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.

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6. Rule

Chapter 6

 

 

 

-Rule-

Rule leads Malrick back to the apartment where she's staying, walking the whole way. She doesn't live too far off, yet by the time they've arrived her legs ache, even though her breathing is still even. If it weren't for the sweat that beads across his forehead, Rule would say Malrick hadn't even felt the effects of the long walk. 

He kindly points out he left his bike at school, but Rulemjust shrugs and tells him to get it later. 

Rule shows Malrick inside, directing him to plop down in the couch. Then she races back and forth through her small kitchen, preparing snacks for them. She grabs a couple of protein bars, one of the few food products she actually has in the house. Without her parents here, she mostly lives off of fast 

Scampering back into the living room, Rule tosses Malrick a protein bar, then shoves the other one in her mouth, devouring it in one bite. 

“Someone's hungry,” Malrick chuckles, while Rule’s cheeks flush with the hints of a blush. She knows it must be noticeable, but Malrick does not point it out. He doesn't touch his own bar. But eventually he can't resist any longer, and though the crumpling rectangle of flavourless nutrition may not look very pleasing, Malrick's stomach is bigger than his brain.

“What took you so long?” Rule demands as he reaches for it.

“Not hungry,” he replies, yet that does not convince Rule. She places her heaviest glare on him, and under its force he wilts, opening the bar and eating part of it. Rule doesn't remove her glare until he's finished it all. Then she plops down next to him on the couch, let’s get this over with. She thinks. 

“So…” she muses, “where should I start…?” 

“Uh, the beginning?” Malrick suggests, not aware that Rule was just mumbling to herself, thinking out loud, 

“Okay sure,” she grumbles. “You're going to think this is crazy, so lets make it into a movie, shall we?” 

The flexes her fingers, calling up to her Illusionist powers, which are still aching and exhausted from practice last night. As it was the first night before her departure, her parents had aroused her after she'd dosed off and forced her to practice, to use her power until she collapsed on the floor, shaking. It had to have lasted until well past midnight, but she can't be sure. 

The expenditure of her power came with a price, and while on one hand that was passing out in the middle of practice, it also means she has only faint and foggy memories of the moments beforehand. 

She flicks her hands, and a colourful display appears in front of them. It slowly forms into a distinct image, showing a group of people. Rule begins reciting the story she's memorized, the words drilled into her by her father. At least for all the things her father forced her to 

“Long ago…” she begins. This story is so familiar to her, but she can't believe she's about to tell it to someone else. She recited the words, no hesitating a second longer. 

Long ago, a woman was born with exceptional powers. Many believed her to be a witch, or a child of the devil, yet really, she was the first of a kind. Illusionists, they are called. She could create pictures in the space around her, a display everyone could see. 

But this gift came at a price, it meant she was at once hated, respected, feared and worshipped. Some said she was a gift from God, others, a plague. 

She lived mostly peacefully, until one day a band of rogues who had decided they had had enough of her magic, burned her house to the ground, and stole all her riches. No one would help her, until a young man found her starving on the street, using her gift to trick the odd fool into giving her some food or a couple of coins. 

“What is your name?” The young man had asked. She'd looked up from the place where she had been slumped, contemplating what death would feel like, as it loomed just around the corner for the woman, who had fallen victim to an illness

“Alicia Arrowheart,” she answered, her voice hoarse and awkward from not being used for days. She didn't speak to people, only if absolutely necessary. She had 

“I am Mark Woodpaige,” the man answers. “I've heard of your gift, I was wondering if you could help me.” 

“And how would I do that?” Alicia had spit, the illness making her bitter. Mark didn't so much as flinch, but took her hand. His eyes were blue and clear, his skin tan, his hair chocolate brown. 

“I have a power much like yours,” he answered. “I can see things, yet they are inside my head, not outside for others to see. I call them Visions” 

“I guess that makes you a Visionary, then?” 

“Huh, okay.” Mark chuckled, “like a creative person?”

“I guess, smart one.” Alicia answered, and though she tried to keep a scowl plastered on her face, her eyes had begun to dance with playful humour. 

Mark then continued telling Alicia about his plans. “I wish to make a school for those like us.”

“You mean there is more?” She gasped. She had been shocked, who would've thought there was more than one!?

“I've heard rumours of others, in distant lands. Who's to say there can't be more here too?” Was his reply. Alicia agreed. 

Together, they built a school. Once it neared completion though, Mark had died in an attack by people who had called Alicia a curse, a plague, an ailment to the land, not knowing what Mark could do. He'd learned that he can lose others in Visions, without having to plunge into one himself. 

When Mark had sent each of those who tried to harm Alicia into some private torture of their enemies, they had turned on him, slaughtering Mark before Alicia had the chance to do anything about it. Devastated, yet unharmed, Alicia had named the school after Mark, dubbing it Woodpaige Academy, and inviting Illusionists and Visionaries—as they were called—to join. Eventually she married an Illusionist from an exotic country, and he agreed to take her last name, as she had become a symbol of power for the land. 

For centuries onward, Woodpaige thrived, even after Alicia’s death, and it became an Arrowheart tradition for the man to take the woman's last name, instead of her taking his. 

Rule finishes up. She didn't need to include that part about the last name, but felt like she should've. She is a proud Arrowheart, even though Malrick must believe that she is Danita Rowchest. 

“Uh, wow.” Is his only response. 

“You are a Visionary,” Rule announces. “Most likely a descendant of Mark Woodpaige, for the strength in magic you present.” 

The word hangs there in the air, a target for disbelief and incredulity. Magic. Rule sees the doubt and confusion that flickers over Malrick’s face. He opens his mouth to say something, then slams it closed again, unable to find the right words. 

“W-why are you telling-g me this?” He finally stutters out, and Rule takes a big breath before telling him the truth. The whole truth. The painful truth. 

That she's not who she originally said she was, that her reasons for coming here may be different from whatever Malrick had guessed. She wasn't simply moving schools, but a temporary visitor, until she completed her mission. 

“I'm a student of Woodpaige Academy, and I was sent here to recruit you.” 

 

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