Gather ’round boys and girls, ’cause it’s time for a new story! Another one that ties into the world I’m building, which I talked about in this post. So just me, writing stories to try and flesh out a world of magic and mayhem. Well, not really mayhem… I’ll stop talking now and let you read it. Enjoy and tell me what you think!
There was something partially blocking the door to my flat. Something heavy. I gingerly slid through the narrow space between and closed the door behind me. Someone had been in my house. It was the small things that gave it away, really. The teacup I had used this morning was washed and on the rack, the books I had been reading through no longer left open but neatly stacked. And of course one big thing; a big chest made out of dark wood sitting just inside the room, like the person carrying it in simply couldn’t lift it any longer. It could only mean one thing.
“Mum,” I said as soon as she picked up, “why is there an ancient wooden chest in my flat?”
“Oh, hi sweetie.” My mother replied, the sounds of pots and pans clanging against each other sounded in the background meaning she was just about to start cooking. “Well, remember your father’s aunt, the one who recently passed away?”
“You mean crazy aunt Irma?” A loud metallic clang made me wince.
“Exie! You don’t say something like that. The poor thing was a little -” she paused as if looking for a polite word “eccentric, yes. But there is nothing wrong with that.”
“Mum, you never let me stay at her house over the weekend, even though she asked for it many times. You thought she was a few bristles short of a broom as well, admit it. Besides, it’s what da used to call her.”
“Well, yes. But it’s not proper to talk about the dead that way.” She chastised, obviously distracted by cutting vegetables.
I gave it another moment, but she said nothing more. “Do you know what’s in it?” I asked, flashes of horror films on repeat through my head. Mum stopped cutting for a moment.
“No, I haven’t the faintest. I tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. Which is odd, since there isn’t a lock on the thing.”
“That is weird.” I replied, staring at the chest with rising apprehension. “Well, I’ll see what happens. If you don’t hear from me in an hour call 999, yeah?”
That got a startled laugh out of her. “I’m sure it’s fine, love. Your da might have called her crazy, but you were always her favourite niece.” A pause. “Johnny, no don’t – how would you even -” a noise of pure frustration came through the receiver.
“It’s alright, mum,” I laughed, “go do damage control. Give Harry and the brats my love, yeah?”
“Right. See you Sunday at breakfast.” Mum asked/demanded just as my little brother yelled “Bye, Exie!”
“See you Sunday.” I confirmed, smiling.
The chest was old. Made from green-stained wood with intricate carvings of flowering wreaths around the sides. The lid was plain and, like mum had said, there was no sign of anything keeping it shut. It was also heavy. Almost-throwing-out-your-back-while-dragging-it-to-the-couch heavy. It didn’t look dangerous, I thought as I let myself fall back onto said couch. It just looked old. I gently tried to lift the lid, frowning when it opened without resistance. Strange, mum’s prying must have helped loosen the lid somehow. The smell of old books and dried herbs wafted up as I looked inside. The first thing that caught my eye was a letter, my name written in aunt Irma’s elegant scrawl. It was sealed shut with a honest to god waxed seal, the symbol of a five pointed star pressed into the black wax. I put it aside for a moment, my curiosity too strong.
There were books, huge ancient tomes with different sets of handwriting in each one. Every page marked with a name and a date, the oldest going back to 1739. They looked like recipe books, but some of the ingredients didn’t make sense. Stuff like devil’s claw, raven feathers and the tail hair of a unicorn. Okay, things were now officially weird. There were notes and adaptations written in the side margins, all in different hands and different inks. Aunt Irma’s handwriting glittered up at me in sparkly pink on one of the pages. The next thing I pulled out was a knife. A big one. Like the chest, it looked old and handmade. The blade gleaming silver, the wooden handle stained the same green as the chest. Copper leaves and acorns adorned the crossguard. It was beautiful. A shock like I touched a livewire ran through me as I lifted it and I almost dropped it in reflex. I quickly put it back in its leather sheath and placed it inside the chest. There were jars filled with what looked liked herbs and some other things I couldn’t see from up here. However, I was well on my way towards freaking out and there was no way I was touching anything else without an explanation. Mind made up, I nodded to myself as I picked up the letter. Aunt Irma had some explaining to do.
Apparently Irma had fancied sparkly pens, I though as I stared at the beautiful Jane-Austen-style handwriting done in glittery purple. A hint of lavender and spices still clung to the paper. My dearest Exerepha, it began and I rolled my eyes at the use of my full name. Do not roll your eyes at me, young one, it’s a strong and powerful name that has served our family for generations. It read. Startled, I looked around the room, but there was nothing there. For one crazy moment I wondered if perhaps the letter was writing itself while I was reading it, like in Harry Potter, but the glittery purple was spread all about the page. She just knew me well, I told myself. I continued on. There is much I wish I could have told you in person, my dear. But alas, fate has been cruel to our family. I’ve tried to be the one to give you your training, but your father never told the truth about our family to your mother, and when he passed, this chance was taken away from us. Exerepha, you are the last in a long line of mages in our family. This chest contains all the tools and knowledge of many generations of mages. You have a power within you, I have felt it since the day you were born. Now it is time for you to unlock this power.
For a moment I could do nothing more than sit there, the letter folded in my lap. Was Irma even crazier than I’d thought, or was there really something more to the part of my family I knew so little about? The books, spellbooks, my mind supplied, were old and written by many, many hands. In sixth form I did a report on wicca for my religious studies, but the way Irma spoke about it, this seemed to go deeper than that. Further. I took a deep breath and unfolded the letter again. I was not going to get any answers staring at the wall.
You will need someone to guide you. Someone to take on the role that I would have loved to have had. Know that you are not alone, dear one, there are those around you who can help you find your spark and nurture it to flame. I have prepared one last spell for you. In the chest you will find a small pouch of black velvet. In it a shimmering stone. Hold it to your heart and speak these words: “heart to heart and mind to mind, show me those who’re of my kind.” It will show you whom you need. Do not fear your heritage, sweet heart, embrace it, and it will show you wonders you could only dream of. I wish you kindness and luck on your journey and should you ever need me, I will be right there in your heart. Love you always, Irma.
Indecision weighed on me. My mind was telling me that Irma was most likely crazy, this talk about mages and spells being the rants of a madwoman. But my heart was telling me something different. It was reminding me of all the times I’d felt different from my family. All the times I’d seem to have just a little bit more good luck than others. Could this be magic? The chest and its contents seemed to either prove Irma’s words or show an insanity that spanned for many generations. Well, there was only one way to find out for sure, I thought as I picked up a small velvet pouch. The stone glinted in the evening light, reflecting in all the colours of the rainbow. The stone itself was greyish blue, but is was its sheen that made it so very beautiful. There was something on the stone, an oil of some kind that smelled almost sickeningly sweet. Part of the spell, I figured. My heart was thumping so loud in my chest I was afraid the neighbours would hear it. Adrenaline making my hands shake and my fingers tingle. Was I really doing this? Apparently I was because the next moment I had the stone pressed to my heart and my eyes once again reading the spell in the letter, memorizing it. Well, here went nothing. The words rang out impossibly loud in the until now quiet flat. Nothing. For a moment I felt disappointment. I think everyone secretly has a wish to find out that they have magic powers. But as the moment stretched and nothing happened, I felt that wish slowly die out. There was nothing here, there was nothing magical about me or my family. I lowered the stone, not putting it down yet, that small flicker of hope still clinging. But after this, I did need some tea, I decided. I stood up and for a moment I couldn’t see.
A flash of bright golden light filled the room and when it faded, I was standing in a forest. I looked around, confused, and felt the first beginnings of panic until I saw I was not alone. A young woman, around my age, was gathering mushrooms. I must have made a noise of some kind because she suddenly looked up, straight at me. “Oh hi!” she greeted me, her smile warm and wide and inviting.
Another flash and I was standing in a cafe, looking towards a table where two older men were deep in conversation. The one who was talking flicked his gaze up at me, a knowing smile creeping on his face as he gestured his teacup at me in recognition.
Another flash. The heavy scent of incense assaulted me, as did the heavy metal music screaming from the speakers. This room was small, the walls and ceiling painted a deep purple. A young girl, no older that fifteen, was staring up at me with wide eyes. “Wow.” She breathed. “That is so cool.” Candlelight flickered around her where she sat on the floor, a spellbook open in her lap. I grinned at her and opened my mouth to speak, but I wasn’t fast enough as another flash took me away.
Another room, this one in cool blues and greens. A guy was standing in front of me, a basket of laundry under his arm. “Exie?” He asked, surprised. “Max?” I countered, recognizing one of my old classmates. He’d always seemed so normal. A wide grin spread across his face, both mischief and respect sparkling in his blue eyes. “So you’re -?” “Apparently” I grinned right back.
Another flash and I was standing in what looked like a small cottage. The warmth of a fire brushed against my skin as it was burning merrily in the hearth, a witch’s broom standing next to it. Herbs of all kinds were hanging from hooks on the ceiling, the smells reminding me of cold winter days at home with my father. A woman, around my mother’s age was looking at me, her smile warm. She was wearing a purple dress in many layers, a white apron tied around her waist. Her curly brown hair was tied away from her face and her green eyes were twinkling with mirth. “Exerepha?” She asked, her smile growing when I nodded. “I’ve been waiting for you, my dear. It’s so good to finally meet you.” The light seemed to go brighter for a moment, then died down again. “We don’t have much time, but don’t worry, I’ll know how to find you –.”
Another flash. I was back on my couch again, breathing hard like I’d ran up the stairs. I also couldn’t stop smiling. It was real, it was all real. And now I was going to start on an exiting new path of magic. If only I could find the people in my vision. My phone rang just as someone knocked on my door. Suddenly I had the feeling finding them wouldn’t be much of a problem.