“It’s okay, Daniel. Ragua Academy is not the only good school. Don’t be disheartened.”
“Exactly. I heard that there is a-”
The supposedly encouraging words turn into blurriness that he can’t comprehend as the realization he has been rejected by his dream school downs him slowly, making sure that his body is processing the latest and trending information. My body is ruthless.
This morning, he was eager to receive a congratulatory letter from Ragua Academy, instead, he got a letter talking about his failure, and out of 10, he got 2. A freaking two! Daniel can’t believe it at all. He got a 5.3 magic rate that is very uncommon for a villager like him but he only got a 2 in a test like this. His self-confidence has vanished into thin air. The villagers were also participating so the humiliation is multiplied by 5, or 6.
Daniel is taken back to reality when he feels a hot sting on his left cheek. He could guess who did it but still feels the need to raise his head slowly. Just his luck, he is met with a pair of furious eyes glaring down at him. If looks could kill, he would be non-existent by now. It makes him regret being born.
The sky which was bright and sunny just now turns dark, as a flash of lightning cuts crazy zigzags into the black sky. Everyone is appalled by the sudden changes. The villagers who are about to cramp up to Daniel swallow their intentions and began running away. Aunt Emma, his used-to-be caretaker, is terrified to the core but she masks her expression. All she could think was how she has been cherishing this boy since he was a baby but his own dad wants to strangle him to death.
“Where was the fun, huh? Thought you said it was easy. Feeling so confident, weren’t you?”
The voice is void of any kindness. Daniel breathes shakily, frightened that even a single noise from him would piss his dad off even more. A hand grips his jaw tightly, suffocating him. He tries to free himself by gripping the wrist but it was futile. Aunt Emma and some villagers rush to them and try to stop the petrifying man, yet he does not even budge as he watches his son wriggling like a fish on land, waiting to die. The thunder and lightning never stop, adding more to the background scene. Daniel almost smiles at the thought. Stop it, You’re literally being murdered.
“Floyd, enough! You are going to kill him!”
He clenches his son’s jaw tightly one more time, making Daniel whimper before releasing him. Falling down on his knees, he coughs uncontrollably.
“Pathetic,” his dad spits out his final rage before walking away. Daniel immediately touches his neck as he can still feel the burning sensation on it. Unknowingly, a tear escapes his left eye, then he starts sniffling.
Aunt Emma waves her hand with a meaningful look to the people around them. They understand and quickly leave. She crouches to match his level and hugs him tightly. Daniel cries, streams of tears flowed faster than her heartbeat. To say she is surprised would be an understatement.
She knows his condition but she never imagined him to go this far. Couldn’t believe more of the fact his magic is still undeniably strong without years of training or usage. She continues embracing him, whispering a few sweet lines to soothe the young boy.
Born in Regen Clan, a clan of healing with no grand status or popularity, she still pours her all while stroking Daniel’s cheek and his neck to heal or the least, to make the stings hurt less. After minutes of not moving, Daniel finally looks at Aunt Emma’s face. She gives him a sweet smile before wiping away the remaining tears on his face. She brushes his messy black hair.
“It has been a while since I felt such warm,” he mumbles, rubbing his eyes. Aunt Emma observes him as she feels a pang in her heart. Oh, my sweet boy.
“I’m sure you are exhausted. Do you want to spend the night in my house?”
Daniel shakes his head, declining the thoughtful request. He tries to stand but fails at first as his legs tremble too much but steadily, with Aunt Emma’s help, he succeeds.
“Are you sure?” Aunt Emma asks as he nods. She squeezes him one last time before going home. Daniel scans his surroundings and just gets to notice the setting sun. He must have calmed down by now, Daniel’s heart hopes a little.
Afterward, he begins striding slowly, nervous creeping up inside him to once again face his father. He creates tiny yellow lightning on his hand to lighten up the darkening road. He prays silently, bouncing the spark on his fingers. By the time he reaches home, he spots a silhouette standing on the balcony. He narrows his eyes to get a better look and soon gulps upon realizing that it is his father.
Daniel plans to walk past him but he is stopped by his dad gripping his arm. He takes a small glance at him. He doesn’t look angry anymore. Maybe he is back to normal?
“Go to Neazones High School.”
He is not back yet. Daniel stares at his father’s face. Neazones? He has heard it somewhere before but can’t grasp where and when. Where have I heard such an ugly name?
“What’s that?” He mutters, waiting for his dad to resume. His dad side-eyes him and tilts his head, giving him the sign to sit in front of him. Daniel takes a seat as his dad too. An awkward silence fills the atmosphere. He fiddles with his fingers, sensing the sharp gaze of his father on him.
“You have to go there if you want a decent life in the city. Don’t return until you get a great job there. I mean, the mage. It is a boarding school just like the other honored schools. You’ll experience the same thing anyway,” his father explains.
If it is the same thing, why did you want to murder me for getting rejected?
Daniel keeps his head low as he listens carefully. He wants to ask more about the school but he is a bit intimidated by his dad. Yeah, just a bit.
“You know Lord Kenworthy?”
Daniel nods. “He was the 249th King in our kingdom,” he replies, examining his dad’s reaction.
“He graduates from Neazones.”
As if a bulb goes on in his head, his eyes glint.
It is that Neazones, the fallen high school. It used to be at the top in the Celestial Kingdom and reached its peak of success and glory when the story of Lord Kenworthy graduated from the school spread throughout the nation. Unfortunately, the news regarding Lord Kenworthy’s death shook the whole kingdom. A rumor began to escalate from one person to another; the reason Lord Kenworthy debilitate was because of the school itself too. Just like that, everything plummeted. Now, the school was nowhere in the top 10.
“Dad! No way I’m going there! It was not even-” A glare from his father is enough to seal his mouth.
“I don’t care. I want you to go there,” he says sternly. This is a lost case. He pathetically wants to beg on his knees for his dad to change his mind. He sighs.
“Where is it located?”
“In Phoenix City Center.”
The answer causes Daniel to be at a loss for words. In the city? How? Daniel’s first and last time going there was for the examinations to get his magic rate which was two months ago when students were already in the school studying. It sounds ridiculous for an infamous school like Neazones to be placed there. He is fully aware that his dad finds his reaction amusing, but who wouldn’t? He kind of looks like he is yawning.
“You did not see the school?”
He shakes his head. His dad nods and slowly puts his hand under his jaw to support his face. Daniel shivers at the sight before him. Whenever he sits in that position, he looks too menacing, especially his disinterested eyes that bore into others’. And that ’others″ is Daniel’s right now.
“Schools in the cities are usually far from the traffic so you might have not seen it. Don’t worry, though. It may not be like Ragua or any powerhouse schools. It is still good, just that you perhaps won’t experience someone greater than you. I heard that the majority of students there got below 3. You might even become the king of the school,”
His dad states. Daniel can’t interpret why his heart is beating like crazy so suddenly? The idea of going to Neazones is not so bad anymore, perchance because his father says he would be the king? That does sound nice, even more, when it comes out from his father’s mouth.
No. You can’t go there. Let’s try again.
“But dad, I got more than 5. I can try to enter other sc- ”
“And what? Get rejected again? Don’t bring shame to the clan anymore. No, don’t bring shame to me.”
Daniel instantly keeps quiet after hearing his father’s response. His thought is a mess as he tries to think of a reason to avoid himself entering that cursed high school.
“What if I got rejected too?”
As if he knew his son is persuading him, he smirks.
“You have everything with you?”
“Aunt, this is the 5th time you ask me, and please stop crying.”
Daniel wipes some fresh tears off Aunt Emma’s red face. She is holding a box of tissues. He has brought with him a backpack and a trolley luggage bag; not much but enough.
“I’m sad. My boy is going to the city to become a great mage in the future,” she hiccups. Daniel offers her a small smile as he examines the empty train station. He glances at the clock hanging on the wall.
“Please take care of dad. He did not seem well last night.”
Aunt Emma waves her hand with a ‘don’t worry’ face.
“I’ll take care of him. You, focus on your studies. And always remember our words. The seniors, including me have all gone there and it’s not all sunshine and rainbow. Especially to us, villagers. You might think we were exaggerating but Daniel, trust me, we are not. ” She pats his shoulder encouragingly, pursing her lips to show him how serious she is regarding the matter.
The last sentence is nowhere true because Daniel has experienced how hateful city people are towards villagers. He bops his head wordlessly.
The sound of the train approaching their station becomes louder, a hint that it is getting nearer. He is engulfed in a hug by Aunt Emma. She whispers, “Dad is proud of you, Daniel. He really is.”
Daniel shuts his eyes. He knows, he really does. But that alone is not enough to convince him. Sooner or later, what he feels will only vanish as something even less than an assumption. His eyes become watery, but he holds himself back from allowing any tears to drop. It’s not the time for that. He has to go.
This is my very first book so I really hope you enjoy it.
Want to clarify in case anyone is confused;
The word ′power′ and ′magic′ carry the same meaning. ′Magic′ is more formal while ′power′ is used among casual and informal conversations.
[6th March 2021]