Know-it-all, selfish and particularly moody. Sometimes even tyrannical. All throughout my life I’ve been called these names. My name is Lyna Mariano, and I’m exceptionally skilled at magic. Even as a child I could understand complex magic formulas; I’m only 15 but still leagues ahead of my peers.
A dark fog hovered over downtown. The two moons were raised high in the sky. Flickering lamps illuminated the street, but I still didn’t feel safe. At night, you could meet anybody. Noisy voices carried themselves throughout the street. Ominous figures started coming closer and closer. Every instinct in my body was telling me to flee. So, I entered the closest shop.
Lustrous objects presented themselves pleasingly. Somehow, you were able to see an attractive side to each item. Through the smudged glass you could see each individual item tossed aside. Fingerprints mostly covered the surface of the glass. Most people my age wouldn’t be interested in items like these. To me, it was just a pleasing time. I was able to be alone with my thoughts and the wonderful items with me. To me, it was paradise.
Time ticked on as I wandered around the shop. A rowdy group of boys passed by me, paying no attention to the shop. Inside, it seemed like nobody had cleaned for years. Any form of care seemed to be a rarity but despite that the shop had its charm.
Objects of every size and rarity were littered across shelves and tables. Electronics, vases, picture frames and even frying pans were here. In this shop you could find self-building codes or refilling pots. The possibilities were endless if you looked hard enough.
Frustration was painted over the owner’s face; his hands were folded and eyebrows furrowed. He even let out a loud huff. I quickly moved on to a pile of junk and reached deep inside. Though I wasn’t expecting an ice-cold material. Jumping back with a shriek was something that agitated the owner even more. I rubbed my hand and found it was still cold. Once again, I put my hand in the pile and pulled out a metal cross. Silver and hung by a large brown thread. Anyone could tell it was leaking with magical energy. The others at school would kill for an item like this.
After making a purchase, I walked out with the item around my neck. Usually, I’d wait for my parents approval for a decision like that. But the item was cheap and it was quite late. Waking up my parents at a time like this would be sure to annoy them. Plus I was going to examine it at school so it wasn’t a worthless purchase.
While I was debating the decision I walked past another group of young men. Dressed head to toe in grey, they had to be a part of some sort of gang. On their left shoulder they had an insignia of an Adlium Flower. Fierce red with pink tips at the edges of the flower. I turned my head and scrunched my nose. Despite them being a gang I could commend them for the honour they had. The entire fad of insignia’s was started by the government. Surprisingly it’s been around for 300 years. The most devoted going as far as to write which magical category they fit into on their backs.
The buildings around me were large and imposing, unlike the ones back at my village. On weekends I teach basic magic to adults wishing to learn. My parents describe it as good practice and it’s easy money for me. If I wanted to stop I could. Usually my parents are on business trips and come home when I win an award. It seemed like they’d drop everything to see me but not care for me. Growing up felt weird, like I’m only important when I win something.
I chalked up the tears in my eyes to being from the fog. Right now, even though I didn’t want to admit it, I was lost. Maybe this alleyway led to the station? My hands fell straight into a puddle and my knees felt the same wet sensation. The murky water left my hands dirty and shaking. It was cold and dark, but I could make out two figures blocking my entrance. A shrill breath left my mouth as I observed my surroundings.
Half-empty bottles were left cracked on the ground. Some still had the liquid gushing out. Cigarettes were lying on the ground, still lit. Rubbish covered the ground and many flammable items were on display. If I were to use fire magic this entire alleyway could combust. Confrontation was inevitable, but my scholarship was at stake. If I wasn’t careful I could lose it and be outcast from society.
I met eyes with the man who knocked me over. We glared at each other, with no movements whatsoever. My fingers were latched onto my bag strap and his were buried deep in his pockets.
“Aren’t you going to apologise?” He had a wry smile, and a sickening tone to his voice. His beady eyes glared at me as I moved backwards. His friends coughed, reminding me the exit was blocked.
“Well?” His hand punched the wall close to my head. I flinched and let out a tiny yelp. His friends laughed and he let out a small chuckle. Before they could laugh any further I started an incantation. He was able to process it but wasn’t able to move fast enough to stop me.
My palms swirled with a purple light and I drew the necessary circle. A second was all I needed to cast a sleeping charm. The man fell and landed on a few shards of glass. As much as I wanted to harm him more it would harm my reputation. The sleep charm would wear off tomorrow, seeing as he was already intoxicated. I walked towards the end of the alley with his friends shouting degrading things to me. Insults on my hair, clothes and magical ability. My hands charged with a red flame, but stopped considering where I was. Instead, I took flight and used a wind elemental spell to slow them down. I heard their thundering footsteps but didn’t dare look back.
Somehow, I made it to the train station in one piece. Bits of discarded rubbish flew past as I stopped for a moment, exhausted from running. I didn’t find it that cold but my hands were shoved into my pockets and my hood was hastily drawn up. If there was a slight chance of attention it was too risky. Those amateur thugs could spot me and my scholarship would be in danger again.
My scholarship is only significant because of the standards set on it. Being good at magic is fun, but at first it was a hobby. I had a natural talent but was pushed for something more. For once in my life I just wanted to be good at a certain thing without it being a competition. My mistake, that’s how everything turns out.
A newspaper flew into my head from a strong breeze. I stumbled backwards into a bench, and removed the object from my vision. I focused ahead and saw a magnificent wave of ice. It was a deep crystal blue and double the size of me. It shone like pearls and had an aura of violence, similar to a tsunami. The more I gazed the more I found myself drawn to this beauty. My hands reached out slowly before I snapped back to reality. Ice magic had been outlawed for three centuries. It had adverse effects on health and was too dangerous to be used effectively by most. My fists were raised high as I observed my surroundings. Who am I kidding? I would physically lose to a cockroach.
A patter of footsteps came from the tunnel. My ears honed to the front entrance, and I could hear somebody coming closer. A young boy with blond hair rolled onto the grimy platform. He stopped to gather his breath and I sighed in disbelief.
“Do you want to die?” I shouted, even though we were meters away. He shook his head and I grabbed his arm.
I led us on a nearby train, avoiding the temptation to touch any of the ice waves. One formed directly in front of us, and I ducked past it. I lead the boy inside the train, past the never-ending swarm of ice. It increased its intensity, and I only relaxed when we started moving.
Sparks flew from the train and sizzled on the grass outside. Chatter was high, and I could barely think without interruption. Almost everyone smelled sweaty which was a great environment to be in. It took a few minutes of composure to begin conversation.
“Who was following you?” The boy shrugged and I rolled my eyes. If this continued I would have no problem abandoning him.
“There was just a flash and then ice appeared. It seemed dangerous so I started running.” The rest of the conversation, or rather interrogation, was useless. Plus, I already had gotten the information I needed.
The boy had crystal emerald eyes, and a shiny nose. His jaw was chiselled like an old statue you would find at a museum. He had blond curly hair that was thick and covered most of his forehead. He was wearing a dirty white sweater. I’m guessing that was just because he was running away but his jeans seemed too tight for comfort. His shoes were worn, and certain parts peeled. My guess was that his clothes were second-hand. When he was speaking, I noticed that his accent was eastern. It wasn’t easily detectable but you could tell from the way he pronounced certain words.
“Was there anything else that happened? Are you sure that you didn’t see anything, ominous smoke or even hear chanting? If I’m going to figure out a solution I’ll need more information than that.” He shook his head and I sighed. I reached for my bag and hit my head on the table. I glanced down and cursed my luck. To my horror, I had left my bag at the station. I punched the wall next to me and various people stared. The boy fidgeted awkwardly and watched my frustration play out. I got up without speaking and he followed.
I waited at the doors for the next stop. My foot was tapping and my teeth were clenched. The boy peered at me, with his head forward from his body; from far away you could mistake it as detached. My arms twitched from this violation, and I moved to face him better.
“It’s better if you stay here, you’ll only slow me down. How old are you 14?” To me he looked younger— his eyes were far too round and his cheeks were rosy and plump.
“I’m 16, actually.” He said that with a slight glare, I was probably pissing him off. I stepped off the train and he followed me off.
The determined teenager walked beside me. The height difference was clear, he was definitely taller. I hadn’t noticed this in our first encounter as we were literally running from death.
“I’m going in alone so stay here.” I continued my stride, walking considerably faster. He reminded me of a puppy, a golden retriever in all honesty. He was loyal and trustworthy but incredibly clingy. It was almost like he had an inability to do things on his own. Even when we were done it would be hard getting rid of him. “If you get hurt and end up with any injuries related to magic, realise that I am not responsible for your stupidity.
Rain splashed our faces as we walked back to my bag. It was gentle, but still annoying. The dirt we were treading on was still hard. I could feel a storm coming, but that wouldn’t be for another few hours. By then, I would be back at Antonio’s and lying in a thick blanket. For now, I was stuck with him. Walking gave us less attention, and more time to think of a strategy. By the time the next train was set to come my bag could be stolen. So we trudged along in the bitter cold, which didn’t bother me as much as the whiny boy.
I could see guards parading some parts of the station. It was past 11, meaning the station was now closed and there were only cargo trains due to come. Most of the station was engulfed in darkness, suiting me well. Only small areas were marked with spotlights.
“Go distract the guards for me. I only need thirty seconds.”
“That’s not the first time I’ve heard those words.” He smiled and ran away, barely escaping my shove. I scowled even though I found the joke funny. I moved so my body was in the darkness and nodded to my partner.
He engaged in conversation, making grand use of gestures and sounds. Even when they turned away he always found a way to redirect their focus onto him. I chuckled quietly, and turned my attention to the fence. I had memorised all of the particular hand signs already; it was practically child’s play. The silvery blade erupted from my palm and burning wisps of pure energy flew from it. I carefully cut a hole in the fence and motioned for the boy to come over here. Once I stopped concentrating, I exhaled and caught my breath.
The magic I just used was my ‘Calling’. Every human has at least an ounce of magic, which is increased as you train. Some beastly creatures don’t and are forced into certain areas of land. My Calling is Summoning Magic, which I’m not adept at. As of current I can only manage 15cm of my blade. Snobby kids at school always ask to see and I would overexert myself trying to force it. I would pretend the dismal amount was all I could show, and still feel embarrassed when I couldn’t manage it. My parents don’t even know I’ve discovered my Calling; if they found out I couldn’t use it they would be more than ashamed.
The energetic boy’s clothes were covered in mud. His sweater was wet, and he was shivering violently like a broken washing machine. He still managed to smile. I half-rolled my eyes then stopped. I shut my eyes and inhaled a deep breath.
“What’s your name?” He paused at first and raised a finger. He answered rather quickly after the confusion had stopped.
“It’s Felix. I go by my mum’s last name, which is Vasari.” I didn’t press further and simply nodded.
“I’m Lyna Mariano, and don’t forget it.” I quickened my pace. We had far more important matters to attend to, not these trivial matters of names.
I told Felix to wait at the top of the hill. He could wait there and I would move forwards to get my bag. I’m fairly confident that I can dodge both the lights and the guards. Even if I did get caught he could escape easily.
I slid down the slope using magic to accelerate my movement. The muddy hill was fairly large, encompassing the entire station. I turned back to Felix and saw he was following me. I almost let out a yelp, but managed to stop considering where we were. I stopped at the end of the slope, stumbling and flailing my arms around wildly. I hoped he would have enough sense to follow what I was doing. I counted a few seconds and moved to another wall, barely avoiding the guard ahead of me. Felix caught on quickly and seemed to be much better than I am.
Huffing, I turned my head and focused on my bag. It was in eyesight and no guards were near. I broke out into a sprint and yanked it from the ground. Felix stayed at the wall, waiting for my return. I quickly checked the pockets but nothing was missing. I think one of the zippers was open though. It didn’t matter as I was in a clear state of euphoria. I was twirling and even laughing. Then a light shined on me.
Within seconds the light had been destroyed. I blasted it with a simple spell. I twisted my heels and Felix grabbed my hand. More lights shined on us as we moved our way through the labyrinth-like train station. He didn’t help with stopping the lights— I guessed that was due to a lack of magical ability. My body had been aching since we arrived and now I was shivering from the heavy downpour of rain. Essentially, we were two weak kids surrounded by dangerous enemies.
Any sort of energy I had left was rapidly running out. Felix was leading me into dead ends and we would spend minutes staying hidden. We made sure to keep moving, and it took pure strength to keep my eyes open. Through the cracks in an aged brick wall I saw the muddy slope. I activated two spells simultaneously. One two accelerate us and the other to help break the wall. A small explosion was let off and although we were both covered in smoke I managed to lead us to the wall.
My fingers desperately latched onto the tiny rocks in the slope. It wasn’t an ideal surface, but we were stuck with it. My hands slipped into the mud but I pressed on. Felix was rapidly advancing and was leaving me behind; right now I envied his stamina over my magic. My hands were drenched in sweat, rain and mud. I started to slow down as I was running out of energy.
A quick glance told me five armed men were pursuing us. They were definitely going to take us into custody, as no spells had been fired yet. My fingers now gripped the fence with a fierce determination. I pulled myself upwards and felt my legs give out. I slumped to the ground and shook in the cold. Felix noticed and dropped from 10 metres to help me. I pleaded for him to stop but I only spoke random slurs.
With the bodyguards imminently approaching, I knew I had to do something. All of my quick-fire spells couldn’t do much damage. It had to be significant enough for a window of escape. I had no stamina left, but tons of magical energy. Any dangerous attacks would leave me unconscious. Taking a deep breath, I held my arm out and concentrated.
Light appeared through my hand and swirled in my palm. Colours started swarming out as I tensed further. The light grew larger and moved throughout my body. Different limbs were highlighted with an assortment of colours. Butterfly wings appeared behind my back and lifted me from the ground for a few moments. I fell with a thud, and glanced upwards. A butterfly with changing colours beat its majestic wings above me. Up until this moment I had never truly summoned it. This was an original spell, created by me when I was younger. I had perfected it now but never had the opportunity to use it. The bright colours flew out from the butterfly and into the sky, swirling like fireworks. I brought my hands downwards and everything came crashing down into the train station.
“Boom.” I croaked. My throat was dry and I could hardly think straight. If I lived through this I’d definitely lose my scholarship.
A second of silence passed before anyone heard the impact. The butterfly had exploded, leaving swarms of paint-like colour everywhere. Train carts were on fire and I could see a flipped vehicle. Shard of glass flew into my arms as I covered my face from any debris. A black smoke came billowing towards us, and I coughed violently. Blood spurted out from my mouth.
The guards turned away and my body finally relaxed. I stopped tensing and my muscles sank. My body rolled down the hill, bumping into rocks and crashing into various twigs. Slowly, my vision darkened. My ears rang but I heard Felix’s booming voice. Oh well, he’s smart enough to leave me.