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The Elementalists

The Boy In The Mirror

~ Chapter One ~

          The wind blew through Esther's red hair while she lay on the soft green grass gazing up at the sky. She shaded her violet eyes with her hand to see the white cotton clouds above her as the hot summer sun shone down on her. She was so engrossed in the majesty of the sky that she almost didn't notice her watch beeping.

          Esther checked the time on her blue watch. It read eleven o'clock. It was time for lunch. She stood up and dusted herself off before picking up her bag. As she walked down the street towards the local diner, she slipped her hands into the pockets of her light jacket.

          The diner was decorated in a retro style. It was warm and inviting to anyone who came in. Esther considered it as a second home. Ever since she was adopted, her mother had worked hard to ensure Esther's well–being.

          As Esther entered, a little bell rang, and the delicious scent of food and coffee welcomed her. She walked across the wooden floor and approached a red leather booth occupied by a small woman with chestnut brown hair. "Hey, JoAnn," she said, sitting across from her.

          JoAnn was someone Esther had known her whole life. JoAnn took care of her if her mother had to work late. She was always doing something to help them.

          "Hey Essie, how was your mornin'?" JoAnn answered with the southern drawl that Esther was all too familiar with.

          "It was good. How about you?" Esther asked.

          "Every day is a new day," she replied while sipping her coffee.

          "Yeah. I guess it is," Esther smiled, noting how much she appreciated JoAnn's optimism. She'd picked up her ability to be positive from JoAnn.

          A woman dressed in a blue t–shirt and jeans approached the table and placed a glass of pop in front of Esther. The name Marie was written on her name tag. No one would suspect that Marie had adopted Esther because she looked so much like her daughter; their only difference was their eyes. Marie's were a soft shade of blue.

          "Thanks, Mom," Esther said before removing the straw from its wrapper and inserting it into her drink.

          "You're welcome, Sweetie. I assume you'll want the usual," Marie replied.

          "Yes, please."

          "And what would you like today, JoAnn?"

          "Well, I'll have the special today," JoAnn replied.

          "Medium rare, right?"

          "No other kind."

          Marie smiled. "alright, I'll have those right out." She walked off towards the kitchen to put in their orders. While waiting for their meal, JoAnn and Esther chatted. They ate in peaceful silence when Marie brought it out minutes later.

          "Let me pay for Essie's, Sugarcube," JoAnn said as Marie handed her the check. "Oh no, JoAnn, you don't have to."

          "Marie, I insist. Since you work hard every day and do so much for me, let me repay you."

          Marie sighed as she looked at Esther and then at JoAnn. She said reluctantly but smiling, "Okay, thank you, JoAnn. You're sweet."

          "Oh hush, I'm doin' what any decent person would do for a single mother," JoAnn replied, standing up. "Everything will change for you both soon. I know it."

          Esther grabbed her bag and the styrofoam to–go container that held her leftovers. She stood up, saying, "I'm gonna go ahead and go home."

          "Okay, bye, Sweetie," Marie responded as she approached the cash register.

          Esther observed the people as she walked down the street. For an Elementalist like her, living in a town full of Regulars was challenging. Regulars were not afraid of Elementalists; in reality, they respected Elementalists. It was because she was a specific kind of Elementalist: a Dream Elementalist – better known as a Dreamer. A long time ago, the Dreamers had been largely wiped out. It was challenging for her because she had no one she could relate to, so she was excited to go to Ecclesia.

          Ecclesia was a well–known school that had long been recognized as Medei's safest haven. Her birth parents had attended there, so it was natural that she would also. She also turned thirteen this year, meaning she was old enough to go. The only thing she was waiting for was her acceptance letter.

          Esther was strolling past an alleyway when she saw a few grade–school boys cornering a cat, which jolted her out of her thoughts.

          "Hey!" she shouted and ran towards them. "Get away from that cat!" she cried again before the boys ran away laughing.

          She stopped as she watched them flee before sighing and turning to the small animal. It was a black and white cat with yellowish eyes. The cat's expression shifted entirely as it stared up at her with questioning eyes. She took small steps toward the cat and knelt with her leftovers. Esther took the bacon from her cheeseburger and held it out to her.

          She put the bacon on the ground. The cat sniffed it a little and looked up at her. She sniffed the bacon once more before batting it around and nibbling it. The cat ultimately ate the meat. After devouring the food, she hesitantly approached Esther and rubbed against her knee.

          She gave a gentle pet to the cat and smiled. She had always been more skilled at interacting with animals than with people. Esther picked up the cat and her bag and then continued on to her house.

          Esther returned home and checked the mailbox by the front door. A royal purple envelope was in the box. She stared at it, puzzled, and almost dropped the cat when she took it out. It was her acceptance letter!

          Her attention was drawn back to reality when the cat meowed. Esther went inside and placed the letter on the kitchen counter. After putting the cat down, she got two bowls from the cabinets and filled them with water and sandwich meat. She put them on the floor, grabbed her blue laptop from the counter, and sat at the table.

          "Let's find you a name." Esther opened the laptop and turned it on. She searched for cat names and clicked on the first website.

          "What do you think of... Shiloh?" Esther asked and looked at the cat who was eating the meat. "No? Okay... how about... Hadassah?" still no answer from the eating cat.

          "Halo?" The cat looked up at her and licked her chops. "Halo it is," Esther said as Halo walked up to her and rubbed her head against her leg. Esther reached down to pet Halo before closing her laptop.

          She stood up from her chair when she remembered the letter. She went over to the counter and examined the purple envelope. Her address was written in gold cursive letters on top of the royal purple envelope.

Esther R. Jarsdel

448 S. Rosefair St.

Stormhold, 91975

          She wished she could open it as she traced her fingertips over the golden letters, but she promised Marie that she would open it while she was there. As a result, she put the note on the table and grabbed Halo.

          "Let's play in my room!" she said while carrying Halo into her bedroom. She sat on the carpeted floor and put the cat down. Halo turned around and gave her a curious look.

          "Let's see... what can we play with– oh!" Esther clapped her hands together in front of her. As she focused, she regulated her breathing. Her hands then gave off a purple light. When she opened them, she saw a tiny purple light ball.

          "I'm still working on this trick," Esther explained. "It's the size of a golf ball right now. My next goal is to get it the same size as a baseball and maybe a basketball."

          Halo fixed her gaze on the ball of light and her eyes began to glow. Esther was shocked and stared at her. The light in her hands grew to the size of a baseball, which startled her even more. The cat's eyes ceased their glow. Halo shook her head and washed herself by licking her paw. Esther was awestruck by the cat. Her mind immediately returned to a lesson she had learned long ago.

          When an Elementalist is old enough to go to Ecclesia or any other magic school, in this case, is thirteen, they are assigned a Curatrix as a guardian. Curatri is an ancient race that often appears as an animal, but no one knows what they truly look like.

          Esther moved her hands, making the ball of light vanish. She picked up the cat. "Are you my Curatrix?" she asked, holding Halo up. The cat meowed as if to say yes.

          Esther heard the door open. Marie announced that she had returned home. She stood up and hurried out to the kitchen, properly carrying Halo.

          "Hi, Honey," Marie said, setting her purse on the counter.

          "Mom, I got my Curatrix!" Esther showed her Halo.

          "That's great, Sweetie!" Marie replied with a smile. Marie started petting Halo as Esther put her on the table.

          "Oh! I also got my acceptance letter!" Esther said as she picked up the purple envelope. "When can I open it?"

          "How about after dinner?" Marie suggested. "I'm so hungry I could eat a unicorn."

          "Sounds good," Esther replied with a smile.

          Esther and Marie retired to the living room after a delicious dinner of spaghetti and meatballs. Esther held her letter as they sat on the brown leather couch.

          "Well, open it," Marie said.

          Esther smiled as she looked down at the envelope. When she flipped it over, she discovered a golden wax seal. A roaring lion, Ecclesia's emblem, was embedded in it. She carefully broke the seal and pulled a packet of folded papers from the envelope. The first of the papers she unfolded was a letter. It read:

Saxan 21, 3014

Dear Esther Jarsdel,

We're pleased to welcome you to the Ecclesia Academy of Magic. Students must report to the main building, which is located at the top of the campus. The term begins on the 20th of Honestan.

Please find enclosed a list of the necessary uniforms, as well as a list of books and supplies. Enrollment forms for your parent or guardian are included in your packet. We are very excited to have you as a member of the Academy family.

 

Sincerely,

Aslan Malik

Headmaster

 

          Esther went on to the next sheet of paper.

First–year students will require the following:

Uniform:

Button–up shirt (white or black)

Slacks or jeans for boys

Skirts for girls (color according to your element) Girls are allowed to wear leggings or stockings under their skirts.

Any form of footwear, except for sandals, is acceptable

Tie (color according to your element)

 

Course Books:

Basic Animal Care

Basic Potions

Basic Shifting

Basic Spells

Common Defense Spells

Common Creatures

Common Plant Life

History of Ecclesia

History of the Medei

 

Other Equipment:

Satchel or Backpack

Cauldron (black)

Glass or Crystal Phials

Brass Scales

Pens

Pencils

Pencil Case

Folders

Notebooks

 

Students are reminded that your Curatrix is the only pet permitted at school.

 

Sincerely,

Mari Madelaine

Deputy Headmaster

Ecclesia Academy

 

          "Here's the list of my supplies," Esther said as she handed the list to Marie.

          Marie took the list and skimmed over it as Esther examined the forms. Some appeared to be for dangerous activities and she became anxious about attending this magic school for the first time. She had no idea she'd have to do something risky.

          Marie noticed the change in Esther's behavior. "What's wrong, Essie?"

          "These forms seem like they're for dangerous stuff," Esther answered as she handed Marie the remaining documents.

          Marie skimmed through the forms, "Sweetie, I think these are for the later years. You're only a First year, so they wouldn't put you in any danger. Besides, Ecclesia is the safest place on earth."

          "Okay, that makes me feel better," Esther said.

          Marie smiled, "Why don't you go get ready for bed? I'll get these forms signed, and then tomorrow, we'll go to Oakenguard to get your supplies."

          Esther nodded. "'Night, mom!" she said as she sprang to her feet and stretched.

          After showering and changing into her pj's, Esther stood in front of the bathroom mirror brushing her teeth. She looked in the mirror after spitting out into the sink. She thought she saw someone else in the mirror for a split second. She shook her head and closed her eyes. She had to be seeing things.

          She walked into her room and over to her bay window. She grabbed a book from the bookshelf and sat down to pass the time with Halo curled beside her. Time went by and it was dark before she knew it. Esther got up and went to close her curtains, but then she noticed movement outside. Since their yard was fenced in and nothing could get in, seeing a figure moving out there was odd. She assumed a neighborhood dog had jumped the fence while chasing something and could not escape.

          She slipped on her shoes and scarf, took her flashlight, and quietly crept up to the front door. Halo meowed at Esther as she reached for the doorknob.

          "Shh, Halo, you're going to wake Mom," she whispered as she opened the front door. "Stay here." She stepped out and closed the door.

          She walked down the porch stairs with her flashlight turned on, shining it everywhere she looked. The night sky was a navy color, with millions of twinkling stars and a full moon providing some illumination. Crickets chirped and fireflies flew in all directions.

          Esther approached the wooden gate and opened it. She walked into the backyard, leaving the gate open. She heard rustling in the bushes and pointed the flashlight at the source of the noise.

          "Hello?" she called out as she sauntered towards the bushes. She turned around when a twig snapped behind her. The scent of brimstone reached her nose, causing her to scrunch it up.

          Then, out of nowhere, a pair of glowing red eyes appeared. The creature began to growl and stalk toward her, leaving burnt grass in its path. She saw it was a black wolf once it came into the light. His yellow teeth were bared and his ears were back.

          Esther realized the black wolf was ready to attack and began backing up, taking care not to make any abrupt movements.

          "Easy, doggie. I'm not going to hurt you," she said calmly, her voice trembling slightly.

          She stumbled back as the wolf leaped at her, knocking her down to the ground and causing her to lose her flashlight. Esther fought against the beast as it tried to bite her; she could smell the rancid raw meat on its breath.

          Esther lifted her leg and pushed the animal away from her. She scrambled to her feet and sprinted down the street to escape the creature. She dashed as quickly as she could to the park, the first place to come to mind. She tried to catch her breath as she came to a halt in the park. With her hands on her knees, she noticed her legs were muddy and bruised. Lousy night to wear pajama shorts.

          She straightened up and looked around after regaining her composure. The park had playground equipment for the kids and benches all over it. Every few feet, there were grills and picnic tables. There was also a section for dogs, walking, and biking.

          Esther heard the growling again as she took a step forward. As the wolf stalked closer and closer to her, she froze in place, her breath beginning to shake.

          She kept a close eye on the wolf. She wasn't going to let this creature get the best of her. Even though she was thirteen, she still had much to live for. Esther dashed away, running quicker than ever before, determined not to be caught.

          She ran into a small gathering of trees near her. As she raced across the rough terrain, the trees towered over her. Suddenly, she tripped and lost her balance. She sat on the grass, turning around to see the wolf. She backed up as far as she could until she stopped before a tree. She searched everywhere for something to use as a weapon; she spotted a football–sized rock within reach. As the wolf lunged at her, she grabbed the stone. Esther squeezed her eyes closed and waited for the impact; it never arrived.

          When Esther opened her eyes, the wolf had disappeared, leaving only dust behind. And there was JoAnn, holding a wand. The wand didn't surprise her since Esther knew she was magical. It was JoAnn's presence that shocked her.

          "JoAnn? What's going on?" Esther asked.

          "No time to explain. Come with me." JoAnn tucked her wand in her belt, helping her up, and led Esther out of the forest.

          "What was that thing?"

          "A hellhound sent here to kill you."

          "But why would it want to kill me!?"

          JoAnn remained silent. She kept pulling her to safety.

          "JoAnn, answer me!" Esther demanded and she came to a halt outside the woods.

          "'Member when I said everything would change?" JoAnn asked. Esther only nodded in response. "Well, it's changing right now. Sooner than we hoped." JoAnn paused. "Come on." Esther followed her as she resumed walking.

          "Where are we going?" Esther asked.

          "Your house. It's time you learned about your parents."

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