Fairy Tales of Cliffside: Volume Two
By Corey Daggett
Chapter 2: Magic Lesson
April led him out into the woods. It seemed like they walked miles and Malcolm had no idea where they ended up. “This seems like a good spot.” April said when she was satisfied. There didn’t seem to be anything special about the place, except that the trees had thinned out. April plopped down to sit cross-legged on the pine needle floor. “Sit down.”
Malcolm did as he was told. He crossed his legs, sitting opposite her.
“First, I should tell you a little about our culture.” April began. “If you go back thousands of years, fairies didn’t have all the magical abilities we have now. Our small villages were led by the Grand Clerics and they were the most powerful wielders of magic. Now we know that there wasn’t anything special about the Grand Clerics, except that they unlocked their magical abilities.”
“So they used their magic to rule over the fairies?” Malcolm asked.
“No. Most Grand Clerics saw their powers as a gift and worked to help the people. Most were benevolent. However, there were some who were evil. They caused many wars between villages. Because of this, a class of warriors came about. Their only job in life was to protect their village from all things that threatened them, both other fairies and animals.”
“Animals? Like what?”
“Oops. I forgot to mention something important.” She raised her index finger like a teacher might. “It wasn’t until much later that fairies learned to change size. We were always small, just like when we go into our homes at night. So you can imagine that living in the forest as tiny creatures, we had many enemies. Locusts, birds, snakes, and especially rats! That’s why the fairies needed skilled warriors. Though they weren’t as big and strong as our enemies, fairy warriors were legendary in sword skills and were faster than their enemies. We’ve all grown up hearing the legends about them. But the most important fairy warrior is Bealabre.”
Malcolm cocked an eyebrow. “Say that again.”
April chuckled. “Bealabre. It’s a name from our native language. She was a powerful warrior. It was in battle that she discovered her magical abilities. In time, she became the most powerful fairy that’s ever existed, so the legend says. And it was in the most painful moment of her life that she discovered her magic. You see, necessity is what manifests it. You can’t just want to create magic. It’s not something that if you concentrate hard enough, it’ll happen. Necessity pulls it out of you. That was the great discovery that Bealabre gave us. From then on, more and more fairies learned to use magic. And now, there aren’t any fairies of age who don’t know magic.”
Malcolm nodded. “That’s really incredible. So how does it work?”
“Well, we all have energy. You and I have energy because we eat food and our bodies turn that food into electricity. Magic is putting your energy to use.” April turned her palm up and held it out. Sparks of electricity jumped from her palm. Then, a sphere of electricity grew from it. It was as if a thousand bolts of lightning were meshed together in a ball. “You’ve seen this recently. It’s the easiest magic to create because you’re simply taking the energy inside yourself and pushing it outward. This is what you’ll learn first.”
“Wow.” Malcolm stared closely at the ball.
The energy then shrank back into her hand. “But it’s not easy to learn. Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
“Yes. Without a doubt.” Malcolm felt more excited than he’d ever felt in his life.
“That’s good. Without that hunger, you’ll never be able to do it.”
“So… how do we begin?”
“That’s tricky.” April stood up and stared off into the trees. “You see… you can’t learn it. We have to trick your body into using the energy. It’s your own survival instincts that will take over.”
Malcolm didn’t feel excited anymore. What she was saying sounded very unpleasant. “So…” He stood up and folded his arms. “What do we have to do?”
April charged a sphere of energy in her hand. “You have to fight me.”
“Have you and the other fairies gone through this?”
“Yes, we all have.” She looked from the sphere of energy to Malcolm, her eyes solemn. “You will experience pain like never before. Remember, the only way to escape is to shock me. Understood?”
Malcolm took his phone from his pocket and dropped it on the ground. He braced himself. “Okay. I think I’m ready.”
“No, you’re not.”
April turned quickly toward him and lunged her hand at him. Her energy sphere left it and went flying at Malcolm. It burst against his torso. Malcolm screamed as pain electrified his skin. He hugged himself tight, stumbled backwards, and fell to the ground. He stayed in a fetal position for a moment. April walked to stand over him. “Stop crying and fight back.” Her demeanor was completely different. She was no longer the gentle, loving fairy that Malcolm had come to know. This version of April was strong and forceful.
Malcolm struggled to sit up. He raised a hand toward April and thought about creating an energy sphere like hers. It was the only thing he could fathom to do, but nothing appeared. April raised her hand in retaliation, electrifying it, and slapped him across the face. White light took over his vision and he screamed as lightning singed his face. He fell over.
“Is that really all you can do? Just roll around and cry? I was hoping you’d show potential.” She charged another burst in her hand and threw it down on him. It snapped and sizzled against his skin, causing him to curl into an even tighter ball on the ground.
“No more!” he screamed. “Stop! No more!”
“Too late for that!” she screamed. “Fight back!”
Another blast hit him. Every muscle clenched. He cried out in pain. “STOP!”
“No. Just stop.” He coughed as he tried to talk. His body shook all over. “I’m just a writer. I don’t need magic. I give up.”
“No. I’m not letting you give up that easily.” She charged another ball. “Stand up and fight me.”
Malcolm breathed heavily. After a moment of trying to collect himself, he began laboring to stand up. When he got to his feet, his legs were shaking.
“Good. Now, if you don’t want to be electrocuted any more, you’re going to have to stop me.” She held her hand out at him.
He raised his hand at her and fought within himself to shoot energy. Still nothing. She let her power loose. It slammed against Malcolm and sent him tumbling. He came to a rest and heaved air in and out as he tried to regain himself.
“If I zap you too much like this, you’ll become numb and won’t feel it anymore.” she said, walking toward him. “But there are other types of magic which can be used as weapons.” Malcolm’s limp body began to levitate from the ground. “Such as gravitational magic.” She flicked her wrist, which sent Malcolm hurtling into a tree trunk. His body thudded against the tree like a rag doll. Then, she swung her hand again, throwing him at another tree. He yelped and fell to the ground.
His entire body cried in pain. He fought to crawl slowly toward April. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Why aren’t you fighting back?”
“I’m… trying.” he whispered.
“You’re not doing a very good job. Maybe I should show you another form of magic.” She stood over him, holding her hand out. “This is how you use light magic to do harm.” Bright rays of light shot from her hand. They hit his body, burning his skin like lasers. Malcolm screamed. His eyes squeezed shut, tears pouring from them. He couldn’t think. The pain was too great. He could only cry. She projected the beams for a few seconds, but they were the longest seconds of agony Malcolm had ever experienced. Smoke curled up from his clothes where he’d been singed.
“Fight back! I’m not stopping until you stop me!”
She threw more electricity at him. Malcolm cried out again. It crackled and sizzled on him. But he fought to stand up. His legs were weak and his vision blurry. Everything whirled around and he barely knew what was going on. April charged an energy sphere in each hand, holding them up like trophies. “Ready for more?” she asked.
“NOO!” Malcolm let out a guttural cry, lunging at her with all the strength he had left and slammed into her. The air in her lungs leapt out when he tackled her. Her energy dissipated. He pinned her against the ground and clamped his hands over her wrists, holding them hard against the dirt. “NO MORE!” he yelled at her face, heaving for air.
“If you want this to end, all you have to do is shock me.” she said. “Until then…” her fists opened and her palms faced him. Light shot from them, striking Malcolm’s face. He yelled out in pain, letting go of her and rolling off. April got up, staggering a bit. She placed her foot on his stomach. She charged more energy spheres and threw them down on him one after another. Over and over, he seized with each blast. “Come on already! Shock me!” She continued throwing electrical blasts down on him. He cried out as they arced through his body.
Malcolm gritted his teeth. He grabbed her ankle with both hands, gripping as tightly as he could. Every muscle was tense. He trembled as he strained. He wanted more than anything to shock her. He pictured himself sending electricity through her leg. He pictured her screaming in agony as he electrocuted her, just as she was doing to him. A primal anger boiled inside him. There was no reason left in his mind. The only thing he could think of at that moment was his own survival. Her energy continued raining down on him. He squeezed her ankle harder. He pushed in his mind. It was like trying to birth the electricity from his hands. He could feel his hands growing hotter. Then, amidst the constant barrage of lightning coming down on him, he felt it. Sparks of power in his hands.
April cried out. Malcolm continued pushing until more jolts escaped him. She screamed and the barrage stopped. April fell over, landing on her wings. Malcolm wouldn’t let go. He sent more jolts through her leg. “You did it!” she cried through pain. “You did it! We can stop now.” He rolled over and jumped on top of her. He clamped a hand around her wrist and pushed his forearm against her throat. More sparks of power shot through her wrist. “No… stop.” she gagged.
But Malcolm wasn’t in his right mind. His teeth gritted, he pushed more power down his arm and into her wrist. He pushed hard against her throat with his arm. She was gagging and writhing under his weight. Her eyes bulged out, pleading for him to stop. April struggled to raise her free hand and put it against the side of his face. As soon as she touched him, she sent electricity into the side of his head. Instantly, Malcolm lost consciousness. He collapsed on top of her. April heaved for air, coughing and wheezing.
She lay limp on the ground for several minutes beneath Malcolm, his head beside hers. She could smell smoke rising from his skin where he’d been singed. She reached around and touched the back of his head, stroking his hair with gentle fingers. “You did it.” she whispered in his ear. “You did it.”
With her hand still cupped to the back of his head, she projected healing magic into him. She struggled to free her other hand, which was pinned beneath him. Then, she wrapped that hand around his back so that she was hugging him. With it, she began projecting healing into his back. Though not as effective as the chest, it would still cover his whole torso. For several more minutes, she stayed in that way, healing him slowly due to her own lack of energy.
After a while, Malcolm began stirring. He awoke to find himself laying atop the battered fairy, caught in her embrace. “I’m sorry.” he whispered, barely able to speak at all. “I… don’t know what came over me.”
“It’s alright.” Her words tickled his ear, her voice still hoarse from choking. “It’s alright. You had to go to a dark place to find your magic.” April stopped to cough. “But you did it. You projected energy.”
“I did, didn’t I?” He could feel the healing power soaking over him. It was already bringing him back to normal health.
“Do you remember how it felt?”
“Yes.” He rolled over, leaving her arms to sprawl himself on the carpet of pine needles.
She turned her head to face him. “Can you show me? Just show me?” she asked.
Malcolm stretched his hand out and let it lay on the ground beside her. Just as before, he began mentally pushing the energy outward, imagining it traveling toward his hand. He could feel a tingle dancing inside his arm, trickling all the way down to his hand. Then, sparks snapped from his palm. A moment later, the sparks became an arc of electricity which bent from the palm of his hand and ended at the tip of his middle finger.
He turned his head and looked at his hand with awe. “Amazing.”
“I’m proud of you, Malcolm.”
“There’s no reason to be proud of me.” he replied. “I wanted to quit, remember? You’re the one that wouldn’t end it.”
“It doesn’t matter. Almost everyone wants it to stop not long after beginning. The teacher’s job is to continue no matter what.”
“And you and your sisters did this, too? That’s hard to imagine.”
April turned her head upward to stare at the leaves above them. “Yukina was trained by her mother. Then, Yukina trained Slipha and I. The three of us took part in training the twins. Yes, we’ve all been through this. It’s terrible, for both the teacher and the student. But once it’s over, you’re glad you did it.”
“Well… thank you. You’re a good teacher.” He sat up and she followed suit. Then, Malcolm scooted closer to her so that he could put his arms around her. She returned the gesture, hugging him back. They held one another, neither wanting to let go. “Thank you, April.” he whispered.
“You’re welcome, Malcolm.” Her voice was shaking and on the verge of collapse. “I’m glad you’re okay.” After lingering a bit longer, they parted. “My energy is drained and I need to be healed. Can you carry me home?”
She shrank down and Malcolm put his hand to the ground in front of her. “As long as you can guide me home.”
She lay down in the palm of his hand, curling up as if she were in a comfortable bed. He stood up, now feeling as strong as ever, and held the fairy close to his chest as he walked.
When Malcolm entered the bubble, the fairies who were scattered around the yard looked up. Yukina walked over to greet them.
“Welcome home, you two. How did it go?”
“April needs to be healed.”
Yukina reached out. Malcolm gently picked her up and placed her in Yukina’s waiting hand. She cupped her other hand over her and began emitting healing magic.
“So?” she asked. “Did you succeed?”
Malcolm stretched his hand out and began emitting arcs of electricity.
Yukina smiled with delight. “Very good. I’m proud of you.”
“You knew what I was getting into, didn’t you?”
“Of course. We’ve all gone through it.”
“You could have warned me.”
She smiled at him. “Would you have gone through with it had you known?”
Malcolm thought for a moment. “Maybe... maybe not. I don’t know.”
“Are you not stronger now because of it?”
“Then I’m glad you weren’t dissuaded from the training.”
Malcolm felt hands on his shoulders. Startled, he turned around to see Slipha.
“So you really did it?” she asked, seeming much too excited about the whole thing. “Let me see.”
Again, Malcolm held out his hand and showed off the sparks of energy.
“Wow! So humans can do it. I’m impressed.”
“I thought you guys knew that already.”
“Well... not really. In theory, yes. You might be the first human to produce magic.”
“Wait... the first? No one has ever done this before?”
Slipha shook her head. “I was skeptical, but you’ve proven me wrong.”
A slight grin crossed his face. “The first, huh?”
Yukina spoke into her cupped hands. “Are you ready, April?”
She tossed the fairy into the air where April popped back to full size. She floated down until her feet touched the grass. “Thank you, Yuki.” She turned to Malcolm, still wearing her eternally-chipper smile. “We can begin your next lesson tomorrow. Let’s eat and rest for now.”
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