Ivy Allan looked up then bit her lip. Melissa Foster’s blond hair had turned bright green. The only person who had noticed was David Hanes, the guy who sat behind Melissa. Ivy watched, worrying at her lower lip, as David’s eyes went wide and his mouth dropped. He turned in his seat. Ivy dropped her gaze to her desk and notes before David could meet her eyes. It was too late.
“Mr. Smith,” David called out.
Ivy knew everyone turned at the sound of David’s voice. For a moment there was blissful silence. Some students made the sounds of hiding laughter. Some of the girls gasped. One girl, Shelly Thomas, fainted. She sat beside Melissa and was Melissa’s best friend.
“Why are you all staring at me?” Melissa asked as she glanced around the room.
Ivy groaned and wished she was at home. Sometimes when she wished hard enough it would happen. It didn’t happen. It was her luck.
“Um, ah, well,” Rebecca John, Melissa’s other best friend, tried.
“Your hair looks like snot,” Brad Moore said with a laugh.
Ivy looked up through her lashes to see Melissa’s tense jaw loosen and eyebrows rise. Melissa reached up, grabbed the start of her pony tail and brought the tail over her shoulder so she could look at it. Ivy watched her eyes go even bigger. Her petal pinks lips popped open and she screamed. The wordless shout came complete with the waving hand motions, Melissa jumping from her seat and Melissa running out of the room in tears.
The room went quiet and Ivy looked back at her notes as everyone looked towards her. She hadn’t meant to turn Melissa’s hair green. It didn’t matter. The cheerleaders were going to hate her until she could either reverse the green hair of their captain or they could figure out how to make it blond again.
“Miss Allan,” Mr. Smith said.
Ivy felt her cheeks heat. She gathered her belongings and began shoving them into her bag. Ivy only looked up so she didn’t trip over anything on her way out the door and towards the Principal’s Office. She had learned the way quickly since the random spots of magic started happening when she turned 16.
It wasn’t her fault. She never meant the magic to happen when it did. She would be concentrating on school work or listening intently to the teacher then ping and something would explode or change color or become a different shape.
Yesterday she had accidently changed her English teacher, Mrs. Jones’ desk into a bed. The day before all the taps in the chemistry room began to spew lemonade instead of water. Her mom’s chili had exploded in the kitchen the night before that and Ivy had to help mom chase the chili around the kitchen trying to clean it.
Ivy reached the Principal’s Office and walked in. The receptionist looked up, rolled her eyes then went back to her work. Ivy sat in a chair against the wall and pouted. At this rate she was going to be expelled from school before the end of the term. The term had started in September, four months ago, and it was only December.
At least during the summer the magic hadn’t pinged so often. Then it had been her losing one too many pencils or finding something had moved when she hadn’t touched it. Now she was making objects become different colors or shapes or sizes or anything else.
The good part about the random magic bursts was everyone knew what it meant. Someway, somehow, Ivy was a Mage despite her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents being non-magical. Ivy wasn’t sure if her being a Mage was a gift or a curse. For now she was sticking with curse.
“Miss Allan, again?” Principal Gordon said.
Ivy looked up to see him standing in the threshold of his doorway. He was wearing a deep blue suit and as always his thinning brown hair was styled neatly on his head. His gray-green eyes were squinting at her as if he was trying to guess what she had accidently done before she told him. Ivy decided staring at the gray carpet was better.
“Well?” Principal Gordon asked.
“I accidently turned Melissa Foster’s hair green,” Ivy replied.
The receptionist tried to cut off a chuckle but Ivy heard it. Principal Gordon probably had too but he would talk to the receptionist after Ivy left.
“I know you don’t mean to do these things but I’ve had about enough mayhem in my school. Despite what your magic might believe: this isn’t a Mage School,” Principal Gordon said.
Ivy knew Woodland Public School wasn’t for Mages. Everyone here came from generations upon generations of non-Mages and most of the suburbs were full of non-Mages. There were full Mages who lived on the outskirts of town but their kids didn’t go to Woodland. They went to Gusia Public School for Mages which was half a mile out of town.
“I know you can’t help it since you turned 16 this summer and magic randomly happens until you’re trained but you’re causing too many problems. We haven’t even fixed the lemonade issue in the chemistry room yet.”
Ivy clenched her hands on her knees and blinked away tears. This was the reason Mages and non-Mages lived apart during their teen years. Mage children didn’t come into their magic until they were 16 and until they were shown how to control it their magic happened when it wanted. Mages and non-Mages still worked together, talked, and went to the same stores before 16 and during adulthood but teens were kept apart for good reason.
“No one expects to become a Mage when there aren’t any Mages in their family but I can’t keep having random magic going off in my school. I’m sorry Miss Allan, but I’m going to have to send you on your way.”
He was expelling her. Ivy didn’t look up at him but nodded. He kept talking but she wasn’t listening. She was being expelled. She hadn’t been the best student or the worse, average really, but she was being expelled. Ivy knew in a month she would have to start a new term at a Mage School but no one she knew could tell her how to get started.
There was no course on what to do if you discovered you were a Mage. Mages coming into their magic had at least one parent or grandparent who had powers. She had no one. She didn’t even know any Mages she could ask.
Ivy did know Mage Schools were boarding schools. There had to be tuition, books, and a maybe even a uniform. There would be supplies to buy, new teachers, and people she had never even met. First she had to find a school. No, first she had to go home and tell her parents she had been expelled.
“Miss Allan? I said you can go collect your belongings. Your mother said she would be along shortly to pick you up.”
Well, mom knew. Ivy nodded and stood. She didn’t look to Principal Gordon or the receptionist as she walked out of the office and towards her locker. It took her a few tries to get her locker open and she began shoving everything she could into her bag. She tugged on her winter jacket and made sure her locker was empty. What she couldn’t fit she carried to the front door. Ivy stood outside and sniffled.
At least Alisha had stopped talking to her after the first ping. They had been friends for ten years but they both knew at the first major ping the friendship would be over for a while. Plus, no non-Mage teen wanted to be seen hanging around the only Mage in the school. Everyone knew Ivy had to leave for magic school in January so no one bothered with her. Teachers didn’t mark her assignments or check her homework or call on her in class.
No one talked to her even when she called out to them and everyone rushed away from her when she got too close. People did whisper and point at her behind her back, normally discussing her latest magic ping. At least she had left them something good to talk about. She did feel bad for Melissa though. No one deserved green hair.
Ivy heard the sound of a car pulling into the driveway in front of the school. Sure enough, mom’s red sedan was coming to a stop beside her. Ivy opened the rear passenger door and slipped inside, head bowed, and trying to stop the tears.
“I’m sorry,” Ivy said.
Mom sighed but put the car into gear and began driving away. Ivy kept her eyes on the useless school books in her arms until the car was shut off. They were home all ready and Ivy pushed out of the car. Mom waited for her at the front and Ivy had to wipe a tear from her eye when Mom wrapped an arm over Ivy’s shoulder.
“It’s, well, we’ll figure it out,” Mom said.
Mom’s heels clacked along the path leading to the two-story bungalow Ivy called home. Her older brother Derrick was still in class at Woodland but would hear about Ivy being expelled come lunch. Sam and Joe, her younger twin brothers were still at Woodland Elementary in their final year. Carrie, her younger sister was going to be at Woodland Elementary for three more years.
Ivy hung up her coat alongside mom’s stylish black wool coat in the front closet and toed off her shoes. Ivy didn’t move from the carpet in front of the door inside the house and kept her head down. It gave her a good view of mom wiping her feet and walking away.
“Why don’t you go put that stuff down and meet me in the kitchen?” Mom questioned.
Ivy nodded and went upstairs. She dumped her school stuff onto the bed then wiped her eyes with the backs of her hands. Ivy let out a breath and fixed the red graphic tee so it covered her blue skinny jeans like it should. She was back downstairs and in the kitchen moments later.
Mom was at the stove, warming milk for hot chocolate. Mom’s thick, kinky, black hair was loose around her head styled in a long afro Ivy wished she could achieve. Mom’s ebony skin looked darker because of the white pants suit she was wearing. Her deep brown eyes were lined perfectly, long lashes emphasized with thick mascara, and her full lips were colored a flattering deep red.
Ivy had inherited mom’s eye shape but not her skill with make-up. She had also inherited mom’s hair texture but had her father’s brown hair and green eyes. Father being Caucasian had made Ivy’s skin a mix between Mom’s swarthy skin and dad’s pale tone. She had mom’s lips and nose, dad’s height and mom’s classically curvy frame.
“So,” Mom said.
She set a mug of hot chocolate in front of Ivy and settled into a chair beside her with another mug. Ivy didn’t touch her mug but let out a breath.
“How do we even find a Mage School?” Ivy asked.
Mom sighed and shook her head. They were almost level in height which was odd. Ivy towered over Mom by five inches even though mom was five foot two in heels. Mom wasn’t drinking her hot chocolate either but had both hands wrapped around the mug.
“I could ask around at work,” Mom said.
Mom was a lawyer in one of the biggest law firms in town. Blake and Associates dealt mainly with Non-Mages but had a few Mage clients. It would be a start.
“So, how much do you think this is going to cost?” Ivy questioned.
They weren’t poor but mom and dad had five kids to support. Derrick was getting ready to go to college, the twins were in another growth spurt and doing football, and Carrie was in dance. Ivy knew Magic Schools were private. It meant they cost a lot of money which for the Allan family had to be stretched across five kids.
“I don’t know but they can’t tell you not to attend because of money. It’s against the law not to accept a Mage into a Magic School,” Mom said.
Ivy nodded but she didn’t know what else to say or do. They drank their hot chocolate in silence and Ivy helped mom prepare dinner. Derrick was home first and said nothing when he entered the kitchen. Ivy had to look up to meet his eyes and saw he was frowning.
He had the Woodland school sweater over jeans on his tall, lanky frame, and his dreadlocks were covered with a baseball cap. Ivy blinked away tears when he wrapped her in a half hug.
“It’ll be okay, sis,” Derrick said.
Ivy nodded and went back to cutting the carrots. The twins and Carrie came running in half an hour later but Derrick directed them back to the living room. Ivy heard the hum of her brother’s voice as he told them the news. A few moments later, Carrie came running in and hugged Ivy from behind. Ivy had to bite her lip so she didn’t burst into tears.
Dad was last but he said nothing. He did give Ivy a quick kiss on the cheek as she set the table. They were sitting at the table a moment later but Ivy didn’t feel like eating. Everyone else did and she kept her eyes on her plate.
“Does this mean Ivy’s not going to be living here?” Carrie asked.
“Well, yes,” Dad said. “Magic Schools are like boarding schools and students are expected to stay on campus for the full term.”
Ivy rubbed her eyes to stop the tears from falling. It had been bad enough to have her friends stop talking to her. She would have to leave her family for however long school was in session. This couldn’t be helped or ignored. Ivy couldn’t keep accidently using her magic like she was.
“But she’ll be back, right?” Carrie questioned.
“Of course,” Mom answered. “Even Mages get school holidays.”
Ivy knew she would count down the hours until school holidays once she was in school. She ate only because she didn’t want the food to go to waste but was pushed out of the kitchen by Derrick when she tried to help clean up. Ivy went up to her room and Carrie followed. Ivy didn’t mind and they hung out in Ivy’s room, not speaking but just being there.
“I can’t believe you’re a Mage,” Carrie said after an hour.
“Me neither. Not even our great-great-great-grandparents were Mages,” Ivy said.
Carrie was fiddling with the hem of her shirt. She had gotten dad’s flat hair with mom’s hair color, mom’s brown eyes, and a pale complexion compared to Ivy, the Twins, and Derrick. Derrick was the darkest of them all with dad’s vibrant green eyes.
“Does this mean you won’t be doing normal non-Mage work?” Carrie questioned.
Ivy shook her head. She had no idea what kind of jobs Mages had. She didn’t even know how long she would be in Mage School or what the subjects would be. Ivy finally burst into tears and was glad Carrie was there to hold her. Ivy didn’t even care she should be comforting Carrie since Carrie was younger. This wasn’t fair.
It was weird to wake up the next morning, go through her regular routine then stop in the middle of walking out the door. She didn’t have school this morning. Ivy huffed and shut the door after Derrick walked out all the way. Her coat was hung back up, bag brought back upstairs, and she was settled on the couch with her laptop a moment later.
“Weird,” Sam remarked.
Ivy nodded but opened her internet browser. It was easy to type in “Mage Schools” but the amount of information that came up was staggering. Ivy bit her lip and clicked on a link for a list of Mage Schools. She said good-bye to the twins and Carrie when they left, then to mom when she went to work. Dad left a bit later for his accountant job and Ivy hardly noticed.
She was too engrossed in looking over the schedule for first year Mages at Wisoria School of Wizardry. This was the closest school to Woodland and Ivy was trying to avoid clicking on the “Tuition and Costs” link. She did a moment later then stared.
Ivy wanted to slam the lid of her laptop down and hide under her blankets to sob. This was worse than Derrick’s college tuition. One year was 1000 gold coins. One gold coin converted to $10 in Non-Mage money making the tuition for Wisoria $10,000. This didn’t include the supplies she would need which she had no idea where to even begin buying. Mom was right though. No Mage school could deny her entrance because of lack of funds.
Ivy searched the website for an application link but didn’t find one. She did find a phone number and dialed. The phone rang in her ear twice before being answered by a woman.
“Wisoria School of Wizardry, Fay speaking, how can I help you?”
“Um, hi, my name’s Ivy Allan and I um, I just became a Mage, how do I apply?” Ivy asked.
Fay let out a little chuckle. Ivy kept her eyes on her computer screen.
“Dear, your mother or father or both should have explained the process,” Fay said.
Ivy frowned. She took a breath and let it out slowly while ignoring the dampness of her eyes.
“No one in my family is a Mage,” Ivy said.
Fay gasped then started sputtering. Ivy didn’t understand a word.
“You’re from a Non-Mage family? Oh no wonder! Well, dear, you don’t apply,” Fay said.
Ivy was sure she had heard Fay wrong.
“You don’t apply,” Fay repeated. “When you came into your magic the Headmasters of the Mage Schools received a signal and have all ready discussed which school is best suited to you. In fact, you should be receiving your letter sometime this week.”
Ivy blinked. She had no idea what to say. Fay had obviously dealt with this situation before and remained quiet, waiting for Ivy to ask something.
“Um, okay. What if I don’t get a letter?” Ivy questioned.
“You’ll get one, don’t worry. But thank you for thinking of Wisoria School of Wizardry in your search for a new school. I don’t see your name on our new student’s list so I won’t be seeing you. Have a nice day.”
Fay hung up before Ivy could fully process the information. She didn’t apply to Mage School, Mage School picked her. She wasn’t in Wisoria School of Wizardry despite it being closest to home. She was going to get a letter to some other Mage School. Ivy groaned and leaned back on the couch.
She heard a clunk and sat upright. Ivy was at the front window and looked through to see the mailman walking away. She stared at the mailman for a few minutes and decided it would be too weird to have gotten her letter now. Ivy went for the mail anyway and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry once it was in her hands.
It was obvious the immense gold envelope was for her. The papers inside weren’t folded down like bills but were laying flat in the thick package and there was a massive seal on the front of the envelope.
“Avalora School of Magic,” Ivy read.
Underneath the beautiful, detailed crest was the school creed: Believe, Educate, Prosper. It was rather simple for a creed but Ivy didn’t mind simplicity. She placed the bills on the table in the kitchen then sat down with her envelope.
There was no return address and her name and address had been written elegantly above the school crest. Ivy stared at the crest for several long moments before finally turning the envelope over and peeling it open. It took a moment to pull out all the papers and Ivy stared at everything with her lips parted in awe.
There was a map of the school grounds, a class schedule, rule book, welcome pamphlet, tuition fees, supply list, Room Assignment in the Dorms, a book entitled “Information for Non-Mages,” and a welcome letter. Ivy decided it would be easier to start with the welcome letter and work her way into the mass of information from there.
Dear Ivy Allan,
Congratulations on your acceptance to Avalora School of Magic! We are happy to welcome you to the 2016 year and are looking forward to a productive partnership in your study of magic.
We recognize that in order to be successful in our school you will need the support of your peers so we have partnered you with Mages from successful families for your first year. Do not fear being a Non-Mage in our school as we have many Non-Mage students attending this year and have had thousands of Non-Mages graduate in years past.
We also recognize certain fees may be out of your reach but you and your parents will notice Avalora is dedicated to helping anyone in need and some fees have been waved to allow your prompt entrance.
We look forward to meeting you and to discovering which of the Six Paths of Magic you will excel in. Will you be a Helpful Healer? A Delightful Dark Mage? A Fiery Elemental? A Wonderful Warrior? A Caretaker of Creatures or a Gray Mage of all Trades? We look forward to finding out.
Rank 1 Dark Fire Mage with a knack for Critters and a Love of Levitation.
Ivy stared at the massive signature of Draqor Zolneus and blinked. She had no idea if the Headmaster of Avalora was male or female based on a name like Draqor. She was going to assume male and hoped she was right. Ivy looked at the multitude of papers on the kitchen table and decided to start with Room Assignment.
She had a feeling her Room Assignment paper was much more detailed than other first-years but wouldn’t dare compare. These five people would be her first chance of making friends and having someone to relate to in what looked like a huge new school.
Eden Raynhart: Descends Mage Parents and a family known for their Gray or Dark Mages. Raynhart is an old Mage name and many Raynharts have made it into the History of Mages. Miss Eden is joining us for her first term.
Bane Grimgold: Descends from a Mage Father and a family known for their Dark Mages. Grimgold is a known Mage name and many Grimgolds go on to be studious researchers or Grims. Mr. Bane is joining us for his first term.
Arvan Tempest: Descends from Mage Parents and a family known for their Dark Mages. Tempest is a well known Mage name and many Tempests go on to be in positions of power in the Mage community. Mr. Arvan is joining us for his first term.
Sig Furor: Descends from Mage Parents and a family known for their Warriors. Furor is a well known Mage name and many Furors become powerful guards of important secrets. Mr. Sig is joining us for his first term.
Dawn Smith (Riverwood): Descends from a Mage Mother and a family known for their Elemental Mages. Riverwood is a powerful name and many Riverwoods become instrumental in many veins of Mage Society. Miss Dawn is joining us for her first term.
You are on Floor One of the Dorms, Room 17. Please read over the Rules and be sure to know them by heart when you arrive. Disrespect is not tolerated.
She might find a friend in the two half Mage, half Non-Mages but the three Mages weren’t likely to give her a second glance. Ivy wondered what her introduction statement to her new roommates would be.
“Ivy Allan: Descends from Human Parents and a family known for breeding in large batches. Allan is a common name in the Human World and many go on to be common people. Miss Ivy is joining us for her first term but be gentle as she has no idea what’s going on. Also, ignore her tendency to refuse eating most meat products and ladies: she won’t hit on you just because you’re a girl and she likes girls, not boys. Urg.”
The rest of the information was daunting but Ivy couldn’t find the energy to go through it. She wanted to be excited about all ready being in a school but the tuition forms were scaring her. She hadn’t even glanced at those yet.
The “Information for Non-Mages” book was much thinner than she thought it had any right to be. Ivy made a neat pile of her papers and decided it was best to go over everything when her family came home. They could all be mind-blown at once.