Editor’s Note: This is the seventh chapter of The Lost Prentice, an online serial novel exclusively on the Baltimore Post-Examiner. If you missed the previous chapter, please read it before starting this latest installment. Every week we will be posting a new chapter.
It started to rain which only seemed too fitting. The girl whom he was pretty sure he already loved to some point had run out of his life thinking she meant nothing to him. Well she was wrong! So what if she thought she was magic or psychic? He wasn’t about to leave just because of that!
Miles put the car into reverse and sped down the streets. It was storming horribly by the time he got to the yellow Keridwen house with the little red door. He pulled up just as a white sedan pulled away. All three sisters were standing on the porch as well as another boy and girl Miles only assumed where the other people who lived with them. Miles turned the car off, jumped out and ran across the yard.
“Miles?!” yelped Gwen. “What are you doing?”
“I don’t care!” shouted Miles over the rain and the thunder. “About any of it! Be an Enchantress! Make magic! Just don’t leave me again! I love you!” By the end of his declaration, he was soaked to his boxers.
“Love me?” She shouted from the porch. “You don’t even know me!”
“That’s where you’re wrong Gwendolyn Keridwen! I know when you’re embarrassed or frustrated, you blush and look down at your feet! When you’re nervous, you tangle your fingers till you get sores on them! You know everything about cooking and everything about flowers! You’re favorite flower is lavender! You love making kiwi jam with it! Your favorite color is yellow! When you know you’ve said too much or can’t say anymore, you smile slyly! A half smile with a twinkle in your eye! You were born on May fifteenth! You always wear white and turquoise stones! You’re best friend is a fairy and you make magic! You’re the greatest thing to ever happen to me! The last is all I need to know!”
Gwen watched him for a couple of seconds then ran from the porch and into his arms. She brought him into a passionate kiss. Miles kissed her back ten times as hard.
“Miles Hunter,” Gwen said pulling away, just as soaked now. “Will you please come inside?”
“Oh yeah!” shouted Zelda poisonously. “Go ahead and let the Normal into our house!”
“Shut up!” shrieked Gwen.
Miles ignored the dizziness and the shortness of breath as he walked through the red door and into the house. Zelda and Evie didn’t. The two of them exchanged sideways looks as they all piled back into the house.
“Let me grab a couple of towels,” said the only male of the house as he jogged up the stairs.
Gwen led him to the very red couch and sat on a red couch by his lonesome. He could feel the stares from her older two sister and tried to pretend he couldn’t notice it. He kept his eyes gaze away from them and looked around the room.
Now he understood why Gwen had called his apartment drab. Each of the walls were a different primary color and covering every inch of wall was a masterpiece on canvas. It was the artistic work of the sister Evie. At the very top of the walls, just below the ceiling, was an inscription which followed the entire house. It read: Protect those of a white heart. May all Subtles shine bright.
Each piece of furniture was a bright color, each completely different. On every table was a vase of flowers, no vase or flower were the same. In the corner of the living room was a red desk with a laptop and a pile of papers. The house was bold, cluttered and homey. The exact opposite of the house Miles was raised in. He loved it instantly.
“Here you go,” said the man running down the stairs and handing the two of them a towel.
Miles thanked him and finally noticed his hands were a dark green. He slowly looked up at the man who was grinning charmingly. The rest of him was normal. White skin, light blond hair and steady dark brown eyes. Besides the fact that he was wearing an Mama Mia t-shirt, his jeans were Levis and flip flops were of leather and his style was average.
“Owen of the Dryads,” he said, taking Miles’ hand in a good handshake. He was still grinning because he could tell Miles was curiously watching him. “It’s good to finally meet you. Gwen talks about you constantly.”
“Holy crap,” Miles muttered under his breath. “You weren’t kidding. Your best friend is a freaking fairy.”
“Hey, just because I’m gay, handsome, doesn’t mean that’s cause for name calling,” he joked.
“I never kid,” Gwen said. She was smiling as she watched Miles take Owen in.
“This is my twin, Odette of the Sylphs,” Owen said, gesturing to the girl sitting on top of a grand desk of old oak. She was a pretty little thing with creamy white skin like her brother and with an incredible figure of a supermodel. Her pale blond hair fell in tight natural curls and fell past her hips. And shockingly enough, she had white wings sprouting out her back.
“Are you an angel?” asked Miles quietly, taking in her white dress and gold accents.
“No,” she said, in a clipped tone. “I’m a fairy like my brother. I however am straight.”
“If you’re twins, how come you’re different?”
Owen dragged over the desk chair in the corner and placed it next to Miles. “Our mother was a Sylph with dove wings. She died during birth. Our father was a Dryad like me.”
“You’re fairies,” Miles said, still very lost. He couldn’t comprehend it.
“Of the Fae,” Owen agreed.
“Do you have magical powers too?”
“I wouldn’t call it magical, more like mystical abilities. I can make the earth grow and move. Just by thinking about it and sticking my hands into the dirt. Odette can only fly,” he added snickering.
“Only?” snapped Odette. “I don’t see you creating large gusts of wind.”
“I could if I bought a big enough fan!”
“At least I don’t get my fingernails dirty!”
“Are there more like you?” asked Miles, before a sibling squabble could start.
“More Dryads and Sylphs? Hundreds. There are other kinds of fairies too. There are Naiads which can breath underwater and freeze it with a touch. They have gills and some of them even have webbed hands and feet. Then there are Flarions which have skin so hot, anything they touch can be lit up in flames. Exciting, huh? I wish I was a Flarion.”
“As for mystical creatures, there are those of the Pix and Sprye,” said Odette, tossing her brother a dirty look for getting distracted.
“Pix and Sprye?” asked Miles, feeling more lost by the second.
Owen nodded, thrilled he was keeping up. It had been a long time before he had shared information about his kind to anybody. “The Sprye are sprites. There are the Conductors, which have copper or aluminum plated hands. They can conduct electricity from machines or lightning storms. There are probably a few of them outside right now. Probably doing some creepy rain dance. Then there are Uncarnates. Ugly things that can walk through walls. Neither of them are very nice. They like to hang out with the Vulgars. Vulgars use them as sitters or nannies or even housemaids.”
“Then lastly there are the Pix which are Piskies,” Odette said, taking over. “They protect the Normals. Secretly. They pretend to be doctors, nurses, police officers, firemen, or teachers. The only species left are the Norms. They’re the most powerful out of all of us. They can alter memories, heal, and protect all by just snapping a finger. Very powerful stuff.”
When Miles didn’t respond, Owen chuckled. “You get all that good looking?”
Miles finally blinked. “Ah, no. I mean I heard it all but I don’t understand it. And to be perfectly honest, I can’t concentrate when I can feel Zelda and Evie giving me dirty looks.”
“They shouldn’t be,” snapped Gwen.
“No continue,” said Zelda, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “Go ahead and tell the Normal more about the Fae, the Pix and the Sprye. Especially since we haven’t gotten permission from Prince Ladden. Might as well tell him all about us and the Vulgars.” She moved back behind the desk Odette was sitting on.
Evie turned away from Miles as she curled up on an orange armchair and began sketching on a canvas.
“Gwen,” Miles said. “Could you tell me more about what you are? You were very vague.”
She blinked a couple of times. “Alright. I’m an Enchantress which means I am a female Subtle. The males are Sorcerers. Subtles are people of magical practices whose domain can be one of many things. Headology, heaven, healing, wisdom, or nature. Evie’s is wisdom. Zelda has headology. I have nature.
“Basically that means that we perform magic through that power. Zelda can control the world around and people’s thoughts just by saying or thinking the words. Evie’s domain is quite special. You ask her any question—and I mean any—and she has the answer. I can control nature. I can make flowers and plants do whatever I want them to do. All I have to do is think it.
“Do you understand Miles?”
“I think so.” Miles took a deep breath and tried to stop his mind from spinning. “Yeah, I think I’m understanding it all.”
“Subtles—especially Enchantresses are clairvoyant. We can feel emotions or read thoughts.”
Miles threw her a humorous sideways glance. “Explains the random outburst someone is particularly fond of.”
She laughed. “Now we can perform our magic through any sort of mediums. We can cast spells, or brew potions. Sometimes magic happens in ways we can’t explain. Even reciting a simple rhyme could have disastrous effects, especially when incantations are your specialty.”
He remembered the way he lost his breath each time he stepped on the porch. Zelda must have carved that spell into the frame. What did that mean? Did that mean he had a black heart?
“Who are the Black Hearted?”
“Vulgars,” Zelda said instead, watching him carefully. Her feet were thrown on top of the desk and crossed at the ankles. Miles noted that her white boots were sparkly clean and didn’t have the slightest idea how she kept them as such. He wondered if she used magic on them and he caught her giving him a steely glare.
“Witches and Wizards,” she said her voice dripping with attitude. “Their domains are either curses, spirit speaking, or transformation. Whereas Subtles only inherit one domain, a Vulgar can inherit one or more. But the more variety of domains in their blood, the weaker they are.
“The most powerful is the curse domain. They can induce sickness, cause deformation, or broken bones. Their magic is the most frightening of them all. For only a sheer look of malice could render you with broken legs. Depending on the strength of the blood line, simply one look can cause death.”
“Huh?” asked Miles.
“The Vulgars with the curse domain have to be eye to eye to curse you, but still, it’s only a look. Their power is done through their eyes.”
She paused for a moment to take off the choker around her neck. She handed it to him so he could get a closer look.
“The only protection Subtles have is turquoise. Vulgars wear Schorls to protect them from our attacks. It’s our only defense from personal magical attacks.”
There was silence in the room as Miles allowed everything to sink in.
“Why do Subtles and Vulgars exist?” asked Miles after a couple of minutes.
Gwen shrugged. “We’ve been around as long as everybody else. Magic is just energy. I’ve told you about energy. Subtles and Vulgars just know how to harness it. Subtles help the world. Vulgars want to control it.”
“And there’s a war coming,” Evie said, still sketching on her canvas. “The most powerful Vulgar is killing off Subtles and Fae. The sons are the only ones killed. But he’s not going to stop till he gets every single one of us. And it’s out of anger, not amusement.”
“Which is worse,” agreed Gwen. “With amusement, he could get bored and move on. Out of vengeance, he won’t stop till he gets his revenge. It’s so much worse.” She shivered at the thought of war and Miles instinctively wrapped an arm around her.
“Is he after you? Why is he seeking revenge?” he asked, suddenly worried for his Gwen.
She pulled herself from him and stood up to smell the flowers in a nearby vase. “Gavin Keridwen was the most powerful of all Subtles. He comes from a line where the magic is so pure, he can invent new spells. Rosalba Sighn was just as powerful and was Gavin’s wife. Together, they made a massive dent in the army that Vulgar was creating. His name is Ivor Daine. In fact, the Subtles infiltrated the army and almost captured Ivor. But he somehow managed to escape. This was almost twenty years ago. Four of those years ago, he managed to find Rosalba and Gavin and murder them. Both because they were powerful enemies and because he thought they killed his only apprentice. His only son. So he’s back, seeking revenge on every Subtle. Then lastly us. So yes. Ivor is after us.”
“That’s terrible!” shouted Miles. “How do you sleep at night?”
Gwen was going to answer him when Zelda interrupted her yet again. “Stop answering his questions. It’s about time he start answering mine. How do we know you’re not a part of it?”
“You got Gwen to tell you who she was in only over a couple of weeks! You could be his pawn!” shouted Zelda standing up.
“We’ll see about that! Evie, who is he?”
Evie was still sketching. But her eyes glazed over as she thought about the question. “Stalwart champion,” she said flatly, oddly reminiscent of Gwen when she would read people. “Needs to protect those in need. Can display great patience. Values waiting. Can have honorable behavior. Courageous and…hmm…volatile.”
Zelda was busy taking off all the painting from the only black wall, directly across from the red couch. Then slamming her desk drawer open and shut, she pulled out a white piece of chalk. On the top of the wall, she wrote Miles Hunter. She spoke quickly and wrote the same.
Miles could feel the tension in the room swirl around him. It was as if the sisters had pried open his mind and were reading the lines in his brain. He felt violated. Used. He didn’t like the way the magic felt in the room.
“November Fifteenth,” said Zelda, “Is your birthday. That day is the Day of Encounter. You’re constantly facing challenging life experiences and intense encounters. You’re confrontational. Tempted.”
Her hand was possessed as she read off the things she was writing and the symbols she was drawing. None of it made sense.
“You’re ruled by the number six. Numerology isn’t my strong suit—or medium—so that’s all I know. I’m seeing the symbols Venus. Pluto. Those mean you can inspire worship or produce danger. To be sure, you need to ask a heaven domain. There’s energy and aggression. Too much of it. Reorient them.”
Then over all her scribbles, she wrote DEVIL.
She looked at it like she couldn’t believe it. Then Zelda turned around slowly to look at Miles through narrowed eyes. “You’re the Devil,” she said quietly.
Miles was going to say something smart when Evie sucked in a quick breath. She flipped around her canvas to reveal a drawing of a Devil. The Devil was sitting on a cube which had a man and a woman with horns and tails chained to it. The Devil was lighting their tails with a flaming torch. It was oddly demented and beautiful at the same time.
“What does that mean?” asked Owen.
“It means he’s the devil—not satanic,” Zelda corrected seeing the look on Gwen’s face. “That’s not what the devil means.”
“Well?” demanded Gwen impatiently.
Evie placed the canvas down. “In Tarot cards, the devil means neutral energy. The devil teaches to accept all aspects of nature. Both dark and light. It could also have a very sexual meaning.”
Both Miles and Gwen blushed.
“For us, it has a different meaning entirely,” Evie said. “Our mother—a very powerful clairvoyant in our government—made a prediction in front of the entire assembly of Subtles. She said that the Devil would rise upon us and he would have to chose a side. The Devil would be of multiple magical backgrounds and he would be the most powerful of us all. Then she prayed he would have the strength to chose a side.”
“A side?” asked Miles and Gwen at the same time.
“Multiple backgrounds which means you’re not full Normal,” snapped Zelda. “Who are your parents?” she demanded.
“Uh, Patricia and Richard Hunter! Why? Are you trying to say I could be this Devil your mother talks about? That I’m a Subtle or Vulgar?”
“I’m saying your parents are lying to you or you’re lying to us. Did you or did you not experience shortness of breath as you walked through that door?”
“Yes but-” He hated seeing the look of shock on Gwen’s face. He hated the way she stared at him as if she was seeing him for the first time.
“It only works on Vulgars!” she hissed. “Explain your soul, explain your past. You of a black heart, tell me it all fast!”
Miles felt his mind scrambling as he tried to recall whatever it was Zelda was asking. But he had no past. And he didn’t have a black soul or past.
“What did you just make me do?” Miles demanded, getting up.
“Sit,” hissed Zelda.
Her words vibrated through him to his core and his mind had no other choice but to sit. His legs crumbled and he was back on the couch.
“How is she doing this?” Miles asked Gwen.
“Her medium is spellwork. Psychically, she can make your mind do anything as long as she says it and wills it. Remember?” asked Gwen quietly.
“Who are you?” ordered Zelda, standing directly in front of him.
“Who are your parents?”
“Patricia and Richard.”
“Have you ever met a Subtle or Vulgar before us?”
“Close your eyes!” she hissed in her magical inescapable tone. Miles did. “Now remember the very last thing that occurred to you which you couldn’t explain.”
Miles had numerous unexplainable events since Gwen.
Zelda grunted in frustration and Miles bared his teeth. He could feel all the sisters reading his mind. “Without Gwen!” snapped Zelda.
The only one Miles could recall was the reoccurring dream of the melting girl. Then the one of the girl and the man torturing the prisoner. And now that he remembered, he made the very scary realization.
He had dreamed about Ivor Daine. About Subtles, Vulgars, fairies and sprites. Of Orpheus, Rosalba and Gavin. He had seen them all in those dreams. But how?
“Because it wasn’t a dream,” Gwen said, softly beside him.
Her voice pulled him from Zelda’s spell. There were tears in her eyes. “What do you mean?”
“It was a memory,” she said. “Yours from almost twenty years ago.”
“You’re mistaken. That’s impossible. You’re making it seem like my parents are-”
“Cordelia Gardner and Ivor Daine?” asked Zelda. “We’re not making it seem like it. You are Ivor’s son. You’re the lost Prentice.”
“Don’t tell us that!” shrieked Evie. “We know what we’re talking about! It’s your fault our parents are dead! All of ours!”
“I had nothing to do with that!” shouted Miles viciously as he bolted from the couch. “And if you’re blaming that child, that infant—for taking your parents from you, then you’re seriously wrong! That child did nothing but exist! How dare you!”
“How dare we?” demanded Zelda. “We’re in the middle of an upcoming war! One that revolves around all of us in this room! Yet you’re in the center of it!”
“I’m not Prentice! That’s impossible!”
Zelda held out a hand to silence her sisters before all of them could explode. “Prove it,” she said simply. “Take Gwen with you to your parents house and ask them. I dare you to.”
Miles was silent for a couple of seconds, vibrating with fury. “You don’t think I will?”
“It wasn’t a question. Or a suggestion,” Zelda snarled. “It was a demand.”
“If you think I’m Prentice Daine, why would you allow me to take Gwen?” challenged Miles. “Aren’t I dangerous?”
“You don’t even know what you can do. You’re as safe as a puppy.”
Miles frowned at the reference. But he turned to Gwen anyway. “Would you come with me?”
There was fear in her eyes, infuriating Miles because he wasn’t the one who put it there. But she nodded anyway. She took his hand and Miles dragged her through the house and down the pathway. It was still storming outside and even in the couple of seconds they were out there, they were re-drenched once more.
Miles aggressively threw on the heater mostly for Gwen’s benefit. Then he sped down the road, desperately trying to find his way down the dark and slippery streets.
“What’s going to happen?” he asked after five minutes of Gwen’s stunned silenced.
“What if I’m Prentice Daine?” His voice was no louder than a whisper.
“I won’t be allowed to be able to see you ever again,” she said softly.
Miles sputtered and almost drove into the incoming lane. “What?! I’ll never be able to see you again?!”
“Not until you choose a side.”
“I chose your side. I choose you. I will always choose you.”
Gwen shut her eyes and shook her head. “It’s not supposed to work like that. You have to choose a side. Your heart does.”
“My heart belongs to you.”
A small tear escaped. “That’s not the way it works.”
“How does anybody know how this is supposed to work?” demanded Miles, suddenly angry once more. “I’m the first half breed right?”
“Then how does anybody know how this is supposed to work?” growled Miles.
“Because my mother said it was going to be that way! And that’s just how things work for us okay?!” snapped Gwen, finally getting testy. “You still don’t know anything about our way of life! You know what we are but you don’t know how we work and how we live! So trust me when I say you have to choose a side! Otherwise you’ll be running for life trying to burn off all this extra feelings and energy that keep storing up inside of you. When you chose a side, you can release the excess and then you’ll find yourself with less anger and frustration.”
“I don’t have anger bottled up in me!”
“Please! You get angry about things when you should be confused or a little frustrated! Like your best friends engagement! You blew up for no reason! You had to go jogging and counting for hours that day before you met me!”
“Hey! Don’t go all clairvoyant on me!”
“If you were wearing a Turquoise, it wouldn’t happen!” she quickly snapped back. The color drained from her face as she cast her gaze to her knees. “Or a Schorl. You have the same opportunity to be a Vulgar if you decide.”
Miles slammed a fist on the steering wheel. “Dammit, I don’t want to be a Vulgar if that means I lose you! And this is ridiculous because I’m about to prove to you that there’s no possible way I’m Prentice Daine!”
Miles rolled over the sidewalk and parked his car in the middle of his parent’s front yard. He turned the car off as aggressively as he could and climbed out into the storm. He stormed around the front of the car which was still hot from the exertion it had to put up with, and opened Gwen’s door. She reached out a cold hand and allowed him to yank her out of the car. But she didn’t allow him to lead her up the stone white steps. Instead, she tugged on his hand and waited till he turned around to face her.
Gwen was soaked from head to toe. The blue flowers she had braided in her hair had wilted and died from the heaviness of the storm. Her mascara was running down her cheeks. The full length summer gown was transparent and gave Miles a little peak of her white bra and panties. But even in the rain, Miles could see she was crying.
“No matter what happens,” Gwen shouted, trying to be louder than the boom of the thunder. “I will still love you.”
Miles needed to hear that. He pulled her close to him and held onto her for dear life. He buried his face in her neck and could still smell the lavender he loved so much. “I will always love you Gwen Keridwen. Now shall we get this over with?”