Atami raps her knuckles sharply on the thick, oak door. Kallo flew us, much to his chagrin. I don't think dragons particularly like humans on their back.
Ah, yes. I'm sorry. I forgot you are a human. Let me explain.
Right now we are in the kingdom of Novilia. About 500 years ago a law was passed that all magical beings be pushed into the forest of Neth and locked there.
Neth isn't a bad place, but . . well- Dragons and Elves and Nymphs don't particularly like being told what to do by the human government.
My name is Xen Avzel. I am currently 17. I am also a mage. We've been on the run from the mob of angry palace soldiers led by Emdi for about a month now. Her brother Elliot is now with us. Me, Atami and Kallo have all agreed to keep an eye out, as it's not safe to fully trust him yet.
Something weird is happening to me. From what Kallo makes of it, I'm glitching.
Technically, humans cannot do magic. At all. I didn't know this until recently. Very recently. Kallo knew this law of magic but never told me. He said he always thought I had elf blood in me or something, but nope. My family tree is nothing but human.
So, I can do magic. But I shouldn't be able to. I'm glitching. But, supposedly it's coming from something. Hopefully Aina can help us.
Aina is twelve but she's literally the smartest person ever.
She's logical anyway. She asks a ton of questions. Every single piece of information she's ever heard is stored in her brain.
Normal people when you see them ask "Did you do something new with your hair?" or "Wow, nice boots!"
What Aina asks is more along the lines of "Wow, the stitches in your clothing are almost an exact replica of the ones used in 1456 for the dwarf head of council!"
She lives on the border of Novila and Taima. Taima is another kingdom. Aina doesn't have a problem with magic. She's fascinated by it.
I've met her once before, when I was 16. I swear, I'll never forget her.
Atami raps harder on the door. Right now we're in the middle of the forest but we cant be too far from a town. The oak door conceals a small cottage. Darker wood makes up outdoor rafters. A crystal clear creek bubbles over the oddest rocks I've ever seen. They're vibrant shades of scarlet, canary yellow, bottle green, and there are even a few rocks that are blue speckled with black.
Along the roof, the cottage has a narrow tower built of heavy gray stones. At first I think it's a chimney of some sort, but then remember Aina is an astronomer as well. An indent in the stone proves my point. The dent probably hold bottles. Whether you believe it or not, you can bottle starlight. You have to know what you're doing.
Still no answer.
Elliot is staring confused at the door. "Why isn't she answering?"
"Probably lost in her dang books," Atami mutters. "Aina!" She creaks open the door. In the back of the room is a young girl with dirty blond hair and blue eyes. She's crouched over a desk eyes darting across the pages she's looking at faster than anyone should be able to.
"Huh?" She looks up and sees us. "Oh my gosh! Xen! Kallo! Atami!" She hurriedly stands up, knocking her thick book to the ground. I'm about to apologize for making her loose her page, but she probably remembers the exact page anyway.
Kallo grins and shifts from his giant, orange dragon form, to his human form. His hair is bright orange and his eyes green. Across his nose and face is freckles.
Atami smiles too and hugs her. "Hey, Aina, how are you?"
"Great! Studying, you know." She hugs Kallo, then me. When she pulls away, she looks cautiously at my gray strands of hair. "What happened to you?"
"Well . . that's why we're here. I need to know if you can help me."
"Sure! I should be able to help." She looks at all of us again, and for the first time notices Elliot. " . . . Who's he?"
"Ummmm . . Okay, Aina, this is Elliot. Elliot this is Aina."
They stare at each other awkwardly for a second and Elliot gives a forced grin. "Hi."
A beat of silence.
"Okay!" Atami grabs Aina's wrist and pulls her over to her desk. "Xen, would you like to explain? Emdi probably isn't that far so we need to hurry."
"Right yeah. We should be able to help them right, Alonso?" Aina looks down at something obscured by her massive desk.
I move to take a clearer look and hanging upside-down is a sloth, with green eyes. He's just chillin'
The sloth starts climbing up slowly and rests next to Aina's shoulder.
"Wait, why do you have a sloth?" Elliot is staring at Alonso.
"Because, he helps me. So, what do you need, Xen?"
My mind stutters back to the present. "Well, when the mermaids swam down with me to show me the secret of Neth, I . . something happened." I swallow. I can do this. "As I got deeper someone was appearing, slowly. Then I stopped swimming down. I reached out to touch. I . . I didn't thick they were real, I thought I was imagining things. But when I touched them something happened. They we're, like, sucked into me. Then I was jerked or something, and then . . ." I falter. That's as far as I remember. Everyone told me, that as you get deeper, you see things. Stuff like this happens, all the time apparently.
It wasn't until my hair started turning gray and I started loosing track of what I was doing until we figured something was seriously wrong.
Aina is staring breathlessly at me. "Woww. Oh, Xen, that's fascinating. I have a few theories..."
I'm about to say thank you but before I can she's already at her gigantuous book shelf, rifling through the thick volumes. Finally she pulls one out and settles back down with it, flicking through the pages.
Alonso the sloth looks over her shoulder, as if thinking and reading as well. Where the heck did she even get a sloth?
"Ah-" She rests her finger on a line, so tiny, I have to squint if i want to believe it's not just a scribble.
I lean in.
And I know I really . . really don't want that to be the answer.
Author's Note: This is part of an actual book I wrote. Let me know if you like it!