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This story, Reflection of Illusion, is being written.

This article, Reflection of Illusion, is property of Sonicfan919.

Warning, this page, Reflection of Illusion, contains mature content.

Reflection of Illusion is a compilation of the back stories for each major character in Consort of Illusion barring Gaia and Juan (at least at the moment). Each story deals with the character in question's life prior to being abducted. Although the characters's reflections take place shortly after joining Juan/Gaia, each story takes place prior to the main events of Consort of Illusion. 

Note: Although the author states that Consort of Illusion can be enjoyed without reading Reflection of Illusion, it is heavily encouraged that you do read Reflection of Illusion to learn more about the characters.

N. IntroductionEdit

Juan's SideEdit

The group of boys sat around the table, spirits down due to the harsh virtual reality training and the vigorous English classes that the children were subject to. They ate their food meekly, without much cheer.

Juan was saddened as well due to the disappearance of his daughter, Kola a few days prior. He would have launched a rescue mission but he felt that the boys weren't quite ready yet to step into action and his presence in North Korea would undoubtedly stir up an international controversy of monstrous consequences, consequences that would prove everything he had worked towards so far for naught.

Juan sighed as he quickly drank his glass of lemonade in one gulp. He looked through the empty glass and frowned as he began to think fervently. Why are you here? Juan looked at his students, and tilted his head curiously. He needed to speed up their psychic growth in order for them to be ready to save Kola. Maybe if I remind them of the reason they came, they'll be inspired to work harder.

Juan rose suddenly and waved his arm. "Dinner is adjourned but as you retire to your chambers tonight, I'd like you all to ponder a bit, answer an important question: Why are you here? What compelled you to follow me and abandon your lives?" Juan's mouth curled into a goat-ish grin. "Well, what compelled you to follow me besides my own enormous charisma." he corrected before laughing loudly.

Juan waved his hands once more. "That is all. Now begone." the old man finished as he turned around, put his hands behind his back and began walking, his back hunched.

Some of the boys hesitated to get up while others rose immediately after Juan had dismissed them. Eventually, whether alone or with a friend, they all returned to their chambers.

Whether they had hesitated after dinner or had rose immediately, that night, each child reflected on their life up to that point.

Gaia's sideEdit

A few nights later, somewhere in a deep, dark forest sat Gaia and her ten children along with her close friend Ankur, who was currently a raven perched on her left shoulder.

For dinner, the girls were eating French cuisine; escargot, baguettes, ham and cheese souffles, and cranberry juice with decadent trifle as dessert. Almost all of the girls shied away from the escargot except for Bisera and Helene, who was French herself. All the girls enjoyed the trifle however which was drenched in sherry and kirsch, featuring layer upon layer of ginger cake, custard, berries, chocolate, and cream. Each spoon (or handful in the feral Xaviera's case) of the dessert melted into the young women's mouths. Isabella, the green haired young woman who wore a morphing body-suit did not eat, instead deciding to play around with the cat, Kajsa, much to the cat's owner, Felecia's annoyance.

Gaia noted sadly that besides Zoe and Lillian, who were happily conversing quietly with each other, none of her children were speaking to each other. Occasionally Helene would brag to the others about how she got to eat wonderful French food everyday or Felecia would ask politely for Isabella to stop bothering her friend but other than that they were solitary.

Ankur turned towards the goddess personification of Earth. "Gaia, I can tell exactly what you're feeling. What do you suppose we do about this problem?" he asked softly in his Indian accent.

Gaia rose, with Ankur still tightly perched to her shoulder. "Children," she began in her loud, yet still oddly soothing voice. "You have been excelling in your magic at a healthy pace but I'm afraid that I cannot say the same about your social interactions. An important part of being a witch made even more important due to the impeding battle that will decide the fate of the planet, is learning how to trust and interact with others. You are all sisters after all, so you should act like it!" she explained with a smile. "As we head to the hot-springs, I want you all to ask yourselves a question: How did magic affect my life before mother came and brought me to The Enchanted Forest? You should have this question answered by the time we reach the hot-springs. When bathing, I want you to find a partner and tell them about how your magic affected your life. You'll quickly find that magic had a very different role in your partner's life. This should prove to be a good bonding exercise as you find more about your fellow sisters." 

A dirt path opened in the dense wall of humongously tall trees that surrounded the girls which Gaia began to walk down. "Come along girls. Think while walking."

The girls followed their teacher, their minds soon swelling up with memories of being a young witch. Some of the girls smiled due to their memories while others cried. No matter what the effect, they'd soon find release. They would have to bottle up their emotions no longer...                                                 

I. Reflection of ZackEdit

As soon as Master Juan inquired his students as to what was the cause of them leaving their homes, the memory of teenage boy with long and perfectly straight snow white hair and a scrawny, middle-aged man both exiting the front door into a light flurry of snow, his brother and father respectively, flashed in Zack's mind.

As Zack lay in his bed, he turned towards the wall and closed his eyes but he could not fall asleep. His runaway father and bastard brother would not allow him any peace that night. They had gradually faded from his memory due to their ten year absence but at dinner, when Juan had suddenly forced Zack to dive head first into his mind and find the reason for leaving his mother and sisters, there they were, their backs eternally turned towards him.

Zack sighed with a smile. "I hate you dad. I hate you Val." 

Zackari Smith was the second child of Hannah Smith and Julius Smith, a man who whenever a young Zack would inquire about his nationality, his mother would simply answer with a very saddened, "He came from very far away sweetie.". Hannah and Julius' first child was a boy five years Zack's senior by the name of Valentinianus. He was born prior to Julius and Hannah's marriage thus his last name was Czacki, which he shared with Julius prior to his marriage with Hannah. Zack was born on February 17th in his family home in Alabama, United States.

Julius was a quiet and scrawny man who was ever writing complex mathematical equations and reading books about physics. When not reading or writing, he'd spend hours on end with a person he simply referred to as "Teacher". In fact, one of these conversations was the first memory Zack could recall of his father. A three year old Zack, who was seated in a highchair, Valentanianus, his mother, and his father were at the table eating dinner when the house phone rang, prompting Zack's father to spring from the table and answer the phone.  Zack and his brother continued to eat their fried chicken while his mother, who was laughing and conversational prior to her husband's departure from the table, stared at her food glumly. The house was deathly silent except for the munching of chicken and the jolly voice of Julius. Once Julius began to laugh loudly at something "Teacher" had said, Hannah began to quietly sob which in turn caused Zack to cry loudly. Hours later, Julius had just finished his conversation when he tucked Zack into bed that night,

Despite his distance, in the rare times of the day that he wasn't talking to "teacher" or studying, Julius was friendly towards his two sons.

Julius entered the living room after finishing a complex formula one day and ruffled his younger son's hair, causing Zack to giggle.

"How are you doing champ?" asked Julius with a smile. Zack always remembered staring at his reflection in his father's glasses whenever he spoke to him.

"Good." giggled Zack.

"That's fine Zackari." corrected Valentanianus as he peered at his brother from his large novel.

"Leave him alone Valantanianus." commanded his father in a sigh that sounded more like a breath.

"Yeah, leave me alone Val!" chimed Zack as he blew a raspberry at his older brother.

Valentanianus simply rolled his eyes and delved into the world of his book once more. 

Julius bent down and saw the open book face-down on Zack's legs. "What are you reading there champ?"

Zack smiled widely. "Clifford!" he answered proudly.

Julius smiled and ruffled Zack's hair again. "That's-"

"-a baby book." interrupted Valentanianus in annoyance.

Julius frowned at his eldest son. "Well, you have to start somewhere Valentanianus."

Valentanianus angrily stood up and stomped upstairs.

Even though Julius was very nice to his youngest son, Zack always felt distant towards his father due to the way his mother's heart sunk whenever he was reading, making equations or talking on the phone. Although he was always cheerful whenever his dad was around, Zack never sought to speak to his father as a young child, years later that desire to speak to his father would change drastically.

The person that Zack admired and constantly talked to was his brother, Valentanianus. Valentanianus' appearance was unique to say the least. Unlike either of his parents, he was tall, a trait that Zack would also come to posses. Valentanius had long, flowing snow-white hair, and had bright red, cat-like eyes. Zack had short, black, spiky-hair and brown eyes. As a young child, Zack had never paid much attention to the differences between him and his brother. If he wasn't at school or playing in the yard, Zack would be in his room, pestering his adored big brother. Since Zack had trouble pronouncing his brother's name, he called him by the nickname, Valentine then finally, Val, a nickname which his mother soon adopted for her oldest child as well.

"Val?" said Zack as he laid on his brother's floor as he kicked his legs in the air. "How'd you get so cool?"

Valentanianus lowered his book and raised his eyebrows in confusion. "Cool?" he asked, curious.

"You know, like awesome!" 

Valentanianus sighed. "I'm aware of the definition of "cool" Zackari. What I want to know is what makes me cool."

"Well, you just are! You're smart, you speak in a cool way and you have a lot of friends!" explained Zack. Zack had noticed the cluster of people that followed his brother home almost everyday from school and how his brother and his father were the only people he knew that didn't speak in a southern accent. He couldn't even grasp the concept of an accent before he realized that his father and brother sounded like they were from another place.

Valentanianus was silent for a minute. "I was just born this way." he finally admitted.

"Well I wish was born like you!" beamed Zack.

Zack remembered that his brother smiled very rarely. This was one such time. 

"Would you like to watch King Kong with me?" asked Valentanianus?

"Yeah!" cried Zack. Although Valentanianus mostly regarded his younger brother with pity and annoyance, he occasionally showed ounces of affection by allowing Zack to watch one of his favorite movies, King Kong with him. King Kong quickly became Zack's favorite movie and he associated the power of King Kong with his brother.

Even as a young child, Zack was cheerful and active, playing games with his friends at school and always looking on the bright side of things.

Zack listened to the gentle pattering of the water from the shower head hitting the floor in the bathroom. His roommate, Andy told him that the shower reminded him of the rain forest. That kid's smart. He's into books and so is Josh too. They're smart....just like Val.

Zack was walking home from school with his friends loudly laughing. He had ran up and down the halls with a bucket on his head, screaming that he was a superhero named "bucket man". He had always liked comic books but his father always scolded him that comics "ruined growing boys brains" and "maybe I'll let you read them when you're older". But you didn't let me, now did you pops? You left before you could give me your approval or dissaproval but that's okay. By the time you left, mom thought I could read comics and I even let Molly and Miley read them but you didn't care a lick about them now did you pops?

Zack recalled the children laughing at his antics. "You're so silly Zack!"

Zack laughed. "What? I just wanted to be a superhero. Bucket man's out to defeat homework forever!" 

Another child laughed. "Really, why you so darn goofy Zack!?"

Zack kept walking and turned to his friend with a smile. "Well, my brother and pops aren't really goofy but my mom is so I even it out!" he explained with a laugh.

Zack opened his eyes in the darkness.And that was my justification for the way I was, the way I still am. I just acted so happy all the time because I had to. The entire balance of the household depended on me being cheerful but I know now that's untrue. Even here, I act without a care in the world. It's just fun being happy. I respected my brother but even if it was just in the back of my mind, I thought the way my brother hardly ever smiled must of been a pain.

Zack fondly thought about his home, the family house. The house had been in his family on his mom's side for four generations. Zack loved how big his house was and spent his early walking years exploring all the rooms in his house though much to his chagrin, his father had barred a sizable amount of rooms in order for him to conduct his reading in peace. Nevertheless, Zack would spend a lot of time exploring the house until he decided to just spend his time playing in the large front yard, messing with the chickens, bugging his big brother or hanging out in the living room.

For all of his life Zack loved country music and couldn't help but move, no matter how little the movement, whenever a song he liked played. Through his sixteen years of life, he amassed a large collection of songs that he loved, even some songs that weren't in the country genre. His mom always told him with a smile that Zack hummed songs since he was two months old. In the darkness of his room, Zack smiled as he thought of his mom bragging about her son's love of music to his aunts and uncles. "My little Zack's going to be a singer, you hear?" she bragged to her siblings, the ones his father never spoke to.

Julius would often take Valentanianus out of the house for hours. He never spent any alone time with me, he was always taking Valentanianus out, he was the one who sometimes came back with ice cream even though we lived miles from the nearest ice cream parlor. As I grew older, Pops didn't really care about me. Mom knew this and it hurt her. I bet to her, the only people pops cared about were his teacher and Valentanianus. To pops, I didn't really exist...unless I was dancin'.

In the living room, a young Zack would dance to the radio. I remember, I always loved spinnin'. Most of my dances had spinnin' in it. Sometimes I would spin around and around until I got dizzy. Pops would often creep in while I was dancing and through the spinnin' world I'd see my pops standin' there like a statue. As I'd lay on the floor regainin' my bearings, I'd feel an inexplicable breeze in the living room. Once I stood up, I saw some of pops hair rufflin' in the soft breeze. He'd make that stupid lil' half smile of his and walk off. Wait a minute...wind?

As a kid, Zack knew something was wrong with his older brother and that it worried his mother immensely. On any given day, Valentanianus would be deathly pale and would give an occasional cough. Valentanius would often fall into coughing fits that sometimes resulted in him coughing up small amounts of blood which would often scare his younger brother.

"What are you gawking at?" Valentanianus would darkly ask his brother whenever Zack would look at him in horror. To please his brother, Zack learned to ignore his brother's illment whenever he was in his presence.

Zack would never forget the night when he, his brother, his mother and his father were watching the Karate Kid when Valentanianus began suddenly coughing. It was one of his fits but the coughs were louder and more frequent. His mom paused the movie, trying to ask her son what was wrong with no answer. Valentanianus coughed up large amounts of blood and eventually began vomiting blood as well, all over the family's wooden living room floor. Zack remembered the sole lamp in the room clearly, it was on the table next to the television and filled the room with a soft yellow light. That night was the only time Zack remembered his brother turning red, red as ketchup. Although his eyes were mostly closed, when Valentanianus opened his eyes they were brown, like Zack's. Tears streamed Valentanianus' face. 

"What's wrong!?" cried Hannah, horrified as she began to cry as well.

Julian simply turned his head and regarded his suffering son curiously.

Zack wanted to rush towards his brother and help him but was afraid that if he did,  Valentanianus would suddenly stop coughing and scream,"What are you gawking at you infant!?"

"Julian, call the ambulance!" his mother cried hysterically.

Julian sighed, took off his glasses and wiped them. "Now why would I do a foolish thing like that?"

Hannah's face turned red with rage as she pointed to her writhing son. "Our son's over there dyin' Julian!" she screamed.

Julian sighed and rolled his eyes. "He's fine Hannah, trust me."

"Does that look fine to you Julian!? Does it!?" she screamed at the top of her lungs, pounding her fist against her leg. Her shrill screaming voice frightened Zack and made an impression for the rest of his life, he never wanted to hear his mother scream again.

"My god Hannah. Why must you overreact to every-little-thing? You're making a mountain out of a mole hill." he responded in irritation more than anger. "It's annoying."

Hannah shook her head and made a move to the kitchen to (as Zack assumed) get the phone. "I'm callin' the ambulance!"

"Call them Hannah and I will make sure that's the last phone call you make in your life." threatened Julius calmly yet in a tone that horrified both Zack and Hannah.

"Are you threatenin' me?" asked Hannah in shock.

"Please Hannah, that's not a threat it's a promise." denied Julius. 

Hannah just stood there until the phone rang and Julius quickly ran to it. "Hey teacher. What's up? Oh nothing, woman troubles. They can be so stupid!" said Julius before he began to laugh.

Hannah ran to her room upstairs crying hysterically. Zack followed her up the stairs soon after and slammed his door. He took his favorite stick, closed his eyes and began bashing it against the wall, imagining he was hitting his father as he tore a large hole in the wall that remained to this very day. The chorus was hellish that night; featuring the unholy instruments of screaming, crying, laughing, and coughing.

Zack distanced himself more and more from his father, the climax of their separation culminating three months before his departure with his brother. Zack loved the view that he had from the top of his house. He could see the barn, the dirt road leading to town, the forest and if he squinted, he could see the city, far on the horizon. More than anything, Zack enjoyed climbing the house while humming. One day, he was climbing his house...

Zack sighed as he sat up, remembering the day well.

...I thought I was Spider-Man or something because I climbed the house without even watchin' where I was goin'. I lost my footin' and fell to the ground below. It's a miracle I didn't friggin' die that day. Zack laughed. But man did it hurt. It hurt bad. I was about...25...30 feet feet high when I fell. It was a gift from the lord himself that I only broke my leg that day but pops didn't care. Momma came rushing out as soon as I started screaming but pops and brother came strollin' out like they had all the time in the world. Peh! The nerve sometimes...

"What hurts Zack?" cried his mom as she picked up her hurt son.

"Everything!" cried Zack in a cry that sounded more like a scream.

His father sighed. "Oh please. Nothing hurts. Stop pretending like you feel pain just because society expects you to."

Hannah flashed her husband a look of dumbfoundedness while Zack began shouting at his father through clenched teeth. "I'm not fakin' it!"

"What hurts?" repeated Hannah.

"I-I fell dizzy, I'm cold, I can't feel my leg and I-I-" Zack threw up.

Julian looked at his son in horror. "Stand up."

"I can-" 

"I said stand up Zackari!" screamed Julian.

Due Zack hearing his father raise his voice for the first time in his life, Zack tried to stand up only to crash limply to the ground. "It hurts daddy." cried Zack.

Julian shook his head. "Pathetic..." he said. "...just like the others will be..." he finished as he shook his head, turned around and walked towards the house. "Come on Valentanianus."

Valentanianus looked at his brother sadly briefly before closing his eyes, turning around and following his father towards the house at a brisk pace.

"Like the others will be"? Was pops talkin' about my sisters? He knew mom was pregnant when I broke my arm that day and...and...

In the few months following his accident, his father ignored him completely while beginning to adore his brother more and more. Zack simply thought that his father's emotional abandonment of him was due to Zack being stupid and Valentanianus being smart. He simply wasn't bitter about his perceived stupidity. In fact, he abused it. Whenever he could make it to school, he didn't try as hard as he could have since he would never be able to be smart, he would never be able to please his father. Zack enjoyed learning but in the back of his mind he didn't ever think he'd be able to learn much or get very good grades because he believed he was an idiot. He didn't pay as much attention as he could have in class, he could do barn work and house work, he could find out how to hot-wire a car and trap animals but he was daunted by the equations he saw in school, the ones his father would have liked. Deep down, Zack believed that his father gradually ignored him and a lot of the things that his brother said flew over his head because he was an idiot. Zack accepted this with a goofy smile. I always smile but maybe I was too hard on myself. Smilin' on the outside even though deep down in the inside I was really hurtin'.

Zack remembered the day with clarity. He was in the living room reading a book and listening to music when his father and brother walked briskly past him with suitcases, his mother running soon afterward. Zack crawled towards them to get a better look.

"Please Julius, I'm sorry! Don't take my baby away from me! Don't take Zackari's brother away!" she pleaded as her husband was unlocking the door. 

"Unlike your brat, my great son Valentanianus is not a baby and that thing was never my son. Valentanianus does not care if I take him from this backwater household. Burn my books. I know you're too stupid to understand them. Good-bye trash."

His mother was crying hysterically, pleading for her husband to reconsider.

The last Zack saw of his brother and father were of their backs exiting through the threshold of the door while it was snowing, one of the only times Zack remembered it doing such in his Alabama home. As the door slowly closed, he saw his brother's face turn towards him, Zack recalled him looking said.

"Good-bye...little brother...it was...interesting to say the least." were the last words Zack heard from his brother.

Zack smothered his face in a pillow in frustration. He recalled asking his mother questions for hours and hours until she finally said, "Please, be quiet Zack."

"Where are daddy and Val going?" he would ask.

"Far away." she answered solemly.

"When will they be back?"

"I don't think they'll ever come back. I'm sorry."

Zack's uncle came days later and helped his mother. He loved his aunts and uncles but he would always hate when they would come just to say something to the extent of, "I told you that he was trouble Hannah". I know pops was a real ass but couldn't they tell momma was hurtin'!? Couldn't they tell that she already knew that she had made a mistake? Nevertheless, I still appreciated seeing my aunts, uncles and cousins when they came to help around the house. Lord knows it could get rough sometimes and I loved seeing family...seeing that there were others in my family like mom. That weren't like pops or Val...

I waited days near that dang phone, waiting for "teacher" to call. To call him, scream at him and demand him to tell me where my daddy had gone...but he never called. Up to the day Master Juan had taken me, I had visited that dang phone each day and waited for about ten minutes, waiting for "teacher" to call.

Zack's mother had delivered twin girls about four months after her husband's departure. Zack believed that they were the cutest girls in the world. They had black hair and brown eyes like him. There names were Molly and Miley and Zack loved them very much. 

After their birth, Zack decided that he had to become the man of the house. When his uncles weren't around, which was often, he'd often stay home from school and work the farm: getting eggs from the chickens, herding the sheeps, milking the cows and preparing the fresh food. Even though his mom had a job, it was hard to manage work and take care of the twins so Zack often did that too. All the while listening to his favorite songs. Zack worked hard everyday to make the ends meet, to help his mother take care of his twin sisters and help pay the bills.

Although Zack worked around the farm for most of his days, his mom made sure he attended the local school at least once a week. Zack did so and passed his classes with average grades. Zack didn't have time to meet much friends so he grew very close to his family who he cherished with his life. Zack's mother burned all of his father's books and Zack made the rooms where the books were previously held into his sister's room and his break room respectively. During this time, Zack found out how much he loved to run. After being cooped up in school, Zack would have a sudden urge to run, so he would take off his shoes and run on the dirt road all the way home.

I don't know why but I just loved the feeling of runnin'. I knew I was born to run. The wind against my face, the feelin' of dirt on my feet was heaven. Since I usually walked alone I never really was able to gauge my speed but I would occasionally walk with some folks home and they would always comment about how fast I was or how I would always leave a gust of wind in my wake. I never really paid it much mind but if I ever got the chance to go into the city with my friends or sisters, I was faster than the cars. Even here where there are people like Sebastion, they're all amazed at just how fast I can run. Zack smiled to himself.

The more Zack ran, the faster he got until eventually, even he began to realize that he was faster than others. After Zack's father left, he began to sing more as well and even got his own banjo and guitar for his eleventh and twelfth birthdays respectively. Zack knew that he wanted to grow up and make lots of money for his sisters and mother so he decided that after he turned sixteen he would quit school for good and go on to become a famous runner or country singer. Zack could never decide exactly what he wanted to be though.

Even though Zack burned all of father's books, he kept his brother's dictionary.

I don't even know why I kept ol' Val's door-stopper. I guess...I still wanted to be like him. I thought I was dumb but I still read that book religiously. Zack turned and in the dark he made out the shape of the small end table which held many of Andy's animal encyclopedias and Valentanianus' dictionary. He left his new comics for his sisters to read since he knew they really enjoyed them and he didn't want to be selfish.

In fact, besides my comics that's the only book I come back to. At least two pages a day so I can learn new words so I can be like my brother...

Zack didn't have many friends and that included female friends. When he had free time he would often take his favorite stick and pretend it was a sword as he played "knight" outside. He was the valiant knight who saved his beautiful imaginary princess girlfriend, Valeri (who was essentially him with longer hair, a curvier body and large breasts) from an evil dragon, her abusive boyfriend named Dave. He would go around the kingdom which was really the just the woods around his house and help everyone out. He was the only male heir to the throne of the royal family, his family and as such he needed to help around the kingdom to prove that he was a fit leader. He was the Country Knight, cheerful and valiant defender of his kingdom and loyal to all who were just. He always carried around his stick in his free time, the mightiest sword known to all, Earthrender.

On the tree in his backyard, he carved the initials V+Z on the bark with a kitchen knife and pretended to passionately kiss Valeri, the only girl he had the time to get to know.

His imaginary kingdom and girlfriend disappeared by his twelfth birthday but he still thought of himself whimsically as the Country Knight who protected his mom and sisters. As for Valeri, well...I'll get my Valeri one day but I'm not too hormone-crazy.

Around his thirteenth birthday he began to put pin-up models on his walls, which his mother simply rolled her eyes at. As his sisters grew older, he was able to go to school more often but he still worked around the farm. Luckily, his school was small and very informal because if not he might have been taken from his mother due to his constant absences. On his fifteenth birthday, he received a car that he didn't have a drivers license for which he would sometimes use to drive his sisters into town. On the way there though, they enjoyed "getting it stuck". Besides, reading comic books and going to town, him and his sisters enjoyed bothering the chickens and having movie marathons. Their favorite movies were by far the Godzilla movies.

Looking back, it's probably since Val loved King Kong so much that I loved Godzilla but I don't care. Godzilla is our movie and if Val ever comes back then he's just goin' to have to get used to a giant lizard destoryin' Tokyo.

I remember that one time when I was eleven when there was that bad tornado and all three of us hid into the shed. I was so scared...I wanted to help them...I remember going out of the shed, the wind not botherin' me and walkin' towards the tornado and holdin' out my hand. The vortex slowly dissipated before me. We all assumed it was a gift of god but looking back....I know it was me. I think I have the power of wind...but why and how? Why did this telekinetic power or whatever choose a country boy like me?

For the past year, his mother's health had been deteriorating which prompted him to do even more chores. Zack had become an excellent cook due to his regular need to provide food for his sisters, He jokingly pondered chef as one of this get-rich-quick options.

I'm here because I want to get stronger. I want to find out about my powers so I can help my mother and sisters more but...even if it's selfish....I want to find out exactly where pops and Val went... Zack clenched his face with a determined smile. Master Juan seems to know where they are and I'm going to make him tell me!

The room was flooded by white light and steam as Andy opened the bathroom door with a subdued look on his face and his koala companion, Manic, shaking his wetness off at his friend's feet.

II. Reflection of IsabellaEdit

As the girls removed their clothes and eased themselves gently into the warm, magically glowing water of the hot spring, Isabella stood away from the hot spring surrounded by rocks. She was naked, she had her arms folded and she pondered who to reveal her life to. Well, "naked" wasn't quite the right word for what Isabella was. She normally wore a black, tight-fitting body suit which melting whenever she bathed with her fellow witches but if she so chose, she could make it the color of her skin. Isabella had little grasp of the concept that others had called "modesty" and the only reason she occasionally changed her suit, which was permanently fused with her body, into a "naked" appearance was to feel as if she was a part of the group and to shock people since she would always laugh at their faces. If anyone had the evil cackle mastered, it was probably either her or Helene.

Now who shall be my partner tonight? Isabella scanned the hot spring until her eyes fell upon a slightly chubby, spectacled, lavender-haired, sad looking girl who covered her body in embarrassment and wore a cross necklace around her neck, Amalija. Isabella could tell due to her position in relation to the other girls that Amalija obviously wanted to be left alone. Isabella smiled widely. Perfect.

Isabella casually walked over to her target, ignoring the young Xaviera who was thrashing around in the water as per usual. Once she was standing next to Amalija she waved. "Hiya!" she greeted.

Amalija turned away bashfully. "Why hello there..." 

Isabella tilted her head. "Well? Are you going to talk first or am I talking first?"

Amalija sighed and slumped her shoulders. "Listen Isabella, I don't really feel like talking..."

"Well that's too bad! You're going to listen to this friggin' story whether you like it or not!" laughed Isabella loudly.

"It's not nice to lead me to believe I had an option to decline." mumbled Isabella.

"Oh well that's too bad, mumblers never get heard!"

Sorry Amalija girl but I really need someone to talk to tonight. I've never really ever had anyone to talk to about all the things I had gone through in my life and out of all the people here, you seem like one of best listeners. Besides, if my story scares you shitless then at least I can get a good laugh.

Isabella was shocked to suddenly hear her victim speaking. "Well? Are you going to begin your little story?" Amalija asked, the annoyance clear in her voice as she looked down at her chest while she twirled her cross in her hands. 

With a smile, Isabella feigned irritation and stuck her nose into the air. "Fine! If you want me to."

Isabella closed her eyes and folded her arms as Amalija stared at her.

"Yes, yes," Isabella began, her long green hair flowing lazily in the water. "It all began seventeen years ago, when I was created."

Already, Amalija found the story strange. "Created? Don't you mean born?...well, unless you're referring to when god created you..." asked Amalija in confusion.

Isabella laughed softly, her body gently shaking. "Yeah, no. Somehow I don't think god had a hand in my creation."

Amalija blinked. "But..but god created all..."

"Maybe you should pipe down, you talk a lot and this story will last forever if you keep interrupting me." Isabella criticized with a smile.

"Sorry." apologized Amalija before she meekly sank into the water, everything below her nose submerged.

"Anyway, like I said. I was created. Luckily for you they made it so I remember everything that I see so you'll get the full Isabella life experience. Anyways, they genetically made me out of my mother's DNA, from what I heard, I was apparently one of a kind, none before me and none quite after me." 

Isabella sighed and smiled. "Isabella isn't my real name you know. It's HY8-14B. What the heck does that all mean? Well I'll tell you, HY were the initials for the secret military project that led to my birth. I don't know how or why but the New Zealand government were developing living weapons of mass destruction and I was the only one that survived past infancy. The whole thing was super secret, not even the president knew about project HY. The eight in HY8 was the series number. I'm not too certain but there were several series of artificial humans made before mine, each made in a drastically different manner. The members of my series were made by finding a woman who has had a past history of magic, injecting her with a vile full of artificially created mana that impregnates her and carefully mutating the fetus as it grows in her womb. 14 and B are just sub-series numbers."

Amalija looked utterly baffled. "You...you were created in a lab?"

Isabella smiled and pointed to herself. "Yep, you're talking to a bonafide lab rat. As soon as I came out, the people in white coats took me away from my mom. She didn't even get to hold her own daughter after I was born, they just scooped me out and whisked me away. Ain't that some shit!? I was born on December 25, a day my mom would later explain to me was a happy day called "Christmas". For me though, Christmas is one of the worst days of my life. My first two years of life were nothing but tests and tests. Day in and day out they would force me to use my magic. Since I wasn't used to using my magic, I'd get drained pretty fast and they'd need to hook a bunch of IV tubes full of "energy drink" into my system. As I grew older and my powers drained less, they allowed me to drink "energy drink" from a plastic cup. "Energy drink" always tasted so sweet. It wasn't until later when I overheard them and realized that "energy drink" was little more than refined nuclear waste. Sure, the thought is gross as hell now but man was energy drink better than the cheap stuff!"

Amalija's face was full of a mix between pity and disgust. "You-you drink nuclear waste?" she asked dumbfounded.

"Well no, I drank the "energy drink" but nowadays I mainly just absorb the waste. That's why I don't eat at dinner, your food really doesn't do anything  for me. In fact, if the old memory serves then it actually makes absorbing nuclear waste harder."

Isabella sighed, "Anyway, around my first anniversary of living, what you guys what call a "birthday", I was given my nifty little suit. Ever since the minute that I put it on, it has stuck to my body and it has grown with me. It helps me change how I look and it also makes casting magic easier. I would be experimented on everyday and by the time I was two years old, I had a level of magic greater than most of you. The scientists always spoke to me coldly, as a machine rather than a person. They always called me by my legal name, HY8-14B. I hate remembering those soulless years of constant experimentation, being watched like an animal. After I turned two, something miraculous happened. It was determined that I would mature at a faster rate if a paternal bond was made with me. None of those boobs had the skills needed to care for a young girl so they brought the only person that they thought suitable, my dear mother. Once they released me into that one bed, bright white room, I saw a beautiful, sleek woman with orange hair, my mom. She embraced me and sobbed tears of joy, that was the first time she had touched her only daughter. At first, I didn't quite get what she was doing but eventually I would have a pretty good grasp on these "emotions", for better or for worst. The experiments would persist but for five hours a day, they'd chuck me in that room. With one bed, a one-way window, a toilet and a sink, that room was a prison but neither me or my mom cared..."

Isabella suddenly closed her eyes and began hugging herself with a soft smile, twisting slightly as tears rolled down her face, Amalija was compelled to hug her, warmness was practically oozing from Isabella but she kept her distance, she was wary of the girl and was growing ever wearier.

"Mom would tell me stories, rock me to sleep and scold me when I did something bad such as blast her with my magic. The scientists did not like my mom passing on her pacifist beliefs but for all intents and purposes, those scientists can go suck a cold hard dick. Even though they hated some of the things my mom taught me, they were relieved that I was becoming more and more obedient and polite. I only did it to please my mom. My mom was the only person in that purgatory that treated me as a human, she's the one who called me Isabella.Through the scientists conversations and when my mom would tell me about herself, expecting it to go over my pretty little head, I had learned about my mom. My mom was a 23 year-old woman whose father was from an indegenious tribe who were recorded to practice magic. Desperate for money after her parents had disowned her, she saw an ad in the newspaper asking for descendants of the tribe I talked about earlier. She accepted the offer, was whisked off via black van into the underground facility and the scientists quickly got to work on screwing with her insides and creating me." Isabella clenched her fist. "I didn't even know her full name, they called her Mrs. Chuncha and she always told me that she was "mommy". As I grew stronger and stronger, the scientists allowed me to see my mom less and less. They deemed that the maturity-by-parenting plan was a success so they determined that additional time with my mom was unnecessary. I could tell how this hurt my mom, she was going to be ripped from her daughter again, thrown into the world above without her child. I remember throwing fits because I wanted to see my mom and I began refusing to obey the scientists' orders."

"Did they...? Did they hurt you?"

Isabella sighed and floated on the water, her body facing the sky as the water outlined her near-perfect, artificial body. "Yeah, badly." Isabella swallowed loudly. "I would cry that I wanted to see my mommy. Curious, they asked me if I thought I was human and I told them that of course I was, my mommy said so." Isabella sighed then shuddered. "Remember how I told you I needed nuclear energy or "energy drink" to survive?"

Amalija nodded, afraid where the story was headed.

"I never told you what happens when I'm denied food. By this time in my life, my feeding habits had began to morph into what they are today. I needed to eat much less than you guys, about twice a month at most by that time." Isabella put a hand on her stomach and rubbed it. But I just felt a pinch of hunger just now, maybe using so much magic and tapping into the deepest of my memory reserves uses too much energy. "I'm like a rechargeable battery but as a human, or at least humanoid, you know what happens when I "die". I die. So I need to recharge myself before that happens. Like a car might show that your gas tank is near 'E', I indicate when I'm low on energy. My hair turns orange like my mom's, my suit begins to look like it's tearing before disappearing completely, I lose the ability to use my vocal chords effectively and I quickly lose control of my bodily functions." Isabella chuckled before puckering her lips. "It's quite embarrassing honestly, you should have seen me the day Gaia picked me up."

"I don't quite think I should have." responded Amalija blankly. "But please, continue." she said, now interested in the story.

"Okay. Now where as I again? Oh yeah! Well, after I told the scientists that I was a human, they had several convicts on death row delivered to the facility and locked them in a room with me, them behind metal bars that I couldn't squeeze through. I was denied food or access to my mom. Even though I couldn't see them, I bet those scientists were watching me the entire time. As I grew more stressed as the convicts threatened to kill and rape me all the while being denied food while they had a large sack of food, I grew more hungry and began deteriorating. For the first time in my life, I was starving. I had begun to lose my ability to speak, my body had begun to melt, everything grew red and I felt like I had passed out. The next thing I remember, I was behind the bars, my hands were bloody and my mouth had a piece of flesh in it. I realized to my horror that I was standing in the chunky remains of the prisoners and I was no longer hungry or deteriorating, I was perfectly fine. I...I ate them." admitted Isabella shamefully, her eyes beginning to water.

Amalija's eyes widened with horror. "You ate them!?" she screamed, causing several other witches to turn towards her in utter confusion.

Isabella nodded solely before she sat up, her naked body facing her sole audience. "I'm so sorry I had to tell you this but I don't think I can hold it in any longer. As I knelt in the pool of blood, crying, the scientists entered the room. "You're not human." they said real business-like, and after that event I believed them. If I can't get any nuclear waste, if I'm deteriorating I can consume humans for the same affect. If anything, humans are the more efficient food-source since I only need one to get back to normal but....the thought of eating people disgusts me. They claimed that it was a result of a bad mutation back when they were playing around in my mom's womb, but I believe they did it on purpose, to dehumanize me even more. Anyways, I was a good little tool for a bit more and followed their every wish and whim. I saw my mom once a week if I was lucky and that was only if she begged. Pleased with my success, they forced my mom to have another magi-baby as her ticket to keep seeing me but the baby eventually died, probably due to them overdosing the poor thing. Those bastards blamed my mom for its death so they beat her and the next time I saw her she had a big bruise on her face. I had enough. By this time, I could begin to change the shape of my body to an extent. My favorite transformation was to grow a pair of wings for a short time and fly around. It felt so good, it made me believe I was free even though it really just emphasized that I was a man-eating bird stuck in a cage. The one time I did this in the corridor and tried to escape, they made me repeat the prisoner fiasco all over again. That really stopped me from getting any bright ideas..."

Amalija looked sick and Isabella smirked. Isabella looked away sadly. "Me and my mom were quickly growing fed up with the scientists but there was no escape in sight. The less I saw my mother the more depressed I got. Besides the scientists telling my mother that she only had one month left to see me, the straw that broke the camel's back was the day they sent me on my first and last mission. What do I mean by mission you ask?" Isabella smiled. "Excellent question my chubby, spectacled friend! As you might recall I was created to be a living weapon but first the scientists needed to make sure I was smart and powerful enough to do serious damage. At around my seventh birthday, they decided that I was ready to go. With a headset on, they released me into the world, it was the first time I experienced the outside world and it was beautiful, the swaying trees, the wind, the sound of the crashing waves were all soothing. Sure, I emerged on a sandy beach but it's amazing the things people take for granted sometimes. I didn't have much time to take in the scenery because they put a shock collar around me just in case I decided to run off. For safe measure, they also threatened to kill my mom. My mission was to murder a kind, wealthy business man who the scientists deemed to close to finding out about their work. He just made a few blogs online for crying out loud!" Isabella sighed, closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead with the palm of her hand. "He lived deep in a city so I hid in the shadows until night when I made my move. I stealthily entered his high-rise home and ran to the roof where I could vaporize the building with a magical beam. Unfortunately, I tripped up the stairs and the man saw me, his kid with him. The kid didn't look any older than me. Through the headset, the scientists could see everything I saw and ordered me to destroy the building and the surrounding area. The man was going to call the police as I sat on the ground, whispering "No I won't.". The filthy animals shocked me a few times but I didn't care. The thing that really threw me over the edge was when I heard a sharp hitting noise then my mom crying. Feeling like selfish crap, I finally gave in and blew the entire place up, with me standing in the center of the blast."

Amalija covered her mouth in horror. "How did you survive?"

Isabella dismissively waved her hand. "Oh that? Yeah, I can't get hurt by my own magic, I guess the scientists made me like that as a safety measure or somethin'. Believe me, in my later years I tried many a time to just end it all with a quick lightning bolt or a magical beam turned towards myself but to no avail, I don't feel a thing."

"You-you tried to kill yoursel-!"

"Anyway, when I returned, they applauded me. You have no idea how bad that feels, being applauded for something so horrible. Next time me and my mom were alone together we plotted an escape. You see, almost everything in that facility was magic proof. The white and cold halls, the white and cold rooms, everything. But those damn scientists and their equipment weren't. When they were taking me from my mom, I let loose with everything I had, fireballs, lightning, magic bullets, you name it. The scientists near me were killed or seriously injured and their equipment was destroyed, releasing smoke that blanketed our escape. We were running down the hall when they sounded the alarm and the emergency doors began to fall. They were no doubt magic proof, so with all the strength I had, I created wings and flew out of the building with mommy before they could lock us in, just barely slipping under the final closing door. I broke out of the facility into that sandy beach once more and this time it truly was breathtaking. The last time, I wasn't really free but this time I was out on my own accord and my mom was with me. I felt like I could take on the world."

Amalija smiled nervously. "So you and your mother lived happily ever after?"

Isabella frowned at Amalija with an intensity that caused Amalija to fight back tears. "You really need to learn how to shut the hell up sometimes nunny!" barked Isabella. She closed her eyes and fought back tears as well. Even though she knew it was impossible, Isabella thought that maybe as she was talking, she'd realize that the story was different, that everything turned out okay after all but Amalija's comment made her realize what she already knew: there was no happy ending.

When Isabella finally began speaking again her voice was tight. "But we weren't free, not really anyways. As soon as we tried going to a city, mom knew something was wrong. She knew that the scientists were watching us and we were too afraid to do anything. They could have tracked us with surveilance cameras, could have checked my mom's credit card, anything. On that first day we saw a lot of black vans. Maybe our fear was irrational but we didn't care, we weren't taking any chances. We fleed into the one place where we knew the scientists couldn't find us, the forests. My mom must have known how my body worked because as soon as we got there, she told me not to use magic.You wouldn't believe how much time that bought until I detereorated, eight weeks and the best eight weeks of my entire life. We lived off of the land, we created a small log cabin and mom hunted for food to eat. In the woods, her magic finally emerged and I remember her telling me, "Look Isabella, I have magic too. We're alike. We're both human."."

Isabella began crying silently though her speech was still slightly choked. "Me and mom played in the forest all day and she would tell me bedtime stories at night. While my mom was feeding herself, I grew slowly hungrier and hungrier. There was no nucleaur waste to be found and getting "energy drink" was out of the question. My mom grew depressed as her sole love in life began to melt and die. On the second to last day of our eight weeks she cried as my skin began to melt and some of my hair fell out. "Look mommy, I can die too. We're alike. We're both human." I whispered with a sad little smile. I was the hungriest I've ever been in my entire life. The next day I was at my limit, if had a bit longer then I could have died, I could have been free from this stupid little prison that is my life. I guess I didn't eat my mom because I loved her too much, the other guys were criminals so I guess I allowed myself to lose myself but I could never allow myself to hurt my mommy. My mom couldn't take it anymore so she told me to eat her. Of course I told her I wouldn't but she insisted, she told me that she wanted me to live. I told her I'd die anyways but she insisted that I live. As I sat in the middle of that log cabin and melted, my mom begged and begged for me to eat her with me declining again and again. By the late afternoon, we were both in tears. My mom went to the bed and pretended to fall asleep before suddenly jumping up and sticking her hand in my mouth then forcing my jaw to close with her free hand."

Isabella covered her face with her hand as tears began to stream more regularly and her body shuddered involuntary. "The damn emotions that they wanted me to suppress are getting to me. My mom forced my jaw closed and as the blood spilled into my mouth. I-I lost it. Everything turned red and I started screaming. In that fucking red haze I remember mommy saying, "Thank you Isabella. I'm so glad you're not in pai-". When I came to, I was so full and there was a red pool at my feet and an eyeball, my mother's eyeball. I fell to my knees and screamed my head off, screamed and screamed my fucking disgusting head off. When I had the strength to crawl out of the house, I tried to make myself throw up to no avail, I couldn't puke, I couldn't bring mommy come back." she cried.

Amalija shook her head slowly, tears in her eyes as she mouthed the words "no, no".

Isabella sighed, "I think...I think that my mom knew that she was going to be killed, that she would eventually make me eat her. I think this because she taught me things, taught me things that no one would teach their seven-year old kids. Things she never even alluded to when we were in that hell hole, things that would make your little pure nunny head explode." Isabella could she that Amalija was pale. Isabella smiled. "But I'll tell you anyway. She taught me how to steal a car, how to find good food in the trash, how to jill off, where to punch someone to knock them out and much, much worse things. I'm pretty sure she taught me these things because she knew she would have to sacrifice herself for me and she didn't know if I'd have anyone to teach me these things that others find out by themselves or by friends." 

Isabella smiled evilly, her tears dry. "I burned the house down, I didn't want to see the token of my sin but I decided to take up the sin of wrath, I'd kill the sons-of-bitches who led to this. I marched back to the entrance of the facility. They were waiting for me with machine guns, grenades and secret fighter robots. I erected a force-field to deflect the bullets and blew them out of the water. I was compelled to destroy the entire base, to blow up the entire island of New Zealand but I didn't. I didn't because besides how to take a car and how to pleasure myself, my mommy taught me my most cherished lesson, "that it is wrong to kill people and that I mustn't do it under any circumstance."." Isabella sighed. Her smile had quickly turned into a frown. "With this in mind, I let those bastards be. They never bothered me again. You might be wondering how I know so much about other people if I killed my mom when I was seven. Well, my mom talked to me about how she wished for me to go to an all girls boarding school. Wanting to please my mom even in death, I enrolled in a boarding school. I quickly made friends there, my best friend was a girl named Amelia. I loved every moment of boarding school. I loved the teachers, the learning, the studying, the field-trips, the sleeping, the baths. The adults never questioned my utter lack of eating and they didn't care, I was happy and healthy. I stayed there for three years. The effects of my not using any magic were phenomenal. For those three years I didn't use magic, I walked a bit slower, talked a bit slower and quieter, breathed more shallowly,changed clothes less. In the end, it was just me doing less that brought the deterioration process to a crawl. I wasn't even hungry the night I killed them all. One second everyone was laughing and having a good time and I was too. I was feeling a bit lightheaded and the next thing I knew, they were all dead, crimson pools of blood being the only thing to prove that they existed." Isabella bared her teeth. "I wasn't even hungry. I was just plain greedy I suppose. I was feeling so damn lethargic after I ate them I didn't have the strength to scream and burn the place down. I basically said "fuck it" and walked out."

Isabella sighed and got out the water, sitting on the rocks with her legs crossed. "The next part of my life is the one I grew the most accustomed to. Not wanting to hurt anyone else, I fled. I'll claim to just not like people but I really love em'. I roamed the earth, looking ever for my next meal. It's sad when I think about it, there's so many places with waste just sitting about, if I just flew around I could have spared my mother and all my friends. The one hard thing is that I'm constantly searching for new waste so it usually takes me about the time I take to begin to deteriorate just to find my next fill. Admittedly though, it sometimes takes me so long to find another meal so I can challenge myself."

Isabella smiled once more. "If I really want to eat without moving too much, I just go to Russia. That place is the frieking nuclear crack spot, I'm tellin' ya'. Ever heard of Chernobyl in the Ukraine? If I really wanted energy I'd just go there for about ten seconds and I'd be good to go. I'm not even kidding! That place is such a nuclear wasteland that I get super full just by standing there for a few seconds. If there's anyway to kill myself, it must be by eating too much. One day, I was out of it more than usual so I decided to just stand at Chernobyl longer than usual. My stomach felt like it would burst and I got a small, ugly scar on my butt that never healed and a teenie-tiny strand of hair that's forever orange. I quickly left, for some reason not wanting to end it." Isabella sighed and frowned. "I went around the world for six years, ever looking for a meal. There's this island in New Zealand that gets blasted regularly that I always returned to. I don't know, the place is horrifically nostalgic. I hardly ever talked to people and if I did, I always talked to them in a mean way. I didn't really want to get close with anyone, I didn't want to hurt them. As I traveled the world, I grew stronger and stronger, some days it could kind of be kind of fun. Then Gaia found me after I finished eating one day and you know the rest."

Isabella uncrossed her legs, showing no modesty as her privates were out for everyone to see. "So that's my story. Are you going to stick around?" she asked with a slight smile at Amalija.

Amalija shook her head in horror. "N-no!" she stammered in fear. "You're a monster! Get away from me! You're going to burn in hell you sinner! Stay away!" she cried as she backed away quickly, tripping in the water. "You don't care about anything!" she finally screamed before she ran into the bathhouse, tears in her eyes.

Isabella laughed though in the inside she was crying. Of course. Her horrified face wasn't satisfying, it was gut-wrenching. Of course she's scared. I'm nothing but a monster, I was created to kill, and kill I did. Amalija has a right to hate me.

Full of sadness, Isabella sighed and closed her eyes as she stepped back into the water.    

III. Reflection of AndyEdit

Andy entered his dark room right behind his roommate, Zack. The normally cheerful and talkative Zack had not so much as uttered a grunt since the end of dinner a few minutes prior. When Andy looked at Zack curiously, the spiky-haired boy simply gave a hearty smile without saying a word.

Andy shrugged as he made his way towards the bathroom. Fine by me if he's all hush-hush tonight. He talks too much and his accent's annoying.

After Andy had closed and locked the bathroom door he looked into the mirror. He moved his light-brown, shaggy hair out of the way of his eyes which were green with a small circle of brown in the center. Andy's face was pale and dotted with bright-red acne. He didn't have an inch of facial hair, he regularly shaved it because he couldn't recall an animal with a mustache. He opened the mirror and took out his light blue toothbrush and was about to apply his toothpaste when he heard a scratching sound at his door. He rushed over to the door, opened it and a blue marsupial ran up his body before resting on his shoulder, his koala friend, Manic. Andy smiled as he closed the door and went back to brushing his teeth. After he was finished, he began unbuttoning his shirt.

                                                                 ...

Andy sighed as the hot stream of water hit his body with an endless barrage of warm water drops. He allowed the water to drench his hair and he could hear Manic rolling around the floor at his feet. Andy loved taking showers for it reminded him of the Amazon rain-forest, the way the water repeatedly hit his body.

He hadn't given Juan's mental prompt much thought. He was already aware why he came here, to travel the world so he could see a lot of wildlife and witness beautiful scenery. Andy's face hardened. He didn't know that there would be so many others with him. He never really liked people. Never have, never will. That's just the way it is. 

Andy looked up towards the ceiling as he applied a handful of shampoo and began vigorously rubbing his scalp. He began to think of everything that had occurred in his life that led him to abandon his home. Oh crap, this is exactly what he wanted me to do isn't it? Andy sighed. Not much of a reason to be honest. Most people would call it stupid..

Andy Anthony Acker was born in Alice Springs, the heart of Australia. His father was Robert Acker and his mother was Veronica Acker, a young couple who had recently moved to the town. Andy was the third child to the Ackers, he had two older brothers, one who was one year older then him, and the other two years older than him. The Ackers were a friendly couple who quickly befriended all of their neighbors.  Due to their friendliness, the neighbors were quick to give the family the money they constantly needed to fund their trips.

Andy stopped rubbing his scalp and smiled. Ah the trips, I remember em' well. Me, me mum, me dad, Arnold, and Rufus would frequently take trips to the outback in dad's yellow Jeep Wrangler. I remember the sights, the smells and the emotions like it was just yesterday even though I was but a little kid. We only ate junk since we didn't have much money but I didn't care, I loved the sights and they loved it too. On the road we'd all sing to the radio. Dad told us about all the animals and plants. We'd often camp and look at the stars, name the constellations and fall asleep like that. Arnold and Rufus called me Wild Child since all the animals loved me for some reason. Maybe it was because I looked like them. 

Andy touched the back of his hair which reached down just past the nape of his neck. Me hair grew so long back then and it always grew so fast that mum finally just stopped cuttin' it. Let's see, when I was five or so it was past me butt. Mum and dad taught us everything about the wild: how to swim, how to climb trees, what food to eat, how to hitch a ride on a kangaroo, the list goes on and on. It would be wrong for me to take credit for me love of mother nature. It was those trips that did it to me. It was those sleepy nights in that small, yet beautiful town. It was dad...

Andy clenched his left fist before he began lathering his body with body-wash. Andy's skin was pale and his legs were moderately hairy. He was thin, not incredibly bony yet he lacked muscle, he was more lanky, with his brothers calling him a human noodle. Interestingly though, over the past year or so Andy had developed six-pack abs, drawing the attention of countless girls who Andy had considered cute.

Andy had closed his eyes. Yes, it was you dad. Too bad you got me hopes up dad. To bad you taught me all the wonders of our beautiful Virgin Mother Nature, too bad you taught me how to love her just to try to rip her away from me...

Not too long after Andy had turned six, his father revealed to the family that he had gotten an offering for a high-paying job which required them to move very far from their home in Alice Springs. He immediately took up the offer without consulting his family. His wife was ecstatic, happy that her children would be able to live a more comfortable life. Rufus and Arnold were pleased as well, eager to discover what a new town would be like. Everyone was happy to leave the small town except for the young Andy.

Andy stomped his foot, his face red and his vision blurred by warm tears. "It ain't fair dad! Why do we have to go?!"

Robert looked sadly at his son. "Andy, I'm sorry but-"

Arnold interrupted his farther, angry as he grabbed his brother. "Quit bein' such a li'l baby Andy! We're moving, so what!?"

Andy broke away from his brother. "I've lived here all me life! I love it here! It's all I've ever known! Why can't you see that?" he cried.

Veronica shook her head, as her gut felt like it was being put through a wringer. Her eyes felt as if she was chopping onions as she fought back tears for her son and she put on a smile to mask the pain she felt for him. "Andy it's all right. Everything will be bett-"

"No it won't!" cried Andy, his dingy white tank-top beginning to get soaked by his tears. His hair had been recently cut, it was now slightly past his shoulders. "It can't get better when everything was already perfect! I like the trips, the neighbors how close everything is!" he protested.

"Look around you Andy." motioned a concerned Rufus as he waved his arm, gesturing for his brother to look around the large living room. The living room which contained one bookshelf, a lone chair and a small TV was one of the four rooms in the house, the others being the tiny kitchen that could hardly fit the fridge and oven, the room where the entire family shared a bed and the bathroom with which could only fit a toilet, a sink and a shower. "This house is so small! Do you like being hungry all the time?" he asked.

Andy was made suddenly apparent to the sharp pain in his stomach. The pain always lingered but he always ignored it for he was always having too much fun to care about his screaming stomach. "I'm not hungry." lied Andy darkly. "You're just greedy. We have all we need here, each other." he said. "If we stick together we'll pull through. We always have we always will."

"Can sticking together put food on the table!?" screamed Arnold as he waved his arm in the air as if it was a sword slicing through the air.

"Yes!" shouted Andy. The pregnant silence in the air was stifling when Robert stepped toward his youngest son.

"Please, try to understand Andy."

"No!" shouted Andy as he stomped the ground with his eyes closed and his hands to his fast in fists. To the family's shock, Robert flew backwards, crashing painfully into a wall before slumping down to the floor. "You're not the father I know!" cried Andy before he ran out of the house, into the town.

For one day, they searched the entire town of Alice Springs for me. They searched high and low, just missing me each time. Maybe it was my powers that did it. A couple of times I was right in front of them and they at least pretended not to see me. I slipped through all the nooks and crannies of the town, knowing it like the back of me hand, even now, nine years later. Even then I was one with the animals, I was one with the slippery rat. Eventually, they caught me when I snuck into a neighbors house, being detained as soon as they realized that I had fled. We left the very next day and that's when my dad threw everything away, me being the only one who kept the dream of slipping into Mother Nature's Warm Embrace alive.

The Ackers had moved to the suburbs of Sydney where Robert had quickly began making vast amounts of money. He soon bought two cars, all but discarding his old Jeep. He enrolled all three of his sons in a highly prestigious charter school. The trips to the outback stopped immediately, gone were the days of sleeping under the stars, playing with the animals and singing to songs in the car. Andy excelled in his school studies but felt a hollow emptiness in his soul as he sat in his uniform, hearing the teacher drone on and on. Although he hated most of his classes, he was madly in love with Biology. If there was one thing he loved about his father's new-found wealth, was the ability for his father to buy him almost any book her asked for or take him to the library. By the time Andy was seven he had an entire bookshelf in his white carpeted room full of books about animals, trees and rocks.  

I hate the way we hardly know anyone there. Sure, we might know our immediate neighbors but there is no community. They can put up signs all they want about community barbecue this, or community swimming that but they're all lying through their teeth, they hardly know or care about the household three houses from them. That's one of the things I hate about humans, how good they are at lying, you can't read their emotions because it could all be a deviously woven facade. It makes me want to throw up all over the place!

At first, Andy spent all of his days outside of school swimming in the Ackers' large outdoor swimming pool but he eventually stopped completely, hating the chemicals that were inside the pool, decrying it as a "perversion of mother nature". His family just laughed and rolled their eyes, unaware just how much their sudden shift in lifestyles had affected their youngest son.

No longer did dad get that gleam in his eyes when he talked about the animals. In fact, he hardly mentioned them at all and whenever I asked about going into the outback, he would always sigh and shake his head. My mom simply ignored me whenever I mentioned it and Arnold got mad whenever I brought it up. The only person who I felt I could talk to was Rufus. He seemed to be the only one who remembered fondly upon our trips and told me that he would want to take another trip sometime. That always made me day...

One blessing I guess I could find in me dad's sudden wealth was the fact that I could ask him for anything and sometimes, he might just get it. I would always ask him to take me to the zoo and he'd probably take me two out of ten times. I liked the zoo because I got to see all the animals I grew to love and even some exotic ones but on my third visit, I noticed that something was different about the animals. I could see their energy, it was normally blue in the wild but in the zoo it was red. I immediately knew that they did not like being caged, they wanted absolute freedom. I quickly began to grow wary of the zoo since I felt that it was a gross perversion of Mother Nature but at the same time, it was the only way to see the animals I loved. One day, I couldn't take it anymore and jumped into the lion exhibit. Again, no one seemed to notice when I was climbing the glass but of course I was apparently visible again once I actually make it in. Of course that just had to be the time me mum was there and with her big mouth she started screaming. The lion's didn't really care, in fact, they were really friendly towards me. I got grounded after that and I wasn't allowed to go to the zoo for a month.

Although academically Andy was exceptional, in school he had troubles with other children. Though he never picked fights, he was frequently harassed by the other kids and was made fun of due to his obsession with animals. Even ignoring the constant verbal bullying thrown at him, Andy was quiet and didn't talk to many people. At recess he always had his nose buried in a non-fiction animal book and he sat away from the other kids at lunch.  When the teachers forced him to play with the other students, Andy would angrily throw his book down and "play". Andy's play consisted of standing stationary and occasionally walking in the direction the other kids were walking. Despite Andy's lack of any exercise in this period of his life, he miracously stayed fit.

Andy especially loathed basketball which his parents made him play after they had to attend a meeting dealing with their son's inactiveness at recess. Andy would half-heartedly follow the ball until practice was over. Due to his frustration over being forced to play basketball, Andy would frequently make wry comments directed towards his teammates, comparing them negatively with animals. This resulted in many basketballs, to the face. Occasionally Andy would retaliate, causing the balls to inexplicably fly back towards their senders faces with twice the power. 

Andy arrived home with his father one day, his face red with anger.

"I'm very upset with you Andy! This is the fifth time your coach has had to call me due to you attacking one of your team mates!" his father fumed.

Any whipped around angrily. "Funny! Did he tell you how they threw their balls at me!?" he screamed.

"After you insulted them!" shouted Andy's father back. "You didn't need to escalate it either!"

"Why are you always taking their side huh!? The bullies in school, the teachers, the..."

"God Andy you're not bullied! You just use that as an excuse to act out! I didn't expect to raise such an animal!"

Andy was silent a bit before closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. "Shut up." he said darkly.

"What was that?!"

"I said shut up you old man! I may be an animal but you're the one still wearing a monkey suit!" he barked before marching up the staircase. At the top of his stairs he saw his broher, Arnold smiling.

"So, you I heard you hit em'. Heard it was pretty nasty too." he said with a wide smile.

Andy looked away as he walked past. "Yeah, so what?" he asked nonchalantly.

"You could really be a monster if you put that power into actually playing you know."

Andy gave a snort as he turned towards his brother while he was in his room. "Waste my energy on those jokers? Fat chance!" he said before slamming the door.

Andy was put on punishment for three weeks for yelling at and insulting his father. Andy's social life did not improve as he continued going to school. When his father, filled with genuine concern for his youngest son, urged him to talk to his peers, Andy begrudgingly complied. Unfortunately, even when he made an honest attempt to connect with his peers, Andy failed miserably. Andy constantly tried to make conversation with his peers but they always seemed to ignore him or they did not talk about the same things. When Andy talked to people he usually mumbled and stuttered, especially around girls. Andy was slightly afraid of strangers in general so he often hugged a stuffed koala, much to his father's chagrin.

Andy growled as he picked up Manic, causing the koala to snort with delight. Andy began shampooing his friend's fur.

"Why do I have to get rid of em'?!" cried Andy as he sat in the back of his dad's expensive black Cadillac as they were heading home from basketball practice one evening.

"Because, you're a young man and young men don't carry around stuffed animals." sighed his father.

"Who says!?" cried Andy fighting back tears.

"Everyone says."

"Well I don't care what everyone says, he's my friend!"

"Andy, we talked about this, why don't you get some real friends?" sighed his father sadly.

"Because they're all mean to me."

Andy's father was silent for awhile. "Well if that mangy bear's honstly that important to you then I'll consider it." he finally admitted. Despite his father's consideration, Andy did not feel that his friend was safe. His stuffed animal was taken in the middle of the night and thrown away by his mother, his friend gone by the time he woke up the next morning. Andy always blamed his father for his friend's disappearance.

Due to the absence of his friend, Andy developed a superiority complex to make up for the fact that he couldn't talk to anyone. I began to realize that I was smarter than all those blokes. While they were all talking about the latest sports I was concerned with actual things, our planet. I didn't care if I could talk to them or not because quite frankly, I didn't need to, they were stupid while I was bright. Me stuttering's just the result of me brain trying to dumb itself down so it can effectively communicate with those ignorami.

On a field trip to the museum, Andy grew an intense love for dinosaurs and other pre-historic animals. He was saddened that "such a lowly species such as homo-sapiens had to dominate the world after the magnificent reptiles of old had departed from this world". After Andy had developed his love of dinosaurs he began to love the Jurassic Park movies and books.. He also enjoyed all of the Star Wars films. He claimed that Micheal Crichton and George Lucas were the humans that he respected the most.

Tired of Andy's inactiveness and sour attitude, his coach kicked him off the basketball team, much to the boy's joy. Andy's two sisters, Roxanne and Andrea were born, both a year apart from each other. Due to his family's wealth, they went on many trips. First they went to Hawaii per his father's suggestion, then Sweden per his mother's suggester, then Japan per his brother's suggestion. It had immensely shocked Andy the day his father had asked him where he wanted to go. After many days of consulting his books, Andy finally decided that he wanted to take a trip to the Amazon Rainforest. 

Andy would have chosen the Australian Outback but his father had stated that the destination had to be another country. The seven Ackers traveled to the Amazon Rain Forest. While the babies cried almost non-stop and Veronica and Arnold complained about the insects and weather, Rufus and Andy loved every second of it and a particular gleam that Andy hadn't seen in what seemed to be ages returned to his father's eyes.

That was the happiest me been in a long time. Andy recalled nostalgically. I don't care about the other four, me dad and Rufus were happy. We were in Mother Nature's Cradle and I loved every second of it. The new animals we got to meet, the waterfalls we got to swim in, climbing the trees, swinging from vines, identifying the constellations, sleeping in a tent, perfect. All the troubles from home melted away and for the first time in ages I gave a genuine smile directed towards people and possibly that was the first time in ages that I was really happy. I was so sad when we had to leave but I didn't let it bother me, I had renewed hope for the future. What an idiot I could be...

Andy would excitedly ask his father about going to the outback again but his father continued to dodge his questions until he finally snapped.

"Daddy, daddy can we please go to the outback!?" asked Andy as he bounced up and down happily.

His father sighed, closed his laptop and rubbed his head before turning to his youngest son in his swivel chair. "Andy listen, you need to focus on school."

Andy's face drooped. "But dad, we...you...you were so happy."

Andy's father smiled widely. "I still am son! I get overclocked from work sometimes and I really need some r&r so I take a break. Now I'm rejuvenated!"

Andy smiled nervously. "Well if you're rejuvenated then we can go into the wild! It can just be you, Rufus and me!"

Andy's father put a hand on his son's shoulder. "Andy, forget about that. It was fun but it's time to work now."

Andy shrunk away from him. "I want to be with the animals dad." Andy whispered.

Andy's father sighed. "And you were with them but now it's time to go back with people. You have to return eventually, we all do."

Andy backed away slowly, his eyes creating two miniature oceans. "No I don't. You'll see. I'll make you all see!" cried Andy before running out of the room.

That's when it started. That's when I started sneaking out. Some days, I'd sneak out of school and run. Run and run until my feet hurt but eventually I made it to a place I started to only dream about, the wild. These were new places with new animals I hadn't encountered yet. I played with them and studied them, joked with them, and talked to them. They were my friends, more than any stupid person could hope to be. The first time I arrived back back from the wild, the police were at my home and I was put on punishment but I didn't care, I still kept sneaking out. Eventually, the most my parents would do would shake their heads at me in disapproval but they were already dead to me. I kept leaving Sydney so I could hit the beaches to read my books in peace, so I could hop with the 'roos, be with the wallabies, swim the the crocs and be in Mother Natures warm embrace. I started doodlin' in my pad around that time. I doodled the animals, the ocean, the forests and what I thought Mother Nature would look like. I also started running around the wild stark ravin' nude because I wanted to be more like the animals. Each time I ran away I got farther and farther and consequently, I got happier and happier. Although I missed a lot of school, my brain more than made up for it. 

Andy smiled as he looked at Manic who he was holding, washing the shampoo out of his fur. This  was also when I met you.

Andy was walking along the beach one day when heard a faint whimpering sound that he picked up due to his sharp ears. He followed the sound until he found a baby koala stranded on the beach. Andy was enthralled by the young mammal. In all of his travels, he hadn't actually seen many koalas and he always wanted to see one up close. He cautiously walked towards the animal and gasped, it was injured. The koala had a large cut on its left leg and a broken right leg. Horrified, Andy picked up the wounded animal. With his duffel bag full of medical tools, he made a tent and stayed with he koala on the beach until it was healthy again. Andy also had the uncanny ability to sense the close siblings of people and animals. He searched for days for the young koala's family with no luck. He eventually returned to his home.

"Ew Andy, get that thing out of our house!" cried Andrea.

"Andy, do not bring wild animals into my house!" fumed his mother.

"Oh eat a dick, both of you!" shouted Andy before slamming his door. He named the koala Manic, and the two were inseparable for the two years since their meeting until when Andy decided to leave with Juan. Andy and Manic constantly trained by sparring, which developed Andy's psychic power tremendously.

On Andy's fourteenth birthday, besides several books and action figures of animals, Andy received a gift from his mother.

His mother entered his room, in which the door was wide open.

Andy was laying on the floor in a tank-top, reading a Zoobook with Manic laying on his back. "What do you want?" he asked boredly. It was sweltering, his tank-top clinging onto his shirt.

"Well, Andy I uh...gave you a present." said his mother, not used to talking to her son anymore who barely acknowledged anyone in the house.

Andy sat up, causing Manic to slide off his back before climbing back up and hanging from his shoulder. "Well? Let's see it."

"I really don't like your attitude young man." his mother said in irritation.

"No, you don't like me period. Why are you even getting me a present again?" 

"I don't know." his mother said darkly before dropping a small white box on the ground at her feet. Andy crawled and opened the box to see a beautifully woven, hand-made yellow bandanna.

Andy took the bandanna out the box and examined it thoroughly before declaring, "This is stupid."

Andy's mother's legs grew weak as her mouth began to feel like a desert and her eyes began to water. Her voice cracked. "Do you know how much time I spent making that for you Andy?"

Andy chuckled and Manic stuck his tongue out. "Obviously not enough time. I forgive you though, all you are is a stupid city woman, nothing more."

Andy's mother shook her head before running away, not wanting her son to have the satisfaction of seeing her cry. Andy smiled anyways. He was put on punishment for four months but he didn't care, he just ran away with Manic again. Despite Andy's insult of his mother's craftsmanship, he wore that bandanna every day since then.

Andy turned off the shower. And that's all. I left because I wanted to see all the animals I could and see breathtaking scenery. Juan said that developing my powers could help me become closer with the animals. Let's hope he's telling the truth. And that Gaia's a crackpot. How dare she declare herself Mother Nature?

Andy exited the bathroom in his yellow pajamas with his matching yellow bandanna with a sigh. His room was pitch black and he turned off the light of the bathroom before climbing into his bed and laying down.

"So, why did you come?" asked Zack, not even trying to lower his voice.

Andy groaned. "Ugh, I thought you were asleep."

Zack chuckled heartily. "Naw, I have a lot on my mind tonight."

Andy raised his eyebrows in the darkness. "You, a lot on your mind? And here I thought you were as dumb as a brick."

"Well you aren;t that far off. I'm not exactly the brightest chicken in the coop. Anyways, want to here my story?"

"Not particualy. I want to get some shut-eye so I'd appreciate it if you'd pipe down."

"Okay." sighed Zack sadly. All was silent and Andy was beginning to think he'd finally be able to drift off to sleep when Zack suddenly began speaking again causing his roommate to jump. "You looked a bit sad when you came out the bathroom. Everything okay?"

"Yes, everything's fine. I was just thinking about my stupid father."

Zack laughed. "Your old man's a grade-A jerk too?"

"What do you mean too? What did your father do that was so horrible?"

"He's kind of the reason I came here."

Andy sighed and folded his arms. "So I guess this means I have to listen to your entire life story. Whatever, it'll make a good bedtime story."

Zack told him everything signicant that happened in his life.

Andy blinked. "All of that and you're still happy?"

Zack scratched his head. "No use frownin' am I right?"

"Hmph, you can't really frown. Your life doesn't even compare to mine." scoffed Andy.

Zack chuckled. "So are we havin' a little sob story competition? Okay then, go!" he declared with a smile.

Andy stared up into the darkness. He never told anyone about his life, Zack was the first person he considered talking to about it. Zack was the first person that Andy believed actually listened to him. Zack only had been nice to Andy while Andy had only been mean towards Zack. Andy's mouth hung open, looking for words to say. He didn't really know if he could open up to anyone but he was sure as heck going to try, at least for the one person Andy believed was nice to him.

Andy swallowed. "I never told you my full name, it's Andy Anthony Acker. I was born in Alice Springs, the heart of Australia. My dad's name is Robert Acker and my mom's name is Veronica Acker. They were pretty young when they had me........"

IV. Reflection of LillianEdit

Lillian sat with a smile near her friend Zoe on the far end of the hot spring, away from the bath house in hopes that they could escape Gaia's watchful gaze.

Lillian had curly brown hair which reached to the bottom of her neck. She was an inch shorter than her blond friend. Lillian and Zoe banded together in an attempt to escape the forest due to a mutual distrust of Gaia. Soon, the two girls grew to like each other and formed a friendship. The two were now inseparable and were ever whispering schemes of escape into each other's ears.

"How nice of Gaia, letting us have a break to discuss our lives." said Zoe dryly.

"It's so her wonderful children can work together like good sisters should." replied Lillian, mocking Gaia's warm voice and soft tone.

"Whatever, this gives us a great excuse to talk. We've talked about a bunch of things but we haven't talked about our lives." said Zoe smiling as she leaned back in the water.

Lillian turned away bashfully. "Erm, well my life isn't that interesting to be perfectly honest. I wasn't even aware I had magic until Gaia came and kidnapped me." she admitted.

"Nonsense, I'm sure your life was super exciting and chock-full of magic!" Zoe laughed.

Lillian folded her arms, raised her eyebrows and smiled. "Oh really, how did you know? I suppose I have to tell you the truth." she sighed. "My mom and dad died when I was just a baby to the spell of an evil, ugly, nose-less man. He tried to kill me too but he failed and I got a lightning bolt shaped scar on my forehead. You can't see it because I find it highly embarrassing so I put on makeup to cover it. I live with my abusive relatives where I have to sleep under the stairs. Fortunately however, I leave each year to attend a magical school where I hone my witch power." joked Lillian with a smile.

Zoe laughed, her whole body shaking with joy. "That was awesome Lillian."

Lillian gave a sideways glance. "I haven't read a single Harry Potter book." Lillian admitted quietly.

"Seriously, tell me about your life."

"I told you Zoe, there's not much to tell. I'm just your average British girl."

Zoe swiftly moved through the water until her nose was touching Lillian's. "Tell me your darkest fears, your wildest dreams, I want to look deep inside of you Lillian! Oh please-"

Lillian quickly jerked back through the water with a smile. "Oh fine, oh fine! Quit your theatrics, I'll tell you everything."

Zoe pumped her fists into the air. "Hurrah! That makes two people's lives that I know better than my own." she beamed.

Lillian sighed and leaned back against a rock. "Here's your boring story. Lillian Amanda Bynes was born on May 16 on a rainy day to two ordinary people in an ordinary hospital."

Zoe folded her arms. "They must have done something interesting before you were born."

"Nope. Not even their names are interesting. Henry Bynes and Jenny Bynes. She was a nurse and he's still a business man."

"Wait, your mom's not a nurse anymore?" asked Zoe.

Zoe shook her head. "Nope, she quit to take care of me. Well, actually she began working again about two years ago but she doesn't get paid as much as she would have if she never quit. Due to the trouble I put her through, I'm very grateful towards my mother."

"Aww, how nice for you." cooed Zoe in baby-talk. "Now you said your dad was a "business man"? What kind of "business" does he do?" Lillian lowered her voice. "Illegal business?" she asked.

"Not unless you consider marketing various types of cereal, fruit snacks and juices illegal." replied Lillian with a smile.

Zoe folded her arms and pouted. "Aw phooey. I wanted to keep your dark secret."

Lillian patted her friend on the head. "You can keep the dark secret that I'm the blandest person you'll meet." she consoled. She backed away with a sigh. "Now let's see, where was I before you rudely interrupted me. Oh right, I couldn't get much past my birth!" she cried in good nature as Zoe laughed.

"I haven't really left the Liverpool area but it's pretty big so it's not a big deal. I was born in Prescot, then after four years there, we moved to Aigburth and then to Liverpool proper where I spent the most of my life."

Zoe put her hand over her mouth, trying to keep from bursting into laughter.

Lillian put her hands on her hips. "What is it?"

"Okay, I'm sorry but "Liverpool" sounds really gross. It sounds like the name of a horror movie." explained Zoe, her voice shaky, trying to contain her laughter.

Lillian smiled as she rolled her eyes. "What am I going to do with you?"

"Take me in your flying car so we can go to Hogwarts?" asked Zoe as she fluttered her eyes.

Lillian laughed. "Maybe after you let me finish my story first!" Lillian huffed. "I was an only child and I still am. There are a lot of pictures of me as a baby and my mom seems to remember it well enough so I'll just tell you what I know from my pictures and mom because I can only remember as far back as my fifth birthday. Even then I wasn't particularly rowdy. Sure, I cried a lot but my mom says I petered off a bit as I grew older."

Zoe gave her friend a questioning look. "So you were the perfect little angel?" she asked.

"Well, my mom says when I was a baby I cried a lot and didn't ever let her sleep. When I grew older, I had a bit of a temper and liked to throw my toys at people as I laughed loudly. I was told that I drew a lot, mostly on the walls..." Lillian admitted.

Zoe smiled. "Me too."

Lillian rubbed her face in thought. "I was quite the little DaVinci but now I can't draw to save my life. I would always dance to my father's gramophone, even then I loved music."

Zoe smiled. Lillian was constantly begrudgingly asked Gaia to recharge her iPod which was in her suitcase when she was abducted by Gaia.

"Like I said, by the time I was four I was better but mom says it was because I was disciplined well in preschool. There are a lot of pictures of me dressing up in preschool. I dressed up as a princess, a firefighter and a doctor."

"At the same time?"

"No, no. Although mom always says that I did claim I was going to be a Firefighter-doctor-princess when I grew up."

"Wow, that sure would have brought in the big bucks, er, pounds." said Lillian, correcting herself.

"Speaking of money, we didn't have a lot. We still don't but I don't really mind. We lived in a couple of apartments before finally moving into the terraced house that we live in now. We rented the terrace house for a long time before we finally bought it. It's small but it's home."

"Oh." said Zoe somewhat guiltily as she turned away. She had lived in a mansion in Beverly Hills for all of her life and she rarely encountered someone who wasn't rich.

Lillian turned her head. "What's wrong?"

Zoe shook her head, raised her hands and smiled sheepishly. "Oh, nothing, nothing!" she laughed somewhat nervously. "How was your social life? Did you have many friends?"

"I never had a lot of friends, not a terrible lot anyways. My mom always told me it was better to have only a few friends that truly had your back rather than many friends who really weren't your friends at all. Due to their low numbers, me and my friends were pretty close. We moved a few times so I had to start over a few times but that's the good thing about not having a lot of friends, it's not that hard when you have to move."

Zoe slumped down in the water sadly. "I feel kind of bad now. Didn't you miss them?"

Lillian smiled. "My parents weren't cruel. My mom would always warn me in advance when we were about to move. That way, I got all my friends' phone numbers so I still talk to them regularly. I usually invite all of my friends over to my birthday party where we have a blast and we often have slumber parties. Last time it was at Aleena's house."

Zoe smiled. "That sounds fun!" she exclaimed.

"Yeah, they are. Like I said, I don't have many friends. I'm not really sure why but it's probably because I'm not really that interesting or funny. I'm not outgoing so that probably is a factor too. I really keep to myself."

"So you don't hurt anyone with your wizard powers?"

Lillian chuckled. "Sure, let's go with that. I got along with my cousins and I really liked the younger ones, it was like having a brother or sister for a day but I can see how it can get annoying."

Zoe rolled her eyes. "You have no idea." she groaned.

"I liked my family well enough, there are the few oddballs but we generally got along since they left me alone for the most part." Lillian reflected.

"Well, that's really not what family is about." said Zoe concerned.

"Oh," said Lillian, eyes widening. "I didn't mean it like that." defended Lillian. "I mean, they weren't...piercing I suppose. They didn't try to look into me and ask me uncomfortable questions." she explained. "What should I talk about next? School I suppose...school was pretty easy for me but then again, it was just elementary school. Nevertheless, my mom was pretty proud of me and bragged about how smart and creative I was."

"Creative?" asked Zoe, curious as she looked into the dark sky above.

"Yes. I suppose my mom wanted something to latch onto, something to make her think that giving up her job was worth it." began Lillian, thoughtful.

Zoe put a hand on her friend's shoulder. "Don't say that."

Lillian shook her head. "No, no. I'm not sad, that's the only reason I can think of for why she thought so highly of my creativity."

Zoe smiled slyly. "Well, if I were your mom then I'd think you're pretty creative, drawing on my walls in all."

Lillian chuckled. "So that's it. It also probably had to due with the fact that I was always writing poems."

Zoe's eyes lit up. "You were a poet?!"

"I still am actually, but they're all duds."

"Recite one."

Lillian folded her arms. "Erm, The Sun is the mother, the mother is life, she watches over us, us she nurtures. We are the sun's children, the Earth its sister. We are the sun's children because we can use ourselves to warm others or burn them, just like her." Lillian recited.

Zoe clapped her hands. "That was great!" she exclaimed.

Lillian blushed and looked away. "It was really bad. I wrote that when I was little."

"Well no wonder your mom thought you were creative!"

"I write to pass the time and make observances about the world around me. I actually wrote some about Gaia."

"Ooh, you'll have to show them to me sometime." snickered Zoe deviously. "But please, continue with your story."

"As I said, I was pretty good in school. I would often make poems when I finished my work in class. Home life was pretty normal, my mom was kind of a spartan so I didn't get many things that I didn't need except during Christmas or my birthday. My dad would take me to the record store with him and allowed me to get three records for myself though. I suppose it was his way of apologizing for not always being there."

Zoe raised an eyebrow which Lillian instantly interpreted. "Oh, he was a business man like I said so he often goes on business trips which can be quite lengthy. His trips are usually less frequent and shorter in the summer. Even though he may be gone a lot, I'm thankful since he brings food to the table and I've never felt that he abandoned us, he always comes back." explained Lillian. She sighed. But I abandoned you didn't I? I didn't mean to. If I could, I'd head straight back but that witch has us all trapped here. You knew that I was just a normal girl, right dad?

"Oh, left on long business trips eh? Are you sure he doesn't  just leave to have an affair with some saucy, dark, and mysterious twenty-year-old?" Zoe asked slyly.

"Hey!" Lillian fumed. "Don't you dare joke like that! My father would never do something like that! He couldn't even snag some dark and mysterious twenty-year old if he wanted to, he's way too rugged and goofy! He loves my mom. I know this because...erm, well...let's say they can get a little..." red with embarrassment, Lillian searched for the right word. "...loud when dad's gone for a while. I usually shut myself in my room and play music."

Zoe thunderously laughed out loud. "Oh my god!" she cried.

Lillian turned away. "It's not funny."

"Yes it is!"

Lillian smiled before crying, "Oh, Joshua-" prompting Zoe to swiftly cover her friend's mouth with her hand, not before she turned and saw Helene giggling.

"Fine, your parents can get loud while I can get loud in my dreams. Moving on!" Zoe whispered loudly.

Lillian spoke once Zoe removed her hands. "Anyway, thanks to my dad I began amassing a large collection of records that I would play in the living room record player. I really will listen to anything but I'm more geared towards pop, no doubt thanks to one of my favorite bands, The Beatles."

"Oh, you like The Beatles? Well, of course you do, they're from Liverpool." said Zoe, arms folded.

Lillian smiled widely. "You know about The Beatles!?" she cried ecstatically.

"Well duh, everyone knows about The Beatles. I don't know about you but they're kind of an icon in America." explained Zoe matter-of-factly.

"Oh." replied a disappointed Lillian. "Well, I like The Beatles. I have all of their albums in my record collection. I listen to no less than five records each day. I love music so much that I'm in a band!"

"Really, your in a band?" gasped a shock Zoe.

"Well, kind of. Whenever we find the time, me and my friends practice in my friend, Emily's garage. Our schedules haven't been able to sync up well enough to get more than eight practice sessions under our belts but we've only been at it for a year so I'm sure things will get better." explained Lillian optimistically.

"What's your band's name?"

"The Wisher Pool."

"Oh cool, what do you play?" asked an engrossed Zoe.

Lillian smiled, happy that Zoe was so interested. "I'm not very good but I play the guitar. I practice whenever I can. My friend Marley is trying to teach me to play the keyboard just in case she ever needs me to substitute but it's really, really hard!"

"I could teach you sometime."

"Really!? You know how to play the keyboard?"

"Are you kidding? My mom has made me take piano lessons since I was like three!" cried Zoe.

"Awesome for me! For The Wisher Pool, me along with Emily write our songs when we aren't butchering covers."

"That sounds really great, I'd love to hear you guys."

"Well, I have a recording of a practice session on my iPod if you want to listen later."

"I'd like that."

"Okay, continuing on. There's not really much to tell, like I said, my life's pretty boring. I suppose I can tell you about my pet cat, Chichi. She's the cutest thing and I found her hungry on the streets when mom, dad and me took a trip to London a few years back. When we couldn't find the owner after looking for three days, we decided to keep her. She likes to stare out the window with me. You may think it strange that I like to stare out my window on the second floor of our terrace house but it's not, at least not for me. I don't know, even though my home is surrounded by red brick houses that look exactly like it, I love the view. It makes me think about existence itself you know?"

"Heavy. Did you write a poem about the view?" inquired Zoe.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk. You don't know me well enough Zoe. When in doubt, write it out as I always say...erm, well think."

"So, no witch powers at all?" asked Zoe, her face neutral.

Lillian's face darkened as she shook her head. "Not at all. That's why I want to know why Gaia kidnapped me. I'm not a witch, I never was. There was nothing strange about me. I'd go as far to say that I was the blandest girl in Liverpool yet she still kidnapped me." Lillian revealed angrily.

"Well, you can do magic now." offered Zoe, sad to see her friend in such despair.

"Bah, she could have just made it so I could do magic! We don't know what goes on in that mind of hers."

"True." said Zoe grimly. "She's nothing but a criminal, a crazy one at that. She's a witch with the 'w' replaced with a 'b'!"

Lillian laughed before growing deathly silent as her face saddened."She guilted me into coming you know."

"What?! How!?" Zoe demanded angrily.

"When I demanded to leave, she said that my mom would be so disappointed if I came back home and found out that I missed the train."

"Why's that?" 

"Well, by the time I hit seventh grade, my mom was convinced that I was a genius. I did so well in sixth grade that she was determined to get me into a prestigious boarding school "where I belonged"."

Zoe's eyes lit up. "So you really did go to Hogwarts!"

Lillian smiled and looked away. "Yeah, then they kicked me out because I was too boring."

Zoe laughed.

"No, seriously. The first boarding school my mom sent me off to, I was kicked out of since, despite my grades, I wasn't participating in any activities and they said I 'wasn't active enough in class or in extra activities'." explained Lillian.

Zoe looked upset. "That's a load if I ever heard one."

"My mom thought so too and had a fit when she had to come get me. I told her that I really wasn't cut out for such a fancy school, but she didn't care. She asked all around my family for money and started working again just so she could send me to another school. It kind of made me sad, my frugal mother, living in a small house that looks like it should belong in the fifties, breaking her neck for me. Maybe subconsciously, that's why I couldn't go. I went to two different boarding schools for the remainder of that shcool year. One I was kicked out since I wasn't as smart as my mom thought and the other because of the same reason, the classes were really kicking my butt so my mom decided to dial the challenge back a smidge and enrolled me in easier classes for next year." Lillian sighed. "Summer was a blast, sitting around, not doing much, listening to my tunes but I became a nervous wreck as it neared its end. I didn't want to disappoint my mom, what if I wasn't even cut out for the easier boarding schools? With that gnawing at my poor mind, I intentionally missed the train and spent a few days wandering around Liverpool with my money, afraid to confront my mother."

"Like that book we had to read, Catcher in The Rye I think it was called." Zoe thought aloud,

Lillian smiled. "I suppose I did get a little Holden Caulfield-y back there. Eventually, my money ran out and I decided to go back home. I told the truth and my mom was furious and sent me to back to the train station, this time she accompanied me to make sure I wouldn't chicken out again. The school was okay I suppose, it was really easy but I didn't really talk to anyone. They had a different vibe about them. They seemed so "up there" while I was so "down here". Fortunately, boarding schools allow you to have a lot of breaks so I got to hang out with my friends often. After school was out for the summer, I told my mom about my displeasure and she agreed to search for another boarding school for next year. I tried telling her that it didn't really matter but she said she wanted me in a proper school where I could be happy. I went to a different boarding school the next year. Now I don't want this to sound like a sob-story, I'm really not that sad. It's just that I know that these boarding schools really aren't for me."

"Did you give them a chance?"

"Well, not really but you don't know what it's like. So regulated, so stifling. I need my own space darn it!" said Lillian fiercely before she sighed. "I took more breaks than the other girls because I got homesick. I'm not sure if I was genuinely homesick or if I just wanted release but either way, my mom was clearly beginning to get frustrated so I cut back on the breaks. Me and my mom looked for some other boarding schools for this year, schools that start late. Unfortunately, I've been missing all the trains for the schools or I haven't been accepted. I just missed the train for one of the boarding schools I applied for when Gaia showed up, burned me with her weird symbol, and guilted me into coming. My mom would be so upset that I couldn't get to go to one of the boarding schools and Gaia reasoned that she wouldn't know that I didn't make the train anyway, so here I am."

Zoe gripped her leg hard. "I'm so sorry to hear that. That really sucks." she apologized in a tight voice.

Lillian smiled and shook her head. "Hey, at least I got to meet you." she offered.

Zoe smiled. "Oh shucks." she swallowed. "Hey, any special boy in your life? Have a cute British boyfriend back at home, his legs crossed in anticipation, waiting faithfully by his phone, waiting for you to call him and speak to him in your enticing voice?" she joked slyly.

Lillian laughed. "No, no. I don't have a special boy."

Zoe raised her hands. "Or girl. I don't judge." she said sheepishly.

"I'm not lesbian nor bisexual since I am attracted to cute boys when I pass them. I don't know it's just...the boarding schools that I've went to are all girls so I haven't really had the chance to meet any nice guys. Sure, my friends go to town a lot and some of them get me to talk to some of their friends who they claim "are sooo sweet" but I never really click with them. I suppose I haven't really met anyone whose taken my breath away yet."

"Have you tried cigarettes? I hear they're really good at that." suggested Zoe with a smile.

"I'm not going to smoke! I've never had a boyfriend, I've never even kissed a boy, never held a boy's hand. I want a guy who likes music and is very thought-provoking, he'll look very cool, and act all tough but I'll melt away the ice and he'll be so sweet!" sighed Lillian, fantasizing.

"Well that's kind of a tall-order. We're going to have to do something about that kiss though. How about those boys Gaia's always warning us about?"

"You mean the ones we're supposed to fight?" asked Lillian.

"Hey, the guys momma' wants us to stay away from are always the best! You'll go up to them, seductively say "Hey boys," left up your skirt showing up your panties and BOOM! They'll faint at such a sight and you won't have to fight them!"

Lillian blushed and playfully slapped Zoe on the back on the head. "Quit it! Have you done that with your boyfriend, Joshua that you're always doting about!?"

Zoe smiled deviously. "Maaybee."

Lillian turned away with a smile then unsuspectingly splashed Zoe.

"Hey, cheater!" cried Zoe with a laugh before splashing Lillian.

Lillian returned the splash. It was way too hot to do this but she didn't care, she was with her only friend in this mess, they should be able to have a bit of light in this eternal darkness. Maybe the heat was getting to her.

"Flippendo!" shouted Zoe as she took out a nearby wand and pointed it at her friend, causing Lillian to flip backwards into the air then into the water. 

Lillian quickly resurfaced. "Hey, no fair!"

Zoe chuckled. "You started it!"

"And I'll finish it!" cried a high-pitched voice from behind. 

The two girls quickly looked and saw the feral girl, Xaviera swimming towards them, splashing about.

They shook their heads frantically. "Nonononono!"

Xaviera summoned a large wave of scalding-hot water and rode proudly on top of it, laughing loudly as it crashed into the two friends before sloshing over the rocks and into the forest.

V. Reflection of AkmalEdit

The young teenager looked at the crowd as it presented him with a standing ovation. His team members were showering him with praise as they clapped him on the back. Despite all of this affection thrown at him, the boy regarded the crowd with disdain.



This was just too easy. No challenge, no fun at all. It's lonely at the top...



As Akmal walked down the hall, playfully chattering with his roommate, Juan's words took hold of his thoughts and forced him to go back to the time where he led his local football team to the championships. He wanted to make it to the top in hopes of finding a challenge but to no avail, the final game of the championship was as easy as all of the previous games.



Although Akmal nodded as he made eye contact with Luuk, he saw right past him and behind him, he saw a young Akmal banging on a pot.

                            ...



Akmal went to his room and sighed, still seeing his younger self passionately banging on a metal pot with a large wooden spoon. He reached under his pillow and took out a blue two-thousand page notebook. He slipped a slender red pen with a rubber grip from the spine and uncapped it. He flipped through the book until he got to his current page and looked at the empty page, his mind racing as his body was flooded with memories. He wasn’t saddened due to the memories, just taken aback since there were so many. Akmal tended to look towards the future first, the present second and the past last. He tapped the pen on the paper, collecting his thoughts as small red specks began to clothe the naked, lined sheet.



“Akmal,” said Luuk. “”I’m going to turn on the television. Do you want to watch anything?”



“No, you can choose the channel for now, I’ll watch in a minute.” answered Akmal dismissively. He then began writing on the sheet in his native language of Uzbek.



Recently, I was told by my teacher, Master Juan to think about why I am here, with him, preparing to fight the witches. Throughout my life, even though I am still a teenager, I’ve observed that it’s important to know your goals and not lose sight of your task. If you do, then you might end up fighting towards a result that you do not want. I’m grateful to Juan that he told me to think about my goal because this way I can make sure my reason for this course of action is just. Analysing the situation, being with Juan will indeed help me reach my goal. I still have the same deceptively simple goal, to rise to the top and become the best football player the world has ever known.



Akmal closed the book with a thud and sat it down. You know, I’ve never actually reread this thing before. Even though I already know my goals, it might be fun just to read and see how I reached this point. Akmal opened the notebook and flipped to the front page where he wrote about his birth. Akmal’s book lacked a forward because he felt that he should wait until he was an acclaimed football player and almost ready to publish his book to write the forward since that would allow him to properly lead into the rest of the book.

As you all already know, my name is Akmal Karimov, of the [enter whatever sports team I’ll be part of when I gain worldwide fame here]. Although I am currently living lavishly and comfortably in my multi-million dollar estate, I wasn’t always a member of the fast life a millionaire graced with riches. Shocked? Don’t worry, let me guide you step-by-step. First, let me take you to where it all began, in a little town in Uzbekistan named called Baxt.



(For all you international readers, Baxt means happiness and that name is fitting because I’m always happy whenever I think about my birth town.)



I was born to Zulfizar Karimov (my mother, just in case you somehow thought that was a boy’s name weirdo) and Mansur Karimov on August 20th. I wasn’t born in a fancy hospital or anything. If you really want to know, I was born on my parent’s bed. There was a doctor of course along with my father and my grandfather, Uktam. Although I was later told that my birth was very messy, my parents were joyed at my birth.



I’m actually the middle child, with four siblings before me and three after  [Note: adjust numbers if mom and dad have more kids]. You’d think by the time their youngest child, Nigora, was born, they’d be a tad bit desensitized from the miracle of life but nope, they always had those goofy charming beautiful heartwarming smiles whenever they brought a baby home.



The oldest of the Karimov children was my brother, Salim. I find it funny how the tiniest details can group together to cause the greatest differences between two people. Me and my brother at our core, are the same, we both dream big compared to what we were handed at birth but the differences begin there: we dream big about two completely different things. While I dreamt about becoming the world’s best football player, Salim dreamt about becoming an esteemed Muslim scholar. While I’m patient, he’s more so. While I’m cocky, he’s quite humble. Studying bores me while it excites my brother to the point where his eyes begin to roll backwards. Even though I won’t go into too much detail about Salim right now, keep him in the back of your mind, he’s important so far.



While my father was away working in the factories, my mother would stay home and watch over us. My grandfather didn’t visit us often but when he did he would help out as well. I respect my mother for being able to raise five children at once. Even though, according to trusted sources, I didn’t cry a lot, I still made a lot of noise.



As he read his biography, Akmal began to envision himself banging on pots again, a smile spreading across his face. As he scanned the page, he was shocked that he didn’t specifically note his music making tendencies. He uncapped his pen and sloppily began to scribble outside of the margin.



There's one memory I can’t stop picturing. A little toddler Akmal (adorable, I know) is banging on a large metal pot with a wooden spoon, happy to be a one-man band. My siblings and my mother would tire of my antics after a while. Even though to most this would seem insignificant, given that I’m not a drummer or anything,I see this as very important. Even though it’s obviously not my career choice, I do indeed love music (SHOUT OUT TO [insert whatever artist I find hot in the next few years here]!) and this shows that even as at such a young age, I loved all eyes being on me. Hey, call me vapid but I was told by my mother not to lie! If you want to complain to someone, complain to my mom but don’t come crying to me when she beats you with a frying pan for breaking into her house asking for interviews and whatnot.



Akmal capped his pen and continued reading, pleased at his own life story.



My entire family was Muslim. I noticed that there’s a hierarchy in my family based on faithfulness, with my grandfather being at the top and me at the bottom. Hey, hey, don’t get me wrong. I am faithful and all, I guess I’m just influenced by the highly Russian presence in my country and there’s nothing wrong with that. My grandfather, love him to death, eats, breathes and drinks religion while I don’t. I’m not as religious as say, Salim who dreamt of going to a prestigious Muslim college but I still love Allah and made the pilgrimage to Mecca on [insert date here (you better have went to Mecca before you published this book, you’re rich enough to have done it <.<)] and it was the best feeling of my life [hey, you’re not lying, it will be. If it’s honestly not, then just change it to one of and if it wasn’t at all then well...hope grandpa won’t find you :P]. Even as a kid, no matter where I was or who I was with I never missed a prayer and I always had a compass on hand.



Anyway, as I stated, my musical performances drove my family crazy and to shut me up, Salim would teach me how to read. The book he taught me to read with was the Quran. I have to hand it to him, Salim is pretty skilled to have managed to make me actually learn something so young AND get me to stand still. All the while he was teaching me about the religion that I would grow up with? Simply ingenious Salim, that scoundrel. Are you Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Shinto etc. readers feeling apprehensive seeing me write about my religion? Don’t be, I’m doing so because I feel comfortable talking to you guys about this, you’re my fans. Besides, I’ll talk about other stuff too.



Akmal smirked slyly as he pondered about adding the juicy details of his love life if that ever went anywhere. His female fans would grow jealous of whatever girl he was writing about while simultaneously fawning over him. Heh heh, being famous sure will have its perks that’s for sure Akmal you dirty scoundrel you.



I was allowed to walk around the town a lot with my siblings and sometimes my mother when I turned four. It’s really peculiar, the town was small but that’s what made it so big for me. I could see everything, I could feel everything. It had a charm to it that I can’t easily describe and Baxt will always remain in my heart.



Akmal continued reading, skipping ahead. Around this time I remember seeing my dad more, or maybe I just talked to him more. Don’t tell him I said this, but to me he always looked kind of goofy-looking which is kind of horrifying considering that my mom says I look so much like him. He would always spin me around and until I was dizzy. I would sit in the floor in a haze while gazing into a black swirl which would focus and I would realize that it was his funny-looking mustache. Our house was small and the children would sleep in the largest room, that being our living room and when we wanted to watch something we would all huddle around the television. We didn’t care, the lack of expansive space just brought us all together and it was ludicrous to even think about us not all going somewhere together. You might think that just because I’m stupidly rich now means that I’m disgusted by the life I lived then but the truth is that me and Salim only pursued our dreams because they interested us, the money is just a neat little bonus.



Akmal skipped a page or two about his family life and grew excited as he read the next paragraph. All five of us (the youngest ones would stay with mom) would watch the big kids kick a ball around. Although we all loved it, me and Hansun (my brother who is the third oldest) were particularly enthralled. Even though looking back, they were nowhere as good as me, I just loved how they gave it their all, how they were so passionate about that ball yet theystill enjoyed themselves. The field was dingy, with more dirt than grass but they didn’t care and I didn’t either. To me it looked like a million big kids were having a blast and I couldn’t wait to join them. Me and Hansun would stay glued to our spots, sitting, watching them eagerly. It got to the point where I would bring sandwiches and water. After the end of every game, I would give them a standing ovation.



Akmal scratched the small hairs growing on his chin as he remembered his and Salim’s first exchange about Akmal’s love of football.



“So little Akmal? What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked Salim, firmly holding his younger brother’s arm as they were walking towards the grocery store. It was cloudy yet still hot and humid as the occasional car passed by. Akmal remembered looking up at his brother who was a good three-and-a-half feet taller than him at this point. His brother had sharp facial features like their mother’s, contrasting with Akmal’s soft facial features.



“Who me?” asked Akmal in a small voice.



Salim laughed. “Do you see another Akmal here?”



Akmal grinned. “Well I can go check in one of the cars to see if there’s another Akmal.” Akmal liked being with his brother, even though they had small differences, he felt they meshed well together, even at a young age.



“I mean you, silly cat.” laughed Salim. “What do you want to be when you’re an adult?”

“Ummm.” Akmal’s eyes widened as he gasped. He jumped once causing his brother to stop walking, wondering what profession could have garnered such a reaction from his dear little brother. “I want to be a football player!” cried out Akmal.



Salim raised his eyebrows. “What?!” he shouted. He wasn’t angry, he was still in good spirits. “Why would you want to be a sports player?”



“Because it looks so fun!”



“You should want to be someone who helps people, not someone who gets to goof off!”



Akmal pouted. “It’s very hard work! Apologize Salim!”



Salim chuckled as he sighed. “Fine, fine. I apologize for making fun of footballers.”



“What do you want to be Salim?”



“Well, I want to be a scholar.”



And that was that, we didn’t even leave or tiny little town and we already had our future mapped out. Our first exchange about our future professions was relatively tame compared to future confrontations. We would butt heads again, and again on "why footballers are dumb this”, or “why scholars are nerds that” and our arguments would grow heated but in the end, we always loved each other as brothers.



Akmal read ahead a bit. Don’t go telling your friends Akmal Karimov’s a one-trick pony. Even as a kid I liked all sports. I would ask my dad if we could play sports and every weekend he’d take the entire family to the local bowling alley. There’s a morbid joy of watching a heavy ball make its way down a slippery lane and against all odds, finding its way down and mercilessly slaughtering ten innocent pens...HEY, don’t lock me up! That’s what the game is! Bowling is fun, especially when you get to eat between turns, see the awe of everyone’s face when you get a strike and feel the fear in your opponent’s eyes. Bowling is a deceptively casual sport but it takes skill to master it. Since I’m practically oozing with skill, that was no challenge for me but that doesn’t change the fact that bowling is probably my second favorite sport. It was here that I learned just how good I was at everything physical. Although at first I had trouble controlling the ball at my young age, it soon became lightweight and I learned that I could guide the ball’s path to hit the pins via using hand motions. When I told my siblings about it, I soon discovered that this was not “normal” and they branded me a cheater (such an ugly, disgusting word, gives me the hives just writing it…”cheater” ugh). Hysterical, I stopped using my gift and learned to discover that I could knock down the pins legitimately easily as well. My siblings quickly began to dread competing with me in bowling but I still loved improving my score. Although my siblings grew annoyed, my parents were happy that I was having fun and showered me in praise. I did so well that I’m now part of the Baxt Bowling hall of fame. Check out the place out sometime, it’s really neat and it makes me nostalgic.



At this time, my obsession with physicality really began to flare up. Anywhere I went, I’d want to jog there and I would be shocked to find that my family was about a quarter mile behind me. At home, when it was my turn to choose what to watch on television, I’d always choose to watch a sport such as football or boxing. I would practice my boxing in the house, earning me angry looks from my family. I stopped practicing in the house when I accidently gave my older sister a black eye. My hands were just so fast, I had no idea what I was doing until she started crying.



“Look what your sports have done Akmal!” shouted Salim angrily.



Akmal looked away in shame, tapping his foot on the ground. “It was an accident. I’m only a little kid.” he said meekly. Salim was about to say something else when Akmal quickly added, “When I’m older I’ll learn how to control it, I promise!”



Salim sighed.



Akmal was currently seriously considering omitting the tidbit where he accidently gave his older sister a black eye in fear that it would seriously ruin his image. Akmal shook his head, he would leave it in, he wanted to show the people the real Akmal, no smoke or mirrors. Besides, if he really wasn’t sure by the time he was finished, he’d just consult his manager.



We’d often visit the local mosque to pray as a family. I liked it there, it always smelled nice to me. Salim would often go extra times and I didn’t mind accompanying him. Salim was easily the most avid reader in our house. Since I could read as well, I would mainly read the sports magazines I would find. As I continued to grow, I familiarized myself with the terms that were used on television when talking about sports and the vocabulary became second nature to me. I loved watching the olympics and sat at the screen slack-jawed, hoping one day I could win all the gold medals for my country. The mere thought was euphoric. The camera on me, everyone cheering for me. The challenge, the satisfaction. I wanted to sweat,I wanted them to scream for me, to kiss me and throw roses at me as I just barely crossed the finish line.



Akmal added the part after “for me country” his pen flying at a breakneck pace, a grin growing on his face.



My weeks began to follow a bit of routine ness at that point. I’d watch TV, read magazines, pray, visit the mosque, go bowling, watch the big kids (who were ever growing smaller not-so-big) play soccer and practice running outside.



Akmal sighed as he read on. He glossed over the part where his grandfather gave him a compass for his seventh birthday so he could always know where to face while praying.

Now kids, this is obligatory: Stay in school. I’m serious, you should stay in school but please don’t torture yourself and take extra schooling if you really don’t feel like it! There will always be a Salim out there but for me, school’s more often than not a total bore. This is where it began. Looking back, I’m not quite sure what I thought it would be like going in. I knew there was a playground and I remember thinking that I’d be able to play so many sports yet I also remember Salim saying that he liked it because he learned a lot of new things. To me, learning things isn’t bad, it’s just that it often takes me awhile to get them but no one stops to help you. The first day of school I was utterly amazed at all the different students I saw. Sure, we were all in the same monkey suits but I never saw so many people my age in one spot before. You should have seen me, it blew my little mind. I was disappointed that recess was so proportionally short but I used my time effectively and schooled the other kids in football, solidating my place as the king of the foot quickly. At meetings with my teacher, my parents would call me a social butterfly. I don’t oppose to that, I made friends easily, I’m a very friendly guy ladies pay attention and people tend to gravitate towards me. I found work to be a drag but it WAS my first year so nothing was too bad. Overall, I made a lot of good friends and really got to play sports.



Oh silly me, didn’t mean to gloss over my first dive into my own mad football skills which I bet you’re all just dying to hear about. *sigh* The life of a star, I tell ya’. I was so giddy to finally play football that it was hard to control myself at first but I quickly grew the hang of it. Even though I stumbled and fell, I was working ever diligently to improve my technique and before I knew it I was running circles around the other kids and they all asked me to teach them to no avail. It’s hard for me to teach others how to be as good as I am because even I have trouble explaining it. The ball just feels like it’s a part of me. Always did, always will.



Akmal kept reading, smiling as he read the part where his father allowed him to join a local soccer team over the summer. His grandpa was staying over the summer and he often overheard him discussing with his father job opportunities in the big city.



It was in the summer before my second year of school that I began to show SLIGHT interest in things besides sport but it was mainly music and even that wouldn’t blossom into my full appreciation of it until later. I would also watch some movies with my family though I watched so few that I didn’t begin to show any favoritism towards any particular actor or actress. Mainly I was just focused on playing outside that summer. I’ll give school this, it makes your free time all the more cherished. Me and my brother’s differences began to grow more profound.



Akmal remembered an exchange with Salim on the second to last day of summer.



“So, are you ready to go back to school?” asked Salim with a smile.



“Uhhh…”Akmal began to think tapping his head. “Oh yeah! I’m ready, I want to talk and play with my school friends again!”



Salim looked a bit disappointed. “Really? You don’t want to learn about the world?”



“Not really.” I’m only worried about me...AND MOM AND DAD AND THE REST OF MY FAMILY OF COURSE!”

Salim sighed. “It’s more fun to learn about the world. To find out how it works and why. That’s what I want to do when I grow up.”

“The teacher said the planet is really big, there’s no point in trying to figure out how it works.” countered Akmal in a matter-of-fact-tone.

Salim was silent for a bit. “Well, if we understand it, then the world will become a smaller than we think.”

“The...world...smaller?” asked Akmal quietly. “Ugh, I don’t understand.”

Salim smiled. “You will one day Akmal, you will.” said Salim before Akmal ran off to head to the soccer field with Hansun and another one of his brothers, Husan.

School started once again and I began to find that there were some things that I couldn’t quite understand. Again, I don’t want my fans to think I’m just some dude who dislikes school because it’s boring, my gripe is that it’s hard more than anything else really. I just don’t like the fact that there are somethings that I’m not good at, something that I can’t do. That’s why I don’t like school, it’s a drag just sitting at a desk not moving my legs and I find that doing work is futile because I never seem to get any better. Nevertheless, my brothers and sisters would help me study so I would be able to pass my grade. I think I disappointed Salim and our goals were becoming so pronounced that at a river had formed between us, allowing us to still communicate pretty easily but still separate us. As I continued to play football, my brother continued to immerse himself in his studies. Considering that Salim was a good six years older than me, it’s a miracle that we stayed so close for as long as we did though our separation was inevitable as he began to show more and more skepticism towards my profession.



Akmal remembered himself a few days after his ninth birthday, reading a magazine on his bed when Salim came into the room.

“You know,” Salim began “You should write. It's really good for you and it’s a lot more productive than-”



Akmal sighed. “I’m not interested brother.”



“So you’re just going to spend your life playing with balls?”



Akmal snickered and he covered his face with his hand. “That’s the plan.”



“Could you please think about writing? Writers are great and they’re respected.” pleaded Salim.



“I’ll think about it.” lied Akmal absently as he turned a page.



Oh yeah, I should mention that summer we moved to a slightly bigger house with more rooms. I suppose my parents realized that as growing children, we’d need more space. In our house we still had one television set since it brought us all together no matter if it was mom, dad, Salim, me, Hansun, Husan or the others. This was when my love of music began to flare up greatly and I’d find myself singing while I walked occasionally. Here, I began to watch more movies and poy attention to actors. Since I love music so much, I’ll let you guys be the first to know that I’m planning on becoming a singer as a side job. While I mainly kept outdoors, Salim would stay inside. Even as a young child I would often ask him to play sports with me but he would always answer that he wasn’t athletic enough. It didn’t really help that I was such a beast at every sport. The only sport that he liked playing was bowling.



Akmal skimmed ahead, reading how school had become increasingly harder while he made more and more friends. He maintained a care-free attitude despite his school troubles. Since not much happened in school that year, he decided to skip to the part where he wrote about his tenth birthday.



My grandfather was always the one who gave me the best presents. For my tenth birthday, he gave me a teal sports-bike. I was the only kid in the house with a bike. I was riding it three minutes after he gave it. Apparently it takes people a while to learn how to ride a bike. Not for me, it took no time at all for me to learn and I wouldn’t have it any other way. That bike opened the world up to me, I could travel farther in a shorter time. I was fast but I could go faster on the bike. Even at simple bike riding, I excelled, no one could apparently ride the bike quite as fast as I could. That summer I mainly rode around and dropped in at my friends’ houses. I still did everything that I did the other summers like go to mosques, watch television and play my cherished football. I remember going one day when my mom was worried because I got home so late on my bike.



It was during that school-year when I began to show interest in the ladies. My friends didn’t like how all the girls were madly attracted to me but what can I say, even as a young kid I was a chick magnet. Unfortunately, the cutest girls were always the hardest to woo but we’ll get into that later. I still had a lot of friends and I was interested in this girl named Kamola. Keep her in mind but all you need to know right now is that I would casually talk to her at lunch.



The thing that will probably really interest you guys is that I joined my first official football team during this time. We only played during the spring but I finally got that burst of euphoria seeing those eyes of parents on me. It was fun actually competing with the other team with an actual win/lose count at stake. Sure, the games were really easy for me but my teammates adored me and I made more friends so I didn’t really give a care. As I grew older, I did get a lot of flak for being “fake” since people are just jealous because I have a lot of friends. You shouldn’t hate me, you should hate my abilities, without them I doubt people would notice me. I’m not saddened by that fact since I know that I’ll never lose my skills. That summer, I began developing crushes on several movie stars and singers (that I probably have already dated by this writing) such as my beloved Sitora Farmonova (I LOVE YOU SITORA!! PLEASE NOTICE ME!), Yulduz Usmonova, Feruza Jumaniyozova, Shahzoda, Dilnoza Kubayeva and Sevara Nazarkham. In addition to these lovely ladies, I also began following specific athletes.



Akmal continued reading, making note that he might need to trim some things since nothing of note really happened. He finally found the part where he joined another football team.



It was here that I began to curse my blessed skills. Game and game again, I’d win flawlessly to the point where the team began slacking and depending on me. I held back a bit to make sure they stopped slacking but it wasn’t fun that way. Eventually I just quit because I began to grow bored. I was twelve then. We got a computer and I began researching other sports and grew interested in those as well. In the summer, when Salim wasn’t studying, me and him would go bowling.  By this time I would frequently ride by Kamola’s house in hopes she was outside. If she was, we’d chat it up. By that time we had grown to become close friends. She (obviously) found me quite hilarious. For some reason though, she never admitted she liked me even though it was plain that she was into me. I didn’t make her say anything in fear that I would scare her off.



Akmal skipped half a page. School started again. Fortunately, by this time I began to be able to do the assignments without TOO much trouble but it still tripped me up more times than I’m comfortable with and it was still boring. With the lack of a football team, I found I had more time to hang out with my many friends. The few days that I was free, I would improve on my football skills. Hey, even I always can improve. By this time, me and Kamola were talking regularly and I was growing ever attracted to her. Laugh at me all you want but...well I thought I was in love. Scratch that, I knew I was in love. I know that my original infatuation with her was many superfluous but talking to her, I really grew attached to her, grew protective of her. I think that’s what love is. Sorry if I bummed you out ladies, this little sub-plot has...kind of a happy resolution for all you female Akmal Karimov fans. Akmal closed his eyes and sighed, he began reading again. I like video games as well. The competitive aspect really gets me so I mainly like fighting games. My older sister, Nasiba got a game console and I would play it occasionally. By this time there were three televisions in the house yet we all remained close. Her console was imported and I played Super Smash Brothers. She had all three of them though one was downloaded onto the system. My sister and Salim spoke English fairly well so they helped me if I had any questions.



Akmal then grew thoughtful. It was then when he began writing that very autobiography. After hearing his fervent dream of becoming a world renowned athlete, a friend suggested it to him.



“You know, that way when the press keep bugging you about your life, you can just throw the book in their face and go back to your harem that you keep saying you’ll have.”



Akmal found this favorable and soon got to work. Besides, he knew absolutely everyone would want to hear about his life. Salim was ecstatic to see his brother so passionate about writing.



That was the summer me and my family moved to the city and that was also the summer Salim moved away. I remember it like it was just yesterday.



Salim hugged his parents and was about to leave when Akmal came racing down the street towards the house while on his bike. He quickly hit the brakes and jumped off.



“Are you really leaving Salim?” asked Akmal, panting. He hadn’t really believed that his brother was going so he went to at the edge of town. He sensed that something was wrong and went home.



Salim smiled sadly. “Yes little brother. I’m off to college. I’m going to pursue my dream of becoming a scholar. I’m sure your dream will come to fruition relatively soon. I look forward to the day where I’m surfing through the channels and see your cocky smile.”



Akmal laughed softly before standing there awkwardly.



Salim sighed. “Well little Akmal, this is good-” he was cut short by Akmal running forward in a flash and hugging his brother, tears in his eyes as the hot sun warmed them, the sweaty thirteen-year-old clinging onto his nineteen-year-old brother.  Salim wrapped his arms around Akmal before breaking the hug and smiling.



“Are you crying?” asked Salim with a chuckle as he blinked rapidly.



Akmal sniffed and looked away as he wiped his eyes with his arm. “No. There’s just something in my eye. That’s all.”



Salim laughed. “Hopefully another thing won’t inconveniently set camp in your eye when we meet again my brother.”



Akmal nodded.



Salim bent down and handed Akmal a red pen. “Keep writing that book of yours. Think of me each time you write a letter.”



Akmal smiled and clapped his brother on the back before Salim walked off into the distance.



Before I left, Kamola asked me to meet her at her house. The day I left for the new town I did so and she gave me a long, wet kiss on the lips. It felt so good and I was so stunned. I knew I was in love. We parted ways as we exchanged emails, promising to always stay in touch and to plan to meet again.



The city we moved to was Tashkent and it was HUGE. It was made even huger since I had easy access to an entirely different city via railway. Everything was so foreign to me in Tashkent due to it being a city instead of a town and I was just taken aback. I adjusted quickly though and I grew to love the city since it was so open. There were a lot of football clubs to look into and I quickly made a lot of new friends. Despite my brother’s absence and the new location, I would still visit mosques regularly. I would email my dear Kamola on a regular basis. It was here when I decided to join a big team and make it to the top of the little leagues. I did it more to get a challenge than anything. I was used to the praise after I played with my new school’s team for awhile so I wanted more, I wanted to be pushed to my limits.



Akmal sighed as his heart grew heavy. He whispered the words as he began to read them.



I treated my team as an extension of me. We trained almost everyday, training was tough and I pushed them harder than our own coach and they respected me for it. I told them to prepare for anything as we quickly began climbing to the top. My spirits began to plummet once we actually began the games. The games were easy, stupidly easy. Sure, it would get harder and harder but not hard enough. I finally grew excited once we made it to the finals. It would be a challenge right? I would feel as though I deserved the trophy, that I really worked for it. Surely there would be someone like me, right? No, there wasn’t. I won the game without so much

as a sweat. My team members congratulated me but I didn’t care. Football wasn’t fun if it was a pushover, I realized that then. Nothing really is. You need to be challenged, to feel as if you accomplished something. I wanted someone to be as good as me. It’s lonely at the top. It’s lonely when you have no peer or equal, when you’re an elephant in a world of ants. I was determined then. I had to make it big, I had to have people adore me, I had to be be challenged.



To make matters worse, the day me and my team won the big game, Kamola told me via email that she had found a new boyfriend, someone who could actually touch her, hold her. I was heartbroken. Naturally, she came running back to me after she learned of me winning the little league championship but then I realized she was rotten. At that point I really began chasing girls. So there you go, I’m available ladies. Do you play football? Because I think I’m gonna score tonight. [Insert fan club phone number here]. I also met one of my best friends at this time.



Akmal sighed as he was packing up for the day after practicing his football skills in a stadium. The club let him practice from four to seven each day. He didn’t notice but the janitor would often stop cleaning the bleachers to watch him play.



“Hey,” called the janitor. “You’re pretty good.” he shouted from across the field as he leaned against a wall. He had long blank hair, tan skin and a crooked back. He had a small mustache and always wore a gray cap.



Akmal looked at him boredly. “Thanks.”



“You know, I could give you some pointers kid.” said the janitor as he began to hobble over towards the goal where Akmal was standing.



Akmal failed to hide his smile. “Who? You?”



“Yes me. I can tell you don’t believe that I can help you.” the janitor stated grumpily.



“Sorry, it’s just that you’re a-”



“Janitor?” the man asked, raising his eyebrows. “You need to learn some manners. And to see with your heart as opposed to your eyes.”



“What?!” laughed Akmal before he fell forward, the janitor suddenly behind him.



“Lesson one, don’t be cocky. No matter how it looks, always know your surroundings.”



Akmal slowly got up. “How did you-?”



“I know exactly who you are Akmal Karimov, little cup champion. I see how you talk to the ladies and how big your head is. Are you content with being the best of the worst or do you wish to play with the big boys?” the janitor asked sternly.



Akmal couldn’t believe his ears. “I want to play with the big-”



“Then I implore you to come here again everyday from six to seven to train with me. Bring water, I shall not go easy on you.”



Akmal smiled a cocky smiled. “Fine, I’m game. What’s your name?”



“Babur Babayev. Now get some rest. You’re going to need it.”



And just like that I became acquainted with Babur. For a janitor, he had some skills. He used his wits to go toe-to-toe with me and our training was taxing. He would encourage me to play football games while holding back, forcing me to rely on my wits. It was Babur who suggested that my skills might be supernatural in nature. Akmal added a small tidbit. Later, I would find out his outrageous theories weren’t so outrageous after all. As far as my love life went, I had a few girlfriends but they all broke up with me quickly and I didn’t feel much towards them. I had a close friend who was a girl named Dildora but she liked to hit me a lot and was a tomboy. Still, Dildora had a soft side and was kind of cute but I knew it wouldn’t go anywhere and we were only just friends. She got angry whenever I pretended I was coming on to her. Akmal thought of Dildora, back in Tashkent. He knew she wasn’t thinking about him right now. She didn’t care about him, did she? He felt secure around her but he wasn’t compelled to protect her. She had a mean left hook and was perfectly capable of defending herself.



Akmal remembered Babur’s speech about goals.



They were finished training one day and Babur was about to leave the stadium when Akmal called out after him.



“Hey Babur, if you were such a great football player then why are you a janitor?”



Babur went rigid before he relaxed with a sigh. “Because I lost sight of my path.”



“What do you mean?” asked Akmal curious, approaching his friend.



Babur sighed again and turned around. “As a teenager, I did indeed want to be a football player but...my mother wanted me to be an actor.” Babur shook his head sadly. “I had no intention of going into acting but my mother was so adamant about it that I went into acting just to please her. I kept working and working as an actor, telling myself that it would somehow help me with my dream, that it would lead me to become a famous athlete but by time I had opened my eyes it was too late. I hurt my back badly during a stunt shoot, crippling me. It hurts just to stand most of the time.I only feel good around you. All that time, I somehow believed that the path I was following led to my dream, that it was what I wanted but it wasn’t, I was roped along, following someone else’s dream. I want you to remember Akmal, never lose sight of your dreams, whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re doing it because you want to do it and not because of someone else. Many bad people will attempt to use you, don’t let them. Always think rationally and see through lies. Allah will help you see the light, never forget that.”

Akmal stood there for awhile, absorbing his teacher’s words before nodding with a smile. “I understand.”

Akmal continued to train with his friend and soon he began playing games again, trying to use his wits as Babur instructed him. That soon stopped being a challenge as well but he continued to try to find new ways to challenge himself, bearing through school and training hard in hopes of making it to the big leagues one day. Juan found Akmal one day after he had finished a mock game, convincing Akmal to join him in order to compete against others who could challenge him.

Akmal closed his book with a smile. He had gotten his wish, every one of his new comrades were skilled. “Hey, Luuk.”

Luuk looked at his roommate. “Took you long enough.”

Akmal smirked. “Let’s watch football.”

VI. Reflection of FeliciaEdit

A pale girl with light-brown hair stood at a distance from her fellow witches, her hand over her mouth as she examined the area with half closed eyes. She had crossed her arms around her chest, bashful of her body which most regarded as beautiful.

Felicia wasn't too fond of Gaia's bright idea to have everyone talk to one another about their pasts. She didn't really mind listening to the other witches' life stories, it just was the talking that made her nervous due to her dreadful shyness. Felucia noticed Amalija frantically fleeing away from Isabella and cocked her head curiously.

Despite the shyness and the apathy that compelled the young lady to resign to the position of a near-mute, Felicia was a curious creature and as such she cautiously moved towards Isabella, the water splashing as she moved. 

The pleasant warmness of Felicia's lower half contrasted with the coolness of her upper torso courtesy of the dark forest that the witches were being held in order to be sheltered from their enemies.

Felecia's heart began to race as she approached, Isabella's back. Something about Isabella's presence made her grow uneasy, almost queasy. Despite the unpleasantness of the feeling, Felecia had begun to love anything that made her heart race and so she quickened her pace.

Once she arrived at her destination, she tentatively tapped Isabella's back prompting the girl to turn around. Felicia couldn't help but jerk back slightly due to Isabella's uncharacteristic expression, a frown.

Isabella quickly adopted her devious smile once again, prompting Felicia to wonder if she simply imagined Isabella frowning. 

"What's 'sup?" asked Isabella nonchalantly as she put her hands on her hip.

Felicia looked away, biting her lower lip and she played with her hands, deciding whether or not if she would reply and if so, how.

Isabella blinked confusedly at this display and scratched the back of her head and looked away, wanting to give her peer privacy to do whatever she was doing.

After a bit of silence, Felicia finally declared in her soft voice, "I would like to speak to you about my life."

Isabella leaned forward, with a smile. "Sorry, I didn't catch that. Could you use your outside voice?"

Felicia blew out a quick breath. "I would like to speak to you about my life." she repeated, in a normal volume.

Isabella put a hand on her shoulder, causing Felicia to jump slightly. "Atta' girl! We'll work on it." she proclaimed. "Say, why are you so shy? You're pretty damn cute if I say so myself."

Felicia's face grew hot as she looked at Isabella in red-hot-embarrassment. "N-n-no. I am j-just your average, plain girl." she refuted, her face red as a beet.

"Nonsense," laughed Isabella. "You're gorgeous and you should flaunt it!"

Felicia looked down. "I would never be so vain as to-"

"Anyway, your story?" 

"Oh, of course. Forewarning however, my life is dreadfully uneventful and I would not want to bore you. I understand if you wish to walk away now." explained Felicia politely.

Isabella chuckled. "Heh, shoot. I think I could go for a "normal" story to temper mine. I might tell you it later. Hopefully you don't faint like you do sometimes, wouldn't want you drownin' on us now would we?"

Felicia shook her head bashfully.

Isabella floated on her back and put her hands behind her head. "Take it away." she proclaimed with a smile as she closed her eyes.

Felicia nodded. " I was born in my humble home in the center of a lush valley in Norrland...." Felicia began, choosing her words carefully and saying them so delicately as if they would shatter if she said them hard enough.

Isabella opened her eyes, sat up and help out a hand. "Whoa, whoa, hold on. Norrland?" Isabella re-closed her eyes and put a finger in her ear. "Hate to sound rude towards such a little delicate thing like you but I'm not bullshittinng when I say I've been everywhere and I never heard of this "Norrland" place before." she interrupted in a slightly scoffing manner.

Felecia blushed, and turned away in shame. "My dear apologies ma'am. Nor-"

Isabella laughed. "Ma'am!? Please, just call me Isabella, Izzy if you want. Don't make me die of laughter!"

Felicia gave a quick nod. "Sorry...Isabella."

Isabella nodded. "There ya' go. Don't be so...I don't know, afraid all the time. Now go on."

Felicia looked towards the sky and tapped her chin, pondering. She moved her light-brown hair out of her bright blue eyes as she looked at the twinkling stars that complimented the night sky. "Now where was I again...?" she thought aloud. She brought her hands together with a slight smile, pleased she wouldn't have to make her listener wait any longer. "Oh yes, Norrland is just what we call the northern section of Sweden. W-"

"Whoa! You live in Sweden!? That's so cool! Sweden's sooo pretty!" Isabella gawked.

Felicia smiled slightly as she looked away and twirled a strand of her brown hair around her finger. "Oh shucks, it is really nothing, honestly."

Isabella folded her arms and simply rolled her eyes with a smile.

"Not a lot of people live in Norrland, mostly on the coast. Me and my family live inland however in a valley as I said. Norrland gets a bad reputation sometimes, they say the wilderness is evil but it has only been nice to me and my family. I think people see the wilderness in Norrland as evil because they have become so detached from it that they can not even understand it, and you know how people react when they do not understand something..."

Isabella gave a short chuckle as she bit the inside of her cheek and nodded in understanding.

Felecia put a hand on her cheek and looked at the water sleepily. "Oh but who am to criticize them? If I were in their position I would probably face the same issues. Knowing as much as I do now, my family probably did not have much problems with the wilderness due to the simple fact that we were witches...."

Isabella raised her eyebrows slightly. "We? Others in your family were witches?" she asked curious, remembering her own mother, who had a past history of magic.

"Well yes, me, my mother and my grandmother, to wit. Maybe that is why the valley that I live in is a perfect circle. Only one orange tree tree grows in our valley and that is only because my grandmother planted it there when she was simply a mere child. When I was little, my grandmother would sit me on her lap while she rocked in her her home-made rocking chair. In her craggy voice, she told me that her grandmother created the valley that I call home, she told me her grandmother held my great-grandmother with one hand and used a stick in her other hand as she caused the trees to uplift their roots and walk away, clearing the area in five minutes. I smiled to myself as I drifted to sleep, believing that it was simply a tale to tell at bedtime but now, I am not so sure."

Felicia sank down in the water and briefly made eye contact with Isabella who was smiling, eyes half-closed before looking away again. "I suppose it would be best to tell you about my much more interesting parents before I bore you with the many facts of my own life. The land that I occupy is from my mother's side. As I told you, my great-great-great grandmother was the founder of the land and each one of her three children made sure to work around the clock to make sure everything ran smoothly. Everyone decided to move away except for my great-great-grandmother who then had six children, then they all decided to leave except for my great-grandmother who then had nine children, then they all left except my grandmother who then had three children then they all decided to leave except for my mother who only conceived me. Oh my...am I boring you?" Felicia asked as she began to grow wrought with worry.

Isabella looked up from her fingernails to Felicia. "Huh, oh no! It's pretty damn interesting actually!" "Except," Isabella smiled sheepishly. "Don't ask me to recite anything."

"Are you sure? You can leave if you want..." informed Felicia her voice growing quieter.

"Please, then you'll have no one to talk to. Just keep goin' girl!"

Felicia nodded without cheer. "Very well then. I think that they were all inflicted with a curse. A curse that only affects the witches in my family, a curse that states that they cannot leave the land, that they must remain there until the day they die, that even if they leave for a short while, they will come running back in haste. The desire to uphold the land consumes them, does not allow them to live any other way." Felicia explained solemnly. "And I think I'm inflicted with this curse. I want to leave my farm so badly but...I can not. Like my grandmothers and mother before me, it is my duty to stay at the farm, and tend to it until I can not tend to myself."

Isabella nodded as she looked at her nails and smiled. My, this does sound interesting.

"My father's family is from the big city, Stockholm. When you think Sweden, you are most likely thinking of Stockholm. It is actually pretty marvelous there. You would think that since I love nature so much that I would detest the big city but that is false. It iss just so exciting, the big structures, the cars, the exhaust, the chance of getting mugged. It is all so exhilarating!" said Felicia, her heart beginning to race, as she began to breathe heavily and her eyes widened.

Isabella tilted her head as she scrunched up her face in confusion. "Huh? You're trying to sell me the idea that you actually like getting robbed?" she asked in utter bafflement.

Felicia's smile slowly shrank. "Well no, but the prospect is exciting. It just makes your heart race does it not?"

Isabella shrugged. "Naw, not really. I'm the typa' girl that will break someone's neck if someone that I'm not cool with even thinks about touching me."

"Oh..." said Felicia, her face flushing.

"By the way, aren't you kind of prone to fainting when you get excited? "

"Oh, why yes, yes I am...I guess I can be a tad bit contradictory...on occasion."

Isabella lowered her eyelids. "A tad? On occ- oh just finish the goddamn story."

"Oh yes, very well. As I was saying, my father's family was a family of bankers from Stockholm. One day on a hiking trip, my father stumbled upon my mother's valley and met my mother. He was absolutely captivated by her charm and beauty while she was absolutely enthralled by his intelligence and beauty. He loved my mother so much that he decided to stay for a month. He begrudgingly left once he had gotten a call from my grandfather, telling him that he had a job interview to get to. About a month after that, my mother had called my father, informing him that he had impregnated her with a baby, with me."

Isabella laughed and clapped. "Woohoo! Way to go Ms. Felecia's mom! That'll keep em'!"

Felicia looked away blushing. She cleared her throat before speaking again. "Um, anyway, that was all that my father needed to convince him to run away. He was already contemplating it the very second he got back to Stockholm. So my parents eloped, their wedding was small but it got the job done, they were bound until death did them part. I was born not too long after their wedding. I was born in my living, room, delivered by my very own grandmother and I was told that I was quite small. I am told that like my mother before me I was a playful baby who liked running into the barns and playing with the animals. That is how my mother gave me the name Piggy."

"Piggy? That sounds kind of insulting."

"Oh no, it is not about my size, she gave me that nickname because I would always play around with the pigs in the pen as a babe."

Isabella laughed and nudged Felicia with her knee. "Ohoho! I never even  mentioned fatness! Someone's conscious about their weight!" she laughed.

Felecia looked at her feet in shame as she grew red, her eyes growing misty.

"W-what!?" exclaimed Isabella. She quickly grabbed Felicia's shoulders. "I was kidding! You're skinny! Geez, can't you take a joke?"

Felicia was silent for a bit as she let out a deep sigh to regain her composure. "When I grew old enough to walk and talk...I started hearing things. The forest, it was calling to me. It sounded as if the birds and trees were talking to me, seducing me to go forward into the woods and play. Playing with grandma was fun but the night seemed even more fun, it was so secret, so taboo since I had to be in bed. I headed my friend the wilderness' call and I sneaked into the woods. What I did next was...embarrassing to say the least. In the woods I felt...Gaia, I believe, flow into me. I shed my clothes and danced to a music so bizarre and foreign yet so near to my heart. It is hard to explain really. My father was frantic as he looked for me, screaming in horror once he found out what I was doing. He reprimanded me, made me feel ashamed about what I did. Him, my mother and my grandmother got in a huge fight about it."

Tears began to silently roll in Felicia's face as she began to choke softly, prompting Isabella to put her hand on her shoulders.

"Easy girl, it's alright. Let it all out. You can cry. I'm here for ya'." she said sympathetically with a smile.

Felicia licked her lips, her eyes wide with sorrow. "My mother and grandmother were arguing that I should be allowed to express myself, to be who I am, but my father would not have any of it, he was scared for me, he was worried I'd get mixed up in some hellish cult. I-I did not want them to fight anymore, especially over someone as insignificant as me so I made a vow never to dance in the woods again."

"You never went in the woods again?" asked Isabella sadly.

Felicia wiped her eyes and frantically waved her hands in front of her. "Oh no no no! I never danced in the woods again. I could never impose such an oridance upon myself. I still went into the forest to play with the animals, to speak to them because it always felt right to speak to them. They were so majestic sometimes, secretly I envy them."

"Why would you envy animals?" asked Isabella. "I mean, they're no better than us. They're just stupid animals." I get that feeling too sometimes, how do you justify it?

"Animals are not stupid!" Felicia uncharacteristically shouted, causing Isabella to jump back in fright and everyone else to turn to her in shock.

Felicia blushed as she cleared her throat. "I apologize for my...outburst but I take great offense to your last statement. Animals are more pure and innocnet than we can ever hope to be. From the smallest microorganism to the largest whale, animals shall always be more graceful than humans. It is not that I do not like humans, it is just that animals at their core, do everything we do so much better."

Isabella folded her arms. "Oh really? I never saw an animal build The Sphinx."

Felicia shook her head and smiled. "They do not need to. Case in point, Kajsa. I found my sweet little Kajsa when I was ten when he stumbled into our valley. He was just a poor little kitten and was hungry and so I made him full with our cows' milk. I did not even need to ask anyone, because they know the joys of having an animal companion. Kajsa soon became my best and only friend. He goes with me wherever I go, he keeps me warm at night and I love him very much."

"Wait...you...Kajsa is your only friend?" asked Isabella, her face sad.

"Yes, but I do not mind. It would be fun to have some human friends however. Just to see what it is like." replied Felicia putting her fist on her chin and looking up.

"I could be your friend if you don't mind." suggested Isabella with a smile.

Felicia simply nodded once. "You probably already caught this, but I live on a farm with Kajsa and all the animals. I have since I was born and if not for Gaia, I would be there right now. It's a simple life, not very taxing and I get to be with the animals. People sometimes arrive so that I can sell the goods. The smell from the barn is nice and there is nothing quite tasty as fresh eggs, bacon and milk in the morning. It is a lot better than breakfast in the city."

"Mmhmm! You can say that again! Some of those diners really blow!" Isabella complained.

"Do not get me wrong, I love my farm. It just gets so...so dreadfully drab. Maybe at least a year away from it, that is all I would need. Already I am beginning to grow happy due to all the new things I am seeing. Anyway, as a young child my father would take me and my mother places, only for us to grow restless and long for home. I think one of the reasons that I do not crave home now is that this forest is much more enchanted than my valley back at home." explained Felicia, delicately and thoughtfully, her lips softly moving as she spoke, her not stumbling over any words as her clear baby-blue eyes looked around. She could feel than an unseen party was watching her and Isabella.

"Where were some of the places your father took you?"

Felicia smiled softly. "Excellent question. It really is terrific you know. He would frequently take me to the beach where he taught me how to swim. I was an expert, learning how to swim well on my first try, back when I was only five years old. I love the ocean, the smell of the it just calms me so much. It is strange how invigorating yet so calming it can be, it really depends on your mood honestly. The water is so cold and blue that you wish you could somehow take all of it home and use it eternally for a bath. And I could talk you ragged about the sand...."

Isabella smiled to herself. She was pleased that she managed to get the normally mute Felicia to talk so much, she thought she liked this Felicia better but figured that she would go back to her normal silent self after she was done telling her story. She didn't mind though, she had found a friend and that was good enough for her. She began staring at Felicia, wondering how and why Gaia had managed to make someone so beautiful.

Felicia did likewise although in the form of glances. She wondered if she'd look like Isabella in a few years. She thought that she hit puberty but compared to Isabella she just felt inferior.

Isabella quickly brushed aside her thoughts. "Any other cool place worth mentioning?"

"I went to Stockholm four times, each time slightly less exciting than the last but still filled with wonders. I just can not put into words how beautiful and amazing the cities are. There are so many things, to buy, to see, to taste, to smell. I wish I could stay in a city hotel for a looong time to see all the wonders of the sreets." gushed Felicia as she clasped her hands together.

Isabella gave a cheeky smile as she shrugged and closed her eyes. "You get used, to it trust me."

"Then I would just go somewhere else, but I can not because of my curse. Forced to milk the cows, groom the horses, feed the chickens again and again. My life is an imense bore. It is meaningless because it is just too boring. I sometimes feel like running into walls because I just have the burning urge to feel something. I already have read most of the books in my house, there is not anything left to learn from those. For some reason, I just could not leave my valley. I know it is due to my witch ancestry, that I was bound by that magical place. To me, it is not even magical anymore because I am so used to it. Now it is simply a prison, surrounded by forest."

"That stinks. I'd hate bein' trapped somewhere ya' know? Well, of course you know. Got any TV? Radio?"

"One of each, that is pretty much my only solace and only on some days. You can only have so much of one thing. Sure, there are different songs, but it is still just a radio and not that good of one at that. I also ride horses for fun from time to time, that usually cheers me up." Felicia droned on.

Isabella threw out her hands. "See!? There you go! Fun!"

"But it is not enough. I was still in that dreaded valley when I should have been seeing the world, doing exciting new things. It would not even be that bad if there were other inmates in the prison. Well, beside Kajsa of course but I doubt he minded very much."

Isabella put her hands on her hips then blinked. "Wait, what? What about your parents and grandmother?"

"Oh, I must of forgotten to mention that. They're dead." revealed Felicia nonchalantly.

"Dead!? What happened Felicia?"

"I do not like recalling it but if you insist..." Felicia sighed. "They became very ill. They came down with a flu and I could not help them. I called the doctor and he said they had a week maximum. Under my care, they lived four more months although they were delirious and bedridden. If only I had the power to save them. You would think being a witch I could do that, that I would be able to protect them, to bring them back from death." Felicia said, her voice beginning to crack. "All of that because I was not strong enough. I prac-"

"You did not kill them. You are not a murderer Felicia." insisted Isabella through clenched teeth, poorly containing her rage.

"My grandmother was the last to go. The last thing she said was, "Bye my sweet Felicia. I'm going back to mother now, to Gaia. I know she'll raise you well." At first I thought she was just delirious, then I figured she was talking about the Earth, which she ultimately was. I suppose I just never expected the Earth to be so human."

Isabella nodded solemnly. "I'm sorry I-"

"Don't sweat it, I did not cry for long. I am quite an apathetic girl." Felicia explained, turning away.

"So how was your education? Did you go to school." asked Isabella, desperate to change the subject.

Felicia shook her head. "No, I did not attend school. I read a lot of books though and as a little girl I had a private tutor. Among other things, he taught me how to play the piano."

Isabella smiled before frowning again. "Um, not to pry but how old were you exactly when..."

"Eleven."

"Oh, so sorry to hear that."

"The past is in the past Isabella, we should just move on." said Felicia with a weak smile.

Isabella nodded with a smile and thumbs up. "That's absolutely right."

"Is that what you tell yourself at night Isabella? Is that what you say so you can live with your sins!?" barked Amalija from behind a tree before stomping towards the edge of the hot springs furiously, her body jiggling with each stomp.

Isabella waved vigorously with a wide smile and raised eyebrows. "Oh heya' Amaleej, I thought-"

"Be quiet you monster! You have every reason to not move forward! Hell is the only punishment fit enough for you!"

Felicia frowned. "That was harsh. What did she even do to warrant such a volatile reaction from you?"

Amaljia laughed as she sat down, crossed her legs, and folded her arms over her chest. She shook slightly, afraid to be so close to Isabella. "Oh, she didn't tell you? I guess that's why you're still standing there."

Felicia turned towards Isabella, with a bored face. "Tell me what?"

Isabella swallowed and sighed. Great, and just after I made a friend. "Get comfortable, this'll take awhile. I was created sixteen years ago..." Isabella sighed, her soul filled with woe.

                                                                          ...

"And here we are now. Explaining my life. Any questions?"

Amalija shook her head slowly, her eyes wide with horror, on the verge of vomiting.

"Nothing comes to mind right now." said Felicia quietly, struck with awe.

Isabella turned away. "You can leave now."

"Why would I leave?" asked Felicia, her face stern.

Isabella turned around in disbelief. "Whaddayamean "why would I leave"!?"

"I mean just that. Why would I leave when my new friend's life so interesting compared to mine?"

"What!?" cried Amalija and Felicia in unison.

"You mean this beast intrigues you!? You're mad!" Amalija cried.

"Hold the friggin' phone Lecia! You're trying to tell me that you're not in the least big freaked out!?" Isabella cried in disbelief.

"Well, yes, a bit, certainly but I can look past that. I can tell you are a good person and that you did not mean to hurt people. All those deaths were not your fault Isabella and you should not treat them as such."

"Yes she should! You're no better than her! And here I thought you were the best one here!" cried Amalija, tears forming in her eyes.

"She's right you know." sighed Isabella. 

"One day, you will see that you are actually a great person, since you will not listen to me today. Fine, I also still want to be your friend because you are so bizarre! I want to be your friend because I know you will keep me entertained." explained Amalija with a soft smile.

Isabella chuckled. "You're insane."

Felicia shook her head. "No, just bored."

Amalija stood up and began backing away slowly. "You-you're both evil you both-"

"I think that you are hiding something. I believe you are being so mean because you did something that you can not come into terms with and the only way for you to forget that is to find someone you believe is worse and pester them. Tell us Amalija, what happened in your life?" said Amalija softly as she looked into Amalija's eyes. Seeing the fear and self-hatred.

Amalija grew pale. "Well...not much it's just that I'm-"

"Tell us the entire story Amaleej. You heard about our lives so it's only fair that we hear yours." said Isabella.

"I don't want to talk about it."

Isabella sighed as she shoved Amalija into the hot spring. Once her head emerged, sputtering and coughing, Isabella folded her arms and proclaimed, "It's time to stop running from it. It didn't help me and it sure as heck won't help you."

"Just tell us." pleaded Felicia softly. In truth, she was eager to possibly hear about Amalija's life, hoping it was more eventful than her own.

Amalija closed her eyes and began sobbing. She began rubbing her eyes as she shook. "Alright, I'll talk...."

VII. Reflection of EzizEdit

Why are you here?

The words of his master, Juan Carlos echoed in Eziz's head as he levitated down the spacious hallway towards his room in silence. His eyes were closed, he could tell where to go due to the heat of the walls compared to the open air.

Well, I'm here because you summoned me. You summoned me and you proved yourself a worthy man to follow. That is all, I have no ambitions of my own.

Eziz exhaled out of his mouth as he sensed he was approaching his door. Not too far behind him was his roomate, Afwerki. Afwerki was a holyman and an outspoken activist from the country of Eritrea in Africa. Afwerki was a good man, he certainly could get into tangents and probed Eziz a bit too much for his liking but Eziz knew that he meant well and certainly was satisfied with him as a roommate.

Eziz began to reflect on more of the elderly psychic's words. What compelled you to follow me and abandon your lives?

Eziz floated down a bit and twisted the knob of his door as his entire body floated towards the cealing. The door creaked open before he swiftly flew inside, and flew towards the lower bunk where he took the sheet and covered himself with it. He slowly floated towards the bottom of the top bunk while the sheet covered his body barring his head, as if he was possessed by a ghost. Using a bit of mental concentration, he grunted and slowly floated back down until he was about two inches above the matress.

I had no life. Simple as that.

Those witches, I wonder about them. To myself I think about how I would feel...killing them. Eziz looked at his hand under the sheet as it began glowing a faint red. These hands are only meant to destroy. At least now I'll be destroying something evil. Yes, Master Juan has supplied me with a goal that will aid humanity instead of hindering it. I'm glad Juan is such a kind, just man who made even someone like me productive.

Afwerki entered the room, peeked out the door to see if anyone was around, then slowly closed the door before climbing the metal ladder to the top bunk then sitting down, staring out the window.

The two boys did not require their light to be on due to the light of the moon adequately illuminating the room for the time being. The objects of the room were lit by the soft, pale light of the moon and the two boys would not have it any other way.

Eziz felt the position of Afwerki by quickly examining the air. "Meditating again?"

"Yes." Afwerki responded simply, not wanting to corrupt his concentration.

"Okay, I shall retire for the night." Eziz responded in his tentative English.

Afwerki held the sigh due to his broken concentration inward. "Okay then. I wish you good sleeping."

Eziz closed his eyes and began to drift towards the realm of sleep. He could go to sleep without preperation due to him not changing out of his attire that day of a black tank-top and cycling shorts. He didn't find himself cold due to his ability to manipulate his body heat.

He was wary of rest. Ever since he departed from his country with Master Juan, he found sleep to be a well-earned necessity but found that it tended to posess a certain unpleasantness...

                                                                 ...

The day was a particular hot one as children looked at the Turkmesh presidential palace. Men in black were a ways away from them.

"They're like imitation humans." said a child in a dark, distorted voice as a nearby child, a younger Eziz clutched his head in pain and backed away. Several children surrounded Eziz, huddling around him, their concerned voices like the buzzing of bees.

"Eziz!"

"Ezzy!"

"What's wrong Eziz!?"

"Are you okay?"

"Are you hurt?"

"No." the young Eziz managed to say in a mix between a bark and a cry before he began screaming out in pain, glowing red veigns appearing on his forehead.

Eziz began writhing on the ground in pain, as if suffering from an epileptic seizure. His own screams hurt his head even more as voices and images flashed in his mind. Fire, so much fire. He was beginning to grow hot and he felt as if he would burst.

Sight itself was also painful to the boy so he closed his eyes. To his horror he saw everything around him but the people were all varying shades of red, the hotter the bodypart the redder they were. Through this weird "heat-vision" the boy saw his father run towards him and one of the men-in-black pull out a gun.

Angry, Eziz instinctly set the man on fire using his inflamed mind. The only thing Eziz knew now was this his body was on fire and his mind was racing as he saw a giant  emerald-eyed beast made of dripping lava emerging from a volcano, its rock hands gripping the volcano's sides. It let out a hellish roar before Eziz let out a roar of his own and everything became pink.


Eziz opened his eyes wide as he breathed heavily, his heart quickly thumping eratically. It hurt when he swallowed and he was in a sweat, his drenched sheet clinging onto his body.

Concentrating as much as he could, Eziz abruptly stopped floating and sat up by using the back wall as support, hand on his burning forehead.

Afwerki had emerged from the bathroom with a container of water. He walked to the edge of Eziz's bunk and held it out patiently.

Eziz nodded with a weak smile and quickly took the water. "Sag bolun." he said in a dry, parched voice. Afwerki tilted his head confusedly at this. Eziz jammed the spout in his mouth as he tilted his head back. The blessed cold water penetrated his desert-like mouth, filling it with its wetness before he allowed it to slither down his hot throat.

Eziz finished the container with a relieved gasp. "Sorry, thank you." corrected Eziz. As he handed the container back to Afwerki.

Afwerki shook his head. "It's quite alright my brother" 

The two were silent before Afwerki asked, "Would you like to talk about this?"

Eziz looked at him then blinked twice. "I do not know. Do you think that it will help me?"

Afwerki nodded. "I find that talking to another person helps people heal and grow. Since these nightmares have persisted I think you need help."

Eziz raised an eyebrow. "Oh, so you've heard them?"

Afwerki nodded and looked away. "It's...kind of hard not to actually. I usually leave in haste since I do not like the sounds of turmoil. I haven't offered to help since you are not a man of words and I did not think you would have liked help. Now however, I believe that you need help even if you do not want it."

Eziz sighed and closed his eyes as his head slumped forward. "I do not like conversation. Words are not needed. Only body-language."

"See? You don't like talking. I know that body-language is an important aspect of conversation but I cannot get to the root of this problem through gestures alone brother. You need to talk." Afwerki explained concerned.

Eziz breathed out loudly. "I do not wish to ensnare you in my life."

"We are all brothers here, comerades. Your problem is my problem which is Gojo's problem which is Carmello's problem which is Zack's problem which is Andy's problem which is Luuk's problem which is Sebastion's problem which is Akmal's problem which is Joshua's problem which is Kola's problem which is Juan's problem."

Eziz chuckled and folded his arms as he closed his eyes. He freed an arm to rub his forehead. "Somehow, I think they are not concerned."

"Even if they are not concerned, your ailment affects them."

Eziz thought for a moment, looking out the window which Afwerki had opened. "If your logic is sound then I suppose I should talk for the betterment of this entire group. I may also talk to stop the nightmares."

Afwerki smiled. "That sounds good to me. I'm all ears."

Eziz closed his eyes as he collected his thoughts into coherent sentences. His burning, lava-like thoughts.

Afwerki was slightly taken aback how deep yet melodic Eziz's voice was. He sounded like one of the many griots Afwerki encountered in his travels.

"The Karakum desert is a desolate desert that takes most of my beautiful country. Life is sparse and haven is seldom found there. The desert is so expansive and choking that it shrinks the Aral Sea, soon the sea will be no more. But once in awhile, if you believe hard enough, a miracle will happen. Life will sprout in the wasteland, it will join all the other lives in harmony and together those lives will continue to keep the land happy and healthy. That is not me, I am not one of those lives. I am the desert, but I offer no life. I only choke that which is sacred."

Eziz looked out the window and swallowed. "My father was a drifter, always moving like a free leaf. The reason for this was because he was a merchant, bringing wonderful goods to everyone, making sure no one was denied the chance to own magic simply due to their location. He was a great man. My mother was very different from my father. Unlike my father, she hailed from the big city much like my beloved capital, Ashgabat. My father was fairly traditional while my mother was fairly Russian-ized, if that's a correct word. Despite their differences, they fell in love and married eachother months after them meeting. Due to their love, I was set to be born in July after my mother's long months of pregnancy which she would sometimes talk of a burning sensation. I heard childbirth is a beautiful thing. By all accounts, mine wasn't."

"Push, just a little more Mrs. Abdulin!" commanded the doctor.

Mrs. Abdulin did such, pushing with all her might as she grunted, straining herself as she began to sweat profusely. For some reason she was sweating more than ever, she just chalked it up to her struggling even more to deliver her son.

The doctors wiped their heads as sweat began to collect on their heads.

"Sir!" cried a doctor as he pointed to the monitor, which stated that Mrs. Abdulin was running a fever of one-hundred-six degrees fahrenheit and rising.

"Shit." the head doctor whispered aloud. "Get her ice packs!" he barked.

An assistant ran out the room to fetch ice packs.

Another doctor panted. "Sir, I feel under the weather too." he sigehd as he slumped over, dripping with sweat.

"Dammit! Who came in sick!?" the head doctor shouted, losing his cool due to his concern for the baby.

"Will my baby be alright!?" cried Mrs. Abdulin, her voice raspy.

The  head doctor smiled slightly nervously. "Your baby will be just-" he covered his mouth with his hand as his eyes widened. "Good lord." he gasped.

Mrs. Abdulin's lower half was quickly growing bright red and heat radiated from it. She began crying out in pain as steam began to slowly rise from her skin and the doctors could hear her skin boiling.

"My baby, my baby, my baby..." Mrs. Abdulin kept repeating over and over again frantically as he eyes widened and lost focus. 

An assistant burst in the room and placed ice bags on the woman's head which melted almost immediately.

"The baby, he's coming out!" cried a doctor before passing out due to the heat.

"Good, at least we have some good news." the head doctor panted.

Instead of a healthy, normal cry, the doctors heard an ear-splitting, ungodly wail that made several doctors in the room wet themselves. The head doctor screamed out in utter horror, his eyes wide as he saw the baby's red, reptilain eyes.

The doctor continued to scream as the mother suddenly bursted in flames and the messy baby slid onto the floor, the room catching on fire as soon as it touched the ground. The doctors quickly caught on fire from head to toe, one-by-one. The head doctor was the last to go, running out of the room arms flailing before he caught on fire as well, then the hall.

Mr. Abdulin threw down his newspaper and rose as he saw the quickly approaching flames. He was prepared to run straight towards his wife and son when security grabbed him, quickly dragging the man away.

"But my son and wife are in there! Let me go! Please, for the love of allah and all things holy let me go!" he cried.

The man stood outside the burning building waiting for his family. Hours later, after the firefighters arrived, they revealed there was only one survivor. One baby boy, his baby boy who was wrapped in a teal blanket, crying, his eyes normal and brown.

Mr. Abdulin cried right along with baby Eziz Abdulin, unaware of the source of the hospital disaster.

"I'd find out later that it burned my father to hold me that day. That's how much my father loved me." explained Eziz.


Afwerki smiled warmly. "The love a parent holds for their child truly has no bounds."

Eziz looked grimly out the window, his eyes dark and sad. "Yes, unfortunately the child may be undeserving of that parent's love."

Afwerki's smile quickly dissolved. "That's nonsense, everyone deserves the love of their parent."

Eziz turned slightly towards his roomate. "Even a monster?"

"A monster? What do you mean b-" he began in bafflement before cutting himself off and shooting Eziz a look of concern. "You aren't referring to yourself are you?"

Eziz raised his eyebrows slightly in annoyance. "Who else in this room fits the criteria for being a monster?"

"No one in this room is a monster."

"But I just told-"

"So what if you burned the hospital? You couldn't help it." defended Afwerki.

"Doesn't that make me more of a monster?" argued Eziz, growing angry.

Afwerki shook his head. "Not in my eyes it doesn't."

Eziz sighed. There was a stifling silence before Eziz finally asked, "Do you wish for me to continue?"

"Yes, I would." answered Afwerki politely.

"You aren't horrified?" asked Eziz, slightly shocked.

Afwerki was silent for a brief moment as he bit his lip and looked for the proper wording. "Although your account of your birth was indeed slightly disturbing, I told you that you could talk until we got to the root of your problem and I know that we're not finished yet."

Eziz curtly nodded and looked away, not wanting to let Afwerki see the hint of shock on his face. He was amazed that Afwerki would listen to Eziz's brutal recollection as long as it took in order for him to possibly be at ease. He felt that he didn't deserve the kindness.

Eziz folded his arms. "That more-or-less is the root of my problem; me hurting innocent people because I am an uncontrollable, savage beast." Eziz sighed and looked at the perfectly white ceiling of his shared room, thoughtful.

"The death of my mother at my own hands was crippling for my father, emotionally as well as financially. Her departure marked the loss of a substansial amount of possible income. My father would have worked as well but his job was very unreliable, income-wise and as a result he had to completely change his plans. Even though the absence of my dear mother meant one less person to feed for my father, life was still rough for us. As soon as I was old enough to..crawl my father took me with him as he worked. As a merchant, we traveled frequently across the land. My earliest memories are of me and my father travelling across my beautiful country, trying to decide where to set up shop next. As you may have noticed, I am a big eater..."

Afwerki smiled to himself. Heh. No kidding brother.

"That made things even more complicated for my father who had to buy more food than is usually needed for a very young child. I was constantly hungry and weak but I was happy to watch my father sell beautiful carpets and lovely jewelry, among other goods. I was weak and hungry so I did not have any incidents regarding my power over flame. The Men in Suits told my father that poor nutrition tends to hinder the kermatly ots."

"Pardon me? Men in Suits?" asked Afwerki in bafflement.

Eziz sighed and closed his eyes while biting the insid of his cheek. "Yes, the Men in Black. If not for them, I would not have been here. They came to my father when I was about four."


The sun was setting on a rural village and Mr. Abdulin was packing his belongings and unsold goods into his large bag. Although the man was shaded due to the roof over his temporary stand, he still had to wipe the sweat that was collecting on his forehead. He turned around, facing the back of his stand to see his young son playing with one of the only toys the working man had been able to afford. He smiled and scratched his prickly beard.

Mr. Abdulin quickly pivoted around and head towards the front as he heard footsteps approaching. He flinched slightly when he saw that they were already at the front. His four visitors certainly were dressed for an occassion, foregoing the traditional open Turkmen garb seen in that village in favor of matching black suits with black ties and shades.

"Hello." greeted the man in center with a wide smile.

Mr. Abdulin frowned. "I'm closed. I'm sorry."

"Quite alright Mr. Abdulin." replied the man on the left.

Mr. Abdulin took a step back and scanned the three men in suits warily, wondering how they had knew his name.

After going through a variety of possible replies in his head, Mr. Abdulin ultimately opted to say, "I can't help you at the moment, I need to finish packing up. I'm sor-"

"We need something from you Mr. Abdulin." explained the man on the right with a smile.

Mr. Abdulin shook his head as he furrowed his eyebrows. "Sir, I told you, I am closed."

"We're not interested in one of your goods Mr. Abdulin." replied the man in center.

"Listen, I really have to leave. I apologize." Mr. Abdulin turned to leave when he saw the man in center pull out a pistol from the corner of his eyes. Mr. Abdulin frantically waved his hands and shook his head, eyes wide with terror. "No! No! No! Please, I have a son! He's in the back! He needs me! I am all he has left!"

"We are aware of your son Mr. Abdulin, his name is Eziz. He is the thing we request." explained the man in center with the same smile he had since the group began talking.

"You want my son?" asked Mr. Abdulin, trying to look and sound calm but his terror creeping through.

"Yes, it is your son we want."

"You can't take him away from me!"

"Well, what if we take you with us? He needs his parent to be with him and since you are his sole guardian..." began the man to the left.

"What exactly do you want my son for?"

"To train him of course. We need to make sure he gets the proper care. He has massive power you know. We can make sure it's used for good."

Mr. Abdulin turned around, dubious and quite sure they had found the wrong boy. "Eziz? Why, he's very weak."

"Due to his malnutrition." countered the man on the right, causing Mr. Abdulin to hang his head in shame. "He naturally can control fire quite well."

Mr. Abdulin blinked, remembering the dayof Eziz's birth. "Fire?" he asked. "Does that have anything to do with the fire that consumed my wife."

"Anything to do with?" chuckled the man on the left.

"Do you not know?" asked the man on the right.

"Your son is the fire that consumed your wife." answered the man in the center.

Mr. Abdulin shook his head angrily. "You know what? I've had enough of this-" he had turned around.

"You'll be paid handsomely Mr. Abdulin." coaxed the man in the center, causing the poor father's ears to perk up. "We know you need the money."

"We'll be waiting in our car around the corner Mr. Abdulin. Be there in twenty minutes or we'll forcibly take Eziz, you will not be allowed to see him and you won't be compensated." concluded the man in the center before him and his comerades quickly walked off.

Mr. Abdulin's leg began to shake violently as he turned around and looked sadly at his young son who was staring at the ground, his toy being held weakly in his hand.

He put on a weak and fake smile. "Come now Eziz, we're going on a trip."


"I remember that day very well." concluded Eziz, rubbing his head. "It is a memory that I return to often since it marks my beginning in many ways."

Afwerki swallowed before inhaling a breath. He had a very bad feeling about the men his companion was describing. "So, those men. How do they play into this? I'm guessing they have a very large role in your story."

"Oh yes," confirmed Eziz, his voice quiet, a whisper. "They change the course of my life. We left with them and our futures were changed forever. It is doubtful that I would have had the strength for my power to manifest if I remained the way I was with my father. The men would have none of that." Eziz slowly walked to the window and looked outside, not seeing the night sky but a scene from his past.


Four men in suits and Eziz's father were looking out a large, one-way window while sitting at a large rectangular table. Beyond the window was a young and small Eziz in a room made out of titanium. Eziz was attacking a fire-resistant punching bad with flames that manifested a few feet from his fists as he punched the air. He quickly circled around the bag like a vulture, occasionally kicking, with the same reaction albeit larger flames. Contrasting with his appearance before him and his father left with the men, he looked full and hearty. Even as the boy continued to circle around the bag at an impressive pace, he failed to display even an ounce of perspiration.

One of the men sipped wine from a glass and another shuffled through a yellow folder filled with documents, smiling.

"So you see Mr. Abdulin," began the man with the folder. "Eziz here does indeed posess control over fire. Very powerful control over fire as shown by his...incident four years ago. With our help he will be able to control it totally."


Mr. Abdulin blinked with wide-eyes and he observed his son in utter shock. "So he really did lead to his mother's demise. My little Eziz, he did it." he admitted, his eyes watering. "But it was not his fault." he choked.

The man shook his had while smiling. "No, of course not."

"As he was, his power would have never been able to manifest. We had to adequately feed him first then we gave him a pill that would allow his powers to flow more easily." explained another man in black.

"You gave my son a drug?" asked Mr. Abdulin sternly.

"Just a psychokinetic coaxing pill, DR-G29. We only gave it to him so you could see his abilities first hand, we'll train him so that he'll be able to use them on his own."

"Wait, you people want him to weild this power easily?"

A man in black chuckled as he lowered his voice. "Yes. There's nothing to be afraid of Mr. Abdulin."

Mr. Abdulin continued to look at his son, his speed beginning to slow down as the DR-G29 pill began to wear off."

The man that had just spoken to him leaned close to Mr. Abdulin then began to whisper. "Just so you know, your son can see us right now, or rather, sense us with amazing accuracy. I bet he can even tell what we're saying."

"Wait, how?" asked Mr. Abdulin in disbelief.

The man smiled smugly. "The intricate shifts in the air's temperature."


Eziz closed his eyes, wanting to stop seeing the memory. He did indeed sense their presence as well as slightly making out what was being said due to the drug coaxing his abilities over heat and fire.

"So those men trained you?" asked Afwerki laying on his side on the matress.

"Yes, they indeed trained me." confirmed Eziz. It sounded as if he was going to say more before deciding against it. 

"How exactly did they train you? Did it hurt?"

Eziz turned slightly to face Afwerki, one eye still towards the window. "Hurt?...Not...really. I was constantly trained so I managed to grow used to it. At the very beginning I had trouble breathing after using my fire powers vigorously but soon it came naturally without causing me any pain. The men worked tirelessly to teach me to control my power, to not let it come without my consent."

"What exactly do you mean by "come without your consent"?" asked Afwerki, intrigued.

"An example would be what happened at the hospital, the fire awakening uncontrollably....The Beast coming out." Eziz explained grimly, pain in his voice.

"Who is...the beast?"

Eziz sighed deeply and painfully. "The Beast is...me...who I really am...deep inside." Eziz swallowed and put his hand over his face with a shaky sigh. "The first time I remember him showing his ugly face was during training. Prior to that day, I wasn't trained in resisting things. I was only training to beat my best score; number of punches thrown in a minute, hottest flame, those types of things. That day one of the men would fight me....it occured like this:-"


"Do you really want me to fight you? I don't wish to harm you." said Eziz, obviously full of shock and concern.

The man chuckled. "Don't get cocky now. I can hold off on my own."

The two were in the titanium training room once again, with Mr. Abdulin and other men watching the events unfold from the one-way window. Mr. Abdulin was directly in front of the window, watching the spectacle intently. Standing next to him was one of the men, taking notes on a clipboard

"Ar-are you sure?" asked Eziz nervously.

"Come on Eziz. I want you to attack me."

"Okay." said Eziz shakily as he stepped forward thrusting his arm out, causing a streak of fire to shoot from the tips of his fingers towards the man. The man quickly backed away from the approaching flame, feeling the intense heat.

"Advance." commanded the man, unimpressed. "Like you mean it Eziz."

Eziz frowned as he began approaching the man quickly with steady steps at a slow pace. He punched, alternating between his left and right fist as he arched his punches, causing fireballs in alternating directions to fly towards the man. Despite Eziz's slow pace, the flaming projectiles forced the man to stay alert and mobile. He finally began to grow satisfied as Eziz compensated for his opponent's nimbleness by occasionally stopping his slow advance to throw a high kick resulting in a high-angled streak of thick flame, forcing the man on the ground only to scramble as Eziz began to advance again, angling his punches downward.

Soon, the man was backed into a corner with Eziz three feet in front of him, the boy's face stern. It was obvious to the man that he felt that he had completed the excersise but now he had to learn to negate and reflect an opponent's attack.

Eziz tilted his head slightly in curiosity as the man quickly pulled out a gray, metallic object with a long nose and-

Eziz cried out in pain as the the object foreign to him fired a fast moving projectile that pierced his leg, causing him to fall to the ground in pain. He was able to sense the brief moment where an intense heat was created in the object, causing the small metal cylinder to eject but it happened too quickly and to such a small object for him to adequately react. Eziz began to cry, him intensely feeling the hot object lodged into his leg. He could sense his father heavily banging on the wall, cursing angrily.

Eziz let out a few more screams as the man continued to fire cylinders out of the mini-canon object and into his body, commanding him to "reflect them". The cylinders entered his other leg, then his stomach, then his left hand, then his chest.

"That's enough!" he sensed his father shout. "Please leave my son alone!" he could feel a warm liquid touch his father's face. The liquid was originating from his eyes. He was crying. His father was crying for him. His father was crying for him because he was dying. His father was crying for him because he was dying due to the cruel man.

He could sense another man say, "Do not be concerned. We will not let your son die."

The liars! Eziz began to feel his body begin to grow hot as his vision gained a red tint. He let out a low growl as the cylinders began to slowly levitate out of his body. He easily stood up, hunched, his nostrils flaring.

The man shot at him another time but the cylinder went backwards and through the mans arm causing him to grunt in pain. He noticed that the room was growing hotter, very hotter. He saw the light beginning to refract due to the quickly changing temperature. He felt a hot burst of wind shove him onto the ground, causing him to scream due to the burning metal.

To the man's horror he saw the young Eziz, the normally docile Eziz, with red reptilian eyes and a look of utter hatred. Eziz let out a hellish roar as he man was set on fire by Eziz erupting a torrent of fire from his mouth. 

The men in the observation room looked in utter horror as they watched the man catch on fire, screaming in agony for a bit before he suddenly burst open, the red spray of his gore spreading across the room before quickly melting and evaporating.

Eziz blinked, noticing what he did and falling to his knees, clutching his head and screaming.

Mr. Abdulin's eyes widened. "He needs to be helped." he gasped.

The man with the clipboard shook his head. "He needs to be educated."


Afwerki looked away.

"Unnerved yet?" asked Eziz.

"I was already unnerved but I will see this to the end." said Afwerki, determined.

Eziz folded his arms. "Then what?"

"What did they do to "educate" you?" he asked, avoiding the previous question.

Eziz shuddered. "They...they would take me to a room. They would strap me to a chair and force my eyes open. They gave me headphones and showed a video intended to calm me, headphones playing one thing: a voice saying "do not lose your cool, control the flames, compliance is rewarded" over and over again. A mantra of true madness. I'd always be drained and horrified the morning after. The room offered no comfort, I continued to lose my cool, the flames controlled me and my compliance...I suppose that was rewarded exactly."

"What did those men want from you exactly?"

Eziz clicked his tongue. "Well, they were agents of the government. They wanted to keep the populace safe from me, which I find commendable. They knew about the hospitable incident and needed to control the person responsible." Eziz looked at the ground. "They also wanted a weapon. The Weapon. Unfortunately for them, a gun that randomly kills you along with your enemies is not very valuable."

Eziz was silent and Afwerki was about to speak when Eziz abruptly broke the silence with his deep and melodic voice. "Before I continue, let me tell you a little bit more about me. About this monster, why I'm so valuable yet so feared by those men in black." Eziz swallowed. "My father he- Every night after training, me and my father we would go to our room in the secret base. He would always tell me bedtime stories. He would tell me about our country, about the places he saw, the people he would meet. He told me legends of our ancient past, passed down orally."

"Did he speak like you?" asked Afwerki.

"Pardon me?"

"Your father, did he speak like you?"

Eziz scratched his head. "I suppose so, why?"

Afwerki smiled from ear-to-ear."I've been to many places brother and have met many people. You have the voice of a storyteller."

Eziz laughed, he thought it felt good to laugh. He scratched his head and blushed. "Who me?"

Afwerki folded his arms, smiling. "I do not see another brother in this room."

Eziz shook his head. "No, no. I do not..have the voice of my father. He was definately a storyteller and I-" he swallowed. "I am not that. Through his stories, I began to fall in love with my country. Such rich history, such beautiful people. It had been a while since I experianced it but I began to grow romantically attached to my land like my father was to my mother."

"I see we share the love of our countries."

Eziz nodded with a smile. "Yes but I am getting sidetracked. I was to tell you who I am, or rather, who the person deep inside is. My father spoke of stories, many featuring the same character. The creation of our land is shrouded in mystery but there is legend of how the Karakum Desert was formed. It is said that the Karakum Desert was once a lush rainforest where many animals lived and in the middle of that rainforest was a lavish kingdom. The kingdom was full of kind people who loved and helped eachother. Those from other lands grew jealous of the jungle kingdom's unprecidented prosperity and called upon a beast, an ancient beast who lived under the rainforest because he hated life and vegetation. After hearing the jealous mumblings and happy laughs the beast rose from the deep mantle of the Earth and used his firey powers to lay waste to the jungle, decimating it in thirty minutes and creating a desert as its grave. As quickly as it appeared the beast went back into the Earth but kept its eye out to make sure no one prospered near the land he decimated."

Eziz gripped his leg. "It is said that the beast continued to return to kill tribes and eradicate cities. They speak of the beast in hushed whispers, describing him as a fire monster with black, leather skin, red reptilian eyes, red fangs, long red claws, a red mane, a green charmeleon tail and large purple wings. They say he is the devil or at least...an agent of him. Either way, they tend to call him by one name. Iblis, the servant of evil. Iblis has been said to help invaders, the Greeks, the Huns, the Parni, the Hephthalites, the Mongols and most recently, the Soviets. It is said that Iblis quelled attempts at freedom from the Soviets by burning the rebels alive, reveling in their agony. Although many laugh him off as a myth, it is said that they do so because acknowledging his existance is too horrifying. Even those who didn't admit to him can attest to a dark and burning presence."

Afwerki smiled weakly. He was not one to shrug off stories but this one filled him with dread. "That is just a story my brother. Surely you don't let that haunt y-"

"But it is not merely a story Afwerki. They say that about thirty years ago, the beast had used up too much of his power and had to reincarnate. So the beast Iblis crashed into the desert he created, breathing his final breath and quickly dying, his skin transforming into a red powder that was carried into the wind, leaving only his massive bones. The government took the bones, keeping it in the facility they housed me and my father in. The skeleton matches the physical description as stated by the stories." Eziz sighed then shuddered again. "One day, I overheard the men talking to my father. Well, not overheard, as I told you I can tell what someone's saying due to shifts in temperature. It's the same way I can tell where objects are even if my eyes are shut. Anyhow, I sensed the conversation. They stated that Iblis' dust entered by mother's lungs when she was young, corrupting her eggs. Their exact terminology escapes me but basically they said that I'm not like other people. I'm the attempt at being a human when in truth I'm apparently...something much more sinister. I am the vessel of Iblis and he breaks free whenever I'm under stress. He may not be able to assume the same form as he once had but he's still as destructive, compensating by giving my psychokinetic powers to match him in strength. If you don't believe me, recall that I grow reptiallian eyes and red claws."

Afwerki looked at his comerade, mouth slightly open in a feeble attempt to find appropiate words.

Eziz shook his head and folded his arms with his eyes closed as if to say, "It's okay. You don't need to look for words." Eziz began talking again. "I began voicing my love of my country to my father and he felt that it was time that I experiance it."


"Mr. Abdulin, your son isn't ready to be unleashed to the world!" cried a man wearing a black suit.

"Unleashed?"

"He's a monster currently! We both know that!"

"I can help him! You have never let me, his father try to help him stay calm! He needs to experiance the outside world! I will not let you keep us here like criminals!" cried Mr. Abdulin, growing louder and louder.


"It was then agreed that I be allowed to  live in an actual house with my father though the men would keep a close eye on us and we were to report to them every Sunday. It was apparent then that they needed me as their weapon. Every Sunday they would send me to silence political dissidents."

"You did what!? How could you do something like that!?" cried Afwerki.

Eziz turned away in shame and Afwerki immediately felt bad for his outburst. "I did not know exactly what I was doing, I did not want to anger them, I was afraid of the ramifications for disobeying them. I did it because my father had fought for me to live among others and I did not want to lose that option." Eziz sighed. "At first, I wasn't used to so many people. Me and my father visited the city of Mary, fourth largest city in Turkmenistan. We went into the the theater and it was full of people. There was so much human heat in one spot that I began to grow sick as my head began to ring. I clutched my head in pain as I fell to the ground and let out a scream as one by one, the people caught on fire. Though it burned him, my father carried me outside, away from people. The Men in Black quickly found me and immediately sent me to "The Education Room". Somehow, they managed to brush the entire event under the rug. They warned my father to be more careful with me."

Eziz smiled slightly. "Despite their warnings, my father continued to integrate me into society. Once he deemed me ready, I was enrolled in a very nice school. I met my best friends, I met my first crush and I learned a lot of important lessons. I was eager to study because I wanted to be a productive member of society when I was an adult. I did not want to fight. Soon, the men began requesting me less often and I stopped using my fire powers. I began to feel that I could be a normal person, with my friends. I loved my school because we went on field trips frequently and I got to see new parts of my beautiful country. I would frequently tell stories to my friends, which they loved."

Afwerki smiled in return. "I'm glad you were happy."

Eziz continued to smile as he let out a short sigh. "One trip stands out in particular although it wasn't one I took as part of school. My father took me to the village of Derweze, his home village. It broke his heart that the village had disbanded and he wanted to show me how beautiful it was. He took me to see the famous Door to Hell . I remember it looking so mesmerizing and beautiful. For some odd reason, it made me feel free. Ironically enough, The Door to Hell would later serve as my prison."

"Your...prison?"

"That's right. You weren't there when Juan came to get me. Only Gojo, Andy Zack were present."

"Yes, you were with them once Master Juan retrieved me. What exactly do you mean by prison."

Eziz's eyes widened as he looked out the window before he laughed with a wide and twisted smile. "The dream, I finally get...to tell you about my dream, the dream that has been ailing me. Me and my class were set to go to the capital of my beloved nation, Ashgabat. Seeing as the president lived there, there were many discussions between my father and The Men in Black, arguing over if it would be safe or not. They ultimately decided in my favor but many agents would be watching me from afar at all times. I didn't mind though, I pretended not to notice them as me and my friends had fun eating food and making jokes. Everything was going smoothly...then we went to take a look at the presidential palace and everything fell to pieces."


The young Eziz was huddled in a group of children, laughing and joking with them. The day was sunny and hot, without a cloud in sight as the children stood near the center of the capital city surrounded by mountains. Most of the children were tired and thankful for the rest but due to the heat, Eziz felt incredibly energetic and happy. The group was a ways away from an intricate white palace with a golden dome, both which dazzled magnificently in the sunshine.  In front of the place were a set of steps and two bodies of water separated by a walkway, in front of pressurized water was shooting out from a fountain.

"I bet I could take you on Zizzy!" challenged on of his friends.

"Ha! You'd need an army to beat me! I am The Great Eziz, heart of Turkmenistan!" Eziz cried out confidently, arms folded.

One of his female friends smirked, with her hands on her hips. "Small name, big ego huh? Get real Ziz! You're just a kid!"

Eziz smiled one day. "I know. But one day, I'll be something great." 

Eziz shook his head quickly as he recalled "silencing" someone for the Men in Black. One day...when I'm older. Yeah, I can see it now.

Eziz tried to ignore the Men in Black but without trying he could sense that there were about fifty of them in the city.

Behind them, about forty feet back was Eziz's father, watching him anxiously with a quivering smile. A man in an entirely black suit with shades stared at Eziz intensely. Eziz continued to laugh and joke with his friends, trying his best to ignore the village of eyes beaming on him like lasers.

"Hey, Zizzy?"

The boy turned to his friend. "What is it?"

"Do you like robots?"

"Yeah, sort of..."

"Yeah, I like them too. Androids in particular they're like, imitation humans."

Imitation humans...Eziz's eyes widened as he recalled something one of the men said. He's not really human you know Mr. Abdulin. Iblis tried pretty damn hard to make him imitate one but that's just it. He's not human, he's a imitation human at best.

"Eziz? What's the matter?"

Oh god, what a fool I've been. I can't...I'm not real...I'll never... 

Eziz clutched his head in pain as he stumbled backwards.

Several children surrounded Eziz, huddling around him, their concerned voices sounding like the buzzing of bees to his splitting head.

"Eziz!"

"Ezzy!"

"What's wrong Eziz!?"

"Are you okay?"

"Are you hurt?"

"No." the young Eziz managed to say in a mix between a bark and a cry before he began screaming out in pain, glowing veigns appearing on his forehead.

Eziz began writhing on the ground in pain, as if suffering from an epileptic seizure. His own screams hurt his head even more as voices and images flashed in his mind. Fire, so much fire. He was beginning to grow hot. He felt as if he would burst.

Sight itself was also painful to the boy so he closed his eyes. To his horror he saw everything around him but the people were all varying shades of red, the hotter the body part the redder they were. Through this weird "heat-vision" the boy saw his father run towards him and one of the men-in-black pull out a gun.

Angry, Eziz instinctly set the man on fire using his inflamed mind. 

A man with a concerned expression walked out of the entrance of the palace and ran towards Eziz who was still writhing on the ground in pain.

Another man in a suit pulled out a gun and ran towards the man. "Sir, get b-!"


"There's one thing I should probably tell you Afwerki. There's...another form of Iblis. The men called it his origin form. This is the form he assumed when he was born and..." Eziz inhaled and held it before slowly exhaling. "It's the form he'll be born in...when I die."


The only thing Eziz knew now was this his body was on fire and his mind was racing as he saw a giant  emerald-eyed beast made of dripping lava emerging from a volcano, its rock hands gripping the volcano's sides. It let out a hellish roar before Eziz let out a roar of his own and everything became pink.

                                                                               ...

The naked Eziz was sobbing, rocking gently in the fetal position as he processed that yes, he was the one who did this. Who destroyed the capital and murdered hundreds because of two simple words. The only people that survived were his friends and his father, who were all unconcious and badly injured.

A man in black approached him with a stern expression. "We need to go kid." 

Crying, Eziz followed the man to his black van as another man in black carried his father.

                                                                                  ...

Eziz was sitting in the back of the van, wearing black, skin-tight cycling shorts. His father was nxt to him, still unconcious.

"We're going to need to take you somehwere where you can't hurt anyone. At least for the time being. We'll take you back to the bas-"

"No."

"Excuse me?"

"I'm not going where there's people. I'm a monster, you know that. Take me somewhere where I can't hurt anyone, where I'll be all by myself."

"You mean like a prison?"

"I'm thinking more of a coffin."

The man in black sighed. "We thought of such a place. You know, just in case."

Eziz nodded sadly.

                                                                                      ...

Eziz exited the van and followed the man in black across the desert to a glowing red crater. Eziz sighed as the crater grew nearer.

"Are you sure about this kid? We have facility's that will be able to-"

"No, I'm done being counterproductive to my county. I'm going to go in." Eziz continued to walk after the man had stopped. He could feel the heat emenating from the crater as he approached the exit. He looked down at the bottom and smiled before he jumped in. The Door to Hell. Home to Iblis.

                                                                                             

"Four years, I spent four years in that crater." sighed Eziz.

Afwerki looked at him in shock. "So you did not experiance anything during that time?"

"Oh no, I certainly did. Me and the Men in Suits believed the Door would restrict my powers but it in fact enchanced them dramatically. I was able to survive by consuming the fire and I gained knowledge by listening to far off conversations and by seeing through my "heat-vision". Despite that, I tended to hibernate through most of the year. I was sleeping when I was awoken by an old voice singing my national anthem. It was beautiful." Eziz smiled before sighing and frowing. "So that's my story."

Afwerki nodded. 

"Terrified? Now you know that I'm a monster."

Afwerki shook his head with a blank expression. "No you're not."

Eziz began to grow angry. "I told you what I did I-"

"Burned your hospital down, murdered that man, set those people on fire, did some other things, assasinated some people, blew up the capital, so what?" Afwerki said in annoyance.

"So what? So what!? Are you insane!?" 

"No, but you cannot live in the past. A lot of those things weren't in your control. From what I can gather, the men somehow covered up you blowing up the capital so you are the only one that thinks you're a monster. Don't you see what this means my brother? You can be whoever you choose. You can be whoever you want to be,"

Eziz shook his head. "Those people..."

"We cannot change the past but we can always strive for a better future. Forgive but never forget my brother. Learn from your mistakes so you can better yourself. Don't allow your past to rule you, especially when it wasn't in your control."

"But I did try. I tried and I wasn't strong enough."

"You have Master Juan now. You have the tools necessary to control the beast that is inside of you. You aren't the timid baby he came into the world as. I see a strong young man who's capable of controlling his destiny."

Eziz looked at him, lip quivering. "Do you truly think so Afwerki?"

Afwerki nodded with a smile. "Yes. If you truly do believe yourself to be Iblis, then show the world that this time around, Iblis will aid humanity."

Eziz nodded. He was silent before he burst into tears, softly sobbing. Afwerki stood up as Eziz walked towards him and embraced him. "Thank you." the fire-user sniffled.

VIII. Reflection of BiseraEdit

Bisera smiled widely as she looked at the night sky above, marvelling at the twinkling stars. To her, this deep,dark forest was vastly different from her home but oddly similar in a way. She felt that it was similar in a deep way, a way that was important because it ignored the superficial qualifications for a home. Even though she knew it difinately wasn't the home she grew up in it felt like home.

The teenage witch sat on the rocks that bordered the hotsprings for she didn't want to get too wet and grow sick like due to being overwatered.

Bisera absently kicked her feet through the water as she ran her hand through her wavy, black hair with green highlights. She was of mdium height and of a tannish-complexion.

Life is nice. she thought.

From the corner of her eye Bisera could see a tall blond girl stretching near the othrside of th spring, Afisa. Bisera waved her hand high in the air franctically. "Hey Afisa!" she called, smiling.

Afisa grunted as she managed to get a crick out of her back before she saw and heard Bisera trying to get her attention. She quickly ran to Bisera with a slight smile. "Yes? What do you need?"

"I want you to talk to me." said Bisera throwing out her arms.

Afisa chuckled. "Sure, no problemo." Afisa realized that she was always happy around Bisera and even if not everyone admitted it, they felt the same way as well. Her cheerfulness was infectious and due to all the confusion and angst that everyone was going through, they would have no complaints catching the sickness.

Afisa put her hands behind her head. "Um, so what should I talk about? The weather?" inquired Afisa, at a loss.

Bisera raised her eyebrows slightly. "We could talk about what mother Gaia told us to talk about for starters."

Afisa smiled sheepishly while softly hitting her head. "Oh yeah, yeah, right. Sorry about that."

Bisera laughed. "It's quite alright."

Afisa uickly sighed, folded her arms and turned her eyes upward. "Let's see, how did magic affect my life?"

Bisera's eyes widened slightly. "You didn't think about it while walking like Moth-?"

Afisa waved her hand absently in dismissal. "Oh no, I did, I did. It's just that I need to get my thouhgts clear."

Bisera gave Afisa a warm look. "Well you can just give me a sentence. Gaia never said we need to give our entire life story,"

Afisa shrugged. "Well in that case, magic affected my life by forcing me to keep a distance from people and to live a life a secrecy and detachment."

There was a brief silence before Afisa cried out. "Ooh no! That'll never do any good. You surely need more information than that."

Bisera luaghed as she flicked her hand. "Oh, it's fine! Really!"

Afisa shook her head. "No, I just need a bit more time and I'll be ready. In the mean time, you can tell me how magic affected your life."

Bisera turned her head slightly. "Who? Me?"

Afisa lowered her eyelids slightly. "No, the witch here named "You"." she said sarcastically.

Bisera chuckled a bit. "Well, there is a bit to tell. I'm not sure what all I need to say."

"Come on," Afisa pleaded. "You can tell me why you're so gosh-darn-happy. Are you rich? Do you have a booyfriend?"

Bisera luaghed. "No. Well, it's actaully kind of funny because one of the reasons that I'm happy is because Gaia fixed something about me that I'm pretty sure magic had a hand in."

Afisa raised her eyebrows. "Really?"

Bisera nodded with a smile. "Mhm. Here, it's like this..."

NOT DONE

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