“She didn’t open her eyes or anything, not even when we dropped her body into the nearby lake and pulled her back up, but something crazy happened.
My sister’s blonde hair turned cerulean blue, and her closed eyes opened to show that her brown irises were now ice blue. Even her naturally tanned skin turned extremely pale, pale enough to rival a vampire’s.”
I, Leera Fenikk, was a simple girl with a simple life, and honestly, I wished for nothing else. But much to my dismay, everything flipped upside down when Illu dropped into my life. Literally.
I heard a loud scream and turned around. “What on Earth…” A strangely-clothed boy had fallen into a pile of hay behind me. “…Happened?” I finished lamely.
“Who are you? Where did you come from? Why are you here?” we both asked in rapid-fire fashion.
“Fine, fine, I’ll go first,” I said. “My name’s Leera, and I live here, on a normal farm in normal Montana. And I also have normal clothes. So, who are you?”
The boy grumbled something and slowly stood up. “The name’s, uh, Skull, um, SkullCrusher!” he said excitedly.
I rolled my eyes. That was obviously a fake name. “So now, what clothes are you wearing?”
He looked over his apparel: a long black robe, a grey fedora, and some odd looking shoes. “There’s nothing wrong with me! What’s wrong with you?”
I had no words for him. “Well, explain that,” I said, pointing to the object in his hand, a huge tree branch with an unnatural curve. In his other hand, he was clutching a small mirror.
“Okay. So, this is my staff. Um, a little strange looking, to you at least, but that’s kinda understandable, considering that nothing is going right today. Where are you even from? A different world?”
I shrugged. I had no clue. “This is Montana. You know. America? And what’s this junk about another world?”
“And this is my divination mirror. Want me to read your future?” he asked, completely ignoring me.
I just gave him a nasty look (after I considered sighing, facepalming, and punching him in the face). “Thanks for trying to scam me out of my living. But no one, and I repeat no one, will ever get my money. I need it to help someone close to me.”
“Oh, do you want me to read their future? I bet I could show you a good outlook, or junk. Wanna bet?”
“No. Now leave. And get some actual clothes.” This was the most dignified answer I could come up with in a short time.
“I can’t go back. I have to wait for the spell to recharge.”
I laughed. “You kidding me? This is nuts. Magic doesn’t exist here! Magic is just from fairy tales and movies and the crud Disney shows us. Leave,” I demanded, still incredibly confused.
He shook his head. “Not now. I’ve told you that I can’t. So, I might as well show you your future or something. For free. Here, sit down,” he said, gesturing to a nearby log.
“I have work to do, alright? So no, I can’t sit down and listen to your ramblings about odd magic and going insane.”
But this SkullCrusher dude was already sitting down, staring intently at his cloudy mirror. Wait… cloudy? “Your mirror wasn’t cloudy five seconds ago! Get out!” I demanded.
I lived on a farm, and at this point in time, it wasn’t even open. This guy was nuts — clearly we needed to up our security measures.
He started mumbling a long string of chants that didn’t sound like English, or any known language. “What language are you—”
A huge flash blinded me for a second, and when I looked at SkullCrusher again, I was astounded to see his eyes had turned green. Hadn’t they been blue just a second ago? And why was his mirror’s face glowing?
“What’re you doing? Why are you still here? And for Pete’s sake, please dim the light from your mirror!”
“Your future is a dark one, and so is that of your loved one. You might not live to see the end of this year. You will get fatal wounds, fight monsters, almost die, and see some fantastic sights, while also meeting some pretty strange people.”
His voice sounded like a deep imitation of another voice. “Morgan Freeman?” I asked, but SkullCrusher started talking again.
“You must be careful, because sometimes people harm more than they can help…”
SkullCrusher’s eyes turned blue again. “So, how was that? For free, too! A bit cryptic, maybe, but surely you can’t get that close to the future and your destiny. Now, how was it? Dire, beautiful, maybe even filled with romance?” he joked.
I just shook my head in disbelief, trying to dismiss him. “No way. This stuff doesn’t even exist. Why are you here? Maybe this is just a really, really, really realistic dream!” I punched my left arm. “Okay, no, this is definitely real,” I murmured, rubbing my now sore arm.
“And now that I’ve told you your future, I can give you my name.”
Finally. I wouldn’t have to call him by that stupid fake name anymore.
He started fumbling around with something in his robe, and finally pulled out a dirty-looking business card. “Illu, wizard in training.”
I woke up a couple hours later. Oy. My head hurts. Everything’s been going haywire.
“I’m assuming I passed out,” I mumbled, shakily trying to get up.
“Hey, pal,” Illu said, ruining my “I’m sane” fantasy.
“This is not happening to me. This is not happening to me…” These crazy things weren’t actually happening. “Oh, you again. Why are you still here?” I asked groggily, still trying to figure out why this was my life and not some other poor unfortunate soul’s.
“Well, my master said that the spell to get back takes only five years to recharge! Is that a long time?”
It was my turn to facepalm and finally know something.
“Nah, five years is only…” I attempted to do the math in my head. “One thousand eight hundred and twenty-five days,” I announced proudly. Yes! I could math!
“Oh… that’s a lot longer than I initially thought. Well, Master is always good with these kinds of things. She can fix this.”
I shook my head, laughing internally about how clueless this Illu guy really was. “I’m pretty sure she ditched you.”
“Did not! She would never do that to me!”
“How can you justify that? Have you ever done something stupid to make her not like you?
“She’s my sister!”
Oh. That changed everything.
My brother died when I was little. He went to war in some country to help fight, and he died when an enemy soldier shot him. I didn’t really know what was going on then, but I cried when I knew he wasn’t coming back.
Now, all I had left was my sickly little sister.
She had some weird disease that almost no one had heard of before. Once, we found someone who actually knew someone who got the disease. He even gave it a name: Phoenix’s Death.
But the end was horrible.
The diseased person had died and their body had turned to ash instantly, almost like a phoenix. But this phoenix would never be reborn. Rather, they died too soon, in agony. It sounded otherworldly and extremely obscure, like something out of the fairy tale Illu probably jumped out of.
There were five stages:
First, the victim got these weird spots on their skin, like bug bites. No actual bugs caused these bites, but that was the closest thing we could compare them to.
Second, the person fell into an extreme depression and lost all will to live. They would be almost impossible to sway back to living.
Third, they hallucinated. Their words never made any sense, and were usually garbled by their dream-like nightmares.
Fourth, they felt extreme agony and yelled at random points in time.
Finally, the Burning, as the relative of the man with the disease had so ominously called it. The diseased person felt as if their body was on fire for twenty-four hours until they died of dehydration, no matter what was done to help give them fluids. And right now, my sister was on stage three, morphing into stage four. She was going to die in ashes like the phoenix this disease was so aptly named after.
Yeah, I used “sickly” a little loosely.
“Tell me how to fix this!” I demanded.
Illu snapped in my face, and I was finally out of my stupor. “What? Fix what?” he asked, annoyed.
I sighed. “My sister.”
After explaining the disease to Illu, he shook his head. “I don’t know what you could do. Have you tried putting her directly into water?”
Well, that was stupid of my family not to figure out. That seemed pretty obvious, like something we’d try as soon as we realized it was called the Phoenix’s Death and included a stage known as the Burning.
“ThanksalotIllugottagotellmyparents,” I was able to say, quickly, before dashing out of the room, turning wildly into a hallway and running into my parents’ room.
“MOM! DAD! I KNOW HOW TO SAVE ZURUKA!” I shrieked. My dad instantly sat up, and my mom yelled from the bathroom, “YOU’RE NOT KIDDING, ARE YOU?”
After explaining the plan, I gently scooped up Zuruka’s limp form. “You’ll be okay, little sis. You’ll be okay,” I murmured, more to myself than to my sister.
She didn’t open her eyes or anything, not even when we dropped her body into the nearby lake and pulled her back up, but something crazy happened.
My sister’s blonde hair turned cerulean blue, and her closed eyes opened to show that her brown irises were now ice blue. Even her naturally tanned skin turned extremely pale, pale enough to rival a vampire’s.
“WHAT DID THAT DARNED WIZARD DO?” I yelled in fear.
Her entire body emitted a blue light, and when the light was gone, her clothes changed into navy blue jeans, a royal blue hoodie, and cobalt blue sneakers with white laces and golden phoenix insignias on the backs.
“YOU’RE DEAD, ILLU! WHAT EVEN HAPPENED HERE?” I screeched, infuriated.
To be Continued…