"I think you made Professor B. mad."
"Not with the way she was laughing. Didn't you hear. I'll bet there are tears streaming down her face by now."
"She'll get over it. Perhaps we should find a wand just in case. Then we find a broomstick. Now where?"
"We go outside."
"Outside? How do we get outside? I didn't find any doors going outside?"
"The same way you got in."
"I didn't come here, my family sent me here."
"We can teleport short distances. It's a simple spell, repeat after me. What I desire, so shall it be, send me outside so I can be free. You need to visualize where you want to go or you won't go anywhere at all. Since you've never been outside around here I'll have to take you." I took her hand and found myself outside a two story white house with pale yellow shudders on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. A breeze swirls around me as if welcoming me home in a big hug that lifts me off my feet. I look past beach sand and sea weed to the royal blue ocean and feel a longing to join the waves, explore its depths and survive the pleasures and cruelties that the ocean possesses. I look past the house and see an entire street full of houses all looking to the ocean.
"Where are we?"
"And the door?"
"It's a spell. You go in one door and come out the other door. For a while, they had just an illusion, you'd touch the door and it would move somewhere else. An illusion kinda like your ring but different."
"My ring came out of a cereal box when I was four. I found it the day Marnie showed up."
"But it's so much more than a trinket. It is the symbol of our craft. Look again." I looked at the ring on my hand expecting to see my favorite cartoon character and found a ring of silver ivy with an odd gemstone in the center.
"Why the illusion? Rings like this have become popular."
"If you look closely enough that stone will reveal the source of true magic. It also shows this to mortals. That is why we keep an illusion over it." The ring slowly faded back to the cartoon character. "Now about that wand. Is there a tree near here that you seem drawn to?"
I look around and see many trees but none that look interesting. There are tall ones with long skinny silver tinted leaves, short ones with broad leaves that are dark green and fir trees that are anywhere from six inches to 40 feet tall. But a tree is a tree or so I thought.
"Close your eyes and reach out with your mind then let your feet tell you where you should go."
"Won't I walk into something?" Belle laughs.
"Only if you want to. Now close your eyes and feel the world around you." I feel the trees surrounding me on all sides and notice they also have colors surrounding them. "You see their colors?" I feel kinda like yesterday when I was using the third eye but this is different. It is all in my mind. I wonder what else I can do with this.
"Pick your favorite color and ask it for a piece."
"What if I don't have one favorite color?"
"Then you need to ask a tree with each of those colors."
"Got it. Blue, green and purple. It's not to much is it?" I feel silly.
"No, once you've got the three, we splice them together" I walk to the first tree I find matching one aura. A tree surrounded in purple with a trunk as big around as an adult is tall, with deep grooves for bark and acorns littering the ground beneath it. If I was standing in Oregon, I'd swear this is a red wood tree but the canopy is to round. I look at the leaves and realize this is just like the old oak standing in grandmothers back yard. I stand there wondering how to talk to a tree and how to ask it for something when it began shaking a branch loose. I pick up the twelve inch twig and hear a deep grumbly voice in my head.
"I have waited a long time for you."
"Why is that?" I asked the oak.
"The stars have told us to expect you."
"How long have you waited." I ask because some trees live a very long time, like the California Red Woods. They live up to a thousand years or more. This oak could be centuries old.
"Since I was as small as you."
"Impossible, that was before I was born."
"Not impossible, just magicical."
"Whatever. Thank you for your gift." I bow to it as I have no other idea to honor it for its kindness.
"No thanks neccessary. Just return the favor someday."
"You got it." I walked to the next tree.
"Oh, one more thing young mage. I would take care if I were you. Danger lurkes in your future." I take a deep sigh and continue on to the next tree.
This one is young with smooth white bark surrounded by a green glow and lots of long dangling branches. It also began to shake as a got near it.
"Greetings young one." A calm whispy female voice drifts into my mind. I once heard the word ethereal and wondered what it meant. If I was to guess, she would be what I would use to describe ethereal.
"Hello." I say hesitantly to the willow tree.
"Don't be shy. I have something you need and someday you will have something I need."
"How do you know that?"
"I am a wise willow tree after all and I am connected to the sun, all things on this planet and the other planets. Willow trees are more connected than any other tree." She giggled and shook some more. I never new a tree could laugh. "If you are to have a twig from my branches you will need to help yourself. The last windstorm blew out all my loose branches except one and I can't get it to fall. How well do you climb trees?"
"Not very well I'm afraid. I grew up on the edge of a desert and there aren't that many trees and climbing a cactus is hazardous to your health." She giggles.
"What about your friend?"
"I'll ask her."
"Isabelle, she says she can't shake it loose so someone needs to climb up and break it loose. Could you climb her and get it out? I"ve never climbed a tree before."
"No need to climb a tree. All you need is a long straight stick and fly up as you would with a broomstick."
"I thought Professor B was going to teach me."
"You'll not find a better mage than me when it comes to flying on a broomstick." I shrug.
"Besides, I saw the wind embrace you and lift you off the ground when we first got out here."
"That was real? I thought I was just daydreaming."
"That was real." Belle smiles.
"Then what do I need a stick for?"
I look around and find a long straight stick on the ground nearby. The whole thought of talking trees, third eyes and flying on a broomstick still seems hard to believe. If I hadn't done some of that stuff myself, I wouldn't have though it possible. I'm going to have a long talk with mom next chance I get, she could have told me this stuff and I'm sure I could keep it secret from dad.
"Do you think this is long enough?"
"Yup, that'll work. Now you get to learn how to fly." She really likes flying doesn't she. The tree shakes again.
"This isn't a broom?"
"I know. It's so old school. Imagine what the puritans would have thought if they'd have seen a plain stick in your house instead of a functional broom used to sweep out dust and breadcrumbs. Brooms do have magical uses but when you need to fly and can't find a broom, finding a stick isn't so hard to do. I saw the wind caress you. I doubt she's ever seen the wind so welcoming. I think you'll be pretty safe in the air."
"Long sticks are not easy to come by in Nevada."
"Put the stick between your legs and think about floating then kick off the ground." I feel the wind rush up my body and my feet leave the ground. "Yes, you've got it. It took me weeks to figure out how to access the wind."
I looked down at the ground and found my feet at least a foot in the air. The wind I felt not only on my skin but also under my skin. I tingle from head to toe with an icy hot flame swirling through me.
"To much power." I grit my teeth as I struggle to stay near the ground.
"I doubt it. Just add a little thrust and go retrieve the last of your wand."
"Thrust, as in fire" Doesn't seem like a good idea in here." The trees shake in response.
"No, that's science. Magic can affect the wind and as a mage, so can you. Use the wind to pull you in to the air."
"How do you know about science?"
"We have more in common than being a mage. My uncle was fascinated with science for about ten years. He even worked for NASA for a year before becoming very frustrated with the whole lack of nature and came running back to magic. He would tell me about all the amazing things science could do when he would come over for a visit. And in school, regular school, science is required. I liked biology better than physics."
"I like physics better but you might like my dad. He's a veterinarian."
I returned to concentrating on the wind and a swirling impatient gust tore me away from Belle and the willow tree. Before I knew what was happening, I reached the tops of the trees and was propelled forward. I was almost glad for the sun because it reminded me of home but it nearly blinded me after standing in the shadows for so long and I nearly lost my grip when I tried to cover my eyes. Over a clearing I lost the wind and tumbled into a pond fed by a mountain stream.
The frigid water almost sucked the breath out of me and suddenly I was warm and wrapped in contentment like being wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket in the middle of winter with kitten purring on your lap until I tried to swim and realized that my arms and legs were not the one I'd lived with my whole life. I looked to my hands and found short furry arms and flippers. How could my parents live without visiting a natural stream and this feeling of rightness? I suppose I'll have to learn to swim as the seals do. I wonder if I'll have to leave my other skin behind or whether I'll return to human form like the mermaids do once I'm dry. See, Grams did teach me something. Selkies take off their skin before they can walk like a human.
I swam as best as I could, considering I've never been in a body like this before, in search of the branch and I find it on the shoreline. I lay in the sun until I realized my clothes were still floating in the water and I was human again. I used the gold thread to bring my cloths to me and draped them over the branches while I experimented with the wind until my clothes and I were completely dry. I then took to the sky and hovered in the sunshine until I was warm again.
I was just checking the landscape trying to find the school when a flock of ducks found me interesting and we flew around chasing each other for what seemed like hours. When the sun began to dive for the horizon and the ducks set off for the lake. My stomach also told me why I'd better get back because it started complaining for lack of food. Time flies when one is having fun. I wondered how I was to make my way back but then I remembered when I was looking at the trees in my mind that I also saw Belle. She was surrounded in a sea foam green glow. When I did find her, I sat down in a clearing nearby and walked silently behind her. She squeaked as I tapped her on the shoulder and a squirrel above us turned into a bird.
"Liza, don't do that! My brother did that to me once and I accidentally turned him into a lizard. Then Professor B left him like that for a week to teach him a lesson."
"Your brother? He's here to?"
"Yeah, Shane. He's two years younger than me. I think he likes you." I blush.
"I've never had a guy like me before. They tend to think I'm a nerd."
"Don't be silly. The boys didn't like me at all back home either but I think Troy likes me."
She shrugs. "I don't know why anybody would like him anyway. He's such an idiot, always playing pranks and practical jokes. We should be getting back. Where did you get to anyway? You smell like pond scum."
"I crashed into a pond in that direction, changed into a selkie, had trouble swimming, learned to control the wind enough so I could dry off, played with the ducks flying around and returned here when my stomach wouldn't leave me alone."
"I was about to call out a search party. Lets go."
"What about my staff?"
"I think you already have it." She points to the branch that sent me into ice cold water. "I'll show you, toss it over there and if it comes back, keep it." It came back after only traveling two feet. "Don't forget the to finish getting your wand."
At the top of the willow tree with the purple aura I pull out the loose branch she indicated and return to the ground. After that I seemed to bother several green trees before I found a friendly one.
"I was wondering where that branch got to. It got loose in a wind storm last week." I hear a child's voice in my head. "Touch my trunk and you may have a little one to match the one in your hand." I touch its trunk and felt a tingle run through my body and into the staff. One of the broken twigs on the staff grows to the size of the other pieces I carry.
Interesting. I thought. "I appreciate your generosity." I told the tree and it giggled.
"Let's go Liza. Professor Barnett will be wondering what's taking so long and I've got kitchen duty tonight."
Once back inside the school Belle made her way to the kitchen where there were already smells of something yummy wafting through the heavy wooden door.