The first thing that I saw was Ashleigh, leaning forward with her thick black hair all tangled around her face. I felt as though a million years had passed. Behind closed eyes, I could still see the shadowy figure of the girl in the corner. I refused to think of her as me.
"Ophelia," Ashleigh let out my name in a breath of relief. "I was so worried about you." I squeezed my eyes shut tightly against the splitting pain in my head. "What the hell happened to you out there? The whole temple is talking about it. Of course Lex jumped all over it, saying that there was no way you could handle being the head mage if you passed out during training."
I heard her without listening. Lex and the rest of the temple was the last of my worries just then. With my eyes still closed, I was trying desperately to recall my dream from the previous night. There had to be a sign, a connection... As a Spirit Mage, my abilities ranged from reading the auras of others to essentially travelling to the etherworld in my dreams. As our powers grew so did our ability to communicate with those who had faded from this world. Like my father.
But there had been nothing in that dream, that I could reacall anyway. Ashleigh was still watching me intently. "I'm worried about you," she told me softly. "Sometimes I think you're more of a ghost than the people we're supposed to talk to."
I ignored her comment, sitting up and shaking the remaining sleep from my eyes. "I had a vision," I blurted. "That's why I passed out."
Ashleigh creased her brow in a frown. "What kind of vision?"
I couldnt help the small shudder that overcame me. When a Spirit Mage had a vision, it was usually no coincidence. It was usually concieved by a certain trapped soul. And it usually came true. I did my best not to shake as I described to her what I had seen.
I could tell that there were a million things that she wanted to say, but at that moment, the sounds of trumpets called us into the Commons.
There were only two occasions in which the entire temple met in the courtyard: to celebrate, or to mourn. Judging by the chaos that seemed to ricochet off each wall, I had determinded it was more than likely the second one. Ashleigh and I pushed our way through the crowd, searching for both a familiar face and someone with answers. Answers I doubted anyone had.
At last we found Lex leaning oh so casually against a wall of the courtyard, staring out at all the madness as if he embraced. I wasnt so sure he didnt. "What's going on?" I asked him out of mere desperation. Lex only glanced over at me from the corner of his near-black eyes.
"Dont pretend you dont know," he said with a voice laced with menace. "They're choosing the next head mage."
"Now?!" Ashleigh cried out.
Lex shrugged. "There's been trouble in the capital," he explained. "The High Council is picking one from each element to go sort it all out." I wanted nothing more than to ask Lex how he knew this all, or if he was only making it up as he went along. But the sudden silence made me freeze in place. When I'd regained motion, I turned ever so slowly towards the rest of the temple.
Every single person was staring at me.