I sighed. I did not travel through space to be locked out. I scanned the shrubbery and bushes around me, looking for anything that might unlock the gates. Maybe it was magic? Could it be a riddle? Maybe it was a test to all new Spellcasters-to-be? I combed through the bushes and reached into one. I thought I saw something silver; a key? A burning sensation suddenly shot through my arm.
Damn! Poison ivy. Of all things.
I walked back to the gates and stared at them. My arm began to swell and itch. Not a good start.
“Hey,” a voice came from behind, “um, you need to buzz the guards to let you in.”
I turned to see a green-eyed boy staring back at me. His eyes were round and oogly behind rimless glasses. He looked fourteen.
“Oh, yeah, could you help me with that?”
“Sure,” the kid shrugged. He moved to an intercom beside the gates—I had not realised it was there—and pushed a button on it. It buzzed and the gates creaked open.
“Welcome to The Academy,” he greeted, his voice breaking between a young child and an awkwardly growing teenager.
I was about to thank him when my eyes were greeted by the sight of a massive building that seemed to loom out of nowhere. It stood before us, mystical and daring. There were curved walls and arc doors and windows, black roofs and dark walls. The building was made of stone, spreading fifty-four acres wide.
“You must be new here. I’m Elton,” the boy said as he struck out an arm.
“I’m Heidi. Nice to meet you too, kid. Do you know where Jessie White’s office might be?”
“I do,” he answered and nodded towards someone over my shoulder with his chin. “And you’re about to find out. Hello Jessie!”
I turned around to see a tall, sand-coloured-haired, middle-aged man. His wavy locks were tied into a low ponytail and he wore a long blue overcoat that ended at his knees. His cuffs were neatly folded with a sapphire pin on his right cuff. His white collar was straight and sharp, his shirt buttoned up. He looked regal, if I would describe him, and he was exactly how Lord Voltaire said he would look and act.
“Hello Elton, how are you?” Jessie grinned, revealing wrinkles in the corners of his sharp blue eyes. They were as blue as the gem on his cuff.
“I’ve been practising!” The kid exclaimed.
“Wonderful!” Jessie turned to me, “It’s nice to see you again, Miss Danielson. Please, come inside. I’d like to introduce you to a couple of my colleagues for your start here in The Academy.”
“That kid sure has a lot of energy,” I said in a lower voice, as soon as Elton was far enough while we headed towards Jessie’s office through the Gardens. The night sky seemed perpetuating. I scratched my arm.
“Well, he is fourteen—good heavens!” Jessie gasped. I looked up to see him staring at my gnarly arm with his mouth agape. “Did you get poison ivy?”
“Yeah, it’s nothing—“
Without hesitation, Jessie held my arm with both of his hands and closed his eyes. At first it was a tingling sensation coming from his fingertips, soon a refreshing feeling overtook the itch and swelling of my arm. The redness disappeared and the swelling calmed down. In a mere minute, my arm reverted back to what it used to look like before.
“Oh, whoa,” I uttered.
“I am a healer, as anyone who learns Practical magic would be,” Jessie explained. “Soon you will be one too.”
The Gardens were laid out before the Headquarters where the offices were. All the pathways led to the Headquarters, or HQ, from the entrance.
“Well,” Jessie said, he is fourteen. He radiates a pure, white aura and it’s blissful to see.”
I raised my eyebrows, “Aura? Oh, you gotta teach me some of that stuff.”
“And I will,” he replied. “During training. THe aura is so important to learn and understand about. The world will not be seen the same way again.”
“Ever since I’ve been to the Underworld, it never did. Man, Vampires sure can party like it’s 1885.”
Jessie chuckled and shook his head. After crossing the park, we finally arrived at the HQ. Jessie toured me around, showing the different classrooms and even the lecture hall. The Academy looked like a school for the prestigious, one that I could only dream of when I was a child. Or when I was Elton’s age.
Jessie stopped in front of an office. The door had his name plaque on it. “Come inside, Heidi, we’ll wait for the other two sages for their introduction in my office.”
He closed the door behind us as I scanned the room. Carpeted flooring on parquet, off-white walls lined with bookshelves all around. Jessie’s desk was a beautiful dark polished oak, where he sat behind on his black leather chair. He lifted a pair of reading glasses and picked up some papers with my name on them.
“Heidi Elizabeth Danielson, aged twenty-eight. It says here that you were a trained teacher in an orphanage you grew up in?”
“Yes, it’s called the Lucky Orphans. But I only worked there for eleven months.”
“Why did you leave it?”
“I felt like it.” Then I paused. “I wanted to become a Spellcaster. I just...never really had the guts to, I guess.”
“Well,” Jessie added and smiled, “you’re here now.”
He continued to peruse when there were a few quick raps on the door. Without any further response, a blue-haired lady waltzed in with her combat boots and a long purple overcoat.
“Sorry, I just ended a meeting with some of my teachers,” she said and then turned to me. Her violet eyes bore on me as she held out a hand, “I’m Wynona, please to meet you.”
“Likewise,” I shook her hand. There was an amethyst pinned to the cuff of her coat.
“Wynona is our other Sage. She is the Sage of Mischief magic,” Jessie introduced without looking up from the papers.
Wynona took a seat near the door. There was one more empty seat beside her.
“Tristan isn’t available just yet. I think we should start without him.”
Jessie arranged the papers neatly in front of him. His desk was immaculate. “Very well. Wynona, Heidi here is a recommendation of Lord Voltaire’s.”
Her eyebrows raised. “Lord Voltaire? Well, he’s nice, but he can be a handful.”
“Tell me about it!” I rolled my eyes, “I mean he’s good for my best friend and all, but he needs to take it down a notch sometimes, you know what I mean? Like, put on a shirt once in a while.”
“Absolutely!” Wynona agreed.
Jessie cleared his throat, “Moving on, Wynona, our Heidi here wants to be a Spellcaster and I think she’ll be a fine one.”
“I agree. She’s got great taste in music too,” Wynona’s violet eyes bore on my Green Day t-shirt under my jacket.
“I’ll be training her first, since she’s a ‘Lord Voltaire recommendation’. You can take her after and then Tristan.”
“Well then,” Jessie turned to me. “Are you ready?”
* * *
Jessie and Wynona stood some metres apart. They took their stances; one foot in front of the other, knees bent and wands pointing towards each other. Wynona’s purple hair glistened under the lamp post. Other students gathered to watch in excitement. Some cheered for Wynona, others for Jessie. I stood on the sidelines, completely in awe.
“Ready when you are, old man,” Wynona teased.
Jessie shook his head and smiled. His poise was gentle but firm, his sandy hair in the wind.
“You know we are the same age, right?” He chuckled.
Jessie shot his first spell. He teleported to another spot in a blink of an eye and shot another spell that sent Wynona hurtling backwards. She got up almost immediately and shot back. A mystical veil surrounded them and then dispersed. Jessie almost lost his footing but remained upright. He looked dizzy for a moment.
Taking this chance, she teleported to another spot and, from right behind Jessie, shot another spell towards him but he ducked. It landed straight onto a grass patch in the field and caught fire. Some other students put out the fire immediately.
Jessie straightened himself. “All right. That’s enough for now.”
“But we’re not finished!”
“We’ll finish it here before you burn down the Academy. Besides, that was to showcase our spells to Heidi, and what you just did was an Untamed spell—which is not your specialty.”
Jessie walked towards me and dusted his blue coat. He looked like he had warmed up and was ready for another marathon. “Ready for training? You will start off with Practical magic. Since I am the Sage, I will train you myself.”
The other students dispersed. We were standing on the training ground where Jessie would start on his first training session with me.
“Follow my lead,” Jessie began.