A World Beside Our Own

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Movie Night

“So, this private school, it’s not a regular school, is it?” Ruby asks. I put my arm around her shoulder and she snuggles in, sliding down till her head is against the side of my breast.

“Well, it teaches a regular curriculum, like any other high school does. It just has extra optional classes that you won’t normally see. I’m taking Botany, for example. My teacher is a 2-thousand year old warlock vampire who’s written half of our non-standard text books. Next year Luna said she’s taking an extra year to learn magic theory, arcane history, and enchanting. She’s been in school for something like 20 years, taking 2 to three years to go through one grade to learn more about history, magic and alchemy.”

I tell my friends how there are other schools like mine. They were established 30 years ago by the lead ArchMage to find magical talent at younger ages. Before the schools, those magically adept had to be lucky to be discovered by a master or sage, usually as an adult. There is this pocket dimension in Astral Space called Sanctum. It’s basically a huge University Town where adults can learn magic and live with other people who can use magic. Because it’s outside of the mortal realm, it’s safe. You can’t get there if you can’t use magic.

Because magic follows bloodlines, the school gives a location for kids from known families a safe place to learn. Sometimes, like mine, it can manifest from unknown sources, or even skip generations. Once someone’s abilities manifest, they then go through discovering what they can or can’t do. Just cause you know magic, doesn’t mean you can do anything or everything. Wizards and spell casters need to learn their spells. It can take years of alchemy lessons to make a decent potion that doesn’t hurt you. Spontaneous casters need to discover their abilities. Emotions can affect magic, and most don’t manifest till puberty. Having a safe place where mishaps can be contained and controlled is important. Not everyone has the same level of talent. Not everyone can cast the same spells. Over the years, they’ve been able to classify magic into specific categories and specializations.

The schools aren’t just for humans with magical potential. It gives a safe place for other races; races that would otherwise be vulnerable or dangerous. My class contains vampires and werewolves. Sala is the only Fae. In our school there are a couple of giants. I’ve seen about a dozen dwarves. Luna and I are the only full-blooded Elves. My school gives a whole new meaning to a multi-racial environment. Skin colour is the least worry with discrimination. Many unusual races will hide behind glamour like mine, so that we can blend into the human population. It’s often better to just blend in than it is to stand out. Take Sala, it’s hard enough only being a meter and a half tall, but her natural form has frosty white skin, her ears are about half as pointy as mine, and she has wings. Her glamour just makes her look like a short, platinum haired, blue-eyed human girl. Though some of our friends know she’s Fae, I’m the only one in school who’s seen her true form.

“So, unless you are in a safe place, all anyone else is going to see is the blond-haired, blue-eyed human that I’m cuddled up with? Only select people will see just how beautiful you really are?” Ruby looks up at me.

“Sadly yes. I wish I could show you the wonders I’ve discovered. For a mundane to see what I’ve seen is forbidden, I could get into trouble simply with what I’ve told you. Magic society is very careful not to expose itself to the outside world. It’s too dangerous.” I say sadly.

“Because humanity over all still fears the unknown.” Kevin says, he pulls my arm up so that he can snuggle in like Ruby has. “You are so soft and warm.” He sighs, sliding his right arm behind me and holding me close. “Simia?”

“Hmm?” I ask, kissing his forehead.

“I think I’m falling in love with you.” He says affectionately. “Part of my mind is freaking out with all this and telling me to run away, the other half just wants to hold on to your forever and never let you go.”

“Love you too.” I say in a sweet voice. “It’s not bothering you that Ruby’s snuggled up against me like you are?”

Kevin shrugs. “Ruby digs chicks, and you are probably the hottest girl she will ever meet.” I can feel him smile. “Just no stealing my girlfriend Ruby, then I might get upset.”

Ruby giggles. “You are calling her your girlfriend already?”

I hear a door open down the hall and shush my friends. It’s Chris by the weight of the footsteps. “Wow, don’t you three look all comfortable?” He says with a smile.

I tilt my head back, looking at people upside down still feels weird, but I can’t move right now. “Apparently I’ve become irresistible as a girl.” I grin. “Kevin’s had a crush on me for some time now.” I poke him close to his tickle spot, causing him to object. “And this little tom-boy has been attracted to girls for as long as I’ve known her.” I poke Ruby’s tickle spot, causing her to squirm and giggle. “I don’t mind cuddling, it’s rather cozy.” I give him a concerned look. “This doesn’t bother you, does it?”

“Well, if it doesn’t bother Kevin that his best friend is affectionately cuddled with his would-be girlfriend? I don’t think we have a problem with that.” Chris smiles as he goes to get a can of pop from the fridge. On his way back to the office, he says. “Don’t stay up too late, okay?”

“Okay Dad.” The three of us say together. In the corner of my eye, I can see him stop, look at us for a moment, shake his head and walk away.

“You fall back on calling my parents Mom & Dad like you used to, they’re really going to get confused.” Kevin warns me. “As it is, us being in sync this afternoon really threw my Mom off.”

“I know, I’m sorry.” I take a deep breath. “You don’t think your Mom would call my birth parents, do you?” I say concerned. “Are they still close since I left?”

“In some ways they are closer.” He frowns. “When you ran away, your mom would come here often, trying to figure out why you left? What did she do wrong? And she still didn’t clue in when my parents would tell her it’s because she failed to listen to you. The few times you spoke to them, you had mentioned it was because you wanted to transition that you needed to leave. Too bad your mom wouldn’t listen to mine, you may have come back home if she had….”

“No offence, I never want to see my close-minded, stupidly religious, birth parents ever again.” I say bitterly. “There is a reason I ran away from home! The more I tried to push that I thought I was transgender like you, the more strict they got. First, they started with limiting my Internet access, so I couldn’t do research or find support groups. It’s when they threatened that I’d never be able to spend time with you outside of school… that’s when I left.” Kevin hugs me close as I get upset. I take a deep breath and calm my emotions. “I never wanted to leave you Kevin, but my parents made it hard to live here.”

“I understand that now.” He says as he caresses my stomach. “I’m glad you came back to me.” He looks up to me. “You are way more amazing than I ever imagined you would be as a girl.”

“You know, I gave them a month to consider what I had done. I gave them a chance to listen so we could work on this together. Each time they kept threatening to track me down if I didn’t come home an abide by their rules. They refused to consider I was trans. The one time I mentioned you, mom called you by your birth name! So I filed for emancipation. I’d found people who actually believed me and wanted to see me succeed in life.”

“They were so pissed, your dad insisted they keep looking. They had an idea of where you were, as you had called them from Hillcrest. I think they even knew the last name Rasmussen. Legally though, you were untouchable. The police wouldn’t help them get a warrant. The authorities would only help if someone publicly volunteered information.” He looks up at me. “Your new mom’s got real powerful connections, everything they tried, they’d hit another roadblock.”

“Ashanna is amazing!” I say lovingly. “I’ve never felt so cared for, so protected, so loved by a family member before. The moment I poured my heart out that I thought I was transgender. She reached out to Rose for help. She’s never yelled at me, or picked my school work apart. If I ever need help, she’s right there, by my side, no hesitation. She’s made me more responsible. I’ve wanted to do all of my homework and get good grades, to make her proud and repay her for all that she’s done for me. I never leave a mess in the room I share with Luna.” I smile. It’s why I took her last name when we did my legal name change. As a foster mother, she has shown me more unconditional love and support than my birth mother ever did.

“So, I’m curious…” Ruby says thoughtfully. “As beautiful as you are, why an Elf, why not just transition?”

“This bit is probably going to be the strangest part, and possibly the hardest to explain.” I take a moment, trying to compose my thoughts. “It all started with my getting curious about Blood Fruit.” I comment. “Ashanna grows it as an alternative for vampires having to feed off plasma. Vampires are a lot more sophisticated than horror movies make them. They don’t even need to feed off of humans, any animal’s blood will work. Plasma can be refrigerated, so they don’t even need to feed off of a live body. The exotic blood fruit has the properties of human plasma, so it gives vampires an option to grow their food so that they don’t even have to feed off of animals at all!”

“When I ate a finger-sized piece, it opened a window to the Dream. The godmother I keep referring to actually died two millennia ago, but the window actually let us see and talk to each other. I’m her direct descendant. She saw my potential to be immense, but with her spirit trapped in the Dream, she couldn’t do anything.”

“The first step for me to get anywhere was to free her from the Dream realm.” I take a breath. “So I took a larger piece of blood fruit. The fruit is actually toxic to mortals, and I made myself pretty sick. It had material components for the spell we needed, however, so it worked. We could pull her out of the Dream, but she was still trapped in me. She could see and experience the world through my body, but she was just a passenger, she had no control, nor could she leave my body.”

“The second ritual was to poison me near death, so that her essence would try to escape my body. Once it left my body, we bound her into my emerald pendant. As an anchored spirit, she can actually interact with the world. Once she had control of herself, she neutralized the poison to stop me from dieing.”

“You nearly killed yourself, so that you could get an ancient Arch Druid out of your mind, to teach you magic?” Ruby gasps “Simia, what were you thinking!?”

Kevin chuckles. “When was the last time you’ve seen her actually patiently wait for something when she has a clear goal in mind?” He looks up at me. “You saw opportunity just out of reach, and so you boldly leaped forward to grab a hold of it, even if it could likely kill you. Just like the risk you took coming here?”

“You know me so well.” I lean down and kiss my best friend. “Each step we used to free her from the Dream kept making me a stronger Druid, but my male body still hampered me, I had the potential, but it was bottle-necked. I couldn’t use all of it! Transition would finally allow me to cast magic, and I could be a decent druid later on in life. But, even with informed consent, it would take years to finally be a girl and start on the path of learning.”

“She had a better offer..” Ruby gets it.

“And a stronger one. She’d done it before to create the first ArchMage.” I start. “Shedding the humanity, reconnecting the body to a strong Elven bloodline, makes you immensely powerful. But not everyone can do it, there has to be a bloodline to connect to.”

“And your ancestor was an Arch Druid.” Kevin adds in.

“Exactly.” I smile. “At first I was calling the process a transformation ritual. The closer we got to the Winter Solstice, I realized it was more than that. Reconnecting to my Elven bloodline, my godmother’s bloodline, I was actually being reborn. It was akin to a focused resurrection, where I was choosing the race and relatives I came from. It achieved everything we were both looking for: I would be a woman, the world would see the first Earthborn Arch Druid in millennia. We would again restore her bloodline. I am effectively now her daughter. In my ritual, she went from being my distant ancestor, to being more genetically blood related to me than my birth parents. If you do a DNA or blood test now, I am 100% Elven, there’s not a single human genome left to indicate I was ever related to my birth parents.”

“Which is why your eye colour changed.” Ruby catches on. “Your Elven parents have green eyes.”

“Yes, and because of my godmother’s link to the Dream, I have this sort of pocket-world that runs faster than time in the real-world now. When I sleep, my body will rest, while my mind goes to this Dream realm. I’ve spent years now learning all this while only three months have passed in the real-world.”

“This is how you’ve been able to learn so much in such a little amount of time!” Kevin gasps.

Ruby looks up at me. “So that’s why you seem so much more mature now. You’ve mentally lived a good 18 years. Not only will you live longer than my great grandchildren, you have this Dream space that lets you speed learn where you can spend a good year leaning on something while the rest of us will only see a month go by.”

“That sounds about right for the time difference.” I say thoughtfully.

Kevin’s body language changes when a bullet train commercial comes up. “So, when you told me you were getting here by train, that was just a cover story, wasn’t it? You teleported here didn’t you?”

“Coming by train was the best cover story I could think of, yes, but I can’t teleport, that’s an arcane spell. I rely on Luna to teleport us to and from school, as our house is 50 klicks outside of town. Druids, however, have this amazing ability called Tree Stride - or at least that’s what the spell translates to from Elvish. You need two trees large enough to form a door you can walk through. I can walk into one tree, and walk out the other, distance doesn’t matter. I can’t just blindly travel though, I have to know my destination tree, the more familiar I am with it, the easier it is to travel. I came out of one of the maples in the park down the street. I had less than a block walk to get here, even though I live almost 600 kilometres away.”

“That’s incredible!” Kevin gasps. “Do you have to travel alone, or can you carry more?”

“Everything that I hold travels with me. I don’t think I’m strong enough to carry more than me though..” I’m more asking Lairelindë than anything.

I wouldn’t encourage it.” She answers in my mind. “The more magic carried, the easier it is to work. We could travel with your little Sala, but not your mundane friends.

This is one of those situations where there are too many questions, but not enough time. I just want to share everything of my life with my two best friends. It feels almost therapeutic to finally tell someone. I spend so much of my time holding my tongue, watching what I say, keeping things in, or flat out lying to people.

Ruby doesn’t want to go home tonight, but she doesn’t want to push asking to sleep over where they have only the one spare bedroom. Being a holiday, she can stay a little later, so they let her stay till 11 before she runs off home. She has to promise his Mom she’ll text when gets home, so that we know she’s okay. This is a quiet neighbourhood, so there really no danger, but parents will be parents. Once she leaves, Kevin helps me raid the kitchen for a sizable snack. I wonder how long it’s going to take me to get used to this new metabolism.

With only the two of us, I have to shamefully admit that we spent more time making out that watching anything. His mom makes him go to bed at midnight. I kiss my new boyfriend goodnight. I contact Ashanna as promised and then sit in the spare bedroom playing the game for the next two hours. It gives me time to clean up my old characters and get rid of the ones I don’t think I’ll use again. The funds and materials I move to our guild vault for sharing.

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