This was weird.
This was really weird.
He was in his room in bed ready to get the rest he needed for tomorrow; he was going to start Night Raven College and make his way to the top like his big brother did! But now? He was in some garden, it was a nice setting, don’t get him wrong. Ace actually found the place enjoyable to be in, with a shrug he just continued walking around the place before the singing voice of someone caught his attention.
Out of curiosity, he followed the voice and saw a blond girl relaxing beside the river; how strange, he’s never met her before, who was she? He sat next to her and got a better look; long blond hair, blue eyes, a light blue dress with a white apron, and a black ribbon in her hair.
“Hey, miss?” Ace reached out and touched her shoulder, his hand going through her. “Whoa!” Okay…so he was a ghost? This was starting to freak him out.
“I’m late! I’m late!”
Turning to the new voice, both Ace and the girl saw a white rabbit in a red vest and blue pants scurrying along. Before he could even react, the girl was already up and chasing after it. Not wanting her to get hurt, Ace was up and chasing after.
“Hey! Wait!” he called to the girl. “Slow down, you don’t want to get hurt!” he cried.
His voice went unheard as he followed her to the rabbit hole where he watched as she tumbled head first, crying out in surprise he tried to grab for her – ignoring for a moment that he would just phase through her. He tried calling down and was about to jump in after her.
Waking up to his alarm, Ace yawned and rubbed his eyes. What a weird dream; he got up and stretched, well dreams were weird in general – granted, they also had meanings to them, but in general the majority of them hardly ever made any sense. Deciding not to worry about it any further he went to start his day, brushing his hair and teeth and meeting his family downstairs for a quick meal before he had to go pack his belongings.
“Ciao Assu.” His father greeted
“Ciao papa” Ace replied as he sat at the table with a yawn.
Loreto Trappola, even though he wasn’t a mage, he was actually an amazing magician! Ace and Anipola had looked up to him growing up, learning the trade and impressing friends and the local elementary school with the tricks they’ve learned.
Anipola was actually a former Heartslabyul student, a dorm Ace was hoping to be in; according to the stories, he used to be the prefect of the dorm! Ace was bubbling with excitement, being the prefect would be an amazing feat but he was actually aiming for something bigger to show off to his brother as well. Even as of now, Anipola was making it big like their father was.
“How’d you sleep?” Gemma, their mother asked. “I heard you talking to someone in your room?”
Ace shrugged. “Guess I was sleep-talking.” He grabbed a glass of orange juice. “Weird dream, but guess it’s probably because of excitement. I’m officially a student at Night Raven College, after all!”
Still, he had to admit that the dream was more than that; for one thing, you couldn’t really dream of anyone you’ve never seen before. Second; dreaming of a rabbit in your dream signifies luck, magical power, and success – heck that was pretty damn good so far! Of course, the flip side of the coin was that seeing a white rabbit in your dream symbolizes faithfulness in love. The white rabbit also serves as a guide to steer you toward the right direction. Okay, he could see this dream as just an omen for good luck and success and that his ‘white rabbit’ will be at school to guide him along the way. But the romance aspect? Get real.
“So.” Anipola called. “What exactly are you planning to do when you graduate? Come on, tell me already!”
Ace just grinned at him. “No, that’s a secret you’re going to have to wait for! I already have everything planned out and I’m going to outshine you!”
The silent grin was all that Ace needed; he and his brother were always competing – in a friendly way, they were never pitted against each other. If Ace had to pick a song to describe them it would be that one song from ‘Annie Get Your Gun’. Anything Anipola can do, he could do better. After all, Ace already had a leg up against him since he could recite dream meanings without batting an eyelash!
Breakfast after that went as normal before Ace hurried upstairs and started packing everything, he would need to start his first-year at Night Raven College. Just reciting the name of the school sent shivers of excitement down his spine every time! After packing what he could, he did another look over to see if anything he had missed was laying around, and he was right; sitting on his desk was a book of dream meanings, he used that a lot for extra credit back in middle-school and it had saved his life numerous times. He picked it up and smiled down at it, he may not need it anymore, but surely someone at the school would!
Well, now that he was certain he had everything, he could head down and wait for the carriage to show. This was going to be a good year; he could just feel it.
Arisu knew he wasn’t entirely normal. Sure, he grew up in a loving family with his mother managing her own café and his father also managing his own car repair shop. Even the town he lived in is surrounded by forests and had a beautiful lake as well, just like a start of a child novel. Sunnydale was their beautiful haven, and with the forest surrounding them, they were also a hotspot for faeries. Faeries like one called Lilia Vanrouge. He didn’t remember exactly how they met and only went off of stories his parents told; they met at the grocery store and the strange faerie appeared to help settle a fussy Arisu while his mother, Loraine, did the shopping. Since that encounter, Lilia had been appointed as his godfather and had been showing up to visit with his boys every time – this had ended with Arisu essentially being raised by both his human family and the faeries.
As of now, he was on his bike one August morning, letting the cool summer breeze grace his lightly freckled face as he sped down the bike trail that was surrounded by the forest and the many lakes that would pop up every now and then. He loved riding his bike down the trails, when he’s there earlier in the day he didn’t have to worry about city tourists riding like daredevils and it was easy for him to stray from the main trail unto the many hidden trails that would lead to the various clearings that acted as a border between the mortal realm and the Fold.
Now, Arisu knew the warnings of those trails from Lilia who had often told him, "Go only to the clearing and never stray further, ‘less you wish to never be heard from again in the mortal realm."
And he took those warnings to heart, he only went to the clearing and announced himself so they could come to him.
Coming to a stop on the side of the trail for a water break, Arisu looked to the lake that was separated by a wooden fence and smiled as the rush of the cool breeze graced his warm face. With summer quickly coming to an end, the school season would be starting up again. While Arisu did have a basic education when he was in grade school, he did have extensive work with Lilia growing up.
He may as well have forgone middle school altogether, but the family had their doubts that the government would accept homeschooling from a faerie; not to mention, Lilia didn't even bother arguing against them when his boys almost did.
Now that he thought about it, school was probably the only thing that was the key difference between him and the others. Lilia and Malleus had mentioned about a school that trained students to become the greatest of magicians. In all honesty, Arisu had thought about visiting there a few times in the past but there were tight restrictions for guests due to where the island was located – that and it was another realm, and he couldn’t really use magic, like Lilia's boys Silver and Sebek.
Well…no, that was a lie; he had noticed that whenever he made eye contact with people, he would be in another ‘area’.
Arisu laid a hand by his eyes as he thought of that weird power and wondered how long has it been since he accidentally went there? He couldn’t really explain it, but every time he made eye contact with people; he would find himself in another area. The only thing odd about that is that they could be at the house just talking about this or that when this happens. It was a weird ability to be sure, but…he decided to keep that tidbit to himself. He was certain this school would help him keep it under control and it probably would. He was just scared of this ability.
“Wouldn’t it make sense to have Arisu go to Night Raven College with you?” Loraine had asked.
Lilia sighed and played with a pen. “It would, but the problem with this is…Arisu’s from the World without Magic; getting him in as a student would be quite difficult.” He looked up at her. “I assure you, I will have a chat with the headmaster and get Arisu into the school, if he doesn’t agree…well, what is he going to do? Tell the King of the Valley and the Demon General we can’t bring him?”
His thoughts to that conversation were interrupted as the wind started to blow a bit more harshly, as he had started to race down the trail on his bike now struggling to halt his bike to a stop when he felt the wind stinging against his cheeks. To a normal person it may seem that it was just a breezy day, but Arisu knew better.
He came to a halt in time and quickly turned around with a sigh of relief and smiled excitedly as he recalled what Lilia had shown him once all those years ago; this tends to happen when there’s an air of magic around. His heart skipped thinking that one of his friends from the fold would be arriving. With a grin, Arisu started down again until he came upon a nearby trail that was hidden within the trees. It was then that he noticed a strange looking trail he hadn't recalled using before – and he knew where each secluded trail was due to the markers he had left behind. He had never seen this trail before and he had been on just about every trail growing up knowing them by heart, so where does this one lead to?
Curious, he got off his bike and began traversing onto the strange trail before him; thanks to the tall trees the light from the sun was pretty limited so he was essentially in the dark. Arisu felt his heart starting to race from both excitement and fear as a million of ideas, fears, and other scenarios filled his head on where this path would take him. Tightening his hold on the handlebars, he noticed that the whole forest was quiet now; usually there would be birds singing in the tree, cicadas screaming, or even the sound of something rustling in the grass. Nothing…just deafening silence echoing throughout the trail and made him uncomfortable by the dead silence…at least there was, at first. Then suddenly, he heard a small voice in the distance, too far to make out what was being said.
Magic or no, creepy voices in the forests were never a good sign. Lilia had warned him of such and told him to never follow such, always turn the other way and run. Run and never look back.
“I can hear you, but I won’t.” Arisu was frozen in place; not all faeries were benevolent, there were those who were cruel and being caught by one of those would end poorly for him. “Some look for trouble, while others don’t. There’s a thousand reasons, I should go about my day and ignore your whispers which I wish would go away.” It was best to just turn around right now, he would meet up with the others another time.
As he turned around on the trail, the voice started to get even louder, making him freeze in place even more than he already was. It was coming straight for him! Oh no, this was really bad news. He needed to get out of there, and fast! Arisu turned his bike, frantically hopping on to get through the path behind him as quickly as he could. At least, that was the plan; the trail that should have been there behind him had vanished!
What on earth was happening? Where did the trail go?! Straining his ears, he heard the voice again but this time it was accompanied by the sound of a horse? As he strained his hearing; he was able to make out some of the words being said; “Ah…my dear beloved…” Beloved? He knew that was one of the names Malleus would bestow upon those he grew attached to, but…the voice wasn’t his! Whose voice did it belong to?!
“You’re not a voice, just a ringing in my ear; and if I hear you, which I don’t, I’ve spoken for I fear.” Arisu took some steps back and away from the approaching horse and voice, he extended an arm to where the trail used to be and back to where the town would be. “Everyone I’ve ever loved is here within this town, I’m sorry secret siren, but I’m blocking out your call!”
No. No, he wasn’t going to deal with this; he’s been in enough trouble when it came to the fair folk both ranging from nearly being kidnapped by malevolent creatures that claimed to be from the Valley of Thorns (Lilia disproved that in a heartbeat after rescuing him before they got too far into the woods) as well as supplying Malleus with store bought fireworks and nearly causing a fire in the process.
“I’ve had my adventures; I don’t need something new.” He tightened his hold on his bike as he turned away from the source. “I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you into the unknown…” He had his doubts that riding would get him away, but if there was one rule in horror that he would forever follow; Even if running won’t save you, it’s always best to try.
Unfortunately, it was as he called it; he had his doubts that riding away would get him from the strange horse and voice. Despite having turned around and riding back the way he came from, he found himself in the old clearing again and again where the sounds of hooves and the voice were growing louder and louder; he could hear more of what was being said. “A lovely and noble flower of evil. Truly, you are the most beautiful of all. Magic Mirror on the wall…Who is…” Well, that wasn’t ominous in the slightest!
With a sigh, Arisu straightened himself and turned to the source of the sound; there was just one other thing he could do in a situation like this and that was to face the approaching figures head-on. He may as well put another teaching of Lilia’s to use; defense, and using Malleus’ status to his advantage. “What do you want? ‘Cause you’re keeping me in place, are you here to distract me so I make a big mistake?” Don’t let them see you at your weakest.
As he waited for a reply, he thought about everything else he remembered from growing up to Lilia’s stories and warnings. Technically, the fair folk were tricksters by nature, they would never cause intentional harm unless Arisu did something offensive to them. They were curious as well and wanted to see what their limits were when it came to curious humans like himself. “Or are you someone out there, who’s a little bit like me? Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?”
And that’s when it came into view; a black carriage similar to an old funeral carriage from the 19th century; glass walls that showed an ornate coffin resting inside. The horses were light grey and were a Percheron and a Belgian horse; they had a black harness that attached them to the carriage in question, and stayed in place as Arisu cautiously approached them despite the warning bells going off in his head. Something about the haunting appearance just drew him to it; curiosity outweighed the caution side of things. Gently greeting them, he looked at their breast collar, he saw the words ‘Night Raven College’ embroidered in gold letting.
His mind clicked a little as he remembered that was the name of the school that Lilia, Malleus, Silver, and now Sebek attends. The carriage of the mysterious school entering Sunnydale. Arisu took a step back and laid a hand beside his eyes once again as he remembered his powers, the one he was nervous about and the one he wanted to get under control. They were getting stronger and since his main teachers were in another school, they wouldn’t be here to help him; was this the universe’s sick way of telling him to go?
“Every day’s a little harder as I feel my power grow.” He looked back at the carriage with the little longing look in his eyes. “Don’t you know there’s a part of me that longs to go into the unknown? Into the unknown…into the unknown!”
“O, thou who wert guided by the Dark Mirror.”
Arisu paused and looked around. The good news; the voice from earlier was clear, the bad news; he still had no idea where it was coming from. He knew the owner of it had to be nearby if he was able to hear them that clearly. As he looked around, he noticed a strange eerie light coming from the coffin the carriage held; he should leave, this was a recipe for disaster, is what the small rational voice inside was saying; but he was drawn to it like a moth to the flame. If this was the universe’s way of telling him to go to the prestigious school, he should go, he would see his friends again and to get his strange power under control.
“Are you out there?” He called. “Do you know me? Can you feel me? Can you show me?”
He got his answer when the coffin in the carriage opened up and showed a mirror on the inside; the green glass reflecting the interior of the carriage and the voice returned, now louder than before.
“Follow thy heart’s desire and take the hand of the one reflected in the mirror.”
The flames appeared in the mirror for a while before they disappeared only to be replaced by an ominous pale slender hand with sharpened nails giving off the sense of something sinister. Arisu moved away from the coffin and held his arms up in defense to shield himself, from what? He wasn’t entirely sure, the sight of the hand in the mirror was giving him some bad vibes.
From the mirror alongside with the hand, separate voices whispered out, they were mostly in unison so he was unable to tell who was saying what.
“Without you my heart feels like an unpainted rose, waiting to be painted with the passion of your love.”
“Everyday without you by my side feels like swallowing poison, I hope that someday you, my prince, will come.”
“The depths of the seven seas could not ever compare to the depth of the love in my heart for you. Please, won’t you let me be part of your world.”
Each sentence sent a shot to the heart, filling him with a special kind of warmth he’d never felt before. The phrases kept repeating themselves, and each time they were getting softer and softer almost to the brink of tears. He felt his own tears prick as he started to approach the carriage once more.
“Where are you going?” he called.
“You have shown me what it means to be a true hero, so for you I will go the distance”
“I won’t leave you alone!” he didn’t want them to hurt anymore.
“You have opened up a whole new world for me, my treasure, let me make your wishes come true.”
“What's a king without his queen? Since I’ve met you, I have been feeling the love every night.”
“How do I follow you, into the unknown!”
The mirror inside the carriage seemed to have glowed brighter as the voices started and only now started to dim once more. Throwing caution to the wind, Arisu climbed into the carriage and reached out to grab hold of the hand that had appeared before him in the mirror’s reflection. As he was pulled through the glass, he saw nothing but shadows, he had felt a tinge of uneasiness from the realm of darkness. He wasn’t afraid of the dark, and his heart was racing with the growing temptation of wanting to let go of the hand until the voice had returned.
“In me. In them. In you. We all have very little time left. No matter what, never let go of that hand.”