BY. S. F. WHEELER
When I was younger I lived in a very strange forest. One that hid many mythical beasts according to mother. I would ask to go outside but the answer was always the same, “You must never go into the woods. Never leave our land. Never be tempted by the forest.”
That was easy to say when you were a witch. Mother simply put up an invisible wall around our house and small lawn. But it didn’t stop me from trying, I walked into that wall a hundred times or more before I realized I was never getting out.
In all the time I lived there though I never did see any mythical beasts. Wolves, bears, the occasional mountain lion, and all the small critters that ran when I looked at them. But not beasts. After spending eighteen years in the same place, knowing my mother was a witch but not having magic of my own, I decided to bail.
You see the strange forest, Mystic Grove, while it may not be home to beasts it was home to many witches and wizards. They hid away from the human world in a forest no human would dear tread. I had only met two other people from Mystic Grove. My mothers friend, Clarice, and her son of my age, Fenri. I think they intended for us to be wed but not even mother, Diana, goddess of the forest, could make me do that.
Unfortunately Clarice and her husband, whoever he was, also didn’t want a witch with no magic to taint their line. A witch with no magic is human for the most part. If I was human then it was the perfect excuse to leave Mystic Grove. So I packed my things and snuck out at midnight, a time when not even a powerful witch would dear step into the darkness.
It was easy to get outside the invisible wall now, I knew a trick to it. I took out my dagger and plunged it in to the hilt then sliced it down to the ground. I quickly slipped threw the tear before it closed back up. I followed the dirt trail into town, yes there was a little witch town in the centre of Mystic Grove. I had only been there a handful of times when mother needed to trade for something she couldn’t make or grow herself.
The town was almost fifteen minutes from my house. When I made it there the faint glow of witchlight illuminated the town just enough to see where I was going. Every scorn had a glowing ball of light in it created by a witch or wizard. They never went out unless the one who made it turned it off. I started to wish I could do that spell so I didn’t have to wander threw the pitch black night. As I passed stores and houses there wasn’t a single movement behind the glass. Not a sole was awake at this time because you never go out at midnight.
I stood at the town square for a moment, watching the fountain statue spray water into the air. I supposed I would miss this place. It was home after all. I didn’t know anything other then this place. That was the most frightening part about leaving. I didn’t know anything else. I was told how the humans lived like us only in bigger cities with cars and gadgets. Would I fit in? I looked down to my silk dress and figured maybe not. And if the woods was dangerous a dress was not something to be running around in.
I slipped into the tailor shop, no one locks their doors, and searched threw the racks. I pulled a sturdy leather armour off it’s rack and put it on. It was still stiff from never being worn but that wouldn’t matter. The tailor always said he put enchantments on his armours. The tag on this one said it was enchanted to be bullet proof, water proof, and teeth proof. Perfect. If a beast decided to bite me I wouldn’t feel it threw the armour. Or so I hoped.
I left some of mothers gems on the counter as payment. Mother dug them up all the time and traded with the tailor who adored them. He said they would make for great embellishments on his clothing.
When I reached the edge of town I looked back for a moment. It was a quaint little town, full of friendly magical people. I’d have liked to say goodbye but of course no one would let me leave then. I went back for one last thing before heading out into the darkness.
I held the witchlight close to my chest and walked into the forest. I was sure when they woke up in the morning the first ting they would see was the empty scorn. I grabbed the little ball of light in my hand and made off with it. I just hoped I only needed it for tonight, when they found it missing they would think it was stolen by someone trying to show real magic to humans. Then it would go out. But I didn’t know how far the human city was from Mystic Grove. I didn’t even know what way to walk in. I kind of just let my feet take over and hope I ended up in the right place.
The sun was rising when I had to stop and rest. So far every creature I met in the woods just scampered away. Most animals were afraid of witches, I didn’t know if it was the purple eyes or the fact that we could see into soles that scared them off. That was the only thing that made me a witch. My eyes were still purple and I could see into soles when I looked someone in the eye. But that was the extent of my magic.
As I sat on the fallen tree I heard footsteps. I remained still so no beast would find me. But whatever beast it was, it was running towards me. I stood, not sure weather to run, hide, or climb a tree. I was frozen in place as someone called “Watch out!” just as a giant furry beast with sharp teeth and long claws leaped at me.
The pain in my head caused me to wake up. I forced my eyes open and found myself not on the ground but on a blanket. With as little movement as possible I took in my surroundings. There was a fire crackling beside me and a pile of fruit laid near my head. I sat up quickly and gobbled down the berries.
“Hungry were you?” came that voice again.
I jumped and turned to see a boy sitting beside the fire. He had short neatly cut hair an ever darker black then my long wavy hair. But we had the same purple eyes.
“Who are you?” I asked, looking for an escape route. He was a foot taller than me with a well toned body. Compared to him I was scrawny and easy prey.
“My name is Ryker.” he said. “Who are you? And why are you out so deep in the forest?”
“Aleria Thea.” I said.
His eyes widened and he raised an eyebrow at me. “A Thea? Out here?”
“I ran off.” I told him.
“Diana, queen of the forest, looses her child to the forest. Quite an ironic twist.” he said. “I take it no one knows you ran off?”
I looked to the witchlight still glowing on the ground and shook my head.
“It’s quite the spell,” he said “Even unconscious the light didn’t waver.”
“Witchlight doesn’t go out when you sleep.” I responded.
“Lucky witches.” he muttered.
I only knew of what mother told me but she did say that witches were more powerful than wizards. While we merely thought of spells and cast them with the flick of a wrist, wizards had to use spoken spells to cast. When I looked at Ryker though, I could see ruins burned onto his skin. A very old tradition held only for wizards. Each ruin was seared onto the flesh as a permanent mark. I knew the meanings of these ruins, or shadow symbols, very well. On his right wrist was the symbol for strength, the left wrist was protection. It was for a warrior, the right had would hold a sword the left a shield. And there they sat just beside him, shining sword and shield.
“What are you?” I asked then.
A quirk of the mouth as he said “What am I? A wizard.”
“No. The symbols. That tradition was lost ages ago.” I said. “You bear warrior symbols.”
“Very clever. I am a warrior.” he said. “Or should I say was. Your town is not the only one in Mystic Grove you know. My town was feuding with a near town and things got ugly. Able men were marked as warriors and sent into battle. The woman used magics to heal and defend. After years of bloodshed I abandoned my town. But don’t worry I marked myself for that one.”
He turned around and pulled his shirt over his head. Between his shoulder blades was the symbol for abandonment. It was only ever on two kinds of people. Those who left in battle or those who left their family.
“You don’t need to worry.” he said turning back to me “Only wizards get the ruins. And only those who still follow the old ways.”
He had more symbols on his arms and chest. One over his heart for life, it was given as a baby. One beside that for sole and when I seen that the others didn’t matter.
“You have the sole marking.” I said shocked. “They only give that to those-”
“Who are said to have no sole.” he said for me.
“It was meant to give a sole to someone without one.” I explained though I’m sure he already knew that. His eyes darted to mine and I felt myself gasp for air. My heart raced but I couldn’t look away. I felt the emptiness. It was like a hallow tree, it looked fine on the outside but there was nothing on the inside. But it wasn’t just empty that I felt, also an ache a very painful ache. It was suffocating.
I felt my breath catch and blinked hard. Ryker was looking off into the forest.
“Why would you leave if you love your mother and your peaceful little town?” he asked at last with a strained voice.
“You should have seen why. I have no magic.” I said. “Even sole gazing is hard for me.”
“It looked painful.” he said.
“And it is.” I responded.
“Sorry.” he said. “But you could see couldn’t you?”
“Yeah I saw. Emptiness, but that’s not all.”
“What?” he turned to steer at me, avoiding my eyes of course.
“There’s an ache.” I told him. “It’s very painful to feel. Like something is missing. Something you wish to have back.”
He nodded and it was a long time before he spoke. “My mother died in the fighting. I was always closer to her than father.”
We sat together for a long time just waiting for the feeling of the sole gaze to wear off. It was hard enough feeling your own life but to feel someone elses too. It took a while to come back from that.
“So,” I said. “What exactly attacked me before?”
“That was Finnick.” Ryker said.
“The beast has a name?” I questioned.
“Yes.” he said. “Finnick for finicky.”
“You’re kidding right?”
“No.” he said. “It wasn’t me that named the beast. I was only told about it. Finnick is a beast called a shifter. He can take on any form he chooses. Er, animal form at least. I don’t think he can be human. But legend tells that men use to ride such beasts into battle. Many have tried to tame Finnick but as I said he’s a bit finicky.”
“Is that why you were chasing him?” I asked.
“Yeah.” he said. “If I could tame him I’m sure flying into battle on a dragon would stop everyone in my town and the next.”
“Clearly not going so well.”
“No I can’t catch the bugger. But it was a good thing you had on that armour, one pounce from him and you would have been dead.”
“Well thanks for making sure I wasn’t dead.” I said. “But I have to get moving before it gets dark again.”
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“A human city.” I said. “I have no magic so I’m just a human.”
“I doubt that very much.” Ryker said. “If you could look upon your own sole you’d see that too.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You were not born without magic.” he said. “You were cursed never to be able to use it.”
“How could that be?” I asked.
“Look at the palm of your hand.” he said.
I looked at both palms but nothing was there. He took my left hand palm up and whispered the words of a spell. A flash of light blinded me momentarily. Once it faded I could see the blazing red lines on my hand. It was indeed a curse.
“How did you take off the glamour on my mind?” I asked.
“A wizard secret.” he said. “We can undo other spells while witches cannot.”
“So can you undo the curse?” I asked.
“I said spells not curses.” he responded. “I can’t even begin to fathom who would do this or how to undo it.”
“So that’s it? I live my whole life thinking I have no magic then I’m told I have magic but I still can’t ever use it?” I snapped.
“Well I never said that. I said I can’t fix it. But I might know someone who can.” he smiled.
So I ditched my plan of becoming a human and followed Ryker, the strange wizard I found in the woods, to some old wizard he called Malbor. As we walked he talked.
“Malbor is like your mother. He’s an immortal.” Ryker said. “One of the more powerful magic wielders. People say he can undo any spell and I bet he can help with that curse.”
“So where is he?” I asked.
“Like you and your mother, he lives outside of one of the towns of Mystic Grove, just close enough to still be under it’s protection spell.” Ryker said. “only the town we’re headed to is sort of…”
“That sounds bad.” I sighed.
“Well it’s one of the towns that still live in the old ways. It’s also… wizards only.” he said.
“Well how do I get in then? And why would he help a witch?” I asked.
“That’s the catch isn’t it.” he said. “Lucky for us there’s one way past the male only rule.”
“And what’s that?” I asked.
So I sat hidden in a small group of bushes while Ryker went into town. I stashed my things in a hollow of a tree and brushed out my hair which had previously been tied up. I was shedding my armour when Ryker returned.
“Here.” he said handing me a pile of fabric. “Put this on.”
I unfolded the dress and steered amazed. It was a beautiful red dress with diamonds around the top. A dress of a very wealthy woman whom probably had just gotten married.
“Where on earth did you find this?” I asked in awe as I slipped it on.
“The store.” he said. “If this is going to work you need to pass for a newly wed woman.”
“Then this is defiantly the dress.” I said. “But I doubt they would think a young girl was just wed.”
“In this town…” he paused “Well let’s just say you should fit in fine. And with my ruins no one will think I’m out of place. Oh but here, put this on too. And be careful with it.”
The simple touch of the ring sent me threw flashes of it’s previous life. “This was your mothers.”
“Yeah.” he said. “Now come on let’s see if we can’t get your curse lifted.”
We walked into the town and got a few questioning looks. I grabbed onto Ryker’s arm like I seen all the wives do and most of the looks vanished. There were only three or four girls in the town, all of them clinging to their husbands. One looked into my eyes for a brief moment, just long enough for me to feel her pity and fear. Why was she afraid? She gave an encouraging smile as we passed.
“She showed you didn’t she.” Ryker said quietly to me. “What happens here.”
“I felt pity and fear.” I said.
“Both for you I’m sure.” he sighed.
“Why?” I asked.
“I said women are here only after they wed a man from here yes, well it’s not so fun for them here. A town of all men. They’re only purpose here is to make children. And any female children are only raised to sixteen when they are sold off.” he said.
“Sold off!” I hissed as I tried to be quiet.
“Yes.” Ryker said. I caught the eyes of one of the men for a brief moment and realized why no one but the women seem concerned here. The men were empty like Ryker. No soles.
We stopped outside a store where I acted giddy and pointed to something on display. We wanted to fit into town and not just run right up to Malbor’s house. Luckily Ryker had an idea for that too. We went into the store and while I looked at clothes Ryker went to the clerk.
“That sign out on the trail,” he said. “Is it true?”
“The one about old man Malbor?” the clerk asked.
“Is he really able to tell the future?” Ryker asked.
“I was told so.” the clerk said. “Never tried it myself. You and your wife thinking of getting your future read?”
“Yeah we were.” Ryker said. “Hoping to see if we’ll have a son.”
“Ah I see.” the clerk smiled. “He should be able to tell that easy.”
“Then I think we’ll take a trip up.” Ryker said. “Aleria the sign wasn’t fake. Shall we go have our future told?”
“Yes.” I said with a smile.
It wasn’t hard to find our way. Like my mother, Malbor had picked a house about fifteen minutes from town but it had a beaten path leading to it.
“We should be home free from here.” Ryker said. “Malbor isn’t like the rest of the town.”
“So he has a sole?” I asked as I detached myself from Ryker’s arm.
“Well no, but he is much better than them.” Ryker said. “He should help us.”
“I’ll trust you on that, the sooner we get out of this town the better.” I said with a shiver.
“Thea, I won’t say you’re safe here but your not in danger with me.” he said.
“Well that’s pretty clear since you won’t even use my first name.” I said.
“I used it just seconds ago.” he argued.
“Yeah because the clerk thinks we’re married.” I said. “And here I don’t even know your last name.”
“It’s Shay. Ryker Shay.” he sighed.
“Shay? As in Shawn Shay’s son?” I asked.
“But you’re…” I steered at him confused.
“I’m not dead.” he said. “I ran off.”
“But you… I heard of you all the way in my town. The Shay son seen his mother die and took his life beside her. Shawn was later roomered to have used blood magic to… bring you… back.”
He pulled up his shirt to reveal what I hadn’t noticed before. A scar threw the life symbol over his heart. He turned around to show it on his back too, under another symbol.
“F-Forfeit.” I read.
“Yes.” he said. “My father marked it on me before he brought me back. That’s why I have no sole. I died.”
“No.” he said. “They lost their soles for doing horrible wrongs.”
“Enough.” he said. “I died, now I’m back, no sole. We good? Let’s get moving.”
Ryker didn’t act like a man with no sole. He missed his mother and carried her wedding ring with him at all times to remember her. He helped a stranger in the woods and brought her all the way to a man who could get rid of her curse. He didn’t seem to have much emotion but he wasn’t heartless. Either way, I was just glad he found me. What would have happened if I went to live as a human with no knowledge of humans.
Even though he just appeared and told me I had hidden magic and a curse on my head I did believe him and it felt right to try and get my magic back. But… who would have cursed me to not be able to use my magic?
“Who comes?” came an older mans voice as we approached the house.
“It’s me, Ryker.”
“Ryker? Dear boy what are you doing here? This town thinks you’re dead.” the old man, Malbor, said.
“I didn’t come for me.” Ryker said. “My friend has a curse on her head.”
“Oh? A curse? Of what kind?” he asked.
“One that stops her from using her magic.” Ryker explained.
“On the palm of her hand?” he asked.
“It’s a cap curse.” Malbor said. “It bottles up her magic so she can’t use it. But why would someone put that on you? Who are you girl?”
“Aleria Thea.” I said. “I always thought I was born without magic.”
“That’s not possible for a Thea. You’re highly gifted in magic. If someone put a cap curse on you they knew that and wanted you powerless.” he said. “Do you have any enemies?”
“When I was born? I don’t think so.” I said.
“The Thea always have enemies. But I’m afraid the most I can do is lessen the cap.” he sighed. “It should let you use some of your powers. If you’re strong enough you can break threw the curse.”
“She can use sole gazing.” Ryker said.
“So you already broke threw some of the curse. Come, I’ll lessen it and you should be more than able to cast some spells. But I’m afraid it’ll limit your power to something much less than you’re truly capable of.”
“Well how do I get the curse gone completely?” I asked as we walked into the house.
“That has to be done by whoever cursed you.” he said. “Sit there.”
I sat in the circle and listed to the spell as Malbor stood over me. Little sparks leaped from my hand and the symbol began to burn. I grasped my right wrist with my left hand to ebb the pain. It sparked some more then faded to dim red lines.
“That’s the best I can do for you.” Malbor said. “But look at you, only at half power and you’re just oozing magic.”
“I’m what?” I looked around but noticed a lack of anything ‘oozing’.
“The way Malbor is, he can see magical energy like a mist.” Ryker said.
“Yes and it’s everywhere.” Malbor said. “I just-” he froze solid.
“Malbor? Are you okay?” I asked.
“It’s fine. He’s having a vision.” Ryker explained. “Just wait.”
We waited for about ten minutes before Ryker moved behind Malbor. I was wondering what he was doing but when Malbor gasped he fell backward and I realized Ryker must be use to this. Ryker sat him down on his chair and waited patiently for Malbor to explain.
“You two…” Malbor said. “Beware. A great danger is coming.”
“Great danger?” Ryker and I repeated.
“Yes.” Malbor sighed and looked to the clock ticking away on his wall. “You two best get going.”
“But you just-” I was cut off by a look from Ryker. It didn’t seem angry just urgent. I followed Ryker back into town.
“What was that all about?” I asked. “He said a danger was coming for us.”
“Yes and by sending us off at that certain time he probably altered his vision. We need to keep altering it or we’re in big trouble.” Ryker said. “Let’s get your armour and get someplace else.”
“Where?” I asked.
“I figured you would be heading back to your town now that you have magic.” he said.
“Well… I suppose, I never really thought much about it.” I admitted.
“Doesn’t matter, as long as you’re somewhere safe.” he said. “I don’t know what danger he speaks of but we shouldn’t take it lightly.”
“He said us, Ryker, you’re in danger too.” I reminded him.
“That hardly matters to me.” he said. “But a powerful Thea such as yourself should not die so early.”
“Is this because I have my magic now?” I asked.
He paused for a moment then said “Perhaps whoever cursed you to not have magic now wants you dead. Do you think it could be someone from your town?”
“I don’t know many of them.” I said. “But I defiantly don’t know anyone who would do such a thing.”
“Let’s just get you to your mother and hope she knows something.” Ryker said.
“Sure. Yes. Let’s do that.”
We retrieved my armour and I changed into it before we set out on the long walk back to my town. And to think just a few hours ago I had no idea there were towns other than my own in Mystic Grove. By now the forest was growing dark so I went to get the witchlight from my bag but it wasn’t there. They must have put it out.
“Can you make a witchlight?” I asked Ryker.
He looked at me like I was crazy and said “It’s witchlight, only witches can make it. Go on, give it a try.”
“How?” I asked.
“Just think about it. Focus on creating a ball of light.” he said.
I held out my hand and did my best to picture a witchlight floating there. It took awhile of focusing but the light blared up just as I had pictured it.
“Ah! Look I did it! I did magic!” I said excitedly.
“Yes you did, now let’s get moving before a beast hears your shouts.” Ryker said.
“Has Finnick ever killed a person?” I asked.
“Not that I know of.” Ryker said. “But he’s not the only beast in this forest.”
It was a quiet walk. Ryker didn’t believe in small talk, only spoke when he needed to state some fact or warn me that some plant was poisonous. He wasn’t cold about it though, he just didn’t seem to know how to talk about random things. I asked about what he was doing in the woods but he usually just shrugged it off saying something like “It was somewhere to go”.
“Wait.” Ryker said suddenly.
“Hmm? You need a break?” I asked.
“Shhh.” he said looking around. He whispered under his breath, a spell I think, then closed his eyes. “I think we’re being followed.”
“By who?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” he said looking to the way we came. “I cast a sensing spell and there’s someone behind us.”
“A person?” I asked nervously.
“I… don’t know. A wizards sensing spell only finds living things and the size so I know it’s big.” he said. “Could be human, could be beast.”
“Should we hide or just wait for it to find us?” I asked.
“I’d say hi-” his words were cut short by a snarl. We both turned slowly to see two glowing yellow eyes behind us.
“I think it’s Finnick.” Ryker said. An odd wildcat chuff answered as a big mountain lion walked into the clearing we were in. “Yeah, that’s Finnick.”
“Is he safe or will he eat us. He kind of looks hungry.” I said.
“He usually steers clear of people.” Ryker said. “We can just move on.”
“You sure?” I asked.
“Yeah watch.” Ryker reached for the wildcat and it jumped away back into the darkness. “He won’t let anyone touch him. Supposedly the first person he touches becomes his master.”
“So like the wizards who rode the other shifters into battle.” I said.
“Exactly.” he said. “It was sport to run after a shifter and try to touch it. But now a days the shifters are rear, at least in Mystic Grove.”
Ryker spoke a little more of the shifters before we lapsed back into silence. The only thing letting me know he was still there was how oddly aware I was of his presence. Things around me seemed to be different now. The moon had an eery glow and the stars sparkled more. It was like sprinkling magic over everything. Maybe that’s what it was like when you had magic. The world looked more magical to you.
“Thea, I think we have a problem.” Ryker said.
“Huh? What now?” I asked.
“Either Finnick is still following us or there’s something else there.” he said.
“Well tell whoever or whatever it is to come out already.” I grumbled.
An oversized wolf walked closer to us. It steered at us with piercing green eyes but did nothing.
“Is it Finnick?” I asked.
“Yes.” Ryker said. “He’s really close isn’t he. Hey… why don’t you try to touch him.”
“Me?” I questioned. “The last time I touched him I was knocked out.”
“Wha- that’s right. That’s right!” he said excitedly. “You touched him! He’s not following us he’s following you.”
“That doesn’t make me feel better.” I said.
“Just tell him to do something.” Ryker said.
“Like what? Ask him to sit?” I questioned. But the wolf sat down and watched me. “Oh god. He just sat.”
“Yes he did.” Ryker beamed at the wolf. “That accidental touch made you Finnick’s master. I say we take advantage of that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Get him to turn into a mountable beast that we can ride back to town.” he said.
“Like a horse?” I asked and the wolf quickly morphed into a horse.
“Sure. Let’s go.” Ryker said.
I carefully made my way to Finnick and put a hand on his long nose. He snorted. I took my time mounting, he had somehow gained a saddle and rains with his shift, then called Ryker over. Finnick made no move to run now, he simply let Ryker jump onto his back.
“Do you know your way home?” Ryker asked.
“Um… I think so.” I said.
“Well, let’s go. You can’t get us that lost.” he said.
I flicked the rains and we trotted off quicker than I expected. Ryker was startled too and nearly lost his balance.
“Steady now.” he said placing a hand on my shoulder to steady himself.
“That wasn’t my fault I’ve never rode a horse before.” I said.
“Never?” he questioned, the surprise was clear in his tone.
“I was never allowed to leave my town, I hardly ever got to leave my house.” I told him.
“That’s… strange.” he looked off into the distance then peered over my shoulder. “What did your mother tell you about your magic?”
“That I was born without it.” I said.
“Why? She of all people should know a Thea can’t be born with no magic.”
“Why not?” I asked. “Some magic wielder’s kids are born with no magic.”
“Yes but not a Thea.” Ryker said.
“The Thea stretch back to the beginning of magic. Like Malbor’s, your family was also one of the originals. The first people to be granted magic. That’s why they’re immortal. Of course… they’re only immortal until they have a child.”
“What? So my mother will die?”
“At a ripe old age, no need to worry.” Ryker said. “But now you’re the immortal Thea and someone didn’t want you to have magic. After hearing Malbor’s warning, I think they might even want you dead.”
“Why would someone want me dead? Is it bad to be from the original line?” I asked.
“No the opposite in fact. A real honour. You’re more powerful than ten witches combined. Well you would be had your powers not been blocked.” he said. “But I can think of many reason for someone to want an original line to end. It means the end of magic.”
“You see, there were five original people that were granted magic a very long time ago. They became immortal and could wield extraordinary powers. One of the people used his gift to help others and get some money on the side of course. That was Malbor’s grandfather. He didn’t have any children until he lived six full human lives. Another of the originals already had a child so the child was not magic. She lived to see her child die. The third original had two children not knowing that only one would become the next immortal. But her second child did still have magic and went off to create a non original line, simply meaning they were not immortal and they had weaker magics. The fourth original was your mother’s great great great great grandmother I think. She liked being immortal so she didn’t have any children until very late. But the last original… he’s known as Ultimor, he’s a very bad wizard. He was the first to discover blood magic and he would never give up his immortality so he still lives today.” Ryker told.
“Yes but that doesn’t explain anything about how killing one means the end of magic.” I said.
“Oh right.” he cleared his throat. “History aside, the original lines are very few and very important. They were the first to have magic and are the most powerful. If the current immortal of an original line is to die then any lines that were created from them, so any relatives no matter how distant, will lose all magic and never pass it down again. Kill all the immortals from all original lines and magic ends.”
“So… are the other immortals in danger?” I asked.
“That’s what we should find out.” he said. “See if your mother knows anything first. I don’t know why she didn’t tell you all this in the first place.”
I thought we were lost for awhile but Finnick seemed to be steering us in the right direction. We stopped near a river when it became too dark to see. Finnick happily shifted into a golden retriever and lapped up the water.
Ryker threw a pile of sticks together and whispered a spell that sent the wood ablaze. He smiled happily at his work then took a blanket from his bag and set it on the ground. He whispered something again then cursed when nothing happened.
“What are you trying to do now?” I asked.
“Just wait.” he insisted as he began to chant again. This time his blanket became two blankets. “There.”
“Some kind of duplication spell?” I asked.
“Yeah it makes two of whatever you cast it on. It’s harder the bigger and more complex the object.” he explained.
“Makes sense.” I said as he set the other blanket down for me.
“We’ll sleep tonight and rise early to make it back to your town tomorrow.” he said.
“It’s not far now.” I said. “I followed this river when I lost the path I was on.”
“Oh, here I thought the beast was merely guiding us to water to quench his own thirst.” Ryker laughed.
Finnick grumbled as he was now some kind of giant furry beast. Something like a bear and a dog mixed together.
“Oh hush.” Ryker said. “I didn’t think you’d know where a town was since you keep away from humans.”
“But wouldn’t he need to know where they are so he knows where to stay away from?” I threw in.
Finnick chuckled and lid down beside my blanket. Personally, I think he’s too smart to be a beast.
I had nearly drifted off when I heard Ryker get up. I opened my eyes a tiny slit to see what he was doing. He whispered the same spell from before for detecting presences. I sat up and watched him. He paced around the clearing not noticing me wake.
He jumped a little then turned to face me. “What are you doing up, Thea?”
“I was going to ask you the same thing. You cast the detection spell.”
“Yeah um…” he turned to look into the darkness one more time.
“Is someone out there?” I asked.
“No.” he said. “Not that I can detect but…”
“But what? If it’s not safe we can move-”
“No no. You get some sleep. I’m just paranoid.” he said.
“Why? What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I-” he looked back into the woods.
“You can tell me you know. I mean who am I going to tell I hardly know any other people.” I said.
A short laugh. “Well you see I ran away from my father after he brought me back. He’s been looking for me, hunting me more like.”
“That’s why Malbor said you shouldn’t be seen in the town.” I realized.
“Yeah. They might know me and find a way to tell my father I was there.” he said.
“So you’re worried someone did just that and your father is out there waiting to whisk you away.”
He nodded and looked back into the darkness squinting his eyes.
“You know, I seen my mother cast a night vision spell before.” I said.
He jerked his head toward me. “Can you do it?”
“I can try.” I said. “Come kneel here.”
Ryker knelt in front of me and I repeated what I saw my mother do. I gently touched two finger tips to his closed eyelids and thought hard about night vision. I tilted my head curious as he blinked his eyes open. He swivelled his head back and fourth then turned to me again.
“It worked.” he said. “I can see threw the dark as if it were daylight.”
“To be perfectly honest I wasn’t so sure if I could do it.” I admitted.
“You can though. And you can do so much more.” he said. “You just need to get that curse completely removed and practice some spells.”
“I need to find out who put it on me before I can even begin trying to convince them to remove it.”
“Perhaps I can help with that.” a strange deep voice echoed around us.
Ryker stiffened and went pale as a ghost while Finnick stood beside me and growled.
“Hello son. Hello Thea.” the voice said. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from.
“Who’s there?” I asked.
“It’s Mister Shay to you, young miss Thea.” he said. “I came to retrieve my son. Would you be so kind as to give him over to me?”
Ryker looked panicked as he turned to me.
“Just give him back to me and I can help remove that curse.” he said.
“I don’t own him, it’s his decision.” I said.
“On the contrary.” Mr. Shay said. “Like that beast became yours when you touched it so did my son.”
“That doesn’t make sense.” I objected.
“Of course not. He’s a sole less you know, but I doubt you would have noticed. I bet he seems normal to you right. There’s a reason for that.”
Ryker, in a panic, tore his shirt off and looked at the sole mark on his chest. It was a faint blue colour now. “Shit.” he hissed.
“You see,” Mr. Shay explained “A sole can be given to one without a sole. The only catch is that the sole will be shared between two people. Your sole is now inside both you and my son. You now own him in a sense.”
“That’s ridiculous.” I said. “I don’t own Ryker, he can do as he pleases.”
Ryker stood in the same spot still, fondling the sole mark on his chest. Then he looked up confused with his head tilted as if he were thinking. “So that means you can’t tell me what to do anymore.” he said. “I belong to Aleria now and you can’t do anything about it.”
“Not unless she gives you back to me.” Mr. Shay said as he finally appeared out of the shadows. “What do you say Thea, give my son over to me and you can have your sole back and I’ll unlock your magic completely.”
“Yeah by using blood magic.” Ryker snapped.
“But her curse would be completely removed, all her power restored. It’s not like she willingly gave you a part of her sole anyway, I’m sure she’d like it back.”
Ryker looked at the ground. “I’ll understand.” he said. “You want your magic back and I’m just some guy you bumped into in the woods. You should do it. I’ll be fine.”
Mr. Shay turned to face me. “What do you say, Thea? Take your magic and sole or take my son, which will it be?”