THE CALL OF THE ORB was strong now that it rested in my hands. A song thrummed in my chest as I felt the veins in my neck beating wildly. Looking at it now, the change wasn’t as scary as I had thought it would be. Even with knowing that I could be staring my possible death in the face. The question was—would I be strong enough to sustain these powers given to me? Maybe I was just scared of The Fates choosing my destiny, or maybe I was scared that what was about to happen would forever change my life. Either way, growing up I had always hoped that my life would mean something more than just being a foster child, but this, this was much bigger than anyone could imagine. And what lies ahead? Well if it’s anything compared to what I am going through now, then I expect my life to fall into a whole new level of crazy. And I think it may be just what I was looking for.
From Chapter 2
We took the local bus to and from everywhere in town. It was the perfect means of transportation for us. A car would have been nice, but we were fostered, working on minimum wage and living in a small town. We couldn’t really hold our expectations too high. The town was small enough that the commute only lasted between twenty and thirty minutes.
It beat walking.
We reached the bus stop underneath the clear morning sky and I slumped into the far end of the bench, trying to ignore the fidgety man waiting next to me. He clutched an old faded denim backpack to his chest in a death grip.
Sheesh, I thought.
I pulled my tattered baseball cap out of my purse and pushed my hair inside it. I liked to keep my hair tucked away when I was in the general public since it was ruby red and stood out against my pale skin. It helped lessen the curious stares.
I noticed the man next to me, side-eyeing me through my peripheral vision. He had blotchy skin, and smelled of rubbing alcohol. A tuft of milky-white hair sat atop his head and swayed in the breeze. I wondered if the breeze picked up, would the feathery tuft float away like the seeds of a dandelion?
Fenn looked back at the two of us. He shook his head, suppressing a chuckle as he watched the fidgety man squirm next to me. Strange things always seemed to occur around me. This creep was proof of that.
The guy cleared his throat and straightened his back, tightening his grip on the pack, knuckles paling from skin stretched thin. There must be something important inside there.
Fenn casually backed up a couple of steps to be closer to me, whistling and keeping his hands in his pocket, ever the silent protector. It was a job he had always done well. Living on this island, the locals found it hard to adjust to the trouble I unintentionally brought.
I’ve kind of been responsible for a few accidental fires (started by my thoughts though I never told anyone except Fenn). The fires have only started when I felt angry, but things have definitely exploded into flames around me—things like a bookshelf in a library that took a while to douse out.
Now the town simply looked at me as a freak of sorts, some religious people even crossing themselves because they believed I could actually hurt them.
So yeah, Fenn was always there to defend me. Just in case.
I glanced at my watch, thinking the bus should be here any minute and that I’d be glad to get away from this freak next to me. His constant squirming didn’t sit well with me.
Then I heard the awful screeching of the brakes as the bus came barreling into view a few seconds later. The front wheel plowed over the curb before it came to a thud on the street. The exhaust made a wheezy sound, probably fatigued from the driver’s mistreatment, and the hinges squealed as the old doors swung open, inviting us in.
I have told the driver many times that he should probably get the brakes changed, but he always just looked at me and laughed in an idiotic way. Sort of a mix between a cackling witch and a hyena. Visions of sticking my foot in his mouth always came to mind. If only I could set this bus on fire, but then I guess I’d be out of transportation.
“Hit any tourists today?” I asked casually as I stepped onto the bus. His usual smirk instantly pointed south. I kept moving, not giving him a chance to respond, as I pulled my hat down as low as it could go and took my seat near the back. The creepy guy from the bench took a seat directly across from me, continuing to side-eye me.
“Great,” I mumbled.
Fenn slid in next to me, and the doors swung shut. The driver pulled out, never checking traffic to ensure the road was clear. All I can say is that we haven’t been in an accident yet… and I stress the yet.
We rode in silence for a while as the powerful hum of the engine sang a poor man’s lullaby. I could still feel the creepy guy’s burning gaze on the side of my face. What is it with this guy, I thought. I was tempted to say something, but a large pothole stopped me.
Everything went flying, including Fenn’s coffee. Of course it decided to find a dry place to land on, like my shirt. Agitated chatter began as everyone reached for the items that had flown from their laps into the aisle.
“Dang it,” I groaned, trying to blot the lukewarm wetness off my white shirt now stained coffee brown. I’d have to change into a new shirt when I got to work. Another small dent in my paycheck.
“Sorry,” Fenn said, picking his music player up off the floor. “He’s such a douche. When you gonna learn to stop egging him on? You know he did that on purpose.” The bus driver’s demonic smile peered at me through the rear view mirror. I exhaled sharply, glaring back at him.
A sparkle caught the corner of my eye. In the aisle sat a pendant, right next to the creepy guy’s bookbag. He was rubbing his head, probably from smacking it against the window, not paying attention. I leaned over to grab it, arousing his awareness.
Our heads collided on the way down, but my hands were the quickest of the pair. As my fingers touched the pendant, an instantaneous flash of a clearing under an unusually large full moon ran through my mind along with a haunting pair of glow- ing blue eyes. Then a rush of power, tingling like electricity, spiked up my arm, throwing me backwards and into Fenn’s lap with a blast of light. The pendant was seared into my grip, the energy still coursing up my arm and throughout my body.
“Rory, are you okay?” Fenn asked immediately, his worried hands running all over me, checking for any sign of damage.
I looked up at him and said, “Fenn, I’m fi–," but was cut off by the frightened look upon his face. “What?” I asked hesitantly.
“Your eyes, Rory…wait…is that blood?” he asked, panicked. His thumbs pulled at my lower lids as his eyes widened in horror.
“Wha-what?” I stammered, feeling my own panic rise as I pulled my phone out of my pocket and held it up to my face to see my reflection.
My irises were ruby red like my hair. They glistened as they caught the sun’s light. I moved to touch them but felt a foreign hand on my shoulder stop me.
“The pendant, girl, give me the pendant,” said the creepy man, loud enough for only me to hear.
A low growl built deep within, the pendant warming in my hand as if awakening something in me that had always been there.
“Why do YOU have this?” I gritted through clenched teeth. Something foreign stirred inside me, overtaking my reasoning. Something powerful that longed to break free.
He yanked the pendant from my hand and then placed his hand and face mere inches from my own, a white glow radiating from his palm.
“Silly girl, the bus is no place for your change,” he said in a whisper as the blinding glow encompassed my face. I felt the heat kiss my eyes and then it all disappeared.
“Stop it,” Fenn commanded, pulling me into him as he shoved the creepy guy off. I shook my head, dizzy from the cloudiness that instantly fogged my brain. Fenn squeezed my shoulder.
“Your eyes…they’re, they’re normal, but how?” Fenn’s concerned face made me turn towards the man who was still staring directly at me, etching this weird moment deep inside my brain. “What did he just do?” whispered Fenn.
My cheeks ran red as I held my gaze with the creep, ignoring the onlookers and their curious stares, and asked, “What did you mean by ‘change’?”
The answer never came. He continued to stare a minute more until the screeching brakes told us we had made it to the next stop. Still staring at me, he grabbed his bag and shoved the pendant inside it, once again clutching it to his chest. He headed off the bus, the white glow on his hand touching each of the passengers as he walked by. Their heads slumped over as the white glow enshrouded them, and then they each shook their heads, dazed, as if trying to remember where they were.
“Did that really just happen?” Fenn asked, muddled.
I blinked, my mind going blank. I wish I could have answered him, but I had no idea what had just happened. My head was still foggy and aching.
“Maybe it was just another strange occurrence?” I suggested, skeptical. I faced him with a forced smile.
“What’d he whisper to you?” His hands were still bracing my shoulders.
“Something about a change…I don’t know…it was hard to make out because he was talking so low. Weird, right?”
“Weird is definitely right.” His eyebrows knit together, forming a perfect V. “I should follow him and demand an answer.” Anger flashed in his eyes. I felt him move like he was about to follow through with that plan so I placed my hand on his chest.
“No, it won’t do any good now. He’ll be long gone. Let’s just forget it, okay? Pretend it never happened and focus on finding my parents.” I searched his eyes, waiting for his usual give.
He sighed heavily. “Yeah, you’re right. I’m just glad you’re okay,” he replied, putting his earphones back in and then after a brief smile, turning back to the window.
We still had three more stops to go. Three more chances for me to get a grip on myself before I had to face a restaurant full of curious faces. I sighed and leaned back, putting in my own earphones. I closed my eyes and tried to let what just happened slip away. No use trying to decipher it, I would get nowhere like always. I just knew that finding my birth parents would resolve so many questions. Unfortunately, the beginning of that search was still paychecks away from happening.
From Chapter 3
As I walked Mr. Creepy to the door and went to lock it behind him, his arm shot out and grabbed onto my wrist in a sumo death grip. The pupils to his eyes went white, churning the building fear in my stomach. His grip tightened. And then he spoke: “Of dragon born, a conqueror prevails. The chosen one fated to protect the dying race. Third of three deemed protector to the progeny. The other marked for revenge. The book of life pages turn yet unwritten. The canvas to your mortal soul. The connection to your immortal enemy. A death will come to He that breaks the barrier.”
A flash of white so bright it nearly blinded me shone through his eyes while he spoke, and then he blinked them back to normal. That sound of his voice, the sound of a thousand voices speaking through one, resounded in my head.
“Let GO of me!” I yelled. Fenn was already behind me, circling his arm around my waist and yanking the guys grip off of me. He shoved the guy back, moving to close the door, but I stopped him, my heart beating wildly against my chest.
“Don’t,” I cried out, shoving Fenn out of the way as I rushed to face Mr. Creepy again. A better time to get answers couldn’t have slapped me in the face any harder.
“Who are you?” I asked, breath rushing out of me while holding the door open. Mr. Creepy stood still, eyes unmoving.
“Rory, get back, he’s dangerous. Didn’t you see what just happened? Don’t do this,” Fenn pleaded. I jerked my head around to face him, scrunching my eyes in annoyance, and said, “Just give me a minute.”
He huffed and then stepped back, clearly angry with me.
I turned to Mr. Creepy. “You can’t just waltz in here, stalk me all day, then go all prophet on me and not explain who you are and why you are doing this to me.” I grabbed his pasty arm and pulled him back into the restaurant. Everyone had left so I figured this was the best place to confront him. “So again I ask, who are you?”
I crossed my arms and waited, impatiently tapping my foot as the silent seconds seemed to drag on forever.
His chest puffed up. “I am the answer to your questions.” He stuck his chin out. “And here you stand so defiant and demanding answers while you should be questioning who you are.”
I stepped back towards Fenn, seeking that protected feeling he always gave off, as the reality of what Mr. Creepy had said hit home.
“Why do you think I stopped you?” My eyes fell to the floor. “Obviously because I do question who I am,” I rushed out. “Instead of mocking me, why don’t you try explaining? The pendant…your eyes…my eyes…my strange abilities with fire. Why is all of this happening?” I asked boldly.
“Because you are the progeny, the chosen one,” he answered, pausing to let it sink in.
I took a step back.
“The progeny? To what? What am I chosen for?”