17 comments

Fantasy Friendship Teens & Young Adult

The library was enormous, filled with shelves upon shelves of books, towering over me. Comfy chairs and pillows were strewn everywhere, and bright sunlight streamed through stained glass windows. The best part was that I was all alone in this paradise.


Rap, rap, rap. Knocking cut through me like a knife, and I blink my eyes open. There were no towers of books, no comfy pillows, only the perpetual night that had overtaken the city since the Mals had arrived.


“Wake up, children!” The rapping turns into a loud pounding as Anna, our dorm mother, shouts, “They are here!”


I channel fire and attempt to light the candle next to my bed. A fragile flicker is struggling to emerge. I’ve always been weak with the fire element, but I suppose I shouldn’t complain. Most of the students here only had an affinity to one or two essences, I can channel most of them. When it finally takes, the flame is subdued as though it were coated in a thick layer of grime and dirt. 


A slight breeze blows delicate curtains aside, and the full moon hangs outside my window, brighter than my feeble attempt at illuminating the room. I bathe in the dim light for a moment, letting its power course through me.


A sniffle comes from Myrna’s direction, her hands covering her face, attempting to hold back the myriad of tears pooling behind her eyes. Her fingers drag down her face, and she flicks a teardrop into the small scrying bowl on her nightstand. I have never understood her connection with water. It was her only magic, but she was unlike any water mage I had met before, seeing possible futures colored by the liquid in her vessel. 


All four of us are upright now, and I push my blanket down and shift to place my feet on the cold wooden floor. The distant echo of the dorm mother’s shouts mixes with a periodic knocking as she continues her mission to wake the others. 


Lia is the first to stand, crossing the room and sitting down next to Myrna. She drapes her arm around the sobbing girl’s shoulder.  


“Do you see anything?” 


Myrna’s hands have returned to her face, and her body quivers. “Nothing that will help us”


“It’s okay!" Lia assures the weeping girl. "We have been preparing for this since the Mals took over the city.” To prove her point, she flicks a finger and a strong gust blows through the room. Myrna’s wails grow louder and Sol shoots Lia a sharp glare. 


“I’m useless!” Myrna bawls. “We are all going to get sucked into the shadows and die!” 

I shift and face my best friend, Sol. Her face is as white as the wolf moon, and her jaw quivers. Sol is the brightest and bravest person I know. To see her afraid breaks my heart.


“Myrna, stop being a baby. We are going to get through this, and your magic is important too,” Lia continues. “Plus, we are so lucky. Sol is our room leader!”


Both Lia and Myrna turn to face Sol, eyeing her with adoration. Sol’s face transforms, and her earlier fear melts away. Keep singing her praises, I will Lia. My best friend loves attention, I do not. We are an odd couple, and most people don’t even know I exist. I am okay with this.


“Okay!” Sol says. “We need to get ready. Robes on ladies. Luna, do you have a second?”

Lia and Myrna snap into action, making their beds and preparing, while Sol crosses the room to my bed. Her lips press together in determination, but the wobble in her left knee gives away her fear.


“I can’t do it,” Sol whispers low, so the other girls couldn’t hear. 


“Of course you can!” I hiss. “Just pretend you are in the grand mages tournament or giving some speech.” 


My best friend is the head student at the academy and a member of every club known to men and elves alike. The other students are always vying for her attention, and she soaks it up like a flower thirsty for water. Why she chose me for a friend, I will never know. But something about our friendship just works. I suppose the fact that I never compete for attention doesn’t hurt.


Sol scoffs, “this is different.” her eyes dart around the room and she lowers her voice even more. “You know my essence is the sun! I use it as a catalyst. They all expect me to lead, and I haven’t even been able to cast a basic spell since the Mals arrived. You’re going to have to take over, Luna.”


“No one knows I draw breath, Sol, I would really like to keep it that way.”

I want nothing more than to go back to my bed, pull the covers up over my head, and forget everyone else existed. Would I be able to conjure up my library dream again? I blow a breath between my lips and rise, searching through my drawers. My robe is wrinkled, and on a normal day Mother Anna would chide me, but today no one would notice.


“So will you help?” Sol looks at me with wide eyes, then pulls her own robe over her head.


The whine of wind pushing itself through the hallway seizes my opportunity to reply, and the four of us stand, as still as statues, staring at our door in a fogged stupor. No one knew what the Mals wanted, only that one day they arrived, and the light fled. When the city fell, the headteacher had locked the academy up tight. None of us had spoken to our families in weeks, and we have received no news as to the fate of the lost.


The low groan of the door holding back whatever horrors lay beyond brings us back to reality. 


We clasp hands to prepare for what might come, and I inhale a deep breath of courage, hoping to pass it to the others. The wind picks up, pushing the curtains again, and Lia grins as a beam of moonlight floods the room. The groaning subsides for a moment and then picks up again when the shade falls back into place. 

Sol and I eye each other in silent acknowledgment, and she turns to the others. “Lia, you’re a genius!”


Lia beams and gives her blond ponytail a shake.


“Myrna,” Sol continues, “Hold the curtains back. Lia, get ready to open the door!”

The girls jump into action, and I squeeze Sol’s hand. As Myrna pulls back the curtains, I can feel the moon’s power flow through me. Channeling it through Sol, I whisper,


“Remember how the moon gets its glow?” 


But I didn’t need to remind her. Sol radiates light, her skin ablaze with power. The others had not yet studied linking our magic yet, but Sol and I had a natural bond since we were first-year students, and the skill came easily.


“Lia, now!”


Lia yanks open the oak door, and there in front of us is a swirling mass of black fog, with two gleaming eyes at the center.


A chilling shriek sounds throughout the academy as Sol blasts the shadow creature with effulgence. It hisses and cracks as the dark mist surrounding the Mal steams and eventually disperses. At the center of the creature is a small man, shivering and curled into the fetal position. 


Lia bends down, inspecting him, as two more shadow creatures bombard down the hallway. 


“Keep the window open!” Sol shouts to Myrna, as I continue to channel the moonlight through her. She directs her radiance at the Mals, and two more bodies lay prone.

“Mother Anna?” I gasp, watching the body on the floor struggle to its feet. Her figure is hollow as if the shadows had consumed her from the inside out. But she is alive.


Tears stream down her face as she croaks a pained “It is me.” The second body is still. It had not survived whatever the Mal had done to it.


“Luna! We need to hunt down the Mals, we could save the people stuck inside if we are fast enough.” Sol says.


Frustration is trapped under my skin. “I need to see the moon!” 


“Then we go to the courtyard!” Sol grinds her teeth in frustration as the uncanny noise continues to shriek throughout the academy. 


I meet her eyes and touch her cheek with my free hand. “We will prevail.” 


She gives me a quick nod and composes herself, turning to Lia and Myrna. “The two of you need to run and let everyone know how to defeat the Mals. I don’t know anyone else with a moon affinity, but there Ellie and Jin have a pretty strong fire affinity. Tell everyone to come outside, and If any of you come across a Mal, guide it to us.”


I watch as Myrna’s tears of fear change into determination. How is it that my friend garners such faith? Lia gives a quick nod and squares her shoulders. “Thank you, Sol, for giving us the strength we need.” Then they are off. Lia’s words giving Sol the strength to continue. 


I grab the little candle from my nightstand, and Sol and I tiptoe into the hallway. Our wing is unnaturally quiet, aside from the echoing of footsteps as Lia and Myrna head toward the west wing. A heavy knot forms deep in my belly, and I swallow. 


“Do you think the rest of the girls in this hall are still hiding?” I whisper, voice catching in my throat.


“We should check,” Sol answers.


The door across the hall is ajar and I suck in a breath as Sol pushes it open. “Anyone still here?”


It is pitch black, and my hand shakes as I push the candle into the room. In the corner, one of the first-year students stands frozen in fear as a Mal descends on her. An onyx mist surrounds and seeps into her, and her eyes darken as her head turns to us.


“Run!” I shout to the girl, but it is too late. 


The hazy cloud flares around the child and advances in our direction. I reach for the moon’s power but find nothing. Sol looks at me, dread in her eyes. I drop the candle and we break into a dead run out of the room and down the hall, not looking back until the luminous light of the full moon brushes my skin.


A surge of power washes through me, and I channel it to Sol. She shifts her stance and blasts the Mal with light, just before it reaches us. Young mages that had been lucky enough to escape their rooms already scattered the courtyard. Cheers break out amongst the others, and Sol’s radiance shimmers. 

But we are not done. Waves of Mals pour into the outdoor space, chasing other students. I see Lia, red-faced, gesturing wildly to a young fire mage, who attempts to match Sol. I wave the girl over, and touch her shoulder, trying to channel my powers into her, like I do with my best friend. 


I feel the mage split inside of me, and the young mage gasps as the power flows through her, as well. Before long, I have dozens of hands on me, sucking the power from my body. It splits, again and again, millions of tiny streams, and I fall to my knees in exhaustion, one hand still grasping Sol’s ankle. 


She shifts and dances, keeping our connection. Each of the fire mages shoots small beams of light, but Sol is ablaze. She is the sun. I can no longer see the Mals, only the light before I collapse, spent.


*


I woke to cheering, not sure who had brought me back to our room. The Academy reigned victoriously, and Sol a hero! I think half the girls’ dormitory is in our room whooping and hollering. She sees I am awake and tries to include me in the reverie, and I slip further back into the room. I just want to go to bed. 


“Luna?” Sol weaves her way through the crowd of girls. “Why aren’t you taking any credit? This was as much you as it was me!” 


I shake my head. “The minute I take credit, everyone is going to want to talk to me, and I just want to slumber.”


“You are the strangest girl I know, that’s why I love you so much. I’ve got a plan,” she giggles and winks at me.


“Mother Anna, can you come here?” Sol cries.


Mother Anna, although still weak from her escapade, beams a smile at Sol, and walks over to my bed.


“Since it’s a special night, could we have a party in the common room?” Sol asks.

A tired grin spreads on the dorm mother’s face. “Of course! Anything for the hero of the Academy!” 


Mother Anna rises, and I reach for her arm. “Why did the Mals come for us?”


She just shakes her head warily. “Politics, darling. Something for the council to worry about. Not young schoolgirls.” 


I drop my hand and shake my head, too tired to argue. Didn’t a schoolgirl just save you? I wanted to shout.


Mother Anna leaves my bedside, leading the other girls out of the room, and I watch Sol soak in the attention. Before she leaves for her celebration, she winds her way back to me. “You’re welcome,” she grins.


I hug my best friend, and she gives a wave, closing our door gently behind her. As I crawl deep into my covers, hoping to recapture my library dream, I can just make out the sun rising on the horizon. The day is won, and all is right.







July 27, 2021 18:30

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17 comments

Shea West
20:35 Jul 27, 2021

I love the play on the sun and moon here as best friends of the introvert and extrovert nature. I liked the use of the present tense, it helped me to feel more present in the action of the entire story. The way you ended it with Sol finding a way to honor Luna while also creating celebration that she could join in on was great too!

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Beth Connor
22:09 Jul 27, 2021

So growing up, my best friend was an extrovert and I was an introvert (that desperately wanted to be more extroverted.) This led to way too many problems, that are a whole other story. Anyway- I really wanted to play with something from my younger years but struggled creatively. When that happens my fallback is always a fantasy. I did honor our friendship with the sun and the moon. When we both had turned 18 (I won't tell how many years ago that was!!) we drove to Vermont and got tattoos. (Mine a moon and hers a sun!)

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K. Antonio
13:03 Jul 28, 2021

I was lurking the comments and I just have to say, THIS IS ADORABLE!

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Beth Connor
18:39 Jul 28, 2021

😊😊😊 It's a great memory! Also- reworked this one a bit! I fixed the magic and added some battle scene.

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K. Antonio
12:58 Jul 28, 2021

Really enjoyed the world building and how everything was named. Using the Sun and Moon to highlight an extroverted characters and an introverted character was clever. I think my comments would just end up being similar to the others. I wanted to know more about the magic system, what other catalysts existed I wanted the other mages to fight too. Like BG said, the battle went by very quickly. I will say though that the descriptions and the focus on friendship was nice. You showed us their personalities without blatantly saying they were "...

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Beth Connor
17:01 Jul 28, 2021

Working on this story now, but I am very open to suggestions! Titles are the bane of my existence!

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H L Mc Quaid
10:22 Jul 29, 2021

Ooo, well done. Good world-building, and as I didn't see the earlier version, I can only say the battle scene was exciting! some minor points... I think after the dream, that the verb tense should be present?: "Rap, rap, rap. Knocking cut through me like a knife, and I blinked my eyes open." so 'blinked' could be 'blink' missing some quotation marks here: “It’s okay! Lia assures the weeping girl. We have been preparing for this since the Mals took over the city.” "Her face is as white as the wolf moon, and her jaw quivering" could be "an...

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Beth Connor
15:27 Jul 29, 2021

As always, I appreciate your catches. I had to force this story out, and ended up really liking it. I loved your suggestions for the title. I went with Solar Reflection for now, but am still pondering. I also thought about Specular Reflection but decided it was too sciency for a fantasy.

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Daniel R. Hayes
05:58 Jul 29, 2021

I loved this story Beth! You nailed the prompt perfectly with the introvert and extrovert. I could tell you put a lot of thought into this story, and I think it paid off. You always put out quality stories that never seem to disappoint and that speaks volumes about your storytelling talent. Great job as always :)

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04:39 Jul 28, 2021

I love this! You always create such vivid imaginative worlds! :)

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Beth Connor
18:36 Jul 28, 2021

Thank you! I just expanded it a little. I struggle with "battle scenes" Honestly, they bore me a bit- and I tend to rush through them in books I read as well LOL. I need to write a battle scene story, and just get over it- but I am a bit of a pacifist, which makes conflict a personal challenge.

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Blue Green
21:29 Jul 27, 2021

Great story! As others have said, the sun/moon theme as a metaphor for extrovert/introvert works really well, and you describe the relationship between the two girls nicely. I would have liked to learn a bit more about the Mals, where they came from and how they were able to take over a whole city. The end battle was over quite quickly, and victory seemed quite easy in the end. I understand that Luna needed to see the moon - maybe you could extend the battle a bit by going outside? But these are just minor points, as the main focus was on th...

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Beth Connor
22:14 Jul 27, 2021

I am glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for the feedback. I think I will take some time for a bit more world-building (and battle) Sometimes that 3000-word limit distracts me, and I end up being too concise! (sometimes I'm just lazy...)

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Blue Green
07:37 Jul 28, 2021

Your world-building is great, and I loved the different characters! That 3000 word limit intimidates me too, as I often feel the need to use it all up! I end up waffling when I really should keep things shorter and more concise! :-)

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A.G. Scott
20:05 Jul 27, 2021

Good stuff! The sun and the moon are a perfect little metaphor for this theme, and I like the idea of the Mals. (I'd maybe suggest that the names of the Mals and the main characters are a little obvious, but I understand the choice.) Just for my understanding, they're able to do all different kinds of magic, but they're pretty weak without their catalysts? And everyone's catalysts are different? Sol says "grab your catalysts," but hers is the sun and Luna's is the moon? What do the other girls have? Energy drinks? Why did Luna need to give ...

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Beth Connor
22:02 Jul 27, 2021

All great questions... Give me a minute to figure out the answer's hahaha! I kind of like the energy drink idea. Perhaps they are all a bunch of teens with red-bulls giving them wings. (Too much?) In all seriousness, I was intentionally trite with the names. However, I will probably take the time to expand a bit on the world.

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Giovanni Profeta
19:09 Jul 29, 2021

Lovely story, Simply beautiful.

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