I published four books since October of last year. My first books ever and I never asked for help but I need it now. I have an eye disease that messes with my vision and because I am an indie writer and author, caretaker of my mom and grandma, a single mom and disabled by depression and I like to provide my work for free on Smashwords and BarnesandNobles I use Grammarly for editing. I cannot afford an editor as I don’t intend to make money. I can’t!
I need a beta reader! I’d like at least three people. This book is called Witches and Wizards. It is about a human mortal girl who falls through a magical circle into another realm, Asgrove. In this realm, magic is their lifestyle and at the Asgrove Academy, learning potions, runes, talents and animal caretaking are just a few of the normal classes available to FIrst year students. After four years, their fragile mortality turns to immortality. Dark magic has spread through this realm even before their Queen was stolen from Asgrove and thrown into the mortal world where she was killed. King Aros and Goddess Amara Vedis search constantly for her soul to be reborn in the mortal world for the king and his queen are the creators of Asgrove and all the people and creatures that reside within. He has waited centuries for his lost queen and now, a new soul has entered the Golden Palace, a building that has been locked for a very long time. Is this mortal his lost queen? Will darkness consume the souls of this realm or will the light fight back and win?
This book is filled with unique spells, twist and turns, buildings that speak and a love long lost but maybe found. It is about 300 pages and 18 chapters, made to look partly like journal entries.
Altered by author
First two chapters follow.
Herein follows journal entries taken from the personal collection of Riona Brooks. Just your ordinary sixteen-year-old girl who, without a choice, was taken from her world and brought to the realm of Asgrove straight into the heart of the Asgrove Academy for Witches and Wizards.
Her writings detail the amazing events that occurred between August 29, 2010 and August 6, 2011 and have been blended with school records and sentient House memories.
Riona finds that the Asgrove Academy is a school for witches and wizards who work to complete their four years of training before they shed their fragile mortality and embrace their immortality. Students from all over Asgrove come to this school to awaken their talents in the North Gate Labyrinth Maze and attend special classes. There are classes for potions, rune divination, orb creation and animal care. These are unique and unusual animals that look for their one student companion that they will bond with for life. A special graduation ceremony wraps up the year under the full moon.
From the transition to the Asgrove Realm and her introduction onto the campus of the Asgrove Academy through the next, very challenging and most difficult year of her life, it’s all documented here.
She includes details of her visits to the Goddess Amara Vedis’ Garden and the frightening and extraordinary events that happened after that first, fateful visit.
There are memories from an old soul and tears from a love long lost and found.
All journal entries are from Riona Brooks’ personal collection and have been used with permission.
Colleen Michelle Johnson
Journal Entry August 5, 2011:
First Year Graduation has been scheduled for tonight under the full moon. We get to learn if the boys or girls won in total points from our training classes at this time too. I initially started as a First Year so I know it’s supposed to be one of the greatest events of the school year. Three more years and the transition from mortal to immortal becomes complete. But life doesn’t always go the way things are planned, even in a world with magic.
Here in Asgrove, everything I’ve learned has altered everything about myself in ways I could never have imagined. At Asgrove Academy, life is full of classes but unlike my old world, there is no math or social study classes. Instead, there are classes on making potions, rune divination, animal care and talent training in the labyrinth mazes. It’s also about living in talking buildings and creating spells because that’s what teens do here at school.
A dark (negative) magic has worked its way into the school and during my absence it has gained too much power. This unwanted magic had too many centuries to taint witches and wizards of all ages. I never believed such evil could exist until I died. But that was centuries ago (read on to understand). When my new soul was found and brought to Asgrove, I had to embrace my magic fast and pretend to be one person while living as another. You see, my magic is special and it awakened my old soul. But this eternal fight against the dark magic cost everyone dearly. Yes, immortals can die. No matter what my soul is, young or old, I am a witch, and I am powerful Riona
August 27, 2010
The Beginning, from the Mortal World
The sun had been burning everything it touched all day, making it the hottest summer day we had that year, and I was stuck camping with my family. We were camping in the same woods we had used for years so I found it pretty boring. But my dad wanted to camp higher up in the mountains because he insisted that he would find better hunting areas. I spent most of my time in our RV with the air conditioning blasting away. I read a few books and played games on my phone. Listening to music with my ear buds was the easiest way to pass the time. I exchanged text messages with several of my friends, bemoaning the cruelness of life and how I was stuck out in the wild while they got to sleep in.
We shared a dull dinner of hot dogs that my father insisted we roast over the campfire. Then I had to fight off my brothers who attempted to dump water on me. They kept yelling that the water would cool me off better than the air conditioner. Thankfully my dad told me that I should take a walk and look for some great shots. “But don’t go too far,” he had told me. I can still hear his words now. Wish I had listened!
I grudgingly pulled on my favorite hoodie and stuffed my phone in my pocket before carefully placing my camera bag over my shoulder. Maybe I could get some good pictures to post online and sell as stock photos. I admit it made me some easy money for what my parents thought I spent it on clothes and movies but really, I used it for my friend Michelle but she’s a secret for now.
I left our campsite intending to take a short walk when a swarm of blue and white butterflies caught my eye, and I followed them until I came upon a most extraordinary meadow.
I had hesitated for a minute before I stepped into the meadow as I silently admired the butterflies. I set my camera bag gently on the soft grass and walked among the flowers and butterflies. I wasn’t sure why I waited, but I should have listened to myself!
The butterflies were flying high and low as if their movements were an award winning choreographed dance before landing on the little bell flowers. I bent down and leaned over my camera bag and with great care; I began to assemble my most prized possession, my Nikon D700 digital SR camera with 24.1 pixels and 6 SPS continuous shooting. I attached my Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor lens (my best landscape lens) and closed the bag. I moved slowly around the scene so that I didn’t scare the butterflies away before shooting enough pictures to last me a few months. Ever since that one birthday as a toddler when I received my first plastic camera I have loved photography.
Now, I’ve seen many movies with couples lying in fields of flowers and I thought it funny to find a spot just like I’d seen on the big screen! Such color and life, so beautiful it took my breath away.
I carefully took the lens off my camera and tucked it away before putting my camera back in its bag, zipped it up and left it on the soft grass. I had spotted a huge weeping willow tree, and I sat down with my back to the trunk of a tree. I was dazzled at what nature had created.
Then it happened. One moment I was sitting under a tree and then I was gasping for air (so scared!) as I struggled to breath. Once I surfaced I found that I was inside a super large and cavernous room. It was dark but as soon as I got to my feet, light came from everywhere, and I could see that it was beautiful.
Need I mention that I do not like the story of the blonde girl who falls through a rabbit hole into a magical world?
Standing there dripping wet, I stood at the edge of an indoor pool wondering what the heck had just happened to me. Looking into the pool, I couldn’t see anything but the bottom of the pool. No hole or vortex to show how I got here.
I didn’t know what to do with myself. The only sound I could hear was the water dripping off my soaking wet clothing. I struggled a bit and removed my squishy sneakers and then I peeled off my socks and hoodie (so hard getting wet clothes off!) and put each piece of clothing down flat to dry. I dug my phone out of the back pocket of my jeans and looked at it. No juice, sadly it wasn’t made to take a swim, so it was now a lost cause. I dropped the phone into one of my shoes and left my wet T-shirt and jeans on because I refused to be naked anywhere.
I roamed around trying hard not fall, but I couldn’t do much about the puddles of water I left in my wake. Looking around, I saw these big columns that looked like pure gold. Peering down at the floor, I studied the cold stone beneath my feet and decided I was insane. There were huge off white colored tiles with large pieces of gold (who does that?) inside. As my eyes took in the space around me, I saw that gold accented almost everything!
Peeking through an open archway, I found a very weird room filled with jars and jars of powders, what looked like dried flowers and other things I had no idea what they could be. It was strange so I quickly left to explore other areas.
My thoughts wondered briefly if I had wandered into the future to an apocalyptic world where no one existed anymore.
By the time I found the only set of doors in the whole place, I was freezing. My hair was plastered to my head, and my jeans were wet. The doors looked like someone had gone a bit crazy with a jewel setting tool. Egyptian tombs flashed in my head, and I pushed the thought away.
I wondered about fire safety. The windows were tall and too thin for a regular sized person to fit through, and as I knocked on them, they didn’t move. So why only one set of doors? I tugged on the cold golden door handles, but they wouldn’t budge, so I turned to look around again. Maybe I had missed a door hidden somewhere in here.
Looking around I found no green exit signs, no switches for electricity, nothing modern.
Suddenly, the doors behind me were flung open and bright light flowed in blinding me. When I was able to see again, I saw a significant group of adults who stood staring at me.
The way they looked at me, well I guess I did look pretty bad standing there wet, stiff and shivering so much my teeth had begun to chatter.
The clothing that these people were wearing activated my imagination again, and I felt surely I had fallen back in time. The women wore big, full skirts and long dresses. All of them wore dark cloaks, I mean who wears such clothing like this, for real?).
I had counted ten people before I noticed that the guy in the back had closed the doors behind him, and it had made a click sound. That sound to me meant, I was locked inside with some really crazy people. The fact that they just blocked the only doors out of this place scared me to death. I ran off like a scared rabbit. I felt my heart race from fear. Darting around I ducked into a big closet and pulled some of the clothing down to the floor, wrapping some around me to act as camouflage. I left a small spot open for my eyes to be able to peek out and see anyone that came into the closet. At least I felt a bit warmer. My dad had taught me how to build blinds for hunting, and this was the best I could do with clothing.
I could hear voices talking, and my stomach hurt to hear them close enough for me to understand what they were saying. At least we spoke the same language.
“Who was that?” I heard a man shout and a woman answered him in a cold, smooth voice. “Calm down Professor Lucas. Did you take note of her clothing? She is obviously from the mortal world. She must have been transported somewhere inside the Golden Palace from one of King Aros’s circles. Thing about it Professor Lucas! The Golden Palace would not have turned the lights on had no one been inside. Lower your voice, the girl looked terrified. I will have to speak to King Aros about the transportation process as I believe she came in through the pool. Her clothes are thoroughly wet.”
“Professor Augustorio, she’s not in the pool’s changing area, a kitchen, or any other room. Nothing is out of place, but we did find a pair of shoes and socks by the pool, all very wet. Oh yes and another garment we aren’t sure what it is. Plus this was in one of the shoes.”
“Thank you Josef and Erol,” the professor said as she took a small device from Erol. “Please lay everything out to dry on a rack near the pool and then you may go. Now Professor Lucas, I want you to think! We had to unravel several magical bonds to enter ourselves. The girl is mortal and here for a reason and here she shall stay. It is King Aros’s own magic that brought her here.”
“Very well Professor Augustorio. But I will have words with King Aros. This space has been sealed for centuries! It is not possible to get inside without breaking through King Aros’s magic. Gaining entrance to the Golden Palace should not be possible! And no other mortal has just ‘appeared’ inside the Golden Palace!”
“Professor Lucas, I think you would be of better use to us if you left to have that talk with King Aros right now. You’ll only scare the girl, and we don’t want that at all. Go along, and I will take care of her.”
“As you will, so shall it be, Professor Augustorio.” The mean guy said before stomping off. I brilliantly deduced the girl they referred to was me.
I blinked and found a woman standing in front of me. My body stiffened when I saw her. Her body was brighter than a light bulb, and I was sure she was some beacon of light.
When no one came running, I looked at her, and her face kept changing between an old woman, a young woman and another face I can’t explain. When she spoke it was musical like a delicate note from the flute or a string of the harp, so very hard to describe (now I’m hallucinating!).
“Golden one, you are safe here. I have found you at last and those people out there looking for you are only here to help you,” her voice was so calming that my racing heart began to slow down.
“I am the Goddess Amara Vedis and I welcome you to Asgrove. You are invited to come to my garden whenever you have a need. Close your eyes and remember the tall willow tree. Blessed Be my Golden one.” And then she bent down, moved the clothing from my head and kissed my forehead before her shimmering form disappeared. Now I knew that I had just lost my sanity!
“Child, please come out, we only wish to help you.” It was the professor lady that I heard talking before, and she sounded close. My sanity was slipping away because I had just seen an angel or something equally divine. I stood up and brushed off the extra clothing I had been hiding in. I took a breath before leaving the closet.
A woman was standing nearby, and when I saw her white hair piled high on her head in braids, it made my head hurt. Though I hadn’t made a noise, she turned around and looked at me. She looked at my messy appearance before she nodded to me and walked over to sit on a stool next to the bed with a beautiful burgundy and black quilt. I saw a few other people in a big room, but I chose to ignore them for now, and I walked over the woman.
She offered me a lovely white smile. “Come and sit,” she said, so I sat on the floor. Her eyes had widened before she whispered, “The Goddess has come to you.” I had nothing to say to that.
“Bring some towels!” The woman shouted, making me jump, and when she turned back to me, she told me that I was lucky to be here. I totally disagreed.
“Lady, I was sitting in a meadow and leaning against a tree and when I blinked, I found myself drowning in the big pool here. My phone’s ruined and my clothes are a mess. Wherever I am, could you please send me home?”
I looked at her as tears gathered in my eyes, “Please I want to go home!” When she didn’t say anything, I got on my knees, holding my hands out in front of me and pleaded with her. I saw the answer in her eyes right before a male voice I’ll never forget spoke, and his voice filled every space around us.
“Do not let her stay there on her knees! Can you not see that our Goddess has come and blessed her? Look at her hair!” Her hair? I thought. What’s wrong with my hair! I pulled my hair into view over my shoulders, and it looked beautiful to me until it changed from its usual bright blonde to what coffee looks like with cream. This morning it had rested on my shoulders, and now it hung to my lower back.
The woman lifted me up and made me stand before them like I was a toy rag doll. I stood there in shock as my brain fought to keep up with all the changes.
“Hello, my name is Aros, what is your name?” Such a simple question easily answered. So I told him the truth, “Riona Brooks”. When his eyes looked ready to pop out of his head, my knees started to shake. He was dressed very meticulously so he must be a high ranked person. Maybe he could send me home!
“Hello, Miss Brooks. I heard you arrived here in the pool, am I right?” I nodded, and he smiled and for some reason my knees grew weak and my brain became fuzzy.
“I am very sorry, for that must have been a very scary moment in the pool for you. I think my magic needs some fine tuning in your world.” He turned away and took a towel from someone that had suddenly appeared next to him.
His words came back to me. He had said my world. “If I am no longer in my world, where am I?” I asked as I watched him shake out the towel before he leaned in closer to me and placed it around my shoulders. I grasped the edges of it.
“Asgrove my dear. You have come home.” I found his smile to be sad, and his words confused me. Without knowing why, I reached out to touch him, and I saw him, do the same thing before the professor lady pulled him a step away. I dropped my hand to my side. I thought that I was losing control over my body. Meanwhile, my mind was dark with conflict as two thoughts warred in my head. The first was that he was so gorgeous, and the second was, what was I thinking, this man must have high magic! He could send me back home!
The professor lady tried to whisper in his ear, but I have to note that she’s not very talented at whispering, so I heard her say, “It may not be her. Don’t place your heart where it can get hurt.”
He brushed her off, and his eyes met mine. Instantly my eyes were glued to his. This odd fluttery feeling happened in my stomach and then I saw the colors of his eyes start to swirl silver like nothing I’ve ever seen. As he looked at me, I stared right back, all the time resisting the urge to touch him.
His gaze was magnetic. I remember offering my hand palm up, something I’ve never seen or done before. And he mirrored my movement until his palm touched mine. But as soon as we touched everything went dark.
I woke up later; I could feel that I was lying on something soft, and I thought of the bed. I sat up slowly and looked around. To my great disbelief and fear for my sanity, I found myself still in the same place that seemed better suited for a Disney movie except instead of pastels, the colors here were dark antiques and super elegant. Maybe Gothic would be a more accurate description. I looked around and found the professor lady with the braided hair who was sitting on that wooden stool again. She told me that I had fainted and that King Aros had caught me before I could hit the floor and then he had placed me upon the bed before leaving to finish some business.
“King? He’s the king of this place?” My mouth became dry, and I searched the room but found no sight of him. I looked under the quilt and saw that I was in my jeans and T-shirt, and I was thoroughly dry. I moved to sit cross-legged and wrapped the quilt around me snuggling in it like a caterpillar in a cocoon.
I told the woman right away that I hated the movie “Wizard of Oz” and please not talk about this realm. She frowned at me and said that she knew of no wizard with the name of Oz.
“What about my family?” I had asked her, and she told me to look forward and not behind.
“Lady, can’t you just send me home? I want to go home to my mom and my dad and even my impossible brothers!”
It ticked me off greatly when she began to speak to me like one would to a small child or a demented individual.
“You are in Asgrove at the Asgrove Academy. You are in the Golden Palace. A special place in our world. You cannot leave Asgrove. Do you understand me? The portal you fell through only works one way.” Her gray eyes hardened, and I wanted to take back my question yet I needed to hear her say the words.
“Miss Brook, we can only go forward.”
When she began to talk about Asgrove and magic; I studied her body language very carefully. I saw a gentleness in her, the same I often saw in my mom and my anger grew beyond my control.
“ In Asgrove you have strong magic Riona. Here in the Golden Palace you must learn to control it.”
“I’m just a teenager and I do not have powers. I want to go home!” Losing control isn’t something I’ve ever done, but I did, and I screamed and screamed until I had no voice left to use.
I’m stubborn to my core, so I tried to absorb my anger. Imagine my surprise when a man ran into the room waving his hands in the air. “Calm her down! She’s flooding the palace!”
I looked at the professor lady, and she said harshly, “Pull your magic back in Riona!”
“I’m not magical!” I cried before ducking underneath my safety quilt.
Inside my mind, which sounds stupid, it felt like someone else was there with me helping me to chill out. I guess this is what insane feels like.
“Good job Riona, you will learn to control your emotions. It is crucial to becoming a great witch.”
I pulled the quilt off my head and looked at her. “Are you crazy? I am not a witch; witches aren’t real!” I climbed off the bed but kept the quilt wrapped around me as I walked to a slim window and peeked out. Lush vegetation was everywhere, and there were lots of people walking around outside. When I saw their clothing, I wanted to scream! We weren’t in the dark ages anymore! “Women wear pants just like guys!” I raged and hit the solid marble wall with my hands. Pain shot up my arms, and I gritted my teeth. I was seriously worried about my deteriorating mental state.
“If your temper tantrum is over, I have brought you dinner.”
“Did you just say something to me?” I asked the professor lady, and she shook her head no.
Something shiny caught my attention, and I hesitantly walked back to the bed where a silver tray sat upon it. “Who spoke?” I asked out loud and boy did I get an answer I could never have prepared myself for!
The voice was neither male nor female, and it responded, “I am the Golden Palace. When you are ready to start your training with the other students here, you will be placed in House Five as it has chosen you.”
It doesn’t bother me one bit to admit I jumped and nearly wet my pants. “How can a building talk and how can a House choose me?”
The woman stood up and asked me nicely to sit down and eat. She explained in just a few words that the buildings here speak.
I struggled with that one for sure.
As if sensing that I was standing on the edge of another tantrum, the word, “Eat,” boomed so loud around me that I felt the floor shake beneath my feet.
I climbed onto the bed and adjusted my quilt before looking at the tray in front of me. My stomach growled, and I felt hungry but there wasn’t anything on the plate that I could identify besides a hard, dark brown piece of what looked like bread. The woman sat again beside the bed, and a man came over and introduced himself as Professor Duncan before sitting down on another wooden stool.
I picked up the silver fork on the tray and started to poke at each item on my plate.
I rolled my shoulders and glared at the man who sat staring at me. “You’re staring at me, why?” I asked him. The expression on his face changed instantly. At the time, I had no idea what he did but he didn’t seem so mean now. (Hint, he used a bit of glamor magic, boo to the cheater!).
My fork hovered over my plate, and I didn’t know that I was listening to him until I heard him talk about bright lights.
Apparently upon my arrival, bright lights had shot out from all the windows of this building. They were so bright that people saw them no matter where they were on the school campus.
So not only was I surprised to be here myself but once word got out that the lights were on in the Golden Palace, people began to gather outside. Thankfully the professor lady made them go away.
But that made me wonder, if the buildings had a sort of mind and this place was dark and sealed up when I got here, wouldn’t it have been lonely? It had decided to shine its lights as bright as it could so that everyone would see it. I mean, if no one came to see me, I’d be bored and very lonely.
I looked at the stuff on my plate that these people called food. The woman told me about how she was the leader of their council, the core group of power that overlooked this realm under the guidance of King Aros.
She said she would release me into the population of the school when she deemed me ready to enter the Academy and begin training.
Putting my fork down, I turned away from the plate. “Professor lady, I’ve heard what you said and believe me, I have tons of problems with everything right now okay? I do not know this world. I did not ask to leave my world to come here, and you won’t send me back. Sounds like I’m a prisoner here with my future already set. I’m tired, and I’m hungry but I have a big problem. Could you tell me what’s on my plate? I cannot figure out what these food items are as in my world; I never saw food like this. I mean, this dark thing is bread, right? So what is the protein and what is the vegetable?”
She stood up and took looked at my tray. “Let’s see, well right here (dark gray blob) is grilled crill and this (light cream colored blob) is mashed koet. Then you have redtea cooked as a dessert. These are all the most favored items that our students ask for.”
Looking at her, I frowned. Everyone I had seen didn’t seem to be starving thin so what she was saying must be true. I warily held on to my fork and tried a bite of the dark gray blob. Then I tried a smaller taste of the light cream colored blob but as soon as I swallowed it my stomach refused to keep it down. I hastily pushed the tray away from me, jumped off the bed, ran past the startled people and straight to the toilet as it all came back up. I curled up on the cold marble floor; I knew that the water was okay and the juice too because it tasted exactly like cranberry juice but the professor lady told me it was called redtea. I was seriously missing cows and chickens and even tofu. She called out to me from her stool and told me that their animals they use for food are called dagles, crills and borinths.
I felt drained after the dry heaving passed by, and I let my mind wander as I rested my cheek on the cool tile. I thought about the last movie I had seen at the theater I favored because they showed movies on one huge screen.
The movie was about a girl who was riding in a car with her parents when they got in an accident, and she went into a coma. Is this some place she might go in her mind while in her coma? If I were in a coma, I’d dream of food I could eat!
As I walked slowly back to the bed, the professor lady told me, “Don’t worry Riona, we’ll find food that you can eat, we’ll keep trying. Now I think it has been a very busy and draining day for all of us. Please go to bed. I’ve set up a bed right over there for myself, not too far away should you need something. When we sleep, the Golden Palace will lock the doors. Please feel safe and sleep well.”
“Thanks,” I told her before lying down and snuggling in my quilt. I tried to sleep but at first found it nearly impossible as my stomach growled, my head hurt, and my throat burned. I thought about the person in my head earlier and imagined myself reaching my mind out to touch someone, and the connection was made. It is very hard to describe, but I was sure someone was sharing my mind again and was now pushing me towards sleep. My mind became blank as sleep finally claimed me. Riona
Once Riona was asleep, the professor typed out a quick note to the king. She alerted him about the girl not being able to keep any of the foods she had tried down as it all seemed to make her very sick. She clicked off her memo pad that hung around her neck and went to her makeshift bed to sleep.
“Golden Palace, please close down for the night,” the professor said. “As you wish Professor Augustorio.” It replied.
Aros stared at the memo he’d received and withdrew his mind from the girl now that she was asleep. His thoughts drifted to her world and the creatures he had seen in it. He must solve her food problem quickly as he could not dare lose her.
Journal Entry August 28, 2010:
“Professor?” I asked the lady as she sat on that little wooden stool by my bed again on the second day. “Why do you want me here? I have no magic, what do you need me for?” Riona
“Riona, you are very extraordinary and irreplaceable. King Aros placed his magical circles all over your world centuries ago. Let me try to explain. King Aros had a mate, Queen Riona. Yes, you share the same, unique name. They ruled Asgrove together for as long as our books date back. They first established Asgrove and later, the Asgrove Academy and this world grew from there. They were our creators, but we gain our immortality upon our fourth year here at the school. We are immortal but, in certain circumstances, we can die from magic used by the king or queen. King Aros and his queen were always together. The queen was a very delicate, caring soul, but one night he was taking care of a student who claimed that they were in distress and that only he could help them. King Aros and the queen decided together that he would go and attend to the student while she retired to bed. When he got back to their bedchamber, he found pools of blood on the floor. But no matter how hard he searched, she could not be found. He went back and questioned the student who had lied about needing help, a student from the Winterspire family. The student along with his cousin confessed to being a part a group of negative (dark) magic casters. The student went on to talk of a plan to kidnap the queen and take her to the human world, your world Riona. She was stolen away and thrown into your world where they killed her beneath a weeping willow tree. It took a tremendous amount of negative energy created by these individuals to open a portal to the human world, but they managed it. They did not care where the portal lead, merely that it opened and allowed them a means to remove the queen from our world. It seems there were members of the Winterspire family who thought they should be queen and by ridding Asgrove of Queen Riona, they could some how an in some crazy, impossible way take her place. The Winterspire family now lives in the second basement below the Golden Palace, which is one level up from the Dungeon. There is another basement above them, but they are never allowed to rise above their basement level. They have stayed there for all the centuries that the queen has been lost. At one time, the king pulled on their power for cleaning purposes and maintaining the campus grounds. Our Goddess came to King Aros and told him she had been able to save the queen’s soul in the other world. She could not bring the queens soul back here. But she said that the queen’s soul would one day be reborn as a mortal in the world she died in but that she would find her and bring her here.”
A significant silence filled the room as I processed her words.
“Are you saying that you think I’m your lost queen?” I almost stopped breathing.
“Several girls have come through King Aros’s circles, females that our Goddess chose to join our world but none of them turned out to be our lost queen. Our Goddess told us that we needed these females and that she would never stop looking for our queen. And to never lose hope.”
“Professor? That’s why you told King Aros to guard his heart. Sorry, you’re not very good at whispering. Thank you for sharing that with me. That may be why your Goddess talked to me. Though I’m still trying to process exactly what happened.”
“Riona, what did she say to you?” I looked up to see the professor lady staring at me with so much intensity it scared me.
“I can’t answer that question but she did invite me to her garden.”
I turned away from the intensity that radiated from the professor lady and closed my eyes.
“Golden Palace,” I spoke in my head feeling stupid.
“Yes Riona,” a voice responded in my head. Well, if you’re going to go insane, I might as well go all the way, I thought to myself.
“What will happen to you when I am moved to House Five?” I wasn’t prepared for the feelings I felt in my mind from the building.
“They will close me up again.”
“I promise you that I will make sure they don’t do that okay? I will do everything I can to make sure you aren’t alone, would that help you?”
“Yes it would. You will be a great witch one day and then you will be…”
“I’ll be what?”
“That is a subject for another day and several years from now. Your soul is bright and kind,” the Golden Palace paused for a moment before continuing.
“House Five believes you are strong enough to share some of your energy with me. I don’t need that much, just a one-time exchange.” I heard the yearning in its voice, and I could do nothing but comply.
“As you wish, may it be so,” I whispered and then I felt the oddest thing. I could feel my energy leaving, but it didn’t hurt, and it didn’t make me tired. I have a mind full of questions and problems that I have enough energy for the whole world.
“Thank you Riona, I won’t forget this.” I was happy to notice that its voice sounded much stronger.
“Golden Palace, can you ask House Five if it is okay for me to provide energy to you when I live there. Should you need it, that you may take it from me at any time you feel I have enough to give?”
“I shall do so now,” it replied and in my mind I felt the moment when the Golden Palace had withdrawn it’s thoughts from mine. Just like that other feeling yesterday of someone sharing my thoughts!
I stayed awake for a very long time that night after another failed day of not being able to eat the foods they enjoy here. The Golden Palace gave me extra bread and redtea, and that was good enough for me. My thoughts kept thinking of ways to ensure this building remained open even without its queen. And I kept praying for a food item I could eat. Riona
Journal Entry August 29, 2010 – January 29, 2011:
Soon after that night, my days were filled with visits from many different professors. But through every visit, the professor lady never left my side. So professor after professor would come by to see me, which was pretty annoying until I began to listen to what classes they taught.
Did they really expect me to believe what they told me? There was a lady teacher who taught potions class and wow, let me say her hair was crazy! I’m afraid I stared at her for a long time, too long, and I am certain I must have appeared rude but her hair, wow! How can hair be so springy?
One teacher, a rather weird man who taught about runes, came to see me, and I didn’t like him at all. He asked the professor lady to leave so that we could have some one on one time for divination purposes, but she refused. She told him that she was my official chaperone and that all the buildings on campus were tuned to my energy so nothing could harm me while in her care. He got so mad and stormed out, and I didn’t realize it until he left that his presence made me feel sick.
Then there was a woman who taught how to create orbs by blowing glass, and her presence made me feel sick too. My favorite teacher told me that she taught about animal care and helped match up students with their animal companions which sounded like the most typical class to me.
The third time I saw her she had just walked outside the Golden Palace, and it was empty now except for the professor lady who was in the bathroom.
I followed the animal professor because she had this huge dog with her and it looked so familiar it tore at my heart. Without knowing what I was doing I found myself outside her building, and all my focus was on watching her as she entered the building because she left it open. Everything around me was, usually, closed. I stuck my head through the open doorway just in time to see the animal that seemed like a dog but now I was sure wasn’t, disappear through a hidden door in a huge auditorium.
I shook my head and realized I was outside amongst the students and adults! I didn’t even stop to think and analyze that no one noticed me. I ran blindly back to the Golden Palace not even knowing the exact way I got there but suddenly I was standing in my bedroom.
“Timeri,” the Golden Palace whispered in my mind.
“What is that?” I asked it as I stood glued to the floor in terror. The Golden Palace told me it was a talent for moving from one place to another. I dived onto the bed and pulled my quilt over me a second before the professor lady came out of the bathroom. Later, the very last professor that visited me told me she taught something about awakening the talents inside a witch or wizard.
She said she used a giant labyrinth maze in her classes and though she was a very lovely woman, when she spoke about labyrinth mazes it freaked me out.
Flash backs to a famous boy wizard filled my head but that fiction couldn’t compare to my new reality. I concentrated on the building no longer feeling so sad. And I reminded myself that I needed to see the king before they sent me to House Five. That night I talked to the professor lady about my food problem.
“But your plate is always clean!” She nearly exploded, and I sat back on the bed staring at her. “No, I only eat the bread and drink the water and redtea. I don’t know what happens to the rest of it.” She jumped up from her wooden stool and stormed out of the room leaving me feeling scared. That lady never jumped up; she elegantly stood up, and she never stormed out, she primly walked out. Curiosity consumed me but here I was left without answers yet again.
While I picked at my bread, she came gliding back into the room and sat down on her stool composed once again.
“Riona, you have grown thinner in just a few months time. I must admit that I have been worried about you, but I thought we’d finally found some food you could eat, so I thought maybe something else was wrong.”
And then she sighed! That was the first time I heard her sigh, and it bothered me so much and I can’t even figure out why. Everything I tried, no matter how it was cooked just didn’t want to stay down, and I ended up spending a lot of my time getting to know the toilet very well. I spent one whole month locked in the bathroom choosing to sleep in the bathtub with my quilt.
I’d sit in the bath full of steaming hot water only to have to jump out and get to the toilet fast. That was a horrific month for me. Some things I managed to keep down stayed down but not in and would give me terrible stomach pain. That was the worst time in my life I can safely say. I didn’t have extra weight to lose as I was naturally slender with slight curves.
But eating a diet of bread, water and redtea wasn’t giving me enough calories, and I began to feel a bit weak. So after my month in the bathroom, I stayed in bed for another month which was a long time. (I missed my smartphone! But thank goodness for indoor plumbing, imagine that!).
I apologized to the Golden Palace that my energy was too low. But it said it had extra energy in reserve and in a complete roll reversal it would send me small pulses of energy each morning that helped me get through the day.
It wasn’t until I had been in the Golden Palace for many months that I realized that I didn’t have my usual female monthly problem. I was sitting on the floor in the middle of my bedchamber putting a huge puzzle together. I looked up at the professor lady who was making some new runes for herself out of shiny black stones.
“Professor? It just dawned on me that, while I do not miss it at all, I haven’t got my monthly visitor the whole time I’ve been here.” It was so funny because she stared at me as if I was speaking a different language. I frowned, thinking over what I had said and how it might be confusing when she gave a short laugh and drew my eyes to her.
“Riona my dear, that is one thing you do not have to worry about here. Our bodies, because we become immortal, and during our immortality we can have children if we so choose, there is no need for monthly messes. When we find our mates and are fully bonded and immortal, we can choose to have children whenever we wish. Now that is one thing you can look forward to here in this world!” She is a charming woman just a bit stuffy at times. But during our time shared in the Golden Palace she had begun to relax considerably around me though she never lost the stick that kept her posture perfect at all times.
“Do you have a mate?” I asked her before I could process my words. My eyes grew wide and I quickly covered my mouth wishing I could take back my words but she just looked at me and shook her head. “Not yet my dear. But I do not allow myself time to find one as my duties at this school fill all my time. You will find out one day that another bonus to immortality is that there is no rush for anything in our lives. You are forever frozen looking not a day over twenty unless you so choose to age like I have which of course, I can reverse at any time. But King Aros finds it much easier for his professor’s to look older than the students so we age ourselves to the desired look until we decide to change.”
After that, she went back to her work, and I sat there on the floor and thought about her words. I don’t know how I felt about living forever. It’s not a concept I grew up with.
Then that made me think about how different I am from all of the students outside these walls. They all grew up with magic, the idea of attending this school and becoming immortal, but I was busy growing up with different ideas of my future.
My days were filled with books about Asgrove’s history and its underlying social structure. There were books about animals and many different creatures of this world.
The oddest book was the slimmest one about the weather that I found odd. Why would there be a book wholly devoted to the weather? Why did I need to know about the weather? I mean, besides that one day that I snuck out, I have no idea what the weather is like nor how it affects a witch or wizards life. Everyone wears long cloaks with females wearing long skirts or dresses. You could wear that at any time of the year. I read books about plants but no matter how many times I read the books, I couldn’t retain the knowledge. I read about potions, but that information slipped quickly from my mind as well. It was like the information was bouncing off my brain instead of melting into it.
Enter King Aros (Did someone request a King in shining armor?) who came back to see me near the end of my stay. Let me start by saying that I didn’t look my best nor feel it, and I was unprepared for his anger. “Why have you let so much time pass without telling me sooner?” His voice was so loud I turned to look at him just as the professor lady shrank back at the power of his voice. I decided now was a great time to hide under my quilt, so I pulled it around me and curled up on the floor.
Though my voice was a bit muffled, I knew they could hear me.
“It’s not her fault. She thought I was eating everything, but I can’t eat the things you do. It just makes me sick.” Peeking my head out, my eyes caught his and his face relaxed a bit. Talk to him! My brain demanded.
“Can I tell you something without anyone around?” I asked him as I nervously glanced at the lady professor who raised her eyebrows at my question. I slowly got to my feet and walked over to my bed and sat against the wall cuddled up in my quilt. The king demanded, quite loudly that the Golden Palace be cleared of all people immediately, and the professor lady left without looking back. I watched him wait until the place was empty before he sat on a wooden stool the professor lady, usually, used.
“You may speak freely,” he told me and his voice was soft and almost mesmerizing. I tried to look away, to break eye contact because I feared that if I didn’t, I’d get lost again in the swirling colors of his gaze.
I felt his full attention on me, and I was suddenly nervous. I realized that we were very alone and that once served as his bedchamber with his queen along with the freakishness that we shared the same name! And that he found her blood here and that he has been as lost as the Golden Palace for so many centuries. Focus girl!
“I have something I wanted to ask you and the thing is, it’s crucial to me. I think that this is important for you to know since it is after all, your world. I need to request that the Golden Palace stay open after I’m moved out of here.” Boy that was hard to say but I hoped he’d listen to me. Crossing my fingers under my quilt, I dared to look at him.
“Okay. It doesn’t have to be me. But it would be great for the Golden Palace if it weren’t sealed up again and given some power. It gets lonely, and I have shared my energy with it and I can’t stand the thought of it being locked up again and alone. Maybe your queen might return faster if her place here was open.”
“You have shared your energy with the Golden Palace?” Oh my gosh, but his voice sounded like he couldn’t breath! I looked at his lips and waited for them to turn blue, but they didn’t.
“Um, yes. Did I do something wrong? I mean, I’ve never heard of sharing energy until I spoke with the Golden Palace in my head. And I’ve never talked to a building in my head so I must sound stupid. But the Golden Palace sounded so sad, and it hurt me for it to feel that way.” I was confused at that point.
“You talked to the Golden Palace in your head?” His voice rose several octaves!
“Yes sir, I did and I do and this is very confusing yet important to me. The Golden Palace has been alone for centuries, and I think if it were open, the whole campus would benefit from it. It doesn’t mean that everyone can come in and do whatever they want, even I know that would be wrong but just don’t seal it closed. Please.”
“Can you hear me in your head Riona?” When I heard his voice in my head, my jaw dropped open.
“I see that you can. Interesting.” He spoke with his mouth that time so I knew he was testing me.
“Can you hear me?” I shot back at him mentally.
“Yes I can hear you. You are using a very rare talent called Miaspa, and I wish for you not to speak of it with anyone but me with the exception of the Golden Palace and House Five. Can you do that for me?” His voice was back in my head again so, um, it was like he was whispering in my ear, and I knew my face was turning red.
“Riona, please understand that I ask this of you not because I want to hide your talents but because I want to keep you safe.” When he got off that stool and came over to talk to me, he looked at the bed for a few heartbeats before he sat on the edge of it. I bet if I blew softly he’d fall to the floor, but I wasn’t brave enough to try it.
“I need you to be safe. You have been well guarded here in the Golden Palace. You must watch out for yourself as everything is new here to you. Make good friends, ones you know in your soul you can trust. Will you agree to be very careful in the choices you make?”
“Shake on it,” I whispered as I held my hand out. I wanted to see if the world fell out of balance again if we touched and how serious he was about my plan for the Golden Palace. I wanted to ask him why I would need protection, but he interrupted my thoughts when he began to speak what he called a spell for my health.
“Our Goddess Amara Vedis and Energy that is mine,
Hear me demand of you,
Bring my energy to flow to her and be true,
Sustain her body with energy in place of food,
Draw upon me to lighten her mood!”
“I promise that I will not seal the Golden Palace up again. As I have lived those centuries alone as well, I am all too familiar with the loneliness. I’ve felt it and have no wish for another to feel such pain. I will share my power with the Golden Palace as I should have been; I’m sorry Golden Palace! Keeping your energy to yourself will allow you to get stronger by learning how to store your energy. The Golden Palace will always be open to you.”
“Sir, it has been a very long time since we shared energy but Riona is special. I have opened the path you asked of me,” the Golden Palace spoke to the king.
I frowned at its words at first but then the king’s agreement sunk in, and I yelled out, “Perfect!” I was so happy that I bounced on the bed causing my quilt to fall away from me. I threw my arms around the king’s neck and hugged him close.
Looking back, I can’t believe I was so bold to touch him as I did! But this stuff just sometimes happens. Before I fully realized what I had done all the hair on my arms stood up, and my body began to tingle at every spot that our bodies connected. I felt his hands wrap around my waist, and my skin there tingled too and he squeezed my body tight against his for just a second before he went poof. I mean it. Poof! He disappeared, but he had whispered something in my ear. “Too soon young one.” Too soon for what?
Now I was worried that I had offended not only the king but his queen too! Darn my impulsiveness!
How crazy was all that! Thinking about his words I remember his health spell and though I really don’t want to admit it, after that visit I felt much better and after two weeks, I gained back five pounds! And the professor lady appeared about three seconds after the king poofed away, and the usual noises of people moving around the Golden Palace returned as life continued on as it had been since my arrival.
I was once again visited by all the school’s professors who tried their best to catch me up to speed with what the other students were doing. Some brought books while others talked and talked about their classes. But the worst was again, when the runes guy came and asked to look at my hands. I had looked at the professor lady, but she shrugged her shoulders, so it was up to me.
“No, thank you,” I told him in the most polite way I could. “Excuse me, I need to use the bathroom!” I said as nicely as I could while I slipped off my bed and walked quickly to the bathroom. I took great care to close the door quietly behind me. I checked twice that I locked the door before falling to my knees and throwing up all over the floor.
Dang it! I didn’t make it to the toilet. What a mess. The professor lady came to the door and asked if I was okay. My throat burned and my eyes watered and I asked if that runes guy was gone.
There was a slight pause before she said, “Yes he has left.” She asked if she could come in and I told her I had made a mess but didn’t have the strength to clean it up yet.
She assured me that there was a much easier way to clean things up than my way. So I crawled to the door and undid the locks before pushing myself away so that I didn’t get knocked over by the door opening.
“Oh, my you really did, never mind, here let me take care of you.” The professor lady spoke in a smooth, soft voice that sounded so pretty it was almost like listening to music through my lost ear buds. At this point, any music or anything that sounded like music was good enough for me!
“A Spell I speak for cleansing the room!
Energy come from within me,
Cleanse and renew this room as it should be,
Sparkle all clean!
A Spell I speak for cleansing this girl!
From that which lives inside of you,
Mold it and change it, make it come through,
Feel it and blend it, bring forth what you know,
Your soul is bright, let it glow,
Help her share her magic with her mind,
Bring it to the front, so she is not blind!”
When the professor stopped speaking her spells, the bathroom sparkled like beautiful crystals filtering sunlight. And I felt the oddest feeling inside me like something was trying hard to get out, but it was too deeply buried within me. Very elusive, slippery and odd.
She helped me up and out of the bathroom, and while she was helping me to my bed, I blurted out a question that kept looping through my mind.
“Why can’t anyone take one moment to think about what they are asking of me?” I mean; all these professors come in and don’t they understand that I haven’t grown up here? That the very thought of magic is not reasonable to me? They’re trying to teach a newborn in comparison to those who have known no other world than this realm their entire lives.”
She got me to the bed, and I pulled my quilt around me, safe and sound once more.
The professor lady sat down and took an incredible amount of time to explain to me one last time that I would never be able to return to my world or my family. Ever.
The word, ever, was not something that worked for me when used like this. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t take the news well the second time either. I’m still bruised and broken inside, but I’ve never been a drama queen, so I worked hard to keep my sadness close to my heart.
I decided that if I couldn’t go home, I would share all that was home to me with her. So I told this Professor, Jordavia Augustorio (Ah-Gust-O-R-I-O), about my family and my friends and to her credit, she did listen to me. I talked about my brothers and how sporty they were and competitive and how they no longer had a sister to boss around anymore. Then I talked about my Nana, who had been in the happy (, she was happy!) process of helping me learn to bake. Professor Augustorio asked me what baking was and that made me cry. We stopped talking after that.
How am I supposed to blend with these people? The clothes they wear are going to be hard to get used to and knowing that there is no other choice will take forever to comprehend. Seriously, are you kidding me? Being surrounded by dresses and skirts, cloaks and blouses were so old-fashioned, and I’m sure we are all bound to think different too that I couldn’t process everything!
Well, I am proud to write that I did win one war. I flatly refused to remove my jeans. At night, I would wear the pink nightdress they gave me but I’d keep my jeans, T-shirt and navy blue hoodie under my pillow and put them on in the morning. After two weeks of wearing them, the professor promised me they would return my clothing if I allowed them to wash them and I agreed.
Days passed by, and I felt my time running out in the Golden Palace like sand falling from an hourglass.
A few professors admitted that they had come to visit me not to teach me something but to test my so called magical level as a witch. (But I think they’re all a bit daffy, no I know they are!) I’m a mortal; I have no witch powers. At least I kept telling myself that was the truth.
One professor came every single day to try to draw my blood and though he said they needed it to test it to see where I honestly came from I denied him. Don’t these people ever stop to think about seeing things through my eyes? Every single time he showed up I sent him away most unsatisfied. I did not trust this realm, and I was not about to let someone stick me with a needle. Riona
Journal Entry January 29, 2011:
It wasn’t very long after that strange encounter in the Golden Palace with King Aros that the lady professor told me that I had passed all the tests. I asked her what tests? She just waved my words away and told me it was now time for me to join the rest of the students.
I found this to be the most stressful day of my life. But no one treated it any different than any other day. To leave this one place I had become comfortable with and to be plunged into the general population of a huge school filled with lots of magical people was terrifying. Like my first day at kindergarten but without my mom to comfort me.
At least it was a warm day when I left for House Five. I had learned that the First Girl was Jessica Pinevale. The First Girl title meant that she was in charge of planning chores for the House, holding House meetings and keeping us up to date with the council.
I never knew that I was entering enemy territory until it hit me full in the face, literally.
Que Jessica, the bane of my existence! The mean girl whose beauty could dazzle the sun and no one denied her much at all. Unfortunately for her, I changed all that by just being me.
From the moment we met, I felt this deep ugliness radiate from her like a sickness. To me, she was like cancer that would grow into every cell of my body until she had destroyed me.
Maybe this was why King Aros was worried about my protection. Riona
January 29, 2011-January 30, 2011
(Taken and reworded from the
Journals of Riona Brooks, House Five
and other campus building’s records)
Professor Augustorio lead Riona out of the beautiful Golden Palace and as Riona was leaving she used her Miaspa talent to say goodbye to the Golden Palace.
“Until I see you again very soon!” Riona said mentally, and the Golden Palace replied, “Yes my golden one.”
Riona wondered what that might mean, but the professor guided her right into a stream of people just after 1:00 Nearly Dark. Probably the busiest time of the day!They walked on brick paved paths and around tall unfamiliar trees. As they passed a few marble benches, Riona wondered at the similarities between her two worlds. There was marble in her old world and marble here. So many things alike and yet so much more so very different. When they passed a lovely patch of flowers, Riona thought she might have seen them in one of the books she had read but then again, maybe not. Riona couldn’t help but notice that with each step she took, people stared at her. She looked at the clothing the students wore and wrinkled her nose at the very thought of giving up her jeans for dresses and skirts. Though one student that she passed was wearing a wicked pair of black boots she thought for sure were awesome. But when she found so many people staring at her clothing, she put on her brave face with her artificial smile hoping it wouldn’t look as bad as it felt. Finally, much to her relief they reached House Five, where Professor Augustorio approached the front door of the House and began to talk to it.
During the six months she spent in Asgrove; she had grown comfortable in the Golden Palace. But here she was now, entering a new phase of her new life without anything familiar except herself and a life with magic.
Riona had come to terms some time ago with people talking to buildings and other, usually, inanimate objects. So it came as very little surprise when Professor Augustorio asked House Five’s door to allow her entrance.
“Let her speak,” it replied and Riona felt surprised for it seemed like the House was giving an order to this high-level professor and lead council member. The professor gestured toward Riona and shrugging her shoulders; she spoke out loud to the House’s front door.
“My name is Riona Brooks,” she said cautiously. Her eyebrows rose when it replied, “Brooks is not your bloodline. But since you have refused Professor Lyle Duncan’s requests for a sample of your blood, your bloodline will remain unknown, for now. I grant you admittance Riona Brooks, welcome to your new home.”
Riona couldn’t help but smile. She would now be around others of her age, and she wasn’t sure if she believed she possessed any magic just yet. She had never tried anything except for the temper tantrums she had when she first arrived here. And her one excursion out of the Golden Palace that she’d kept a secret. She felt far behind everyone else and knew she would have to work extra hard to keep up with the other First Year students. The beautiful door with stained glass opened and she stepped inside, and as the door closed upon the professor’s happy face, she turned away only to meet with a very unhappy face.
Riona knew something was off when she saw that she stood facing a whole foyer was filled with girls. She offered her hand to shake to the pretty blonde girl who stood in front of the group but when the girl didn’t offer her hand to shake Riona’s smile slipped. This girl stood apart from the others as if she was the Queen of Asgrove herself. The Golden Palace had told her that each House had a nickname for their Housemates, and some unthoughtful person had nicknamed House Five’s current residents, ‘Heaven’s Sword.’
“My name is Jessica Pinevale. I am First Girl here at House Five, or you may call us, ‘Heaven’s Sword.’
“Of course, you must have come up with that nickname right?” Riona asked her with a goofy grin. But when Jessica stared at her with pure hatred she wanted to go back to the Golden Palace right away.
“Do you maybe have me mixed up with someone else because it feels like you hate me, and I have not met anyone of my age here yet.” Riona lost the grin and stared at Jessica point blank.
“No, we have never met and yes, I hate everything about you. You may appear angelic with your golden blonde hair straight out of a glass vial, but I know you are nothing special. Don’t look at me with those baby blue eyes, I’ve heard things about you. The Golden Palace should have rejected you. King Aros could have thrown you back to your mortal world and make no mistake, I did request it! But no, he said you belonged here. And then they told me you would be joining my House Five! Let’s get this straight, I am in charge here. You have no power here. I don’t care what your name is; you will never be queen, you’re a rank zero witch with no talents. You come from none of the prominent families, and you are a human. Stay out of my way, don’t talk to me and maybe I’ll let you live here.”
“Jessica do not forget that I choose who lives here,” House Five said and the girl’s cheeks turned bright red.
Riona frowned at Jessica’s words and then smiled at the House’s words, but something was bothering her more than just words that couldn’t hurt her. It seemed that Jessica’s voice was full of music and beauty but when Riona blinked several times, Jessica’s voice burned Riona’s ears and she reached up and rubbed them.
“Why did your voice sound so pretty at first and now it hurts my ears?” Riona asked and then she saw several girls behind Jessica shake their heads, but it was too late, she had already insulted her. Dang but it was an accident!
“Oh, what trouble I can get myself into without even trying!” Riona whispered. By the heavy silence that hung in the air, she knew it was a stupid thing to have said, and she wanted to apologize. The girls behind Jessica had gasped loudly and then Jessica took a big lunge toward Riona and slapped her across the face. Even though, Jessica was maybe five feet, eight inches tall, Riona herself was nearly the same with one less inch. She thought it was a good thing Jessica had a weak punch, or her slap would have really hurt instead of slightly burning. Unknown to Jessica, Riona had grown up with several brothers who loved to wrestle, and she always got knocked around but that was accidental, this was on purpose.
Riona pressed her right palm against her burning cheek. To her surprise, she felt an odd displacement of air surround her and knew at once that it was magic. She had felt similar things in the Golden Palace. The girls gasped again along with Jessica though her eyes burned with a touch of madness and loads of hate. Riona could not understand how someone could possess so much negativity before her thoughts were interrupted by House Five.
“I, House Five have set a level ten elemental personal protection weave around Riona Brooks after Jessica Pinevale struck her. I, House Five have reported this event to the Record Keeper. The Record Keeper would like Miss Pinevale to vacate House Five immediately and appear before the council and King Aros in the Astrica set before the Golden Palace. Miss Pinevale has two minutes to appear of her own accord before the council uses the Timeri talent. Miss Pinevale is also advised by the council to keep her silence until she appears before them. Countdown has begun. I, House Five, will settle Riona Brooks within her new home while Jessica Pinevale confesses her transgressions to the council and to King Aros.”
When the House’s voice stopped speaking, Jessica stared at Riona with as much hatred as she could put into a glare before tossing her long golden hair over her shoulder. Riona didn’t miss the fact that Jessica’s face was burning red.
“This isn’t over.” Jessica mouthed at Riona before walking briskly past her. She tried to shove Riona hard with her shoulder, but Jessica’s body seemed to pass through Riona’s and Jessica nearly fell to the floor. Regaining her footing, she stomped her way out the front door, and the House closed it behind Jessica. Only then did the group of girls sigh and the House felt lighter to Riona. “Okay, so that was a great start. Jessica is a First Girl and has spent her whole life planning to come to this school. Doesn’t she understand that when protection is put around someone that they can’t be hurt? Her little shoulder push never touched me. She went through me. This magic stuff is going to take me more time than I thought it would if people like Jessica make mistakes like that. And even in my world, slapping someone is wrong. But it is something weird to do the first time you meet someone.” Riona sighed before looking at the girls, wondering what next negative thing she would have to handle.
“It’s about time the council did something about her.” Riona looked around and found the girl who had spoken. A beautiful redhead with a twin standing next to her. Her sister grabbed her arm and scolded her.
“Be careful! We don’t want Jessica to come after us!” Though she whispered, everyone heard her. “Hush! She’s not even here, and no one’s going to tell her. Chill. Sorry about Jessica’s attitude Riona. She can be a difficult person. By the way, I’m Ruby, and this is my sister Rose.”
“Hey,” Riona said before smiling at them.
Another lovely girl with raven hair stepped forward and extended her hand to Riona, “My name is Corinne. I’m sorry to see Jessica act so mean to you. As First Girl, it is her job to welcome you into the House but honestly we think she’s scary jealous of you.” Her smile was so sweet Riona smiled in return and nodded her head.
“Ever since I arrived here, I’ve struggled with people having weird reactions around me. But for the most part, they have been friendly towards me. Mostly.” Stuffing her hands in her pockets, Riona rocked back in her shoes.
“Did something terrible happen to Jessica to make her so hot tempered and mean?” Riona asked everyone.
This time, a tall brunette answered. “My name is Elsbeth. And Jessica is jealous of you because you lived in the Golden Palace for six months, and she has never been able to gain entrance. But above all you appeared within the Golden Palace that has been sealed to all life forms save the caretaker Professor Nathaniel Lucas. It has been off limits to everyone for centuries.” Stepping closer, she shook Riona’s hand before blending back in with the group of girls.
“Jessica comes from a powerful bloodline and though House Five had to give her the First Girl title, she hasn’t quite earned the privileges that come with it. Privileges like exclusive access to private sections of the library and the potions cold storage. For the most part, she sets our chore schedules and sets out our daily schedule of classes that the she discusses with House Five. She’s frustrated that she can’t use those unique buildings in the Asgrove Academy like other First Girls and First Boys. You’ll want to watch out for her and try to get on her good side though, I don’t think she has one. I guess if you keep your head down long enough you’ll blend in, and she’ll forget you. All the others who came from your world have been placed outside the Academy after their four years of training here. For Jessica, it’s out of mind and out of sight. Of course, this isn’t the first time she’s been called to see the council but it is the first time to have King Aros there. She worships him, because she thinks she is his queen.” Her dark eyes seemed to shine with empathy and sadness.
“The mere fact that our House Five set such a strong protection weave around you angered her even further. House Five, to her, is her domain even though we all live here. Because it chose each of us, she can’t move any of us to another House. Slapping you will set her back even further from obtaining her privileges that should go hand in hand with her title. If it weren’t for her bloodline, she’d never be First Girl.”
“Thank you for being so kind to. And for helping me understand what a difficult person Jessica is. Seems pretty much like my old world except you use magic here. I don’t know how I like being labeled a witch, but it would be interesting to have powers. And I’m not looking to be someone’s queen. I wanted to go home, but they won’t let me. I hate skirts, no offense you all look great, but it’s not my thing. I miss my family very much, so it’s not like I’m trying to outrace everyone and be the strongest and most powerful witch.”
Rose looked at her sister before speaking. “Not powers, talents. That’s what we call them, talents. And there is one other reason Jessica doesn’t like you. Well, I guess there are lots more but the main one that my sister and I feel is the most important to her, is that we’ve heard you’ve spent some alone time with King Aros. She, usually, takes walks with him at least once a week. So you can kind of see where she sees you as a threat to everything she thinks belongs to her? The problem is, King Aros declared about the time you got here that one of us currently attending this school, would be the reincarnation of his queen. Jessica believes it to be her, and she will stop at nothing to achieve her goal. I’m Ruby, by the way.” The redhead smiled at Riona.
“And I’m Rose, her twin. The thing is, no one can turn themselves into a queen. Our queen along with King Aros created our world. I don’t think the adults understand that we miss the queen too. Life, in our history books, showed that our realm started with them, and they had been together forever, so the world was a lot different to everyone when she was here. She had control over all animals, could make any potion, her divination skills using runes was out of this world, and her, glass making was gorgeous for orbs. Wherever she walked, flowers would bloom. It’s hard to believe that the Golden Palace was eight stories tall once too. But the king and queen were the perfect pair. All we know is that we lost the queen to at least one of the oldest bloodlines here, and they killed her in your world. I can’t see why anyone would want to destroy what they had; it’s so sad and tragic. Why destroy the very soul that created you? But if those people were anything like Jessica, well, you’ve met her. We just know that our queen’s soul will be reincarnated, and our Goddess has been searching all these centuries for it to return. I think King Aros would be a very different man if she were still here. But it seems the Goddess has found her soul.” All Riona could do was shake her head.
“If one of you is the queen reincarnated, how old does that make King Aros? Isn’t he old?” Riona asked everyone and the foyer filled with giggles.
“Age matters not in our realm Riona, as you will soon see. And you must not have not met with King Aros, for if you had, trust me, you would understand. Those rumors must be wrong.” Riona turned to the voice that spoke to see a short girl with glasses and a perky smile.
“Nathalie Turnbrit, it’s nice to meet you. And I like what you are wearing. What are they called?” She gestured toward Riona’s jeans.
“Blue jeans but I know I can’t wear them here.” Riona sighed.
“I have met King Aros,” Riona said at the exact time as the bell rang.
When only Riona jumped, she remembered that the bells rang in every House and was used to announce a class or a meal. That bell had rung at the same time that she had spoken about King Aros, and she saw that no one had heard her.
“I have spent the past six months studying things you all have had years learning. Professor Augustorio told me that I wasn’t scheduled for this class today,” Riona looked down at the floor, not wanting the girls to see that she was upset to miss a class.
“The House will assign you a suite on one of the floors.” Nathalie lifted Riona’s chin gently with her fingers.
“It’s going to be okay; we’ll help you.”
“Thank you Nathalie but I don’t want that hatred turned on you. What floor is Jessica on?”
“She has a room on the fifth floor but she doesn’t have a whole floor to herself.”
Puzzlement filled Riona, and Corinne was nice enough to speak up.
“Each of us has a suite of rooms but no one has an entire floor. It’s, usually, two girls per floor except for the twins who share a suite. We don’t mind as we like the current arrangement. The House can add rooms and floors when it wants to, and it told us that it had decided that you rank a whole floor to yourself. That is yet another thorn in Jessica’s side since she heard what House Five had said. I think it meant for her to hear. And it had just mentioned you right before your arrival so it was fresh in Jessica’s mind. Oh yeah and the fact that you saw and heard through her glamor!” Corinne laughed before apologizing that they must go. The girls began to rush towards the back of the House, and Riona watched them go.
“It’s time for our lesson for animal care. We knew you were coming today, so I looked for your name on the schedule, and it wasn’t there. We think the House wants to settle you in your new suite, I mean floor.” Ruby shouted out to Riona before joining the rest of the girls who were quickly disappearing through the back door. A bunch of girls shouted out ‘see you later’ while a few others just said, ‘bye!’ Riona thought about the last hour and decided that all the girls in the House seemed to obey Jessica’s every wish yet behind her back they seemed free and happy. The important thing was to understand that it was out of fear and not respect. House Five began to speak interrupting Riona’s thoughts.
“Jessica has always been a beautiful, elegant, lovely package on the outside but on the inside she is ugly to her core.” Riona could think of nothing nice to say after that.
“While the rest of the girls are out attending their lesson, could you please tell me about my placement here? I’d like to wash up a bit, please.” Riona was afraid of being placed close to Jessica’s suite.
“Fear not, I have placed you in the basement,” it told her.
“The basement?” To Riona’s great horror, her voice squeaked like a mouse!
“You will approve of this placement while young Jessica will be delighted that you are not above ground. She seems to believe, and quite wrongly too that the higher the floor a girl lives on, the stronger the witch is.
Now if you would please walk down the hallway, yes stand right there and place your hand on the big wooden side of the clock, perfect! It will open only to your touch and to those that you may grant access to enter. Partially above your suite will be our garden so no noise from chattering girls will interfere in your studies. It is imperative that nothing impedes your learning.”
“Why?” Riona asked the House, curiosity making her brave at that moment.
“I need you and you will need me. Now please enter the basement and descend the stairs. Ask for light, and it shall come.” When the clock moved after she placed her hand where the House advised her to, it swung open, and she looked down the dark staircase and wondered if House Five hated her too.
“It’s a very special privilege to have such privacy as I have given you.”
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to appear ungrateful. It’s just that all I’ve learned in my life is that you hide what you do not want others to see in the basement. I do apologize.”
Riona touched the wooden bannister and whispered, “light” and the stairway leading down into the dark was suddenly bright with light. Kind of like how the Golden Palace lit up. Light was just there. No bulbs or even candles.
Once she stepped fully onto the staircase and took a step down; the clock swung closed behind her with a soft click.
“You made that sound on purpose didn’t you? To teach me?” She asked the House as she descended down into the basement. Once she stepped off the narrow stairs, the sight that greeted her was overwhelming, and she fell to her knees.
“Truly you did this just for me?” Her voice was quiet but filled with awe as the space she had been given was huge and familiar.
“This is your living space. You will need it.”
“You’re going to make me cry and I don’t cry.”
“Trust in the fact that I want you to be happy. You have done so much for the Golden Palace, and we are grateful to you,” the House told her.
“There is a door behind the stairs. If you enter that door, it will take you straight to the Golden Palace, the real one.”
Overwhelmed with emotions, she felt happy and then suddenly she felt like her energy was being drained away. She looked around and saw several doors and open spaces. The doors began to glow as symbols appeared upon them.
“In case you’ve forgotten from this morning!” the House laughed.
“This is amazing and I am very thankful. I hate to admit it, but I feel really tired right now. It’s probably because my emotions are all mixed up. And this is the first time I’ve been around other teenagers though Jessica hasn’t been a good experience. It’s going to be hard living with someone who hates me. Thanks for the protection weave, Has it worn off?”
“I have removed it because you are in a safe area. The only person able to access this area is King Aros and only if either you or I allow it.”
“Wow, thanks, House Five. Being a replica of the space I occupied in the Golden Palace that would mean my bedchamber would be to the right. I came here with only my jeans, T-shirt and hoodie. Though I’ve been able to wear them while, at the Golden Palace, I don’t know where the clothing I’m supposed to wear is. I’d rather keep my clothing here even if I can’t wear them.”
Yawning, she covered her mouth before walking towards the bedchamber. She saw the pedestal and the familiar bed, and she kicked her shoes off on her way to it. The House started to tell her something, but she couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore, it was like all her energy was being siphoned away. As she climbed onto the bed, she collapsed on the deep blue bedspread, and a soft white pillow was her personal cloud.
Her last thoughts were about her jeans disappearing and having to wear dresses and long skirts for the rest of her life. She thought of an angry Jessica finding out about her space in the basement and its connection to the Golden Palace and of her own weary heart longing to belong. She felt movement over her, but she was too tired to keep her eyes open. She knew that something soft had been placed over her and that it smelled of vanilla and lavender.
The Golden Palace
Professor Lucas tried to close the doors to the Golden Palace, but they wouldn’t seal. “What is wrong with these doors?”
“You are to keep the doors open, Professor Lucas,” the Golden Palace said.
“You do not have that choice. I have taken care of you for centuries. I wish to lock the doors to keep unwanted visitors away. I do not want students in here ruining your beauty.”
“If you seal me up again, I will be lost. I do not want to be lost. Riona and King Aros promised that my doors would remain open. You must talk with King Aros,” the Golden Palace sounded very sad.
“You are a building that will always be treasured. In fact, you are the first building in the recorded history of Asgrove. I want to keep you pure for when our queen returns.” The professor started to pace inside.
“I wish for my doors to stay open so that my beauty can draw our queen home.”
“I never thought of it that way. Where did you get that thought Golden Palace?”
“Riona. She was the first, since Queen Riona to share her power with me, and now King Aros shares his energy with me. You must keep my doors open. I have seen the queen, and I want her home.”
“Where is she?” The professor stopped pacing and looked around himself.
“She is on this campus but I can tell you no more.”
“That is just a rumor; she’s not here.”
“She is here. I have seen her; The Goddess has come here and blessed her. She is beautiful.”
“The Goddess is always beautiful Golden Palace.” The professor felt frustrated.
“Of course, she is but in that sentence I was referring to our queen.”
“You speak of nonsense. Share with me the energy Riona Brooks gave you. I want to feel her power level.”
“You have cared for me for as long as I can remember but you ask too much of me now.”
“Share with me now Golden Palace. I need to know her energy level hasn’t damaged you.”
“Please just take a small sample,” the Golden Palace pleaded with him. “Her magic is so pure.”
“I will decide if that is true. We do not know her bloodline, and I will let nothing harm you.”
“Take what you will but only for this one deal,” the Golden Palace whispered.
Professor Lucas drew in Riona’s energy and fell flat on his rear end. “Wow,” he whispered.
“I told you. She is my friend.”
“Very well, if you feel safe with your doors open then they shall stay open. As I have told you before, I wish only the best for you and I worry. I was not allowed inside these long centuries, and I am ashamed that I didn’t think to share my energy with you. Please forgive me.”
“Professor, you are forgiven. Thank you for taking care of me.”
Professor Lucas made a short bow before leaving the palace’s doors open.
“House Five,” the Golden Palace called out.
“Is Riona okay? Professor Lucas just drained a bit of my power, and I felt a thread pull at me and realized that Riona is bound to me. You will need to create a new bond to keep her magic safe.”
“She is sleeping; that must be why she felt so tired. When she awakens, I will do as you say. Thank you Golden Palace. May you stay open and keep this world bright.” House Five turned its attention towards the sleeping girl in the basement.
January 30, 2011
She did not awaken until the next morning, and she was surprised to find that she still felt tired.
Her eyes took in the sight around her, and she smiled too at the thought of waking up in an exact copy of the rooms she stayed in at the Golden Palace.
“House Five?” Riona asked tentatively as she sat up on her bed. She stared at the quilt that covered her.
“To answer your question, I thought it would be more comfortable for you to be among familiar surroundings. Everything you had at the Golden Palace you now have here including your quilt and pillow. King Aros wanted you to have the quilt. It wasn’t in the Golden Palace before you arrived. No one knows where it came from. I can bring you daylight or the stars during the night if you so wish. I ask one thing in return. For you to share your energy with me. As you grow in your talents, your life energy will expand. Sometimes you will be overfilled with energy and I would like you to share it with me when that happens. Will you do this for me?”
Because she had done it easily with the Golden Palace and knew that King Aros was now supplying the Golden Palace with his energy she readily agreed. “House Five, if you can bring me daylight and the stars of the night, I will gladly share my power with you.” A small chime sounded and then the voice of the Record Keeper filled her sleeping room. “So recorded between Riona Brooks and House Five, exchange of energy for light and stars.”
“Let us exchange a spell and I will give you a blue ribbon to wear around your upper right arm. Repeat after me until we form one voice.” House Five said, and Riona nodded as a blue satin ribbon appeared on her lap.
“A spell we use to bind our agreement, of an exchange of energy for light and stars!
A blue ribbon we use to show our vow,
That energy will be given to House Five even now,
As House Five will use it for the good of all,
This witch does offer freely with her voice, like a call,
So shall we say, so shall it be!”
“You did very well for your first spell Riona. Now please hold up your arm.”
“Oh, you are tying it on my arm, thank you. House Five. How come the chime and the record keeper thing didn’t happen at the Golden Palace when I agreed to give it my energy?”
“You didn’t need a spell or the rest. The Golden Palace has been running on very little energy for so long, and it recognized you as its own. So there was no need for a vow. I don’t need one either, but the Record Keeper wants it recorded. We have our rules and secrets too Riona.”
“Thank you House Five. Please tell me, can you talk to all of the girls here at the same time or just one at a time?”
“I can hold many conversations at once. I can make changes to my inner structure or outer attributes at any time with the whole Asgrove Academy if I so wished. Or if I have been instructed to do so by the council or King Aros. I can connect you to everyone in all the other Houses too.”
“Your voice comforts me in this place that I find myself so lost in. Thank you House Five. Is there any other name I may address you?”
“Nightshade,” it whispered. “Nightshade. In appropriate times I will address you formerly as House Five and in our private times like this, I shall call you Nightshade. Thank you, Nightshade.” Riona smiled as she swung her legs over the side of her bed. “Tell me, does the Golden Palace have a nickname?” Riona asked House Five.
“It does. It doesn’t like it though so it won’t speak of it. You honor me as no witch or wizard has done in a very long time with your vow.” House Five seemed to sigh and then she could feel it’s energy around her. She felt her own energy settle inside, and the tiredness vanished. It was then that she realized how hungry she was and that she had to use the bathroom badly. The bathroom came first and then she wandered through the open kitchen area marveling at the use of technology and the lack of it too.
“Why can’t they have smart phones here?”
Opening the door on a large metal box this world calls ‘cold storage,’ (refrigerator!) she found some bread and smiled. She picked out a glass container of water and a red drink that she knew wouldn’t make her sick. She was euphoric to not see the other foods this realm enjoyed as they made her terribly sick.
“Ah, they told me about this. Everything in cold storage will never spoil. How interesting and convenient.” Riona rambled on out loud. It had always been a habit of hers to speak aloud or sing aloud, and she didn’t care if anyone thought it weird, wrong or otherwise.
“I’m not changing who I am just because I’m in this realm now,” she told herself as she took two slices of bread. The bread was very thick and tasted like no bread from her world yet it did have a smooth flavor she had grown to like. She grabbed two glass bottles as they didn’t seem to use plastic here. One glass was clear, and its contents looked like water while the other was red, and she knew it to be redtea, which tasted like cranberries. She liked to pour some of the redtea on the bread. Taking her morning meal, she moved to sit at the counter in her kitchen on one of the three wooden stools. After finishing off her bread, she felt better.
“Riona, King Aros has made a special drink for you. An energy drink. It is in all your cold storage units in your suite, and I see you just drank it. It doesn’t have a taste and is clear.”
“Oh, I thought it was water! Thanks, House Five, that was kind of him.”
She wandered around a bit, drinking her energy drink but even though there was much to explore; she heard that bell chime and a schedule appeared on the wall right next to the cold storage box.
“Lessons,” she said.
“Go to your closet, it is filled with appropriate clothing for your lessons. I promise to keep your jeans, T-shirt, hoodie and shoes available to you,” House Five said to her. Riona walked to her closet and marveled at the contents but wished there were pants.
“Free?” She whispered while her eyes soaked in every garment and all the shoes. Lots of black boots, with a heel or no heel!
“A gift from the king, he felt that since it was his magic that drew you into this realm that he, at the very least, owed you clothing to fit in. Look in the back right corner. Open the top drawer. Yes, that one. He had those made for you. You may wear them under your skirts and dresses outside of this House as long as they can’t be seen. You can wear them any time while here in your suite or anywhere in the Golden Palace.”
“Oh, how thoughtful,” Riona whispered before selecting a pair of soft skin tight black leggings, a black skirt and white blouse. She looked down at the black skirt she chose and lifted up the bottom hem to see her black leggings and smiled. Then, realizing she might miss her first lesson she made a dash for the stairs.
“White long sleeved blouse with a long black skirt, thick socks and tall black boots. At least the boots are cool, and the leggings rock! Oh Nightshade? Could I please have a jacket? I mean a cloak?”
“Yes Riona. Here is a plain black cloak, but it will keep you warm, and it has pockets inside.”
As she reached the top of the stairs, a cloak was draped over the wooden railing. Taking it, she gently tied it at her throat.
“Awesome! Thank you, now I shall go about my day and pretend I fit in here!” She said before pushing the clock open.
“A gift from the king,” House Five whispered. She could see the girls she had met the day before running down the hallway almost out of the House and she quickly followed them. She knew it was time for her first lesson of the morning, ‘Talent Training’ at the North Gate Labyrinth Maze.
“I’ve never seen a real maze before,” Riona told House Five before saying goodbye and rushing out into the dew covered, sunny morning. She stopped short right outside.
“Please tell the king a big thank you for me and thank you to you too House Five.” Then she ran to her class.
“She is perfect,” House Five said.
“She is most certainly interesting. Thank you for sharing with me House Five,” King Aros sent a high pulse of energy to the House and the Golden Palace. He gave House Five the power as a reward for the information it had shared with him. Then he and the House spoke together.
“A spell to guide a young witch to be successful!
Our strengths, our rarest skills,
Within this young witch we inspire,
May she learn and work and help without tire,
In every greatest hour!”
“Thank you House Five. You have chosen well to have this young witch within your walls. Let us hope with everything we have that I have predicted what truly will come to pass.” King Aros said before he left to attend the morning’s first council meeting of the day to discuss a rather sensitive project he wished to introduce this year.
“Both the Golden Palace and I agree with your prediction King Aros,” House Five whispered happily.
“This should prove to be a very exciting year.”
END, thank you!