“The Mage: Awakening” is about a thirteen-year-old girl who discovers her magical powers when she is four. Her disastrous home life turns unbearable, and she uses her talent for channeling emotions right before she runs away from home. A fully trained mage tracker, Cadence, feels her use that talent and tracks her down. He informs her that she is a mage and can go to school to learn more magic and develop more facets of her magical talent. Cadence introduces Katrina to the Oracle, a government official who helps new mages learn more about the mage society and choose their path, among other things. Katrina chooses to go to an academy and learns that her new school is in the in Faerie realm, where she quickly makes friends with other mage students and Fae students, alike. Katrina has a lot on her plate, juggling her old family, a new family, friends, school, and a new romance, when accidents start happening to the Fae students. People start questioning whether the accidents are all that accidental, or if someone has an agenda to make the Fae pay.
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Chapter 17 - Signs
“These are our ten rules for staying alive and out of jail,” Ginger said, waving towards the giant pillar of stone like a game show letter turner. “Read them, then read them again. Memorize them. Take them seriously, because the IMA does. I broke three of these babies before I figured out how bad an idea that was.”
“Slow learner, much?” I asked. “Seriously, how old are you? And who thought it was a good idea to let a rebellious Goth chick be the Oracle?”
My smile softened the insult, but not by much. Fortunately Ginger reacted as only Ginger would. She laughed.
“You’ll find out that the ruling body has a really twisted sense of humor,” she said. “The last Oracle had an even more messed up and mischievous streak than I do. Seriously, I was in lockdown, and she told them that they had to let me go because I was the next Oracle. No one was very happy about that.”
“She could do that?” I asked, impressed.
“She was the freaking Oracle,” Ginger said with a smirk. “She could do anything. Including tame me, if you can believe it. I was like a feral cat when she got her hands on me. You can joke, and fortunately these days I can take a joke, but not so long ago I was what you just accused me of being and worse. I wanted the IMA to crumble to the ground. Not because I had anything against the ruling body or our society, but because anarchy sounded like fun to me.”
This didn’t shock me all that much. Ginger really did scream rebel with chip on her shoulder. Like my Granny always said, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still just a pig. The girl might be tamed, but she wasn’t broken by any means. Part of me was glad for that. Part of me thought that the last Oracle had to be crazy to give the job to Ginger.
“One more thing,” Ginger said with a sigh. “I’m here to help you figure out all of the details and none of the overall questions.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“I know that you still think I have more power than I should. But it’s not true. I’m not a fortune teller, kid. I don’t have a crystal ball for you,” she said. “I will help you figure out the details of your mentor and your classes and scholarships, and give you tips for how to live with another mage, and how to braid your hair, but that’s as far as we’re going here. I will not ever have the answer to the mystery of life, because there is no answer. You figure it out as you go along. There is no button, or magic eight ball, or tarot card that will give you all the answers you seek. There never will be.”
“That sucks,” I grumbled, kicking a rock. “What about forty-two?” It was supposed to be a joke, but I felt too dejected to pull it off.
Ginger put an arm around my shoulders and squeezed, gently. “Not so much” she said. “Let’s get back to the list of rules, shall we? You like rules, right?” Ginger teased.
“I do when they are done right,” I said.
“What is right, really?” she asked with a chuckle. “If you have any questions about any of these rules ask now. Can’t stress that enough.”
“I’m really happy that the bit about obeying your parents didn’t make this list,” I said under my breath. Ginger choked on her laughter.
The first rule was obvious: don’t kill or harm, duh. Rule number two was to not control someone’s mind with magic. Three was no controlling dead things. I had a few questions about that, but wanted to get to the bottom before I asked anything. Four was not to upset the status quo with normals. I wondered about people like Todd and what happened when a mage came from a normal family. Five was to uphold good relations with all allies of the IMA. Six was to do no harm to the peace and strength of the magical community. Seven made me laugh a bit; it pretty much said we couldn’t meddle in the affairs of normals. That sounded like a certain well-known author in reverse, but it did make a lot of sense. Eight said we couldn’t use magic to create or control love. Nine was all about wealth and material possessions. And ten said that we couldn’t make a living by doing anything that ripped off normals.
“So, no tarot card reading in my future, I guess,” I said when I finished reading.
“Yep. Sorry if that was your life-long dream,” Ginger said. “No palm reading, no crystal-ball gazing, and no cavorting with tea leaves either.”
“Geez, just take away all of my dreams and illusions tonight, why don’t you?” I teased.
“Seriously, any questions?” Ginger asked.
“Yeah. One: what if you have a talent for controlling or contacting the dead? And two: who are our allies?” I asked. “Oh, and three: how are the seventh and tenth rule different?”
“We have a hard and fast rule for necromancers, or people who have an affinity for the dead. If your talent has anything to do with dead things you had better tell us, and if you want to use it, you had better be working for us,” Ginger said without a trace of humor in her voice or expression.
Okay, so it was that serious. Got it.
“Now, the seventh and tenth rules are similar, but not the same,” she said. “We can’t use magic behind normals’ backs to influence the paths they choose, which is what seven is all about. Ten came later when the council realized that a lot of mages were playing ‘rip off the normals’ instead of getting real jobs. Got it?”
“Got it,” I said.
“As for allies,” she continued, “There is a class for that. There are a couple, actually.”
“Are we going to talk about classes?” I asked.
“Yes, yes we are,” she said. “But mentors first. Did Cadence explain to you that your mentor may also be someone else’s mentor?”
“No, but I kind of assumed,” I said. “If every mentor only advised one mage, the academies would get really crowded with faculty, wouldn’t they?”
“Yeah, they would,” Ginger said. “I think you would do well with Crista Ruins, who is one of the Empathy professors, among other things. She’s got empathic abilities—believe it or not that’s not a guarantee when someone teaches a course—and she’s a major liberal. It’ll help loosen you up a bit.”
“I like being up-tight, thank you,” I said.
“And there’s nothing wrong with that,” she said, “but I firmly believe that it is my job to broaden your worldview.”
“And to mess with me,” I said.
“No, that’s just an added bonus.” She giggled. Really. Giggled. Good Lord help me.
“What about my power?” I asked.
“What about your power?” she countered.
“I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting things off of people, or ‘empathing’ as Cadence calls it, more often since the thing with Ralph happened,” I said, biting my lip. “Is it going to get worse? Am I going to empath someone every time I touch the person?”
“I don’t think so,” she said. “From what I know of empaths, it’s hit or miss. You do want to talk to Professor Ruins about that, though. As for classes, I think you should take History 101, Divination 101, Thaumaturgy 101, Brewing 101, and Empathy 401 this first semester.”
“Isn’t the Empathy course a little too advanced for me?” I asked, concerned. “I don’t even know how to control it, after all.”
“You know more than you think you do. Trust me,” Ginger said.
“Based on what you know of me, how well do you think I like that phrase?” I asked.
“Deal with it,” she said.
I shrugged. “Do I have a choice?”
“Nope.” The infuriating woman grinned at me while she said it.
We kept walking through the maze and discussed my immediate future. It wasn’t what I’d wanted, or expected. I’d expected everything settled for the rest of my life—nice, neat, lined out, and definite. But I knew this was what I’d needed, even if I hated it.
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About the author:
While pursuing her master’s degree in accounting from Stephen F. Austin, Erin discovered that writing during and after class was a great way to relieve stress and focus. Changing jobs and moving all over Texas fueled her desire to write and gave her some great story ideas, and deciding to partner with her roommate in a publishing company gave her every reason to share said stories with the world.
Erin finds that story ideas come from everywhere. Watching the ocean, picking figs in the morning, even walking down the street to get coffee can lead to an idea for a book or a short story. She also finds that her natural empathy and love of music lends itself to writing about musicians and the music industry.
For Erin, writing is like laughing; you can get through life without it, but what would be the point?