Episode 76 – Spell
It was time for lunch for Alice as she left her fourth hour class and made her way out of one of Terra Academy’s halls and towards the building where the cafeteria was. She was carrying a rather stuffed book bag today as midterms were coming up. After getting her meal, which was a bowl of chicken noodle soup, she noticed that the Terra Trio was already sitting at a booth by a large window. Rachel was going over some notes while Marcus appeared to be helping Simon with something. The spiky-haired boy was just reading from a dictionary and speaking random words.
“Quasar,” Marcus spoke.
“Q-U-A-S-A-R,” Simon said.
“Good, how about nocturnal?” Marcus asked.
“N-O-C-T-U-R-N-A-L,” Simon spelled.
“Correct, and what….about….mnemonic?” Marcus asked.
“M-N-E-M-O-N-I-C,” Simon spelled.
“Ooh, almost thought I got ya there,” Marcus said.
“Um…what’s going on?” Alice asked, setting her tray down.
“Practicing for the spelling bee tonight,” Simon explained.
“Oh….wait, there’s a spelling bee?!” Alice exclaimed.
“Where have you been?” Rachel asked, “They had fliers up in the halls for weeks now.”
“Oh, well the reason is I have been studying so hard I didn’t really notice,” Alice explained.
“Well we haven’t either…..until Simon found out who was attending,” Rachel sighed.
“And who would that be?” Alice asked.
“She’s over there,” Marcus answered, pointing to an area behind him with his thumb.
Alice looked over and noticed Amanda was at a table reading nothing but books, flipping through pages and reading very quickly.
“Oh,” Alice spoke, “You mean Aman…”
“Don’t….say…..her name!” Simon sternly told Alice, “She has been outstaging me ever since I met her. Tests, quizzes, extra credit projects, game shows, you name it. And now she is going to win the spelling bee which I won last year. Well tonight’s the night I finally bring her down. I have been skipping all of my classes today to make sure that Amanda will be brought to her place.”
“Are…you sure that’s a good idea?” Alice asked.
“I can catch up on my work,” Simon said, “It’ll all be worth it when I win the blue ribbon.”
“Please, those ribbons are just cheaply made,” Alice said.
“It’s not about the ribbon, it’s the principle,” Simon reasoned.
“Please, don’t bother trying,” Marcus advised Alice, “We all tried to reason with him but insists he devotes the whole day studying.”
“Well I think your obsession with beating Amanda is ridiculous,” Rachel told Simon, “I think you just need to let the whole thing go. The headmaster made it clear that competition is all about making new friendships, never holding grudges, and having fun.”
“Really, because you don’t seem to follow that whenever you are playing our Hoverball matches,” Marcus pointed out.
That made Rachel’s eye twitch as she glared at Marcus.
“That…..is different,” she claimed, calming herself down, “You know what, I think I’ll enter this spelling bee tonight and show you all that it’s all about having fun.”
“If you say so, but just be prepared for a long night because I don’t think either Simon or Amanda will back down,” Marcus warned, reading from the dictionary, “Photosynthesis.”
While everyone else was talking Alice reached for the pepper. However, as she sprinkled the cap fell, creating a dust cloud which the girl inhaled through her nose. As Alice was readying to sneeze her whole body was beginning to glow which Rachel immediately noticed.
“Photosynthesis,” Simon repeated, “P-H-O-T-O-S-Y…”
“HIT THE DECK!!!” Rachel cried, ducking underneath the table.
“For what reason?” Marcus asked.
It was took late as Alice accidentally activated her magic, creating a powerful sonic boom as she sneezed. The pulse knocked away books, food, even some of the small alien students, like Dogogo the frog alien. When Alice recovered from her sneeze she realized that the whole cafeteria was a mess and everyone had bits of food all over them. The only one who didn’t get caught in Alice’s sneeze was Rachel who was able to duck under the table in time.
“Ugh….my spleen,” Dogogo groaned.
“G….gesundheit,” Marcus spoke.
“G-E…,” Simon spelled before his friend interrupted.
“N….now’s not a good time,” Marcus said.
Really embarrassed Alice stepped out and began making a run for the exit. Before she left the girl turned around and bowed her head politely, her face red from humiliation.
“S….sorry about that,” Alice spoke before turning to leave the building.
Worried about his friend Marcus came out of the cafeteria to search for Alice. His first place to look would be his room until he caught a glimpse of the girl throwing rocks by the harbor. Marcus walked to Alice who immediately noticed him.
“H….hey, Marcus,” she spoke, throwing another flat stone, “I…er….sorry about what happened back there.”
“That’s alright, being a guy whose amulet likes to go off on its own I am used to these things,” Marcus said.
“I feel like such a fool, though,” Alice pined, “I was warned about this.”
“You were?” Marcus asked.
“Remember what Ansel said back at the cotillion?” Alice asked, “He said that I need to learn to control my powers better.”
“Haven’t you tried finding a teacher, though?” Marcus asked.
“You think I haven’t looked?!” Alice asked, “There are Regalians on these islands but only few of them are born from Regalia. The Earth-borns like me never grew up in an environment that allowed our powers to have a chance to develop. I just thought I would grow up to be an ordinary person and I was happy with that until the night I drew away those Nidarians. I wonder…..how did my powers emerge against all odds?”
Marcus pondered on that question but couldn’t come up with the answer himself.
“And this isn’t the first time this sound magic embarrassed me,” Alice admitted.
In a flashback Alice was in between classes as she purchased a can of soda from a vending machine in a crowded hall. The girl drank it all in one gulp but let out a belch which was amplified by her sound magic. The whole crowd stopped and wondered what made that loud sound as an embarrassed Alice snuck herself out.
“So that’s what caused that sound,” Marcus said, looking over to see an upset Alice, “Uh….uh……”
Marcus was just unable to think of a way to save himself from that comment.
“If only I can actually find someone who can teach me,” Alice sighed.
“Maybe I can help with that,” a familiar voice suggested.
The two turned around and saw Ansel, staring down at them. The kids stood straight up and directed their attention at the Regalian.
“A…Ansel?” Marcus spoke.
“What are you doing here?” Alice asked.
“Well Xaria heard that this Academy is having a spelling bee and wanted to spectate knowing that Simon would be participating,” Ansel explained, “Such a supportive princess she is. I figured no harm would come from attending and it would leave me free to check up on you two. You know if you really want to learn how to control your magic I can get someone to help you out, Alice.”
“You….you can?” she asked, feeling a little bit hopeful.
“Indeed,” Ansel nodded, “Everyday Xaria gets lessons by one of the royal teachers who is staying with her. As head of the royal guard I can easily make arrangements for tonight. It won’t make you a complete master but it should be enough to help you better control your gift.”
“I would love that,” Alice said.
“Then it is settled,” Ansel replied, “Meet me at the docks tonight at six. We will practice at a nearby island where no one would bother us.”
However behind the crates were two peculiar students, Jordan and Marshall. The lackeys for Sergio were grinning at each other.
“This is perfect, Marshall,” said the student with the brown hair, “This could be our chance to get evidence that Marcus has the Celestial Amulet for Sergio.”
“About time, feels like we have been slacking off all semester,” the blue-haired boy said, “But shouldn’t we tell Sergio, first?”
Ansel’s ears twitched and turned towards the crates. Jordan and Marshall freaked out as the Regalian walked over to check. Thankfully the two students somehow disappeared. In reality they tucked themselves between some steel drums at the last second.
“Hm…must have been a rodent,” he said, “Anyway, meet me here at six.”
“Okay,” Marcus nodded.
The three walked away, leaving Jordan and Marshall some breathing room.
“That was a close one,” Jordan said, turning to Marshall, “Anyway, we can’t inform Sergio because he is being dragged into that stupid spelling bee with his grandfather. Besides, I think it’ll make for a great surprise.”
Marshall nodded, completely agreeing with Jordan’s plan.
At the Auditorium several students and citizens from the surrounding islands were rushing into the room as the school prepares to begin the spelling bee. Sitting on a desk with the front row seats behind them was a familiar alien who normally announces Hoverball matches.
“Greetings,” Alan spoke, in a hushed tone, “For those tuning in on the SPTV public access channel we are moments away from beginning Terra Academy’s annual spelling bee. Tonight we have a brilliant array of participates including last year’s defending champion, Simon Matthews, who is competing with the Academy’s youngest and one of the most intelligent students, Amanda Jenkins. Tonight we have a special guest in the balcony as Regalia’s Crown Princess, Princess Xaria Regalia, is watching the event.”
Xaria was sitting way up above the backseats in her balcony with several members of the Regalian Royal Guard watching after her. The princess was squinting her eyes trying to see from her position.
“I know I have to be secluded for my safety but why must I be in the nosebleed seats!?” she asked.
Behind the curtains everyone was gearing up with Simon sitting next to Amanda. The two were looking at each other very sternly, each one determined to defeat the other. Among the two were Rachel, Robin, Finn, Harry, Tyler, Nathan, and Sergio.
“Give up, Simon,” Amanda said, “But I have been the spelling bee champion for every year in grade school. You can’t win.”
“Sorry, dear, but this is one event you won’t be able to upstage me in,” Simon boasted.
“You are forgetting that I am a clever girl who came into this academy at a younger age, Amanda reminded, “Plus I don’t give into pressure at all. There’s nothing out there that will make me lose my cool.”
“And it seems we have two more guests tonight,” Alan announced from the audience side of the curtains, “And they hail all the way from England.”
Amanda’s eyes widened from what she heard. Getting up from her seat she walked to the curtains and poked her head through. She saw in the front seats two adults. One had black hair and wore a brown suit and was looking through some papers while the woman next to her had light brown hair with a ponytail, wore a navy blue business dress, glasses, and black high-heels.
“No, not them,” Amanda gasped, retreating into the curtains and rejoining Simon.
“These two people are none other than Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins,” Alan explained, “Albert is a renowned dean at the University of Edinburgh while Dr. Cheryl Jenkins is a doctor working at one of England’s finest hospitals. Both parents have come all the way from England to witness their daughter, Amanda, participating at the spelling bee.”
Simon looked towards Amanda and noticed that her usual calm and confident demeanor was replaced with a panicked and finicky look tonight.
“Mum….Dad,” she gasped, “Why are they here of all nights?”
Simon titled his head while Harry got close to his friend.
“You know, I don’t think I have seen Amanda like this,” the furry alien whispered, “If she doesn’t pull herself together she could lose this one.”
And that gave Simon a wicked smile, nodding in agreement. He actually saw this as his chance to finally beat his rival at something for a change. Amanda, on the other hand, noticed the boy’s expression.
“You honestly think just because my parents are here means that you can bloody beat me?” she asked, “That was just a minor setback for me. You are still losing no matter what.”
“We’ll see about that, Amanda, we’ll see,” Simon boldly stated.
Rachel just rolled her eyes, disgusted over how the two are taking their rivalry very seriously as the curtains began to pull apart.
“And now we officially begin our spelling bee,” Alan announced, “And joining us today is Terra Academy’s Headmaster Savage.”
“Greetings,” Savage said, sitting next to the alien announcer.
“Now for people not aware of the rules we select our words at random,” Alan explained, “A special app on Savage’s phone is used to select random words from the dictionary. Here we don’t start off easy and get harder as we progress. Everything is random so be ready. If you misspell then you are out. Last one standing will be declared the winner. First up we have Robin Armando starting us off.”
Robin smiled as she got up from her seat and walked up towards the microphone while Headmaster Savage pulled out his phone.
“Ms. Armando, your word is…retreat,” the headmaster said.
“Retreat, R-E-T-R-E-A-T, retreat,” Robin spelled.
“Correct,” Savage confirmed.
Robin let out a smile while she returned to her seat.
“Rachel DuBois, you are next,” Alan said.
“Remember you two, this is all about having fun,” the girl reminded Simon and Amanda.
She got up from her seat and went up to the microphone.
“Your word is….,” Savage spoke, looking at his phone, “Antidisestablishmentarianism.”
Rachel just dropped her jaw at the unbelievably long word. She was aware of the random part but this was unfair to her. This also shook her confidence up quite greatly, too.
“A-N-T-E….,” Rachel spoke out before a buzzer was sounded.
“Sorry, but that’s incorrect,” Savage said.
Rachel just muttered to herself as she was stepping off the stage.
“And what a humiliating loss for Rachel DuBois,” Alan announced, “I would probably not be showing my face for quite a while after this. It’s just unbelievable how someone could get knocked out of the competition this soon. Just imagine the humiliation she is feeling right now.”
Not liking what she was hearing Rachel took some crumbled up paper from the garbage can and threw it at Alan before she saw herself to the back row of the auditorium.
“I had that coming,” Alan announced, unfazed by Rachel’s actions, “Anyway, Amanda Jenkins.”
“Guess not everyone can handle the challenges of the spelling bee,” Amanda taunted, getting up and walking towards the microphone, looking at her parents a bit nervously.
“Your word is factual,” Headmaster Savage said.
“Factual, F-A-C-T-U-A-L, factual,” Amanda spelled.
“Correct,” Savage said.
Smiling, Amanda returned to her seat and smirked at Simon.
“Simon Matthews,” Alan spoke.
The boy stood up and walked all the way to the microphone.
“Your word is barbaric,” Headmaster Savage said.
“Barbaric, B-A-R-B-A-R-I-C, barbaric,” Simon spelled.
“Correct,” Savage said.
The boy returned to his seat and smirked at Amanda.
“This isn’t over yet,” she said, “I won’t back down to you just yet.”
“Wait and see, Amanda, it will be I who will be leaving with the ribbon,” Simon talked back.
Ansel pulled a boat up on the lone dock of Crescent Island. During the first year the students of Terra Academy camped out to see a meteor shower. Now it’s just barren and desolate with only a pocket jungle tucked on the side opposite of the dock all underneath the night sky. Alice and Marcus were having a hard time seeing. In fact the boy was using his Celestial Amulet to light the nearby area. With them was an elderly female Regalian dressed in ceremonial robes.
“Here we are,” Ansel said, “No one should bother us way out here.”
“I still think we shouldn’t be bringing the human along with us,” the elder Regalian spoke.
“Hey, I am just here in case something goes wrong, right Ansel?” Marcus asked.
“Hmph,” the elder grunted, “Between this and your decision to swap her Highness with a commoner it’s a wonder you haven’t been kicked out of the Royal Guard.”
Ansel looked real nervous, looking towards the elder Regalian.
“I understand what I am doing is outside normal protocol, Valerie,” he told the woman, “But we have to help Alice here control her magic. If it’s as strong as she said it is we need to help her control it”
“Well sound magic is something I am not good at,” Valerie informed, “I only teach her Highness defensive spells like I was assigned to.”
“I didn’t say this was to help her master her potential,” Ansel explained, “We are only doing this so that Alice doesn’t lose control in the future.”
“Very well, but why the human?” Valerie asked, “My lessons are private and nobody should be volunteering to watch.”
“Hey, I am her friend,” Marcus spoke up, “I should be there to support her.”
“Thanks, Marcus,” Alice said with a smile.
“Don’t worry, he won’t tell anyone about your techniques,” Ansel assured.
“Besides, we are the only souls out here for miles,” Marcus pointed out.
However, on the jungle side of the island Marshall and Jordan were poking their heads out of one of the bushes. They grinned as they spotted the glowing light from Marcus’ Celestial Amulet.
“Jordan, remind me why we had to enter through the dark jungle,” Marshall requested, “I nearly tripped on some vines and tree roots back there.”
“Well we don’t want them to see us arriving, do we?” his friend asked.
“Right,” Marshall nodded, holding out his camera and looking through the lens, “No good. It’s far too dark and he’s too far away to get a good shot.”
“Don’t worry, Marshall,” Jordan assured, “We have all night to get a good shot. We just have to bide our time.”
Ansel was setting up a circular arrangement of torches and used a flint and steel to light them all up. Now brightened Marshall saw a good image of Marcus and his amulet and was ready to take a photo until the boy stashed the Celestial Amulet back underneath his shirt, no longer needing it to light the area.
“Dang it,” Marshall muttered angrily.
“Alright, Alice, sit before me,” Valerie instructed, sitting between the torches.
Nodding, Alice sat down, looking in front of Valerie. Looking around, the girl felt a bit nervous, wondering how magic lessons for Regalians are supposed to work. While she waited for the lesson to begin she looked up into the sky. Along with the usual stars seen in the sky Alice could also see the interstellar clouds that made up the Milky Way.
“Wow,” she spoke in awe, “The sky sure looks lovely tonight.”
“Yes, when you are very far from the cities and towns that pollute the night sky with light you can see a lot more up there,” Ansel explained.
Marcus looked up, finding the view to be amazing, too. The boy never gets to look up at the night sky much no matter where he was so the sight left him in awe, too. As for Valerie she was going through several sky charts.
“Aquaria, no,” she muttered, “Draculia, no. Where is it?”
“What’s with that charts?” Marcus asked, looking towards the elderly Regalian.
“Well the night sky is different from planet to planet,” Valerie explained, “That’s why I got multiple charts to teach Xaria when we are away from Regalia. Here we are.”
She pulled up Earth’s star chart, specifically the region the Terra Archipelago is in, and examined it carefully.
“Okay, first off I want you to look at what you Earthlings call Polaris,” Valerie instructed Alice.
“No problem,” she said, looking up into the sky, “I was quite the star identifier back in Seashell Scouts.”
Looking out towards the north horizon she was able to easily spot Polaris.
“There it is, now what?” Alice asked.
“Now clear your mind and focus on that star,” Valerie instructed.
“C…come again?” Alice asked, looking towards her temporary tutor.
“Look up!!” Valerie scolded.
Alice gulped and immediately looked up back at Polaris.
“Traditionally during magic lessons Regalians must fixate their eyes at the northern pole star,” Valerie explained, “Which in this case is Polaris. Do not take your eyes off that star until your mind and body are in perfect harmony.”
“Okay,” Alice said, a little unenthusiastic given that she has to look straight at a star in the northern horizon.
Marcus and Ansel were just standing outside the makeshift area they designed and were just watching Alice just looking up at the sky.
“You know, I thought that this Regalian magic training would be more exciting,” Marcus said.
“Well this isn’t one of those things you call Anime,” Ansel informed, “We don’t just spar with magic here and there and get stronger from it. Perfecting these powers requires a calm, clear mind and one must live a life where people and nature learn to live with harmony.”
“Something is bothering me, though, Alice lives in a town and when she is not she boards with us,” Marcus explained, “She is as close to nature as she can get and her powers didn’t emerge until last year. What’s up with that?”
“She probably spent more time chatting and blogging than she ever did connecting with nature,” Ansel answered.
“But why did she develop them all of a sudden?” Marcus asked.
“If you want to know I do have a theory,” Ansel spoke up.
“What is it?” Marcus asked.
“How much time has Alice spent around you, Marcus?” Ansel asked.
“A lot, actually,” Marcus answered, “Come to think of it, I have noticed that she has been spending an unusual amount of time with me.”
“And how much of that time were you wearing the Celestial Amulet?” Ansel asked.
“Almost all the time,” Marcus answered, “Why? Where is this going?”
“Marcus, it’s time you learned about your world’s lost history,” Ansel spoke, “It is a history very few left know about. Marcus, there was a time when humans could do magic like Regalians.”
“What?!” Marcus cried, “You are kidding! Humans can’t do magic. Not without this amulet I am wearing.”
“That was my reaction when Kesimo told me,” Ansel replied, “I know it is hard to believe but long ago before computers, before TVs, before radios humans were in the same environment as Regalians today. It was a lot easier for them to connect to their spiritual side back then. Humanity performed all kinds of spells, similar to ours. Sadly, those who were gifted were shunned by those who weren’t and were even persecuted as witches. And those who didn’t shun them tried to find explanations of how the magically gifted could perform those acts. This sparked a revolution for scientists, astronomers, inventors, everyone who worked in the field of science at the time. It caused them to achieve things originally thought to be only done with magic, like flying and sending messages over vast distances. Over time everyone, including those who were gifted with magic, became a part of the trend and spent more time learning about the wonders of science and spent less time focusing on magic. This led humanity to abandon their spiritual ways as technology evolved over time into the recent decades and soon magic itself was almost forgotten. Both of our races took different paths. Humans trusted science but Regalians maintained their faith in magic as it evolved into a new form of technology, magitech. It helped us achieve things far more quickly than science ever could. If you humans stuck with magic you could have learned to perform interstellar travel long ago and used less energy and resources to do so.”
“That’s…quite something,” Marcus said, “But what does my amulet have to do with this?”
“While humans have long lost the ability to do magic their spark remains,” Ansel explains, “This potential can be inherited, passed down from parent to child, for generations without it ever be ignited. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be ignited. Sometimes, you just need time to understand the world around you. Or….you could just use the amulet.”
“My….my amulet helped Alice get those powers?” Marcus asked.
“It is a theory so I can’t confirm that,” Ansel explained, “But I believe that the Celestial Amulet constantly gives off a certain kind of energy that is invisible to detect, but can still be felt by certain forces. The inactive potential inside Alice must have been around the amulet for so long that this invisible energy caused it to activate when Alice needed it the most.”
“I….I can’t believe it,” Marcus gasped, “I never thought my amulet can do that.”
“And it probably wasn’t just Alice, either,” Ansel informed, “Anyone, even humans, who had magic in their family tree can have their spark reignited. It could even be one of your closest human friends.”
Marcus was just at a loss for words. The thought of anyone he was near with spooked him a little bit as there was a good chance that he could have unknowingly activated a dormant power.
“I wonder who else my amulet has affected over time?” Marcus asked himself.
The spelling bee was still going on and by now a good chunk of students have already been eliminated. All that remained are now Robin, Finn, Sergio, and of course Simon and Amanda. Right now Sergio was at the microphone while Rachel was watching way from the back, preferring to be far away from anyone as possible while still watching the event.
“F-O-R-E-S-H-A-D-O-W-I-N-G, foreshadowing,” Sergio spelled.
“That is correct,” Alan spoke, “Finn, you are up.”
The Aquarian got up and walked over towards the microphone.
“Your word is…eigenvector,” Headmaster Savage spoke.
“Eigenvector, I-G-E-N-V-E-C-T-O-R, Eigenvector,” Finn spelled incorrectly.
The buzzer than sounded.
“Sorry, but that was incorrect,” Alan told the Aquarian.
Finn just walked away from the microphone and left the stage.
“With Finn out we are now down to our last four contestants,” Alan announced, “Right now the eyes are on Simon and Amanda who seem to be determined to defeat one another. The question is who will walk out the winner?”
Amanda’s parents were just looking at their daughter but from the way she saw it she felt like that they were judging her and that made her really nervous. Next up Robin stepped forth, not feeling really nervous at all as the next word came out.
“A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E, attitude,” Robin spelled.
Then it was Amanda’s turn.
“Perverted, P-E-R-V-E-R-T-E-D, perverted,” she spelled.
Then it was Simon’s turn.
“Concave, C-O-N-C-A-V-E, concave,” he spelled.
“Imprint, I-M-P-R-I-N-T, imprint, he spelled.
Finally it came back to around Robin’s turn.
“Convulsion, C-O-N-V-U-L-Z…oops!!” she spoke, realizing her mistake as the buzzer was sound.
“And Robin is out,” Alan said, “That leaves it down to three.
Sergio grinned, now see that it was just him, Simon, and Amanda who was up next.
“Confrontational, C-O-N-F-R-O-N-T-A-T-I-O-N-A-L, confrontational,” she spelled.
Next Simon was up, determined to outdo Amanda.”
“Extravagant, E-X-T-R-A-V-A-G-A-N-T, extravagant,” he spelled.
Then it was Sergio’s turn.
“Give it up, losers, I got this on in the bag,” he spoke with confidence.
“Your word is feast,” the headmaster spoke.
“Feast, F-E-E..,” Sergio spelled only to be interrupted by a buzzer.
“Sorry, but that’s incorrect,” Alan spoke.
“Well…whatever,” he scoffed, not seeming to care, “I never wanted to be up here anyway. I am only here because my grandfather made me.”
Savage said nothing as his grandson left the stage.
“Now we are only down to Amanda and Simon,” Alan spoke, “We will be taking a short intermission and when we come back we will see who will spell better than the other.”
The curtains closed leaving Amanda and Simon a moment to rest together. The two looked at each other and were still determined to defeat each other.
“Give up,” Amanda said, “I have been reading the dictionary for weeks in preparation for this. You can’t win.”
“Why don’t you give up?” Simon asked, “I have actually been practicing day and night for this. You can’t win.”
“Sorry, but I have too much at stake to lose this,” Amanda said.
“Like what?” Simon asked.
“You…you don’t understand,” Amanda answered, looking a little worried.
“Try me,” Simon challenged.
“Well it’s my parents,” Amanda explained, “They are actual geniuses. My mother has a PhD and my father has a doctorate in education. They are seen as brilliant people and me….I am nothing special.”
“Are you kidding, you actually joined the academy a few years earlier than most people,” Simon said.
“Only because I studied day in and day out to impress my parents,” Amanda explained, “And yet I am still nowhere near their level. My parents spend more time with their work and research that they barely notice me. That’s why I work hard to get those grades….so that I can impress them. So that I don’t look like boring child to them.”
Simon felt a little mixed from Amanda’s confession. Sure his desire to defeat her in the spelling bee was big as ever but he also felt a bit empathetic as he has parents who spent little time with him. Amanda looked at Simon again and gave the boy a glare.
“That is why I will never, EVER, allow you to beat me,” she declared as the curtains began to spread apart once more.
Simon just looked at Amanda, still ready to win regardless of what Amanda just said.
“Not even to a spoiled rich kid like you,” Amanda muttered, “You’ll never outdo me in a spelling bee or anything for that matter.”
That really set Simon off as Amanda glared at each other.
“And now we are back,” Alan announced, “Picking up from where we left off Amanda and Simon are the only ones left in the spelling bee and now is the time we decided who…”
“Immunity, I-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y, immunity,” Simon spelled.
“Uh…that is correct but….we haven’t started yet,” Alan informed.
“Delicacy,” D-E-L-I-C-A-C-Y, delicacy,” Amanda spelled.
“Correct but Headmaster Savage needs to announce the word before you ca…,” Alan spoke.
“Galactic,” Simon interrupted, “G-A-L-A-C-T-I-C, galactic.”
The two just glared at each other and soon enough they began spelling words at each other, using whatever word they can come up with. With them going off at the same time it was a battle between letters. The audience was in awe, Xaria was speechless, and Rachel was just annoyed over how Simon was handling his rivalry with Amanda.
“Uh….what just happened here?” Alan asked Savage.
The Headmaster said nothing and just shrugged as the two kept spelling words at each other.
At Crescent Island the lesson was still going on and Alice was staring at the sky, looking really bored as she kept staring at Polaris. By now Marcus was just looking around, seeing nothing but darkness, stars, and the shadows of the surrounding islands around the horizon. In the bushes Jordan and Marshall were still waiting for Marcus to show his Celestial Amulet but right now they were swatting away mosquitos trying to take a bite at them. Several moths gathered around the flames from the torches that illuminated the small area Alice and Valerie were at. Every time Alice sets her head down just by a little Valerie gives a cold stare at the girl.
“Eyes at the star!!” Valerie spoke out.
Alice kept her gaze at Polaris, getting real sick and tired at looking at it.
“This is stupid!!” she cried out, “I have been looking at that star for hours now!”
“Actually it’s been about forty-five minutes,” Marcus informed.
“Whatever,” Alice scoffed, “What is supposed to be happening?”
“You are too impatient,” Valerie said, “You need to look up at the sky and meditate. From looking at the northernmost star your body will be in perfect alignment with the cosmos and you’ll be enlightened, able to learn to control the power that is within.”
“It just occurred to me, why can’t we sent her to Master Kesimo?” Marcus asked, “This is cosmos stuff sounds a lot like his training.”
“This training is meant for Regalians,” Ansel explained, “Kesimo’s powers come from the stars themselves. The stars only help amplify the powers inside individuals like Alice. The meditation is just the beginning. Once Alice learns to control her powers she must learn to master the potential on her own. Hopefully after this she won’t accidentally activate her sound magic.”
Alice just kept on staring into the stars, feeling a bit bored. However, as time drew on that boredom died down as she stared directly at Polaris. It wasn’t took long until her mind went entirely blank and her eyes indicated that she was in a trance-like state as her whole body began to glow a magenta-colored aura.
“Oh, no, I think she’s going to lose control again,” Marcus gasped.
“No,” Valerie debunked, “She is aligning. The process has begun.”
“But…I don’t know,” Marcus said, looking a bit worried, “Shouldn’t we help her or something?”
“That is out of the question,” Valerie denied, “We must wait until the process is finished. If we disturb Alice before then then her magic energy could skyrocket and be unleashed in levels even I won’t be able to control.”
“Listen to her, Marcus,” Ansel advised, “Valerie has been teaching students for decades. She knows what she is talking about.”
Marcus nodded, looking at Alice who was still glowing a bright magenta.
“H…how long does this take?” Marcus asked.
“Shouldn’t be much longer now,” Valerie answered, “We just need to make sure that nothing disturbs Alice. This procedure is very delicate. Even so much as a flash of light could be enough to set her off.”
Marcus gritted his teeth as he pulled out his amulet. He considered it as something that could set Alice off. However, Jordan and Marshall were still hiding in the bushes on the other side of the island, finally having the amulet in the sight of Marshall’s camera.
“About time,” he spoke.
With a press of a button he was able to take a picture of the amulet but a flash of light came from the camera.
“Dude, you forgot to turn off the flash,” Jordan hissed.
“Don’t worry, we are so far away from them,” Marshall informed, “What’s the worst that can happen.”
However, Alice’s eyes caught the flash as her trace was broken and the aura surrounding her body began to pulse.
“What is happening?!” Valerie cried, “Something disturbed Alice!”
“But how?” Marcus asked, looking around to see what could have caused the disturbance.
Alice grew really bright as soon a large soundwave pulsed throughout the island, scaring away birds and causing ripples in the nearby tides. The sound was so powerful it knocked Jordan and Marshall into a nearby tree behind them, making them lose the camera in the process. Alice continued screaming as if she was unable to stop.
“This is bad!” Valeria shouted, “Alice has lost control of her magic. If we can’t get her to stop soon her life could be in danger.”
The soundwave was slowly pushing away Valerie, Ansel, and Marcus away as the wave was powerful enough to snuff out the flames, leaving a glowing Alice as the only light source on the island. Marcus began fighting the powerful spell, brining himself closer towards Alice.
“Boy, do not approach!” Valerie warned, “The magic she is letting out is far too powerful. You’ll be gravely injured if you try to get her to stop.”
“I……don’t…….care!!” Marcus shouted, struggling to get closer his friend, “I am not letting….Alice….stuck like this!”
Finally he got close enough to Alice to actually grab her.
“Alice, calm down, please,” Marcus begged, “I……know you can fight this.”
While she kept screaming she let out a magenta-colored pulse right into the sky. In the sky was a Harpiean, flying through the night on a little hunting trip when the sound pulse struck her. Cawing out in agony the feathered alien looked down to see the source of the screaming and the Harpiean didn’t look too happy about it.
“Please….I know you can do this!!” Marcus cried.
His Celestial Amulet glowed brightly which caught Alice’s attention. Immediately the girl was able to stop screaming and her body stopped glowing at the same time the amulet stopped, leaving everyone dark under the starry sky. Alice collapsed into Marcus’ arms, feeling completely exhausted.
“He….managed to have done it,” Valerie said, looking impressed.
Ansel nodded, also intrigued with what just happened.
“I…..I am sorry,” Alice weakly said.
“It’s not your fault,” Marcus spoke, “It was probably one of those things that went beyond our control.”
“Well we should probably get out of here,” Valeria stated, lighting a lantern, “We should rest up and try this again another night.”
Marcus then sensed something with his amulet and dragged Alice onto the ground. That was when a bunch of razor sharp feathers landed right into the ground, barely missing the two.
“Where did those come from?” Alice asked.
Hearing a screech they looked up and noticed the Harpiean flying right at them. She went for Alice who Marcus helped get the girl out of the way just in time. As she flew she grabbed onto Valerie, dragging her up into the sky.
“Let me down!!!” she cried, “This is no way to treat a lady!!”
“What’s going on?” Marcus asked.
“All that sound magic unleashed must have angered that Harpiean,” Ansel explained.
With Valerie in the talons of the alien’s feet the Harpiean kept throwing razor sharp feathers at the people below.
“We got to find shelter immediately!” Ansel warned.
The three made a run for the jungle as the Harpiean’s sharp feathers kept raining down on them. Once they took cover and hid underneath the trees the Harpiean flew around the crescent-shaped jungle, keeping Valerie by the collar of her clothes underneath the talons. The feathered alien was looking around, waiting to attack at the first sign of anyone that comes out. Unfortunately those two were Jordan and Marshall.
“What do you mean you lost the camera?” Jordan asked.
“Well the jungle is really dark in there,” Marshall explained, “We’ll have to come back tomorrow when it’s bright out to find it.”
The feathers rained down, barely missing the two. Seeing the Harpiean above the two decided to run back into the jungle to take cover.
Back at the spelling bee Amanda and Simon were still at each other, spelling the first words that came into their minds while the audience was in awe, well those who hadn’t fallen asleep out of boredom as the event kept dragging on. Xaria as speechless in the balcony while Rachel remained at the back, disgusted over what she was seeing. Amanda’s parents were just watching, unable to make of what was happening.
“If any of you out there are still tuning in the spelling bee is still going on,” Alan announced, “And I believe we just broke the academy record of longest one yet. Our two finalists, Simon Matthews and Amanda Jenkins, are still at it for reasons we do not know.”
“A-V-O-C-A-D-O!” Simon spelled
“M-A-R-T-Y-R!” Amanda spelled.
“H-U-M-I-L-I-T-Y!” Simon spelled.
“M-A-R-T-I-N-G-A-L-E!” Amanda spelled.
“Enough!!” Headmaster Savage shouted.
Everyone woke up and was now staring at the man, who looked really displeased over his two students’ recent behavior.
“Ahem,” Savage spoke, clearing his throat, “It seems you two are great spellers in your field but I am disappointed with your actions lately.”
“We are sorry,” Amanda and Simon both apologized.
“Normally I would reprimand such behavior,” Savage stated, letting out a yawn, “But since it is getting late and everyone wants to go home we’ll settle this in a different way. Are any of you two familiar with homophones?”
“A homophone a term for multiple words that have the same pronunciation but have different meanings whether or not they are spelled the same,” Amanda answered.
“Correct, Ms. Jenkins,” Savage nodded, “I will announce a homophone and the first one who spells it correctly wins the spelling bee.”
“Very well, I have no problem with this, do you Simon?” Amanda asked.
“I think it’s a fair way of settling this,” the boy agreed.
“Good, now the word is….plaice,” Savage announced.
Amanda was a bit befuddled. In her mind she thinks it was the word place. Of course it was a bit too hazy to trust but she was feeling intense pressure as her parents watched her closely. This made the girl decide to just trust her instincts and spell it right out.
“P-L-A-C-E!” Amanda confidently spelled.
The buzzer sounded, meaning much to her surprise that she was incorrect.
“Sorry, but that was incorrect,” Savage said, turning to Simon.
Amanda was horrified that she got the word spelled wrongly. The girl wondered how and why as Simon looked towards the microphone.
“It seems Amanda Jenkins spelled the wrong homophone,” Alan announced, “Now Simon Matthews is at the mic and if he spells the word correctly then he wins the spelling bee.”
“Sorry,” Simon said with a grin, “Guess you should have learned more about marine life.”
“Marine life?” Amanda questioned, realizing what he meant, “That’s right. There is a fish called plaice.”
Simon grinned. At long last the chance to upstage Amanda was at his grasp. All he needed to do was to correctly spell the word given.
“Plaice,” the boy spoke into the microphone, “P-L-A-I…”
The boy stopped, feeling that something was wrong. Turning around he saw Amanda looking nerve wrecked. Then he took a look at her parents who, from the way they are looking down at their clipboards they seem to be a bit displeased at Amanda’s incorrect spelling. Simon remembered what Amanda said during intermission and felt a bit sorry for the girl. Then he looked out at Rachel. From the way she was staring at him the boy felt like he was being judged, making him think that maybe the rivalry with Amanda was a bit unhealthy for him.
“Curse my kind heart,” he muttered, “P-L-A-Y-C-E!”
The buzzer sounded much to the shock of almost everyone in the room, even Xaria.
“Oh my,” she gasped.
“That…..is…..incorrect,” Headmaster Savage said, “Amanda you are up.”
Amanda was befuddled over Simon incorrectly spelling the word. However it wasn’t enough to keep her from spelling the word.
“P-L-A-I-C-E!” Amanda spelled.
“That is correct,” Savage confirmed.
“Unbelievable,” Alan spoke, “Simon incorrectly spelled the final word allowing Amanda a chance to spell it again, and successfully. Amanda Jenkins has won the spelling bee and the blue ribbon that goes with it. Surely a joyous moment for the young student.”
Rachel gave a nod as she got up and left the auditorium through the door not far behind her. Amanda turned around and noticed that Simon as leaving through the backstage door, the girl being completely suspicious over the boy. Before she could follow him her parents came from the fronts seats and walked onto the stage.
“You did pretty well, Amanda,” Cheryl praised, “As much as I would expect from our daughter.”
“I admit I was worried,” Albert said, “That Simon boy almost had victory but he messed up on plaice.”
“Yeah, very lucky of me,” Amanda said, not too convinced that Simon messed up by accident.
Outside the main building Simon was just standing outside the front door with Rachel by his side.
“I….I am proud of what you did out there,” Rachel spoke.
“Well I am still mixed about this myself to be honest,” Simon admitted.
“Then why did you let Amanda win?” Rachel asked, “You had the perfect chance and you just threw the match.”
“I wanted to, really I did,” Simon answered, “It was just that when I took a look at Amanda and her parents something was telling me that….that she needed the victory more than I do. It can be so rough trying to get your parents impressed.”
“Tell me about it,” Rachel said, remembering her little bouts she has with hers.
“Right now, though I just want to go to my room and rest,” Simon said.
“That sounds like a good idea to me,” Rachel agreed.
The two began making their walk back towards their dorm rooms when the sound of a door being opened stopped them. Turning around they saw Amanda, looking really upset as she stared at Simon On her shirt was the blue ribbon that she had received for winning the spelling bee.
“You!” she cried, leaving the doorway and walking up to Simon, “Mind telling me how you lost? You had perfect chance to upstage me and yet you spelled plaice incorrectly.”
“What can I say?” Simon asked, “I guess I had a lapse in memory.”
“Yeah right,” Amanda scoffed, “I am gobsmacked over this. I want an explanation now.”
“Okay, you got me,” Simon confessed, “I let you win. Seeing your parents I realized that whole contest was unnecessary.”
“Unnecessary?” Amanda repeated, “What does that mean?”
“It just is,” Simon answered, turning around to resume walking with Rachel.
“Simon!!” Amanda cried.
The boy stopped again, turning around to see Amanda once more. This time it looked like she had something really emotional to say.
“Th….th…..than….,” Amanda spoke, trying to thank Simon, “Thannnnn….That match didn’t count. I want a rematch next time.”
The girl then began walking towards the first-year dorms, not even looking at Simon anymore.
“If you say so,” the boy said, knowing full well what Amanda was trying to say.
“And until then,” Amanda spoke, taking off her ribbon and throwing it towards Simon.
“You….are giving this to me?” Simon asked.
“Don’t think it means we are friends, okay?” Amanda spoke, “Like I said that match didn’t count. I don’t deserve the ribbon, at least not this way.”
Amanda just kept on walking away, leaving Simon to wonder what the girl meant by those words.
Underneath the canopy of Crescent Island Marcus, Alice, and Ansel were hiding under the trees, looking through the small break in the leaves to see the Harpiean flying above them, carrying Valerie with her talons as the elderly Regalian screamed for dear life. Alice was leaning on a tree trunk to support herself, still exhausted from losing control of her magic powers earlier.
“What do we do?” Alice asked.
“Can’t she just use her magic to help her out of this situation?” Marcus asked.
“Unfortunately, no,” Ansel answered, “Magic comes in different categories and differ from Regalian to Regalian. Plus Regalian magic is mostly mustered through movement of hands. At her old age Valerie won’t be able to create a spell strong enough to save her in time.”
Soon a lantern came crashing onto Ansel’s head.
“Ow!” he groaned.
“I HEARD THAT!!” Valerie cried from above, “SHAME ON YOU FOR POKING FUN AT AN OLD, HELPLESS AND BEAUTIFUL LADY!!”
“Well we got to do something,” Marcus said.
“I am thinking of something,” Ansel spoke, looking at the boy, “Hmm….if you could use your Celestial Amulet you could jump up and grab Valerie.”
“Yes, but I would get a face full of razor sharp feathers in the process,” Marcus said.
“Then we need to distract that Harpiean,” Ansel said, “But we also need to make sure that Valerie doesn’t get harmed in the process.”
Alice looked through the break in the leaves, eyeing the Harpiean that was looking for the people who agitated her.
“I volunteer,” Alice spoke.
“Th….that is noble of you but you did just snap out of a fit back there,” Ansel reminded, “Not to mention that your body is probably too exhausted to summon a magic spell, even if you can control it now. Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
“Yeah, Alice, you are too exhausted to put yourself at such a risk,” Marcus pleaded.
“Marcus…,” Alice spoke, before cracking a smile, “I got this.”
The boy looked at Alice and then nodded his head, placing his full trust in the girl.
“Go for it, then,” Marcus said.
Alice turned around and walked herself into the open field. Looking up she noticed the Harpiean looking down at Alice, glaring at the girl. Valerie struggled in the feathered alien’s talons.
“Alice, do not be foolish!!” she warned, “This Harpien will slice and dice you from above!!”
Flapping her wings the Harpiean flung her razor sharp feathers straight towards Alice. Everyone was watching with nervousness. Alice took a deep breath and let out a loud scream amplified by her sound magic. Not only did it stop the feathers dead in their tracks and made them fall harmlessly onto the ground but it also stunned the Harpiean, letting out a loud caw in pain as she shielded her ears. She unintentionally dropped Valerie but Marcus used the power of his Celestial Amulet to jump up and catch the woman. They fell to the ground with Marcus landing on his feet, but he seemed to look a bit in pain when he landed.
“Are you okay?” Valerie asked.
“I’m……I’m fine,” he groaned, trying to keep a smile.
The Harpiean regained her senses and looked down at Marcus. Growling she flew all the way towards the boy but was stopped back the crack of Ansel’s whip. Alice was barely standing from activating her sound magic but she saw how Ansel was prepared to fight while Marcus was standing by his side. Valerie also stuck out her hands, ready to use whatever spell would be necessary. The Harpiean looked at the three and felt that they weren’t worth her time.
“Meh,” she grunted, taking off to fly away.
“Wow, that Harpiean…must have better places to be,” Marcus guessed.
“Well Harpieans usually attack in numbers,” Ansel explained, “When they feel that they are outmatched and outnumbered they bolt.”
“Well….I had a bit of a scared but, I am impressed,” Valerie said, turning around to Alice, “You have proven to be quite capable of mastering your power within.”
“Th…thanks,” Alice said, standing up straight.
“But don’t think you have full control over it,” Valerie warned, “You need to keep practicing your meditation techniques every night. Just star at Polaris every night for thirty minutes and you should be fine.”
“Okay, but I will need help coming back here every night,” Alice said.
“That won’t be necessary,” Valerie informed, “You can do that anywhere as long as there are stars in the sky. I only wanted to be out here in the middle of nowhere because I don’t like people bothering me whenever I teach.”
Alice nodded, too tired to even argue about this. As everyone was leaving Jordan and Marshall came out of hiding with Jordan having the camera in his hands.
“Finally, they are gone,” Marshall said.
“And I found the camera,” Jordan grinned, “Sergio is going to be really happy when we show him the photo of Marcus’ amulet.”
Then the Harpiean returned, causing the two to sweat nervously as Jordan dropped the camera. The Harpiean looked down at the camera, looking at it curiously. She used her talon to tap the device as it let out a flash, spooking the Harpiean who used her talon the crush the camera, along with the important data for the photo Marshall took.
“Hey, that camera costed me two hundred dollars!” Marshall hissed.
The Harpiean looked towards the two, not very happy over their presence.
“Dude, forget the camera, RUN!!” Jordan shouted.
The two ran back screaming into the jungle as the Harpiean gave chase.
The next morning the Terra Trio were at the cafeteria with Alice joining them for breakfast. Marcus and Alice was explaining to the others where they had been last night and what had happened.
“Sounds like you had a wild night there,” Rachel said.
“Yeah, I thought we wouldn’t make it out of there in one piece,” Marcus told Rachel, “So how was the spelling bee?”
“Well…..the thing is….,” Rachel spoke, feeling a little shaken still from yesterday.
“Let’s just say me and Amanda came to an understanding,” Simon said, “And I decided beating her at a spelling bee means nothing to me.”
“That’s…..good I guess,” Marcus replied.
“If I ever want to upstage Amanda at something I want to do it at her own turf, science,” Simon proclaimed.
“In that case I better steer clear of here in the next science fair,” Rachel said, looking a little bit too worried.
“Relax, I won’t go overboard,” Simon assured, “I promise. Next time it’ll all be about self-control.”
Alice was about to put some pepper on her scrambled eggs when she was about to sneeze again, sending everyone on the table into a panic.
“Duck and cover!!” Rachel cried.
The Terra Trio hid under the table, fearing that Alice will unintentionally activate her sound magic again. However, this time she let out a cute sneeze and began eating. The Terra Trio then poked their heads out, relieved that it was just a sneeze this time.
“What, you really think I was going to lose control again?” Alice asked, giving off a cute giggle as she took another bite.
Outside the building Sergio was looking around the campus as if he was looking for someone.
“Where are they?” he asked.
From the corner came Jordan and Marshall, whose uniforms are tattered after their encounter with the Harpiean they barely escaped from last night.
“And where have you two been?” Sergio asked, “I haven’t seen you since yesterday.”
“We don’t want to talk about it,” Jordan said.
The two left as Sergio tilted his head, wondering what the heck happened to them last night.