Friends Among Strangers

After waiting for what felt like eons for Dad, I stand. I hold the clip board as if it’s my life preserver and begin to walk down the hall. The desks, it seems, are marked with roman numerals. I groan inwardly. I know V is five, I is one and X is ten, but I think there is another symbol for fifty, or was it one hundred. Great, my best option is to ask someone.

I am in the middle of the large hall now. People flow around me as if I’m a stone in a stream. I have turned around so many times I don’t know which end is the one I came from.

“Excuse me miss.” A voice makes me jump. I turn to face on of the big men with a sword. I can’t speak. “Can I help you with something?” His manner is gruff and he’s staring at me intently. One wrong word and I think I’ll be toast.

Breathe. He stares at me impatiently as I look like a fish breathing air. I can’t get my vocal cords to work. I shut my mouth for the fifteenth time and take deep breath. Then he crouches down slightly, so he’s more on my level. “This is your first time in here, isn’t it?” I nod, letting out my deep breath in relief. He doesn’t seem nearly so scary. “May I see?” His hands reach out for the clip board I have pressed to my chest. Slowly I let it go. He looks at it for a second. “Ah, you’re here for the test, Desk Fifty-Three.” I nod gratefully. “I’ll show you.”

I follow him down the hall, clipboard pressed back against my chest. God, how am I going to fight the Van Helsings if I get this easily scared? Get angry, a tiny voice replies. Okay that might work for fighting, but what about every day life?

“Here you are,” the guard steps aside and indicates a desk with a lone woman sitting behind it.

“Thank you,” I manage to whisper as he turns to leave. He stops, as if startled I spoke.

Then he smiles and winks. “Good luck.”

I take a brief look around and notice I’m only three desks away from where I started. I only know this because I recognize the two guys who’d handed me the clipboard. Figures. I walk up to the desk. The woman is busy filing her nails. She’s either ignoring me or hasn’t noticed me yet. I manage a faint “Hi.”

The woman looks up, with an, I could care less, but what do you need expression. I hand over the clip board. She glances over it, then taps a spot. “You left Blood Status blank.”

“I didn’t know what it meant.”

“Full blood, half blood, five and three thirty seconds,” she cants at me.

“Oh, Half blood, I guess.”

The woman rolls her eyes and hands the clipboard back so I can fill it in. I put down half blood and return it. She finished scanning it. “And where’s your father?”

I look back towards the entrance I came in from, “I don’t know, he was supposed to follow me in.”

“Fine, well he’ll know how to find you. Go wait in the room behind that door.” She vaguely pointed to a spot next to her desk. I could barely make out the door from the wall. I pushed it open and found myself in a waiting room.

A waiting room filled with young people all about my age and all Faerie. Of varying blood status, I amend. The door closes with a slight bang making me jump and making everyone look up at me. I give a hesitant smile, scanning the room for an empty seat. Most people only give me a glance before going back to what ever it was they were doing. Then in the far corner some spiky hair boy waves.

I look to see if someone else has entered, but it’s just me. I look back at him puzzled. I’m not used to strangers beckoning me, but the only empty seat is between him and a red headed girl. I walk over hesitantly, one hand on my pendant, and sit between them.

“Hi, the name’s Theo,” the spiky hair boy turns toward me hand extended.

I shake it gently. “Morgan.”

“Morgan,” the red head seems to have just come out of a trance. “I love that name!”

Theo laughs, “Don’t mind Katha, she loves all things Morgan le Fay.”

“I do not,” Katha retorts, “But the things she could do with three affinities!”

“Bah, that’s just all legend, no one has three affinities.”

Their argument goes back and forth good naturedly. By their tone and interaction I can tell they are friends. I half listen, taking in what I can of the knowledge and wondering what they would think if I told them I have three affinities. I look into my pendant for a while. I let it go when a tear begins to fall down my cheek. I shouldn’t check it so often. What would I do if he was in trouble? I have to pass this test.

“What’s your affinity?” Theo’s voice directed at me breaks my thoughts.

“Mine’s Fire,” says Katha. A tiny flame appears in the palm of her hand and disappears.

“Air,” Theo grins as a breeze ruffles our hair.

“Water,” I say, pulling the tear from my cheek. It stands as a glistening tear drop on my finger.

A voice comes from no where. “Use of Elemental Affinities except to enter or exit the Hall is not permitted. Please cease and desist.” Annoyed glances are shot our way from everyone else. Great, my first day here and I’ve already managed to break a rule. I wipe my hand on my skirt. Sinking back into the chair, I wish I could disappear.

The End

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