The man called two more names. A boy with purple hair shaved into a buzz-cut walked towards them with an easy swagger. Behind him, a girl in round glasses with lemony hair pulled up in a bouncy ponytail, joined. The man with the clipboard led them down the hall to the testing zone. They all walked in silence, an anxious excitement surrounding them. The man guided them into another room that looked like a pediatric office. There was even a poster with a cartoon apple talking about keeping you and your magic healthy. The atmosphere felt like it was more fit for a five-year-old than a group of teenagers.
“Hello, I’m Mr. Rosco. I’m going to go over a few things about what we’ll be doing today. I know some of you might already be aware of the things I’m going to tell you, but we want to make sure that the process is clear. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
Raven and the others muttered their agreement.
The man smiled. “Good. Please sit down.”
The three of them walked to the four empty seats against the wall. The boy sat next to Raven, while the girl took the seat furthest away. Once settled, Mr. Rosco walked to the right side of the room where a diagram with colored bars hung on the wall. Raven recognized it as the Embud ranks. Beside her, she heard buzz-cut boy groan.
“Seriously, this is grade school stuff.”
The blonde girl giggled. Raven kept quiet, but she had to agree. Were they really going over this?
Either Mr. Rosco didn’t hear the boy’s comment or chose to ignore it. He pulled out a pointer.
“This is probably familiar to each of you, but it is necessary to clear up any misunderstandings about Embuds,” he said.
He pointed to the diagram and then dragged his pointer to the bottom bar. The bar displayed a gray stripe with a black line down the middle.
“This is an unawakened Embud. Unawakened Embud bars are gray when your magic is still dormant. An Embud is divided into two parts by a black line.” He pointed to the left side. “The left side is tied to Illusion magic. While the right side,” he said, while sliding his pointer over it, “is tied to Core magic.”
Raven shifted in her seat, forcing herself not to glance down at her Embud.
Mr. Rosco slid his pointer up the diagram. “As magic awakens and grows, the colors of your Embud will change. Going from gray to green to yellow and so forth.” He slid the pointer up the diagram. Gray, green, yellow, orange, red, purple, and finally blue. “Usually people tend to stop magic growth around the yellow and orange range. Though there have been people that have delved into red range.”
“What about Purple and Blue?” the blonde girl asked, leaning forward.
“Purples and Blues do exist, but they are rare. There are only six purple range types in the world and only ten documented since magic’s arrival.”
“I hope I awaken as a Purple,” the boy said excitedly. “Even better, a Blue.”
“That wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing,” Mr. Rosco said with an indulgent smile.
The blonde girl spoke up. “There’s only been one documented Blue in the world and he went crazy.”
Mr. Rosco nodded. “That’s right. The rush of so much power was too much for his body and mind to handle. Having strong magic is not always a good thing.”
Raven shuddered at the thought. The boy slumped back with a pout.
“Well, I hope I’m a Purple,” he said stubbornly.
“That would be extremely rare, but if you become a Purple special opportunities are offered by the MDE.”
Raven had heard a lot about that. If a person reached purple there were a lot of opportunities. People from all over the world courted you in hopes of bringing you on their team. Almost all Purples worked for the government or special sanction corporations. Basically, Purples were guaranteed an easy life. Almost everyone dreamed of being a Purple, but almost no one reached that level.
Mr. Rosco cleared his throat, bringing their attention back to him. “Whatever range you awaken into, remember, you can develop to something higher. Though many may not have the capabilities to become a Purple, you can still aspire to become a Red through hard work and training.”
All three of them nodded. They had all heard this before. After graduating from middle school they could sign up for magic training. Many people took supplementary magic classes once their Core awakened, but the best way to train was to enter a specialized school. Schools like West Merrick Academy, trained students in magic while providing basic courses. Of course, getting into West Merrick was hard. Only the best of the best, or in some cases, the richest of the rich, were accepted.
Raven dreamed of going to West Merrick Academy. She sighed. With not even a hint of green on her Core side, it wasn’t likely she would awaken with a high enough color to get in. Her Mom and Dad were far from rich, so if she wanted to get in she would have to stand out from the crowd. That was where the Illusion magic test came in.
“I know you are all excited to awaken your Core, but before that, we’ll be taking a test for a Level 1 Illusion permit.”
The boy sighed. “Man, do we have to? Almost no one passes that.”
“People pass,” the blond girl interrupted. “But usually after training. It does seem sort of pointless to take it now.”
Mr. Rosco smiled patiently and Raven was pretty sure he heard these complaints often. “While it is true that people rarely pass on their first try. It is still required to test and register your Illusion magic. This is both for your safety and those of the people around you. And who knows, you might even one day enter a field that specializes in Illusion magic.”
The boy rolled his eyes. “Who would want to specialize in Illusion magic?”
“I do,” Raven said, annoyed.
“Huh?” the boy said, turning his attention to her. “Why? No one uses it.”
Raven shrugged and crossed her arms, hiding her Embud. “I just do.”
“Ah, Raven Delias,” Mr. Rosco said while flipping through the papers on his clipboard. “You’ve already reached orange in Illusion magic and you’re only 13.”
She nodded her head. “I’ll be fourteen in a month and a half.”
“That’s quite the achievement for someone your age. I assume you are trying to get your Illusion Level 1 permit.”
“I am,” Raven said. It was one of the ways she was hoping to stand out and get into a specialized school.
Mr. Rosco clicked his tongue in approval. “Excellent. Shall we start with you first?”
Raven nodded and stood up.
“It’s still lame,” the boy said, tucking his hands behind his head.
Raven ignored him. The blonde girl gave her an encouraging smile and Raven smiled back. Mr. Rosco led the way through a small brown door that opened into a little lab. Inside a nurse waited. As soon as the nurse saw them, she escorted Raven to a seat where she began taking her vitals.
“I have a few questions before we begin. I see here that your Illusion magic is strictly water based?”
“Yes. I haven’t had many shifts in my magic besides different water types.”
“Interesting. It’s uncommon for Illusion magic to stabilize as one type without intentional focus. Have there been any signs of new magic types recently?”
Raven hesitated. The shadow sinking was definitely a new magic ability, but if she mentioned it she would have to test it. There was no way she would be able to learn how to use it right now. Gulping down her guilt, she shook her head.
“No, only water-based magic,” Raven lied.
Mr. Rosco nodded and wrote on his clipboard. “What about your Core? Any signs of new magic?”
“It’s still gray,” Raven muttered.
“Oh,” Mr. Rosco said, not quite hiding his surprise before his face soften. “Don’t be too concerned. It’s uncommon, but not rare. After all, that’s the reason why you’re here today. Since you have already achieved an orange range in Illusion, I’m sure your Core will awaken into a nice range. For now, focus on the Illusion test.”
Raven let out a sigh of relief. “Thank you.”
“Good. All ready?” Mr. Rosco asked the nurse.
The nurse nodded. “Vitals are good.”
“Excellent. Let’s begin the Illusion test.”