The small, black stone that she held in her hand dropped to the ground, and the girl's eyes widened in horror.
"No..." she whispered, fear- filled eyes looking back into the shadows. A hand suddenly grabbed her wrist, the black, mist- like substance burning her skin. As two more reached behind her into the small cradle, she screamed out loud. They froze where they were, inches away from whatever they were about to take to the darkness, whomever lay in the cradle still deeply asleep.
"Not my sister..." she whispered, looking at the child illuminated in moonlight. "Take me instead." A tear traveled the length of her face, and she sank to her knees.
"It will do her no good..." a voice hissed, a pair of wild red eyes gleaming in the shadows of the bedroom. "You will just be letting our power grow- not even buying time for her to even attempt in fleeing from us. No one escapes-"
"I don't care!" she screamed; the child was still asleep amidst the struggle because of the sound shield that They had put up. "Take me instead!" The hands reaching into the cradle drew back, latching on to the girl's shoulders. Black mist filled the room; the substance latched on to her, holding the girl in their grasp. A small silver knife was pressed against her neck; she didn't resist. She closed her eyes, tears running down her face. She, along with the restless shadows, vanished.
Moments later, a clock somewhere chimed midnight. In the cradle, illuminated by a shaft of moonlight, the child turned in her sleep. A few moments later, as a breeze drifted in through the window, her sapphire blue eyes snapped open.
I didn’t know what to do. What they had said just moments before- I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t fall prey to their lies. But still, I wondered. Did they speak the truth? And even now. I could hear them- I could her screaming as the dark hands grabbed her wrists and neck. Suddenly, I felt cold. A pair of wild eyes penetrated my dark blue ones- the memories fell, all of what I remembered from that night coming back like a wave. I was lost. I was terrified. My magic didn’t seem to work. And I felt hopeless.
Give up! Shrieked a voice. You can’t win this. I screamed as they closed in on me. I thought that I could have won. I thought that I would find her and bring her back. But she was gone- gone before I realized that she was lost forever. She was one with the darkness now; the only memory being the flash of silver before the knife clattered to the ground.
I was lost- I was numb- I was afraid. I couldn’t find her- She never would have come back; I knew that now. Everything I had done had been in vain. I had lost the final war. And they had won.
The voice became louder-it was like thunder inside my mind, with daggers for lightning. Shards of pain pierced through my head, and the restless shadows closed in on my neck. I couldn’t breathe now- red spots danced in my vision and slowly, the world became black. I fell through the void to the other side- there was no way to get back. I was trapped. I was captured. I wasn’t going to survive.
You’ve made the right choice, Kahala. You cannot win this. The voice personified, becoming a frail whisper.
A stone from a darkwell... It hissed... A cloth from a shadow weaver...A tear from the song of death...And the blood of an enemy...
“Good luck.” whispered Kahala’s mother, giving the eleven-year-old a final embrace. She, her little sister, and her mother stood outside of Alderon; the magic school that she had been admitted to. Every child, around the age eleven or twelve, started off in their first year. Kahala would officially be a student soon; the last step was The Choice.
Kahala’s father couldn’t have come because his work at the Council didn’t permit him to. But her mother, who was a Healer, had more space to switch around appointments. She was a Larkwing, which meant that her magic was focused with animal communications, levitation, and, in her case, healing. Kahala didn’t know what she would be; her mother was a Larkwing with special abilities, and her father was a Telepath. She couldn't have a mix of abilities- that hadn’t happened in centuries. Furthermore, Aldera had been the first and last one. Aldera had only been born because of the Prophecy that she, herself, had later foretold with the guidance of the Elemental Spirits But...Aldera’s efforts had not been enough. The darkness that she had tried to prevent from coming had overthrown her. They were a mystery to everyone- except for the ones that had been taken. No one had been taken in the past nine years, after Kahala’s older sister had sacrificed herself so she could live.
It was still a mystery to everyone- even the magic folk that specialized in topics like these. No one had known why. Anyway...
“Don’t forget to send me letters, Kahala!” reminded her little sister, Saarva, putting her hands on her hips with her famous eight- year-old snooty look. “I wanna know exactly what happens.”
“Ok.” she obliged, smiling. Kahala looked over her shoulder, sweeping a lock of long, black hair over her shoulder. “I have to go. I’ll see you at winter break.”
She rushed up the marble stairs and paused before walking through the bronze, ceiling- high double doors. She turned around and waved back to her mother and little sister.
She looked up, dark blue eyes sparkling with excitement. It was finally her turn. A professor beckoned to her from the doorway of the of the room where the new students were waiting. She jumped up, tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, and walked towards her fate.
The Choice. In a few, short minutes, Kahala would be Chosen. She knew this would come- she knew what she would have to do, for her family had been here for generations. And they would remain for generations to come. What she did would be the outcome of her entire life- what she would learn throughout her eight years at the magic school, Alderon, and how she would channel her magic through herself. The two, student and principal, walked silently along the corridor. They came to a sudden stop at a door- a silver door, the intricate swirling of the metal taking Kahala’s breath away. The girl walked into the room. Her eyes widened as she gazed, transfixed, into the seemly infinite light. Small pendants of all shapes, sizes, and colors hung on translucent strings from the stained-glass ceiling. They weren’t pendants, either. They were a sort of cross between a wooden key chain and something you might find on a necklace. Gemstones sparkled in the colored light of the large room, each one inviting the girl in for a closer look. Kahala walked forward, marveling at the sight. She knew, that at the end of her time in this mystical room, one of the pendants would belong to her. She cautiously reached forward, lightly tapping the closest, rectangular one with her finger. Elliyra Trillany, the current headmistress of Alderon, watched curiously from the door. Kahala turned around, looking back at the professor with anxiousness clear in her blue eyes.
“Go ahead.” said Trillany, nodding. Kahala smiled, taking a step backwards into the room. She turned to face the hundreds of wooden pendants, closing her eyes, and walking blindly forward. As Kahala walked confidently, maneuvering skillfully around the room, the headmistress furrowed her eyebrows. She had not seen anyone be able to do this for a very, extraordinarily long time. Moments later, a strange sort of song filled the mystical room, spreading the music into the corridors beyond. Kahala opened her eyes and looked forward. This one was hers; she could tell. The strength pulling her towards it, she could not name. But when Kahala wrapped her fingers around the four- pointed, star- shaped wood, a glow brightened around the pendant. And as the translucent string broke, the connection between her and the object complete, the glow illuminated her entire being. Her eyes brightened; her hair billowed around her shoulders as if in water; and a strange voice entered her mind.
Alden...it whispered. Kahala, carry it well. Do not fall prey to your emotions. Do not let anyone guide you beside yourself.
Aldera... whispered the headmistress with her mind, forging a connection with the voice. Aldera, how? We have not had one like her in such a long time. You were the first and the last. How will she learn if there is no teacher to guide her?
Trust me, Elliyra. Aldera murmured back, her voice no less than a faint whisper. I will always lead you on the right path.
She’s just a child...
Elliyra, do you trust me?
Of course, Aldera, but-
Then please listen to me. The headmistress looked back at the eleven-year-old who was tracing the intricate pattern on her pendant. In a way, she will have a teacher. He will be like Kahala, in ways that you cannot see. Do not expect him to be like what you think, for some people have secrets that you cannot find unless you connect, and try to, furthermore. And some people are wounded, but afraid to show. I will show you what it will be like, Elliyra. But I warn you, beware- you may not know people as well as you think.
Moments later, a vision flashed in the professor’s eyes. Two people stood, side by side, in front of a shining expanse of blue. The girl looked hauntingly familiar, an older replica of the first- year girl that stood with her in the room. The girl was in a sort of trance as she stared at the ocean. Her dark hair cascaded down her back, stands flying across her forehead. The other person looked at her, eyes sparkling.
“What!?” She said innocently, crossing her arms.
“You were in your trance again.” Kahala rolled her eyes.
“Oh, shut up.” She shoved him, lightly, though it was enough to throw him off balance.
“It’s true, though- you can’t deny it.” Kahala turned on her heel to face the ocean, trying and failing to block out his thoughts that he sent to her.
You still look like you’re possessed. It’s like something’s calling you, isn’t it?
Kahala hesitated, but only for a moment, looking at the water almost instantly after she heard what he had asked.
I... don’t know.
See? I’m always right.
“You wish you were!” she scoffed, pushing him off balance. After a few moments, silver met sapphire and the scene dissolved into darkness. The professor blinked. She reached for the voice. It had vanished as suddenly as it had arrived, all but a faint echo remaining.
Only time will reveal, Elliyra. All you have to do is wait...
The professor looked at Kahala, who stared back. The girl smiled understandingly; she knew what Aldera had said and was proud to hold the power that followed.
“I’ll be fine.”