Daniel woke up in the middle of a summer night, disoriented. He felt like an invisible hand had jerked him out of sleep. The bedroom was dark. With the leaden starlight from the window, every piece of furniture was like a crouching beast, cold and menacing.
The night was really quiet. Daniel could hear a mouse running across the floor. His clock was ticking persistently. The wheezing of his chest sounded loud and ragged. He suddenly had this fear that his chest was empty and he was going to die. He wanted to call his father, but feared that his voice would shatter the peace of the night and everything would fall apart like broken glass. He got up, wrapped a blanket around himself, and walked to his father's room. The hallway was so cold. He could almost see his breath frozen into different shapes like ghosts hanging in the air. Every step he took towards his father's room, the air got colder and colder. It was like he was sliding into a deep cold pond.
The door to his father's bedroom was ajar. He stood outside the door for a minute, feeling the darkness closing in on him. He had an eerie feeling that he was the only one in the house besides the mouse. He pushed the door slightly. It moved a bit-he waited-nothing happened. He pushed again until he could see his father's bed. It was empty. One corner of the bed sheet was flipped open, as if his father had just gotten out of the bed for some water in the middle of the night; but the room was too cold. Not a trace of human warmth was lingering in the air.
"Dad-" he called.
His own voice was so loud. It scared him. The sound was like blind birds bounding back and forth on the walls. When it finally died down, all he could hear was his breath again. He stood in the dark, searching frantically for someone that he could call for help. No name came up. It had always been just him and his father. He didn't think that they had any living relatives. If there were any, they certainly didn't bother to get re-acquainted with his family.
"It must be a nightmare," thought Daniel. "I've got to wake up."
He stood there waiting for the moment to come, but everything remained the same. He was still in his father's bedroom instead of his own. The cold in the air was palpable, and his feet were numb. He thought he might be better off going back to the bed. Maybe tomorrow morning, when he woke up, everything would be fine again.
His bed was cold too, and it was really hard to fall asleep when all he could think about was what could have happened to his father. It didn't help that his feet were bothering him like bullies in school. He finally fell asleep when his mind wandered away to things like the latest video game or the last action movie.
When Daniel woke up in the morning, he felt miserable. He had a vague felling that something bad had happened. He looked out of the window. It was a sunny morning. Sunny mornings like this always cheered him up, but this morning was different. It was like he just woke up from a nightmare. Although he could not remember anything, the sorrow was still there. Then something caught his eye. The plants on the sill were all dead. They were hardy plants like cactus and mums. They were now all dry and wrinkled, as if all the water was sucked out overnight. He suddenly remembered how cold he was last night, and his first reaction was to find his father.
"Dad-" he called.
He got up and ran out of his room, expecting to see his father downstairs making breakfast. The kitchen was quiet and empty. The morning sunlight came in from a window. He could see dust dancing in the sunlight. He thought that maybe his father was still in bed.
He ran upstairs but stopped in the middle of the hallway. The memory came back new and fresh. Everything remained exactly as he remembered-the door was open, and the bed sheet was flipped. He started shivering. He ran downstairs and stayed in the sunlight in the kitchen-there was something about the sunlight that made the fear thaw.
Daniel was glad that it was Sunday, and he didn't have to go to school. He didn't want to miss his dad if he came home. School had never been his favorite place. It was his third year in junior high. He didn't have any friends in school, nor was he one of the teachers' favorite students. He was small and skinny, and he always felt cold-even in summer. The other students liked to make fun of him because he always hid under layers of clothes. He did fairly well in most classes but never brilliantly. He had this feeling that he understood everything the teachers said, but he kept making silly mistakes on homework and exams. It was like he knew the lyrics of a song in his head, but they didn't come out quite right when he sang the song.
Kids in school liked to show how pampered they were, and how prominent their families were. On those occasions, Daniel had nothing to say. His father was an accountant. They were not rich but not poor either. He didn't know much about his father. Even though there was only the two of them, they weren't exactly close. Rarely did his father show him any affection. It still bothered Daniel, but in a way he had gotten used to the relationship. He never had the courage to ask his father why their family wasn't like the other families. When he was younger, he had thought it was probably because he had done something wrong. He had tried his best to do things right-he made his bed every morning, cleaned his dishes after every meal, and even did his own laundry-but nothing really changed.
Daniel could not remember his mother. The tiny bit of memories he could conjure seemed unreal. Sometimes, he wondered if he had invented them himself. He had this image in his head: he was swimming in a pond; sitting by the pond was his mother; a little further away, his father was jumping down from a rock with a beautiful flower in his hand; they were smiling at each other. He had been questioning himself since he was five. First the rock was really tall. It was impossible that anyone could jump down without hurting themselves. In the background was a mansion. The place was completely different from where he was living. The house that he lived in was just a small house like any other houses in a middle size town, where most people minded their own business and life was as plain as the suit his father wore everyday.
Daniel turned on the TV and browsed through the channels. It was all morning news: somewhere in the world, a war was going on; there were earthquakes and hurricanes; but none of these really meant anything to him or caught his attention. He was trying to catch any sound from outside. His father could walk in any moment. He would tell him that he had to run to help an estranged friend after an emergency call, or he was out jogging, and what Daniel had experienced was just a very realistic nightmare. The morning sunlight and the background noise from the TV soon sent Daniel into his dreamland. This time he had a real nightmare. He was running in a dark forest. There was fog lingering in the air. He knew he was looking for something but didn't know exactly what he was looking for. At the same time, he knew he had to get out of the forest before something bad happened. He was running frantically but found himself in the same spot again and again, feeling more and more disappointed and desperate. Then he heard the doorbell ring. It was like a life-saving cord for someone about to be drowned. He grabbed it and felt himself dragged out of his nightmare.
He lay on the couch for a while, trying to clear his mind and regain the senses. Then it suddenly came to him that it could be his father. He could have forgotten the key. Daniel jumped up and ran to the door. He was disappointed when he saw a stranger instead of his father standing at the door.
The first impression he had about the person was that he was tall. He had to walk back so he could have a complete view of him. The suit that he had on was immaculate. The hems and the sleeves were so straight and crisp that they looked metallic. Daniel looked up and saw a very interesting face. It looked middle age. On a second look, Daniel found it to be much younger. There was not a single wrinkle on the face. There was, however, something very old about it. The person had a long and thin nose. His mouth was wide and firm. What interested Daniel most were his eyes. They were almost mesmerizing. One moment, they were fierce and looked right through you. The next moment, they picked up something interesting, and there was pure joy and fascination.
"Yes?" said Daniel.
"Hi, my name is Edmond Alverdine," said the person. "I'm a friend of your father's."
His voice was deep and full of confidence.
"He's not home," said Daniel. The visit seemed to like a bad omen. They rarely had any visitors. A visitor in the morning after his father had just disappeared certainly wasn't a good sign.
"May I come in? I'm here to talk to you."
Daniel felt a knot in his stomach. Alverdine seemed to already know that his father wasn't home. He was too scared to consider what it meant. He turned and walked back into the sitting room automatically.
Alverdine walked into the sitting room and sat down on the couch. For a moment, the TV commercials seemed to really catch his attention. Then he turned to Daniel.
"Come, sit down and tell me what happened," said Alverdine. He didn't sound worried or grave.
"Are you a cop?" asked Daniel, feeling his fear ease a bit. If Alverdine didn't know exactly what had happened, then he probably didn't know where his father was either. That meant that his father could be safe somewhere neither of them knew of.
"No, no, I doubt in this case the police would be of any help."
"Er-why should I trust you?" asked Daniel.
"Good question." Alverdine smiled at him. "Let me see-I have known you since you were born. Your birthday is April 29. And you are wearing a locket, aren't you?"
Daniel's hand went up to his chest. Underneath his underwear was a locket that he had been wearing forever. He was told by his father never to take it off.
"So? That could be a lucky guess."
"It has a engraving of fire. I gave it to you on your first birthday. You see, among five elements of water, wood, fire, earth and metal, you lack fire. The locket came from deep inside the earth where the undying fire roams. It complements you-and it has other powers that you will come to know in the future."
Daniel could not remember seeing Alverdine before, but Alverdine seemed to know a lot about him. Few people knew about the locket. He always hid it underneath layers of clothes even in summer. He knew that if Alverdine wanted to hurt him, he certainly didn't need to go through this much trouble. Something about Alverdine also made Daniel want to trust him. Slowly, he moved to the couch and sat down at the other end.
"Unlike you father, you have a calm soul," said Alverdine kindly.
"Now tell me what happened," he said with a change of tone.
Alverdine listened carefully to Daniel's recounting of what had happened last night. He didn't interrupt but seemed to be absorbing every word Daniel spoke.
"Let's take a look upstairs." He stood up and walked to the stairs.
November 12th, 2006, 10:22 PM
Daniel followed him. It struck him as strange that Alverdine seemed to know where he was going, but it also eased his feeling of helplessness that Alverdine was in full control.
Alverdine stopped in the hallway. He closed his eyes for a minute. Then he entered the bedroom. All the coldness had dissipated by now. Alverdine stood in the middle of the room, quiet and unimposing. Unlike anything Daniel saw in detective movies, he didn't look at each item in the room carefully for clues. He didn't even leave the center of the room, but Daniel had this feeling that Alverdine had become an integrated part of the room and nothing escaped him.
They went downstairs in silence. Alverdine seemed to be in deep thought, but his face was still serene and peaceful.
"So-where do you think my father is?" asked Daniel. Somehow he knew something bad must have happened.
"I do not know," answered Alverdine carefully.
"He-he's dead, isn't he?" asked Daniel. He felt himself sink into a sea of fear the moment those words slipped out of his mouth. In his mind, that was the worst thing that could have happened. All he wanted was a negative answer. Everything else could be solved step by step afterward.
"No, he is not dead," said Alverdine with certainty.
Daniel found that he could breath again.
"Do you know where he is?" he asked.
"No, I don't know," said Alverdine calmly.
"How can you be sure that he's still alive?" asked Daniel, even though he wanted to believe it badly. He was afraid that Alverdine was going to tell him that it was just a guess.
"You see, the presence of a person at one place leaves an imprint," said Alverdine. He didn't sound slightly offended by Daniel's bluntness. "From what I picked up in the room, your father was unharmed when he was taken away; but I could not tell where he is or who took him away. As for now, he's not in any kind of life-threatening danger-his lifeline is still very strong."
To Daniel, what Alverdine said was strange but seemed to make sense. If what Alverdine said was right, he, however, didn't seem worried that Daniel's father was kidnapped.
"Should we call the police?" asked Daniel.
"No, I don't think there is anything they can do about it."
It was said in a way that Daniel found no need to argue.
"What am I supposed to do now?" he asked, feeling exasperated.
Alverdine didn't answer right away. He looked like he was making some decision.
"There is no easy way to do this," he finally spoke. "I want you to trust me. Please close your eyes."
Even though Daniel still had doubts, he closed his eyes. At first, he was looking into muddled darkness with apprehension and expectation. Then, he felt a tiny shock at the center in between his eyebrows. When the shock disappeared, he found himself looking at a scene he had never seen before. It was a village at the top of a mountain. It was like an ancient palace. Fog in the air gave the whole village an ethereal feeling. Daniel had an impression that the buildings were built on the clouds. People were flying in and out of the village as if they were riding on rays of sunlight passing thought the clouds.
When he opened his eyes, suddenly the room became small and dull. He felt like he had just woken from a beautiful dream and wanted to go back again.
"Where was that?" he was still in shock. "And-how did you do that?"
"That's where I grew up," said Alverdine amiably. "Beautiful, isn't it? What I have done was just a little bit of magic."
"Who-who-are you?" Daniel felt like he was losing his mind, but he knew that what he had experienced was not a hallucination.
"I'm one of the people you just saw," Alverdine said slowly. "We are what people call immortals, and so are you."
Even though Daniel had prepared himself, he still thought that it was some kind of joke.
"What? No, I mean, I'm just a boy-I can't do magic like you do."
"Ah, but you do have powers you don't know of. They have been shielded by your father. It takes some time to open them and develop them-we are getting ahead of ourselves. First let's have some tea, shall we?" Alverdine opened his palms, and a tray with a teapot and cups appeared. He put them on the table, poured one cup for himself and one for Daniel.
Daniel knew that it was Alverdine's way of showing him his powers. Although he was still in shock, he knew that it was more than magicians could achieve. Suddenly all the worries that he had since last night seemed to melt away.
"You'll save my father, won't you?" he asked.
"I will do my best," said Alverdine slowly.
"But you're an immortal," Daniel exclaimed. "You'll save him before anything happens to him, right?"
"Sorry, Daniel. I don't think I can promise that-yes, I'm more powerful than mortals, but in this case, we're not dealing with mortals."
"I tried to get here before anything happened," said Alverdine. He didn't go on to tell what prevented him from getting here on time.
All of a sudden, Daniel realized that he couldn't just wait for others to find his father. He had to do something-it was his responsibility now. He searched frantically inside his head whether there was anything he could do. Then he remembered what Alverdine had said trying to convince him that his father was still alive.
"Could the lifeline of my father lead us to him?" asked Daniel. "You said that his lifeline is strong and you could sense it."
"That's a very good question," said Alverdine with an encouraging smile. "But the line is not directional. As far as I'm concerned, I cannot do it, and I don't know anyone that is capable of doing it."
"How about the imprints of the people who took him. Shouldn't they tell you something?"
"Normally yes, but they were very good at erasing all the traces. The only thing that I could pick up was the cold-I think it was left as a challenge. What they have done requires a powerful mind and soul."
Daniel felt very disappointed but didn't say anything. The only consolation was that his father was safe in a sense. He had a feeling that Alverdine knew exactly what he felt.
"I will help you find your father, but I don't think it can be done in a short period of time."
"Now let's decide what we are going to do with you," said Alverdine, as if he had just finished one topic and was moving to the next one in a lecture.
"You can come with me or you can stay here. I think your father wanted you to live as a mortal. It's your choice now. If you want to stay here, I can make sure you live in a nice home and are well taken care of."
It was the first time Daniel had to make such a big decision, but it didn't take long for him to make up his mind. Now that his father was gone, there was no point staying where he didn't really belong.
"I'll go with you," he mumbled.
"Are you sure?" asked Alverdine.
"Er-yeah, I-I'm sure," said Daniel.
"If it doesn't work out, I can always come back and be a mortal, can't I?" he asked on second thought.
"Yes you can, but it won't be easy." Alverdine seemed amused. "I think it's time for us to leave, we have a long way to go." With a wave of his hand, the tea tray disappeared.
They walked to the river outside of the town. The river was where Daniel spent a lot of time. It ran down from the mountains. The water was crystal clear. Trees covered both sides of the riverbanks. There were different kinds of fish living in the river and birds living in the woods. Daniel knew he was going to miss this place-it had been his home for as long as he could remember-but he knew somehow he was making the right choice.
"This suit is starting to bother me," said Alverdine. The next moment, he was in a long robe. He drew out a sword the size of a pen from the robe and released it. It floated in the air and grew bigger and bigger until it reached the size of a small boat.
"Hop on," Alverdine encouraged.
Daniel jumped on, afraid that his weight was going to bottom out the sword. Amazingly, the sword stayed in the air. Alverdine got on a second later.
"Hold my hand tight," said Alverdine. "Here we go."
The sword started at such a speed that Daniel almost fell off it; but at the same time, a wave of excitement rushed through his body. He had always wondered what it was like to be able to fly and to glide through the air like birds. He stretched out his free arm and felt the wind.
The river and the woods became smaller and smaller. The clouds were so close that he felt he could just reach out and touch them. Sunlight coming thought the clouds made things seem unreal. It was like he was underwater, and he was a dolphin cutting through the water. The air became colder and colder until his teeth began to chatter.
"I'm sorry," Alverdine turned around. He murmured some charm, and the next moment Daniel felt like he was in a bubble and all the cold air was blocked out.
The sword picked up speed. Looking down, Daniel could tell that they were basically following the river. The view was so much different from high above. It was like he became bigger. Soon they were at the point where the river met the sea. And for the first time, Daniel saw the ocean. Above them was the vast sky that stretched on and on, and below them was the ocean as big as the sky. There was no limit. Daniel suddenly felt a wave of seasickness-it had nothing to do with flying over the sea; it was what was lying ahead-he knew that he was scared, even though he didn't like to admit it.
Author's blog: 360.yahoo.com/gcgustopher
November 18th, 2006, 07:28 PM
Evergreen Academy and the Golden Club
Jade Island and Evergreen academy
Daniel lost track of how long they had been on the sword. It could have been hours before an island came into view. The island was not all that impressive at first. It was like a rough green patch at the edge of the blue sea. As they got closer, Daniel was awed by what he saw. There were high mountains full of trees and long beaches white and bright under the sun. As they flew over the island, Daniel thought this must be what a real fairyland was like. There were streams running among hills. Waterfalls and deep ponds could be found everywhere. At times, he caught glimpses of exotic animals. At one point, he thought he saw a dragon jumping out of the water but the sword was moving too fast to be sure. Blue roofs and eaves could be seen among trees. There was laughter coming from the buildings. A couple of boys who looked a few years older than Daniel flew by. They were saluting Alverdine.
The sword descended to a garden by a lake surround by hills. The lake was brilliant under the sun. In the middle of the light and water was a tiny island. A pavilion took up most of the island. It was surrounded by blooming flowers Daniel had never seen before. On one flower tree, all the flowers were of different colors, and some flowers emitted lights like small lanterns. A long bridge connected the island to the lakeshore. Carp of the most brilliant colors were swimming under the water lilies. Elegant cranes strolled on the shallow lakeshore leisurely. Huge trees resided on the bank of the lake and the hills. There were roots hanging down from the branches like beards. Where the roots entered the ground, smaller trees grew up. Deer were chasing each other under the trees. A little further away, smaller buildings were scattered here and there. Some were behind the trees with only part of their roofs visible. Looking up, Daniel could see a huge building standing regally on the top of a hill. It was like a king looking over his kingdom.
When Alverdine called off the charm, warm air rushed in. Daniel felt a moment of dizziness, although it was not an uncomfortable feeling. He took a look around. There were students everywhere. Some were lying on the grass reading or talking to each other. Some were walking their pets. Daniel had only seen some of the pets in the TV fairy tales, and he knew quite well those on TV were special effect creations.
"Welcome to Jade Island and the Evergreen academy," said Alverdine. "This is where you are going to live and study."
There were hundreds of questions on Daniel's mind, but he didn't know which one to ask first or whether it was appropriate to ask. He was wondering if his parents had been here. Were they both immortals? And why did his father want him to live a mortal life? He had just touched the surface of immortal life. It seemed far more exciting and convenient. It was hard to imagine that anyone would give up an immortal life for a mortal one. He was also worried about how he was going to fit in. Life in his old school hadn't been easy. He was an easy target just because the way he looked and dressed. He believed that there was a much bigger gap between him and any student in this school. There was no way that he could escape being picked at if there was any similarity between immortal and mortal teenagers. Above all, he worried about his dad.
"You don't have to worry. Everything is going to be fine." Alverdine seemed to be able to read his mind. At this point, Daniel wouldn't be surprised if that was true, which also made him a little uneasy. If everyone here was able to read his mind, it would be like walking around naked or worse.
"You don't have to worry about that either," said Alverdine. "Not everyone has this particular power. In fact, it's quite rare. And I'm very sorry. I certainly didn't try to do it on purpose-I could pick up your thoughts, because you are new to everything and your mind is so unguarded from the initial shock."
They were walking down a road that went up the hill. There were trees on both side of the road. The braches connected on the top, which made the road feel like a tunnel. Alverdine had to stop many times to respond to the greetings from the students passing by.
"I think the first thing that you need now is some rest," said Alverdine. "We'll deal with other things later. Ah, and here is the perfect person to show you to your dorm."
He was referring to a girl walking towards them. From the way she looked, she was about two or three years older than Daniel. She wore a long skirt, which made her waist look small. She had long brown hair flowing down her back. Her eyes were big and expressive. They had the same color of the willow leaves in the early spring. Her nose was small and delicate, and so was her mouth. She reminded Daniel of the popular girls in his old school.
"Daniel, this is Michelle Valandi and Michelle, this is Daniel Ray." Alverdine introduced them. "Daniel is a new student. Could you take him to his dorm and help him settle in?"
"No problem, Sir," said Michelle in a singsong voice.
She reached out, took Daniel's hand, and led him toward another path. Daniel felt his face burning up, but didn't dare to pull his hand out of her grip.
"Handsome, isn't he?" said Michelle about Alverdine. "Most girls here have a big crush on him. Most of us are a little scared of him too. Do you have any idea how old he is? He's about six hundred years old. Believe it or not, he can look much younger than he does now. He just prefers this look-less confusing, I guess."
It really amazed Daniel that she could talk to a stranger like that.
"Too bad that he doesn't teach classes any more. There're not many chances to see him any more. You never know if he's here on the island or not."
Daniel felt like and idiot. He didn't know what to say. He was afraid that Michelle was going to laugh at him if he asked any stupid question. He felt even worse when something hit the back of his head and he let out a cry that made him feel quite embarrassed.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Michelle with an apologetic smile. "Forgot to warn you about the monkey. He likes to throw nuts or pebbles at people. I've no idea why they don't kick him out of the garden."
They were walking in the garden. In the middle of it was a small creek. Most of the trees were in full bloom. The flowers were like red clouds covering most of the leaves. Daniel could hear a few birds singing what he thought sounded like show tunes. They were, however, not really good even to Daniel's amateurish ears.
"Bit annoying in the morning," said Michelle about the birds.
"That's the boy's dorm," Michelle pointed to the red brick buildings at the end of the garden.
There were three buildings connected by open passageways. The corridors in each building were facing the garden. Some students were sitting on the banisters talking to each other. Most of the boys in the dorm knew Michelle. A couple bold ones whistled when they passed by. Michelle seemed to enjoy the attention but pretended that she didn't care much.
Daniel's dorm room was on the third floor. The room had four beds. There were four desks in the middle of the room. One huge window opened to the back garden. Two of his roommates were playing chess. They got up when Daniel and Michelle walked in. One boy was tall and skinny. His face was just like his body, long and bony. The other one was a chubby boy with a round face.
Michelle showed Daniel his bed, desk and a few other things. Daniel was amazed to find that the bed was already nicely made and everything had his initials on it.
Before Michelle left, she took Daniel off to the side: "If they give you any trouble, come find me, OK?"
When her footstep faded down the hall, both his roommates turned their attention to Daniel. They had been really shy in front of Michelle. The whole time she was there, they hadn't said more than a few words, and that was during the introduction. After that, they just stood there with an awkward smile on their faces.
"Where are you from?" asked Tony the chubby boy.
"Blue town." That was the name of Daniel's hometown, but he was too tired and hungry to give them a detailed description of the town.
"Never heard of it," Nick the tall skinny boy said.
"Me either." Tony and Nick exchanged a look.
"What's your special power?" asked Tony.
"Er-I don't know." Daniel felt kind of stupid again.
"I'm a natural transfigurine," said Tony. "Nick's a flyer. Both powers can be acquired, but it's extremely hard."
"Check this out," he squatted down and turned into a big fat rabbit and then turned back into the chubby boy again.
Daniel tried not to laugh. He didn't want Tony to think that he wasn't impressed. Tony was apparently very proud of his power. In face, Daniel thought his power was quite extraordinary, but the way Tony had shown it was kind of comical.
"Nick, show him yours," Tony urged Nick, but Nick seemed to feel that it was too much an effort to waste on someone new. They soon got bored with Daniel and left him alone. Thankfully, Daniel climbed into his bed and fell into a dreamless sleep.
When Daniel woke up, for a moment, he panicked. He realized that he wasn't in is own bed back at home. The ceiling was much higher, and the room was much bigger. Then it flooded back to him. He was alone in a strange place full of strangers. He had this sick feeling like he was going to give a talk in front of the whole school but was completely unprepared. He knew nothing about the place. Just yesterday, magic was an abstract concept. He had no idea what his power was and doubted he had any power at all. Would it be like the old school, where he had to watch everything he said and every move he made? He lay in bed trying to calm himself down.
Both Nick and Tony were gone. It was dark outside. The nightlight of one of his roommates was on. Lying on the bed was a big boy. He was almost twice Daniel's size. Still his face was childlike. He was playing with a knife. He threw it up. To Daniel's amazement, it stayed in the air. Then it started thrashing, piercing and flipping like an invisible hand was moving it. The knife flew back into the hand of the boy when Daniel sat up in his bed.
"How's your nap?" said the boy. His voice was deep for someone his age.
"Alright," said Daniel.
"I'm Owen Oswald," said the boy with a smile. "You're Daniel Ray, right?"
"Right." Daniel had never seen anyone like Owen before. He was very strong, but unassuming. For a person that tall, he didn't have an air of awkwardness, and there was something very pure and refreshing in him.
Daniel got up from his bed, still a little light headed from the flight and the nap.
"Professor Alverdine has a message for you." Owen picked up a piece of paper from his bedside. Daniel was amazed to see the paper fly out of Owen's hand and land lightly on his hand.
On the paper was a simple message: "Please come see me tonight."
"How am I supposed to find him?" thought Daniel feeling a little exasperated.
"I'll take you to his office if you want," offered Owen.
"You can read minds too?" Daniel became very self-conscious.
"No way, although that would be cool..." said Owen. "Oh, Professor Alverdine said that you might need help-you want to go now?"
"Sure," said Daniel. His stomach made a funny sound. He realized that he had not had any food since early that morning.
"Almost forgot," Owen turned around and picked up a package on the desk.
"Professor Alverdine told me that you might feel hungry after your nap."
Inside the wrap were four big buns. Two were plenty for Daniel. Owen must have thought that everyone ate as much as he did. He ate the other two happily when Daniel said he was full.
The night was cool. The water in the creek was illuminating. The birds had gotten tired of singing and fell asleep. Most of the buildings were lit up. The shadows of the trees made the lights flicker. They walked passed the Monkey. He threw a few nuts at them, but Owen caught all of them. Owen pointed out different buildings as they went along. The dining hall was mid-way between the boy's dorm and the main building, which Daniel learned to be the auditorium. The classrooms were in different small buildings. The animal house was between the dinning hall and the sport field. It was very big and sprawled out like a flat hill. A couple students were reining in a horse with huge wings. Some girl was trying to talk sense into a cat. The cat seemed to be hyperactive and would not settle down.
"The small building by the animal house is the post office," said Owen. "It's run by the student government. Tony is in the student government-I don't think it's my cup of tea..."
Daniel felt a rush of homesickness. There was no one he could write to. "I guess this is home now," he thought. He could have always run home, had he been in trouble; but now if things went wrong, there was no escape. He had to be more careful about what he said and what he did, even though most people he had met seemed nice. Then the image of his father in a dark jail cell came into his mind. He knew that he had to do something. He couldn't just sit and wait for other people to save his father. He had to find more about what had happened to his father. All he knew was that whoever kidnapped his father were not mortals and they performed a charm that sucked out the heat in the air. Alverdine didn't specify whether they were immortals or not. Daniel wondered if there could be other magical beings that were capable of doing magic?
"Where's the library?" he asked, but realized that he was too abrupt. Owen, however, didn't seemed to mind.
"You are a good student, aren't you?" he said with a grin. "It's behind those woods. I'll show you later."
Professor Alverdine's office was on the top level of a seven-story tower on the edge of a cliff. It was like a huge granite bamboo shoot. There was an outside corridor residing over the eaves on each level. The doors to the corridors looked out directly to the sea. Looking out of the tower windows, Daniel could see the full moon hanging on the east sky. The sky was clear. The moonlight reflecting on the surface of the sea was like a silver highway leading to the moon.
Owen knocked on the door.
"Come in," they heard professor Alverdine say in the office.
Daniel was glad to see a familiar face. It was hard to believe that he had just met Alverdine that morning. It was like he had known him for a long time.
Alverdine's office was not as he had expected. There were not shelves and shelves of books. It was very big and empty. The four walls were actually four huge cabinets with thousands of drawers. Some were dated five hundred years ago. By the window was a large desk. Alverdine was sitting in a very comfortable looking chair. In his hand was a glass of wine.
"Forgive me for one of my little indulgence," he said when Daniel and Owen walked in. "To me, there are few things as satisfying as sharing a glass of good wine with the full moon."
"You look well rested," he said to Daniel.
"Do you know why you are here?" he asked, putting down the wine glass.
"No, not really," said Daniel, feeling like he had just failed some kind of test. He doubted Alverdine had found anything new about his father's disappearance. After all, it had been only a few hours since Daniel last saw him.
"Oh, Owen you can stay too," professor Alverdine said to Owen when he was about to excuse himself.
"Tonight, I'm going to release your powers," he turned back to Daniel. "A night like this is excellent for the task," he said, referring to the clear sky and the full moon.
"But before I do that, there are a few things I want you to learn. You too." He nodded at Owen. "I told most of my students, and I couldn't emphasize this enough." Then his voice changed. It wasn't the old kind and gentle talk that Daniel had accustomed to.
"With great power comes great responsibility. It applies to everyone under all circumstances. You can be mortal or immortal, and the power that you have can be magical or political. You may not fully understand it now, but just keep this in mind before you make any decision or take any action."
Both Daniel and Owen had the feeling that standing in front of them was someone that was ancient and ageless as the tower, the moon, and the vast sea.
"Enough about that," said Professor Alverdine, returning back to his old self again. "The procedure that I'm about to perform is opening your mind. Each of our brains is like an individual universe. Most of the people have very little access to the universe and have less control over the powers within-just a simple example: if you are in a place full of noises, none of the individual sounds make sense; but you brain actually receives every piece of information and stores it. If you have control over your brain, you can decipher and interpret every sound you heard. It's the same with your body, although it has limits. With you mind open, you'll able to find out what you body is capable of. Different people are good at different things-Owen, I believe, is very good at controlling weapons and sparing-it's simply how each individual body is made...I hope that you both will use your powers well..."
He asked Daniel if he was ready and then laid a hand on his head. A warm sensation trickled down from where his hand was. Daniel had the feeling that something was thawing inside him. It was like the winter was over, and he wouldn't feel cold again. The breeze from the sea brushed against his face. He felt himself sliding into a deep sleep as comfortable as a warm bed in a cold winter night.
Author's blog: 360.yahoo.com/gcgustopher
November 22nd, 2006, 05:00 PM
hi.....i dont have time to look over your story at the moment
but i will give it a read tomorrow when i have more time
but i would recommend posting at the most 1 chapter......then people will be more willing to read and critique the work as it takes a long time to do (properly :P)
November 27th, 2006, 10:39 PM
Evergreen Academy and the Golden Club
Daniel woke up the next morning, finding himself in his own bed. He had a momentary headache when suddenly his head was flooded with information. He closed his eyes and lay in his bed trying to adjust his brain to the new world he had just begun to experience. First, he could hear the breath of his roommates: Tony's was short and uneven; Nick's was quiet and slow; Owen's was the deepest and had perfect pace. From the way they breathed, an image of them lying on different positions came into his mind. Daniel opened his eyes and took a quick look at his roommates. They were exactly as he had imagined. It also surprised him that he could see every hair on his roommates' faces, even the finest ones on the smoothest parts of their skin. The texture of the sheet and the fine details on the wall also appeared as clear as would be seen under a microscope. He closed his eyes again. This time he put a little effort in it. The breath of students in the other side of the building came into his ears. Some of them were mumbling in their sleep, and some were snoring very loudly. The feeling was surreal and funny at the same time.
The birds in the garden had started singing already. What surprised Daniel was that he could also hear the morning breeze touching the petals of the flowers. He looked out of the window. Instead of seeing a red cloud of flowers, he saw individual ones with their unique shapes. He saw a bee buzzing on a flower, and its wings were batting much slower than he had ever seen. What he saw filled him with joy and awe. He felt like jumping and shouting, but he managed to keep everything inside.
Then he heard Nick's breath become shorter and his eyelids start to flutter. Daniel knew that he was waking up. Owen was also waking up, but his breath remained the same and his heartbeat didn't change. Daniel wondered whether that was part of the reason why Owen was so good at combat.
He got up from his bed. He had this sensation that his body was much lighter. It was like every movement made perfect sense. On the table were a few books and robes. Lying on the robe was a little sword just like the one Professor Alverdine had.
"Those are yours," said Owen, seeing Daniel look at the books and the robes. "That's a sweet sword."
Daniel picked it up. It had a familiar feeling like they had known each other for a long time. Daniel turned it around. On the back of the sword was a tiny engraving Kane Ray. That was his father's name. That meant that his father had been in the school and was an immortal too. Daniel had actually thought about that. Whoever had kidnapped his father wouldn't have been interested in a mortal.
"Try it out," Owen looked excited already.
"Oh, I don't know how," said Daniel, afraid that Owen would laugh at him.
"Here, let me show you." Owen took the sword from Daniel's hand. The sword seemed to become alive with the touch of his hand.
"Arminanu," the sword flew out of Owen's hand with the charm he cited. It grew to the size of a skateboard. He jumped on it. With a swing of his waist, he flew out of the window. After a circle on the top of the trees, Owen flew back into the dorm room.
"Sweet." He jumped down from the sword, looking totally enamored.
"What's all the excitement?" Tony sat up in his bed, wiping his eyes.
"Just a freaking sword," said Nick.
"Cool," said Tony.
"Go on, try it," Owen encouraged.
"Arminanu," Daniel cited. The sword moved a bit in his hand. He cited again. It flipped and jumped like a stranded fish. However hard he concentrated, the sword never stayed in the air for more than a second.
"He's supposed to learn it from a real teacher." Nick threw open his sheet, and his body sprang out the bed like an arrow. Daniel had a feeling that Nick was jealous of Owen and was trying to show off his natural flying power.
"You did great," said Owen to Daniel, oblivious to Nick's jealousy. "It takes practice. Let's go get something to eat-I'm so hungry. I can eat a horse."
"So, apparently flying or weapon controlling is not my power," Daniel thought.
"What classes do we have today?" he asked, picking up the books on the table. They were much lighter than they used to be, but not so light that strength would be his special power either.
"History and mortal studies," said Owen. "Those two are the only mandatory courses. You can pick the rest. I have transformation and combat-you should pick them too-but of course, only if you are interested in the classes."
Daniel put on a robe and took the two books for the courses.
"So what's your power?" asked Owen on their way to the dinning hall.
"I'm not really sure yet," said Daniel, afraid that it would never come to him. "I can see and hear much better than mortals, but I bet everyone here can do that, right?"
"Wait, how much better?" asked Owen.
"See that crane in the lake," Daniel pointed at a crane in the lake that was about half a mile away.
"I can see her eyes, but that's the best I can do," said Owen.
"I can see the fine feathers above its eyes."
"No way. Do you know you've got eagle eyes? That's just a stupid name. Your eyes are way more powerful than some old eagle's-and how much better can you hear?"
"I can hear the sound when the crane pulls its leg out of the water."
"No way!!! You've got bat ears too-this is so cool. Few people have either of the powers, let alone both. This is so freaking cool. You know, no one will be able to fool you now."
Owen looked so excited that Daniel couldn't help but think that his powers were something special too.
The dinning hall was busy. There were rolls and rolls of delicious food. Behind the food stands, however, were not human beings. They were like robots in mortal world, but they were more doll-like-their faces were porcelain, and their bodies were wood. They took orders and acted automatically. For a minute, Daniel couldn't take his eyes off the woodmen, even though he knew it was rude to stare.
"This is one of Professor Alverdine's brilliant ideas," said Owen, but he didn't elaborate. The food seemed to have captured all his attention.
They held their trays and looked around. There were groups of students scattered all around the dining hall. When they passed a group of girls, Daniel heard someone call his name. It was Michelle waving at him.
Daniel mumbled "hey" back and found a table that was a safe distance away from the girls. Their giggling, however, was still as loud as if they were sitting at the same table. Daniel could hear every word they said. One girl was whispering to Michelle's ear that she thought she only liked older boys.
"Your face is turning red," said Owen, looking up from his plate. "Girls are weird," he mumbled with a full mouth.
All the conversations kept flying in Daniel's ears. A group of boys were talking about fighting a dragon. Some were talking about stealing some magic fruit in the forbidden garden. A few girls were talking about flying to a mortal city to check out the latest fashions. Daniel started to feel that he was getting too much information. He was afraid that his brain was going to overflow soon with all these useless information. It also made him uncomfortable hearing what wasn't supposed to be heard by him, even though he wasn't trying to eavesdrop.
The first class they had was history of immortals. When Daniel and Owen got to the classroom. Most of the seats were taken. There were about thirty of them. Nick and Tony were sitting together. Owen led the way to the back the classroom. "I have been sitting in the back since I got to school," said Owen. Close to them was a girl sitting alone. She had shoulder length hair that covered most of her face. She sat in a very upright position with her knees pressed together. Right before the class began, a monkey man slid into the door. He had the face of a monkey although his body was more like that of a human being. He walked upright. His steps were very careful and quiet. He also found a seat at the back of the classroom. Daniel could tell that although this was not the first time that the other students saw the monkey man, his presence still provoked curiosity.
The history teacher was a middle age man. His name was Tim Haldan. He had a very interesting face. His eyes were small, and his mouth was protruded. It reminded Daniel of a mouse. He talked really fast and seemed to really enjoy the topics. When he talked, there were pictures that appeared on the screen. People were moving on the screen like a movie.
"That's the reflection of the pictures in his mind," Owen whispered in Daniel's ear.
They had already covered the first two chapters. The third chapter was about the flood.
"Every mortal history book talked about a pre-historical flood. Western religions recorded the flood. In the east, the story was recorded as folklores. I believe the flood was at the end of the ice age, when the ice began to melt."
Professor Haldan continued to talk about the eastern myth about two kings trying to deal with the flood. The first king tried to block the water by using magical clay and failed. The second one used a different method. He managed to dredge the rivers and lead the water out to the sea.
"According to our history. Those two kings were actually immortals. At the very beginning of the human history, Immortals were allowed to participate in mortal politics to help society develop. That was the time when mortals and immortals lived together in harmony"
Daniel had heard about the stories, but had thought that there was some exaggeration about the powers those two kings had. He felt like he had just opened his eyes and found himself standing at the doorstep to a completely new world. It was similar to the experience that he had had this morning, but in a different sense.
After class, Professor Haldan gave Daniel and the girl each a small box. There was a hole in the front of the box.
"These are the notes of the last two classes," said professor Haldan kindly. Daniel was glad to find that he wasn't the only one who was new and behind.
Looking through the hole, he could see that it was actually a film of the last two classes with professor Haldan's talking in the background.
The history class had proved to be more interesting than he had expected. The mortal studies was more focused on the modern mortal life. The mortal studies teacher was an enthusiastic young woman called Lindsay Morwen. It seemed that many students were having trouble with the class.
Daniel heard a student complain about the course: "My parents told me, at their time, mortal studies was more like a joke. Now it's so much harder. Who needs to know how a computer or a car works."
To Daniel the course was relatively easy. After all, he came from the mortal world. And things made more sense after his powers were released.
After lunch, there was a one-hour break. The sun was bright, and it was beautiful outside. Some of the students went to the animal house to play with their pets. Owen's pet was a fire-spitting lion. It was still a cub and looked like a puppy.
The lion jumped on Owen when they entered the animal house. He put his two front paws on Owen's legs. Standing up, the lion was only up to Owen's knees.
"His name is Fireball. Got him from my folks for my last birthday." Owen was stroking the lion. Fireball was now lying on his back, playing with his hand.
"You can pet him too," said Owen.
Daniel reached out and stroked Fireball's belly. The lion quickly let go of Owen's hand and stood up. He became very defensive, and his nose started to breath smoke.
"Don't mind him," Owen turned to Daniel. "He's like this when he gets scared."
Daniel stood up, feeling very uncomfortable himself. He wasn't sure whether he should stay or not.
Fireball soon became himself again. He started biting and tugging on the hem of Owen's robe.
"I think he wants a walk," said Owen to Daniel.
They walked to the lakefront. On the way there, Fireball sometimes ran off chasing a deer. Sometimes he jumped on the feet of a passing by students as if they were his prey. When he thought he was too far away from Owen, he either ran back or stopped to wait for him to catch up.
"He doesn't mind the other students," said Daniel, feeling like an outsider.
"Don't sweat it, he'll get to like you," said Owen reassuringly.
The sunlight was very warm and bright at the lakefront. A few students were chasing each other on their swords. Under the trees, some students were listening to music coming from a sliver box.
"The next song was from a secret admirer to Barbara Sonel in the fourth year," said the girl in the box. "It's the famous love song from the immortal play Sam and Samantha, Love Visits by Night. Who doesn't remember the famous scene when Sam fly's his sword to visit Samantha by the cover of night to see his forbidden love? How moving! Well, I'll tell you this-I've seen our Barbara's secret admirer fly, and it'd be better during the light of day if he gets up the courage to visit Barbara. So here is Love Visits by Night."
"Ah, that's harsh," said Owen with a smile.
"That's the student radio station," he said. "They broadcast immortal news, mortal news-oh, and school news too. There are also some entertaining programs."
"I heard that they used to broadcast all around campus. Everyone had to listen to it, like it or not. After a lot of complaints, they changed it to wireless. I don't really understand how it works, but we had a few technoheads in the school who have a natural talent for this kind of stuff."
"Could you show me the library?" said Daniel. It had been on his mind for a while. "Only if you don't mind," he added quickly.
"Sure," said Owen. "Let's take Fireball back to the animal house first."
Fireball seemed to understand what Owen had said and let out a whining sound.
The library was a square building on stilts. It had an open-air garden in the middle. Steps led up to the front gate. Two open corridors connected the gate with the side wings.
"The side wings are where the books are kept," said Owen as they walked up the steps. He stopped at the corridor. Then he lowered his voice. "I heard that Miss Leventis's brain is like a huge database-Miss Leventis is the librarian. She can tell you where the books are and what the books are about off the top of her head."
The sidewalks led to the study hall. There was only one entrance. Inside the study hall were rolls and rolls of desks. The library looked very old-fashioned. There wasn't even a computer. Only a couple of students were in the library.
Miss Leventis was a middle age woman. She wore a very plain robe and sat behind the check out desk looking bored.
"Shouldn't you get ready for the class?" asked Miss Leventis when she saw them.
"I'm just showing Daniel the library," said Owen politely. "He's new to the school."
"Then I assume that he needs to go to the orientation," said Miss Leventis.
"Yes, ma'am" said Owen.
Author's blog: 360.yahoo.com/gcgustopher
November 28th, 2006, 07:59 AM
CAmars, the etiquette around here is that you should post your story in the "Stories" section of the site, then start a thread here with a request for a critique and a link to the first page of your story.
BTW, congrats on finishing the story. I'm sure that you will get some good feedback.