Painting Pictures

Malrick has an overactive imagination. His mind involuntarily turns ordinary walks into treks through a mystical forest and boring classrooms into ancient chambers and caverns. He spends his time hiding from others. But then Malrick meets a girl named Rule who teaches him that what he sees isn't delusions, but a gift that he can learn to harness. But Rule isn't all she claims to be, and with his parents convinced Malrick is nuts, Malrick will need to unravel the truth of wether he has a wild imagination, a rare mental disorder or a magic gift. And doing so just might mean he will need to stop hiding and trust a girl he barely knows.


2. Rule

Chapter 2




A world materializes out of thin air, trees and streams and rocks, surrounding a girl, no older than fifteen. Her black hair flaps in the breeze of her own creation, a forest rising out of nowhere. 

An Illusionist, that's what they call her. Rule Arrowheart lets the scene drop, no longer having the energy to keep up with the display. 

Deep in her basement, Rule feels impossibly small. Just another failure to her family, the greatest Illusionist family on the face of the earth. She was already way ahead of her competition, but still not good enough for her parent’s. Far behind her family’s standards. 

Illusionist. Her parents like to tell her she's a disgrace to the title, yet she's the best at her school, Woodpaige Academy. A school for Illusionists and Visionaries. It's a twisted world out there, one of hidden magic and dangerous monsters, and while Illusionists have it pretty good, as the magic is a trait passed down through the generations, Visionaries can be anyone, the magic free flowing, choosing who it wants. 

Rule goes back to practicing, terrified of what her parents will say if she stops for even a moment’s break. This is her life, hiding out in her basement, practicing magic. Any moment she is not in school, she practices. 

“Rule!” Her mother calls, and Rule’s knees weaken with relief that it's not her father. “Come up for supper!” 

Slowly, she makes her way up the twisting stairs and back onto the main floor, feeling a pang of loss as she leaves the cool depths of the below ground, emerging into heat humidity that hits her like a slap to the face. 

This, this is a little bit of normal in her life. Eating supper with her family, pretending like everything’s alright. But it's not. As she approaches the table, she runs her hand through her dark brown hair, trying to finger-comb out the tangles. She plops her butt down in the worn chair.

Sitting at the table brings back a flood of memories, when everything was so much simpler. Her family moved a lot, and wherever they went this table went too. It is kind of like a family heirloom, old and battered, yet elegant and ornate at the same time. 

Her parents glare at her, and Rule shrinks under their heavy gazes. She knows what is coming next. 

“How did your training go?” Her mother asks, some strange emotion gleaming in her green eyes. She took more after her father than her mother, dark hair, skin golden with a tan, eyes a shifting kaleidoscope of colours, a trademark of the Arrowheart family. 

Her mother, a weaker Illusionist, is always the one to take pity on her or go easy with her training. Her father, one of the most powerful Illusionists in the county, never sympathizes. He pushes her too hard, and one day Rule fears she might break into a million pieces under his pressure. 

“It went okay,” she answers vaguely, trying not to flinch at the glare her father lays on her. “I made some progress.” 

“Good, good. We got news from Woodpaige, they have a mission for you,” Rule’s mother coos, pride filling her emerald eyes. 

“And what's that?” Rule demands. Being sent on missions by Woodpaige is nothing new, but it still makes her cringe every time she hears the words. It makes her feel like a character from a bad movie, not a person in the real world. 

But still, she must do whatever the principles at Woodpaige ask, or the retributions from her father would be phenomenal. 

“You're to recruit a fourteen-year-old Visionary. Convince him to sign up with Woodpaige,” her mother commands, and Rule goes stiff. Most ‘missions’ are really just things like speaking for the school at a convention or helping train some of the younger members, this is something completely new. 

Two things click. The Visionary is fourteen, a year younger than her. And him. A fourteen-year-old boy. Whoever plotted this clearly wanted to see how dedicated she is, if she can focus on her task without getting ‘distracted.’ She can't help but bite back a laugh at the thought. She is not one to be led astray by a pretty face. 

“When do I start?” Rule demands, keeping her face emotionless. To show emotion before her father is dangerous. 

“Tomorrow. Go pack,” it's her father that answers this time, his multi-hued eyes swirling with belittlement. Despite this major leap, she still could not please him. 

“I haven't even eaten yet!” Rule exhales sharply, gazing at the untouched plate of mashed potatoes and pork sitting I  front of her. 

Her father looks like he's about to make Rule go pack anyways, but her mother speaks up. “Eat. Then pack.” 

She gobbles up her food, then retreats to the safety of her room, all but flying up the stairs. Rule flops down on her bed, staring at the ceiling, counting the cobwebs. It's been forever since she cleaned her room, partly because she hasn't had time with all the training her father’s been putting her through, while her mother watches with infuriating sympathy. 

She calls to her Illusionists powers, creating dancing images in front of her eyes, starting out with simple settings, then begins getting more complicated. 

She throws some clothes in a bag, having no clue where she's going to be heading tomorrow. With a sigh she crawls back in her bed, fantasizing about the future.

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