The Wizards are a dying race, having battled against the Mortals that have persecuted them for centuries.
Valorie, a young girl, begins to accept guidance from a Wizarding friend who help her develop her powers.

'Look at me, look properly.'

Valorie squirmed. 'I can't. It feels really weird.'

'You have to look properly, it won't work otherwise.'

Charley Aether pointed both index fingers towards himself.

'Look into my eeeeeeyes.'

'They make us do this in drama class. It's supposed to help us build confidence with everyone else. I just get really uncomfortable.'

Charley laughed.

'This is a bit more important that drama class, don't you think?'

Valorie nodded, wiggled her shoulders a bit and relaxed.

'OK. I'll try again. But don't pull that face again, you'll make me laugh.'


Valorie stared into Charley's eyes again. She held it for five seconds, then doubled over with laughter.


'You were pulling that face again! You look constipated when you pull that face!'

'Valorie, grow up. OK, I'll just go blank. Will that help?'

'I think so.' Valorie got into a comfortable stance, then resumed her stare.

She looked into Charley's eyes again. They started to bore into her skull. When she blinked, she could see them in negative. This was good. It meant it was working.

'OK,' Charley's voice said. 'Now breathe out. Think about what you have to do.'

Valorie exhaled. The room melted away, became drained of colour and light. One last mental stretch, and she felt the pulling sensation in her belly.

She concentrated. WHOOSH.

Valorie looked down in satisfaction at her body, still standing up by itsself, still staring at Charley. Charley, however, was looking up at her, a slight smile on his face.

'You did it,' he said. His words sounded distorted, just like the last time, but it was getting better. 'Now come down here.'

Valorie waved her arms like an albatross. Nothing happened.

'You're losing your focus. You don't move with your arms anymore, you move with your mind. Just think about it.'

Valorie concentrated. She felt an electrical buzzing down her spine - it was pleasant and tickling. It grew stronger as she concentrated more, and her shoulders spasmed, but she managed to glide forward a few feet.

Charley maintained eye contact until she was about nine inches away, rewarding her with a big smile.

'OK. Now the ultimate test. Can you reach out and grab this from me?' He reached into his pocket and pulled out an apple. The apple had written on it in black marker pen, 'GRAB ME'.

Valorie swiped at the apple, but felt a sudden jolt, saw a sudden rush of colours. The buzzy feeling in her back left her. She was back in her own body. She thudded to the ground.

Charley stood and watched her get up.

'You could help me up sometime, you know.'

'Nonsense. You have to learn.'

Valorie brushed the dust off her shirt.

'You don't know how it feels being up there, just floating and... it's really weird, it's like everything's coming in really badly. You know when the reception on the TV gets really bad?'

'I know how it feels, Valorie. I've done it before.'

'What do I look like up there?'

'You look like... it's difficult to describe. You look like a wisp of smoke, but... more solid somehow. You hold together like a piece of cloth, instead of disappating.'

Valorie wiggled her fingers, trying to get used to being back in her body. She looked around the room, taking notice of everything for the first time.

This was Charley's living room. The walls were covered with lots of little shelves, whoch held runes, amulets, different coloured jars and other strange artifacts. This was typical of Charley. He was a Wizard, but she had met few other Wizards who had such an interest in charms like these.

'I think that's all for today,' Charley said. 'You can go now.'

Valorie crossed to the other side of the room, still a little unsteady. She picked up her bag.

'Same time tomorrow?'

'Sure.' Charley folded his arms. Charley always stood, if he could help it. In fact, she had never seen him sit down. Maybe he just wanted to feel prepared, or something, but it was very disconcerting. Valorie had only recently got used to it.

She reached out to grasp the door handle, when it opened of its own accord.

A man in a suit stepped in. Valorie recognised him He'd 'popped round' once or twice before. His name was Arthur O'Hanlon. He was a government official, a Mortal.

'Hello, girlie. Would you excuse us, please?'

'Are you going to make her?' Charley said.

The man lifted his head to him. 'Charley Aether. I take it this is a bad time?'

'No, no, Valorie here was just leaving,' Charley said. Then he looked at her and bliked three times.

Valorie knew what this meant. This meant he was giving her permission to eavesdrop. Grinning, she left the room and shut the door. Standing outside the door, she stared furiously at the painting Charley had hung there. She stared into the eyes of the boy in the painting, and with a lurch, left her body behind. She propelled herself back into the room. Charley saw her immediatly and winked up at her.

O'Hanlon didn't see her. He couldn't have. Mortals couldn't do that sort of thing.




The End

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