“You will be hunted by all, child,” Mama said to me, placing me on the doorstep of a brick building. It gives me the shivers. “Oh, you’re cold.” she throws a velvety green blanket over me. I don’t say anything. My Algae-green cloak is enough to keep me warm, and now I’m nearly suffocating, but I love the smell of Mama; apples and bread, and I’d rather die than be complaint about Mama. “But don’t lose faith. Hope and Trust, and you shall win.” her voice is growing fainter by the second. A cool breeze floats over us, and some of her auburn hair floats in the air. Her rosy cheeks aren’t so rosy anymore, I notice. “Remember everything, my dear. Don’t forget.” she tosses a thick leather-bound diary into my arms. I pocket it. Then; “I love you, Liora!” her voice fades away, as she steps down the hill. A sharp arrow, bronze and iron, shoots toward her and pierces her in the breast. A drop of blood falls on my breast, along with a small chunk of metal. As I toss away the chunk, I notice a unique shaped scar, the form of a raindrop. I hear her voice echo around me, and I cried back in my baby squeak, not holding back tears anymore, “I love you, Mama, forever!”
It’s a cold April day, and the clocks are ticking four. The tall mountains rise in the distance, their snowy white tops glistening in the early morning mist. Pale, frosty blue water washes over the sand in the near coast, and although I can only see an outline, I can feel the salty liquid pouring over the rough grains, just swimming. I know it’s crazy to think of water as a living being, and to think of it ‘swimming’, but I can’t help it. Some habits come from within.
My heart pounds harder as I near the fish market. The smell of dead Salmon and Anchovy wafts over my nose, blocking all fresh air from traveling into my nostrils. Again, I’m being obscure. Air doesn’t live. It doesn’t travel. And smell is a sense. Not something with sense. But, then, again, that’s how I’ve thought of this world since birth. And old habits live with us forever, from our very first gasp of air to our last.
I’ve passed through the tents, and am now in the Craft Cell. It’s the worst place yet. I've always hated the smoke that flows from the chimneys, The smoke is not black, but a green the color of envy. I have to remind myself once more, that envy doesn’t have a form, and smoke doesn't flow.
Women in brightly colored gowns sit inside the Cell, and they all look busy; weaving the threads of life, predicting future, mixing potions, deciding which qualities to give a newborn child, and all the other important jobs they do. I walk over to the very end, where a thin lady dressed in full orange crouches, her hands rotating a crystal globe. “Miss.” My voice comes out all croaky. I don’t really realize why. It’s not like I’m scared of magic. I’ve always trusted it, believed it, and had faith that it would come to me. Unlike all the other villagers at Lambdon. Maybe that’s why the kicked me out. I don’t know.
But I shouldn’t feel like this; this afraid. I take a deep breath. “Miss.”
The woman looks up at me. “Call me Goth,” she hisses.
Goth. Gothic. Wicked.
“I need your help, Goth. Urgently.” I say. It’s getting warmer, and I know one thing; Craft Masters don’t like heat. That’s why they all bundle up inside what looks like little straw buildings to Mortals, but we Immortals see it for what it really is; a large igloo. They come at one every night, and then leave at five. That’s all.
“You are Rapunzel. Am I not correct, daughter?” She whispers, gazing through her enormous spectacles. “You’re right,” I answer.
I don’t tell her that my real name is Liora, but everybody in Lambdon calls me that because when Mrs. Jane Darcy and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy found me, I was in a basket made out of Rapunzels- a light purple flower, and I had one in my hair. Of course, they hated all ‘unique’ names and said I was, “Mary Lou’’. I don’t tell her because I suspect she already knows everything about me, and it would be a waste of time, chatting about names, when I came here for something very different.
She peers at me closely. “Nineteen years old, from the Nymph Dynasty, and have exactly seventy-nine percent magic in you.”
A small smile, something which is between a look of pity and a frown. “It’s not too bad for one grown up with the Mortals, but I’m afraid I can’t do anything for you. I know very well that you know very well what the rules are.”
I sigh. I knew perfectly well what the rules were; people with less than twenty magic were the cause of an accidental distribution, and these people’s memories were wiped out, and filled in with random nonsense, and they sent them to be someone’s son or daughter. Thirty to Fifty meant that they were plain old dimwits, and were not possible of doing anything. These were sent off to some boring Mortal schools so they might fill up their brains with rubbish, so they might become ‘famous’ personalities thinking that they were great to know all that they did know. Now, the sixties and seventies. That’s where it got tricky. These people were more talented than the 100’s and ninety and eighties- they were born with magic. But since Magics were very strict about having a good community, all the sixties and seventies were banished off to some other land- so they could go and bother someone else. Nineties were not as smart, but they were very loyal, so they were kept as assistants, and those closer to the 100, once trained and taught, if their magic increased, they would become Junior Magics. 100s were Magics, ordinary citizens of the Magical Community. Those above 100 could become Craft Masters, or Master Teachers, or a Master in the field of knowledge they sought after.
“That’s not what I wanted from you, Goth,” I say, twisting my fire-red hair with my index finger. “I’m Goth. I tell only the truth,” she replied, loading yarns into a bag. I frantically looked around- all the Craft Masters were packing up. It must be getting close to Five.
“I need to know, how to increase my Magic points.”
Goth was not surprised. I guessed that she must be a mind reader. “You’re a future teller,” I add, pointing at the crystal globe, “You would know.”
She shook her head. “You seventies are rather cunning.” But she nods. “Since you have talked me into it, I shall tell you. But the way out is not easy.” And with that, she closes her eyes. Then, in a strange, misty voice, “There is a certain quest one must go on, and although I can’t tell you, I can tell you who to go to.”
“Who?” I can’t contain my surprise. Her letting me off this easily is not something I expected. She smiles, clearly understanding. “I only tell you, Liora, because it is a very difficult task, and no one has ever conquered it yet. I do not think we will see you come back.”
I knew it. Trickery. But I knew that a life knowing that I was magical, but could not mingle with the Magical folk, was not something I wanted to live with eternally. “I’m ready, Goth,” I say
She smiles again. “Go to the lady opposite to me, the one in red. Her name is Hag. Do not call her ‘Miss’.” and she smiles another cunning smile.
"Thank you, Goth," I say, and I smile. It's not a real smile, only a forced expression. I'm too worried and anxious to smile. Ever since my thirteenth birthday, when I was kicked out of Lambdon, I've been tracing my past and history, determined to find a way to change my future. I never had time to smile.
Goth smiles again, and I can tell that this too is a fake smile. It's not true. It's not true in the way my mother loved me. It's the type of 'true' that of the Darcy's 'affection' towards me. I nod and make my way to the lady in red. “Hag,” I begin.
“What?” she thunders.
I wince, knowing that I have made a mistake.
“You dare to call me what?” she leaps up in anger.
I turn towards Goth, and see that although her eyes were closed, she is sneering. Wicked Trickery, I thought.
“I’m so so-sorry.” I stammer.
She shakes her head. “I don’t care, fool. I am Hag, but you have to say it respectfully.” She sits down. “Miss Hag, may you help me?” I asked politely, trying not to show my shock.
“Let’s see,” she mutters, making a mark in her book. “Yes.” she looks up.
“Your task is to cross the sea,” she says simply. I stare at her.
“Yes. Once you cross the coast to Belovaila, you will meet a rather…scaly creature who goes by the name Usper, and he shall tell you the next part of your quest.”
I smile for the first time, for years. “Thank you so much,” I cried.
She didn’t smile. “Remember, this is only the first task. There are twelve tasks in total. If you finish the full quest by your Twentieth birthday- that is, return to Majertin, with the quest completed, you shall become a full-point Magician, and if you have completed with honors, you will get bonus points added. Based on your score, we shall determine what you will do, where you will go, and what will become of you.”
I shake my head, confused. “Don’t you already know?”
She almost smiles. "Even if I did, I would not tell you.” Then she adds, “I only record events. I do not know the future, unlike Goth, who can predict it.”
I nod, excited. “And…” she hesitates. “Keep in mind that Usper can shoot fire out of his nostrils.”
I stare, transfixed before breaking into a gleeful grin. Heavens only knows how long it’s been since I’ve grinned! “I’m going to meet a dragon?” I asked, feeling more awe than fear.
“Yes.” she nods and smiles, finally. “Be sure to change though,” she says eyeing my peasant clothing.
“Sure!” I laugh, running outside.
Twenty minutes later, there I am, dressed in a long velvety purple gown, which is also a half-robe, and a long dark green cloak, the color of Algae, and a gold pin is set on my neck-piece. My long red hair blows in the wind, and for once, I’m not ashamed of it. My emerald green eyes twinkle, and as I watch the ocean that makes waves which wash over the sand, waiting for the boat that promises adventure, I can feel the presence. Of my mother. And the father I never knew. I can hear her last words, echo all around me, and I shout back, tears forming in my eyes, my scar tingling with something strange, I shout back, and when I do, it’s true and real, no trickery included, and nothing’s wicked when I shout back, in my mature, but loving voice, that yearns for her dear mother to come and hug her, and tell me that she loves me, the same way I do, and it’s just a feeling, of light purple flowers, that I feel, when I shout back, “I love you, Mama, forever!”