The Witch's Awakening

Aradia "Ara" Carling lived a normal life. Wake up, go to school, sleep, repeat. Everything changed when her mother was diagnosed with cancer when Ara was 15. A year later and Ara has forced herself to steal and work in order to help pay for her mom's medication and help out around the house. When trying to steal from the wrong person, Ara unleashes and unimaginable power that was previously unknown. Hunted down by the Supernatural, they force Ara to go to Nox Academy, a school for Supernatural creatures where they train to join the Supernatural Corp, the paranormal army. While at Nox, Ara learns of a mysterious book of spells, a grimoire, that was said to belong to Merlin herself. Unfortunately it seems like anyone who brings up the book goes missing the next day at Nox. And Ara might be next.

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1. Chapter 1

Aradia Carling often wondered if she would go to Hell. That’s if it even existed. She wasn’t really one to buy into religions. She wasn’t like her mother, who was a faithful Christian through and through. It’s just all the things Ara had seen in her 16 years on this earth left her jaded. She just couldn’t believe in a God who would be there when times got tough. She had fallen on some pretty tough times lately, and they didn’t seem like they would be letting up any time soon. Besides, she was pretty sure that God wouldn’t even want her. No one wants me, she mused while sweeping up the mess a customer had made in the gas station. Except my mother.

Fortunately, Rachel Carling, Ara’s mother, didn’t know that Ara sinned nearly every day of her life. It’s not like she wanted to sin. Her crimes were purely circumstantial. She only sinned when it was necessary, usually after work at Moe’s was slow. Ara took out a golden pocket watch that she had buried deep in the pocket of her baggy jeans. Her shift would be over in 3, 2, 1...

“Ara! Your shift is over. Head on home kiddo,” her boss, a portly, balding man named Moe barked.

Ara raised a brow, “And what about my check? You owe me double for working Erin’s shifts last week.”

Moe grumbled before stomping over to the near ancient cash register and counting out Ara’s pay. Ara loved that cash register; it may have been old but it emitted an aura, almost like it had seen a lot in it’s lifetime yet it was still kicking. Just like Ara. She practically begged Moe not to replace it, saying it made their gas station unique. Which it did. That register was also ridiculously hard to open making it difficult for any thief who would want to try their luck.

“Here.” Mo shoved the wrinkled dollar bills into her hand. “$525 exactly.”

“Hm.” Ara meticulously counted out the bills before folding them up neatly and shoving them into her pocket. She would have shoved it in her backpack had she not left it at home. “It’s a pleasure doing business with you, Moe.”

Moe rolled his eyes and grunted. “Just head home, Carling. Tell your mother I said hello.”

“Of course!” Ara quickly rid herself of the hideous blue vest and badge that was customary of Moe’s employees, grabbed her cargo jacket off the coat rack, and raced out of Moe’s gas station with a slight smile on her face.

Ara whizzed pass disgruntled people on the sidewalk who then turned back to stare at the dark blur that had nearly run them over. $525! That was nearly enough to pay off the rest of the rent that her mother still owed their landlord, Stanley. In that moment, she could have kissed Erin for calling off for all last week due to a bad stomach bug. The weather even seemed to reflect Ara’s mood.

The cerulean sky was fortunately cloudy, offering shade to those who weren’t used to the stifling heat of late August in Richmond, Virginia. A light breeze was trying to make itself known by fluttering past Ara’s face, wonderfully cooling her down. The denizens of Richmond were taking advantage of the nice weather; Ara could see people walking their dogs along the running trail of the park and others setting up their fishing gear at the nearby lake. She smiled at the innocent sight of a five-year old boy trying so hard to cast his kiddie fishing pole far out into the lake like his father had done earlier.

Despite the lies she told her mother, she still remembered her father. Brown eyes set in a kindly warm, brown face. Shaved head and a strong jaw. He was a jovial man; always quick to laugh. Ara sighed grimly and trudged on towards the shabby apartment she called home.

“Mom? I’m home,” she said, depositing her jacket onto the coat rack near their front door. Their apartment was sparsely decorated which was surprising given Rachel Carling’s vibrant personality. Unfortunately their little family didn’t have much spare money to adorn their home. There was a lumpy green couch seated behind a worn coffee table. Against the wall in front of the coffee table, instead of there being a tv, sat an old bookcase home to books old and new. Ara took off her shoes so as not to track mud in from last night’s rain into the apartment.

“Mom?” she repeated louder this time. She was starting to get worried. Where is my mom?

“In my bedroom, honey,” a soft voice called out.

Ara hurried through the living room and made a left down the hall that housed their bedrooms. When she reached her mother’s room, what she saw nearly broke her heart.

Her mother, already weak from her latest session of chemotherapy was hunched over on the ground, her body racked in pain. She looked sickly with dark circles under her eyes and her dark skin dry and stretched taut over her thinning frame.

“Mom!” Ara rushed over to her mother and hurriedly pulled her off the ground before checking her for any more injuries. “They said chemo was going to help you.”

Her mom smiled at her before cupping her cheek. “It is sweetheart. I don’t feel as bad as I did a month ago. Promise.”

Ara shuddered. A month ago Ara was sure her mother was going to die. Ara had come home one night to find her mother passed out in the living room in a pool of her own vomit that had traces of her blood. She was sobbing so hard that she could barely choke out to the police that her mother was dying. They ended up spending a night in the hospital to make sure that her mother didn’t relapse into another vomiting fit. “You’re right. Like always.”

“Of course I am. Although I’m flattered that you care, you shouldn’t let this kill you honey,” her mother said. She stroked her daughter’s thick curly hair that was so like her own before it fell out.

But it’s killing you.

“I have a surprise for you.” Ara pulled the now wrinkled bills out of the pocket of her ratty jeans. “Moe gave me a little extra this week. It’s $525.”

Her mom’s eyes widen in shock. “That’s more than a little, Ara! What did you do?”

“Erin called off last week so Moe gave me half of her pay for picking up her shifts.”

Her mother nose wrinkled in confusion. “That’s why you were late getting home all last week. Sweetie, why would you do that?”

Ara gazed up at her mother. “I wanted to help out. I know with your...sickness, you haven’t really been able to go to work lately and I didn’t want you stressing over rent this week.”

Her mother’s eyes shined with unshed tears. “You really are your daddy’s baby. Always trying to help those in need.” She sniffled and rubbed at her nose. “But you didn’t need to help me, baby. You keep it.”

“What? No!” Ara stood up in defiance. “I wanted to help you,” She said this time more softly.

“You’d help me by being a kid for once. Ara, they’re having the end of the summer fair today. Look,” her mother said, folding her hands together. “I think we can make a compromise.”

Ara crossed her arms and looked at her mother suspiciously. “I’m listening.”

“I’ll take some of the money for the rent and the bills-”

“That’s great!” Ara exclaimed.

“-but you have to go to the fair with the rest.”

“And that’s not great,” Ara muttered before sighing. “Fine. I’ll go. But I’m only taking $20.”

    Her mom disagreed. “Nope. You’re taking $50.”

    “Mom!”

    “No buts! Either you take the $50 or I’m giving all of it back to Moe.”

    “Why would you do that!” she threw her hands up in exasperation at her mother’s antics.

    “Go! You can tell me all about it when you get back,” her mother said while counting out the money to Ara. “Here,” she said,

handing the money to her daughter. She ushered Ara to the door where Ara quickly put her shabby shoes back on along with her cargo jacket.

    Ara had made her way down the hall of their floor in the apartment building when her mom said, “Hey, honey!”

    Ara turned around quickly in case her mother needed help. “Yeah, mom?”

    “I love you,” Rachel Carling said warmly and blew a kiss in her daughter’s direction.

    A rare grin that only her mother could bring out of her appeared on Ara’s face. “I love you more.”

 

    Despite her initial beliefs, the fair actually seemed like it would be fun. It would’ve been better if her mother had been with her but Ara knew that she was too ill to leave the house. The only thing that kept Rachel Carling from stopping work completely was her will to survive. Even though she liked to paint a pretty picture, Ara still knew that her mother was in pain. It absolutely killed her to see her mother like that and the overpriced medicine definitely didn’t seem like it was helping. Ara felt a wave of stress overcome her and she groaned. How could she have forgotten about her mother’s medicine? Even though Moe had paid her more than usual today, she knew they wouldn’t have enough money to pay for her mother’s medicine. Not to mention that their hospital bills had already gone through the roof. Her mother was probably going to be in debt for the rest of her life thanks to her illness. If her illness doesn’t kill her first, her debt will.

    Ara felt guilty for breaking her promise to her mom but for now, being a normal kid would have to wait. Tonight, Ara would have to work. She would have to sin. When her feet finally carried her to the fairgrounds, she let herself get lost in the routine of paying admission, going through security, and stopped in the middle of the fair to observe her surroundings.

    The signature smells of fairs, funnel cake and cotton candy, permeated the air causing Ara’s stomach to grumble. It had been a while since she eaten. She was thankful that she had brought her cargo jacket with her seeing as the day progressed, the air seemed to grow chilly. No doubt an indication that autumn was coming and with it, decay. Ara watched approvingly at the huge crowds that were attracted to rides that boasted fast speeds and sudden stops, whirls, and spins. There were giant lines beginning to form at both the food booths, offering roasted turkey legs and barbecued burgers, and the game booths that were certainly rigged. Big crowds were good. Especially in a place like this. People would be off their guard, never suspecting that they might be robbed. Ara let herself move with the crowd like a boat flowing with the ocean’s current.She engaged people in conversations as her hands slipped into their bags without them being the least bit wiser. She took bracelets and rings and even managed to slip a few dollar bills from someone’s purse. An hour later, her pockets were laden with the riches of her victims. Most of the items were jewelry that she could pawn off. Nobody would miss any jewelry. It’s not like she wanted to steal from people. She knew it was bad, she knew that it was a sin. But it was all for the right cause. She was purely looking out for her mother’s health and surely that absolved her.

    Looking at the treasure once more, Ara calculated that she still wouldn’t have enough for her mother’s medicine, then she spotted it. She saw what she hoped would be her mom’s saving grace. A lean dark-haired young man dressed in opulent clothing was waiting in the long line for the Twister, one of the more popular rides at the fair. His back was turned to her, but his hands were at his sides. On his right wrist was an intricate golden Rolex. It even seemed to be loose. Good. The watch much have been worth a fortune and would fare nicely in the local pawn shop.

    Would she dare? Every bit of Ara’s instinct was screaming at her to not do it, that she had enough. But greed pushed her; she lost money just as quickly as she received it. It would be nice for once to finally have money leftover. She decided that she would dare and slowly made her way over to the boy--man, really--intent on getting that watch.

    As she walked toward him, she made sure she had a quick escape route in case her luck decided to turn on her. There. She had spotted a good opening; the Twister was near the outskirts of the field that the fair was being hosted. All she would have to do was jump the easily destructible gate surrounding the fair and she would be scot-free. Finally, she was close enough to reach for his wrist. Just one movement and she would have enough. Her mother would never have to know what her daughter did. Her hand just barely brushed his pale wrist when she felt his hand clamp down on her wrist, and the boy quickly pulled her around to face him.

    He was handsome, almost unnaturally so. His lips were a gentle curve, which almost seemed out of place on a face that was all hard lines; a strong jaw, a long thin nose. Steely blue eyes locked onto her amber ones and were she a weaker human, she would have gasped at their harsh beauty.

    The boy’s grip tightened on her wrist and she was jerked out of her daze.

    Glaring, she tried to pull herself free. “Let me go!”

    The boy returned her glare. “Now why would I let my would-be robber go? It wouldn’t be very smart of me, now would it?”

    “I get the feeling you’re not that wise to begin with,” she snapped automatically. “I swear if you won’t let me go there will be absolute hell to pay.”

    Chuckling darkly, the boy’s eyes began to darken, “Try me.”

    Ara felt something stir deep inside her, something ancient. Power. She had only felt this power once before in her life; the night she had thought her mother was going to die. She had held a vigil over her mother’s bedside, hoping with all of her strength that her mother would wake up and everything would be fine. The power had curled low in her belly then and her mother’s amber eyes fluttered awake. Ara had never been much of a crier, but on that night she had bawled her eyes out, even thanking God that her mother was alive.

    White hot flames burst forth from Ara’s free hand, and screaming in fright, she threw her hand up to protect herself. She briefly wondered where the flames had come from when she realized that she had been the source. yet she wasn’t burned. She seemed to thrive in the flame. The boy had released her arm in shock and jumped away from her. Dimly she was aware of people shouting and pointing at her.

    “Witch!” a young woman screamed.

    “Freak!” another man joined in.

    A crowd began to form around the boy and Ara, wanting to see what had caused the commotion. Witnesses were quick to single her out. Ara could feel all of their eyes on her, their judgements and their fears hurting her like the lash of a whip on her fragile skin.

    She had to run.

    Jutting both of her hands forward, another brighter jet of fire blasted out, causing the crowd to scream out in fear, and most importantly, jump out of her way. Adrenaline pumping through her veins, she took her chance and sprinted to the gate surrounding the fair, the handsome boy’s watch forgotten.

    

 
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