Kelly shows her true strength without realizing it. One of the shades keeps talking her.
|Manin stood at the front of his class and looked at the students. He smiled as he thought about the speed in which they seemed to learn. Only a few were having trouble and he took great care to help them whenever needed. The sun broke through the clouds and shone in the windows, only one student looked up, Kelly, she quickly returned to her work. He watched her red hair flare in the bright light. He sighed and returned his focus to the other students as they read the spell they were about to try. Again, the first one finished was Kelly; she just sat there and flicked further into the book. He watched her for a minute and wondered if she was really alright, she always seemed distracted and a little pale. Two boys got his attention, Malcolm and Thomas. They leant across the isle as Malcolm pointed to his book. In the first year, they had been sitting at the front of the class but now in the second year they moved, Thomas at the table right next to Kelly and Malcolm next to him. He would often find Thomas watching Kelly and wondered why she didn’t return any of his looks.
Thomas raised his hand. ‘Sir, this book states that ‘spells using the surrounding magic will be as strong for one person as the next, because it’s not using the person’s own magic’ . . . why is mine weaker than everyone else’s?’ Thomas hated that if he tried to use the surrounding magic it didn’t do what it was meant to do. If he used his own internal magic, he was one of the strongest.
‘As you’re calling on the magic of the surroundings, you should be as strong as everyone else. We’re trying to find out anything we can, but so far . . . nothing.’ Thomas was one of the students Manin had taken great pains to work with one on one. He seemed a little weaker, not even Healer Denilia found anything wrong.
‘Try using your left hand.’ A soft voice said from beside him.
Manin looked at Kelly; she rarely talked in class if not called on. He hasn’t talked to her about his suspicions yet, but soon he would have to, he’s begun to suspect she wasn’t using all her strength. He really wanted to know just how strong she was.
They felt his need to help Kelly, they rushed to the room and wrapped a single tendril around his mind and stopped his fear for her. They stayed there and watched Manin and Kelly. Being this close to the one they had already damaged, caused them unbelievable pain but they stayed. Every so often they let themselves stroke Kelly’s cheek in a childish attempt to stop the pain.
‘What do you mean Kelly?’ Thomas almost jumped from his desk but just leant over and looked at her.
‘Have you ever used your left hand at any stage in your life?’ Her head gave a little twitch.
Manin was sure that none of the others noticed it but it was something he had picked up on in the first week.
‘Yes, as a young child I remember my mum telling me everyone used their right hand. I really hated practicing for hours every day.’ He smiled at Kelly as he flicked his fringe out of his eyes.
‘Try using your left hand. The magic in the surrounds is counting on the power hand calling on its magic. If you’re using the wrong hand; the power will be . . . diluted because it needs to travel through you.’
Thomas looked at their teacher with eagerness.
‘Give it a try.’ Manin said with a smile, his eyes flicked to Kelly.
‘Okay.’ Thomas raised his left hand and closed his eyes as he called to the surrounds. There, in the palm of his hand, grew a globe of light the size of a gold coin. At first it was only as bright as normal, but soon it shone brightly. Thomas opened his eyes and a grin grew. ‘It worked Kelly, look.’ He placed his hand on her table; Kelly nodded her head with a slightly strained smile.
‘Hey Thomas, maybe now when you take notes, you’ll be able to understand them.’ Someone called out to him.
‘My notes are fine.’
‘Sure, that’s why you end up reading mine before any test.’ Gregory said with a serious face then grinned when Thomas made a rude noise.
‘Well, with your surrounding magic at full strength, you’ll find your notes will take down more detail.’ Manin couldn’t believe it, he never would have thought of using the other hand. Could it work for others? Where did the information come from.
‘I know what else you can do left handed Thomas.’ A tightly restrained voice said from the table next to his.
Thomas looked at Glenn and let the light move off his hand and fly over his friends head.
‘Okay, I think I need to stop this now, before you embarrass your fellow students.’ He couldn’t help the grin. ‘Kelly, who told you about this, where did they find out about it?’ he could have kept asking question but thought he should wait for an answer.
‘I found it over the weekend in an old faded book in the library.’
‘During your next free time, would you borrow it and bring it to me.’
‘You’d think as a student who spent most of my free time in the library, I would have found that book.’
‘It’s in a chest at the back of the library.’
‘A chest? Are there other books?’
‘Yes sir about fifty, some of the names and script are faded.’ She tucked red tendrils of hair behind her ear.
He noticed the pressure she used on her temple when she did this. ‘In that case maybe you can show me where they are?’
After another hour in practice with the new spell, Manin stood up and smiled. ‘Okay everyone put your things away; I think it’s time to battle.’ He’d never seen the students pack their things away so quickly. He stood in the centre of the room and looked around. ‘Arraign yourselves in the normal way.’ He waited until the noise of chairs died down. ‘Produce your piece.’ This was not just for a little bit of fun for the students, it helped them feel the magic as well as control it.
‘Sir, can we use different colours to help separate each player?’ Vanessa still sometimes got the two mixed up and ended up controlling her opponent’s piece for a short time.
‘That’s fine.’ He waited as a wide range of coloured balls lay on the desks. ‘The first one to five will win the battle. Ready, one, two, three and go.’ He walked between each battle and watched, some he gave tips to and others he just enjoyed watching. A few students were chatting as they did battle, just a little bit of light hearted verbal duelling over the tables. Others were concentrating hard to make the little balls on the table do what they wanted them to do.
Kelly sat at her desk; on the other side was once again Vanessa. Manin watched her piece closely, her eyes stayed glued to the ball, but he thought she really didn’t need to watch it to win the battle. He moved around the room and stood at the back to watch her battle. For every move made by Vanessa, she moved in such a way that almost took the point. But at the last moment she seemed to deliberately place her piece in harms way and loose. He moved closer.
‘Everyone change partners.’ He waited until the next battle began. ‘The first one in each battle to win a point will have a night without any homework.’ He stepped up behind her quietly, she didn’t know he was there, he needed to know. Every time her opponent darted straight at her she easily moved her ball aside. For a few minutes this continued without her trying to make her ball touch the other. In the blink of an eye, her opponent darted to the left and she followed before she backed away. He saw the winning move, her opponent made a very poor fake dive one way before taking the point. He knew for sure that she could have moved her ball out of the way. ‘Good match.’ He tried to sound happy, but knew she heard his disappointment, she didn’t look at him.
He walked to the front of the room. ‘Okay everyone back to your tables . . . Patrick you haven’t lost a battle yet I see.’
‘No sir.’ Patrick smiled at Glenn who shrugged in return.
‘Okay, come up here.’ He waited, when he stood at the table he turned back to the class. ‘Kelly.’
‘You are the only one who hasn’t won any.’
Manin didn’t hear the disappointment any other student might show at never taking even a single point in a battle. ‘Come up here please. We’re going to try a slightly different kind of battle.’ She stopped at the side of the desk and watched him as he reached into his draw and pull out two blindfolds. ‘I’m going to take away your sight; you’ll have to rely on your sense of magic to feel where your piece is and your opponents.’ He placed one cloth on the desk and placed the other on Patrick. By the time he turned back, Kelly already had the other one on herself. ‘Kelly you stay there and Patrick. . .’ He guided him to the other end of the table and faced him towards Kelly. ‘You stand there. Produce your pieces and make it hover at waist height and five inches in front of you.’ He looked at Patrick who had a little trouble making his stay floating at the right height. When he looked to Kelly’s piece, it floated perfectly still, five inches in front of her waist. It didn’t waver in the slightest.
‘Is it done sir?’ Patrick sounded unsure.
‘Yes, now you both have to let your mind see where the other piece is. Kelly, I want you to move your piece towards Patrick’s and circle it once before returning to the start.’ He watched as her piece did precisely what he told her. He gave a half smile. ‘Patrick, you do it now.’
‘I’ll give it a try.’
‘Just let your mind move out there and see where Kelly’s piece is.’ He placed his hand on the students shoulder and felt him using his mind. His piece moved in short sharp movements, not once did it keep to the same height. He made his way around what he thought was Kelly’s piece and returned.
‘Did I do it?’
‘Yes, you did very well, both of you.’ He released Patrick and stood to the side. ‘Now I want you to do a battle like this. Everyone else, I want you to remain silent, don’t go shouting directions to either of them.’
‘Yes sir.’ They all said as one.
‘Kelly and Patrick, are you ready?’
‘One, two, three and begin.’ He took a couple of quick steps back as Patrick’s piece darted towards him. Kelly’s piece stayed perfectly still until the other piece charged hers. She easily manoeuvred out of his way and darted a short distance before stopping. After a few minutes of each one chasing the others piece Patrick’s piece rose a few feet and dove at Kelly. She made a quick duck so it swept over her and back the other way. Not long after, it happened again, this time she stepped aside and let it pass. When it shot back the other way, she retuned to her previous position. The students whispered. Manin looked at Kelly with a smile; he’d just proven a point. This girl was far stronger than she let on.
‘Sir, I don’t think either of us is going to get the other one . . . unless it’s by fluke.’
‘Okay, you can stop and remove the blindfolds.’ His happiness shone in his voice. ‘I have proven my point now.’ He actually let a small laugh out.
With the blindfold on Kelly couldn’t help but hear the elderly male shade who followed her everywhere. He laughed happily. ‘Good thinking young man, now let this one deny she has a vast amount of power.’ Her hand shot up and ripped the cloth from her face, her nail scratched under the eye in the process.
‘Kelly.’ Thomas saw the blood begin to fall down her cheek even as he started around the table.
‘It’s nothing.’ She wiped it away with the back of her hand; she didn’t look away from Wizard Johnson.
‘Now Kelly, tell me how difficult it was for you to keep the piece up in the air while doing battle.’
‘How difficult?’ She said with a frown. ‘I don’t understand sir; it’s the same as when it’s on the table.’
‘And you Patrick.’ Manin turned to the student who wiped his brow with the back of his hand. ‘How did you find it?’
‘Like I’ve just run around the school three times.’ He panted. ‘And I never exercise.’
‘You can go and sit down, you look like you’re about to collapse.’
‘Thank you sir.’
‘Now Kelly.’ He turned his full attention to her. ‘Why haven’t you won any battles?’
‘I just don’t seem to be any good at it sir. I don’t think I’m strong enough . . .’
‘Don’t bother; he knows you are dear girl. That lie will have to end soon.’ The shade laughed happily.
‘What I . . . what the class just witnessed, was a display of strength and concentration I haven’t seen before. You knew his piece was coming straight at you a couple of times; you got out of its path. You knew it would hit you.’
‘Well, this young man isn’t as stupid as I thought. What do you think, you can keep trying to fool him for the rest of time?’
‘I . . .’ She didn’t look at the class, she realised every pair of eyes were glued to her, even the exhausted Patrick. Why didn’t she think? Had she just shown up a real person? Would she be punished for it?
‘Go on, try getting out of that little bit of observation.’
‘I want you to . . .’ He looked at her cheek. ‘Do you want to see a healer?’
‘No, it will heal on its own.’
‘You should have taken that opportunity to slip away, too late now.’
‘Okay, place your blindfold back on, this time you will battle me.’ He smiled as he picked up the blindfold and walked to the other end of the desk.
‘Good luck Kelly.’ Someone called as they both placed the cloths over their eyes.
‘She doesn’t need luck . . . he does.’
‘Now place your piece the same as before.’ He waited as two pieces appeared. ‘Are you ready?’
‘One, two, three and go.’ He moved his piece straight at hers and was not at all surprised when it moved quickly out of the path. He didn’t give her time to think as he darted after her piece, letting the area of the battle grow till it filled the room. Four inches below the ceiling, two pieces darted this way and that. Manin tried every move he knew to try and have her win the point, but she seemed to know what he was going to do before he did it and was gone from the spot he thought she would be in. Occasionally she would feign trying to attack but she never tried hard. He changed tacts. ‘Break.’ He gave the order that stopped. ‘Keep the blindfold on Kelly, this time I want you to do anything to stop me from touching your piece, do anything you have to do.’
‘But I . . .’
‘Begin.’ He didn’t give her time to lie. His piece moved towards hers only to dart around and stop. Her piece almost touched his, but it bent around it without actually touching it. When it retreated it looked like it had turned into a bowl, when it was far enough away it resumed its normal shape. This continued for another fifteen minutes before Manin stopped his piece.
‘Sir?’ Her piece stopped on the other side of the room.
‘Okay Kelly, it’s a tie.’ He took off his blindfold and waited for Kelly to look at him. He mopped his brow with the blindfold. ‘Take your seat.’ He watched her drop her blindfold on the table and return to her seat.
‘Sir . . .’ Thomas raised his hand.
‘Not now. For those of you that are doing homework tonight . . . find a partner and try doing this. You should find you are not able to do it for more than a few minutes without being drained.’ He kept his eyes on Kelly; she didn’t look up at him. ‘Let’s call it a day. Remember, early night and back here early tomorrow.’ He smiled as everyone left the room. ‘Kelly, could you stay please.’
‘Yes sir.’ She stood by the desk and waited even as the male shade started talking again.
‘Don’t worry dear, he’s not angry with you.’ He watched as she became tense. ‘Heavens, if you don’t relax he’s going to think you . . . well just relax a little.’ He smiled softly when she did. ‘Very good. I will see you around dear girl.’
They raced to the class room and hovered behind Kelly as the shade left the room. This was the time for the first piece of the puzzle to be released and felt a small connection with Kelly grow a bit.
Manin watched everyone leave, he closed the door and turned to Kelly. ‘Why haven’t you won any of your battles?’ He moved to the table and sat down.
‘I’m not very good at it sir.’ She looked at the table.
‘I think you are. It took everything I had to try and make you win, but every time I set a trap for you, you managed to . . . step aside.’ He waited, she said nothing. ‘Then when I put everything into catching you for a straight out win, you evaded me . . . easily. You need to let yourself win at something sometime Kelly.’ This made her look at him with a strange look in her eyes. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘Nothing.’ She stood there and looked at him.
‘Is there anything you can tell me about why you haven’t won?’
‘No sir.’ She dropped her eyes to the table.
‘You know anything you tell me will go no further, right?’ He leant on the table and tried to catch her eyes. He thought she had the clearest blue eyes he had ever seen. She maybe able to hide her emotions from the rest of her face but her eyes almost always showed them.
‘Yes sir.’ She lowered her head a little more.
‘Look Kelly, I know you’re stronger than the others students, but you’re holding back. You need to use however much magic you can reach.’
‘But . . . I . . . am not stronger.’ She let out a breath.
They only watched until now. Slowly it extended a single tendril to the back of her head and made a gentle physical connection.
‘I can tell you now, you’re stronger than I am, and I’m the strongest in this school.’ He waited, she slowly raised her head and he saw a deep frown crease her brow before her eyes started to become vacant.
They moved the tendril slowly around her head but kept tight control over themselves. No matter what they craved to do, they would only do what was needed for the time being.
‘There is another here that is far stronger.’
‘No, I was measured at the beginning of last year when I became a teacher, I was the strongest.’ He watched her eyes closely.
‘No. There is another that is far stronger.’ They took total control and removed any snippets that would trigger any memory in Kelly while they continued.
‘Do you know who it is?’ He kept his voice soft; she was in a trance. He smiled as she yet again proved just how strong she was by even being in a trance. Her eyes became completely glazed over.
‘He . . . She . . . They are waiting . . . They need to be . . . freed.’ She took a breath.
‘They have been powerfully contained for centuries, they need to be freed before it is too late for . . . so many plans will be ruined. They . . . They watch everything and fear . . . they feel such pain. Much of the pain they caused themselves. Some they take into themselves . . . so they will always remember.’
‘Kelly?’ He waited.
‘They watch and they wait for the time they can do what they were made to do.’ She took a deep breath and looked directly into Manin’s eyes. ‘He will not survive without her help. The future of all depend on her so . . . she needs help soon.’ She blinked.
The removed themselves from Kelly with hope beginning to build. This had been the first time they saw into her mind, the first time they felt the pain the way she felt it. They controlled their rage . . . only just.
Kelly heard Wizard Johnson say something to her but missed it. ‘I’m sorry sir, did you ask me something.’ She touched her temple; the headache grew in strength.
‘No, you can go.’ He sighed as she went to the door, as she was about to shut it he smiled. ‘One day Kelly, I’m going to set a trap you can’t get out of.’ He said it as a joke but the smile died on his lips as she spun around and looked at him. He saw terror fill her eyes, she was scared of him? She quickly shut the door, by the time he rushed to open it, she was no where to be seen. He was left there to wonder why she felt threatened. He made his way to the teachers’ lounge, and sat there until he received a light punch on the leg.