Stix sat alone at the long dining table, his orb hovering over his empty plate. He loosened his green school tie, and ran a hand through his hair. Blowing out a breath, he let his eyes wander around the room. Though no one used the new dining hall, garish decorations for the upcoming Yield Festival hung from the ceiling and walls.
No different to the rest of the school, he knew, still, this was his sanctuary, his place. No one else came down here. They preferred the old dining hall, as it was closer to the dorms and classrooms. This dining hall only benefited those using the battle caves deeper in the ridge that housed the school. Even they didn’t use this dining room.
He wanted to rip the little dolls, their mouths and eyes stitched closed, from the walls and throw them across the room. He wanted to tear the posters to shreds and burn them. He hated the Yield Festival. He hated the Ancients it represented. Hated that it was a week after his birthday, which meant he turned seventeen in two days.
He ran a hand through his hair again and sighed.
He wanted to stay sixteen, or at least, nearly seventeen. Once school finished, he would be forced to follow his birth mark. He hated that his life was mapped out, his choices taken from him. He glared at a little stitched doll that smiled sadly at him from the wall. It was their fault.
They should have left the world as it was. Full of mindless beast trying to destroy each other, then he wouldn’t be here now, angry that he had two days of his life left.
He closed his eyes for a moment, propped his elbows on the table, and let his head fall into his hands. He’d tried to tell his parents and teachers, tried to show them he could draw, that he wanted to be an artist, even though his marks said otherwise.
‘Great times were never made by artists. They are made by thinkers and doers, not dreamers,’ his troop master had said on catching him scratching a picture onto the blade of his sword.
Sitting straight, he absently picked up a fork and began etching lines on the tabletop. ‘There has to be something I can do to change this,’ he said, staring at the orb. It turned black for a moment, then showed the figure of a girl dressed in black clothes, her pink eyes almost drowned in black eyeliner, her black hair streaked blue.
‘Why do you show me her?’ Stix flicked the orb off the table.
It came to rest against the far wall, where it stayed shivering, a palette of colours flashing over its surface. When it turned a pale blue, it began inching its way back across the floor, under the table, and up the back of Stix’s chair to sit just above his shoulder. Slowly, the orb turned green, then shot down Stix’s arm to hover over his empty plate once more.
‘You have something for me?’ He leant forward and looked into the orb as it cleared, then showed another girl. Stix didn’t move. The orb gave a shiver and started edging away. ‘Who is that?’ He grabbed the orb and held it up, staring at the girl. Hair the colour of egg yolk from pumpkin fed chickens, skin like lightly cooked toast, and eyes the softest purple he’d ever seen.
‘Can she help me?’ He held the orb tight, making it vibrate against his fingers. ‘Find her then, find out what she needs to do.’
The orb turned orange with swirls of red, the vibrations stronger.
‘I don’t care if it’s going to be hard. If she is the key to stopping my future, then find her.’ He tossed the orb into the air and clicked his fingers, the orb disappearing with a squeak.
His feet itched with anticipation, until he jumped up, his seat crashing to the floor, and stalked from the room.