This is the first and only part of Aden's story that I will be releasing here. The rest you will have to read on Lulu.com to be announced shortly. I only did the first section of the first chapter as a teaser. I think it is almost complete and ready to format into the Lulu submission guidelines, once Corebelote gets done with the chapter header pictures and the cover, we still have to talk about that. If you stumble upon this then feel free to watch me, I use my journal to keep everyone current.
It's going though a major rewrite after going over a number of writing books, bear with me please.
Copied and pasted from the updated file. Names of things and some grammar fixed.
Aden Welex hated recent history. He didn’t mind ancient history; he actually enjoyed studying that. But when it came to recent events that happened in his parents generation, he hated the sidelong looks that his classmates gave him. He was the son of Amelia Welex. She was a great sorceress who saved the fair kingdom of Spectra from the vile wizard king Thour. Because of this Aden had reflected fame. It would not have been so bad if she survived the experience. The better to keep the limelight off her twins. However, her body disintegrated to create the powerful spell.
The teachers fawned over him and his sister Adora as they grew up. Like everyone else, they expected great things of them. Aden happily disappointed them. He often did just well enough to pass to the next grade. Adora, on the other hand, lived for the fame and applied herself fully to each task set before her. She had her own circle of friends surrounding her in the next row from where Aden sat in the far corner of the room. Each one looked up from their own datapads with keyboards attached to glance hopefully at hers before returning to the task set before them.
Aden leaned back in his chair. He picked up his exam paper in his right hand. Then he looked at the spiral notebook on his desk to examine his answers. He crossed a few T’s and dotted a couple I’s as he went. Aden wanted to do well for this test, this was one of those pass or fail exams. It was the one just before winter break, so he double checked every part of it. Once satisfied, he placed the recent events exam paper face down, pulled his wire frame glasses down to the end of his nose and let his gray gaze sweep the classroom.
Brown, blond, black, and red heads bent over datapads. Some wore colorful headbands, others did not. Twenty-five children, ranging from ages five to eighteen, filled in their answers. They wore rather colorful, long, wide-sleeved tunics. A few of them wore belts. Everyone wore pants that had large flaring legs over their boots.
Aden, on the other hand, favored his pants tucked into his simple cuffed boots and his sleeves were much thinner than the others as well. They hugged his slender, strong body, yet left plenty of room for movement. This was because he was a unicorn rancher and loose clothes are a good target for sharp teeth.
His gaze settled on his twin sister’s datapad in the next row of students. Just under two years ago he was using one until it exploded violently in his face without warning. Fortunately, he was alone in the room besides his teacher. He had detention for disagreeing with her about unicorns. The common unicorn could not play a musical instrument with their horn. Only the pegacorn, or winged ones, can do that. Being a unicorn rancher Aden knew more about them than anyone else in the school, next to his sister of course.
McCool immediately rushed up to him after his datapad exploded and used her magic talent of healing on him. Since that day, his 14th birthday nothing electrical ever worked right for Aden. Things would either explode if it was advanced like a datapad or would merely stop working like the watch on his wrist. Aden really liked this watch, it was his father’s, passed down for three generations. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. But it always told the right time when it did work, for it was a sync watch. He looked at it and watched as the second hand stopped. Whenever he focused on it the watch stopped dead. Twenty more minutes before the bell.
His neck abruptly crawled like carpenter ants had magically appeared and started measuring his neck with their miniature tools so he looked up at the teacher’s desk to see Mrs. McCool staring at him through the forest of students. Each one was still quite busy finishing their exams.
Aden arched his eyebrows. She tapped her desk then her own watch. Aden replied with a helpless shrug, gesturing to his face down paper. He had already finished the exam. Mrs. McCool gave him a stern, disbelieving look. With a sigh, Aden took his pencil in his left hand and bent over it once more.
At once he realized that the first answer could stand some improvement. “Explain in your own words how the final battle of King Earlcein created an uneasy truce between Spectra and Thoria.”
Aden wrote about how his mother sacrificed herself thirteen years ago in order to defeat the wicked Thour by placing a powerful allergy spell around Spectra to keep him out for an unknown amount of time. Any Thorian, including Thour himself, would start sneezing the second they stepped foot in Spectra. An effective way to keep him and his armies at bay. Earlcein vanished a week later, leaving his young son, Prince Forcein, and the royal council in charge of Spectra.
Hmm, he thought, instead of saying ‘my mother’ I should say Amelia Quinton. That sounds less like Adora and more like myself.
Aden erased the offending words and wrote in his mother’s name. Despite being a left hander, his writing was neat and legible, his years of practice showed with each graceful letter. The rest of his answers were correct.
Looking at his watch, he realized that his correction only took a minute. A glance at the wall clock confirmed it. He wondered how to entertain himself for the next ten minutes. Mrs. McCool wouldn’t be annoyed if he lifted his head nine minutes to the bell.
Sometimes he cursed his technology allergy, for this was the only thing the doctor over in Shellyville, could call it. He could have been playing a game of solitaire like his sister was doing. Adora was also chatting with her friend. Aden could almost make out the words through his flaxen blond bangs. Her screen flickered for no apparent reason and he dropped his gaze with a sigh.
Even if he simply looked at a datapad it would act up. Aden just couldn’t understand it. He never heard of anyone suddenly becoming allergic to something the second they turned fourteen. Will, his poppa, had told him that he was born at 3:05 pm, the precise moment that his datapad exploded. For the next week he could not even be in the same room as a datapad that was turned on. He fried not only his own but his sister’s too. Luckily she had backed it up last week on a disk so it wasn’t a total loss.
Aden wrenched his mind away from such depressing thoughts as he twiddled his pencil in his left hand. Instead, he dwelled upon last night’s snowfall. The twin suns, one young and yellow, the other old and blue, shone though the window beside him on his right. Their light was fractured by the icy layer clinging to the glass. He decided that he would hit his sister Adora with a snowball on their walk out to the unicorn stables then take his time riding Sammy, his purple unicorn stallion, home. Imagining her shrieking his name brought a smile to his face. Maybe he would wait until they were mounted. She might be expecting him to try before then. Sammy has the Magic Talent of running on air so she couldn’t touch him as he made his getaway.
The bell rang. Aden scooped up his stuff and slid out from behind his desk. Visions of teasing his sister danced in his head as he walked directly to the front of the class. Normally he would have went by the windows to avoid the other students. Instead, he had taken the easy way to the front.
Aden never noticed the sly foot whipping out to trip him. He hit the foot and went flying. His notebook flew out of his hands as he used them to catch himself. The sound of it skittering across the hard wood floor competed with the sound of the chairs scraping back. Aden lifted himself up just in time to see it get trampled under the stampede of students rushing for the door.
“Have a nice trip, drip?” A cruel voice taunted softly.
It was Jimmy Jackelson, the owner of the sly foot. Jimmy had his long straw-colored hair tied back away from his face with a feathered band in what he obviously thought was a cool hairdo. Unlike Aden, who earned his muscles the hard way, he had a gym sculpted body under his loose fitting tunic, and knew how to use it. His daddy was the mayor of Potlight so Aden knew better than to allow Jimmy to provoke him.
Aden’s heart pounded as he imagined using his magic talent to send him elsewhere. Let Jimmy, who was afraid of water, appear on the island in the middle the Welex lake. He could do that with little effort. It would serve the cruel boy right to be running about like a quackduck with it’s head cut off. A quackduck resembled a chicken and duck crossbreed. They ducked their heads as they bu-quacked, hence the name. The seconds stretched on and a sneer slowly curled Jimmy’s lip. He knew what Aden wanted to do.
With great difficulty Aden suppressed that urge. Aden had to muck out the Jackelson stables for a week the last time he succumbed, listening to the cruel boy taunt him every single minute he was there. Besides, Mrs. McCool would know at once what happened. Aden’s talent required something of equal mass to transport something. So a tree would appear in Jimmy’s place.
Keeping his mouth shut, Aden picked up his now battered notebook as he stood. He had just bought it this morning at the school store. Without looking at Mrs. McCool he placed it on her desk and left the classroom.
His sister Adora was waiting for him in the hallway. “That was a mean trick to do.” She said softly.
Aden merely snorted, his playful mood gone as fast as it came.
Adora lightly squeezed his arm as she tugged him through the halls towards their lockers. “Cheer up, Aden, it’s winter break now.”
He shrugged as if he didn’t care.
“What did you think of question one? I got a kick out it, Ashley sent me a message –”
Aden stopped suddenly. Adora gasped and clasped her hands over her mouth. Like an electric current, communication passed between them.
“I – I’m sorry – I didn –”
“Didn’t think.” Aden finished softly in his baritone voice. “That, is the most obvious sentence you said all day.”
He would have said more but he saw the tears welling in her hazel eyes. Casting about, he saw the boys wash room and ducked inside. Aden opened the first graffitied privy stall and locked it behind him. He ran his calloused hands though his short flaxen blond hair and gripped it in his fingers. Aden knew he shouldn’t take his frustrations out on his sister; she understood him like no one else could, being his twin.
Unlike his peers, Aden had short hair that barely allowed his fingers to grip the hair. Until quite recently he had it halfway down his back. However, he finally got fed up of Jimmy and his cronies always yanking on it with either their hands or talents. Just yesterday Aden told his dad to chop it all off. Will immediately sat his son down and cut off his long locks then burned them. It was times like this that he desperately wished he reconsidered his drastic choice.
Eyes unfocused, it took him a moment to recognize his own name before him. “Aden Welex is gay, to get laid call –” followed by his number.
The absurdity of it made him laugh out loud. His mobicom was the second casualty of his allergy. His dad took care of it for him, giving him his messages, evidently Will never mentioned any of the teasing calls if anyone called about the ad. Still chuckling, he pulled his bag of holding out of his pocket. After fishing around for a moment he tugged his magic marker remover sponge out. One swipe was all it took to clean the offending message. The one clean spot looked so strange there surrounded by the multicolored words and crude sketches that he started cleaning the rest of the stall.
Twenty minutes later the entire privy was graffiti clean. Nothing made him feel better than cleaning, although you could never tell it by looking at the disaster area he called his room. He left it that way to annoy his stick-in-the-mud Dad. Will Welex was constantly harping at him to keep it clean.
Aden sighed and left the privy. Adora had left by now, as he knew she would. One of her friends probably talked her into riding home with her.
Minutes later, wearing his heavy azure snow suit, Aden walked across the lawn to the stables. Hardly anyone was still at the school. Only teachers and the occasional student walked the melted walkways. Allen Wiess, leader of the band he played in, and his best friend, waved at him from astride his bronze unicorn. Aden returned the wave as he reached the barn.
A loud welcoming whinny sounded as he entered.
“Yes, Sammy we are going home,” said Aden, breathing deeply of the familiar smells of the barn.
“Finally,” said a purple unicorn, in a neighing voice, tossing his head. Sammy was a tall stallion, nineteen hands or seventy-six inches, tall at the withers, with his two inch shoes. He had a lavender mane and tail and greatly resembled a horse but for the strange colors and the three foot horn in the center of his forehead that spiraled down its length. His soft nose curled in distaste.
“The straw here is getting scratchy. You need to muck my stall out too.”
Everyone took care of their own unicorn stall or enlisted other students. The students with little money often made their lunch money here in the stables. Aden felt there was no need to pay someone for a job that he was perfectly capable of doing himself.
Aden raised his shoulders and let them fall as he opened the door to let out his unicorn friend.
“Very.” Aden replied, removing his suit and hat and hanging them on the hook beside the door. “Get the next bale for me, would you?”
He grabbed the shovel off the wall and started on his smelly task.
By the time Sammy figured out how to get the bale of straw from the loft, Aden was almost ready for it. He dumped the last of the soiled straw into the wheel barrel that he fetched earlier as the unicorn trotted up with it on his broad back.
“What took you so long this time?” Aden asked while he opened the door wider and pushed the doorstop further back with his foot.
“It was the last one, I couldn’t just bump it on my back like before,” replied Sammy.
“Oh,” said Aden, taking the bale of straw. He noticed the horn holes poked through it at once. “How did you manage it?”
“Saw horses,” Sammy puffed out his chest. “They have a whole stack of them and I placed it on top then I bumped it with my hindquarters. Fell on my back pretty as you please.”
An aspect of his magic talent allowed him to keep things on his back if he wanted. Because of this, once he got it there, the straw bale stayed, no matter how awkward it looked.
“Good.” Aden said, scattering it in the stall, leaving a large lump in one corner as a bed. “Let’s get out of here for a couple weeks.”
Aden lifted the padded saddle off the sawhorse and set it on his broad back.
“Saddle.” Sammy swished his tail in annoyance. Neither of them needed it.
“I know,” Aden said soothingly. His fingers nimbly threaded the buckle. “It’s mandatory for school.”
He gave Sammy a solid knee in his stomach as he held his breath to keep the buckle loose. “You know I know your tricks, boy.”
“Bah.” Sammy flattened his ears as Aden slid the bitless bridle over his head. Aden did not believe in obstructing a unicorn’s mouth unless it was being broken, then he needed the extra control. “I don’t see why you don’t just use your talent to get here and back instead of dragging me along.”
“For one,” Aden said, vaulting to his back. He had no need for the stirrups so ignored them. “My talent causes dizziness when I use it on a person; it leaves me open to pranks. And two, I enjoy your company.”
“Well, there’s that,” snorted Sammy, walking outside the barn.
The winter air slapped against Aden’s cheeks, bitterly cold after the nice warm barn. He tugged his scarf higher to cover them and hunkered down in the saddle.
“And you have to know where things are, I suppose.” The unicorn added thoughtfully.
Aden was too cold to say anything so he just urged his friend into a trot.
“Am I really good company?” asked the unicorn a few minutes later as they trotted through the snowy countryside.
Aden dropped his gaze from the pale purple sky to the much darker purple ears before him. Sammy’s body heat had warmed him except for his nose but he could ignore that.
“Any unicorn is good company to a unicorn rancher,” said Aden with a smile under his scarf, “but you are excellent company because you talk to me.”
Sammy’s gate became merrier.
“Not every ‘corn is smart enough to speak Xadian.” Aden added.
Now Sammy practically danced across the snow. Aden kept his seat without effort, moving with each of his mount’s motions. It took more than dancing to throw Aden. In fact, Sammy was the only one who could throw him but that was because of his magic talent of running on air. It was quite hard to cling to a unicorn’s back who was running upside down.
“Let’s gallop!” Sammy shouted suddenly, climbing into the air as if there was a hill that only he could see.
Sammy waited until Aden leaned forward before breaking into full flight. The cold winter air stung Aden’s cheeks worse than ever but he did not shift his grip to hide his face. Instead he angled his head to watch the trees fly beneath the purple steel-shod, almost heart shaped, hooves.
A huge flash of green in the sea of brown and white made Aden blink and pull his friend up short.
“Wait a minute, Sammy,” he said to the snorting unicorn. Sammy was just warming up. “I saw something.” They trotted back the way they came and gazed upon a strange sight.
A gigantic tree jutted from the snow as if it just appeared there, bright green leaves reaching for the sky. Huge blade like roots, almost as tall as Aden, carved their way through the snow and down out of sight. Large softball sized figs nestled within the green leaves, highly visible because of their vivid colors. Red, blue, white, brown, green, and every color in between, of various shades and hues. Without being told, Sammy trotted down for a closer look.
“What is it, Aden?” Sammy asked as they stepped under the branches.
“I don’t know, it wasn’t here yesterday.”
Aden pulled a book from his bag of holding. Trees of Xade and Their Danger. Sammy sniffed a spade shaped leaf as Aden flipped the pages.
“Multicolored fruit, spade leaves, dead of winter . . . ah here it is. This Sammy, is a winter fig tree. It’s only danger is teleporting you to a new place at sundown. The fruit is very delicious and incredibly rare, but the red one is poison.”
Sammy, who was reaching for a red one pulled back sharply. Aden patted his neck, lightly tugging the reins in the same hand, quietly asking him to wait.
“If planted by the light of a full Lepre, the smiling moon, then the red one will become a new winter fig that stays in one place, known as a summer fig.”
Aden looked up, his eyes dancing. “Imagine the recipes I could make with real winter figs. They’ll come from miles around. I could get a big city doctor to look at me and tell me why I can’t be around technology!”
“Anything else, Aden?” Sammy asked, impatiently bouncing his back feet for attention. Aden was prone to rambling off topic unless reminded to stick to the first one.
“Sorry,” Aden looked down again as a wind whistled through Sammy’s mane, making him shudder beneath him. He clutched the page so it would not flap before continuing, “Just one more thing here then it goes on to Winter Grapefruit . . . Never eat them while you are picking them, for you will become part of the tree yourself until someone new pulls you free.”
“Ah twiddle hooves.” Sammy kicked the ground, disappointment making him sag.
“Don’t worry buddy, I’ll pick enough for you too.” Aden said, cheerfully closing the book with a snap. He slid the book in his bag and pulled out another two bags of holding, these had long drawstrings on them. He carefully labeled them, “Red Winter Figs, Other Winter Figs,” with a marker and set to work filling them.
An hour later Sammy was outside the branches digging for grass under the snow to graze on and Aden was climbing through the branches, still bagging the rare and tasty fruit. Being such huge tree, Aden could scamper through the branches like the rafters of a barn. There was never a wobble in his step as he walked the branches. Aden used to walk the long twisted fence surrounding the meadow and paddocks as a young boy. He had stopped doing it only because Allen gently teased him about it being childish last month.
“Are you about done, Aden?” Sammy asked, looking up at the branches. “I’m getting hungry.”
“Almost, just a few more red ones, they’re hard to find.” Aden called down, reaching for one. “I want to make sure I have enough to learn how to grow them.” He grabbed it and pulled but the fruit wouldn’t let go of the tree.
Surprised, Aden looked again to see that it wasn’t hanging from the branches at all, rather, it was being held by them. He followed the branch, noticing that it looked more like an arm than a branch. There was the elbow and that fold of the bark right there could be a shirt. His breath caught in his throat as he realized that it was a man.
“Aden?!” Sammy shouted.
Aden heard him galloping under the branches again from far away. The two bags of holding slipped unnoticed from his numb fingers.
“Aden!” The tree shook as Sammy reared to rest his upper body on the trunk.
The motion snapped Aden out of his disbelief as he gripped the branches for fear of falling. “I-I’m okay.”
He tore his eyes away from the sight before him and dropped his chin to watch his unicorn friend. Anything was better than looking at the man trapped in the tree. Sammy carefully maneuvered his head around, walking up the tree with his front legs as he shifted his back feet to walk on air. It was rather awkward for the beast, but soon his head drew level with Aden’s own. “Someone ate one while in the tree?” Sammy asked, appalled.
“Must have,” Aden replied softly.
After a moment of steeling himself, Aden took a deep breath and looked again. Upon closer inspection, Aden noticed a sword jutting from the figure’s chest. A very large book was also impaled upon the sword. All three of the figures were part of the tree, as if it had grown that way.
“Be careful, Aden!” Sammy exclaimed as Aden reached for the double handed hilt with his left hand. “We don’t know who he is.”
Aden dropped his hand and studied the figure with greater detail. Somehow, he thought he should know this wooden man – or should he say elf, judging from the pointed ears and high cheekbones. The clothes etched into the bark spoke of war. With a little imagination Aden could see chain mail and a helmet perched on the head, visor raised. His legs straddled a branch; his feet reaching back to try to pull himself free of the sword before the tree claimed his body. A single curl of hair ran down the elf’s broad chest.
His heart pounding in his ears, Aden pulled his wallet out and, with shaking hands, tugged a single dantoon from the rest of the bills. He held it up as Sammy tilted his head to look over his shoulder with one eye. Printed on the currency was the face of the same elf.
“King Earlcein!” Aden exclaimed, practically falling from his perch.
“Upon my horn, I think it is!” Sammy breathed. “Whoop!” He had quit moving his back feet for too long and started to sink. Sammy shifted his hindquarters again to maintain his place in the air.
“Then this sword must be Starburner, and the book, Alexand, the great book of spells!” Aden looked at them in wonder. He reached out and grabbed the hilt with his free hand.
The second he gripped the wooden hilt it became metal. Life spread from his touch, rippling across the sword’s surface like water. It spread to the book then to King Earlcein.
Before he could pull his hand away a woman’s anguished voice filled the air. “Oh Earl, I am so sorry! Please forgive me!”
A terrible image of a beautiful elf woman holding Earlcein’s lifeless body to her chest filled Aden’s vision so suddenly that he gasped.
“Hmm?” She said, raising her head. Her curly silver hair fell to her waist.
Now Aden noticed a silver haired man, his own, straight hair cropped short in a no-nonsense style, behind her. His hand rested mournfully upon her shoulder. Both wore colorful tunics that flowed to the floor.
“What?” said the woman, blinking blearily at him.
Aden snatched his hand back and the image faded. As his vision cleared he saw that Earlcein hung limply from the rune encrusted blade, the fruit falling from dead fingers.
Sammy jerked his head back in surprise, narrowing avoiding severing a branch with his horn. He spent several seconds trying to disentangle it before asking for help. “Umm, Aden, help?”
“Oh right!” Aden turned and unlooped his friend’s spiral horn.
The sword took this time to recover her composure. “I – I’m sorry sir. You freed us at a bad time, I’m afraid. I am Starburner, and this is Alexand. This poor soul on my blade is –”
“King Earlcein.” Aden finished dryly. “I know.” He waved the bill then put it away.
“That bill was minted in 3425!” Starburner exclaimed. “Just how long have we been frozen?”
Aden shrugged moodily as he looked at the impaled king. Instead of a gentle and kind face like every picture in Spectra, including the ones on his currency, the man before him looked pure evil. Thoughts of how benevolent history portrayed Earlcein conflicted with what he saw with his own two eyes.
“I thought he was kind.” Aden stated softly.
“He was, at one time,” said Starburner sadly. “Until the other king planted the seed of evil in him.”
Aden looked at the sword’s hilt in confusion.
“I had promised to kill him when he first took me into battle should that happen. I didn’t have a choice, Aden.”
“You know my name?” Aden asked coldly. How did she know when he never introduced himself?
“Since you touched me, yes.” Starburner replied. “I am the sword of wizards, you know.”
“Wizards?” Aden jumped as if scalded. “No!”
He climbed down from the tree so fast that his hands hurt. He hit the ground running, a deep rooted terror blotting out all rational thought as he plunged through the trees, not caring when his clothes tore, or even about the snow laden branches whipping him cruelly across his face, leaving him soaked. His only thought was to get away from the winter fig tree as fast as possible. Being a fit rancher, he had plenty of endurance. However, being human, he had his limits. Eventually he fell and could not rise again. Sheer exhaustion made him close his eyes for a minute then darkness claimed him.