The sun set on the castle on the sea. A girl of about eleven looked out of the narrow window, her long, dark brown hair flying like a whirlwind around her head. She put up a hand and tucked the coarse strands behind her ear, revealing a gold locket on a black ribbon round her neck. It contained a single lock of her mother's tawny hair, and was the girl's only memoire of her. The girl's green eyes were filled with tears as she remembered, tears that ran freely down her dirty face, leaving pale streaks on the muck. Her eyes were the green of life, but there was no life in the castle on the sea.
The girl turned tiredly, to see the tall man in a hooded cloak that was standing behind her. He was her father.
Her small, slim body slumped a little as she heard the sound. There would be no escape today. His voice was as cold as the green eyes that burned in the darkest reaches of the hood. His hands moved slowly up to the top of his head, and in one swift movement, he pushed it back. A thin, worthless smile spread on his face. He knew the battle was won.
"Adria." he said, in what would have been a kind, comforting voice, were he any other person.
"Father, I am tired. Can this not wait until the sun has risen?" she asked, turning away to watch the last rays of sun disappear beyond the horizon. Her only warning was the hiss of her father exhaling, before pain hit her from behind. Torture. Red. Adria screamed for it to stop, she screamed for him to not hurt her more. That only made the pain increase. Then it was gone, leaving her sobbing on the floor.
"You were saying?" asked her father in a bored voice. Adria remained silent, trembling, where she had fallen. He started to walk towards her, loud footsteps echoing strangely on the cold stone floor. Her heart beat in her chest like a frantic drum. Her father bent down in front of her. Adria tried to turn away, but he grabbed her chin with thin, spidery fingers, forcing her to look at him. She struggled, but soon gave up for fear of torture. Her father jerked her head back suddenly, then stood and walked away. Adria scrambled into a defensive position against the wall. He laughed, a high, cruel sound that sent a shiver running down Adria's spine. "It is almost time for you to start school," he said, "and in September you shall attend the Wiccan School of Caster Magic. You will shop tomorrow for you things. There is a letter on your desk, along with enough money for all your school supplies. You will write yourself a transportation spell to get there. Am I understood?" He turned and looked at Adria.
"Yes, father," she whispered, and collapsed.
Adria awoke in a cell, chained to the wall at the hands and feet. The chains were not long - her father had made them to restrict movement. She looked around. There was a pile of dirty straw on the other side of the room, presumably for bedding. A small window rested at the top of the wall opposite her, barely large enough for her to fit her head through. Spray came through it from the sea, soaking her and the rest of the cell. There was no door. The reason behind this was simple - trained Casters didn't need doors. Adria was not a trained Caster. This cell was made for her. The thought of having her own personal prison scared her, and her breathing accelerated.
"Get me OUT!" she screamed, thrashing in her chains. "Let me go, you monster, let me go!" she continued ranting and raving and screaming and sobbing until her father appeared beside her. She did not see him, she did not know her was there until he tapped her on the shoulder lightly with his cold hands. Adria stopped with a gasp, shocked into silence. Her father walked around her, stopping underneath the window. Slowly, he pulled his wand out of his cloak. Smiling, he slashed it across her body. A deep, bloody gash appeared on her side. She screamed in pain. He slashed it again, and another gash appeared. This made her scream even more, beg him to stop it. Twelve times he brought down the wand, twelve times he increased his daughter's pain and suffering. Adria started to feel faint, she saw the world through a red haze, and then it was gone. She looked up, tears streaked across her face, but she couldn't see her father. All of a sudden, she was out of the cell and in her turret room. She looked down, expecting to see gashes criss-crossing over her body, but all there was were twelve shiny new scars, crossing over the countless older ones that covered her body. Adria gasped as a voice spoke.
"That is just a taste of what I will do to you if you reveal who you are. Remember this, for I will know. Be back by sunset."
Adria leant against the wooden door of her room, breathing deeply. Her room was her only sanctuary from her father's attacks. It consisted of nothing more than a bed, a wardrobe, a table and a window, but it was home. Opening her wardrobe, she picked out some jeans and a top, ignoring the floor-length dresses she preferred. Her father might torture her, but he also cared for her, deep down. She also picked up several large bags and her cloak. It was black, like her father's, to symbolise that she was a Night Caster. Or so her father hoped. It had silver patterns around the hem, patterns that had never failed to fascinate her when she was younger. Quickly she changed, shivering, into the outfit she had picked out. Grabbing a much used scroll, she scribbled in the corner with a broken quill a short spell. Adria had never liked these rhyming charms, but she didn't have time to do a singing. They could go terribly wrong, too, if you lost concentration, and her father had forbidden her from trying.
"Words on paper that I see, take me to Caster Alley!" she cried, and immediately felt a curious sensation in her stomach. She shut her eyes, and when she opened them she was in Caster Alley.
The sound hit her like a speeding train, after the quiet of the castle. She was in a wide, cobbled street full of Casters, Night, Day and unclaimed children in beige cloaks. Shops lined the alley, fighting for room in the limited space. There were also stalls for the people who hadn't been able to get a building, and they were calling for people to buy their wares.
"Cloaks! Cloaks! Come buy some cloaks!"
"Silk cloth, finest in the land! Perfect for a new dress!"
"Ice cream, dear?" asked a little old lady in a brown cloak. Adria turned, frightened. "It's nice and cold." the woman offered her a variety of flavours.
"I'm sorry, I don't have enough money," Adria replied. The old woman grasped her wrist and pulled her back.
"Gratis!" said the smiling woman, pressing a cone with chocolate flakes into her hand. "Consider it a gift from old Betty, dear." Adria thanked her and went on her way. The ice cream was delicious compared to the food at the castle, although it barely stanched her appetite. She hadn't realised how hungry she was. Leaning against a wall, licking her ice cream, Adria felt happy for the first time in her life. The food was soon gone, and Adria needed to get her school supplies, so she pulled out the letter from her bag.
Dear Miss Rakhua,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to the Wiccan School of Caster Magic. Please find enclosed a list of school supplies you will need. Term commences at the full moon. The spell enclosed will take you to the Wiccan.
Deputy Headmistress at WSCM
"Betty..." Adria murmured. She looked over to the old woman's ice cream stand, at Betty. The kind lady smiled and winked at her. Adria smiled back. She had made a friend in the old deputy of her new school.
Grinning, she pulled the second piece of parchment out of its envelope.
1 beige cloak
1 cauldron, bronze, small
1 set glass or crystal vials
The Singing, Grade 1 (Ariana Grakbeau)
The Castere booke of Magyk (Brand the Beardless)
Concoctions and potions, Grade 1 (Fin Fasdicans)
Night and Day: a beginner's guide (Mandie Poak)
The Creating and Writing of Caster Charms (Gedric Goade)
Girls - White socks, black OR grey dress, black OR grey skirt, black shoes, black jumper, white shirt
Boys - Black OR grey trousers, white socks, black jumper, black shoes, white shirt
Parcel devices are allowed
Strictly NO pets, unless permission is given by the headmaster
Adria decided to start with the cloak and uniform. She looked around, and soon spotted a likely looking store called 'Taylor's Tailors'. Making for it, Adria cut a pathway for herself through the throng of people. The door closed with a snap, cutting off the noise. Looking around, Adria saw there was another person in the shop - a man with sparkling eyes.
"What's it to be, miss?" he asked in a cheery voice. Adria backed off, scared. "I'm sorry. Would you like to stand over here, and we'll get you measured up. Don't worry," he said at the expression on her face, "my tape measure will do the measuring for me." He grinned, showing a gapey mouth, and started hunting for clothes. "What do you need, then?" he asked from the midst of rails of uniforms. The tape measure was waiting expectantly beside her.
"A grey dress, long sleeved, two white shirts, short sleeved, two pleated skirts, grey, and a beige cloak," Adria recited. She had deliberately not chosen black in order to separate herself from her father. The moment she started talking, the tape measure started measuring; first her head, then her height, then her shoulders, and so on down to her inner leg. She fidgeted uncomfortably. Soon, the man came back, holding a bundle of clothes.
"Now then, there are several designs for the cloak: you can have..." the man proceeded to show her a variety of cloaks. She chose one with a gold pattern around the edge, and gold flowers embroidered on the main part of it. "That'll be eleven kronas, five fincs please," said the man, drawing her back to reality. She paid, thanked the man and went back out onto the street. The crowd swept her along, and she arrived outside a shop called 'Wakuara Wands'.
Upon entering, she felt a strange sense of dread. It was an old shop, unquestionably ancient, and very dark. Little puffs of dust rose from the ground as she walked, and wands lined the walls, covering every surface except a desk in the centre of the room. An old man sat behind the desk, so wrinkled that he appeared to be as old as the shop itself. Carefully, Adria put down her bags, and looked around.
"A Night Caster, eh?" came a rusty voice. Adria looked around, terrified. Her hood fell back, revealing her pale, pale face, and her green eyes, wide as a startled deer's. Hastily she pulled it back up. "I'm sorry, miss, I see now that you have yet to be claimed Night or Day," the voice said again. Immediately, the sense of dread was gone, and there was light in the shop. Adria looked around frantically, trying to find the source of the voice that seemed to come from the shop itself. Her gaze fell on the old man behind the desk. "Yes, its just me, old Mr Wakuara. But back to you... Where are your parents?" He stood, and started hobbling around the desk.
"My father is at home. My mother is dead." Adria whispered. She was rooted to spot.
""Your father, eh? Now then, I do believe I've heard your father's name before. A Night Caster, for sure. The Mauraksha, by any chance?" He smiled knowingly at her.
"I'm sorry sir, you must be mistaken..." Adria stumbled away from the desk, but he was behind her, his dry, papery hand on her shoulder.
"Don't worry, child, your secret's safe with me." Adria wasn't convinced, however.
"I should go," she muttered, trying to escape the wand maker’s firm grip.
"Wait." She looked up at him. "I won't tell. I promise." There was something about the pleading way that he said it that made her believe he was telling the truth. She stopped trying to escape, and man looked grateful. "Now then," he said, clapping his hands, "I want you to walk around the shop. Look at the wands. One will call out to you, and when it does, bring it back here. Off you go." He waved her away.
Adria made her way through the shop, not really concentrating. Mr Wakuara had said that he wouldn't tell, and she had believed him, but what if her father found out? What would he do to her when their secret was out in the world? He might kill the wand maker, or get one of his pet Casters to do it for him, or even worse - make her do it. Shaking her head to clear it, Adria started focusing on the wands. There were many beautiful and strange wands that fascinated her, but she knew they were not hers. She didn't know how, but she could tell they would each have and important story to tell, when someone bought them. Sit in the middle of the room, her instincts urged her. Sit, and feel with your mind to find a wand. Adria carefully made her way towards the centre of the shop, carefully avoiding the displays covered in dust. She was unaware that the shopkeeper was watching her carefully. She sat down, oblivious, and closed her eyes. As her sight was cut off, her mind opened up. There were many pulsing lights in the room, which she knew instinctively were the wands. So bright, she thought, amazed. She ignored them, searching for the brightest. Searching for her wand. She started to chant, her voice rising and falling in pitch.
Wand of mine come to me, wand of mine burn bright, wand of mine light up the Day, wand of mine darken the Night. Wand of mine...
People were stopping, staring at the little girl in the wand maker’s store.
Wand of mine burn bright, wand of mine...
The old man looking on in wonder as light gathered around the shining girl. Her hood flew back, revealing her long hair and mouth that moved frantically forming the words of the chant.
Wand of mine darken the Night.
Adria's eyes flew open. She stood up, and strode over to a pulsing light in the far corner of the shop. As she touched wand, sparks flew from the end, spraying her with light. She turned, and saw all the people staring at her admiringly. The look of joy on her small face quickly turned to one of pure terror, and she ran out of the back of the shop, sobbing. The people stood in shocked silence. Slowly, they recovered, muttering things to each other.
"Who is she?"
"Will she ally with the Day or Night?"
The old wand maker waited until the people were gone, then hurried over to pick up the wand that the girl had dropped. He sighed. The wand was rosewood, darker than usual, and studded with garnets and black onyx. Ivy curled its way up the wand from the handle, carving a pattern for the jewels to follow. It was the perfect instrument to channel Night magic with. The perfect wand for the sole daughter and heir to the Mauraksha. Carefully, he picked it up, and carried it out of the back door. The girl was sitting against the wall, head in arms, sobbing. She looked so helpless, so vulnerable, it was hard to believe the wand - her wand - in his hands was so full of Night.
"Miss?" he asked quietly.
"Adria. My name is Adria." She reached out a thin pale hand to grasp her wand. As she did so, the sleeve of her sweater was pulled back, revealing the mess of scars, cuts and bruises on her arm. The wand maker grasped it tightly, with strength inproportionate to his size and age. Adria groaned in pain, but the old man didn't let go.
"He did this to you?" he asked through clenched teeth. She nodded, scrambling away from him, alarmed, as he let forth a stream of colourful language and oaths. Adria watched, astonished. "I swear..." he whispered.
"You swear what?" came a cold voice. Adria and the wand maker looked up, petrified, into the cold green eyes of the Mauraksha.
Anger Speaking – Part 1
I looked in hatred at the meddling wand maker grasping my child's wrist. "I swear..." he whispered.
"You swear what?" I asked, menace the only emotion in my voice. They both turned to look at me, petrified. My daughter looked especially frightened. Why should she? I was her father, not there to hurt her. The old man had a reason to look frightened, though. He was sensible, knowing death when it looked him in the face. He might come in useful. I considered, looking at them clutching each other. Yes, I decided. I will wipe his memory. My daughter seems to trust him, so he can be a useful contact. I carefully prepared a thought bomb that would explode in his mind, wiping all the bad memories. I threw it at him, and he crumpled to the ground, unconscious.
"Quickly, get your things, my daughter. I will send an agent to get anything you didn't have time to." Adria stood and ran into the shop to get the bags I'd spotted earlier. Hold my hand, I told her mind. She took it, and we disappeared into the night together. None would know about us.
When we arrived home, Adria's father turned on her, livid. He pulled out his wand and slashed it across the her body. Adria's vision blurred a little from tears of pain, but she did not scream. he wouldn't have the satisfaction today. Her father stopped when he heard no sound. He looked at her tear stained face, small body trembling in exhaustion.
"You have progressed. I have to go to a meeting now. Congratulations on the wand." and with that he vanished, leaving Adria in a confused heap.
Slowly, she got up. She was in her bedroom, but there was something different. Being unable to put her finger on it, Adria stumbled over to the bed and lay down.
Her dreams were a mess of pain and sparks.
A cool cloth on her forehead woke her up later that day. She thought she saw her father kneeling beside her, but when she blinked, he and the cloth disappeared. Adria turned over, to confused to think clearly. Her brain was fuzzy, and her vision blurred as if she was seeing the world through a thick pane of chipped glass. Her tongue was numb and felt swollen, while her throat burned like a forest fire. Adria tossed and turned, sweat pouring off her. She was asleep quickly, but still wriggled and dripped sweat.
Over the next few days, Adria drifted in and out of consciousness. Half the time she was delusional, the other half oblivious. Her thrashing was calmed only when a cool cloth was placed on her clammy forehead.
She woke up and saw her father kneeling beside her. She sat up suddenly, only to lie back down as stars popped in front of her eyes.
"Head rush," she whispered shakily. Her father looked at her sadly.
"Its alright, daughter, its alright." He held her close as she cried herself to sleep.
When she woke again, she remembered nothing.
It was many days until Adria could stand without fainting. She hobbled around her turret room, clutching the wall for support. Twice a day a meal appeared on her desk, which she ate hungrily. Most of her time was spent lying on her bed, staring aimlessly at the ceiling.
Gradually the full moon approached, and Adria grew stronger. One morning, she noticed that the books her father had bought had been placed on her desk. Smiling for the first time since meeting Betty, Adria opened the one on top and started to read.
It was the full moon that night. Adria got dressed in her favourite black dress that could also pass for school uniform, brushed her long hair and pulled up the hood of her beige cloak. She picked up the bags she had packed the night before, along with the letter that lay, crumpled, on her desk.
"Take me to the Wiccan!" she cried, and wind rushed around her, making her dizzy. Then it was gone, and she was left standing in front of a huge castle. All around her, figures in beige cloaks were appearing. She was at the Wiccan.