, “Do the Nobles know? ‘Cause Reginald would have you killed before you even had a chance to think about usurping him, you know.”

“I don’t want to usurp him. I just want… I don’t know. I’ll settle for living right now,” Kallima said.

“Uh-huh. I could imagine that,” the thick boy said. “What did you want to do in the Mortal Realm?”

“I was thinking of being a vet.”

“You? In the military?” Sable asked skeptically.

“No, a veterinarian.”

The peers on either side of her stared at the redhead in confusion.

“An animal doctor.”

Mateja laughed, “Oh! An animal keeper. I see. Not exactly prestigious.”

“It’s more glamorous in the Mortal Realm. Keeping people’s pets lovely, making sure livestock are healthy, taking care of hurt animals. And Mum… Mum was so proud of me,” Kallima said. “Told me it was honorable to speak up for those who couldn’t.”

Sable placed a hand on the tall teen’s wrist. Kallima glanced sadly at her, and the grey girl withdrew. Kallima erased her label from her notebook as Lawrence dismissed the class. He then pulled a chair up to the desk across from the redheaded fae.

“You know,” he said, leaning on the table, “when you cup your hand over something, like so, you see?”

Kallima swallowed as the man created a shadow on the wood with his hand.

“I see,” she whispered hoarsely.

“Yes, you see the shadow now. Kallima, I have never asked anyone to drop this class...,” he said.

“But you want me to drop it?”

“I did, but now…,” Lawrence hesitated, then said, “Kallima, people like me are very good at keeping secrets. My wife teaches courses on spirit fae, which are more closely related to dream fae than shadow fae. Would you like me to talk to her and get you a private class?”

“I… Y-yes. Why-?”

“Because Reginald is a self-centered brat who’s been so spoiled by his mother that he wouldn’t know how to take care of a tree on his own, never mind an entire kingdom.”

Kallima laughed at the comment but quickly turned it to a cough before falling silent again under Lawrence’s stern eyes. Then he continued.

“Miss Satudotter, your power, left unchecked, would consume you and the people around you. You have an enormous amount of energy to focus, and, if you can harness it, I have no doubt that you can overturn the royal family and-.”

“You… want me to start a rebellion?”

“I’ve heard of whole governments in the Mortal Realm that don’t even have a monarchy. What’s to stop a system like that from working here?”

“You know, there was a war like that in the Mortal Realm about 200 years ago,” Kallima pouted, standing up. “We call it the French Revolution, and nobody won. Your little plan would never work, even if I wanted to be a part of it. I think I’ll figure it out on my own, thank you.”

“What’s stopping me from telling anyone, then? Either you help me, or I’ll tell Queen Jemsa what you are myself.”

Kallima froze and turned around. The man who preached stoicism and subtlety glared fiercely at the teenager, and she shivered. With a sigh, she nodded.

“I’ll consider it,” she agreed.

“Let me know. You need a pass.”

“No, really, I think I need to skip my next class,” she insisted. “I- I don’t think I’ll be able to focus with this on my mind.”

“Alright.”

Kallima moved as slowly as she could out of the room, then took off towards the library. By some miracle, the person she sought was sulking just inside of the grand room.

“Iggy, help,” she said, pushing him into a corner.

“W-what’s wrong? You’re pale.”

“Remember last term, we talked about the different forms of treason?” she asked.

“Who did you spit on now?” Ignatius sighed, rolling his eyes.

Kallima shook her head and said, “No one. But, Iggy, talking about rebelling is treason, isn’t it?”

“Of course. Why? Who said-?”

“Sh! It’s Mr. Lawrence. He wants Mrs. Lawrence to train me to lead a revolution.

“What!”

Kallima and the half-deaf librarian, Miss Flores, hushed the golden fire fae. He apologized and fidgeted in place.

“Wha- Why does he want you to do it?” he asked.

“He realized a wasn’t a shadow fae and assumed I was a dream fae trying to blend in,” Kallima said, stretching the truth slightly.

“You told someone,” Ignatius growled.

“Matt’s a good kid. He was more intrigued than afraid.”

“But you let the wrong person find out in telling him. Kali, you have to be more cautious,” Ignatius said, grabbing the girl’s hands.

“So what do I do?”

Ignatius’ eyes flickered with an intensity that made his pupils look narrow, and he rubbed his forehead. Then he sighed.

“Damage control. Tell Locke that the Lawrences are rebels. He’ll want proof, so offer to take a recorder in and pretend to join Lawrence. Once you have proof of treason, he won’t be saying much.”

“Right. I forgot,” Kallima said, shuddering at the thought.

“It will let you avoid eyes you don’t need right now,” Ignatius added. “We need more time. You need more time…”

“Time to do what?”

Ignatius tugged an ear and said, “To learn. Go. Tell Locke. Get Lawrence out of the way before he blabs.”

“Right. Thank you, Ig. Want me to say hi to Blaze for you?”

“Ah. You’re visiting him again tonight?”

“With news like this? I need as much support as I can get.”

As per the tutor’s instruction, Kallima hurried to Headmaster Locke’s office for help. The boy behind her tugged both his ears as his face turned blood red.

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