It was the sound of people talking that woke her. She felt her mind drift to the surface in a fog. She couldn’t understand why it was so hard to wake up. Raven considered letting herself fall back to sleep, but a sense of urgency nagged at her.
“Did you have to go this far?” That was Micah. He sounded agitated like he was barely containing his temper.
“It’s the procedure, besides…you saw what she did,” another voice said coolly. The voice was familiar, but it took her a minute to place it.
Syrion. Then she remembered everything. The Core Awakening. The people strewed on the floor, the damage, and then Syrion and Micah appearing. Micah must have drugged her. It explained the thick fog that had been so hard to wake up from. She considered opening her eyes but decided it was best if they thought she was still asleep.
“Yes, but everyone knows Core Awakenings can be violent. Her Embud is-”
“That doesn’t matter,” Syrion cut Micah off. “She drained those people and left them unconscious. None of them have woken up. It doesn’t matter what color her Embud is if she can do that.”
The room grew quiet and Raven felt her heart beating so loud she wondered if the other two could hear it. She drained the other students. What did that mean? Was it like what she had done to the root monsters in her dreamscape?
A phone rang and Syrion started talking to someone. She could hear lots of, ‘Yes, Sirs.’ As Syrion spoke, she heard footsteps and then someone came over to her right side. She guessed it was Micah since Syrion’s voice stayed in the same place. Raven’s breathing sped up. Forcing herself to relax, she continued to feign being sleep. Micah paused once he reached her and then there was a scrape of a chair as he sat down.
Syrion’s conversation came to an end and she heard more footsteps. “I have to take care of some things. I’ll be back. Don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone.” Then there were more footsteps and the door shut.
Silence filled the room. Then Micah’s deep voice spoke. “I know you’re awake.”
Of course, he did. Micah was a healer, he probably could tell if someone was sleeping or not. Reluctantly, Raven opened her eyes. She turned to look at him and he smiled gently down at her, but his blue eyes were filled with worry.
“We really need to stop meeting this way,” Micah said with a wry smile.
Raven wanted to laugh, but she couldn’t. “You drugged me,” she said instead and winced at how accusatory it sounded.
“Yeah,” Micah said, his shoulders stiffening.
“I don’t blame you,” Raven said quickly. Then she spoke quieter. “I hurt people.”
He frowned and his eyes flashed. “It was an accident. Core Awakenings are often violent.”
Raven nodded. She knew that, but… “The room had magic reinforcement, didn’t it?”
He swallowed and nodded.
Raven grimaced and sat up. That’s when she realized she couldn’t move her right arm. When she looked down she saw a handcuff chaining her to the bed. Not only that, it wasn’t a regular set of handcuffs. Three silver energy lines glowed on the handcuffs. These were criminal suppressors. It explained why she felt sluggish and the fog in her brain hadn’t quite lifted. Panic went through her. She stared at the handcuff, trying not to freak out. Her gaze shifted to her Embud. On the Illusion side, it was still bright orange, but on the Core side, the gray had made way for spring green.
“Green?” she said in shock. It was the lowest level to be awakened as. If she was a green how could she have possibly done all that damage? “I don’t understand.”
Micah was also looking at her Embud. “We’re not sure what it means,” he said. “My dad thinks what happened earlier was a sign of your maximum potential. Then your body shut it down since you were unable to control it.”
Raven blinked. “You mean that what I did before I won’t be able to do again?”
Micah hesitated and nodded. “At least that’s what my father and I think. What happened at your Awakening was more a preview if you were to reach Red level.”
She blinked, stunned and then frowned. “Is it normal for a person to show a preview of their magic potential?”
Micah scratched the back of his head. “None of this is exactly normal.”
They both sat in silence. Raven’s mind swirled at everything. She would have felt disappointed at being a green level, but instead, she felt almost relieved. She wouldn’t be able to do whatever it was that she had done to all those people. She chewed on her bottom lip. Still, what had she actually done? She didn’t know for sure how her Core ability had manifested though she suspected. Was her Core ability the dark energy she had used in her dreamscape?
A thrill went through her at the thought and she immediately felt guilty. She shouldn’t want a power like that, but she couldn’t help remembering the rush. She had felt invincible. She balled her hand up. Maybe if she learned to control it then it wouldn’t be so bad. She swallowed and frowned. Was she really willing to risk hurting people to become powerful? A wave of disappointment went through her.
What am I thinking?
“What happened?” Raven asked timidly.
Micah cringed. It was clear he didn’t want to answer, but he did anyway. “This black smoke began to form around you. The doctors thought it might have been some sort of storm or fog ability, but when you looked at it…It felt like looking into an abyss.” Micah shook his head and there were small beads of sweat on his forehead. “One of the Access Staff put up a barrier, but the smoke covered it and the barrier was just gone. It…”
He trailed off as if searching for words to describe what happened next. The sound of arguing came from outside the room.
Micah looked relieved that he had an excuse not to continue. “I’ll go check.”
She nodded and watched him leave. She felt cold. Her Core magic hadn’t completely manifested as it had in her dreamscape, but close to it. Raven caught sight of a guard standing outside dressed in an MDE uniform as Micah left. The sight of the guard shocked her. Micah closed the door and Raven laid back.
“A guard,” she muttered.
She looked back at her handcuff. She should have guessed it, but still, the thought disturbed her. Her gaze drifted to the green half of her Embud. None of this made sense. Raven lay back on the bed, her thoughts churning. Micah kept referring to the black smoke as ‘it’ like it was something separate from Raven. Is that how he was able to talk to her like a normal person? What would he do once he realized this wasn’t a separate entity, but part of her?
She shuddered. That black smoke, the tendrils, those were all part of her, something dark and terrifying. A part of her absorbed the things around her, leaving a husk or nothing at all.
There was a knock on the door.
“Come in,” Raven said, grateful for the interruption. She was sure if she said nothing, someone would have entered regardless. After all, she was a prisoner.
The door open and she saw a glimpse of Micah before he was gently pushed aside as a tall elegant black woman stepped in. Raven couldn’t help the smile curl her lips at the sight of her mother.
“Mom,” she squeaked out and the relief at seeing her mother made her feel like a little girl.
Her mother rushed to her side, trying to scoop Raven up in her arms, but was held back by Raven’s handcuff. When her mother saw it she glared, before whirling around to face Micah. “Why is she handcuffed?”
“It’s for her safety,” Micah said diplomatically. “And those around her.”
Her mother’s eyes narrowed. Her dad stepped in, putting a hand on her mother’s shoulder. “Honey,” he said in warning.
Her dad leaned down and hugged Raven. When he pulled back, he looked her over. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m okay. I’m tired.”
Her mother was still glaring at Micah.
Raven reached out and grabbed her Mom’s hand. “Mom, it’s not Micah’s fault. My power sort of went haywire.”
Her mother turned back to her and the sharpness in her eyes softened. She reached out and patted Raven’s cheek. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
Raven wasn’t sure, but she nodded anyway.
“Let’s get you out of here,” her mother said, anxious. “I’ll feel better once we’re at home. We’ll figure things out from there.”
Raven nodded. Even if things were crazy she felt better now that her parents were here.
“Sorry, but that won’t be happening.” A voice cut in.
Everyone turned to the new person who had entered the room. A muscular blonde man stepped inside. He had a strong presence about him, which was made even fiercer by his sharp red eyes. He stepped deeper into the room. His lips thinned into a tight line at the sight of Raven.
Raven instinctively cringed backward. She knew who this man was, everyone in the room knew who he was. Lieutenant Cole Harrison, Juvenile Crimes Division. Lt. Harrison might not have been the Captain of Juvenile Crimes, but he was often sent as the spokesman. He was even in charge of the two MDE schools in Tythion. He was also known for being ruthless in his verdicts.
“Raven Delias, you are hereby under arrest. From this point on you are in the custody of the Magic Defense Enforcement Juvenile Division.”
Raven’s mom jumped up and marched towards Lt. Harrison, fury in her every step. “What’s the meaning of this? What crime has she committed?”
“She has attacked several students and personnel,” Lt. Harrison said coldly.
“It was her Awakening! If anyone is at fault it’s this facility. You ensured us that Access Facilities are supposed to make sure things like this don’t happen.”
“Your daughter has put several children in comas,” Lt. Harrison bit out.
Raven’s mother flinched.
“We will take responsibility for our actions. We expect her to do the same.” Lt. Harrison nodded. Syrion walked towards Raven. Two MDE officers went to her parents and guided them out of the room. Syrion unlocked her cuff from the bed.
“Don’t try to fight this. It’ll make things worst.”
Raven stared at him stunned. Fight? Did he think she was planning to attack the MDE? She looked around, noticing everyone around her was tense. They did expect her to fight. Raven gawked. She couldn’t believe this was happening. She was being treated like some violent criminal.
She searched over the faces until her gaze landed on Micah. Part of her hoped he could explain that she was a Green. That whatever happened at her Awakening, she was no longer capable of doing it.
Micah gritted his teeth and then stormed away.
Raven was alone.
Syrion pulled her hands behind her back and began reading her rights as he refastened the handcuffs. Just like that, Raven was no longer a student with a bright future in front of her. A day filled with hope and excitement ended with her as a prisoner. She took a long breath as she was led out of the room.