MAGIC IS BORN
Lady Grace drummed her fingers on the window sill, knowing she must be patient. Her ever-present aura shimmered around her body creating a soothing light as she paced in her small library in Graceheart Castle. She wanted to see it for herself – she had to see it for herself – to witness the stellar Nebunova, a rare star formation that would be one of the most important events in her life. The ancestors believed that a Nebunova is either an omen of danger and death, or one of prosperity and peace, but the Lady wondered which.
Thunder boomed far overhead, echoing across the valley. The violent storm lingered, raging on into the evening. Deep in thought, Lady Grace hoped that she had deciphered the ancient codes of prophecy correctly, and that the rare Nebunova would occur that very evening.
As midnight drew near, she glanced out the library’s rain-streaked window toward the heavens. The storm was clearing, the dark clouds parting. Lady Grace, current Keeper of the Records, worried if the sky would be clear in time to see the Nebunova. She knew from the prophecy that a star explosion signals a critical shift of who wields the power of the crystals, and that a new Keeper will arise. The last star event happened over two hundred years ago, at the time of her own birth, would she recognize a Nebunova if she saw it?
A reflection from the candle lamp caught the lady’s eye. She stopped in front of the heavy wooden mantel and slid her fingertips along a silver wand resting on a red velvet-covered stand. At the mere touch of her fingertip, the crystal ball on the end illuminated, filling the room with a bright white light. She watched it glow for several seconds. As she withdrew her hand, the crystal ball faded back to its dormant state.
Lady Grace turned to an iron bookstand in the corner. The tall stand held a large, elaborately decorated book, embossed with golden letters that read Sacred Order of the Crystals. As she picked up the ancient book, the smell of dry dust filled the air. She ran her hand over the worn cover and frayed edges. Opening the pages at the satin marker, she read the definition of the Nebunova aloud, looking once more for any clues she may have missed:
‘Nebunova – A celestial event that occurs once
every two hundred years during the time of the summer
solstice. When a juvenile white star explodes, it signals
the commencement of a great shift and the beginning of
the transference of crystal powers to a new Keeper of the
Records. This new Keeper will arise to seize control of
the sacred crystals and rule all the lands of Pangola.’
A lightning bolt cracked in the distance, startling her cat, Charma and dog, Ruffins from their naps in front of the stone fireplace. Her pets were her constant companions, by her side wherever she traveled. Both stared wide eyed at their mistress.
“My reign as Keeper is slowly coming to an end, dear ones,” she said, with reassuring pats on their heads. “Someday, I must train a new Keeper of the Records to take my place here in the castle.”
She herself had been born, as the ancient prophecy had predicted – ‘an Auraling born of no color in Reign II, Year 200 in the Reign of Hathor’.
Fifteen years later, after extensive training by her mentor Hathor, Lady Grace became the new Keeper, and an entry was written in the sacred book – ‘The end of Halthor’s Reign II and the beginning of Reign III, Year 0 – the Reign of Grace’.
Soon it would be time for her to pass on her responsibilities, her knowledge of magical properties, and the sacred crystal powers, to a new Keeper of the Records. Would the new Keeper be born that night? Would she document the birth in the ancient book as prosperity and peace? Or does this exact Nebunova signal danger and death yet to come?
Lady Grace carefully turned the fragile page of the Sacred Order of the Crystals and read another familiar coded passage: ‘… Time will tell the stars, Nebunova in the night’s sky…’
The Lady turned toward her library window, her satin gown swirling around her. Swinging open the lead-glass window, she searched intently at the clearing sky. Joy filled her heart as she saw a brilliant light exploding high in the heavens. She stared in amazement as she stared at the exploding star as it became encased by swirling white mist.
“It’s a Nebunova! It has to be!” she said excitedly. “Just as our Auraling ancestors predicted!”
As her excitement grew, her aura brightened even more around her body, flooding the entire library with a brilliant light. She continued to stare at the strange star formation with its eerie, misty glow. Charma and Ruffins, sensing her elation, jumped to their feet and danced around the Lady.
“This is our sign!” the Lady said to her pets. “The one we’ve been waiting for!”
* * *
A small two-seated carriage halted beside a white picket fence along Main Street in the small village of Many Springs. Knowing his horse would stand patiently in place until his master’s return, the doctor stepped down off the sideboards and waddled along the sidewalk. He pushed through a low yard gate to the imposing front door of the mayor’s home. A loud lightning bolt cracked overhead as the doctor rapped on the iron door knocker. He shivered and tilted his head for the rain to run off his hat brim.
A short, plumb woman with grey hair piled in a bun, nodded as she opened the door, escorting the doctor inside. “The Missus is close to her time, Sir,” she curtsied anxiously. Taking his wet coat and hat, she hung them on the rack near the door. “This way, please. Hurry!”
She ushered the doctor down a narrow hallway and into the master bedroom. The room was heated by large crystal pillars stacked inside a large, arched brick fireplace. Standing beside the bed was the mayor, a tall, broad-shouldered man, hands stuffed in his pockets. His wife, Olivia, tossed and turned on top of the covers. The short, plump woman hurried to her side, dipped the end of a soft rag into a basin of water, and dabbed the perspiration from her forehead.
The doctor placed his brown leather bag on the top the dresser, and upon opening it, pulled out various medical instruments. Without a word, he bent over the foot of the bed to examine the progress of the laboring woman.
“Time to push, Olivia!” he said encouragingly. “Push – now!”
Mayor Charles turned pale, spun on his heels, and quickly walked out of the room. “I’m too old to become a father!” Charles grumbled to himself.
Entering the living room, Charles pulled back the curtain and peered out the window toward the heavens. The storm was clearing and the dark clouds parting to reveal a few bright stars.
He opened the front door and stepped onto the porch, searching his vest pocket for his pipe. As he lit the tobacco, he heard the soft cry of a newborn. He cringed at the sound of a baby crying. Blowing out a long stream of smoke, he gazed absently at the stars. The ambient light of the evening cast a silvery shadow over the quiet village below.
Far above him, his eyes focused on a brilliant star. He stared in amazement as the exploding star became encased by swirling white mist. “Hmm,” he muttered to himself. “That’s something I’ve never seen before.”
As he gazed toward the heavens, he heard the floorboard squeak behind him. The doctor appeared next to him on the porch, carrying his large medical bag.
“Mayor,” nodded the doctor, putting on his hat.
“Doctor,” replied Charles, puffing on his pipe.
“You have a son,” said the doctor hesitantly. “Now, I hate to be the bearer of sad news, but he’s … well, he’s …”
“Speak up! What is it?”
“Well, I’ve been delivering babies for over forty years now, and I’ve never seen an Auraling born without an aura!”
Stunned, Charles slowly withdrew his pipe and looked curiously at the doctor. “What are you saying?”
Straining to keep his voice low, the doctor leaned toward Charles. “The boy is very odd – very odd indeed! With no aura – no color to signify his natural-born talents – there’s no way of knowing what apprenticeship he’ll go into,” the doctor lowered his voice even more. “Without an aura, I’m afraid your tiny baby is a misfit. Besides, he may not even live through the night so I suggest you name son – immediately!”
Speechless, Charles returned his gaze to the unusual star explosion that had caught his eye earlier. He turned and scanned the heavens, searching until he spied the familiar North Star.
“North,” Charles blurted. “Northman.”
“Yes …,” the doctor said curiously.
“Well, Norman means ‘man from the north’. So, that’s what we’ll name him – Norman.”
The doctor shook his head. “I’ll be back in the morning to see if he’s still alive.” He turned and made his way to his carriage. “I am so sorry … this is terrible,” he mumbled over this shoulder as he waddled down the sidewalk.
Charles watched until the doctor’s carriage disappeared along Main Street, turned and walked into his home. He tiptoed quietly through the door of the master bedroom. The short, plump lady had wrapped the newborn in a blanket and placed him in the small crib near the fireplace.
“Oh, Charles,” cried his wife, Olivia, “how absolutely disgusting! We have a baby born without an aura! Now what do I tell the ladies in the Tea Party Society?”