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 📙)
3 A Girl
“Everything OK here?” asked Mr. Mason. Devin
and I jumped, not having noticed the teacher approaching. Devin lowered his
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
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
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
“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
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.
“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.
“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.
“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
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
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? 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.
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
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…
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 h—she. Monday couldn't come soon enough.
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