I didn’t have to learn. I could have just sat down and watch everyone die. Watch the world end. Watch everything that gave life a meaning be destroyed. And I would’ve still been fine. On the outside, that is.
On the inside, I would be ripped apart. I would feel a deep ache in my heart every single day, and feel weak at the thought of it. I would be dead, deep inside. I wouldn’t have a reason to be alive anymore. Sure, I could make up a lame excuse like ‘if I’m alive then I wouldn’t have to suffer from dying, and the pain of it’. But the pain from it was much more powerful, then the pain of dying. I would rather die that have to suffer from it forever.
And that is why I decided to learn.
That was the first word I ever heard. My own name.
I don’t remember it, but that’s what my mother told me anyways. She said that they had all gathered around the ancient willow tree, and they had placed me into the dusty wicker basket. She had kissed my forehead, cried out my name, then joined the others under the drooping branches.
They sang the song of joy that was sung to every new birth and arrival, and bathed me gently in the Callous River.
Then Leediey, the leader named me, placing his wrinkled hands on my cheeks and whispered words of wisdom to me. The words were Hakilia Forrestandei.
Beautiful, beautiful words, filled with a soft gentle touch to it, so magical.
I grew up in an old oak tree near Lavensdale. Arkle Teary and his son Meerdervale lived with us, and a thick bark wall separated us.
The house was nice and big, with soft feather beds that made you sink into them (which was great for playing fallen angels), and soft maple leaves that were great for winter, supported by Lux the bumblebee, our very own delivery, messenger, suppliers, and friend. We weren’t as fast and needed several hours to fly from one tree to another. And it was too dangerous.
I sometimes rode on Lux, but he didn’t mind all that much. He was an old friend of my parents, and they trusted each other like heart and soul.
In summer, we didn’t bother with blankets. Fala made us all summer dresses with lotus leaves, and sometimes if we were lucky Lux would ask his friends to help him carry lotus leaves so that Fala could make us special party dresses and shapes to sew on to our normal dresses. We slept in our normal dresses and sometimes our sleep dresses if we were bothered to change.
Hodekay always changed. And she would even fly to the tree opposite us to talk to her friend or play leaf warriors with her. Leaf warriors was a game that only older children were allowed to play. The rules were simple: fly to collect two leaves, any kind, and then make huts on one branch and throw pieces of dry leaf to each other, and try to destroy their hut.
The elders were scared because they thought that if younger children played, they might stop mid flight and fall to the ground.
I always complained to Mala that Hodekay never played with me anymore, not since she reached her eleventh birthday. Mala told me that it was part of growing up, and to not worry about Hodekay and her friends. I then said that my wings were strong enough for leaf warriors as well, and that I deserved to play too. Guess what happened.
Mala gave me a big lecture about not going against the elders.
It was only two hundred and fifty three days after my ninth birthday. I knew because I marked days on my wall. I started on my seventh birthday.
I ate breakfast.
Then I knew that something was wrong. Hodekay was being nice to me. She was offering me the seed of the forget me not, which she normally fought with me over who could eat it. I saw tears brimming in her eyes.
“Hodekay,” I asked, “is everything all right?”
She faked a smile, and nodded unconvincingly. Mala and Fala were smiling as well. I felt out of place. Why was everyone smiling at me? What had I done that pleased them? I won a game of ‘who can shred half tiny leaf into the most pieces in one minute’ against Meerdervale last night. But then, I always won. And nobody else even approved of the game anyways, because there was always a huge mess and a wasted leaf on the floor afterwards.
“We’re going to Leediey’s hole today.” Mala announced matter-of-factly.
I stared at her. Nobody else seemed surprised.
She packed the rest of the forget me not onto a small bag, and some other flower petals and berries as well.
“You don’t need to bring anything. We’ll be coming back later.”
She walked out the door were Lux was waiting for her.
Lux gestured at us to hop in. We did. I didn’t question Mama because I was thinking about how this could be a party for me. After all, it took a long time to get to Leediey’s house, even by riding on Lux.
We hadn’t seen him for five years.
A lady I had never seen before answered the door.
“What do you want.”
Mala whispered words into her ear.
She gestured at a petunia sofa for us to sit down.
“I think it would be better if the child heard later,” she muttered to Mala.
Then she faced me and beamed as if nothing had been said, and told me that her name was Curisonia and that she had a daughter called Fairaway who was in the room near the kitchen, and that I should play with her. Cursonia suggested that Hodekay could draw using some pens she had in the second room. Fala placed a sturdy, assuring hand on my shoulder, and told me to run along to play with Fairaway.
Fairaway wasn’t much fun to play with. She wailed the whole time and stole my fried beetle eggs. I took her bark dollies instead and chucked all of them down a small hole that I found on the side. I then silenced her with a game of ‘shush, shush’.
“Fairaway,” I whispered softly into her ear. “Let’s listen to what my mala and yours are saying.”
She nodded and walked over to where they were standing.
“We are just getting some delicious forget me nots Mala cooked today.” I said.
Curisonia told me that she had to talk to me. She pushed a concerned Fairaway out of the room. Fairaway walked out of the room, shoulders slumped.
“Let me put this in the easiest way possible.”
I cocked my head and eyed her, not knowing what to say.
“You’re the chosen one. You have magic. Not silly flying magic like the rest of us. No, real magic.”
I stared even harder at her.
“Think of it Parishay, think of it. The power to destroy and create. That was Leediey’s gift to you, right before he died. You must learn to control it, or you can pass it on to only one other person. He received the gift as well, from Leediey’s brother. He is Fantasin.”
I shuddered. I had heard tales about Leediey’s brother Pashai and his cruel apprentice Fantasin before. I couldn’t let him control us. But then… I was only a kid. And just a minute ago, I had thought that I was normal.
But I wasn’t. I was a creepy, different child who apparently had magical powers.
“Is there, is there possibly anyway that I could pass it to someone else?” I whimpered.
I curled up onto the sofa like I was a baby again.
“Is there a way…”
Mala sadly shook her head. I could see tears forming in her eyes.
“If you agree to this, then your lessons start tomorrow. Or you could just pass it to Fantasin. The sooner you decide, the better it is for us.”
I gritted my teeth.
“Then I’ll start tomorrow.”
The next day Mala woke me up nice and early. It was bright and I could hear the Brant’s loud chirping outside. I shouted at Brant to shut up.
“First stop, we will need to go to Oakwood to collect some items. Then we go over to the Three Sisters. There, you will begin your lessons.”
I nodded and wolfed down my tulipidy. Fala patted my hand and smiled warmly, trying to make me feel better.
“It’s okay Fala. I think I will be able to rule over our tribe. I mean, how hard can it be?”
He tickled me, like he used to do when I was really little, and needed cheering up.
“That’s the spirit Parishay. That’s the spirit.”
But deep inside, I was thinking that it would be impossible. Truly impossible.
Lux seemed exhausted by the time we reached the Hallow Tree. And frightened as well. In fact, I think that we were all pretty scared. Folks didn’t like to mess with them. There was a rumour that they cursed whoever displeased them.
I was a little nervous too, but mostly curious. Hodekay looked dead frightened.
I knocked on the door.
“Come in!” called a loud, normal sounding voice.
The door opened…
A young woman with bright blonde hair and a wide smile, wearing a clean maple dress.
“Hello! You must be Parishay! Do come on in. We have lot’s for you to learn. Would you fancy a caocao biscuit? Midia just made some. Still nice and warm, perfect for a growing child like you. I’m Kierami by the way!”
I stared at her.
SHe didn’t seem very scary at all, much less like somebody who would curse you forever.
A tall, middle aged woman with the same blonde hair walked in. Her nose was dusted with freckles and she had a sort of respectful manner to her that made you not want to go against her. She raised an eyebrow when she saw me, but said nothing. Then she looked away.
“I’m Midia. You must be Parishay.”
Her hands shook slightly, and she whispered something into Kierami’s ear. Kierami elbowed her and then returned to looking at me.
“Come along. Elicia is waiting for you. She’s a little bit shy. And don’t worry about Midia. She’s always like this when she meets someone knew.”
I nodded as though I knew what she meant. But I really didn’t.
She led me through a normal looking hallway with normal looking pictures and typical, everyday bark chairs, into a vast living room painted rose pink.
“This is Elicia.”
A third person, a young girl a little older than me with long brown hair in a messy ponytail, and a slightly worried frown. Her eyes were looking down, avoiding direct eye contact with me. She didn’t even look much stronger than me, much less cursing me.
“I am Parishay.”
She looked away.
“Come on ELicia. DOn’t be a coward. She’s just a kid, and to be honest, I don’t even think she deserves the magic,” I heard Midia say.
Elicia closed her eyes, and whispered some words back. Then she faced me and stammered a welcome. It was awkward. I pretended to be interested on rip on the edge of the sofa. Mala put an arm around me.
We waited in silence.
“So,” Kiemari said, trying to break the silence. “Why don’t you try some of the cacao biscuits that I tolde you to try earlier? Here, eat some quick.”
I saw Midia glare at her, but I ate some anyways. There were okay, but not that good.
“We will begin the lessons the next day. They will be tiring.”
Everyone just nodded.
Elicia led me into a bare room with nothing but a small desk and a bed in the corner.
“This will be your bedroom and your training room. Don’t worry, you’re not living her permanently. It’s just so that you don’t have to keep flying here, that will waste time,” she whispered.
It seemed as though she was the only one who was worrying.
I studied the room carefully. There wasn’t much to see.
“You will need to control your magic. Or at least not let you…” she paused mid sentence.
“Let me what?”
Elicia shook her head, and for the first time, looked into my eyes.
“It doesn’t matter.
I turned around so that I didn’t have to look at her anymore. I sighed, and sat down onto the bare floor.
“Let me die? You know, I’m not dumb. So you don’t have to treat me like that.
She walked over and sat down next to me.
“No, you won’t die. It’s the others around you that will perish and fall. Your family, loved ones, friends, the elders. They’ll all be dead. If you don’t learn to control it.”
She smiled as if it was a good thing, patted me gently.
“We’ll teach you, just you wait and see. Yes we will.”
Mala left with Hodekay and Fala. Mala was a little teary, and so was Fala. Hodekay was desperate to go.
“Be strong my girl.” Mala had whispered to me.
“I will,” I whispered back, though I highly doubted it.
Fala ruffled my hair, but didn’t say anything. Hodekay turned away from me.
I waved and waved and waved until they were only a spot in the distance.
Kierami held my hand, and together we walked back into the house. She made me some tea and honey wafers, as she talked about the importance of magic and how I should control it.
‘It’s getting late now.” she commented, as she pulled down the blinds.
“Go to sleep now dear. You know the way back to your room don’t you?”
“Good. Now go. We start tomorrow.”
I sat up with a jolt. Elicia was sitting next to me.
“Rise and shine!” she giggled.
I rubbed my eyes sleepily, and looked out the window. I could see the tree the lived in, though only very faintly.
The sun was dazzling up high in the sky, and the clouds were light and fluffy.
Elicia held onto my hand, and together we walked to the main room.
“We don’t have time to spare. So you’ll be eating pills Parishay. They aren’t dangerous or anything, just taste a bit nasty. But they’ll make you full in no time.”
Elicia’s face crumpled.
“But I thought you were making pancakes.”
Kierami looked at her sympathetically.
“Oh Midia. Elicia looks so sad! Can’t you just-”
Midia silenced her with a ‘look’.
I swallowed the pill.
“Come now girl.”
She took me back to my bedroom.
“The key to magic controlling is your temper. Don’t be angry. Never be angry. It’s bad.”
I tried to keep up with what she was saying.
“Now say Keopodico Eviopea.”
I did. Nothing happened. Midia made me try several more times. Still nothing.
She ran into the room.
“I need to talk to you.”
They walked into a room, huddled together, whispering quietly so that I couldn’t hear. But I heard.
“Are you sure she’s the chosen one Kierami?”
“Well, she is the dumbest person I’ve ever met. It should be our Elicia who received the gift. That’s why we learnt so much about it. But-but its her,” she spat.
I collapsed in front of the door and hugged my knees. My cheeks were burning red.
“She’s so… I hate that girl. Hasn’t got a single smart idea in her brain. I say, why don’t we kill her? Kill her alright. That will teach her a thing or two.”
I shut my eyes.
I sait up.
Smoke. The foul smell drifts into my nostrils.
An unfamiliar girl, with raven black hair and dark ocean blue eyes.
“Are you alright?”
I look down at myself. No cuts. No injuries.
“Who are you?” I ask.
The strange girl frowns, and cocks her head to the side.
“I’m Fantasin of course. Your best friend.”
I stare at her, not quite knowing what to say. I had never seen her before.
“Have you seen Pashai? He’s missing again. But if I’m late to his classes then I don’t get dessert!”
Her eyes went wide.
“Are you Parishay…”