PRICES GO UP AT THE GATE
You can imagine the characters in real world form or anime form. I'll probably have it published once I get one more round of "just-to-be-safe" editing in.
I couldn’t even bare to think that I was responsible for this. I had no control over my magic. What should I do now? It will be a matter of time before the authority magicians notice that the school is destroyed and suspect me. After all, I’m the only one who survived.
I gazed at the surrounding forest illuminated by the full moon’s radiating mercy. A little smoke was still left over from the explosion…
My friends, my teachers, my crush –all of them were gone and this is my fault. Why did I survive? I was hit with just as much of the explosion as they were. I stood up and walked toward the forest. The authority magicians were definitely going to execute me for this. Accident or no accident, there is no excuse for killing everyone in the school.
After what felt like hours of walking, I collapsed beside a spring and helped myself to its tasty waters. Although I didn’t deserve it, not after what I did, I just couldn’t stop myself from drinking. I washed the left over blood and dirt from my face. My wand was somehow intact, but the color it took on was black. Black wands were forbidden in the land of Eden but I didn’t know why until today. Somehow, during a simple lab day, mine turned black right when I demonstrated my project. When I waved it, I felt a pinch of untamed evil hurl itself into my blood for refuge. Then that’s when it happened. My wand unleashed an explosive gray light, which took out the entire school.
I glared at the wand. It’s the cause of this catastrophe. It murdered the students, not me. I threw it onto the ground, but then it reappeared in the grasps of my hands. That startled me.
“What –what’s going on?”
That’s when I heard a voice. “Do you really think you can abandon me? Take responsibility with me, my love. After all, I did this for you.”
I threw the wand down and made a run for it. Of course, I was in pain but owning a forbidden black wand with a mind of its own is worse than a simple leg aching or neck pain.
After minutes of running, I found myself lost in the depths of the forest. Served me right –I didn’t deserve freedom after destroying the entire school with everyone in it.
“You sure are a jumpy one. No need to be startled. After all, you’re the one that wished for this. I just made it happen.”
I glanced at my hands but there was nothing inside. So where was the wand? “Turn around and witness my true form, my love.”
I turned around and saw a longhaired girl (looked to be my age) wearing a black dress. Her arms were folded.
“…Who or what are you?” Could she be an authority magician? But wait…my wand just said something about a true form. How could a wand contain a human form?
“Treston, no matter how much you run from me, you cannot escape. I’m just a wand fulfilling its user’s wishes.”
“No. Destroying the entire school along with everyone was not a wish of mine.”
The girl smirked. “You can remain in denial as long as you want, but do realize you’re responsible for this.”
She vanished and then reappeared right in front of me. (And when I say right in front of me, we were face-to-face.) “You’ve got nothing else,” she continued. “But you still have me. You’ve got no family, no friends, nothing and you’re going to be wanted soon enough. Authority magicians can play back what happened within a crystal ball. Accident or no accident, a black wand wielder will always be captured and taken away to the void even if they never used a single spell in their life. How does it feel?”
I fell to my knees, holding back the tears. Just great. While in a dire situation like this, my very own wand is making me feel like rubbish. The girl placed her hand on my head and rubbed as if she was comforting me. “It’s okay. You still have me. I will never leave your side. Not for something as little as an accidental wish.” I stood up and headed toward the school. “Hey, where are you going?”
“I can’t run away from this,” I said as I stopped. “I deserve to rot away in that void.”
Pop! The burn of a freshly initiated slap overran my face. “Rotting away in an endless void will solve nothing, now get ahold of yourself,” the girl yelled. “Treston, you may be at fault, but at the same time, you’re not. I know of a place where you can live until this whole thing blows over.” The girl smiled. “Maybe in the meantime, we can find out why you secretly wished for such a thing.”
“I didn’t wish for this!” I snarled.
“Maybe not consciously, Treston,” said the girl, “but as for your inner consciousness, you’re an entirely different person.”
“That makes no sense,” I said softly as I glanced around the forest. After a few seconds of silence, I asked, “Hey, what’s your name?”
“You’re my user. It’s your job to give me a name.”
“But every wand has a name before given to their owner,” I said. “Eh.. I just forgot it.”
“How hopeless. The name given to me by your professors is horrendous. I want YOU to name me.”
Sigh. I thought of a name that matched the girl’s personality. That’s when the perfect name slipped into my mind.
“Fine. How about Agony?”
“Because you’re obviously a sadist.”
“I am not! But…I do like the name. It has a ring to it.”
“Now what’s this place you’re talking about?” I asked. “Otherwise, you’re free to go. The void is probably a pl---”
“Shut up about the void already,” Agony said. “I’m not letting you go to the void. Anyway, it may not be a place –it could be instant death sugarcoated by a nice word. Who knows what the void could be. Now grab onto my hands. I’ll take you to the homeland of my manufacturer.”
That was probably a good thing. Maybe her manufacturer can give me information about Agony. He or she could also tell me why the wand turned black (without turning me in to the law enforcement aka authority magicians).
Anyway, Agony’s hands were surprisingly warm. She closed her eyes and whispered an incantation. Suddenly, a transparent-white bubble surrounded us, ascended, and then took a path toward the east, moving quite fast. “We’ll arrive to my manufacturer in about two hours.”
“Can I ask you something?” I said.
“You just did.”
I sighed. “Oh come on.”
“By the way, you can let go of my hands now.”
I snatched away, owning to the facial warmth of embarrassment. “What is it that you want to ask?”
“I’ve never heard of a wand taking on a human form.” I began. “Can all wands do this?”
“How am I supposed to know that?” Agony said. “There wasn’t a day where I left your side. Oh, by the way, thank you maintaining me. You know, keeping me clean, maintenance and all that good stuff. Because of that, I have a beautiful human form.”
“Please say no mor—”
“Also, please switch back to Wand Cleaner X. That new wand cleaner annoys me. It smells like decaying old soap too.”
“Well then wash your own self! You have a human form.” I turned away as I said this.
“I suppose I could, but I still want my wand form to be in tiptop shape.”
“Are you sure you want to change back?” I asked, “You know, since you somehow manifested a human form and all.”
I turned around and Agony was right there in my face. I jumped back a little because I was surprised. She placed her hand on my face. “Treston, my lov---”
“Cut it out with the ‘my love’ speech. This isn’t Shakespeare you know,” I laughed.
“But you are my love,” Agony said with a laugh. “Though I really enjoy my human form, it doesn’t cover the fact that I am your wand. I can’t be selfish and just run away. How will you live without me?” Her tone was that of seriousness and then switched to cockiness within that last sentence.
I face palmed. “That’s not what I meant.”
I turned around and gazed outside the bubble, which felt like solid glass. The scenery below was a bit blurry but I could still make out the many different trees, plants, and occasional bodies of water. I guess you could say I had somewhat of an eye for nature –even at high-speed movement. I could feel Agony’s eyes peering down my backside –yeah it’s weird, I know.
“Treston, what will you do after this?” She asked.
I closed my eyes without thinking about the answer to that question. Eventually, I fell asleep.
“You murderer...You murderer… How could you do this to us? I really misjudged you.”
“But it was an accident! Please, you have to forgive me.” Tears slipped from my eyes.
“I don’t know what to think, Treston. I can’t tell if this was your intention or not. After all, you do wield a black wand.”
“But this is not my fault,” I pled. “My wand just turned black on its own!”
“Oh really? Do you really expect for us to believe such nonsense? You were probably always a black wand wielder. You belong in the void!”
“Please, you have to believe me.”
“I believe you, Treston. You didn’t mean for this to happen. I don’t think you belong in the void.” That was my crush and best friend, Akira.
“Treston! Treston wake up!”
My eyes slowly opened. Agony and my lips were…touching. I pulled back. “What are you doing?”
Agony laughed. “I’m sorry. I just couldn’t help myself. Your nightmares are so tasty.”
“Sadist,” I mumbled.
“I am not! Anyway, we’re honing in on the location. Are you ready to meet my manufacturer?”
“Will he recognize you?” I asked.
“Truthfully, since my wand form is black, he probably won’t. That’s why you must explain everything to him.”
“This is a bit risky,” I told Agony. “What if he doesn’t understand? I’ll be turned in.”
“That’s what I wanted to hear,” Agony said. “A resistance to the void. This makes me feel a lot better.” She turned around and gazed outside of the bubble. “Don’t worry about getting caught. Remember what I told you. You’re not going to such a place. I won’t let you.”
The bubble slowly descended toward a town. The townspeople were probably inside enjoying supper or even asleep.
“Do you think your manufacturer will be up at this hour?”
“Let’s see. We left the forest about two hours ago. In numbers, that would be at eight. So right now, the time should be around ten. There’s a small possibility that he’ll be awake.”
When the bubble reached the ground, Agony grabbed my hand and led me to a house near the back of the village. The lights were still on.
“Alright!” Agony knocked on the door. No answer. She knocked again.
“Coming!” a feminine voice said. I froze when I saw the person who answered the door. It was a girl named Tusella. She left school two days ago for a funeral –very fortunate for her.
“Oh hi, it’s Treston! How are you?”
“Could’ve…been better,” I nervously answered.
“What’s the matter? Are you not feeling well? Come inside.”
I was hesitant, but Agony pulled me inside. Tusella led us to the living room where we sat. “What brings you here? And…how’d you know I’d be here anyway?”
“We need to speak with the creator of wands,” Agony said.
“Ah, I see. Mom! We have guests.”
A thin and frail woman appeared from the back. She smiled warmly. “Hello. How can I help you?” I noticed her eyes sneaking a few peeks at Agony. That signaled that this woman was very powerful and she can sense any wand that she created. If she didn’t understand my situation, I would be creamed!
“Could we speak with you privately?” Agony asked. I was relieved that she said that. I didn’t want Tusella to hear that I annihilated the entire class by accident. She had MANY close friends and I doubt she’d avoid rage.
“Tusella, please prepare us some tea.”
“Yes mom,” she said and scurried off into the kitchen. Ms. Noarine (Noarine is Tusella’s last name) pulled out a wand that was sheathed on the side of her pocket. She gave it a light wave.
“There, I casted an anti-sound barrier so that Tusella can’t hear. Now, how can I help you?”
I took a nervous deep breath and told her everything. I couldn’t hide this anyway. My murderous accident was going to come out someday so why not now?
Ms. Noarine’s face had no expression to it after I finished the story. That scared me a little. Was she going to attack or even notify the authority magicians? If I tried to leave now, it would automatically make me look suspicious.
Just then, she wrapped her arms around me. “I see. It must be hard on you.”
She turned to Agony. “Do you mind? I must see this for myself.” Agony nodded and then inhaled. Her body shimmered. When it cleared, my floating black wand resided in her place. “Unbelievable. But…how could this have happened? I didn’t know our company’s wands turned black as well. Even if one’s heart was evil, I made these wands out of pure holy wood to prevent darkness contamination.”
“I’m curious about this cause of this as well.” Agony said.
“Oh my. You can speak while in wand form? You know, this puzzles me. I’ve never produced a wand that could manifest a personality and a human form.” She grabbed Agony and inspected her. “This is definitely produced by me. I can see the serial code aura I left on it years ago.” Ms. Noarine turned back to me. “You’ve keep it polished very well. How could a wand given so much love turn black?” She sat down. “Black wand, personality, human form, ability to switch between the two –this is a mystery that I truly want to solve.”
“You’re going to help me?”
“Of course I am. You don’t deserve to be thrown in the void over an accident. Yes, this is a tragedy but you’re hurt by this as well. I can feel the despair within your spirit but crying about it will not bring us closer to finding out the cause of this mystery. If you were a delinquent, Tusella wouldn’t have let you inside and I’m pretty sure she’d inform me way ahead of time about her school’s problem students. If you were evil, your aura wouldn’t be filled with despair but satisfaction and darkness. Instead, you’re radiating…” She stopped. “This is so strange. You’re radiating…holy aura, but how? This aura is so close to a god’s that you can be mistaken for one by an unprofessional aura interpreter.”
I had no idea what she was going on about. All I knew was that aura was an invisible force of energy that surrounded everyone. Its color would determine what type of person one was. At least according to the aura experts.
“Treston, what are you?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. Agony floated to my side and morphed into her human form.
“You’re not normal.” Ms. Noarine said.
“That’s impossible. I was born normally, had a normal life, and everything was fine up until the accident.”
“If you were normal, then you wouldn’t have survived the explosion, trust me. The power of a black wand isn’t something that can be taken lightly.”
“So I’m all-powerful,” Agony said. “But, what does that have to do with Treston? I’ve been by his side for years and he appeared to be a normal human in my eyes. I will say he is kinder than most and he took really good care of me. But other than that, there’s really nothing abnormal about him.”
Ms. Noarine stared at me for about a minute. I assumed she was examining my aura. “Let me see your hand please,” she said. I placed my hand on top of hers. It was very warm. She closed her eyes and went still for about two minutes. Just then, a shimmer of white light sent her flying backward and she hit the wall.
“Ms. Noarine, are you okay?”
Tusella, Agony, and I surrounded her.
“I’m okay,” Ms. Noarine said. “I’ve read deep into your magic source and found it to be so powerful that only a god could contain it. There was something else deep within your consciousness, but the second I tried to investigate it, I was rejected. Whatever it is, it really doesn’t want to be bothered.”
That made me think of what Agony told me earlier: my inner consciousness. Did my inner consciousness emit out this type of power?
“What’s going on?” Tusella asked.
“I’ll explain later. For now, prepare the guest rooms.”
“Don’t worry about preparing two. I’ll just revert back into –”
“I know how much you love staying at Treston’s side, but a young man and a young woman must have different rooms.” She gave Agony a look that said, “Try not to spoil the black wand secret.” Luckily, Agony picked up on her subconscious message. Tusella left to prepare the rooms. “I’m going to give Tusella the news later tonight. Try to give her some space until she calms down.” I wondered how she was going to react when her mother revealed the news to her. Would she sneak into my room and deliver the blow of revenge?
I looked down, uneager to experience Tusella’s hatred toward me. Well, if anything does happen, I can’t say I didn’t deserve it.
Later that night, I drifted off to sleep in the cozy bed provided for me.
“Well well, look who’s back again, our murderer.”
“Guys knock it off!” Akira snarled.
“We can’t help it. We had our entire lives ahead of us and for this asshole to take everything from us –it’s pestering me to death. Why did he survive? It’s obviously because he planned this out.”
“If he planned this out, he wouldn’t have shown up to school. Instead, a murderer would’ve attacked the school from a distance,” Akira explained. “You guys have to believe him. It was completely accidental.”
Out of the blackness, Akira’s image suddenly appeared. She hugged me. “I’m so sorry you have to go through this.”
Tears streaked from my eyes again. I could actually feel Akira hug and it was warm as if she was alive.
“Please you guys, you have to forgive me. If I could change this accident, I’d make it so that I died instead of you.”
I woke up, tears in my eyes…with Tusella hugging me? She was silently crying. I wrapped my arms around her. Suddenly something strange happened. An image flashed into my head. In it, I saw the Ms. Noarine delivering the tragic news to her daughter. I could hear the sound as well.
“Tusella, we have to talk,” Ms. Noarine said.
“Sure mom,” Tusella said.
“Today, there was an accident. Treston’s wand turned black and went berserk. It created an explosion in which your classmates and everyone present in that school didn’t survive. It’s very hard to believe that the Treston here is the real one.”
Tusella immediately broke down into tears. Her loud cry made me flinch. Ms. Noarine continued to talk. “For some reason, an unknown force possibly manipulated his wand. Please don’t hate him…”
“Hate him?” Tusella softly recited minutes later. “How could I hate him –it’s not his fault. He’s in more pain then I am since he held the wand which committed the accident.” Tusella stood up and wiped away her tears but they instantly reappeared.
“I believe at that time, he was too petrified to search for survivors. If it wasn’t for that wand, he probably would’ve done away with himself or volunteered to be thrown into the void,” Ms. Noarine explained.
“What do you mean?” Tusella said softly.
“That girl with him is a wand that I created. It has its own personality and human form.”
The image vanished probably because I already knew everything Ms. Noarine fed back to Tusella.
“Treston, I heard you talking in your sleep,” Tusella said softly. Her face was slightly buried into my chest. I gasped. “I’m sure everyone can feel that you didn’t mean it.”
The morning sun’s rays pierced through my eyelid shields and awoke me. That and Agony hopped on top of me resulting in my cry of pain and her enjoyment.
“Get off me, you stupid sadist!” I bellowed as I groaned in pain.
“I am not!” Agony hopped off me. “Take a shower and brush your teeth. Ms. Noarine provided you with her son’s leftover clothing.” (I noticed she wore some of Tusella’s clothes.)
I forgot about Tusella’s brother who lived with their dad. The divorce happened a few years back. But really, I’d be wasting your time and my time if I went into detail explaining it.
Anyway, after I showered off, brushed my teeth (yes, they had a pack of unused toothbrushes) and changed into the provided clothing (a plain white t-shirt and jeans), I joined everyone at the breakfast table. Embarrassing to say, but they even provided me with underwear.
“Morning,” I told everyone.
“Morning,” They replied.
Ms. Noarine provided a nice breakfast consisting of waffles and various fruits on the side. After eating, we stepped outside.
“Treston, I know your older brother is your only family, but going back there is unwise. While you were living at the academy, your brother was chosen by her highness to become an authority magician and so he’s in training.”
“Because of his enormous strength and loyalty to Eden, the princess couldn’t help herself.” Ms. Noarine sighed. “For the time being, do you mind staying here with us? We’ll keep you hidden. Accident or no accident, the law enforcements are very cruel toward black wand wielders.”
“Is there any way to change my wand back to normal?”
“I’m afraid not,” Ms. Noarine answered. “According to the law, a normal wand changes to dark form when the heart of its wielder shifts to evil. But you’re living proof that that statement is wrong. Your aura is even holy. So until then, I’m going to challenge that statement and if I can win, innocent people who were thrown into the void will be released.”
“Wait. Mom do you know what the void is?” Agony asked.
“Mom?” I asked.
“Well, she created me,” Agony told me, “so she is like my mother in a way, and that makes Tusella my half-sister.”
“Makes sense,” I said.
“So, what’s the void?” Agony asked.
“To be honest, I have no idea,” Ms. Noarine said. “I can only assume that it’s a place.”
“Please stay with us,” Tusella said. “I really don’t want to see you end up in the void.”
“But if I stay here, you guys will get involved and possibly prosecuted for not turning me in.”
“Whether we get caught or not isn’t something you need to worry about right now,” Ms. Noarine said. “Don’t underestimate us. We can handle something as petty as that. Just focus on your main mission which is to uncover the mystery of why your wand snapped out of control.”
Their words were highly convincing. In fact, denying their help would be quite idiotic.
“Alright then, thanks a lot. I can’t reject your kind offer.”
Ms. Noarine smiled. “Tusella, why didn’t you ever tell me you had such a polite friend at school.”
Tusella chuckled. “We never really talked much. We were simply just classmates. You’re one of my brother’s friends, right?”
“Yeah,” I answered. “We hung out with a few other friends all the time before he moved away.”
“I see,” Ms. Noarine said. “Anyhow, we’d better –”
“Hey you, don’t move!”
A browned haired girl holding a katana darted toward me. I was just an inch away from her sword strike, but luckily, I dodged it.
“Hey, what’s your problem!?” I snarled. She wasn’t an authority magician –many of them would’ve flashed a badge by now.
“You’ll pay for what you did!” She snarled. Crap! Did she know about the accident? If that’s the case, I’m in deep trouble.
The overall pacing of this first chapter is uncomfortable for me due to the rapid advancement of the story. I would prefer for your current submission to have been broken into several chapters, with more time dedicated to fleshing out Treston and strengthening setting.
2) The transition between the ruins and the spring is a bit messy. Expanding it could work.
3) An extended explanation concerning wands would be appreciated. They appear to be focuses, but what is it about the nature of black wands that make them particularly heinous? What do they do? Perhaps you could tie some infamous legend told to children?
4) Rather than including descriptions in parentheses, include more descriptive text or thoughts.
5) The dream scenes needs significantly more descriptive text.
6) The reactions of Tusella and Ms. Noarine, as well as Ms. Noarine's explanation, feel a bit forced. Even if both recognize Treston's innocence, their reactions don't reflect the anguish one would expect.
MY STUPIDITY SHALL FEED THE WORLD!
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