I may die before the week is up. The words echo through my brain and I open my mouth to argue with my sister, to tell her that it won’t happen, to grab her and call her a maniac, or literally anything other than accept it. What comes out of my mouth is not words, like I wanted, but a series of noises even I can’t decipher. I take a step forward when suddenly Melayna disappears. I let out a gasp, spinning on my heals and looking for any sign of Malachi and Melayna. Instead, I see Emily and Dudon less than a meter apart and staring into each other’s eyes.
“Lay,” I whisper brokenly as I stumble forward, aiming for Faegan before I see Emily making her way towards me, and I change my trajectory. Her short frame shoots straight into my tall one and pushes me back, forcing my arms around her and her head into the gap between my shoulder and neck.
“Oh Sel! You gave me such a fright!: She sobs into my arms, and I brokenly pat her on the shoulder, still stuck on the fact that my sister might die. “Never do that again! Never!” She says, pulling back to glare at me with her watery eyes. I nod, before walking backwards until I hit the wall and slide down it, my eyes staring blankly ahead the whole time.
“Lay,” I whisper-sob, feeling the emotions crawl up my throat. I run my hands through my hair as I whisper, “no, no it can’t be true!” Wrapping my arms around my legs and bringing them up to my chest, I let my head all to my knees as an extremely loud sob heaves its way out of my throat. “No!” I yell as I lift my head. “No, it’s not true! It’s not!” I slam my fist down on the floor, jarring the little rocks that were nestling on the ground near my hand. I bring my hands up to my face and cover my eyes as if to block the truth from my mind.
“Sel,” I look up at the cautions tone of the voice. My eyes dart to Faegan’s and the honey-brown colour ensnares me. I look at him brokenly, letting the heartache rise to the surface. “Sel, it’s okay.” He kneels down in front of me so that I’m forced to focus solely on him and totally ignore Emily’s retreat towards Dudon. “It’ll be okay.” His voice lowers so that only I can hear it, and I find myself nodding in agreement. His gaze is pained and in it I think I see the urge to comfort me.
“Why are you here?” I croak out, hoping to distract myself and everyone else. I can’t sit here and believe that my sister is going to die, I just cant. I ignore Emily’s moving form in my peripheral vision and focus my attention solely on Faegan – I don’t have the heart to even contemplate what to explain to Emily right now.
“It’s complicated.” Faegan smiles, and I cross my legs beneath me, settling onto the floor and leaving him crouching in front of me. I sniffle, trying to hold back sobs.
“If it has to do with Mali and Warren and Pierre and Angela and Layla and whoever, then save your breath because I already know all of that. And if it’s because I’m, like, the second most powerful being ever or something then just say so!” I let my anger fill up my being and it overflows easily, barring the sadness swelling just below the surface. I think about all that I’ve learned today, about how friend and my half-sister are really my magical sisters, and then I think about all of our tempers and wonder if they’re connected to the magic build up.
As anger swirls, I barely register Faegan’s stunned expression as I feel something building within my body. My stomach aches and I heave over with a gasp, gripping my stomach with both hands as the feeling of ten undead, boney hands clawing at my insides. Malachi’s rules flicked through my head, we aren’t supposed to touch anyone, lest we form a connection. We aren’t supposed to tell anyone about magic, that’s saved for others. We aren’t supposed to perform magic in front of you. We aren’t…we aren’t… The pain and anger grows exponentially, and I throw out my arms with a yell, wrenching Faegan and myself off of the ground into a standing position with the sheer weight of my will. A tiny voice in the back of my head questions if this is what magic feels like, but I brush it off before I have a chance to overthink it.
“How – how did you know?” His voice is shaky, his face paler than I could’ve imagined a face would get.
“Malachi told me.” My voice echoes deeper than I was expecting, but I don’t question it, instead reveling in the feeling coursing through my veins. A million lightning bolts run through my veins, charging me with energy.
“But – but – how? How did you…?” His face is slack with shock, but his eyes look at me imploringly, like a lost little puppy.
“Enough!” I boom, the sound echoing off the cave walls. “How it happened is not of a concern – I don’t understand why no one can tell me what’s happening! And where is my SISTER!” I watch Faegan’s eyes widen and hope that he’s finally going to answer me with something more than evasion.
“You were with Malachi.” His eyes go wide and I roll my eyes, nodding and sending him a ‘duh’ look. “But how? He doesn’t have enough power to be masking himself, in fact I don’t think anyone ever has before, It’s totally unheard of…” I listen to Faegan’s ranting without interrupting, hoping he’ll tell me something I don’t know. “Unless…”
Faegan starts to pace the floor, just like Malachi had a little while before. The anger starts to die down a little bit, the million lightning bolts diminishing to merely a few hundred. I close my eyes and breathe deeply, wishing for Malachi to be back so I could talk to him and he could explain. Opening my eyes, my gaze is drawn to Faegan’s pacing form, but just beyond him flickers a translucent image. I squint and make out Malachi’s form.
“Mal!” I run towards him, stopping just before him hesitantly. He looks at me, stunned, before turning to his side. The quizzical look on his face is probably echoed on my face as well. “Mal, what’s going on? Where’s Lay?” I watch his mouth move and wait for the words to reach my ears, but they never come. He walks forward and his form wavers. “Mal! I can’t hear you! What’s going on?” I say it a little louder, hoping he will hear me and respond. Instead, his form fades into the darkness and is replaced by the image of Emily and Dudon looking confused and advancing towards me.
I kook at Emily cowering towards Dudon, noticing his hand itching to reach out and touch her, and I feel a sting in my heart that these two who are obviously itching to be close can’t be, because of some stupid rule. Is that what Faegan and I look like?
I retreat into myself, thinking about what I know versus what they know, and decide there isn’t really anything we can do at the moment. I look at everyone in the room with me before walking to the center of the cave and sitting down, crossing my legs and closing my eyes, thinking about everything we’ve been through today. I feel a warm hand on my leg and lean into Emily’s side.
“Will you sing?” I whisper, hoping her lyrical voice will ease my frazzled emotions. She nods and starts to sing, at first only softly but soon the melody builds, and with it so does the volume. Eventually, Faegan and Dudon settle opposite us. I start humming along with Emily, picking up a few bits of the pop songs we heard on the radio today. I laugh at the crackly sound of my voice against hers and stop just to hear her voice and wait for Melayna’s return. I can’t think that she won’t return, I won’t.
“Where did Sel go?” I ask, hoping to stall. My claims of seeing Selena’s translucent figure hadn’t even stopped her from continuing to stalk towards me.
“Save it. I know you’re stalling.” She snarls, and I marvel at how advanced her powers are already. “You better start talking, buddy-boy, or else we’ll see what my power can really do.” That threat is slightly more serious than she knows, and so I start talking.
“There’s a prophecy –“ Her sigh stops me and I look at her, wondering what I could’ve already said that would elicit this kind of reaction.
“Nothing, it’s just so cliché.”
“Well, there’s a prophecy that states that a girl will be born at the brightest time of the night. It says that she will be born to a mortal family with no historical background of magic. It says the girl will be able to see the past with accuracy uncommon of their background and knowledge. The prophecy states that this girl will lead us to the end, and that whichever side she stands with will become the victor.”
She stares at me with wide eyes and I walk towards here, gripping her shoulders lightly in my hands. “Lay, it’s you. You were born at the brightest time of the night.”
“But so were –“ she tries to interrupt me, but I continue, undeterred.
“I know. Hear me out. Your family has no history of magic at all. We’ve looked at your family trees, and both of the others have small traces of magic far back in their family trees. It was small magic, manifested as uncanny intuition and was thought coincidence in those days, but now there are people who know better.” Her eyes widen, and in them I see the wonder at the things previously hidden from her knowledge. “You have seen the past, Melayna.”
“But I haven’t! When have I seen the past? I can’t even remember anything about my own life, let alone see the past!” I look at her in confusion and she seems to pale instantly. “This is something I haven’t told anyone, but I can’t remember things that happen to me. When I have ‘memories,’ I ‘remember’ things in third person, which means I add up the facts and lines and imagine what it would look like. I see myself, I see my face, and it’s so unreal, it’s so…unnatural.”
Understanding dawns on me and I whisper the forgotten line of the prophecy. “She will be like no other in her world, but like the greatest of ours.”
“What?” She looks at me in shock, and whatever she sees on my face causes the blood to rush out of her cheeks, leaving her as pale as a ghost. I step a little closer in case she faints. “What did you just say?”
“Uh, it’s the line of the prophecy that I didn’t explain. I think it’s what your ‘memories’ are. You remember Mali?” At her nod I continue, feeling excitement fill me up like a balloon, the possibilities lifting my spirits sky-high. “Well, she had a similar talent. She remembered some things, but everything else she was able to remember facts and conjure up images in her brain. Everything was visual to her, and words came alive in her mind as she read or wrote them.”
She closes her eyes and I reach out and grab her hand to see what she’s thinking and provide her with comfort. What I see surprises me to no end. I see her, in many different places, all playing the harp. The notes aren’t written down, but they appear before her as she plays. Her fingers twitch in mine and match the patterns of her hands within her mind. She tilts her head to the side as the music builds to a climax, her whole body swaying.
I watch in fascination as her body is taken hostage by the music as it uses her as a source of output. Her head sways and her body dives as the music builds to a climax, her fingers deftly flying across the strings, barely noticing the indentations that would hurt even the most advanced of string players. The sound of the music echoes through every crevice in my mind and has me watching in rapture as this girl I know with a fast temper is transformed into the very soul of the music she is playing, revealing inner emotions hidden from everyone but herself.
A small tug on my hands lets me know that Melayna has finally noticed my intrusion within her mind, but from the little squeeze she gives my hand, I don’t think she minds sharing. As the music changes pace and becomes more like background music, I survey the scene and realize that no one else is there.
You’re right, her voice echoes in my mind without disturbing the image, and the control she has over her powers once again amazes me. I never do this for anyone. Whenever anyone is watching me play, I play the music and I’m as stiff as a brick. You’re probably the only one who’s ever come close to seeing me play. She sighs in my mind, and my heart tears a little for her. I squeeze her hand in mine and she smiles, pulling us both out of her mind.
“You’ll show me one day, I know you will.” I smile at her reassuringly, and she wraps her arms around my neck, pulling me close. I laugh at the sudden closeness but pull her closer, wrapping my arms around her waist.
“How is it that you knew the right thing to say?” Her tone is light and fluffy, kind of what I imagine others would call ‘flirtatious’ but I can’t really judge, because I never had the opportunity to be around girls when they were acting like that. I always thought it might be kind of annoying, but if this is what it’s like then I never want it to stop.
“It must be a talent.” I shrug and she pulls away, laughing. She looks down at her watch and gasps. I lean over her shoulder and see that it’s seven o’clock.
“But that still doesn’t explain why I’m going to die!” Just like that, she switches gears and remembers why we were fighting in the first place.
“Well…” I trail off.
“Don’t!” She yells, her anger lighting up her eyes. “Just tell me, stop beating around the bloody bush!”
I put my hands up in surrender, not wanting to anger her any more, and start to explain. “Well, a little while ago there was a girl who basically fit the prophecy.”
“Basically?” She interrupts, and I sigh frustratedly.
“Yes. She didn’t have the memory, but otherwise was a close match. Mali’s brothers and sisters found out about her and tried to kill her. There was a lot of fighting and the girl wasn’t safe anywhere. We did our best, and she had assigned guards and everything, but they still got to her.” I look down in respect, something I’ve been taught throughout my training.
“Oh.” She says, and some of her steam seems to have left her. I walk towards her and grip her hand. “Is that what you are – bodyguards?”
I contemplate that question before answering. “It’s kind of complicated. My team and I are almost the preliminary scouts and guards. It’s like, watch and evaluate, and keep you safe if anything happens.” I stare at the wall as I zone out, trying to explain without angering her again. “You’ve got to understand, even if you weren’t of the prophecy, you and your sisters hold great power. Layla specifically chose my team to come, which makes me think she knows something, but either way this was supposed to be a simple mission – evaluate, extract, deliver kind of thing.”
The silence echoes before she breaks it softly. “So, are you going to have to leave at some point? What happens from here?”
I turn her to look at me, gazing into her eyes. “Let’s take it one step at a time, okay? They wont force anyone to move, and once they find out about our conitouche they’ll probably put me in your service anyway.”
“What…?” She stares at me in confusion, before spinning away from me. “Shit!” She spins frantically in a circle as if looking for something.
“Lay, what’s wrong?” I call, watching her walk from one end of the cave to the other, furiously searching for something. “Lay,” I say with a bit more conviction. She walks straight past me to the other end of the cave. “Melayna!” I grab her shoulders and tilt her head back so she’s looking at my face. “What’s wrong, baby?” I see her eyes light up and the endearment and she smiles before her face falls once more.
“Do you know what the time is?” Her voice is frantic and her grip on my hand tight. I’m confused but I nod slowly. “It’s seven at night! It takes, like, an hour to get home from here, and my parents always expect us home by seven – they are so going to freak! And it’ll be dark, we still have to go through the park and get our stuff!” She grips my hand even tighter and I wince at the pain, waiting for her to continue and calm down. “Oh, shit. I can’t even work out how to get Sel and Em! What am I going to do?” She looks at me with wide eyes, and I can think of noting to comfort her. My eyes widen and I stand there uncomfortably, totally unsure.
Malahchi stares at me with a blank face, and I see that he is at a loss as to what to do. Alright, Melayna. It’s up to you; you can do this. I quickly prep myself and take deep breaths, closing my eyes and letting the air fill me up and clear my mind. I open my eyes and suddenly I’m overcome by a wave of panic that Traps me in its steely grip an refuses to leg to. I close my eyes again, effectively shutting out the outside world.
Deep breaths, in and out
I’ve done this before, I can do it again.
Small bits. Calm down and take it in small bits.
Baby steps. I can do this
In. Out. In. Out.
I can’t do this. The word is exploding behind my eyes.
Swing. Sway. Be free.
I start humming The Song, the one that Selena and I wrote after…it…and feel myself swaying with the simple tune. The pressure of Malachi’s stare disappears and I’m overcome by a wave of calm that washes away all my issues as if they were noly written in the sand.
I contemplate opening my eyes, trying to gauge how calm I am. After a lot of deliberation, I cautiously open my eyes, taking in the cave wall in front of me. Feeling starts to come back to me, and I feel the wait of Malachi’s hand on my shoulder, his concerned tone flitting back into my consciousness.
“Mal, I’m okay.” I turn to look at him and see his sigh of release, his whole body seemingly deflating with the breath.
“Thank Mali, Lay. I didn’t know what happened, or what to do…” His voice comes out in a rush, his hand falling from my shoulder to my hand where he grips my fingers in his grasp. I nod, squeezing his hand back and hugging him quickly before I pull away and start organizing my now clear mind.
“Okay. First things first, we need to remove this invisibility spell, or whatever.” As soon as the words come out of my mouth, I groan. Oh god! I think. What hs my world come to if these things come out of my mouth? I look over at Malachi and try to hide my amusement at the look of his confusion on his face.
“Mal, you made this happen. If I lend you my power again do you think you could undo it?” The words are out of my mouth as soon as I think them, something I should probably attempt to stop doing. As soon as what I’ve said registers in my brain, and Malachi’s confirming nod, I gasp and cover my mouth with one hand. “No,” I state firmly, wanting to avoid what happened last time as much as I can.
“Of course I can, Lay.” He grins, grabbing my hand. “With you and your power, anything is possible.” He smiles and my stomach turns over, thinking about everything he would do for me and everything I would do for him. His face is lit up like a Christmas tree, but at my stoic expression his mouth turns down and he steps closer. “What’s wrong?”
I squeeze his hand lightly before forcing the words out of my throat. “I can’t…I can’t do it.” I pull my hands out of his and bring them up to cover my face. “What if it happens again, what do you expect me to do if you faint again and everyone’s asking me questions and I can’t answer and you’re just…lying there, and Sel will be trying to hug me and…and…” I stop talking, taking a deep breath before I attempt to continue.
Suddenly, warm hands are on my face and my watery eyes look up to meet Malachi’s bright-green gaze.
“Lay, I promise you this time I won’t fall. I know how strong your magic is and, to be honest, undoing is always easier than doing.” He grins in an attempt to ease the tension and I sniffle, trying to soak up his emotion. He sees my effort and smiles once more, bringing me into the circle of his arms. “See, that’s my girl. Always a fighter, and never giving up.”
I smile at his comment, especially the ‘my girl’ part and sniggle into his arms, preparing to put myself out there like I’ve never done before because this man, whom I’ve just met, is as much a part of me as Selena, Emily, or my parents are. He’s a part of me maybe even more than they are.
Seeing the concern in her eyes is both touching and concerning. Touching, because I can see how much she cares for me, and that warms by heart. But concerning because I don’t want her to worry about me, because if she does then she will want to protect me and that will mean putting her self at risk, which I don’t ever want her to do. Looking at her delicate face in my hands and thinking of the feelings I have for her I shake my head and wonder how I could be so concerned about something like that. You would always protect her, I think to myself, so how could you expect her not to do the same?
“Alright, honey, let’s do this thang.” I smile as I think of all the stored endearments I can finally express, but my smile quickly drops as I think of what we’re about to do. I squeeze her hand in reassurance, thinking now would be the perfect time to try and impart on her the basic skills that I have in terms of magic.
“So, there are some things I need to do this time to ensure that it doesn’t hurt and I don’t black out, alright?” I see her bite her lip in nervousness and I squeeze her hand reassuringly. “Relax and close your eyes.” I watch her do as I ask instantaneously, smiling at the trust we have already developed.
“I want you to sense what’s around you; feel the harsh surface of the rock, feel the warmth of my body – take everything in without seeing it.” I watch her nose crinkle and sigh at the cuteness before refocusing on our task, one I’ve done more times than I can count, and that should be more familiar to me than this girl in front of me who has ensnared my heart in such a short period of time.
“Alright, now stop focusing on the physical things in the atmosphere, focus on the air around you, what it’s charged with. Start by thinking of your aura. Some people view it as a colour, others a ball of light. Some people imagine it as a collection of ‘special’ particles surrounding them, I don’t know. Have a go and see what feels right for you.”
I grip her hand, wanting to see in her mind what this looks like for her, and what I see has my stifling a gasp. In her mind, everything is an instrument. The floor is made of a bass drum, and we are standing on the skin covering it. The walls are made of oboes and clarinets, whereas both her and I are string instruments – cellos, judging by the size. We are surrounded by a group of violins playing the sweetest music I have ever heard in my life. As she feels more secure with the vision, the tune of the violin gets stronger, more powering, and starts to play in time with my heartbeat.
“Alright.” I say once my breath is back from the image. “Now, I want you to imagine the aura, or essence as we refer to it, stretching out to fill the whole room.” I watch as the violins stretch out to the walls, transforming into flutes as soon as they are about two meters away from her body.
“Now, I want you to open your eyes, still keeping the image in your mind, and I want you to try and merge the two.” As her eyes open, my vision is transformed. Suddenly, everything is double. I’m too amazed to consider the fact that I’m pretty sure that I am literally seeing through her eyes as I struggle to take in the sight. Reality is the bottom layer, but overshadowing that are thousands of instruments. I look down at my own hand, seeing my flesh as per normal, but above that a bow faintly on top, distorting my arm. I shake my head slowly, clearing my awe and focusing on the magical buzz around us.
“Now, I’m telling you that the essence is, in fact, magic. Very few creatures have no magic, and in fact it’s more common to find a human who doesn’t have magic than it is to find an animal that doesn’t. I want you to try and harness some of the magic in the air around you – take the essence and call it to you, bringing it into yourself and own it.”
I feel her dragging the instruments towards her, and once they get to about two meters away they change, the flutes becoming violins and attaching to the existing violins surrounding us. She keeps dragging and converting flutes until the range of the violins expands, moving further away from us as they convert more and more flutes. I watch in awe for another moment before stopping her with a hand on her arm.
“You’ve got too much. I want you to pull back to your original range and just fill that with your essence.” I watch her frown, seeing the line waver before expanding once again at a faster rate than it was before. I let go of her hand, allowing my own magic to transform my vision into vivid colours. I see her range and slowly bring my essence to surround it, making a circle of violins surrounded by a neon orange circle, surrounded by green flutes. I hear her gasp but tune it out, concentrating instead on making her circle smaller, trying to avoid the burning fight her magic is putting up. A fight of liquid fire.
I struggle against her violins, which have turned their heart-wrenching tune into threatening music, and reach out for Lay’s hand. We touch and her violins loose fight, allowing me to almost crush their power. I stop once the range has returned to a normal size, allowing the orange to merge in a vision of our connected power. I no longer need to visualize my energy, but here in this moment it comes rushing through me, connecting with her vision. I slowly take a deep breath, allowing our power to transfer to me so I can enhance it. I reach out for the edge of the magic I had cast out before, pulling back the enchantment with her magic and mine, draining every inch of magic we had compiled before I grin as we see our companions sitting in a circle, entranced by something in the air.