Chapter Nine

Natalie did not know how she made it back to the house, though she thought she recalled Thomas carrying her. She had no idea when he had gotten there. Back at the house, the others let Natalie recover on the couch. Her grandmother disappeared and when Natalie had gained enough energy to ask where she had gone, Cecily told her that she ordered dinner.

Natalie closed her eyes. “I feel like there’s no energy left in my body whatsoever.”

Cecily giggled lightly. “I imagine you do.”

Natalie glanced at her through half-closed lids. “What did I do?”

Cecily squeezed Natalie’s hand. “You did magic that is very advanced for a Novus Wielder. I wouldn’t have recommended it for your second try at magic but you handled it.”

“I— I knew. I just— I knew exactly how to handle it. I even knew how to end it.”

“You did – though your grandmother stood ready with a shield for us if you hadn’t known.”

Natalie shook her head. “I have no idea how I knew. Did I scare you?”

“No,” Cecily said softly. “No, I knew you’d never hurt us.”

“I wouldn’t.”

A comfortable silence spread. Natalie took long deep breaths and ever so slowly, she felt life start to spread in her body once more. She still felt tired and when the delicious smell of beef and sauce met her nostrils, Natalie licked her lips.

The table had been set with three plates the two girls walked into the dining room. It felt like they had switched roles – for once Cecily helped Natalie, rather than the other way around. Natalie suspected Cecily liked the change, considering the small smile on her lips and the delight she showed in doing things like pulling Natalie’s chair out for her. Natalie in turn felt exhausted enough to simply accept the help she offered.

Natalie’s grandmother joined them shortly thereafter. There was a slightly amused smile on her lips as she began to eat.

“Well, I certainly don’t have to doubt your magical abilities anymore,” she said.

Natalie smiled sheepishly, taking another bite of beef. Each mouthful refilled her energy reserves and she started to feel a lot better.

“Are you angry?”

Her grandmother shook her head. “No, why would I be? I told you to do magic and you did.”

Natalie chuckled. “Apparently.”

“I’m sure Miss Cordell here has told you that the magic you did is more advanced than you’re supposed to be able to do?”

“She has.”

“Well, perhaps it had to do with Mithridates, or perhaps you’re stronger than I imagined.”

“Will you sleep better now?”

The annoyance she had felt before was gone now – she had showed her grandmother that she could do what she wanted her to do and she had done it well. More than well, really.

Her grandmother gave a curt nod with a tight smile. “I believe will.”

The rest of the evening passed pleasantly. Natalie’s grandmother asked both Natalie and Cecily about their school work and lives in general. Natalie told her about Richard and saw a hint of sadness in her grandmother’s cool blue eyes. She ended that note with a few gentle words about Richard probably wanting to see her as well, as she was his mother. Natalie’s grandmother did not reply.

Briefly, they landed on the subject of Cecily’s prophetic dreams. Cecily told Natalie’s grandmother of the two she had had concerning Natalie and her grandmother listened eagerly. As there was not much to say on the subject once they had gone over the dreams, however, they soon continued on towards other things.

A few hours later, as Natalie and Cecily stood outside about to get into the carriage, Natalie turned to her grandmother with a request that would perhaps seem a bit odd.

“Do you have an extra tracking stone like the one you have on the carriage?”

Her grandmother’s eyes showed a hint of amusement. “Who do you intend to trace? A boy, perhaps?”

Natalie blushed. “No, grandmother, it’s for a friend.”

“A friend?”

“Yes,” Natalie said, “the one Cecily dreamed would be kidnapped.”

“That seems like a reasonable enough idea. Just a moment.”

She disappeared into the house only to exit again a minute later. She placed an opaque, crystal-like stone in Natalie’s palm.

“This will do. But don’t forget to link it to you or you won’t be able to follow it.”

“Link it?” asked Natalie.

Her grandmother nodded. Natalie did not understand, but pocketed the opaque stone, hoping that Cecily knew more. Then, after a quick hug with her grandmother, she climbed into the carriage where Cecily waited. Thomas closed the door behind them and both girls waved to Natalie’s grandmother as the carriage set off.

Saturday morning found Natalie awake surprisingly early for someone who usually slept very late when she could. She figured it was all the sleeping she had done in her grandmother’s carriage – though she and Cecily had not gotten back to Lake Sunflower until nearly midnight, they had gotten a good hour of sleep in the carriage as they returned. Cecily had fretted about what her father would say. She had, after all, been out quite late. Natalie simply snuck into the house quietly – Richard had known she was likely to be late.

Now the sun shone through Natalie’s window. It would be another beautiful day for sure. Natalie touched the necklace she had promised to wear at all times – could create magic here and now?

She thought of the beautiful sun outside, the birds singing and the peace she felt as she lay warm in her bed. Closing her eyes briefly, she pulled the magic from inside. It was not nearly as powerful as it had been the day before in Mithridates but it was still there, thriving within her.

Natalie pulled it out of the stone as though it was liquid and when she opened her eyes, a small ball of light floated above her palm. It did not seem dangerous in anyway, like the electricity the day before. No angry, blue sparks came from it – instead it simply shone in all its beautiful simplicity. It looked like a small sun, though Natalie did not think it fire had been involved at all. It was simply light.

She gazed at it in amazement, wondering briefly what she would have said if someone had told her merely two weeks ago, that she would be able to do this, or even a week ago, when she had been at her grandmother and had failed her first attempt at magic.

She did not fail now.

She guided the light back to the stone and the stone absorbed it, making the red stone glow gently for a moment. Natalie felt warmth spread inside and knew that this time, she had not lost the magic and made herself weak as she had the day before. Then again, she felt rather uncertain that her body could have handled the immense energy she had drawn up then.

When Natalie had finished breakfast later that morning, she passed the hallway on her way up to her bedroom. She stopped when she saw a chubby-looking letter lying on the doormat. When she picked it up, she instantly recognized her grandmother’s writing.

She brought it up to her bedroom and opened it once inside. A small, yellowish stone on a thin golden chain fell out. The accompanying letter said,


Give this to Miss Cordell with my regards. It will make her feel better.

Your grandmother’

Natalie looked at the yellow stone. Its shape looked vaguely star-like, with several sharp edges. What powers did this stone have – and how did one know? She glanced at the tracking stone she had received to give Ava. Her grandmother could obviously tell what different abilities the stones had in themselves.

There was a knock on the door and Richard stuck his head inside. “Natalie? Em and I are going to the mall. Is there anything you need?”

Natalie shook her head. “No, I’m good.”

“Well, we’ll be gone a couple of hours.”

“Okay. Have a good time.”

Richard smiled at her and nodded once more. “You too,” he said and then he disappeared down the stairs. Natalie heard Emmanuella’s shrill voice, then the front door slammed shut and the house fell quiet.

Natalie looked at the necklace in her hand. Then she picked up the phone and called Cecily.

An hour later, the two girls sat in Natalie’s room. Cecily looked curiously at the picture of Natalie as a baby with her mother.

“That’s a beautiful photograph.”

Natalie smiled softly. “It’s the only one I have of her.”

“I guess it’s your mother?” asked Cecily and at Natalie’s nod, she continued, “What happened to her?”

“She died just after giving birth to me. Something went wrong, I don’t know what. They never told me.”

“I’m sorry,” Cecily said. She paused briefly, then added, “My mother is dead too.”

Natalie swallowed the lump in her throat that always formed when she thought too long of her mother. “What happened?”

“She got sick. Cancer. The doctors didn’t find it until it was too late, dad says. I was only four so I barely remember it. I just— I remember her, a bit. Her smell and her warmth.”

Natalie wished she could remember her mom. She did not – understandable considering she had only been a few weeks old when her mother died. Still, she could not help but wonder what her mother had been like. Richard had never been willing to answer any of her questions, other than to say that his sister had been a loving and strong woman.

She would ask her grandmother the next time she visited.

Cecily gave a sudden, slightly choked laugh. “Look at us, getting all down on this beautiful day. I’m sorry.”

Natalie smiled, a bit forced just as Cecily. She took a deep breath to steady herself. “No worries. We probably should talk about them.”

“I talk about her with my dad. He loved her so much.”

Natalie smiled. Then she admitted what she had only told a friend once before. “I don’t know who my father is at all.”

Cecily gazed at her with her calm, dark eyes. She did not say anything, merely waited for Natalie to continue.

“Richard is my uncle – he won’t talk about my mother at all, and certainly not about any relationship she might have had,” Natalie said. “As far as I know, I have no other family other than him and my grandmother – and I only met her a week ago.”

“You should ask her,” Cecily said softly.

Natalie nodded, feeling rather distraught all of a sudden. She did not think about her mother very often anymore – and she thought of her father even less. There had been a period a few years ago when she had been obsessed with trying to find out who her father was but she had never gotten anywhere in her attempts to find him. Richard had been all she had to go on and either he did not know or he simply would not tell her. All Natalie had found out had been that Carolina Turner, her mother, had never been married and on her birth certificate, only her mother stood listed. She had tried to research men with her last name – she obviously bore her father’s last name – but had come up blank there as well.

“I should.” Natalie ran a hand through her hair. “But perhaps there’s a reason Richard won’t tell me about my father.”

“Perhaps he doesn’t know,” Cecily said.

“Yes, but what if it’s something else? What if my dad’s a criminal or something?” Natalie had given that particular idea quite a bit of room but had found no prisoner with her last name. It had not calmed her – perhaps he was simply smart enough not to get caught.

“I’m sure he’s a good guy. You’re a wonderful person so neither of your parents could possibly be too bad, could they?”

Natalie smiled slightly, feeling the rise of a blush. “Thanks.”

She sat down again – she had not even realized she had stood up and started to pace.

Natalie picked up the envelope containing the golden necklace with the yellow stone her grandmother had sent to her to give Cecily.

“Here,” she said.

Cecily took the envelope, looking at Natalie questioningly. She turned it over and the necklace fell into her palm.

“What’s this?” Cecily asked, looking at Natalie.

“Read the letter,” Natalie said, motioning towards the envelope.

Cecily did and then looked closer at the necklace. “That was nice of her.” She frowned slightly. “I can feel something. It emanates— good, somehow.”

Natalie walked over to her and placed her hand on the necklace. At first, she felt nothing, as she had before when she had held it. Then, as she concentrated, she too felt what Cecily had said. For the lack of a better word, Cecily had explained it – the necklace did radiate of goodness.

Cecily clasped it around her neck. The color of the stone complimented her.

“I didn’t know you could feel the power in stones,” Natalie said.

“Neither did I. I’ve never been able to before. Then again, ‘good’ isn’t exactly what I’ve read that magic stones usually emanate.”

“Read?” asked Natalie. “You’ve read about magic?”

Cecily smiled slightly. “Of course. How else do you think I know things?”

Natalie did not have an answer; she merely had questions. “So there are books on magic?”

“Yes, silly. How else would the knowledge of Wielders of old be passed on? Not everyone has families. Many Wielders are loners and do not have anyone to tell, so they write about it instead. Of course, the books aren’t given to just anyone. They are either found – the books tend to have a life of their own and decide who is allowed to find them – or given away or inherited.”

Natalie still did not quite understand. “So where did you get yours? I thought you said you’re not a Wielder.”

Cecily shook her head. “I’m not. My mother gave it to me.”

“So she was a Wielder?”

“No,” Cecily said. “I don’t know how she got it.” Cecily looked thoughtful for a moment. “Actually, now that I think about it, all I know is that when she gave it to me, she told me to read it and then guard it. She said someone was going to come along who’d need to read it.”

“Someone was going to come along?”

“Yes,” Cecily said and looked up at Natalie. She laughed suddenly, as though she had realized something funny.

“What is it?”

“I simply realized I’ve been really stupid,” Cecily said, shaking her head. “The person who needs to read it is you, of course.”

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