I followed the man through the thicket until we finally reached the end of the path. Hidden within the trees were five very large buildings. All of the buildings were painted a bright white and ivy made its way up the sides. One building was larger than the others, maybe five stories high and a football field in length. The other four buildings were about the same size as each other. In the middle of all these buildings was a circular, cobblestone path and a large fountain. I didn’t realise until my feet touched the cobblestone that there was actually a large black gate and fence surrounding the property. How had I missed that?
Sam was ahead of me, using his powers to play in the water from the fountain. He strutted around the campus the confidence oozing off of him. Everyone knew that he was the student council president. They nodded to him. Some ran from him, The entire while, he had one hand in his jeans pocket and the other messing with the water.
“Welcome to Silverleaf Academy, Echo.” There were students walking around, talking, chatting, laughing. Did all of these people have abilities too? There were so many different age groups. I saw a group of three girls that seemed to me maybe eight or nine years old. Then there were other students who looked to be in their early twenties. I stared and tried to process this hidden school within the woods. I felt like I had been transported into a new world.
With water swirling around his hand and then back into the fountain, Sam hopped back over to me, his shorts jingling with whatever he had in his pockets.
“Not what you thought it would be, is it?”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Yo!” The voice was loud and unknown to me. Sam looked over to where the voice had come from. A student was standing on the other side of the courtyard yelling at him. “Who’s the new dude?”
“Someone you shouldn’t touch!” Same yelled back. I though this statement was strange, but pushed it to the back of my mind. It wasn’t like I had never met someone who was gay before. He spun back towards me. “Come,” he grinned, waiting for me to follow him before he started walking towards the biggest building of the three. “Your adventure has just begun.”
We wound our way through all of the students until we came to the doorstep of the biggest building. The doors were so large, it seemed you could fit ten people in its frame. With one hand, Sam opened the door, waiting until I had passed the threshold and entered before following me in.
Inside the building was just as immaculate as the lawns and outside was. There was a large staircase to the right of the door, it curved up into the second floor. The room itself was open, large pillars reaching high up to hold the third floor. You could see the walkways on the second floor because of the openings in the half walls. The floors were a cream tile and I was guessing this was the common area of the building.
Sam turned to the left and led me through the students mingling around. He talked and smiled to those he passed. We walked by open doors to classrooms where students were either working on assignments or listening to teachers. It almost seemed like a regular school until we passed a larger room and I caught a glimpse of some students playing with fire as if it was nothing more than air. Another student waved a hand at the two students and the fire abruptly went out, leaving only smoke. That smoke then began to take the shape of a large lion. It opened its maw and roared a soundless roar.
Transfixed, I didn’t even notice when Sam came up beside me and tapped me on my shoulder. I looked up at him, he still had on the grin.
“Almost there,” he said, leaving me to walk farther through the halls. We finally reached a closed door, without knocking, Sam walked through.
Seated in a computer chair, his feet propped up on the window seal and a mug of tea in his hand, a large man looked content with the sun shining on his face. He had semi long blond hair that reached his shoulders. He was wearing a light blue shirt and a pair of dark wash jeans. He didn’t even turn towards us when we entered. It looked like he had his eyes closed.
“Welcome, Echo.” I jumped and looked at Sam, he just rolled his eyes and strode toward the older man.
“Ignore this impolite croak,” Sam told me. He waved a finger at the other man and his tea came swirling out of the mug.
“At least I don’t go stealing other’s drinks.” Sam released the tea back into the mug with a slosh. The older man opened his eyes and I was taken aback by how green they were. He glanced at me and before I could even say anything, he said, “I am the guidance counselor here at Silverleaf. That is my job because I can read minds.” He tapped his head with one finger. That wasn’t very reassuring.
“It’s not meant to reassure you.” Well, I guess I wasn’t in Kansas any longer. “I will tell you about our school, and if you want to begin your life here. We welcome you. So go ahead and take a seat.” I sat down and just stared at the two men before me. I had thought all my life that I was the only one with any power and now to find out that there were others. I didn’t know what to do.
“My name is Eric Parker, and this dimwit is Samuel Wright. Silverleaf Academy is where people who have the potential to have a power or do have a power are sent.” I was excited, this place was truly filled with others like me.
“What are these powers?”
“Tama is a power that every human is born with.” Mr. Parker waves his hand around the room, finding the right words to tell me. “The power has many varieties, depending on each person’s descendents. Angel, demon, monster, and ghost to name a few.”
“Demons? Monsters? This is entirely, highly impossible.” I breathed.
“Only if you believe it is impossible. Impossible is a state of mind that you can overcome.” Mr. Parker informed me. My mind was a jumbled mess. Even I didn’t know what the counselor would pick out of my mind. I could barely get over the fact that we were all somehow, descendants of demons or mythological creatures.
“Sam, here,” Mr. Parker continued over my thoughts, waving a hand toward the young man beside him. Sam twiddles his fingers in a hello gesture, “is descended from the Leviathan and therefore controls all water. There is a twist to all types of decedents. If one’s power is weak, it won’t become a hindrance in one’s daily life. Most people go through their entire lives not even knowing they have any power. However, every once in awhile, people who are blessed with extraordinary strong Tama power appear. This place is a school that gathers those with strong powers.” Mr. Parker folded his hand beneath his chin and stared over the desk at me. “We have known about you for a long time.”
“That sounds- ”
“Creepy, right?” Sam said from where he was leaning against the open window.
“There is a Tama wielder who knows when and where others with Tama will appear. She told us of when you would appear, but you never showed up when you were expected three years ago.”
“I just found the letter a couple days ago.” I thought of the death of my adoptive parents and felt a pang in my heart. Mr. Parker shifted in his seat as he read my thoughts.
“I’m sorry for your loss. It shouldn’t have to come to that for you to find out about us.” Mr. Parker’s eyes were sincere when I looked into them. I smiled gravely.
“I’m sorry too.”
“Enough of those thoughts. Let me tell you everything about our school. If you want to stay here, you’re more than welcome.” I already knew my decision the moment I stepped foot into the school building. I wasn’t going to change my mind now, but I sat back and listened to Mr. Parker tell me about classes, the dorms and everything that happened at Silverleaf.
Sam lead me out of the office and to the courtyard, he told me to stay there while he went and did a task for Mr. Parker. I nodded, but when I looked up at the sky and found the sun hanging low in the air, I realized, I didn’t want to stand there where all these new faces could scrutinize me. I disregarded that Sam would be back and wandered into the forest.
The forest beside the school was almost quiet, the birds soft chirping the only sound echoing through the campus. My world seemed to have tilted completely on its axis and almost righted itself in a matter of days. I felt more alive and free than I ever remember feeling. The world felt alive.
Suddenly giddy, I made my way into the forest, grinning. I was happy, I realized, when was the last time I had actually been truly happy? I couldn’t remember. I felt my powers pull at my mind and I reached out towards a pinecone that sat along some fallen leaves. The pine cone lifted off the ground and shot towards my hand, grasping it, I closed my eyes and just breathed. When I opened my eyes, I noticed that there seemed to be a figure standing off in the distance. Wary, I crept closer, not wanting to make any noise.
The figure was a young man, with dark wash jeans, a light blue t-shirt and a black band wrapped around his right wrist. He stood there in the light dawn morning, the trees standing firmly all around him, the green and beauty enhancing his very being. I took a step and a branch cracked underneath my foot. Only his eyes and head moved to regard me gravely as I approached.
I froze, locked by the intensity of his stare. His eyes were cold, calculating and the most stark color of green I had ever seen. Those eyes followed me, focusing on me and it was like being watched through a cage by a complacent cat. As I stepped farther into the shadows of the trees, he still did not move. He blinked once, then slowly lifted one hand and crooked a beckoning finger. Spellbound, I found myself by his side. Then, suddenly, he wasn’t there anymore.
“What’s a little mouse doing in the big forest?” A voice crooned into my ear. I jumped forward, my hand over my ear and looked at the guy. “What are you staring at?” he whispered as if he was trying to scare me away. His voice sounded rough, as if he had not spoken for a long while. Dumbstruck, I just stared at him stupidly. His left eyebrow rose a fraction of an inch, showing his skepticism. His lithe body turned toward me, I could see the muscles bunch underneath his jeans. The look in his eyes was voracious, the green glinted in the dimming light.
“Mouse? I’m not a mouse.” He tilted his head, watching me as if I was his prey. I suddenly got the feeling that maybe I was on the receiving end of the gaze of a carnivore. He took another step towards me.
“To the predators, you will always be seen as a mouse. You should go back before another one finds you.” I gasped in a small breath, trying not to move. Even though the woods were vast and immense, it seemed as though I was stuck in the corner of a small room.
“Another?“ The thought of something else being there in the wood with us sent goosebumps raising along my arms. It took me to that moment to realize I was not wearing a jacket. “Never mind, what do you mean about predators?” Was there really something to be afraid of in these woods? What about him, then? “Shouldn’t you not be here?”
“I am safe here, unlike you, little mouse.”
“It’s just a forest, there’s nothing scary here except maybe a rapid chipmunk.”
“You’ve already met the scariest thing in these woods. Leave soon, the moon is rising.”
“No its not-” I looked up at the sky, where the sun was just falling, the darkness was creeping in, covering the sky to make way for the moon. “Where did the time go?”
“These woods are different from the town or school. Space and time have their own flow here. I think that’s what makes me comfortable here.” I was locked in the intensity of his stare, he looked up quickly, his eyes darting behind me. He moved without a sound, his face coming close to mine, his lips to my ear. His breath was warm as he spoke. “Be aware, even those who seem like prey are actually the hunters.”
His green eyes found mine again, his pupils had contracted, becoming what looked like mere slits in those wide green orbs. He blinked, and they were normal human eyes again. Again, he moved without making a sound, disappearing into the thicket. There was rustling behind me, and when I turned around, Sam was standing there, twigs in his hair and a bewildered look on his face.