Images of blazing fire and raging water swarmed my mind as I paced around the kitchen, trying not to freak out. I was vaguely aware of the smell of freshly made pancakes invading my nostrils, the slow movement of the blue and gold balloons scattered about in the kitchen, and the eyes of both my parents on me. I was biting on my nails as I walked back and forth, trying to find a reasonable explanation of what I had witnessed back in my bedroom. However, nothing I could think of made sense.
Water manifesting from someone’s hand was not a thing you saw every day and no matter how much I wanted to convince myself that it was just my wild imagination playing tricks on me -the result of endless nights delving into fantasy books- my mind knew better. What I had witnessed this morning was real, and the fact that the person who displayed that insane show of power was standing right in front of me, smiling awkwardly and nibbling on a pancake, was in no way helping with my fried nerves.
I abruptly stopped my pacing, crossing my arms over my chest and staring intently at my parents who gave me a concerned look. They still hadn’t uttered a single word since we left my bedroom and I was no longer handling the silence well.
My parents glanced at each other; a small smile forming on both of their faces, then glanced back at me.
“Honey, take a seat first and we will explain everything to you.” My mother said calmly, so I obliged.
“Dad, were you contaminated or something? Were you made in a lab where scientists messed with your DNA and made you into a superhero? Because that’s the only thing I could think of that makes the tiniest bit of sense.”
He chuckled lightly, earning a glare from me before clearing his throat.
“That makes sense to you?” He questioned, eyebrow slightly raised.
“We were not made in a lab honey.” Mom said as she jabbed dad in the side with her elbow. “We were born with these powers; they are a natural part of us.”
“So, what? You guys are… witches?” even as I uttered the words I could hear how ridiculous that sounded. My parents couldn’t be witches! Magic is a work of fiction, a plot to sell books and movies and merchandise. Magic didn’t exist.
“We are not witches Lilith.” my mother said with her usual soft voice and I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding in. Of course they were not witches. I couldn’t believe I was dumb enough to even consider that.
“We are called mystics,” she finished.
“Excuse me?” My jaw dropped. What did she just say?
“Mystics, sweetheart!” My dad explained, “The name witches was given to our kind by humans who couldn’t fathom our powers. It’s kind of derogatory to be honest, we don’t have green faces covered with moles and we certainly do not fly on broomsticks.”
I must be out of my mind.
No, that wasn’t it; this must be a dream, or a nightmare. A sequel to one of my usual night terrors only this one was far more ridiculous and absolutely unbelievable.
I needed to wake up.
I pinched myself as hard as I could in hopes of waking up but all I gained from that was a weird look from my parents and a red spot on my arm. This couldn’t be real.
“Is this some kind of joke?” I asked as they both stared at me. “This is a birthday prank isn’t it? You guys are getting really good at this.” I laughed, the sound loud and maniacal to my own ears, “It’s creative I’ll give you that. But you have to tell me how you set my bed on fire and made that water appear out of thin air.” I paced around the kitchen once again.
“Lilith honey, this is not a prank.” My dad rose from his seat and put his hands on my shoulders, stopping my endless circles around the table.
“It has to be, because magic doesn’t exist. Right?” the desperation in my voice was obvious, my mind couldn’t wrap itself around this situation so it scrambled to come up with a somewhat logical explanation, and I needed someone to tell me that it was all fake.
“Of course it is. Magic is real and it’s beautiful.” My mother said as she held her hand up to me, exposing a tiny flame she held in her palm. It was small, but it lit up like a raging fire, illuminating my mother’s face with an orange glow. A second later she held out her other hand, and a breeze of fresh air brushed through her soft red hair. That breeze soon turned into a tiny, grey tornado in her palm, and with the same sweet smile, my mother brought her palms together, the elements joining each other to form a fiery tornado.
“My main element is fire”, she started. “That is the element I control the best. I can create fires, produce heat and sometimes even control lava. My secondary element is air, it’s not as powerful as my main, but it holds its own power too. And together,” she looked at the fiery storm in her hand, “they make this.”
“My main element is fire too,” My father said, his hands still on my shoulders. “And guessing from the size of that fire upstairs and the fact that that was the first element that manifested itself, it’s yours as well.” He let go of me, stepping back and holding his hands in front of him. Like my mother, he opened his right palm and a tiny flame appeared, but unlike her, water came out of his second palm, and when he clasped his hands together, a black gas emitted from where the fire and water used to be. “Manipulating steam.” He explained. “Not as cool as fiery storms, but it comes in handy.”
“So what you’re saying is,” I started after I took a deep breath, “that you guys are both mystics with the ability to control fire water and air, and that I am also a mystic and my main element is fire?” I glanced between the both of them as they smiled and nodded eagerly, pride and excitement radiating off of them like a halo, and I felt my heart almost bursting out of my chest.
“But that can’t be!” I said, louder than I intended. “I can’t be a mystic like you guys; I am not even your biological daughter so this power is not hereditary! Not to mention that I am eighteen years old, don’t you think I would have known I had magical powers a little sooner? And let’s say for argument’s sake that I forgot that I had these powers due to my memory loss, why would they emerge now? Two years after I was rescued? This doesn’t make any sense.” An overwhelming sense of fear took over me as my body suddenly started shaking. I could barely breathe, or think, or talk and my body was trapped between alternating hot and cold flashes. I felt dizzy and weak and I couldn’t stand on my own anymore so I leaned against the kitchen counter, trying my best not to fall to the ground. I hated being so weak and even though these anxiety attacks were uncommon and far apart, I resented the occasional loss of control over my own body and mind.
My mother was the first to notice my struggle and she ran over to me, closing her hands to bring an end to the fire storm that still raged in her palm, and sat me down on the nearest chair.
“Lilith you have to calm down sweetie,” She said as she stroked my hair. “Take deep breaths and relax your body.” She cupped my face in her hands and started taking deep breaths with me, walking me out of the darkness that engulfed my mind and into safety. This is the way it always was with my small family, my father was the one to make me laugh, lift my spirit and offer to take me on vacations and shopping trips every time I felt down or he had some free time, and my mother was the one to notice my mood swings, the one to calm my nerves and chase my doubts away, the bright light in an otherwise dark space. Nathaniel and Genevieve made the perfect couple, and they were even better parents.
I felt my mind clearing up as I focused on taking deep breaths, and soon my heartbeat returned to its normal pace. I took a few more minutes to regain my composure and then looked back up at mom.
“Okay, I’m going to try and keep an open mind. Tell me everything I need to know.”
“Genevieve,” dad spoke up, “why don’t you explain everything to her while I go make a few phone calls to Lixierra?”
“Oh my,” mom’s eyes widened, “that’s a great idea!”
“Alright then off I go. Have fun you two!” Dad exclaimed. He gave me a bright smile and kissed my mother on his way out to his office. “Try not to set anything else on fire while I’m gone.” He chuckled at his own joke.
“Hilarious, dad.” I rolled my eyes at his retreating figure. “What is this ‘Lixierra’?” I asked mom
“Patience darling, we’ll get to that part in due time.”
Once he was gone, I turned to my mother who was in the middle of pulling up a chair to sit across from me on the other side of the counter. She looked calm and composed, a look I grew to appreciate over the past couple of years. Nothing seemed to faze her or concern her as she had an answer for every question, a solution for every problem, and a recipe for every occasion. She was truly the rock of this household.
“Let’s begin, shall we?” She announced as she settled down in her chair. “I’ll answer all of your questions.”
“Did you guys know I was a wit…a mystic when I was brought to you 2 years ago?”
“Yes we did. The man who brought you to us didn’t tell us much about you, he only told us that you were a very powerful mystic and that you are meant for greatness.”
“Is that why you took me in?” I felt a little hurt. “Because he said I was important?”
“Of course not honey. From the moment I laid eyes on you that night I knew that I was meant to have you in my life. I would have taken you in even if you were human. You are the daughter I never had and I have loved you as such ever since.”
“Then why didn’t you tell me about these powers before?”
“I didn’t want to unsettle you. When you healed and woke up not knowing who you were or where you were, the doctors told us that your memory loss was probably due to traumatic events. You didn’t remember your powers or the fact that you were a mystic so your father and I decided not to tell you. We would let you lead a normal life until you regained your memory or your magic. How did you get your magic back anyway?”
“I don’t know… I was looking for my stupid phone. I didn’t get much sleep last night because of that damn nightmare, and I was upset. The next thing I knew my bed was on fire.”
“But that wasn’t the first time your powers sparked up was it?” a knowing smile crept up on my mother’s face.
“I set a cloth on fire last night while I was making something to eat. How did you know that anyway?”
“Oh honey, you should know by now that you are not the best when it comes to cleaning after yourself. I felt magic residue when I picked up that cloth you dropped. It wasn’t mine and your father only comes into the kitchen to eat so I knew it had to be yours.”
“Have you ever considered being a detective before? I think you’d do pretty well.” I giggled at the thought of my mom examining the ‘crime scene’ this morning.
“The thought might have crossed my mind at some point.” She laughed with me.
“Alright,” I straightened up in my chair, “now how does this magic thing work?” I asked seriously, ready to confront the possibility that I might be an actual magical being.
“The first thing you must know about our world is that mystics come from four kingdoms. Each kingdom represents a magical element and we each live in the kingdom that harnesses the powers of our main element. Earth users come from the kingdom of Gaia, a giant forest where the power of earth is at its peak. Water users are from Glacis, an Island surrounded by the ocean. Air mystics belong to Aether which is built on top of a mountain and fire users like your father and I come from the kingdom of Ardor, a kingdom surrounded by volcanoes.”
“Centuries ago, the kingdoms used to be divided and often at wars. However, three hundred years ago a treaty was made, and the ruling system changed. It was agreed upon by the rulers of each kingdom that every 50 years a kingdom would get its chance to rule upon the four, and the queen would be chosen by a trial of strength and intelligence. When it’s time for a certain kingdom to choose its queen, girls of royal blood between the ages of sixteen and twenty one from the ruling families would compete for that honor and the winner would be crowned the queen of the four kingdoms and would rule for fifty years, until it’s time for another kingdom to take charge.”
“That sounds… elaborate. But why aren’t you and dad living in Ardor? Why did you leave the kingdom?”
“Two years ago, it was Ardor’s turn to rule, and the competition took place as per tradition. A brilliant young girl won and was about to be crowned when she was attacked and killed. The kingdoms have been at each others’ throats ever since, each ruling family accusing the other of killing their future queen. Your dad and I were away on business at the time, and before we had a chance to go back home the kingdoms were threatening to go to war. That was around the time you came to us, so we decided it was best to keep you here unharmed than to take you back to a war zone.”
“Oh… and why didn’t Ardor select another queen?”
“Killing the queen, even one who wasn’t crowned yet, is an act of treason. The killer must be brought to justice. Not to mention that this has never happened before, so the kingdoms are arguing whether Ardor should get to select another ruler or the murder of their queen results in the transfer of power to the next kingdom, which would be Gaia.”
“This is all so surreal,” I sighed.
“You will have plenty of time to wrap your head around this when you go to Lixierra,” She said with her trademark smile.
“And what is this Lixerruh exactly?”
“Lix-ee-err-uh,” she enunciated, “is an academy for mystics. Built on an island, it is considered a neutral ground where students from the ages of thirteen to eighteen come from the four kingdoms to learn how to control their magic away from the politics of the monarchy. And just like the four kingdoms, it is also concealed by magic to protect the students from the wondering eyes of curious humans so you won’t have to worry about being exposed to the outside world.”
“You are sending me to a high school?” I gasped, this was a part I didn’t see coming. I was eighteen years old; I should be heading off to college or getting a job, not going to a magical high school.
“It is not as bad as you think it is. Lixierra has the best magic professors; you’ll be able to control your elements in no time. And it’s not like you will be enrolling as a freshman, you will be a senior, surrounded by mystics your own age.”
“Yeah, mystics who have been practicing magic their entire lives and who don’t suffer from amnesia. Mom, why can’t you and dad just home school me like you have been doing for the past two years?”
“I wish we could honey. You have to be exposed to the four elements to master your main and discover your secondary power. Besides, this could be a good experience. You could make new friends and even maybe get your memory back. You are a born mystic after all, maybe going back to that world would be what you need to remember who you were.”
“Arrangements have been made.” My father announced as he walked back into the kitchen. “It was a bit difficult to secure proper housing since the school year starts in a week and most of the houses were booked, but I signed you up in a great house with 2 nice girls.”
“Oh my God this is all happening too fast!” the panic in my voice was obvious.
“Darling you don’t have to worry about a thing,” Dad assured me. “You will be well taken care of, I made sure of that. The only thing I ask of you is that you don’t tell anyone about your condition.”
“What do you mean? What condition?”
“Mystics take their title and positions in the kingdoms very seriously. If they were to know you are adopted, they won’t take you seriously.” Mom looked at me sympathetically.
“Your safety and well being is our priority Lilith. Please just trust us on this one. Your mother and I are a well known couple in the kingdom but we have managed to keep our private life, just that, private. We travel a lot and we keep to ourselves often so the people back at Ardor don’t know much about our home life. Thankfully we don’t have any immediate family or close friends to question this story so if anyone asks, you are our biological daughter. You were homeschooled your entire life because your magic was dormant, we kept you away from life at the kingdom and the academy to protect you, and now that your powers have sparked we sent you to Lixierra to learn about you true nature.”
The shock and confusion must have been apparent on my face because both of my parents gave me sympathetic looks and pats on the back. This morning was hectic to say the least, and I could literally feel the wheels of my mind working extra time to try and make sense of all that I had learned today. But something within me felt right, a part of me felt at ease with this new revelation and I was too tired to argue anyway. I was just going to have to take a leap of faith and trust that my parents knew what was best.
I was terrified, but my decision was made.
It was time for a new adventure.
“So, when do we leave?”