Searching For Magic
Chapter 7

Friday came, and I felt both a sense of dread and relief. On the one hand, I was glad that these classes were nearly done and I wouldn't have to put up with the teachers for much longer. On the other, I'd miss the experience of learning. I was grumbling about that part to Omar while I was getting ready to leave that evening, and he grinned mischievously at me. "Well, maybe I'll just have to read those books to ya when you get 'em," he said.

"Oh, shut up," I said. I don't often blush, but that did it.

He grabbed me from behind and leaned up to kiss my cheek. "Take care. Don't let 'em do anything to ya I wouldn't do. Or hell, even half the things I would do."

I couldn't stop myself from laughing. "Shut up!" I pulled away from him with a grin. "All right, fine, if they do anything funky I'll bite 'em."

"That's the spirit," he said.

I pulled on my leather jacket and headed out.

When everyone was in the living room together, all three of the teachers walked in, with Patricia taking the lead. "Today's class is going to be different from the others," she said. "Today, we're going to give your auras a good, brisk charge."

Craig looked around at us. "Okay, so there are six of you and three of us, so we'll split you up into three groups. I'll take Ronnie and Nancy."

Sarah took a step forward. "I'll take Nicole and Eddie."

"And I'll take Adry and Layla," Patricia said. "Now, we're going to do this outside, so if you'll follow us..." Patricia led us all outside to the back of a house, out into the woods, and into a grove. Inside the grove was large ring of stones placed about five feet from each other, from which I assumed the school derived its name. There were no sticks or such on the ground, so I assumed they'd been cleared away for our purposes.

Before we stepped into the circle, Patricia turned and looked at us. "You all need to take off your shoes and socks, so you won't have that blocking the energies between you and the ground," she said.

All of us did as instructed. I pulled off my tennis shoes and tucked my socks into them, and stuck them near a tree. Nancy soon set her shoes near mine and gave me an apologetic look.

"It's fine," I said. Patricia walked into the circle, and the rest of us followed. When we stopped, I made sure to stand near Layla, since Patricia wanted to charge us both. Nicole was standing near Sarah, and Eddie winced as he crossed the cool, damp ground to join them. Nancy looked a little disoriented for a moment before going to stand near Ronnie.

Patricia came over to me and Layla. "All right, Layla first," she said. "Remember what you learned about drawing energy and moving it through your body?" she asked. "We're going to do that right now. We're going to draw it up from the Earth and down from the sky. Close your eyes and take deep breaths, clear your mind, and visualize the power flowing into you. Feel it inside."

Layla closed her eyes and took several deep breaths.

"Now visualize all of your stresses and worries being forced out of your body as the power fills you, going out into the air and the soil, breaking down and decaying into harmless energy," she instructed.

"All right," Layla said.

Patricia put her own hands together and took several deep breaths before lightly rubbing them against each other. Then she pressed her fingertips against Layla's forehead, to the spot below her clavacle, and to her stomach. "Let the divine fire within me ignite the divine fire within you," she said in a firm, clear voice as her hands moved. "Let it burn pure and bright and srong."

Layla shivered and gasped; unlike Nicole's theatrical antics the other day, this reaction was real. She opened her eyes and shivered. "Everything's..." she began.

"Go and sit down," Patricia said. "You'll need a moment."

Layla went to sit down on the ground, and Patricia looked at me.

"Adry, are you ready?" she asked.

"Of course," I said. I stood still and followed Patricia's instructions as Layla had done. I visualized energy flowing into me and driving out the stress and worry, and in a moment Patricia's fingers rested on my forehead. "Let the divine fire within me ignite the divine fire within you," she said. For half a second, I wondered just how divine the murderer's inner fire could be, and whether whoever was getting it was getting bootleg fire, so to speak.

Then I felt something; the places where Patricia had touched me began to feel warm, almost electrified. The feeling intensified; in seconds it was almost painful. Suddenly I wasn't in the woods anymore; I was somewhere far above the planet, watching it turn. I could see tiny twinkling lights on the landmasses, a little like those satellite pictures of the world at night. But where the lights are static and generally yellow, these came in every color and hue you could imagine, and many of them moved around. Each one of them was connected to other lights by thin glowing lines. Sometimes the dots would wiggle or vibrate, and those that were attached to them would begin wiggling or vibrating. Some of them glowed brighter, but others became dim and some went out entirely. Sometimes the glowing dots would come together and vibrate, and the effect they had those connected to them was even more intense; more glowed and many glowed brighter than ever, but sometimes even more would dim and go out. Then I looked closer at the lines connecting the dots. I could see that some lines were bright and strong, while others were weak and dim. But I couldn't see any dots without any lines connecting them to other dots at all. All of the ones I could see were connected to others in some way.

Then the planet faded away and I heard a voice whisper, You're one of mine.

I wanted to ask what that meant, but suddenly I found myself lying on the ground staring up at the others. So, no one else had passed out, then. Only me. I sat up.

"Is he okay?" Layla asked.

"It happens sometimes," Patricia said. "It can be very overwhelming, especially if you're not very strong."

Not very strong? I wanted to snap at her and tell her that I'd just had a whole mystical experience, but then I decided that it really didn't make any difference what she thought. It wasn't like I planned to keep in contact after this. Besides that, why care what somebody with so many bad opinions thought?

My entire body felt tingly, and the ground below me felt like it was lightly electrified. I scrambled up and put my shoes and socks back on, which put a buffer between me and the ground.

I hadn't felt anything like this since I'd been hit by lightning so many years ago. And I remembered how I'd spent so many years asking whatever divine forces existed in this universe for answers, and getting nothing. So who was it who'd told me that I was one of theirs, and why did it take them this long to show up? I decided that whoever it was, if they'd made me wait for seven hundred years, they could wait a little longer. I had work to do.

"Okay, so what now?" I asked.

"Ground off any excess energy you have," Patricia said. "Visualize any extra energy going back into the Earth."

I reached down, placed my hand on the ground, and did as instructed. The tingly feeling in my body subsided a little.

"Everybody, get back in the house," Craig said. "We got apple juice inside - good stuff for your aura."

We went into the farmhouse, and Patricia served us apple juice in the kitchen. Like the rest of the house, the kitchen was ordinary and unremarkable. The fridge had a perfectly normal puppy calendar on it with dates and appointments marked - like a dentist appointment, a dinner date with a friend, and a salon appointment.

"Now, I hope you all remember what I taught you about protection amulets the other day, because now that you're charged up, you might encounter things that'll want to feed on you," Patricia said to us.

"Will encounter things," Sarah said. "It's not a matter of if, but when. There's always hungry spirits out there looking for a meal."

"She's right," Craig said. "So make sure you get your protection ready soon."

I stared for a moment. "Shouldn't this have been something you told us before we did this?" I asked. "Like, maybe at the start of the class, or something?"

"You were told that this was risky," Sarah said dismissively. "And you were told about spirits."

"Yeah, you told us that spirits could be a problem if we weren't careful around them," I said. "You didn't tell us that we'd be crossing a threshold there was no turning back from, that would all but force us to deal with spirits whether we wanted to or not!"

"Well, you should've done more research."

"What research?" I asked. "It wasn't like you gave us a reading list. In fact, I'm pretty sure that if we knew what to read, none of us would even be here at all!"

She looked at me for a few seconds. "I think you should go," she said. "If you don't have the strength and will to handle this, you shouldn't have signed up in the first place."

So I went. There was no use arguing with someone who decided that I should have based my decisions on information I didn't have, nor that I even knew where to look for. I wasn't particularly worried about spirits or such; I was pretty confident that I'd be all right. But the fact remained that we'd all been denied informed consent, and that irritated me. I'd probably be fine, and probably so would most of the people who attended their school. But that didn't make it right to turn the rest into food for the wolves.

I was tense all the way back home. It was only when I was stepping into the apartment that I started to relax. Omar was on the sofa watching TV, and after I took off my coat I went over to sit down next to him.

He put his arm around my shoulder. "So what happened?" he asked.

I told him how we'd all had our auras charged, but how none of us were told about the downsides until after the fact, and how that led to an argument and I was told to go home.

Omar nodded. "Well, you can't expect at least one murderer and two people who hang out with a murderer to be very nice people."

I snorted and buried my head into his neck. "You still think they all did it?"

"I ain't saying I don't think it's possible," he said. He kissed my cheek.

Then I realized that I felt something - a kind of pulling sensation, as if Omar was drawing my aura into his body. I pulled back a little. I could still feel it, but it wasn't as strong.

"Something the matter?" he asked.

"I dunno," I said. I moved closer, and I could feel the pull again. "It's not... not your fault, I don't think. But it's something magic. Like something 'bout you's pulling on my aura." I stood up and walked to the TV and tapped my knuckles on the glass before hovering my hand in front of it. Nothing. The wooden door also didn't do anything. But when I hovered my hand near the stainless steel door knob, I felt a similar pull.

What did a doorknob and Omar have in common? They were both... dead? Nonliving? No, couldn't be it. The TV wasn't living, either, but that didn't do it. I went into the kitchen and picked up a knife from the drawer, and its blade had the same effect. Two of these things were metal, one wasn't. I went to the living room and picked up a book off a shelf; nothing.

"What are you doing?" Omar asked.

"Trying to see," I said. "I felt... something from you. Like you were pulling at my magical energy. Same thing from the doorknob, but not the book." On a whim, I went to the refrigerator and opened the freezer, and pulled out a margarine container filled with blood. I pulled off the lid and placed my fingertips onto its frozen surface. It felt like life, or like it contained the power to sustain life. I glanced at Omar. He was undead, so... of course. He was sustained by the magical power of blood. I put the carton back and grabbed and egg from the fridge, and I cracked it into a bowl. I touched my finger to the soft, golden yolk, and I could feel the essence of a warm, gentle sun that gave rise to new life.

So why was he pulling on me, on my aura? Was there some essence of life in it because of my immortality? Or was it just that it was from a living, breathing being? Unfortunately, there wasn't a way to find a conclusive answer right now, and I had to settle myself for knowing that this was just a thing that happened. And it was something that could be a problem - it wasn't comfortable, and I wasn't sure how to get him to stop doing something he wasn't even doing consciously in the first place.

Then I remembered the shielding techniques we'd learned earlier. I closed my eyes and visualized a shield covering my skin, keeping anything from escaping unless I allowed it to. Then I went back to the sofa and sat back down. "Let's try this now," I said. I reached over and took his hand. The tug was still there, but it wasn't as bad. I closed my eyes and imagined the shield thickening, and soon the pull faded. Thank goodness. "I fixed it," I said. "I think... I think because you're a vampire, you absorb... magical energy, life force, something like that."

"Well, thank goodness ya fixed it," he said. "Dunno what we'd do if you didn't." He leaned on my shoulder and sighed softly.

"What's the matter?" I asked him.

"Oh, it's just... all this magic stuff, I don't really understand it," he said. "I ain't scared of it, but it's a little... hard to follow."

"Oh," I said. "Would you like me to explain?"

"Later," he said. "Just want you right now."

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