– Prologue –
It was a dull, hot and sunny day. Linda has been dreading this day for a few days now. She was not ready to leave home and her parents yet but she had to get back to the Academy before term starts. Linda taught at the Aiden Academy for children with magical abilities, just like herself. The Academy was named after the great historian Elena Aiden who lived until she was 136 years. Linda’s bedroom was a mess. Her bed was unmade, her clothes were strewn all over the room and her suitcase was open on the floor.
Linda’s desktop was covered with files, papers, pens, molten candles, chewing gum wrappers, bread crumbs, hair and paper clips, a coaster, a picture frame and a small blue radio that was playing a very sad tune. Linda moved towards the window and stared blankly at Laster Lane. They will arrive soon, she thought. Linda turned her attention to her messy bedroom, and began folding her t-shirts by moving her hand through midair. Linda was a thirty years old witch with short curly blonde hair, big green eyes and the power to move objects using her mind for concentration, and hand for the direction of the movement.
Linda joined the Academy to help families who want their kids to pursue their magical education and help them control and harness their powers. It was not as easy as she thought it would be, but she needed this break in her career. You see, her dream was to become a facilitator at the Higher Magical Institute and she was the perfect fit for the position, as she possessed a magical power. Linda always wanted to help other kids harness and control their magical powers. Not all people possess magical powers and that is where most of the problems between family and friends arise.
Linda’s sister Placenta, who was two years younger, worked as a supervisor at the Academy. Unfortunately, Placenta did not possess any magical powers and this always caused some strain between the sisters. This summer, the two sisters decided to spend the summer vacation with their parents. Willow, their mother, was very sick and they knew that her days were numbered.
Placenta was downstairs preparing breakfast while Linda was packing – they had to divide the chores and no one in their right mind would leave Linda in the kitchen alone.
In a matter of an hour, Linda was able to pack all her belongings and as she was zipping up her luggage, someone knocked on her bedroom’s door.
“Come in,” she shouted, thinking it was Placenta, who was about to mock her.
“H-hello d-dear….” muttered Willow.
“Mom! Why are out of bed?” asked Linda, rushing to help her mother to a chair.
“Well, I’ve b-been c-calling out-t for someone to c-come and tak-ke me t-to the bathroom-m but-t no one heard me, so I decided t-to go myself,” she said, looking happier than ever. Once lively and vibrant, Willow looked frail and withered.
“I am really sorry; it is totally my fault. Placenta is downstairs preparing breakfast, and dad is smoking his pipe out on the porch.”
“S-so, who is-s coming to pick y-you up?” Willow asked.
“Cousin Carlos is picking us up at five this afternoon,” Linda said.
“Oh, t-that’s great!” Willow exclaimed.
Linda helped her mother downstairs, meeting her father at the entrance of the kitchen.
“Good morning love,” Eric greeted them both, kissing Willow on the forehead.
“Morning dad,” Linda said, pushing the kitchen’s door open to divulge their dining table full of all sort of Mrs. Leah’s best breakfast plates.
“So, I see you’ve finally mastered Mrs. Leah book,” joked her father.
“Sort of,” replied Placenta, washing some dishes in the basin. “Did you finish packing?”
“Almost. I need to make a final sweep of the house to make sure we didn’t forget anything,” Linda replied as she hovered an apple from the fruit basket, and bit it while it was still in midair.
“Dad, stop nibbling like that,” cried Placenta, as she caught her father nibbling on some bacon.
“I am hungry. When will the family arrive?”
“They should be here any minute,” said Linda, checking her watch.
“When d-does t-the term-m end?” asked Willow, looking at her daughters, as if trying to memorize their faces.
“A week before Christmas holidays,” replied Placenta.
“You will be here for Christmas then?” asked her dad.
“Yes, I hope so,” replied Placenta again.
“Where is your h-husband….” coughed Willow, unable to complete her sentence, but Linda understood that she was speaking about Michael.
“Mom, I’ve told you that he had to attend an elves conference in Australia,” said Linda.
Humans were unaware that living among them were three supernatural beings: wizards and witches, Seers and Elves. The magical community mainly inhabited North and South America, with the Seers residing in Europe and Northern Africa and the Elves living in Australia. Living among the American magical community was an ancient and wealthy family called Morgwiths. The Morgwiths were feared and hated by all because of their cruelty and love for power.
Fifty years ago, a blood feud was started between two families of different status. A half-seer half-witch killed Morgwiths IV when he threatened to kill her father because of a simple bookkeeping error she has made while working for him. It was well known among the magical community that the Morgwiths were very greedy and will not miss a chance to add to their fortune.
At the women’s trial, she was cleared of all charges. This angered the Morgwiths as they believed themselves to be a family of great status that should be feared by all. It is at this point that the Morgwiths family took the act as a betrayal and fully unleashed their wickedness on the magical community. The Morgwiths left the magical community in North America behind and traveled far away. The magical community grabbed this opportunity to fight the Morgwiths and let them pay for all their evil deeds. From that day onwards, all Morgwiths declared war against the Seers and magical community. The Morgwiths main job became murder, and they gathered followers from all around the world.
When the bell rang announcing the arrival of their cousins, Linda rushed to open the door.
“Hey,” said Carlos, a tall, slim man with big brown eyes and long brown hair. Linda was hugged and kissed by so many people that it took almost ten minutes to get everyone settled around the dining table.
“Wow, Placenta, this looks great!” they all exclaimed as they took their seats. There was an assortment of plates perfectly laid out on the table. There was poached eggs, omelets, scrambled eggs, bacon, hash brown, toasts covered with avocados, steak and cheese skillets and all types of summer fruits.
After breakfast, the party moved to the backyard. Eric lit up his pipe as he sat next to her mother, discussing the current heat wave with Carlos. As some of their relatives swam in the pool, other sat around the edge, talking. Linda dangled her feet into the pool as she conversed with her younger cousin Malia, who was about to transfer to the Academy. Halfway through her conversation with Malia, Linda noticed her mother signaling her to come over.
“C-can you take m-me back upstairs?” Willow asked Linda.
Linda helped her mother upstairs to her room and when she was about to leave, her mother said, “Linda, I-I want to t-tell you something.”
Willow sounded anxious and Linda had only heard her mom speak this way when she told them she was very sick. Linda moved back and sat at the side of her mother’s bed.
“I-I m-must start counting down t-to my final days,” said Willow.
“Don’t say that mom,” cried Linda, holding her mother’s hand tightly to her chest. Linda could not get past the horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach that something bad was about to happen.
“L-let me finish and d-don’t interrupt me please. When are you going to have a ch-child? It would certainly make you father happy.”
“Soon mom. Michael is really busy with his new job,” replied Linda, always trying to avoid this conversation. Michael and Linda have been trying for over a year but they had a few complications.
“You must start a f-family, and soon,” she paused, then continued, “My second request is to t-take care of y-your sister. She has always felt vulnerable because she doesn’t have any powers. Now, c-can you hand me my medicine?”
Linda left her mother to rest and when she reached her bedroom to finish packing, Placenta was already there.
“We have to leave,” said Placenta, zipping her suitcase. “Is everything alright Linda?”
“A mini-lecture from mom. I will tell you everything later.”
They had tear-filled hugs with their mother before descending downstairs. They kissed their father goodbye and bid the rest farewell. They were sniveling and sobbing as they hugged all their relatives, but Linda was sure that Placenta just like her, wasn’t crying over leaving their relatives - it was the warm hug of their father.
“Bye Linda,” cried someone whom Linda didn’t bother to look when she was hugging.
“Ladies, this way,” said Carlos, leading them to his SUV.
“LINDA, PLACENTA,” shouted someone. Linda and Placenta directly recognized their mother’s voice.
“Mom, get back in,” cried Placenta.
“I-I love you both,” cried Willow from the upstairs window. Their neighbors began to peer from behind the curtains, looking for the source of the commotion.
“We know….” Linda wasn’t able to finish her sentence. She rushed back into the house, pushed her way through her relatives, ascended upstairs and embraced her mother strongly.
“You are going t-to suffocate me,” joked Willow.
“I love you too,” sobbed Linda. “Wait for us until December, and we will be right here. Don’t go away and leave us. We need you.”
Linda went back downstairs and sat in the back seat of the car. They waved goodbye from the window as Carlos drove to the junction. Then, the most unexpected thing occurred as they reached the stop sign. A wave was sent from a house behind them that shook the car and everything around them. Dust, gravel and leaves swirled all around them, making everything look hazy.
Linda turned her head, and to her horror, witnessed the most awful scene that she could ever witness in her life. The house she grew up in being destroyed, crashing down on Laster Lane as smoke filled the air around them. Linda got out of the car, and began to weep and whimper.
“Oh. They are gone, they are all gone….” cried Linda.
“They are….” Carlos couldn’t speak. A tear trickled down his face. He moved towards the sisters, and hugged them.
Willow’s words to Linda in their last encounter rang in her ear. I m-must start counting down t-to my final days. Their mother’s words all came true. Her parents were murdered, and she knew the killers.
Linda got startled by the screams of her son Justin. Today was Justin’s first birthday and it was just an excuse for Linda to have her friends over for brunch. Linda dressed up and held Justin in her arms, soothing and singing to him. The bell sounded from downstairs, and Linda rushed to answer the door.
“Good morning Linda,” smiled Placenta, “I got you everything you asked for.”
“I hope so - for your own sake!” joked Linda.
Placenta smirked at her sister and she took Justin and went into the kitchen to feed him. Placenta was Linda’s only remaining family member since they lost their parents four years ago. The Morgwith family were wreaking havoc among the magical community in North America and their parents were collateral damage. Her husband Michael has also passed away in 1988 during the First Great War. Wizards and Seers have had enough with the cruelty of the Morgwiths and decided to put an end to it.
During the war, Linda decided to take a sabbatical leave from the Academy and volunteered to work alongside her husband at the Department of Intelligence, a part of the Ministry of War. It became apparent from their research and reconnaissance that the Morgwiths have obtained protection, through dark magic, that prevents them from being fatally hurt. While the seers and wizards suffered gravely, the Morgwiths were having a picnic. The Morgwiths were finally driven out of the magical community through a strong repellent spell that forced out any person with Morgwiths blood. Linda lost Michael a mere three months before the end of the war when the Morgwiths were successful in bombing one of the intelligence research facilities. Even though the war was won, the Department of Intelligence never ceased their research into finding a spell that can break the Morgwiths protection.
They spent most part of their morning preparing the meals without magic. The defense authorities had detected a presence of Morgwiths’ activity in the area and any use of magic would interrupt with the search of the special army drones. After preparing all the meals and lavishly decorating the house, they moved upstairs to get ready.
“How is your progress on the Morgwiths case?” asked Placenta, looking at her figure in the mirror.
“I wasn’t able to further progress on the spell this week,” Linda complained, “but the documents I received from Caleb Prewett were very helpful. While we are on the subject, I wanted to give this to you earlier but I think that today is the perfect occasion. I want you to give this letter to Justin in case… you know I … something goes wrong…”
“Oh Linda! What are you up to?” gasped Placenta.
Linda moved towards Placenta, hugged her warmly and said, “I said in case something goes wrong. I just have this bad feeling that usually turns out to be right. I can’t hug you any longer as I don’t want my dress to crease, so cheer up and just keep the letter with you.”
The bell rang again, but this time it was a tall lady with long braided hair, wearing a long skirt with layers, a bright red top with small metal discs around the collar and spotted over ten golden bangles on her wrists.
“Hello ladies, am I too early?” asked Deborah, Linda’s best friend as she hugged the sisters.
“No, no…its fine, come in.” Placenta ushered Deborah into the living room.
Placenta poured mimosas for Deborah and herself and the three of them spent a good hour catching up. Linda kept glancing at the grandfather’s clock in the living room. Where is everyone? She thought to herself.
“I am going to check on the food,” said Linda. As she was crossing the hallway to the kitchen, there were three loud knocks on the front door.
“About time,” muttered Linda.
The instant Linda turned the key in the lock, she flew across the room and hit her back on the bottom of the stairs. Placenta rushed to the hallway but she was blasted away with a strong spell and landed face down next to the granite fireplace in the living room. Deborah screamed and crawled towards Placenta, checking for a pulse.
Linda clutched the railing and got herself up. She stood facing three men, all dressed in khaki pants and black shirts. The biggest man in the center smirked at Linda and said, “
“We finally meet the great Linda, The Morgwiths Slayer. It would be much easier if you surrender,” grinned the man in the middle.
“And what if I don’t?” stalled Linda, as she was trying to magically subdue the pain. “Who sent you here?”
“I think you know the answer to that Mrs. Watkins,” the big man said, showing a set of yellowed teeth.
While the men were distracted, Linda summoned all the energy she could muster and cast two spells at the same time. Linda sent the first spell at the entrance of the living room creating a cloudy aura of protection. She targeted the second spell with much agility at the attacker closest to the front door. The man flew four miles outside and landed on top of their neighbor’s car. The attacker in the center was very fast that he locked her in a struggle, making it impossible for Linda to move her body. She tried to free herself, but with no success. The man held her wrists to stop her from sending any spells and she was beginning to experience strong stabbing abdominal pain.
The third attacker approached Linda with a knife and slashed her forearm.
“Stop playing around and just finish it,” screamed the man holding Linda.
As the attacker was about to stab Linda, a vase hit him on the head and he fell to the ground, holding his palm to the left side of his bleeding head. Linda grabbed the opportunity when the man holding her was distracted, freed her right wrist, and pushed the man using her powers. The man hit the wall so hard that the wall cracked. Linda had searing abdomen pain now but to her misfortune, both men stood up and were ready for round two.
“DEBORAH,” shouted Linda, “TAKE PLACENTA AND GET OUT. Go to nearest officer and ask for help. RUN.” Deborah helped Placenta get on her feet and then they both jumped out of the living room’s window. Linda knew that she didn’t have enough energy to cast a strong spell, so she began summoning a few magical marks. Magical marks can be summoned by any witch or wizard even if they don’t possess any magical powers. Joining the marks in the right order can have fatal effects. The big man smacked Linda across the face and she fainted before she could connect enough magical marks.
“Officer we need your help!” pleaded Deborah, still holding Placenta from her waist. “Officer Blake at your service. How can I help you?”
“We have been attacked. My friend is still in the house,” cried Deborah, finding it difficult to breathe.
The officer led Deborah and Placenta into the nearest army truck and they drove towards the house at a very high speed.
“What happened exactly?” asked the officer.
“I don’t really know, it all happened so fast,” said Deborah, her hands shivering. “They threw Placenta across the room but Linda, my friend who is still in the house, was engaged in a spell battle with the attackers.”
They arrived at the purple house on Laster Lane but they only heard the cries of a baby. Deborah hoped that Justin was safe in his crib. The front door was wide open but there were no attackers. There was only a body of a woman face down in a pool of blood. Placenta uttered a loud shriek as she knelt next to Linda’s body, cold and motionless.
“She fought so bravely,” cried Deborah, when she was interrogated by the officers. Her tone turned into a shriek, “I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING. I WAS HIDING ALL THE TIME LIKE A COWARD. I COULD HAVE SAVED HER.” The officer let her cry for a while before continuing, “I would like to know how she exactly died, and did they use any spells, or they only used weapons?”
“She used her powers at the beginning, but then they held her, I think with magic. When she was helpless, they rushed towards her with a dagger, and they…” Deborah couldn’t continue the sentence and ran out of the house, howling. The officer knew that he was going nowhere interrogating the hysterical woman and turned his attention to Placenta. She was dressed in black, and holding Justin between her arms.
“Miss Stump, I promise that we will do our best to catch the killers.”
“It is ok Mr. Blake, capturing the killers won’t bring my sister back,” she said, and went upstairs to Linda’s bedroom.
She got into the room, dropped Justin into his crib and stood silently for a moment, trying to grasp everything that happened tonight.
“Why did you leave me?” cried Placenta, sitting on the floor and sobbing. “I need you, please come back.”
Placenta rested her whole body against the wall, remembering her parents, her life with Linda and……Linda’s image, her limb body lying at the bottom of the stairs.
“She is where she should be,” said a deep harsh voice.
- Chapter 1 –
The Missing Letter
“Keepers of what disappeared, find me what I now seek, what once was lost return to me,” enchanted Justin, a skinny blonde-haired wizard with a magical power to move objects he inherited from his mother.
Justin was hoping to find his mother’s missing letter but his locator spell was still unsuccessful. He had a month left before returning back to the Academy of Aiden for his last year and he had never parted with this letter. It was the last piece that reminded him of his mother and her request. On his fourteenth birthday, Aunt Placenta handed Justin the letter and since that day he has been working hard on fulfilling his mother’s request to avenge the death of his parents and grandparents.
“Justin, Justin, wake up you will be late for the exam,” shouted Placenta, opening the curtains.
“Oh… w-what time it is n-now?” asked Justin, his eyes barely open.
“Your exam is in thirty minutes, so hurry if you want to make it!” exclaimed Aunt Placenta.
Justin completely forgot about his final magical aptitude exam. It is an exam taken by all students with magical abilities that will help determine which classes they need to take in their final year at the Academy.
Justin got up quickly, hurriedly washed his face, dressed up, grabbed his notes and rushed into the kitchen to find his aunt preparing breakfast.
“Are you prepared Justin? How are you feeling, nervous?” Aunt Placenta asked with a worried expression on her face.
“A bit nervous but prepared,” lied Justin. He was busy searching for his mother’s letter and had wasted so much time trying to find the right locator spell.
“I read in the papers today that the exams are going to be easier than last year’s,” said Aunt Placenta. “Clive just called and said that he will be meeting you at the testing center.”
Justin nodded barely digesting his cheese sandwich. Aunt Placenta drove Justin to the testing center and reminded Justin to concentrate and try his best to answer all the questions.
“Don’t worry, I will do my best,” replied Justin, kissing his Aunt goodbye.
Justin met Clive in the lobby of the testing center. Clive Tiller was Justin’s childhood friend. He was tall and well-built with dark brown eyes and long brown hair tied into a ponytail.
“Good morning,” said Clive, “I didn’t have time to study all the chapters on Dragons. They are rather confusing.” Clive was going through the notes trying to cram two years’ worth of information in the last few minutes.
They were met by the Academy’s senior year coordinator Miss Paige Harwood. Miss Paige was a tall woman, with short red hair, hazel eyes who was always precipitant. She was technically responsible for managing the Academy due to the constant absence, or disappearance, of their Chancellor Mr. Marquess Boggen.
“Good morning Miss Paige,” said Justin and Clive together, Clive still looking at his notes trying to get something out of them.
“Good morning boys. You both are the first students from our Academy to arrive here this morning.”
She turned and looked at Clive buried in his notes. She snatched the notes and said, “Last minute studying is of no help and don’t try to argue with me. Follow this queue of students and you will be guided from there. Good Luck.”
“Miss Paige, will you be proctoring the test?” asked Justin, crossing his fingers behind his back.
“No, Justin, I have a few things to do on behalf of Mr. Marquess,” replied Miss Paige. She gave a tiny sigh and walked in the opposite direction, disappearing behind a very small door that she had to bend to enter, as if made specifically for dwarves.
A lady’s voice appeared out ofnowhere and said, “Batch number749, please register your name at the counter and deposit all your belongings in the small container on the right. Then proceed to the third floor, hall number352.”
Justin and Clive joined the queue of nervous looking students, who were all having last minute revisions. The queue began moving rapidly towards the registration desk, and Justin suddenly noticed that he didn’t recognize any of the faces. Justin reached the registration desk within minutes and a short man, with streaks of white hair, and a very large hooked nose asked, “Your name please?”
“Justin Watkins, Aiden Academy, candidate number1053.”
“Place your belongings in the container please,” said the man, not paying attention to what Justin was doing.
Justin placed his notes in the container and with a flick of the man’s hand, Justin’s notes suddenly disappeared. Justin waited for Clive and then they both proceeded upstairs until they reached the third landing. The walls here were made up of bricks, unlike the first two floors where they have been painted white. Torches were hung at different intervals on the walls.
Another short bald man guided Justin, Clive and three other students to the examination hall. They were the last to reach, and to their surprise six examiners were standing at various spots around the examination hall. The examiners separated them, with Justin sitting next to a blonde girl, who didn’t notice him as if she was petrified. Her face turned red, and she was enchanting some lines that Justin couldn’t understand.
Three of the examiners handed over the papers, and a tall bearded man stood near a desk in the middle of the hall and said loudly, “You are not allowed to ask for help from any of your neighbors, neither the proctors. Cheating is completely and utterly PROHIBITED. We will not tolerate cheaters. As you already know a mark will be deducted for a wrong answer in the multiple-choice section. Write your candidate number and your institution’s name at the top right corner of the front page.”
He paused and took a deep breath, then continued, “Read the instructions on the front page carefully,” he paused again for around a minute and then said, “Your time starts now and you have two hours to complete the examination. Good luck.”
The first part of the paper was Magical Biology, Justin’s favorite subject. He began writing very fast and was soon in Dragon Studies. 1 a) Sketch the drawing of the Pitayan Dragon and b) Time needed for their eggs to hatch. Justin completed the second part and turned to the fourth section, Hyper-Chemistry, as the third was Magical Marks and he couldn’t remember the definition of gemstones and the three types of gemstones that could be used to produce ink. In the Art of Magic section, Justin felt that he had done reasonably well. To Justin’s surprise, he found the Instruments and Tools (I.T.) section trouble-free although he barely had time to cover all the material as he was busy looking for the missing letter. With only Fifteen minutes left, Justin focused on answering three questions in the Magical Marks section and then turned his attention to the reading comprehension in the English section. Justin handed over his paper to the tall man by the desk and left the examination hall.
“How was the exam?” asked Clive when they met in the main lobby.
“I think it went well. The magical marks section wasn’t easy, but overall, I am pretty confident,” smiled Justin as they approached the registration counter to reclaim their belongings.
“I don’t think I did my best in the Biology section and I lost track of time in Chemistry. At least the test is behind us and we can enjoy the rest of the summer vacation!” exclaimed Clive as they were met by Aunt Placenta at the front gate.
Aunt Placenta gave each of them a big cup of her strong herbal tea to help them rejuvenate after the exam. Justin excused when they reached home and went straight to his bedroom. Having spent the last three nights trying to locate his mother’s missing letter, he was exhausted. He shut his eyes firmly and the next moment he woke up to the sound of the doorbell. He walked downstairs, pushed the kitchen’s door open to find Aunt Placenta, Clive and Tanya Quelfinas still discussing the exam.
“Justin darling, how are you feeling?” asked Aunt Placenta. “Tanya was just telling us that all the results will be available by the end of the week. I remember when Linda took the exam she had to wait for a good two months.”
“Hey Justin,” smiled Tanya as she drew a chair for him. Tanya had midnight black hair that flowed over her shoulders and big blue eyes behind her brown-brimmed glasses. She possessed the magical ability to slow down motion.
“Come on now, help me with dinner,” said Aunt Placenta.
They spent the rest of the dinner talking about Tanya’s trip to the elves in Australia and Clive’s one-month internship at the oldest wizarding publishing house in Canada, Coppertone Books. Around midnight, both Clive and Tanya were yawning uncontrollably.
“We will be leaving mate. See you later,” said Clive waving at Justin.
Aunt Placenta kissed Justin good night and went upstairs to her bedroom. Justin made some popcorn and sat on the couch in his pajamas, binging on TV shows, forgetting for just one night about the letter. He slept with the TV on and dreamt about passing all sections of the test, celebrating with Aunt Placenta, Clive, Tanya and his crush at the Academy, Chloe Rhodes.
- Chapter 2 –
The End of Summer
Aunt Placenta woke Justin the next morning with her usual big smile.
“I left some money on the kitchen table to buy your Academy requirements,” she said in a clear voice, “I might be late at work the next couple of days as we have a situation at the office.”
Aunt Placenta used to work at Aiden Academy but after the death of her sister Linda she spent a year abroad where she met some scientists who worked at the Department of Intelligence. Upon her return home, they extended a job offer to Aunt Placenta and she accepted the offer immediately, not wanting to return to the Academy and be reminded of Linda.
Justin got dressed and went downstairs to eat before meeting Clive downtown. He grabbed a muffin and headed out as he was supposed to meet Clive five minutes ago.
“Morning,” yawned Clive, when he met Justin outside their favorite coffee place. “I had to get my coffee to stay awake.”
“We will just get the important things today and then head back home,” muttered Justin.
They walked down the central boulevard, passing by all different kinds of shops. The streets were bustling with people window shopping, or standing in groups enjoying the last days of the summer. There were several man-pulled carts scattered around the boulevard, selling all kinds of snacks and comfort food. Justin had his eye on the large caramel pretzel.
“Let’s get a pretzel,” said Justin, grabbing hold of Clive’s shoulder and steering him in the direction of the pretzel cart.
“OUCH!” screamed Clive in the middle of the street, startling an old lady sitting on a bench. “Sorry… I am sunburnt,” replied Clive in response to the shocked look on Justin’s face.
They grabbed their pretzels and walked to the nearest bookstore that was run by Clive’s cousin Alfred Crow.
“Good morning Alfred,” said Clive.
“Hello Clive, how can I help you today?” asked Alfred, stacking boxes behind the counter.
“We need those special pens that we can use on the Biology…”
“I have sold over a hundred of those just today,” said Alfred, “I have the new shipment at the back. Watch the store while Justin and I go grab a few boxes.”
Justin followed Alfred to the back of the store. As they walked down the aisles of the shop, Justin heard a roaring voice coming from somewhere in the warehouse. Alfred didn’t look startled at all.
“What was that?” asked Justin, startled.
“Ah, that is nothing. The noise is just from an old book,” replied Alfred calmly.
They entered a very cluttered storeroom, filled with discarded inventory. Several boxes were stacked haphazardly around the storeroom containing old editions of Academy textbooks, pens and other stationary. They took a left turn and then moved straight between aisles of racks full of ink bottles of different colors. Alfred dropped three heavy boxes into Justin’s arms and they both moved between the strewn boxes to exit the storeroom.
When they returned to the front of the store, Clive was talking with someone Justin immediately recognized – Chloe Rhodes. A half-witch half-seer, Chloe had no magical powers, but a vision of the future she had once as a child earned her a spot in the Academy.
“Hey Chloe,” said Justin turning peach red.
“Hi Justin,” said Chloe, giving Justin a kiss on the check, “Clive was just telling me that you were in the backroom getting more of the special pens we require to write on the Biology herbs notebook.”
“Here you go,” said Justin, handing her a pen.
“Had a good summer?” she asked as she paid Alfred.
“Yeah it was great,” replied Justin.
“See you at Academy,” Chloe said as she hurried out to meet her friends.
They walked out in the sun, for around half an hour, and Justin was glad that Clive didn’t bring up their encounter with the girl he likes. They met Tanya for lunch, as they decided to skip her outrageous shopping spree.
“What are all of these for?” asked Clive, pointing at the shopping bags dangling from Tanya’s arms.
“A girl’s needs,” smiled Tanya.
After spending most of the afternoon biking, they decided to have a sleepover at Justin’s house. They watched movies, reminisced about their past years at the Academy and laughed about the play they all acted in last year.
When Justin woke up, Clive was still asleep, while Aunt Placenta and Tanya were preparing breakfast.