Katie was seven years old and had been challenged by Sikal six months ago. Raised by two magic practicing mortals, Katie grew up with both knowledge of magic and skill in it. I asked Katie about how Sikal had tested her and at first she clamed up. Drew whispered something into her ear that brought a smile to her face. Grabbing my hand and pulling me along behind her, Katie led me to a park bench.
“My parents helped me defeat Sikal. They always told me that sometimes you need help to do things. When he came, he made me think that I had gotten lost by making everything look different. I couldn’t find my way home and I got real upset. My mommy and daddy showed up, but it wasn’t really them. It was an illusion.” She told me, starting her story in a mad dash and stumbling over a few words.
“What happened next?” Drew asked leaning down beside Katie.
“He set them on fire. My fake parents, I mean. I started screaming, ‘Momma!’ and “Daddy!’ as loud as I could. My parents are real smart though. They had used one of them location spells and found me. They used their magics to fight that bully demonlord. But that’s against the rules. I never got my soul taken away ‘cause I didn’t use my magic, but mommy and daddy both lost their souls cause of it.”
Water was streaming down Katie’s face and I felt tears forming in my own eyes. Drew signaled to me that he would be right back and he led Katie off. When he came back he handed me a tissue and sat down.
“Do you see now?” He asked. “Do you see why it’s so important that you defeat him? Sikal has done so much bad in this world and you’ve gotten the chance to set it right or at least avenge the wrong he’s done. Can you do it?”
“I can more than do it.” I told me, wiping my eyes on my sleeve and standing up. “I’m not scared anymore and I don’t pity myself either. Now I’m just mad. That little girl passed her challenge; she shouldn’t have been left an orphan because of it.”
Sitting back down quickly, I turned to Drew. “Who takes care of her? She’s not in foster care, is she?”
“Sort of.” He admitted, kicking the ground. “She stays with me. Right now, I’m her legal guardian.”
“I never knew.” I told him, reaching out to hold his hand.
“It’s no big deal.” He told me, standing up and stretching. As a grin spreads across his face, he instructs me, “Time to get back to work.”
The next two weeks were spent with more mental tests and physical strains than I’d known in my entire life, but I kept telling myself that it was going to be worth it. I was going to defeat Sikal for everyone out there who hadn’t been able to because of his tricks and for everyone else who had but still ended up shorthanded, like Katie. I ran, jogged, swam, climbed, did crunches, push-ups, and took on every exercise that Drew threw my way. There was no way I could have known it then, but I wasn’t the only person training for the battle with Sikal.
Anthromagic by Crystal and Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.