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The Legacy of Androva Series

New Book, New Series, Third Chapter

Time for chapter three! Chapters one and two can be found by using the New series label above. Thank you very much for visiting my blog today . I hope you enjoy reading a bit more of the first book in the upcoming Light Mage Series.

(Update: October 2019. Spell Tracker is now available in full via the New series label. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page to start ­čôÖ)

3 A Girl 
“Everything OK here?” asked Mr. Mason. Devin and I jumped, not having noticed the teacher approaching. Devin lowered his hands slowly.
Mr. Mason cleared his throat. “Avi,” he said. “About my comments earlier and the history behind your name. I hope I didn’t upset you. This school has a strict policy of inclusion regarding—”
“It’s OK,” I said, cutting him off. “Really.”
“Well… if you’re sure.” He shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other and rubbed his chin. I softened. He wasn’t just quoting policy. It was obvious that he was much more concerned about my feelings than his own.
Gods, this man is crying out for a guardian. My magic reacted instinctively, and almost without thinking I checked his life path, closing my eyes briefly to better visualize the energy map he was carrying.
He hadn’t even begun to explore his potential. I wanted to tell him to open his eyes and look at the world around him rather than live vicariously through his history books. I wanted to tell him he might not have too many more chances to figure out what he was capable of before the opportunity was gone forever.
He’s not mine to teach. He probably never had a guardian of his own.
I sighed. “Really,” I repeated, making eye contact. “Bonum est. Non sollicitare.”
His face relaxed even as his eyes widened a fraction. “Your accent is unusual.”
“Was that Italian, or something?” asked Devin. “What did it mean?”
“It was Latin. He said I shouldn’t worry. Look, Devin, Avi, there’s no need for you to stay any longer,” Mr. Mason went on. “I’m grateful for the help, but don’t waste what’s left of the day.”
Devin nodded and turned to leave, glancing expectantly at me. I had no choice but to follow him, hoping I could think of an excuse for us to split up before we reached the school boundary. We walked along the corridor in silence. He exhaled a couple of times like he’d been about to speak and changed his mind.
“What is it?” I said eventually.
He stared at me and I shifted my gaze to the side just in time. There was a look on his face like he was having an argument with himself.
I tried to make light of it. “I’m not sure I’ve got the legs for a tunic. I’d consider it a favor if you deleted that particular mental image.”
He huffed a surprised laugh, breaking the tension. “That’s not what I was…” He looked down at my legs in their black jeans and made a face. “Well, I wasn’t thinking about that until you just—”
He snapped his mouth shut and a faint blush heated his cheeks. It was endearing. I was still certain I didn’t know him, but there was something about him that drew me in.
“What were you thinking about, then?” I asked.
“Can we start over? You probably didn’t get the best first impression of me or my friends. I… well, I…”
“It’s complicated. Between the three of you,” I offered, remembering the tangled emotions.
“Yes,” he said, making a face. “Something happened over the summer and I’m still… I’m not…. I don’t…”
He stopped walking and turned to give the nearest locker a kick. The noise echoed in the empty space. “What is it about you, Avi? I was going to ask you to come with me for a soda, I swear. I wasn’t even going to mention…”
He ran a hand over his close-cropped black hair. “I mean… why would I even tell you that? School starts on Monday and we all promised not to… I’m doing it again.” He looked at the ceiling. “Will someone please shut me up?”
I tensed, but there was no sign of a change in energy around him. No guardian to answer his plea, even if it had been directed wrongly.
The earthbound always looked to the wide expanse of the sky for help, not understanding that different dimensions can coexist in the same space. They would do better to look over their shoulders. Some of them did. Some of them feel us. But we were careful about making deliberate connections with them. Connections messed with our objectivity in a big way. It wasn’t always possible to avoid them, but we tried.
“It’s my fault,” I said truthfully. I wished I could go back to that first, “Hey,” on the sunny street corner a few hours ago. I could have told him I was waiting for someone. I could have left him alone. I should have.
“No,” he argued. “No, it’s not.”
But it was. He’d touched my skin. I’d used magic on him. I’d looked into his eyes too many times. I should do the right thing and cut him off now. It would be selfish not to. And yet… I hesitated.
His hands were clenching into fists and then unclenching. I could see the ribbons again as his emotions were magnified. They were going to strangle him one day if he didn’t learn how to unravel them. Don’t lose your focus, Luca. You can’t save everyone.
Mitescere,” I said.
“Mit-es?” he repeated slowly, the tense lines of his body already easing. “Is… is that more Latin?”
It was only a temporary measure, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. He needed to calm down and I had to leave. This would accomplish both.
“I’m sorry.”
“What for?” he asked. He blinked as the spell settled around him. In a minute he would have to sit down. He’d be too relaxed to do anything else. It wouldn’t hurt him, and it would wear off soon, but not soon enough for him to see where I went.
“I’m going now.” I took a few steps backward, watching him to make sure he couldn’t follow me. He leaned against the lockers as his strength ebbed away and shook his head.
“You… Did you do this?”
“I’m sorry. Dedisco,” I added, taking no chances, before I ducked out of sight around the corner. I walked as fast as I could, grateful for my soft-soled shoes and that I knew the layout of the school.
With determination, I turned my thoughts away from Devin. I knew where I was going. I needed a school computer, but I wanted to make sure I avoided Mr. Mason. He was still in the school cafeteria, potentially with the janitor he’d mentioned.
The library was exactly where I remembered. After a hastily murmured, “Resero,” I was sliding one of the double doors open. The space inside extended upward for three floors to a series of large skylights at the top, through which the sun was shining steadily.
There was a balcony on each level, and jam-packed shelves extended backward from the railings. The air was hot, enhancing the particular smell that only hundreds of books in an enclosed space could create.
I breathed it in. Luca, you’re too sentimental for your own good. I loved libraries, ever since I’d first discovered the one set aside for guardians’ use. It smelled like the perfect blend of earth and air, balancing wisdom and possibility in equal amount. But these days, in the earthbound dimension, paper was an inefficient way to store information. Libraries like this would become more rare.
I sat down at the large desk near the entrance, where several monitors were waiting silently. I located the nearby power source, and one of the computers came obligingly to life. When the login screen appeared, I typed the details I’d seen Mr. Mason use earlier rather than rely on a spell. I had to practice the earthbound way of doing things if I were to stand a chance of blending in next week.
The menus were easy to navigate. I’d watched technology many times over the shoulders of my previous assignments, and this computer followed the instructions I gave as if my fingers on its keyboard were nothing out of the ordinary.
After I’d pulled up an alphabetized list of senior-year students, I had to swallow away the dryness in my throat before I could continue. I started to scroll down the page with the wheel of the mouse, but soon stopped, frustrated by how long it was taking.
Reperio,” I said. Immediately the list paged down, over and over, too fast for me to see the names. When it stopped, I stared in disbelief.
“Miss Cassandra Vryson.”
Miss? Miss? I sank back into the chair. Dimly, it registered that this earthbound covering did not deal with shock very well. I could hardly breathe, and yet it seemed at the same time I was breathing too much. I barely noticed the photo and other information that flashed onto the screen as the computer, still following my spoken instruction, opened the student’s profile in full.
I knew, of course, that gender could change from life to life for the earthbound. It was my job to know. No one was able to experience all the lessons there were to be learned if they never changed gender. It was just…
I blinked at the monitor, but the information didn’t change. Was he really a… a… girl now? For a few seconds I wondered if I’d gotten it wrong, but soon dismissed my doubt. I’d recognized the energy signature the second I came across it. Even though it had been nearly two thousand years, I’d never stopped looking. And it was a match. This profile was a match.
But I’d thought he… I’d thought… don’t use his name… I’d hoped there would be something left of the boy I once knew. I hadn’t realized until that moment just how much I’d been hoping. I’m a fool. Hope was for the earthbound. It helped them through the worst of their lessons. Mages like me, however, were not supposed to entertain the idea of it, let alone feel it, or, gods forbid, actually need it.
My phone chimed with another text.
Oh, Luca. I wish I could feel what you’re feeling right now. Second restriction: the two of you will have NOTHING in common. Not one single thing. Keep smiling :)
It was with great difficulty that I resisted the temptation to throw the phone to the floor. I held it for a moment, my jaw clenched so tightly I could feel the tension all the way down into my shoulders.
After I’d calmed down, I placed the phone onto the desk and very deliberately leaned forward, reading the information on the screen one line at a time and committing it to memory. Vital statistics (same birth date as I remembered), address (irrelevant, as I couldn’t leave the school), academic history (average, with the exception of Drama), and behavior record (appalling).
The photo was intriguing. He… she… wasn’t smiling, but it was impossible to know the emotion hidden behind the passive expression. The person in the photo could have been feeling anything from boredom, to contempt, to despair. I couldn’t tell.
I pulled up the scheduling application. At first glance it seemed like we weren’t in any of the same classes. Tentatively, I made a couple of changes, and the computer allowed me to save them. I could at least make sure our paths crossed occasionally without having to seek him… her…. out.
After I turned off the computer, I climbed the stairs to the top floor and walked toward the back wall, not stopping until I was hidden from view. It was dark away from the skylights, but I was relieved to find I could still see clearly.
Now I had some time on my hands, I intended to figure out what I could and couldn’t do with this new covering of mine.
Old covering. There’s no way Avitus Sequani can be considered new.
Devin couldn’t touch me without the shock of it causing him pain. And every spell I’d tried had worked perfectly. Still. There were other things I could check.
So I did. I filled the little earthbound space with something different: scenes from history, my history, as a guardian. The green carpet and dusty shelves shimmered before transforming into a new place in time.
First, I was standing in the corner of a battlefield at sunset. Then I was clutching at the rail of a fast-sinking ship. Next, I was watching the ink dry on the most famous declaration in history. I chose them at random, going back and back, until finally I was at the end of my timeline as a guardian. It was the pit beneath the Colosseum, stifling and dark, with the roar of the mob overhead. I stopped.
There was one thing left to check. I knew I could still see energy and emotions, but could I manipulate them? There were no earthbound here to experiment on—not that I would—but this was a place where the earthbound spent time. I wandered along the rows of shelves until I found what I was looking for. An argument. Here. There was an echo of it still in the air.
I encouraged it to disperse, and it did my bidding willingly enough. OK. I’m convinced. I’m still a Light Mage.
This covering, this physical body, was an illusion, however good it was at following my instructions or echoing my emotions. And it was very good. I felt a connection with it at times that was surprising, considering I’d been here only a few hours.
But if it were only an illusion, I would have to be careful. I needed to ensure Avi’s behavior remained within the accepted parameters of an earthbound existence. I supposed I would have to pretend to eat and drink, visit the bathroom, and so on.
I made a mental list. Limited magic. Basic spells only. No time travel. Observe the rules of gravity at all times. And try not to make any connections.
It was a long list, but I didn't care. I was here, and so was hshe. Monday couldn't come soon enough. 

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