It was like a bomb erupted. The auditorium filled with the sound of students talking over each other.
‘What does that mean?’ ‘So if we have a magic that blows things up does that mean we’re a bad person?’ More and more questions filled the auditorium.
Raven’s gaze followed Dr. Kesson who seemed pleased with the discord he caused. Besides her Penny whistled and leaned back.
“He sure knows how to rile things up.”
Raven turned to her friend, her brow scrunched up. “I guess so. I mean, our Core magic is who we are? What does that mean?”
Penny shrugged. “It could mean a lot of things. It could mean a person who uses fire is abrasive and aggressive. And a person who uses earth magic is grounded and reliable. Or it could tie not to the magic type but how it appears. A sound ability to make an ear-piercing wave or a sound ability to sing and calm people are very different.” She tilted her head. “If what he says is even true.”
Raven frowned. “What do you mean?”
Penny met her eyes. Instead of seeming weirded out like the other students she looked fascinated. “How do they know magic reflects who you are? How do you even confirm something like that?”
Raven turned that thought over. How did they know Core magic was a reflection of who a person was. How do you measure that? Yet, the confident way Dr. Kesson had said that didn’t sound like he was lying. “It could be a working theory.”
Penny grinned. “Look at you, sounding so smart.”
Raven pushed her lightly. “Hey, don’t underestimate my brain.”
“Please settle down everyone,” the woman from earlier said. “As Dr. Kesson said Core magics reflect a person’s true self, due to this Core Awakening can be quite intense. Please be aware that you and your fellow students will be going through a stressful change today. In that vein please be respectful of each other. Once the Awakening process has ended, you will receive your new suppressor. You must immediately wear it before leaving the facility. Removal of your suppressor is a punishable offense by the MDE.”
The woman looked over the auditorium to make sure her words sunk in.
“After Core Awakening, and suppressor fitting, you will be escorted to your guardian. We recommend resting after the Awakening to make sure your Core settles. Too much strain can cause disruptions in your Core magic. Understood?”
The students all sounded their agreement. Raven wondered how many people would actually listen. Two girls in front of her whispered about going to the mall afterward. It made her think about her shopping trip with Micah tomorrow.
“You’re grinning way too much. Suspicious,” Penny teased.
Raven shrugged but didn’t stop smiling. “I’m just excited.”
“Excited about what is the question,” Penny said.
“Raven Delias,” a woman called out.
Raven turned to see a line of students and a woman in a lab coat waiting for her. A wave of nerves hit her. This was it. She was about to find out what her Core magic was. She took a step forward and Penny grabbed her hand. Raven turned to her friend.
“You’ll be fine,” Penny said and there was the slightest tremble in her voice.
Raven had been so focused on herself she hadn’t wondered how Penny felt. She turned to her friend and hugged her tight. “You will be too. I’ll wait for you after we get out. We can talk our parents into taking us out to dinner.”
Penny seemed to relax at her words. “Good and then you can tell me all about what’s up with you.”
Raven pulled away and twirled around. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she teased.
Without waiting to hear what Penny would say to that she hurried towards the woman in the lab coat. The woman was frowning, annoyed at Raven for delaying.
“Sorry,” Raven muttered and joined the line of students.
There were at least ten students. They were lead down several hallways until they reached a hall with five doors on each side. A red light shone above each door. Raven fidgeted while the others around her shifted and stared around them. The woman in the lab coat tapped her foot impatiently.
There was a sharp ding and one of the lights turned green. The door below it opened and a boy stepped out, guided by a man in a dark green Access Facility uniform. The boy looked drained, with bags under his eyes and a worn but pleased smile on his lips. Raven glanced down at his Embud to see it was bright orange. Orange was pretty high to awaken at. Raven couldn’t help a stab of envy go through her. She looked up to see that she wasn’t the only one by the way the other students were staring.
The woman in the lab coat gestured to a boy to step forward and guided him into the recently vacant room. One-by-one they each watched as the red lights turned green. Another student whisked away. Raven ended up being the last called forward. She supposed it was only fair since she had been the last to get in line.
As she went in she caught sight of a new line of ten students being lead towards the door to wait their turn. She searched to see if Penny was with them, but there was no sight of her. They were probably calling students in alphabetical order by last name. It was a little disappointing. It would have made her feel better to know Penny was waiting outside the door. She mentally braced herself and stepped into the room.
It wasn’t that different from the Illusion Testing room. Except, where the Illusion room had been empty, in this room a single chair sat in the middle. A large window covered half the room. Several people peered at her from the reinforced glass. Most she didn’t recognize, but she saw Dr. Kesson and Micah among them. She started to wave at Micah and then thought better of it.
Inside the room with her was a man in a lab coat with his back to her and a woman in an Access Facility uniform. The woman led Raven to the chair while the man continued adjusting his tools. She sat down. She swallowed, feeling very much like a rat in a lab.
The man in the lab coat finally turned to her and for a moment he froze. Raven blinked, not sure what was wrong. Whatever had caused the doctor to pause he shook it off.
“Hello, I’m Dr. Briton.”
Raven was a little stunned to realize it was Dr. Kesson’s research partner. Why was he doing her Awakening? She expected him to say more, but when he didn’t she figured he was waiting for her to introduce himself. It was a little strange since he probably already knew her name. “Raven Delias.”
“Of course,” the doctor said absently.
Raven was starting to be a little concerned. She studied the doctor. He was relatively normal looking. He had soft curly brown hair, a square jaw, and deep brown eyes that reminded her of a friendly golden retriever, even if they seemed a bit lost at the moment.
Her doubts must have shown on her face because Dr. Briton gave her a reassuring smile. “It’s fine. You reminded me of someone. Shall we begin?”
She nodded. She wondered who she reminded him of to freeze up like that, but didn’t dwell on it. She was already nervous enough.
“I’ll be giving you an injection to help the process of your Awakening,” he said. He began putting small white electrodes at her temples and over her chest. “All I want you to do is relax and the shot will do the rest.”
“Will it hurt?”
Dr. Briton reached out and gave her shoulder a pat. “It might, but you’re strong. You can do it.”
Raven gave a shaky nod. Even if his words weren’t exactly what she wanted to hear they felt reassuring.
Dr. Briton picked up a needle filled with a lime green fluid. Raven closed her eyes, not wanting to see. She felt a slight prick. For a moment nothing happened. She wasn’t sure how long it would take. If nothing happened did that mean she was a dud after all? Her earlier fears started to rise up again like a wave.
A wave that slid over her skin and pulled her down. And she was drowning, thoughts rushing through her heads.
You’re a dud.
He doesn’t like you. He pities you.
She’s your friend until she gets bored with you.
Deeper and deeper she sank. It was an endless drowning darkness. Air seeped from her lungs. Deeper and deeper. She clawed at her throat.
You’re a fake.
You should have died.
Are you even human?
She opened her eyes.
There were trees everywhere. She turned to see a cottage like one from a storybook. It had a thatched roof and a chimney with white puffs of smoke coming out of. It was nice and homey and totally confusing. On top of that, the cottage didn’t have a door from this side. Frowning, she began walking around the cottage in hopes of finding an entrance.
She froze as she turned one corner. Straight ahead was darkness. Right where there should have been land was a steep drop. She crept a little closer and looked down. More darkness. Looking to the sides made her realize that the drop off continued in both directions. It was like she was standing on an island in the middle of nowhere.
The clink of dishes grabbed her attention. Someone was here. She took a deep breath. She was a little creep out by the darkness thing, but this was her dreamscape. At least she thought it was if she was supposed to gain her Core magic through discovering her true self.
She wondered who exactly her mind had conjured up. She rounded the corner and came face-to-face with glowing gold eyes and rows of sharp pointy teeth.
“Hello Raven,” the demon said.