Chapter 2


The next morning, Echo woke up in her new room. She looked around, still confused as to where she was. Yesterday’s events then came back to her. This tired version of her was still wondering if it may have been just a vivid dream, but she couldn’t convince herself that it had never happened.

She looked appreciatively around her room. It was round, with a tall ceiling, and was rather spacious. Half of the circle was lined with tall, wide windows, facing east.

The floors were of a light wood, the walls were a soft cream color. The bed was simple, with what Echo thought was the softest mattress in the world; she had a dresser, with a few of her clothes from home in it.

For some reason, there was an incredible, black grand piano next to the windows. Of course, she liked to play, but why was it in her room?

On opposite sides of the walls, there were two big speakers, which she guessed were connected to the iPod outlet on her bedside table. Except for these, the room was basically bare.

The room looked for all the world like the simplistic apartment of an upper-class person, except for the jungle gym-like beams that started about halfway up the ceiling, a small rope ladder leading up to them. That, of course, and the tree. In the very middle of the room there was a tree, about two square meters wide, reaching right up to the ceiling.

Its wood was white. Not like a birch tree, with the peeling bark. It was completely bone white. The leaves were a bright green, with wispy edges, not unlike feathers. Needless to say Echo had never seen anything like it,

and she loved it.

When she had first come into the room it was the first thing she had laid eyes upon. She came up to it, and, as if by instinct, had placed her hand on the bark. The tree had reacted immediately: the leaves rustled and took on a turquoise hue, and the wood began to move, flowing like solid water under her hands, threads of purple twirling around in the clear water of the tree.

Instead of jumping back, Echo gently pushed her hand deeper into the water. In an instant, she was pulled all the way into the tree. She began to flail about, but, realizing that she could breathe, she calmed down and looked to Addie, who had shown her to her room. Addie leaned against the doorway, her face interested but not worried. So Echo let herself be carried slowly upwards in the trunk.

The purple threads swarmed all around her, then, one by one, entered her skin with a strange tingling sensation. Echo began to worry, but, given that she couldn’t possibly leave the tree without crashing to the ground below her, she just watched. Reaching the first branch, Echo was pushed out of the trunk onto it, finding herself frazzled but completely dry.

“Addie,” she called down.

“Yeah?”

“What’s with the purple stuff?”

“Don’t worry, the tree’s just giving you some of its energy.” Addie reassured.

While worrying, Echo hadn’t noticed that she felt wide awake, despite her long day. A grin crept onto her face.

“Hey, didn’t you say that if I did something really stupid and I had enough energy, instinct could save me?”

“Echo… that only works to a certain extent. It’s a lot more complicated than that. Please don’t kill yourself on your first day here.” Addie replied warily.

“You said I had more magical instinct than most. I’ve got an awesome idea.”

As Echo climbed the tree, Addie guessed what she was doing and pulled out her wand.

Getting to the topmost branches of the tree, Echo braced herself, and without looking down, she jumped.

At first she plummeted, about three meters, then she stopped. She stood in midair, smiling smugly down at Addie, who was staring up at her with wide eyes, her hand with the wand hanging limply at her side.

“Echo, if you die now I swear to God I will search for the spell of resuscitation, bring you back to life and kill you again.” Addie threatened weakly.

Echo concentrated on the trunk of the tree and hovered over to it. Bracing her legs against it, she pushed off, soaring upwards, going wherever she wanted to go with a bit of concentration.

It was extraordinary, a sense of freedom that sends euphoria sweeping through your veins. It was… well, like flying.

After about 3 minutes, her joy and energy still not running out, Addie came to join her in the air.

“You really are powerful. Even with the energy from a (name for fictional tree still thinking on it) tree, most of us would be crashing to the ground in 30 seconds.”

“If I’m so strong, why do I only know that I can do magic now? Wouldn’t I have accidentally done something?”

Addie smiled. “I see you’ve read your share of magical fantasy.”

Echo blushed. Still now she was reading magic stuff, while most of her peers were expected to read old classics and new dramas.

Addie took her hand and pulled her back towards the ground, then took in a gulp of air.

“You’ll be joyous to know that you didn’t implode, cast magic, go insane because we’ve been watching over you since you were three. Before you ask any questions, listen: I am the only one you didn’t know who was watching over you. We didn’t tell you about this earlier for various reasons. We would have brought you’re here earlier but we wanted you to get a taste of normal life, or at least fourteen years of it. We brought you in now because we found out our enemy was planning to take you in tomorrow. Our enemy is the Mbua, a.k.a  the Better Ones, or so they call themselves, lead by the tyrant Culveth. Yes, there is a school for people who can do magic, and yes I am reading your mind, I’ll give you something to fix that if you mind, which you do. Now forget what I said before, don’t ask any questions because you’ll find out soon.”

All this she said in one breath, forcing Echo to make an effort to keep up.

There was a long pause as Echo processed it all.

No way will they deny me so much information, she thought.

“Who else was watching over me?” She queried suspiciously.

“Oh, come one, no questions.”

“I have a right to know.”

Addie hesitated.

“I guess there’s no harm. Besides, surely you can figure that out yourself. Who always made sure that you used every ounce of you imagination?”

Echo’s face was blank.

“Always helping think outside the box, that there’s more to the world than what you had?”

Still blank. But then, slowly, recognition passed over her face.

“That can’t be. She wanted we to believe in magic, so she would have told me.”

“She couldn’t. More on that later. Anyway, who else, do you think? Someone else who made sure your spirits were always up, who sustained your belief in magic?” Addie pushed.

You know that feeling when, after knowing someone for so long, you learn something so unexpected about them that it completely changes how you see them? Because that’s exactly how Echo felt.

“Wow. Uh, ok. Who else? I don’t know…” she thought about all the people she knew, until she came to the most obvious one. The one that knew her best, even better than Echo herself.

Addie smiled and nodded.

Well that’s weird, Echo thought. Her mother and her best friend keeping her safe from the perils of her own magic.

So I think I totally fudged up the chronological order here. Still wondering about how to fix that without making things worse.

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