Hi guys! Consider this early update a pre-halloween gift!
Apparently Miss Busy Erin had been much too popular to answer my call, and she only called back several days later.
As an apology she let me tell my news first. I told her not only about the surprise visit I had gotten from James and Kyxa, but also about meeting Serenity, the self-proclaimed Time Traveler. And naturally, I ended up telling her about my meeting with Edmund as well.
“This might be the time to tell you that I knew he was going to be there.” She said.
“I meant to tell you on Oliver’s anniversary, but I decided against it. When I traveled over a year ago, I went to Ridgevalley. And…I met Edmund there. Yelled at him a bit and ditched. Not one of my proudest moments.” Erin said, then her voice became temporarily muffled. “Maxwell! Come on, it’s just mashed carrots, you were fine with them yesterday!”
“Should I be angry that you didn’t tell me?”
“I’d really rather you aren’t…what would it have done? Nothing good I’m sure. I was right not to by the sounds of it. You’re still hung over him.” Erin casually said, the clinking of a plate in the background.
“Good. You shouldn’t be. I told you he was trouble! Didn’t I? And I told you not to come crying to me when things went bad.” Erin said.
“And I didn’t.”
“Yeah cause I was too busy crying over Oliver.” Her voice trailed off, but then she cleared it and brought the conversation back around. “So is it my turn? Mine’s short, we can keep talking about yours after.”
“Yeah, yeah, go ahead.”
“Weeeellll, it’s pretty much official now. I’ve decided to move to Ridgevalley!” Erin exclaimed happily.
“What? Are you serious?”
“There’s not much sense staying here anymore. I swear, 3/4 of my clients come from Ridgevalley at this point. Not that I’ve accumulated enough cash to get my own house yet, and instead of renting my own apartment I figured you’d let me and Maxwell move in.” Erin said.
“You’re bringing Maxwell along?” I asked.
“Well yeah of course. I love this kid to bits, I’m not going anywhere without him! …I know you’re making a face. I knew the trip I took was temporary. I knew I’d be coming back to Maxwell eventually!” Erin insisted. “I still kind of need you to say yes, you know.”
“Obviously you can move in. A warning however, the streets are pretty noisy at night. Maxwell may have trouble sleeping.”
“Me too. Well if it gets too unbearable, or it doesn’t work out I can come back. But I really don’t want to live with your parents anymore. It feels wrong, especially since you’re not even here! Tina and Charlie are great! Which is why I feel bad.”
“Yeah, no, I get it. When do you plan on getting here?” I asked.
“Oh still another few weeks. I still have a lot of things to arrange-”
A beeping sound suddenly erupted from my phone.
“Can you wait a second? I’m getting another call.”
“Yeah sure, I need to clean Maxwell up anyway.”
I pressed a button to switch to the new caller.
“Xavier?” A girl’s voice came through the phone.
“Who is this?”
“It’s me, Catarina!” My eyes widened. My sister Catarina? Wait…wasn’t she being controlled right now?
“…Really?” I asked hesitantly, but it sounded like she hadn’t heard me.
“I need your help Xavier!” It sounded like her…but I didn’t know her well enough to know the difference.
“Please! Before she takes over again!” Okay, I know it feels like it probably isn’t her, but it still really sounds like she’s saying the truth!
“What do you need? Where are you?”
“Come meet me at the docks! I’m heading there right now, please hurry!”
She’d hung up. I switched back to Erin.
“Hmm? Two seconds…okay yeah? That was quick. Wrong number?” Erin replied.
“No really not. It was my sister, Catarina…”
“Oh? Really?” Erin said, sounding as surprised as I’d been.
“Yeah…she says she needs my help. She wants me to meet her at the docks.” I said.
“Your sister as in sister, and not sister being possessed?”
“I don’t know…I think it’s her. It sounded like her.” I hesitantly replied. Was it all a trap? Why call me? Why not James?
“I don’t think she’d sound that different.” Erin commented.
“Yeah…” I said, unsure of what to do.
“So what are you going to do?”
“I…guess I should call Kyxa and my dad huh? Let them know?”
“Good boy! You know, in olden days I would’ve had to actually tell you to do this. Can you believe it? Geez, good to see you’re finally taking decisions!” Erin exclaimed.
“Are you mocking me?”
“Was I not obvious enough? Sorry I’ll do better next time.”
“Yeah, yeah. Hanging up now.”
I did hang up then, only to call the number Kyxa had given me. I told her about the phone call I’d just received and Kyxa thanked me. And then she asked me to stay put. She told me I’d been a great help and now it was time for them to do their part. And she also promised to keep me updated.
So I did what I was told. I stayed home and slumped in front of the tv, switching on the news.
I won’t hide it, I wanted to go outside now and head directly for the docks. I wanted to see the action happen. I wanted to prove I knew enough spells to be of some help. But they’d asked me to stay behind so I wouldn’t go.
“-dead politician, Steven McGuire, finally found. Doctors say he died two months ago. They suspect the cause of the death to be a complete drain of his life force. Suspect is without a doubt the Weapon. It’s clear now that it is dangerous and a menace to-”
I shut the tv off.
Was I really expected to just sit tight? While I knew something was happening right now at the docks?
It’s not like I’ll recklessly try to get in the middle of it all. I just want to watch.
Yeah, I’ll just stand by and watch as they save Catarina.
Nothing bad should happen. Hell I don’t know why I was even asked to stay. It’s not like Catarina has it in for me. She asked me for help. Why? I still don’t know…but she did have a little squabble with James on the beach, so who knows?
Either way, I was already taking the elevator.
Apparently I wasn’t supposed to get to the docks just yet.
The odds had been very low. The docks weren’t too far from my apartment; I just needed to walk two or three blocks.
I’d barely walked one block when I spotted a couple down the sidewalk.
Edmund was walking arm in arm with a woman, listening to her talk about who knows what. I recognized her, from my first day. She was with that boy who was waiting to scare his big brother. Gee, I wonder who that brother was now.
But that’s not really what I was focusing on at that moment. My eyes were practically glued to the fact that they were arm in arm.
I tried to backtrack, I really did, before Edmund spotted me. But the woman saw me first and immediately recognized me. Edmund’s eyes drifted to mine, but almost immediately looked away, letting go of the woman’s arm.
“Xavier?” The woman asked, and I nodded, surprised she remembered my name.
She made her way over, Edmund following hesitantly behind.
“It’s nice to meet you again! I know your name, but you don’t know mine, that’s not quite fair now is it? I’m Charlotte.” She said, extending her hand.
“It’s nice to meet you again Charlotte.” I replied, shaking her hand. The smile I was wearing seemed fake and strained.
Edmund had a girlfriend?
Charlotte turned around and gestured at Edmund. “And this is my fiancé Edmund. He’s also Alistair’s big brother. You remember Alistair right?”
Fiancé!? “Uh, yeah. Yeah I do.”
I dared to cast a glance at Edmund, but he was stubbornly looking somewhere else, his face as emotionless as it could get.
I never thought that-
Ah whatever, doesn’t matter. It doesn’t. Really.
“I’d love to stay and chat,” Not really. “But I have some place to be right now…”
“Oh it’s okay, we won’t hold you any longer. Hopefully we’ll run into each again?” Charlotte asked.
I nodded, and was about to say goodbye when Charlotte’s eyes drifted to something behind me.
“Hope I’m not interrupting anything important, but I really need to borrow Xavier.” A familiar voice behind me spoke up. Serenity? I looked behind me and confirmed it was indeed the self-proclaimed time traveler. I didn’t think I’d actually ever see her again.
“Oh no no, it’s fine we we’re just saying our goodbyes actually.” Charlotte replied.
“Perfect, come on Xavier.” Serenity said, grabbing the back of my shirt and dragging me off.
“What’s wrong this time Serenity? You need help finding Rya again?” I asked, half-serious.
“No dummy, you know already. I told you I was going to come back and give you your reward when I could no? Well now I can!” Serenity exclaimed.
“Okay well, my curiosity is definitely peaked now. Is this going to take long? I actually had somewhere I was going…” I said.
“Are you serious? I’m trying to give you a precious gift here. Get your priorities in order, geez.”
“Hansel I’ve brought him! What are you doing now?” Serenity chirped as she brought me to a small patch of grass nearby.
“Just admiring the stability of it all.” He calmly replied. He opened his eyes and got up to welcome me.
Everything Serenity had said must’ve been true.
Because there was a white-eyed in front of me. Was this teenager the very first white-eyed? Could that actually be possible?
“Hello.” Hansel said, giving me a small smile.
“Uh hi. Are you really the first white-eyed?”
“You really didn’t believe me!” Serenity exclaimed from behind me.
“Yeah I am!” He replied.
“Apparently mister busy-pants here has somewhere else to be so we can’t let this drag on too long.” Serenity said, playing with tree branches.
“Well then, I will not beat around the bush. I want to thank you for helping Serenity, and she insists this is the best way to show my gratitude.” He said, taking a lot of time to say each word as if they were brand new to him.
“He has no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You did not tell him?”
“Of course not, he was all like, I have better stuff to do.”
“I wasn’t like that, don’t make stuff up.” I snapped at her and she laughed.
“I am giving you the same gift I give Serenity.” Hansel said, and without any warning he reached out and touched my forearm.
A surge. Like I’d touched a live wire and gotten electrocuted.
The arm Hansel’s fingers had barely touched had suddenly felt vibrant with energy. My arm felt like it would explode! Until all that excess energy simultaneously spread everywhere, into the very core of my being.
I could feel myself straining internally against the sudden weight that had been added. The black behind my eyes was filled with exploding colors and my hands trembled as the energy beat inside me like a pulse. A huge pulse that was pounding against my head, the new energy already begging to be let out.
Magic. It was coursing through my veins like a tornado to the point where it felt like my veins would burst. Up and down, left and right, the magic pulled at every side of my body, but kept being brought back like a slingshot. Every single time sent a wave of pain through my limbs, every single time made my head feel like it would explode.
I thought I would be stuck in this endless cycle, struggling to stay in one piece, to contain all this new magic, this new power, this upgrade. I thought the torture would never end.
I woke up on the ground, without remembering ever actually passing out. My head was still throbbing painfully, so much that I almost fell right back down.
How long had I been out? What exactly just happened?
“That was a wwaaayyy more intense reaction than I had.” Serenity said as I managed to get to my feet.
“What just happened?” I asked, my vision wavering uneasily. My muscles felt tense.
“First thing you say is ‘Thank you!’” Serenity scoffed. “You’ve just been granted one of the best gifts you’ll ever get I’m sure!”
“He is weaker than you were Serenity, his body is still under shock.” Hansel said.
“What happened?” I mumbled again.
“You did listen when I told you my story right? Hansel just gave you a level up! You’ve got as much power now as the very first witches. You’ve got as much power as I do! Though, of course, I know how to use them better.” Serenity explained.
“What?” I was having trouble concentrating on what was being said. My entire left arm painfully clenched for a few seconds. “What’s happening to me…?”
“Ah yeah…like Hansel said you’re weaker than I was, magic wise, so it’s only natural your symptoms are worse than mine. But don’t worry, you just need to wait till your body gets used to this much power. Took me a few hours, but it’s probably going to take you a day or two. Take the day off, rest at home.” Serenity said with a smile, but it seemed to twist into a horrific grin. I narrowed my eyes uncertainly.
“Yes, do not do anything too demanding.” Hansel agreed.
“Avoid using your magic for the next day as much as possible. Just to be on the safe side.” Serenity added.
Their words were swirling around me in one big mess, but I ended up nodding, only hearing half of what they were saying.
I blinked and the next thing I knew, I was walking in the middle of street. I must’ve left…Another sharp throb went through my head. The lines on the road twisted and I looked up instead of down.
I spotted the docks, just down the hill. Right the docks! Catarina, James, Kyxa…the docks.
Without a second thought, I continued heading straight for it, hoping there’d be a bench I could sit down on.
I’d blinked again, and found myself already at the docks.
I waved my hands in front of me and watched as trails of light appeared and I knew then without a doubt that I was hallucinating because I could still feel the magic burning through my veins. I would’ve known if it had escaped.
I clasped my hand over my face, trying desperately to regain my senses. I rubbed my eyes, seeing light appear behind my eyelids, and it’s only when I closed my eyes that I finally felt my body relax just a little.
And when I finally opened my eyes again, I felt a lot more stable and a lot more down to earth. The world wasn’t twisting and stretching anywho.
Instead, Kyxa and James had suddenly appeared in front of me.
“Xavier! I told you to stay at home- are you okay? You look pale, really pale.” Kyxa exclaimed worriedly.
“I’m a little dizzy…” I muttered.
James suddenly grabbed Kyxa’s arm and pointed to something far away on her left.
My eyes followed and grabbed hold of a mop of hair as bright as Kyxa’s.
“Catarina…” Kyxa said, instantly recognizing her. “Stay with Xavier, make sure he’s okay, I’ll go.”
James nodded and Kyxa flew off after Catarina.
And then he reached for my shoulder, but I avoided it.
“I’m okay…I’m sort of okay…” I said, my head spinning from the simple movement. My right hand suddenly twitched violently and James gave me a worried look…one that almost seemed disappointed? Or was I seeing things? The balance I’d managed to regain was already gone.
“Don’t look at me like that, I’m not on drugs…I-I just have a headac…they said…there’s…” I couldn’t speak clearly, and a nauseating feeling settled down deep in my gut.
One I knew very well, from every time Erin had missed school. From that time we found her at her house, with her parents dead at her feet. But this feeling wasn’t about Erin this time.
There was something weirdly different about this one, like I could tell what was causing it exactly…
I looked up at James then and the words spilled out of my mouth so uncontrollably I was sure I’d jumbled them up.
“How do you die?”
James inhaled sharply, giving me a look that demanded answers.
But I was back to focusing on that feeling, the one thing that seemed to be constant amongst the vibrating of my veins.
The distinct feeling that someone’s target was James’ head.