Chapter 1: I Meet a Girl who Loves Smelling Candles
A cool breeze blew through, cooling me down from the hot summer’s heat. I stalked up the hill in knee-high grass, clutching the straps of my backpack as I walked up. At the top of the hill stood an old tree that seemed to be splitting in half. Even though it was a nice day out and the sun was shining in a clear sky, I couldn’t shake the chills from running down my spine as I got closer.
I knew whatever I was after appeared here at the top of this hill in the tree. It wasn’t a myth or a legend; it was an Aspiration. And the particular Aspiration I was after could give me what I so desperately wanted, even if the stories whispered about it were dangerous.
And it was kind of funny. I had told no one, not even my parents, that after school I would be venturing here alone. So if it really was dangerous, I might be screwed. But, Aspirations were said to be shy and only show themselves to those who are true... whatever that means.
My legs had begun to ache from the long walk I had been on, but I was almost to the top. Once the last school bell rang I darted off to here. And as I stalked up the hill I kept running through my thoughts about this: would it really be worth it? From what I’ve read up on this Aspiration, it’s one of the more powerful ones. It’s said to be one of the Eleven Aspirations. But whatever the risk was, it had what I wanted.
I had finally reached the top, panting and slid my bag off my shoulders to the ground. It was such a weight and I’m not the most athletic person. Just walking all the way up here was enough for me. But, the sun would be setting soon and I didn’t want to do in the dark. Calling an Aspiration was creepy enough.
I walked over to the tree, the trunk splitting right down the middle. The branches were all tangled and a few yellowish swayed in the wind. But right down the crack was a hole that seemed to go all the way down to the center of earth. I backed up. Is this where it lived? In the hole?
I rubbed my neck, wishing the shivers to go away. I just have to tell myself this isn’t as scary as it seems. Every story I’ve read about this Aspiration made it seem... unpredictable.
I glanced over the view that the hill gave to see my small town in the distance. This tree sat at the edge and beyond it, well, I don’t really want to find out. My town is safe and protected by guards. The outside world was dangerous and I was safer here. At least, that’s what my mother and teachers said. Nobody in my town bothered to pass the border and see why lied beyond. It was sort of illegal. But what I was going to do now was also not allowed, that’s why I had come alone and told no one. I would get in huge trouble if someone found out.
But I didn’t have time to contemplate about all of that . I came up here for one reason and time was slipping away. I went over and kneeled by my bag, unzipping the front pocket. I had read many ways to call this Aspiration and most of them said to offer something. An offer of what exactly?
I pulled out three small candles (all scented cinnamon), a match box, and a small red pocket knife my grandfather gave me when I was young. I really didn’t want to slice open my own finger, but if that’s what it took then it was a small price I would pay.
I went over to the base of the trunk and placed the three candles in a triangle. I then struck the match, careful of the small breeze, and lit each one. For the size, I could surprisingly smell the cinnamon scent. I then began to clear out the area in side the triangle, brushing away all the leaves and sticks until only dirt was left. In the dirt I was supposed to draw the Aspiration’s symbol in my own blood. Each Aspiration had it’s own symbol.
I shakily lifted the knife to my finger. I took a deep breath and held it.
Just one tiny, little-
“I’m not a demon, you know.” A feminine voice made me jump back, dropping my knife. I looked up to see a girl setting on a branch, maybe around my age. She was wearing a simple white dress that looked dirty with dirt and grass stains and laced sandals. Her hair was almost a honey and was braided back, but I couldn’t make out her face in the shadow of the tree leaves. I could, however, see the reflection of her eyes; glowing red eyes. She giggled at me, swinging her legs playfully. “I don’t need any sacrifices or blood.” She leaned forward, her face still hidden. “That stuff’s yucky.”
“A-Are you...” I tried to get to my feet but I didn’t think my knees would hold. Come on! Pull yourself together! “Are you an Aspiration?”
“Yep.” She said. I watched as she jumped down, but didn’t land. Instead she hovered in the air on her stomach looking relaxed and floated over to me. I could begin to make out her face as she came closer. It was slightly freckled and pixie-like, but her eyes were a deep, blood-lust red. Yep, definitely an Aspiration. I stumbled back even more as she got closer until I was almost lying on my back, her face so close to mine that our noses were almost touching. “And you’re a human.”
I could only stare at her not knowing what to do. This is not how I thought this would go down.
“U-Umm...” I tried to search for something to say. She was really close, too close, and I could feel my heart race in my throat.
“You are a human, right?” She backed off me and I suddenly began to breath again. I didn’t move as she flew over to the candles and took in a huge breath then sighed. “None of this was necessary but I won’t complain about the candles.” She took another breath.
“Um, yeah. Sorry.” I managed to say, carefully watching as she sniffed each one.
“You can’t not love the smell.” She giggled and darted away again, this time snatching something up from the grass. “Oh hey, I think you dropped this.” She examined my pocket knife in her hand, her head tilting as she flipped it around. She placed her index finger lightly on the point and ran it down the blade, her eyes almost glowing redder as she did.
She glanced back to me and I froze in fear. Aspirations don’t kill people for no reason. They need us humans or else they’re useless. She won’t kill me, right?
Her feet touched the ground and she was no longer floating in the air. Even her hard didn’t seem to have the bouncy-ness it once had. She walked over to me, still holding the knife in her hand. I gulped.
She reached her hand out to me and I flinched at the gesture. She began to giggle again.
“Geez, kid. I’m just trying to help you up.” I glanced up at her hand again, this time taking it. She lifted me to my feet and smiled at me, placing the knife back into my hand. “This time don’t be so careless and throw it.”
“You startled me.” I said, folding the knife but not putting it away. She laughed and turned back around, walking to the three and leaning against it.
“Ah, sorry. I know I look menacing.” She winked at me, grinning. “So what brings you all the way up here? I know it’s a long walk so you clearly have something you want.”
I gazed past the hill and over my town before looking back at her. “I, uh, I heard about you and how you make deals and I wanted to make a deal.”
“Ohh, so you’re one of those humans. Shouldn’t a young boy like you know by now from all the stories passed around that making deals with Aspirations is a dangerous thing? Especially me?”
Her eyes locked onto mine and for a quick second I began to doubt everything. Maybe coming up here was a mistake. Maybe this was a horrible idea and all the rumors and stories about this particular Aspirations were true.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of hers. They seemed to grow darker and her grin didn’t seem so natural anymore. She began to look less human and more Aspiration-like. Was this really her true form? I’d heard of shapeshifting Aspirations before but I didn’t think she was one...
Suddenly, reality snapped back into me and I shook my head. She looked back to normal again, waiting patiently for me to answer her. Was I just imagining things?
“I... um...” I searched for an answer.
She floated over to me and began to circle around on her back, relaxed as ever. I twisted to follow her. “I’m just kidding!” She giggled. “You humans are so easy to freak out.”
She was now right in front of my face on her stomach with her head propped up on the palms of her hands. “So, you wanna make a deal, right?” I slowly nodded. “Great! You’ve come to the right place. Allow me to introduce myself.”
Her feet touched down and she stuck out her hand. “My name is Hyrumn: eighth of the eleven Aspirations. Also known as Double-Deal but you can just call me Hyrumn.”
So she was the eighth? There were probably millions upon millions of Aspirations, but the top eleven ruled them all.
I hesitantly took her hand, her grip surprisingly strong.
“I’m Henry.” I said. She beamed.
“Nice to meet you, Henry the Human. Has a nice ring to it, don’t cha think? Now as for business... you said you wanted to make a deal with me.” She began to float once more but this time toward the tree. I followed.
“Yeah, I wanted to make a deal with you. That’s how it works, right? I ask you for anything and you make it happen, then I offer you something in exchange.”
“Mmh, sorta.” She sat back onto one of the branches and swung her feet. “More like you ask me to do something and I do it for you because I’m nice. Then once I do it, I get to ask something of you in return, no objections.”
“No objections as in I have to or...?”
“As in it’s fair. Sound good?” I walked closer to the branch she was sitting on. Another breeze came through causing some leaves to break free.
“I guess.” I shrugged. I really wanted a deal from her, but how badly? How far was I willing to go? Could she even give me what I wanted? I shook those thoughts from my head. Of course she can, she’s an Aspiration!
I took a small step closer and looked directly up at her. “So, uh, what’s the limit of a deal?”
She tilted her head to the side and began to play with her hair, twirling it around one of her fingers. “Limit? What do you mean?”
Like how far can a deal go? O-Or is there any deal that you can’t do?” She made a tsk sound and I found her face upside-down right next to mine. She wasn’t on the branch anymore, she was floating again. This girl was restless. She grinned a little too wide.
“Well, I can make any deal you offer. You want a pet but your parents won’t allow it? I’ll just convince them. You want to pass a math test? I’ll do it for you. You want to be rich? I’ll just find a way to make money start appearing in your mailbox. Those are simple.” Her braided hair rustled in the wind. “If you want to be more handsome or have all the ladies swoon over you it’ll be a bit more difficult. But I can also take people out of your life or curse them till the day they die and further. It’s all up to you though. Whatever you can imagine, I can do.”
She flipped back over.
“And after you do my deal, what do I have to do?” I asked. She thought for a moment, creasing her eyebrows.
“I usually think on that later. I’ll come up with something though, don’t worry. Besides,” She moved behind me, her hands on my shoulders and whispered into my left ear, leaving a trail of shivers down my spine. “What’s the fun without a little risk anyway?”
She slipped her hands off and faced me. Her eyes looking a little lighter, or were they glowing?
“So what’s the deal you want?” She asked. I rubbed the back of my neck, trying to make the goosebumps go away.
“Well, um, there’s someone I like.” I could feel my cheeks grow hot. How weird was it that I was confessing my feelings to some Aspiration on a hill?
“Ooh, sounds romantic. Go on.”
“And, uh, I’ve liked them for the longest time but I know there’s no way they’ll like me back.” She tilted her head.
“Because...” I said, looking down at my feet. “Because he’s into girls.” She sat back in the air and placed her hand on her chin, thinking.
“Hmm...” I know it sounded stupid to go looking and making deals with an Aspiration for love, but I couldn’t help it. I’ve known him forever but he just knows me as some kid who goes to school with him. I can’t go another day without feeling like crap. It physically hurts me to watch him hook up with a girl who treats him awfully, then he complains to his friends about it. I just want him. I’ve always wanted him. “Sounds intriguing. So you want me to make him like you?”
“That sounds like you’re going to force him. I just want him to like me naturally.”
“Ohh ok, I get you.” She laid back on her stomach. “Young love, how romantic.” My cheeks reddened.
“I’m not that young.” I said. I’m still a teenager.
“Younger than me.” She looked around my age, but no telling how old she actually was.
“How old are you?” She gasped, putting her hand on her heart, looking offended before laughing.
“You’re not supposed to ask a girl her age, silly! But I’ll let that slide.” She drifted behind me and I spun around with her. “Onto our deal, tough. I can make this guy fall in love with you if you pay me in return.”
Love sounded like a strong word, but I didn’t really care. I wanted him, as selfish as it sounded, and this was the only way I knew how.
“Yeah, I agree to that.” I said. She smiled, sticking out her hand once again for mine, though this seemed different. The intensity in her eyes burned with a lust for havoc. A greed for chaos. I knew I should turn away and run. But her outstretched hand pulled me in with my own desires.
I took her hand.
“Sounds like a deal.” She squeezed and our hands began to glow red. My eyes widened as a searing hot pain shocked my palm. I yanked my hand away and pulled it to my chest, staring horrified at her. What did she just do?
She giggled and began to walk down the hill.
“Sorry about that. Just needed to make our deal permanent. It’ll also serve as a little reminder too know who you’re tied to.” I glared at my hand that was now red, but revealed a black symbol burned into my skin. Her symbol. The symbol of the eighth Aspiration. “Com on now! Let’s go find your lover boy!”
This is my first time sharing a book of mine so I hope you all enjoy it!
This chapter was super long but the rest of them are much shorter
Let me know what you think so far!