During the late 1970s, a crisis took place in the magical world. The crisis began with a group of young magicians who got tired of the way that the magical world was going. They blamed the witches for using their magic to cause discord among the magical population. Also, the lure of the non-magical world was strong, as many magicians had abandoned their homes and families to live in the non-magical world. Many of these young magicians wanted to do away with magic altogether, seeing as witches had used magic for their own evil purposes and no one was stopping them. By attempting to put an end to the use of magic, they believed that the witches would diminish.
Unfortunately, it was not to be.
In 1978, a magical war broke out between the witches (who wanted to keep using magic for their own evil purposes) and the Spellcasters and Mages (who wanted to either do away with magic altogether or rewrite the laws of magic so that witches cannot use magic anymore). Many people on both sides were killed in the battle. Many non-magical people also took sides, with many of them wanting magic gone, since they saw magic as evil and not of God. Many non-magical people were killed in the battle as well.
The magic wars lasted for 25 years, and it seemed that every time a fight broke out between the witches and Spellcasters, the witches would come out victorious. They had originally wanted to use their magic to take over the world and force non-magical humans to be their subjects for many years. The Mages and Spellcasters wanted everyone to be free; however, they wanted those who wanted to use magic to use magic only for good. Many of the non-magical humans did not like the witches, and they staged guerrilla attacks against the witches, hoping to slow down their fighting and to discover the source of their powers.
Many people believed that the source of the witches' powers resided in a tome called the Book of Magic. This book was seven and a half inches long, ten inches wide, and two inches thick. It was bound in dusty turquoise canvas and is in good condition. The cover had a large illustration and contained many color illustrations. The book also contained many spells that no Spellcaster or Mage would dare touch; these spells were considered to be of the utmost evil and those spells could be used to do terrible damage to the non-magical population.
The book was hidden in a huge jeweled box that was hidden in the witches' square in the dark forests of Klakesh. Three witches guarded the book at all times, killing or bewitching anyone who dared to go near the book. Not even the bravest humans could get to the book without doing battle with the witches, and many of those who had attempted to steal the Book of Magic barely escaped from the witches with their lives.
At this point, no one knew what to do. Many people had grown weary of the war, as most of the magicians had lost families and friends in the war, or they were too spell-damaged to fight anymore. Some of them were pondering whether they should simply give up and return to their homes. Others weren't too sure, seeing as a retreat from the war was a surefire sign of defeat, and no one wanted to give the witches their victory. Many people agreed that unless something was done, the witches would continue their reign of terror upon the world.
"We must try harder!" a man shouted as a group of Mages and Spellcasters met in the fellowship hall of a local church one night.
"We've given it all we got," said another man, "but no matter what we try, we do not succeed. Those witches have to go, and the sooner they leave, the better off the rest of us will be!"
"Indeed," said the first man, "but how are we going to stop them? We cannot fight them with our magic and we cannot ask the wizards to aid us..."
"I have just received word that Malgar the Brown has refused to aid us," said a third man. "He has thrown in his lot with the Gray Witch."
"We have lost yet another ally," said the second man with a sigh of grief. "Our list of friends and allies grows thin."
"It doesn't have to be this way," said the first man. "We can still stop them, even if we're the last ones standing."
"How will we do that?" said the third man. "Summon the elves and fairies and beg them to come help us? They won't come, and they won't help us. The old alliances are dead."
"Then we must look to men to help us," said the second man. Everyone stared at him blankly. "It is in men that we must put our hopes."
"Are you sure about this?" said the fourth man. "I do not agree with this idea. Men are cowards, and they are weak. They are full of greed and they care nothing for their fellow man."
"Yet, some men are good," said the first man. "There are those who seek to improve the lives of their fellow man and those who seek to eradicate crimes and diseases. This is why we must enlist men who will help us."
"There are men who bind themselves to the Great One, the one who they claimed created us all," said the third man. "They pray to this God, asking forgiveness for their sins and his mighty hand to intervene in the lives of their families and friends."
"Yet, this God does not like magic, and he does not think that those who practice magic should live," said the second man.
"It is only those who practice dark magic that we must worry about," said a fifth man who walked into the room. The other four men stared at him. "Witchcraft has been around since the days of the Great Flood, or even before the flood. It is very difficult to stamp out this witchcraft without repercussions. Not without a miracle."
"What miracle do you speak of?" said the fourth man.
"We shall steal the Book of Magic," said the fifth man. Everyone gasped in horror at what the man was suggesting. "The Book of Magic is the main source of the witches' powers and if we were to take the book from them and possibly destroy it, they would lose the greater part of their powers."
"Lennox, what you are suggesting is madness," said the first man. "We would do anything to stop the witches, but this isn't right."
"Madness, you say? It is indeed madness that brought me here," said Linus Lennox as he faced the first man. "I cannot for the life of me allow this war to continue, and I cannot allow my daughter to grow up in a world that is plagued by evil caused by witches. My wife has lost most of her family in this crazy war, and I promised her that I would do my part to bring about an ending."
"Your wife's name is Helen, right?" said the second man.
"She is Helen Hawksley," said Linus, "and our daughter is Janette Lennox. Janette is four years old."
"You do know that your wife is a Spellcaster, right?" said the fourth man.
"I hate being forced into this debate," said Linus. "If I did marry a Spellcaster, it was to be for love. Many humans have married for love, which has proved itself over the years."
"It is for the love of your wife and daughter that is driving you to form this crazy plan to steal the Book of Magic," said the second man.
"You get on Lennox's case about his wife and you do not think about your own sister, Baynard," said the third man. "Besides, Lennox is right; love is one of the most powerful things in the universe and without it, none of us could live. The witches do not have love in their hearts, only weeds, poisons, and everything evil. I have been to the church in Bethsaida Chapel and I heard a speech about how love is so strong that it can break the bonds of pain and misery. Love can break the bonds of death. Love can even break even the worst of spells. The man who made the speech has told me something that I had longed to hear, someone loved us enough to die in our place so that we do not have to experience the bonds of death."
"You're right, Lutterworth," said Baynard. "The witches have a love of power and cruelty, but we can stop them from reaching their goals of enslaving the world."
"The Book of Magic will have to be destroyed in order to achieve this goal," said Lutterworth, "and I believe that we all must carry out this theft before the next wave of attacks."
That meeting happened in 2003, when most of the human population living in the city of Gillamoor, England was concerned with the fight against their fellow humans. Those humans had decided to incite terror upon the world and attack various landmarks and people just because they did not agree with who these people were. It was said that the witches were behind these attacks, and they were working with these terrorists to bring down certain people who they didn't like.
On the night of October 11, 2003, Linus Lennox, Khalil Lutterworth, Erwin Baynard, Donato Tessington, and Moses Humphrey led a secret raid upon the witches' square. While the priests recruited by the Spellcasters successfully fought off the witches, Linus and Baynard grabbed the Book of Magic from its spot in the huge vault under the square. Just as they were reaching the surface with the book, the Gray Witch and Malgar stepped from their hiding places and confronted the two men.
"I knew that this was too good to be true, Baynard," said the Gray Witch. "You beg humans to help you with this fruitless cause."
"The cause bears fruit," said Baynard. "You knew you could not defeat us without us wiping out your race, so you would decide to eradicate humanity as well as us. I know you, Asema, and I know of your evil plans. You will never win."
"You have a human standing next to you, and he has the Book of Magic?" Malgar snapped. "He and his family will die for this travesty."
"As will you, Malgar," Baynard said as he waved his staff and struck the wicked wizard with it, killing him immediately. To the Gray Witch, he said, "You have invoked the wrath of the humans' God; he will smite you and those who follow you. The human standing next to me will be only the first to resist you and your spells, but his daughter will bring about such an end to your race that none can see you ever rising again."
He took Linus and they both escaped from the Gray Witch as she shouted curses at them.
* * * * *
After the deed was done, the Book of Magic was in the custody of the group. After hiding the book in a secure location, they all sat at a local tavern and toasted their victory.
"We have brought about an end to this war," said Lutterworth.
"I don't know about that," said Tessington. "The Gray Witch did put a hex on us for stealing the book."
"But she herself doesn't have the book, does she?" said Baynard. "If she doesn't have the book, then she can't put any spells on us. Her words are like the wind, and no matter how loud the wind howls, the trees will not bow to it."
"Still, I have a bad feeling that we could pay for this," said Humphrey. The others stared at him in shock. "The Gray Witch is the leader of the witches, and she does not forgive a single crime. She will surely destroy us all before we destroy the Book of Magic."
"Yet a single person could bring about the end of the witches and the beginning of a new era," said Baynard. "There is one person out there who could mean the difference between victory…and defeat."
* * * * *
Later that night, Linus returned home to his wife Helen and his daughter Janette. Both of them were at home, where a very worried Helen sat in fear for her husband. She knew that what Linus was doing was very dangerous, and anything that he did would have adverse effects on not only him, but her and Janette as well. However, she did not approve of this mission at all, and she wondered why he bothered to steal the Book of Magic in the first place.
As soon as she saw him, Helen said to him, "Is it done?"
"It is," said Linus. "I have hidden the book in a place where the Gray Witch will never be able to find it. But we must leave now, for she is hunting for us as we speak."
With that, Linus and Helen gathered Janette and they fled from the house on foot; to take the car would be risky. They quickly rushed through the streets of Gillamoor, not caring about anything else but escaping to a safe place. When they reached Bethsaida Chapel, Linus knocked on the door and a man opened it.
Father Lucas Wooten was the head of the Bethsaida Chapel; he was a short older man with pale skin, blue-green eyes, and gray-and-white hair. He was wearing the brown robes of an abbot.
He stared at Linus and his family, saying, "What can I do for you, my son?"
"I have stolen the witches' book and hidden it where they can never find it," said Linus as he tried to catch his breath, "but their wrath is strong and their retribution is swift. I fear that if I don't leave now, Janette will be forced to pay for my doings."
Father Wooten stared at Janette; she was a tiny 4-year-old with green eyes, blond hair, and pale skin. She was clutching a stuffed pony in one hand. Father Wooten then said, "Go as fast as you can, Linus. Do not worry about Janette, for she will be safe here. Nothing that is harmful or evil will enter the house of the living God."
"I do hope that this is true," said Helen with a strange look on her face, "and all the same, I fear that I may never see her again."
"She'll be safe," said Linus. "There is a power here that protects those who seek safety from the wrath of evil."
After goodbye hugs and promises to return, Linus and Helen Lennox turned away from the church and ran off into the night. Father Wooten watched them leave, not knowing if he would see Linus or his wife again. He had known Linus since Linus was a small child who had come to his church, begging him to help save his dying mother. After the death of Sally Lennox, Father Wooten took Linus in and raised him as a ward of Bethsaida Chapel.
Now Father Wooten was left alone with little Janette Lennox. He knew that there were many children who had been abandoned by their parents and were brought to the church by concerned citizens, but he never considered the thought of two people coming here begging him to protect their daughter. He had seen the evils of magic during his tenure as the priest of the village and he was determined to do his part in stopping this evil before more children lost their parents.
He said to Janette, "Come child, let us pray for your parents and those who are fighting against evil. Evil cannot win, not as long as God is still in charge of this earth." He took the child's tiny hand and they walked into the church, not knowing that Janette had a huge role to play in the ongoing war against the witches...
Ten years after the theft of the Book of Magic and the disappearances of Linus and Helen Lennox
Janette Lennox frowned as she (once again) stumbled and fell to the ground in the gardens. She sat up, glaring at the shoes that she had chosen to wear today. The shoes were an unbearable brown color, with a hard exterior. Janette wondered if she had made a mistake in choosing the hard brown shoes that would last her almost an entire year and not wearing the soft pink shoes with the sequins that the other girls who attended the boarding school were wearing, the shoes that would last only a few weeks before they would fall apart.
Janette quickly stood up and brushed herself off. She went into the bathroom in Bethsaida Chapel and glanced at herself in a mirror. She was short for her 13 years, had pale skin, blond hair, and brown eyes. She had been wearing her school uniform (which consisted of a blue sweater and a beige skirt), both of which were dirty from the fall and needed to be washed.
"You really need to watch where you're going and not have your nose in a book," Janette scolded herself as she attempted to brush the dirt off her skirt. "You could get hit by a car or zapped by someone if you keep forgetting that the world exists."
"Yet, you hardly venture out into the world as it is," said Mother Jocelind McColl as she came into the bathroom. The older woman had pale skin that was beginning to wrinkle, dull blue eyes, and graying brown hair that was covered with a black scarf. She was wearing the gray robes of an abbess. She shook her head at the young girl's appearance, saying, "You do need to leave your room sometimes. You're too pale and thin."
"I do leave my room," said Janette. "I leave my room whenever I have classes or for mealtime or whenever I'm helping Brother Methuselah in the library. The old man says that he'd be lost if I'm not there to help him."
"What I mean is that you don't talk to anyone at all," said Mother Jocelind. "You don't have any friends."
"I do talk to people," said Janette. "I talk to Malinda and Silas."
"Think of what the other students are saying about you," said Mother Jocelind. "Just yesterday, I overheard Emely Maddock saying that you are very stubborn and uncaring about others."
"Emely is a liar and a bully," said Janette, "and do you know why? She thinks that the world owes her a favor just because she's rich."
"The other day, I overheard Dianna Dickinson saying that you were greedy and selfish just because you refused an invitation to her birthday party," said Mother Jocelind, hoping to draw Janette's attention to the situation.
"Dianna is so stupid," said Janette as she glanced in the mirror. "She thinks that just because she's popular that means everyone has to bow down before her. As for her party, I can't go; not when I have so much work to do. I don't have time to be getting involved in the frivolities of youth, not when we must become adults."
"Walk with me, dear," said Mother Jocelind as she stepped out the bathroom. Janette followed her and they walked down the long halls of Bethsaida Chapel.
For as long as she could remember, the church had been Janette's home. It had been her home since her parents, Linus and Helen Lennox, had sent her there during their flight from the village nearly ten years before. There were many other children who were sent to Bethsaida as Janette was, but most of them were abandoned as babies. Janette lived in her own room above the sanctuary while the other children stayed in the dorms.
Janette loved living in Bethsaida. She loved hearing the organ playing, the choir singing, and the hymns that the people sang in worship. She enjoyed hiding in a huge building, looking down upon the children who attended church, but had to go to smaller and less attractive homes that were located outside the village.
Mother Jocelind shook her head; she would have to have a word with Mr. Cawthorne regarding Janette's shoes. The shoes flapped on her feet and she seemed to be tripping and falling everywhere. Just yesterday, she had nearly knocked over the candlesticks while assisting the altar boys, who were busy polishing the candlesticks in anticipation of a great celebration that would be taking place on Sunday.
Very soon, Father Wooten came to them, saying, "Brother Methuselah has been wondering if Janette would be coming today. He is in the library, as it were, and his eyesight is as good as a blind man's."
"She will come," said Mother Jocelind, "but I worry for her. She is refusing to socialize with the other students who pass through the doors of this place."
"That's because they all have what I don't have," Janette snapped.
"What do they have that you don't have," said Father Wooten with a curious look on his face.
"Parents," said Janette. The old people stared at her in shock. She had never fully admitted her problems to anyone, let alone Father Wooten and Mother Jocelind. "I do not wish to be with people who have parents and I don't. I can't go to parties without people wondering where my parents are. I am tired of feeling like I'm an..."
She paused, for she could not bring herself to say the word "orphan". To her, the word "orphan" meant that you were poor, wretched, and helpless. Janette refused to think of herself as poor, wretched, and helpless; not if she could help it at all. She knew better than to feel that way.
The old priest shook his head as he heard Janette's speech; he knew that nothing good would come from Linus Lennox sending his daughter to Bethsaida, but he also shuddered to think of what would have happened if the Gray Witch had caught up with the Lennox family. For the last ten years, Linus and his wife Helen had been missing, and rumors swirled around the village, rumors that claimed that the couple had been found, tortured, and slain by the Gray Witch. But there were no signs of a struggle in the village, nor were there any bodies of the couple found. Still, no one knew for certain if Linus and Helen were alive or dead at all.
Father Wooten said to Janette, "I believe that I do know something about your parents, but it is not to be discussed right now."
"When do you plan to tell me about my parents?" Janette snapped at him. She had been curious about her family for several years, but all she heard about them were nothing but rumors regarding their disappearance.
"I will tell you on your birthday," said Father Wooten, "but you will not like what you will hear of them."
* * * * *
"Why do you feel so down, Janette," Brother Methuselah said to her as she stacked another book onto the bookshelves. Brother Methuselah worked in the Bethsaida Chapel Library for many years and he knew every book there as if the book was a treasured friend. There was also a donation of books and other priceless treasures that were given to the church, and Methuselah's tired old body wouldn't allow him to spend a good amount of time sorting the books and stacking them onto the shelves.
Janette said, "Mother Jocelind thinks that I am not...normal. Like there's something wrong with me."
"There is nothing wrong with you," said Brother Methuselah. Janette glared at him. "I have been on this earth longer than she has, and I can tell you of a number of people who did amazing things even if they were deemed "not normal". Now, what is it that you're so upset about?"
"The girls think that I am greedy and selfish because I don't want to hang out with them," Janette frowned. It was very easy to talk to Brother Methuselah; he didn't interrupt or talk back. He never betrayed any secrets. Most of the children who lived at Bethsaida sought the advice of Brother Methuselah, as they knew that he was a very good listener and gave his answers in a way that didn't confuse them.
Also, Brother Methuselah was at a very advanced age, having been a monk longer than Father Wooten had been an abbot. He had pale skin that was beginning to resemble hard-boiled leather, brown eyes that were dimming, and hair that had once been brown, but was now completely bone-white.
"Why do you not wish to spend time with people your age?" said Brother Methuselah.
"They have parents and I don't," said Janette. "You know how they treat kids who don't have parents. I can't tell you how many horror stories I've heard about children being abused or exploited because they don't have any parents to protect them. I wish that I could invent some parents, but that goes against I am learning, which is to never focus on your dreams and forget that you exist."
"You do have parents," said Brother Methuselah.
"Really?" Janette. "If that is so, then where are they?"
"No one knows what became of Linus and Helen Lennox," said Brother Methuselah. "Many have claimed that they simply...vanished without a trace."
Janette gasped at him in horror.
"Father Wooten did not wish to tell you this because he feared that you would be hurt," the old man continued, "but he also knows that you must learn the truth about what happened to them."
"All I know is that I was sent here when I was a little girl," said Janette. "My parents were in a big hurry when they left me here, and I don't know what was going on then. Father Wooten has already told me bits and pieces of what was going on that night I came here, but he's been rather...vague. I would like to know what happened to them so that I could go out there and maybe find them."
"You are right, Janette," said Brother Methuselah. "You are right in that endeavor. However, there are some things in this world that do not want you to succeed in your goal, and there is no shortage of people who may want to keep their secrets buried. To dig up secrets is to reopen old wounds, and to reopen old wounds is to remember old hurts. Sometimes, the best way to solve problems is to revisit the painful memories of those who have hurt us and those whom we have hurt."
Janette nodded, wondering if she would be doomed to live in Bethsaida Chapel for the rest of her life, never knowing who her parents were. She had lived a life of being hidden in the shadows, keeping her head down, doing and saying very little, and attempting to escape the prying eyes of girls such as Emely Maddock and Dianna Dickinson. People were very surprised if Janette spoke to them at all, if she did choose to speak to them.
Just then, she stumbled and (once again) fell to the floor. This time, she was carrying an armload of books with her when she fell and the books landed on top of her. Brother Methuselah shook his head; he was definitely going to give Mr. Cawthorne an earful regarding Janette's choice of shoes.
* * * * *
At dinner, Janette sat next to Malinda Bradshaw and Silas McGowan at a long table in the dining hall in Bethsaida. Malinda was described as a difficult girl with round brown eyes, short curly brown hair, and light colored skin while Silas was described as a weak-willed boy wide cobalt-blue eyes, short chestnut-brown hair, and pale skin. Both children were wearing their school uniforms consisting of a green sweater and brown pants.
The dining hall was large and overcrowded, as it usually was filled with the other orphans and children who were attending the boarding school that was located next to Bethsaida. Malinda and Silas were both upset with the amount of homework that they had been given by the teachers at the school and they believed that the homework was solely an excuse for them to stop hanging out with Janette. They already didn't spend enough time with her as it were, since Janette attended school in Bethsaida and they attended the boarding school, but this was ridiculous. Something needed to be done about this situation immediately.
"I can't believe that Mrs. Bellinger assigned us all this homework in math," said Silas in anger. "How does she expect us to know how to do algebra within a month?"
"Perhaps if you studied more and played less, you would be able to do your homework in an hour," said Malinda as she shook her head. She had prided herself on being able to finish her homework in less than an hour while it took her fellow classmates nearly three hours to complete a few simple math problems. "Besides, we have to do our homework or we'll be stuck in the library with Brother Methuselah." Then noticing Janette's glare, she said, "Sorry about that, Janette."
Janette said, "I know your teachers mean well, Silas. They just want you to learn as much as they wish to teach you. It's not easy going to boarding school and being away from your families."
"You can say that," said Silas.
"It's only because Janette attends the school that's located in the classrooms next to the fellowship hall," said Malinda. "You don't believe that she has it any easier than we do, right?"
"No," said Janette. "We have not only math, English, science, and history, but there are also religious studies and Latin as well. We also must learn the hymns and serve the people who come into our church. We must also keep the church clean and have the pews ready for the worshippers. So if you think I have it easy because I go to school at Bethsaida, think again."
"You're right, Janette," said Malinda. "How can you call going to school at a church easy?"
"It's because Janette gets to do so much more than we do," said Silas. Janette glared back at him. "How can Janette get the religious classes when our school doesn't allow certain things to be taught in our classrooms?"
Janette shot him a strange look, which told him to hold that thought. Father Wooten stepped forward to the head table. The food was being set in front of many hungry children and adults, but as a rule, no one was allowed to eat until the old priest blessed the food.
Everyone stared at Father Wooten, who said, "Father in Heaven, we thank you for providing us with this dinner and a place where we may be able to share this meal with each other. May this food nourish and sustain us, may the conversations be pleasant, and may we always remember that you have brought us here."
As soon as the blessing was completed, Silas immediately dug into the food. Janette and Malinda glanced at him for a second, and then they both dug into the food. Soon, everyone else quickly began eating. During the meal, Janette glanced at the atmosphere; no one seemed to care if there were rich or poor people, who had parents or who did not have parents. What she saw were people eagerly sharing a meal. "I wonder if I'm just wasting my time worrying about kids who have parents and whether or not I don't," she said to herself. "In the church, it seems to matter very little who is rich and who is not. They are the only people who matter. Then again, there are those who flaunt their lives in front of those who have very little, and it is people like Emely and Dianna who make me angry and not wish to hang out with them. I know I keep hiding myself behind this rather flimsy parents-or-no-parents shield, but what else do I have?"
Nerves suddenly got the best of her, as she slowed down her eating and began shaking her head. "Not now," she said to herself. "I'm doing great, and dinner is almost over. I can't be having any panic attacks now."
She remembered the last panic attack that she had, when a party was held in the fellowship hall of the church for Tyson Boulden's 11th birthday last year, when she ran from the room screaming when Tyson's parents showed up and took him away for the day. Janette had hidden herself at the gatehouse of Bethsaida Chapel and refused to come out until Father Wooten came to retrieve her.
Remembering the hurt and anger that Tyson inflicted on her for almost ruining his party, Janette slowly calmed herself long enough to eat the red velvet cake that was being served for dessert. She knew that no one was to know of her panic attacks if she thought about her parents too much; she would never hear the end of the jokes that would be told about her.
Janette shook her head, hoping to banish the fear from her mind. Dinner was over and the multitude of boarding school students had already left the hall, presumably to the various classrooms at their school to do their homework. Malinda and Silas had been among the first to leave, with Malinda saying to her, "Don't let them get to you, Janette; you are stronger than you think you are."
"Yeah, Janette," said Silas. "No one will hurt you if you don't let them."
"Thanks," Janette mumbled, but she was still trying to recover from the near panic attack that had occurred a few minutes before. She knew that nothing good ever came from these attacks and she needed to get some help soon.
Janette remembered last year, when the attacks began: after Tyson's birthday party, there was no shortage of incidents that triggered her attacks, such as someone dressing up as a witch, or strange noises in the halls. There had been a prank where someone had tried to make a book "float" in her direction. After that prank, Father Wooten scolded the offending students, saying that the evils of witchcraft were to be taken seriously and that the joke was cruel and hurtful to Janette.
She knew that Tyson was turning 12 years old this week and she would soon be turning 14. Fourteen. It had been ten years since her parents had left her in Bethsaida Chapel. It had been ten years since she last saw them. Janette felt tears of sadness and pain slide down her face, knowing that her parents could probably be dead somewhere.
"All right, get it together," she said to herself. "Don't let them catch you crying." Janette stood up and began to help the other students in cleaning up the dining hall, the chores slowly taking away her grief and pain. She was feeling much better by the time that homework and religious studies came.
* * * * *
In Father Wooten's office after dinner, he said to Mother Jocelind, "I don't know what to do about Miss Lennox here."
"I know," said Mother Jocelind. "I tried to speak to her earlier, but she keeps brushing me off, saying that Emely and Dianna are cruel, arrogant girls who aren't even worth her time or patience. Sometimes I myself wonder if Janette is being the cruel and arrogant girl by choosing not to associate herself with the other girls."
"What are we going to do with her?" said Father Wooten.
"We need to ask her what is going on in her life," said Mother Jocelind. "I have a feeling that there is something about her that we do not know about and if we don't find out about it now, it could have dire consequences for her in the future."
Father Wooten nodded, but wondered to himself I believe that the time has come for Janette to know the truth about herself. I have kept this secret from her long enough.
* * * * *
That night, when everyone else had gone to bed, Janette sat up and stared out the window to her room. The rising moon was nearly full, which was a sign of some very big changes that were going to happen very soon. Janette knew that her birthday was going to happen within the week, but little did she know that with this birthday would come some unexpected surprises and a mysterious legacy...
The week rushed by and it was now Friday. Janette frowned, knowing that her birthday was coming up on Saturday. She would soon be 14 years old.
For some strange reason, this revelation left her feeling uneasy.
Tyson's 12th birthday party went off without a hitch, mainly because Janette decided to hide in the gatehouse during the duration of the party. She wasn't about to risk having another panic attack in front of Tyson and the other guests. She didn't have time for this.
Janette paced the tiny room in the back of the gatehouse; a pungent, earthy odor greeted her as she pulled the door open and walked into the room. Mushrooms grew in clusters of hundreds all over the floor. Looking into the room is like looking down on a forest. Tall tangles of fungus resemble forested hills, the barren floor looks like a plain between the woods, and even a trickle of water and a puddle of water that pools in a low spot in the floor resemblances both a river and lake, respectively. Apparently, someone had neglected the gatehouse and in doing so, the room resembled the forests that surrounded Gillamoor.
Janette found herself thinking about the Magic Wars; many people who lived in Gillamoor had families and friends who were killed in that war. Most of the villagers could recall the names of the witch covens that were destroyed in the wars, the witches who had caused nothing but trouble for everyone living in the village. The villagers believed that the witches were evil and wanted to take over the world and rule over humanity.
"The witches who attacked our village showed no regard for human life, as they have done for the last 3,000 years," Janette said to herself as she read from the book "The Witch Wars". The book was seven and a half inches long, seven and a half inches wide, and an inch and a half thick. It was bound in lemon-yellow canvas and in poor condition. The only thing on the cover is the book's title, and the book contained many color illustrations. Janette had found this book and many other books in another part of the gatehouse. The books there were in very poor shape, having been locked away in the gatehouse and suffering from neglect.
"There have been many incidents involving witches, most notably the incident in Salem, Massachusetts in the year of Our Lord 1692," Janette continued. "The incident involved many young girls who were afflicted by a witch's curse. Many people who were accused of witchcraft were found to be innocent, as the real witch coven had hidden themselves deep in the woods and they had been the ones to start all of this trouble. But a group of Spellcasters living in Salem refused to stand for the witches' evil doings, so they roused the villagers and in the year of Our Lord 1694, the Spellcasters had the witch coven living in Salem executed and their families destroyed, down to the last child."
"I really don't understand how this is leading to the wars that occurred today," Janette thought to herself as she put the book aside and left the gatehouse. The party had ended nearly three hours earlier and everyone had gone back to their dorms. Most of the partygoers threw her dirty looks, as if she had ruined the party by not attending.
All the same, the brunt of the abuse came from Tyson himself, who had gotten even bigger than he was last year and was taller than Janette to boot. He grabbed Janette by her neck and shoved her against the wall, screaming, "What the hell is wrong with you, you selfish witch? I thought I told you to come to my party, didn't you? Why didn't you come to my party when I specifically asked you to come? Explain this to me right now!"
"But I seem to recall you last year saying that you didn't want me at your party," Janette said as she tried not to choke from lack of air. "I remember you beating me up due to my panic attack last year."
"Shut up!" Tyson said as he slapped her across her face. "You are nothing more than a lying greedy selfish witch who thinks that she can do what she wants and not care about what anyone else has to say! I'm going to make your life a living nightmare, just you wait! Father Wooten, Mother Jocelind, and Brother Methuselah can't always be there to protect you..."
"That is enough!" a younger man came towards the kids. He was tall with slightly graying brown hair, dull brown eyes, and pale skin. He wore the black robes of the monks. He had witnessed Tyson hitting Janette and rushed over to intervene before Janette was badly hurt.
"B-B-Brother Sidney," Tyson gasped in surprise, not releasing Janette or glancing at the man who had come to see them. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm here because I'd like to know where you got the notion to start beating up Miss Lennox," Brother Sidney Alston snapped at Tyson. Janette managed to pry the larger boy's hands from her throat before sliding to the ground, coughing and gasping for breath. "I know you, Tyson," Brother Sidney continued, "and I certainly know that you have intimidated the orphans who live in our church. Never in all my years of service have I seen you do such a despicable act such as this. I expected better from you, young man."
Tyson stared at the ground, suddenly feeling ashamed of himself. Brother Sidney then turned to the gathering crowd of witnesses, shouting, "Can someone explain to me why none of you stepped forward and stopped this from escalating as it had done?" No one said a word; they never saw Brother Sidney so angry before. He was usually calm and peaceful, unless someone did something that he didn't like. Beating up other people, including children, was something that Brother Sidney didn't like.
"Now, you are going to go to confession and tell Mother Jocelind what you have done," Brother Sidney said to Tyson. "You better pray that she isn't too harsh with you." To one of the students, he ordered them to get Janette to Sister Margarette, who worked in the church infirmary. The crowd soon dispersed, with scores of children asking themselves what had happened and others giving Janette looks of pity. Janette herself was shocked; she knew that Tyson was known to be a bully and he would make fun of orphans, but this situation was different. It could only mean one thing: Janette wasn't like everyone else.
* * * * *
In the infirmary, Sister Margarette was not happy with Janette; she scolded the girl for chasing her foolish fantasies instead of going to Tyson's birthday party and brushed off Janette's attempts to explain herself. She was very short with sallow skin, white hair that was usually worn under a black scarf, and sharp green eyes. She also wore the white robes of the nuns. The older woman said, "You are going down the path to a disastrous end like your parents if you don't pull your head out of the clouds and get back to earth where you belong."
"But what if I don't belong here?" Janette cried out as Sister Margarette poured a healing poultice on Janette's injuries. Janette had a bloody nose and bruises on her throat where she was grabbed. "What if I'm meant to be...something else?"
"Why do you keep torturing yourself with questions such as these?" Sister Margarette snapped.
"Do you ever wonder to yourself why I do not fit in here?" said Janette. "Why I don't have any friends? Why I cannot relate to the other children around me? Why I keep having these panic attacks if I'm around kids who have parents?"
"I haven't the slightest clue as to why you are like that," said Sister Margarette, "but that question is best left for Father Wooten. Right now, you are to rest until he comes to fetch you."
"So much for having a day to myself," Janette whispered to herself as the old nun left the room. "I guess I can't even have that, not if bullies like Tyson Boulden exist. What would have been worse: him beating me up for not going to his party, or him beating me up because I had a panic attack and ruined his party?" She shook her head, pondering the two evils that the situation had brought about. There was no way that she wanted to be beaten up for anything, not if she could help it.
"I guess I will never understand why I don't fit in here," Janette said to herself as she fell asleep.
* * * * *
A few hours later, Janette found herself lying awake. She was still in the church infirmary, where she had been for the last few hours. She recalled Tyson's threats to "make her life a living nightmare", and she knew that that could happen at any time.
Not wanting to take any chances, Janette slipped out of bed; it was 11:45 PM and she knew that within the next 15 minutes, she would be 14 years old. She raced down the hall and out the door that led her to the park that was across the street from Bethsaida Chapel. The park was medium-sized and had a natural look. It had a gazebo, several outdoor chessboards, and a playground.
Janette had not been to the park since she was 8 years old, when someone dressed as a witch, jumped from behind a huge tree by the gazebo, and scared her. Father Wooten had the miscreant exposed and the village forced him to leave. He had explained to everyone that despite the ending of the Magic Wars, the threat of witchcraft was still there and witchcraft was nothing to be trifled with.
Janette slowly walked across the street to the playground and sat on a swing. She glanced at the giant clock tower and saw that the time was now 11:55 PM. "In about five minutes, I'll be 14 years old," she said to herself, "and then what? It's not like anyone's going to be going to my birthday party, not after that stunt I pulled today. Plus, does it matter if anyone comes to my party since I have no friends? Why should I care about them? I don't have time to be wasting it on the frivolities of teenage life when I have my entire adult life to look forward to. Well, if I don't make it within the next five minutes, I won't have a future at all."
Black clouds tumbled over the village, enveloping it in a cold and dark embrace. Janette found herself shuddering; this could not be happening. Not if it involved her.
* * * * *
Father Wooten was sitting in his office; he and Brother Sidney were trying to figure out what to do with Tyson Boulden. The boy was seen beating up Janette Lennox and a timely intervention prevented the fight from escalating.
"I really don't know what's gotten into that boy," Brother Sidney cried out. "If he isn't making fun of the other children, he's doing something destructive. I've tried talking to his parents, but so far, they have not been cooperative."
"For certain they have not," said Father Wooten. "I do have some concerns for them. This is not right what they are doing."
"They are neglecting the boy and not caring about his emotional needs," said Brother Sidney. "This is why he is beating up children who are smaller and weaker than him."
"Such as our Janette?" said Father Wooten. "I don't think that she can bear this a minute longer."
"What do you suppose that we do about her?" said Brother Sidney.
"I say that it is high time that we contacted Erwin Baynard," said Father Wooten. Brother Sidney stared at him, not knowing what he was talking about. "He runs the Gamaris Academy of Alchemy & Magic in the city of Grimwich. I'm sure that he could take Janette in for a while."
"After all, she has a legacy to live up to," said Brother Sidney. "Her mother, Helen, came from the legendary Hawksley family, and they have distinguished themselves very well in the Magic Wars. Her father, Linus, was among those who stole the Book of Magic from the Gray Witch and hid it in a dark place where not even she could find it. Maybe the reason why Janette isn't like the other students is because she's only half-human to begin with and she has no place among non-magical humans."
"You may be correct, Sidney," said Brother Methuselah as he came to join them. "Janette came from a Spellcasting family though her father is not a Spellcaster himself. We must contact Headmaster Baynard and soon."
Father Wooten nodded as he glanced out the window. The sky was turning black and the village was covered in darkness. "This is not good," he said. "Not good at all."
"It is the legacy that is coming," said Brother Methuselah. "We must find Janette and quickly."
"She should be in the infirmary, where Sister Margarette said that she was when it came time for dinner," said Brother Sidney. "Who knows what that girl is up to?"
* * * * *
Meanwhile, Janette was busy observing the black clouds as they were coming towards her. She gasped, and then ran back to the church. She did NOT want to be outside if the clouds meant that evil was in the air.
She didn't stop running until she was safely inside the church and hiding in the sanctuary. Just as she reached the pulpit, the clock struck midnight, signaling the end of her 13th year and the beginning of her 14th year.
The clock rang so loudly that it woke everyone in the church. Mother Jocelind shook her head as the ringing continued. "Now what is going on here?" she thought to herself as she grabbed her robe and left her room.
Scores of children and adults were standing in the courtyard with bewildered looks on their faces as the clock rang and the black clouds quickly rolled over the entire village. No one knew what was happening, save for the abrupt change in the weather. It had been a warm summer's evening when everyone had gone to bed, but now it was as if winter had decided to come early. No one had been expecting this, not after years of witnessing acts of magic and the Magic Wars.
Father Wooten stepped into the courtyard and everyone quieted down. He said, "I do not claim to have any knowledge of what is happening here, but let me be blunt when I say that it is not for us to understand the ways of the world, it is God's Will that allows this to happen."
"But what about the magic that we have seen?" said a brother as the crowd protested.
"We have seen magic and we know what magic does to people," said Father Wooten. "We know that there are those out there who treat magic with respect and good things come from that, and there are those who misuse magic and disasters have occurred. We have witnessed the effects of what happens when you use magic for evil and when you use magic for good.
"I remember witnessing the Magic Wars that have occurred here and in many other villages and I have seen what the war has done to everyone. I have seen children crying because their father or mother (or in some cases, both parents) were killed in the fighting, and I have seen rampant wickedness spreading around like a dreaded disease. There are those people out there in the world who have sought to stamp out magic altogether due to fear and ignorance, but I know for sure that the magic is coming back to our world. Whether it is for good or for evil, I do not know, but the magic is here, and it is real."
* * * * *
Janette sat on the pulpit and waited until the ringing stopped. When the ringing finally ceased and even the echoes evaporated, she found herself standing up. One glance into a nearby mirror showed her that the bruises from Tyson's hands were gone and her nose was no longer red and bloody.
"This is very interesting," she said to herself as she continued to glance into the mirror. "I never really heal this fast. Something strange is going on here."
She walked out of the sanctuary and into the courtyard, where Father Wooten was giving a speech about the magic that the crowd that had gathered around him was witnessing. Magic had returned to the village of Gillamoor, and it was coming back with a vengeance. There was nothing that could stop the magic this time.
Janette stepped out and the crowd turned to stare at her. They all gasped, knowing that it was only a few hours earlier that she could barely hold her own against Tyson Boulden in a fight, but something about her had changed. She wasn't the same Janette Lennox that she was before.
Once, Janette had been a deathly pale girl with dull blond hair and murky brown eyes, but now her skin had gone from pale to a few shades darker, her now golden-blond hair becoming thicker, longer, and vibrant, and her eyes had gone from brown to a dark blue color. She seemed to grow taller than she was a few hours earlier and gained weight to boot. In short, she was a completely different person than she had been just a few hours earlier.
"Well I'll be as surprised as a monkey in a goat pen," Father Wooten said as he saw Janette. "What on earth happened to you, Miss Lennox?"
"I don't know," said Janette. "All I do know is that one minute, I was hiding near the pulpit, and the next minute, I saw myself looking like this. Is it magic that caused this?"
"None other," said Father Wooten. "Magic is your family's legacy, for good or for ill. Your mother was a Spellcaster from the Hawksley family, but your father did not have a single drop of magic inside him. Yet, his heroic deed in stealing the Book of Magic and ending the Magic Wars gave us 10 years of peace."
"But what happened to my parents?" Janette stared at him. "Why are they not here?"
"Lucas, you must tell her the truth," said Brother Methuselah. "There's nothing for it."
"You're right, Methuselah," said Father Wooten. "I have kept it from her long enough."
To Janette, he said, "Ten years ago, your father Linus and four other men plotted to steal the Book of Magic from the wicked Gray Witch. The Gray Witch, who led the witches living in our fair country, placed a curse upon your father. He in turn placed a curse upon her, saying that his family was going to stop her. Your father then took the Book of Magic and buried it in a location that no one here knows. Knowing that he had incurred the witch's wrath in doing that, he persuaded your mother to hide you here instead of taking you to her family. This proved to be a wise move, as both your father and mother vanished as soon as they placed you in my hands."
"So no one knows what happened to my parents?" said Janette.
"I'm afraid not," said Father Wooten. "There have been a large number of rumors surrounding the fates of Linus and Helen Lennox, but they have not been seen. I believe that they are probably dead, if not imprisoned by the Gray Witch."
"I understand that you are upset to hear about your parents," said Brother Methuselah, "but those who die don't really leave us. Whatever your parents have done, they did it for you, to keep you safe, to give you time to grow up. You have a bright future ahead of you, and you have a life to live."
"Well, that future almost went away when I got beaten up this afternoon," Janette said almost to herself. But she found herself bitterly regretting that when she saw the crowd staring at her. She shook her head and said, "What is really going on here?"
"We are planning to send you away to a school called Gamaris Academy of Alchemy & Magic in Grimwich," said Father Wooten. "The trip will happen immediately."
Janette gasped upon hearing the news. Apparently, so did everyone else. She cried out, "You've got to be kidding me. Gamaris Academy? You're really going to send me there? That school is a violation of everything that I have learned in class or read about in the library! I can't go there!"
"But Headmaster Baynard has specifically requested that you come to his school," said Father Wooten. Janette glared at him defiantly. "I know that I shouldn't spring this on you so suddenly, but when Baynard found out about your dangerous situation, not to mention your coming of age, he asked that you be sent to his school immediately. I asked him to come here and retrieve you."
"Oh," said Janette with a look of shock on her face. She wasn't ready to leave the church that was her home, but she knew that she had no choice but to do so. Who knew what Tyson would be planning to do with her next, or if anyone else was going to do the same thing to her. She had to get out while she still could.
With that shocking revelation, the black clouds soon dissipated and the sky was lit up with over 1,000 stars. The crowd dispersed, with most of the witnesses heading back to bed. It had been an exciting night for them; they learned about who Janette Lennox really was and what had happened to her family.
As for Janette, she was not very happy at all. Not only had her true self been revealed, but she also learned that her parents had vanished without a trace, she was a Spellcaster, and she would soon be leaving the only home she knew for a school that she knew nothing about.
The worst part about that moment was that no one wished her a happy birthday.
* * * * *
Erwin Baynard was sitting in his office at the Gamaris Academy reading a letter from Father Lucas Wooten. He ran a hand through his slowly graying brown hair and sighed; things had not been easy for him in the ten years since the end of the Magic Wars. Headmaster Alden Thruston was killed during the final battle against the Gray Witch, so the Council of Mages selected Baynard to be the new headmaster of Gamaris. Most of the students and teachers there liked Baynard, as he was recognized as a war hero and he was among those who had stolen the Book of Magic from the Gray Witch ten years ago.
Now Headmaster Baynard was nearly 70 years old and his body was in its prime. He felt that he was "feeling his age", as it were. He certainly was too old to be dealing with situations that didn't have to deal with the education of his students.
That was, until a letter from Father Lucas Wooten from Gillamoor came to him today. The letter said one clear message: "Janette Lennox is of the proper age."
Baynard knew exactly who Janette was; he had known her father, Linus Lennox during the days when they fought in the Magic Wars and they both stole the Book of Magic from the Gray Witch. But the news of the disappearance of Linus and his wife, Helen, upset Baynard and he spent as much time as he could searching for them, but to no avail.
With the letter from Father Wooten, Baynard knew that one of his questions regarding the Lennox family had been answered. Baynard knew that Linus had a daughter named Janette and she was just four years old when her father stole the Book of Magic and then vanished without a trace. Janette had to be 14 years old today.
He packed his bags and headed for the train station; it was now time for Janette Lennox to know about her true destiny.
* * * * *
Janette Lennox was far from happy on her 14th birthday.
First, none of the students spoke to her; even Malinda and Silas didn't talk to her. Tyson's yelling and beat down certainly took care of that. Also, some of the teachers were giving her strange looks, as if they were worried that she could put a spell on them. Janette ended up spending the entire day in the library with Brother Methuselah, helping him clean the bookshelves. This thankless task provided her with the distraction that she needed.
Brother Methuselah said to her, "Today is your birthday, isn't it, Janette?"
"Yeah, and why should I care?" said Janette.
"Don't you want to spend the day with your friends?" said Brother Methuselah.
"What friends do I have?" said Janette. "You saw what Tyson did to me yesterday. He beat me up and called me a witch."
"Now that is not true," said the old monk. "To say that you are a witch is simply an insult to women everywhere. The boy had no right to say that to you, and he certainly should not have beaten you either. He will be disciplined for this."
"But what if he's right and I am truly the greedy witch who shuts out other people?" said Janette. "In case you haven't noticed, I haven't exactly been Miss Social Butterfly here."
"No, you have not," said Brother Methuselah. "You were always the quiet one, and it's always the quiet ones who speak the loudest. Your time is fast approaching, and you must learn to find your voice before it is taken away from you."
"The time for you to speak is approaching faster than you think," said Father Wooten as he came into the library. "Janette, the time has come for you to leave Bethsaida Chapel and go to the school that your mother attended when she was your age." Janette glared at him, and then at the floor. "I did not say that leaving here would be easy, but it has to be done. Your mother wishes you to attend Gamaris Academy, and it is to Gamaris that you will be going to."
To Brother Methuselah, he said, "I am bringing our guest from the train station and Miss Janette is to be presentable for our guest."
"Indeed," said Brother Methuselah. "I will not miss seeing this guest, not for all the books in the library."
Janette sighed as she left the library and went to her room. There, she put on a white T-shirt, a dark blue skirt, and a pair of sneakers. She had to look the part of a normal student and not the shy schoolgirl who hid her nose in a book. That would not be very impressive for the guest who was coming.
She sat on her bed and tried to think about what was going on. First, a bit of spellcasting had altered her appearance even though she had never cast any spells in her life. Then Father Wooten told her that she was going to Gamaris Academy. Now she had learned of her parents' true story and what happened to them. Janette didn't know what to do next.
"Where do I go from here?" she said to herself. "I have no idea of what I should do with myself. On one hand, I could stay here and attend school, but the students there have made fun of me and made me feel less of a person, and Tyson is certainly the worst of them. On the other hand, though, I could give the academy a shot. Who knows for sure? Maybe I might be able to find some actual friends and not just people who feel sorry for me. As much as I enjoy hanging out with Malinda and Silas, I would like to know some people who I can safely call my friends and not doubt it."
She stood up and paced the room for a few minutes before going downstairs. No one in the church seemed to take notice of her, as they were staring at an older man who had walked into Bethsaida Chapel with Father Wooten. He had dark skin, fierce brown eyes and dark brown hair that slowly graying. He was wearing an outdated light brown tunic with white celestial designs, a pair of old brown boots, and an indigo cloak. He was not that much taller than the old priest himself, yet he was younger. This had to be Erwin Baynard, the Headmaster of Gamaris Academy of Alchemy & Magic.
None of the kids or the teachers had seen an actual wizard before, so this was a new and exciting event. But some of the children started to whisper amongst themselves that it meant that Janette would be leaving Bethsaida Chapel in Gillamoor, possibly for good, and that took some of the excitement away from the occasion.
Headmaster Baynard said, "As you may have heard, I am Headmaster Erwin Baynard of Gamaris Academy of Alchemy & Magic. You may have heard about my many feats, namely the story of where I and several others stole the Book of Magic from the Gray Witch and ended the Magic Wars for good." No one in the room spoke, as they intended to press him for answers regarding the famous theft.
"Anyway," Headmaster Baynard continued, "the reason why I am here is because I am here to retrieve a certain Spellcaster named Janette Lennox and bring her to my school."
Now, if that announcement didn't cause some degree of consternation, no one would know what did.
Most of the students began yelling, "Why her? She's just a useless nobody whose head is always in the clouds and whose nose is always in a book! She never talks to anyone! She doesn't care about anyone other than herself! Who are you to claim her?"
"Enough!" Mother Jocelind bellowed as she rang a huge bell that was in a corner of the front lobby. "If Headmaster Baynard says that he is taking Janette Lennox to Gamaris, then he is taking Janette to Gamaris! What right do you have to protest this decision, you who have shown Janette nothing but misery since the day that she first came here?"
"Very good," said Headmaster Baynard. "Now, where is she?"
Janette stepped out from among the crowd and stared at the headmaster; he was slightly tall and thin, with dark skin, fierce brown eyes and dark brown hair that slowly graying. She thought to herself, "Is this really the headmaster that they speak of? Is this the man who stole the Book of Magic from the Gray Witch? He seems to be more of an alchemist than a headmaster."
"Are you sure that this is Janette Lennox and not some impostor?" Headmaster Baynard said to Mother Jocelind with a hint of fear in his voice.
"She is, if the magic came and claimed her," said Mother Jocelind.
"Indeed," said Headmaster Baynard. "You must pardon my intrusion, but the last ten years of peace were not the easiest of years, as we have dealt with impostors, thieves, and assassins seeking to avenge the defeat of the Gray Witch and halt the destruction of the witches. I need a sign that this is truly Janette Lennox and not just another impostor."
"There were girls posing as Janette Lennox?" said Brother Sidney.
"There have been girls claiming to be Janette Lennox since the story about the disappearance of the Lennox family was reported ten years ago," said Headmaster Baynard. "Most of these girls who I saw were orphans who were being used by witches and other vengeful adults to infiltrate my school. But I never thought to look here in my search for the Lennox family."
"This is because we have kept quiet regarding Janette," said Father Wooten.
"That is what I'm grateful for," said Headmaster Baynard. "Still, I must know if this is truly Janette Lennox."
Mother Jocelind would not be dissuaded. She said, "I can assure you that we have the real Janette Lennox here."
"Indeed," said Headmaster Baynard. "I would like to see for myself is she is who you claim that she is." He set out an assortment of items on the table. The items were a bottle of perfume, a notepad, a beaded bracelet, a handheld mirror, and a wand. The wand was made of mango wood and had a core of phoenix feather. It was 13 inches long and rigid. It was darkly colored and elegantly carved.
"Most of the girls I tested picked either the mirror or the bracelet, which proves that they care more about their appearance more than worrying about magic," said the headmaster. "None of them would give magic any thought. I wonder if this time I will have found the right girl or fail as I have done many other times."
Janette approached the table as everyone watched and held their breath; she knew that she could only pick one object. Ignoring the bracelet, the perfume, and the mirror, she began to reach for the notebook. As she did, her fingers brushed over the wand. She picked up the wand and stared at it for a very long time, as if it had been something that she had been missing for a very long time.
The headmaster stared at Janette as she picked up the wand, but she didn't notice him at all. Nor did she notice the rest of the people who were staring at her; she was focused solely on the wand. The wand had several strange carvings on it, as if the carvings were trying to send some sort of message. What the message was, Janette couldn't see it.
At length, Headmaster Baynard said, "So it is true; you did keep Janette here. I have heard rumors that Linus had sent her to your church, but I had dismissed those rumors, thinking that they were lies. Had I known that she was here, I could have retrieved her sooner."
"It was a good thing that you didn't retrieve her earlier, lest the Gray Witch would come after her as she went after the Lennox family," said Father Wooten. "I promised Linus and Helen that Janette would be safe here and I have kept my word."
"You have," said Headmaster Baynard, "and you have done your duty. Now that we are certain that Janette is here, we must make arrangements for her future education immediately."
"So, does this mean that I have to leave here and go to Gamaris?" Janette cried out, knowing full well what the answer was.
"Yes, you must go," said Headmaster Baynard. Janette glared at him, not wanting to leave Bethsaida Chapel just to attend another school. "There's nothing for you here. The people here have done their job to keep you safe until you were old enough to attend Gamaris, and now that you are of the proper age, it is time for you to say goodbye to them and prepare for your journey to Grimwich."
Janette swallowed and nodded, but she wasn't willing to leave. She knew that she had no choice but to go; it was evident that none of the other kids wanted her here. Not since the incident with Tyson the day before.
She then said to the headmaster, "Surely I can't have one final day here before I leave?"
"I wish that you could have your moment here, but the train is leaving at 4:00 this afternoon and the next train won't be available until 8:00 a.m. on Saturday," said Headmaster Baynard. "So, if you want to stay here at the church, that's fine. I'll just find someone else and you can be just another insignificant girl for the rest of your life."
Janette frowned as she stared at the crowd. Most of them stared at her, hoping that she would take the hint and leave the church forever. But there were some people in the church who didn't want her to go away at all.
Malinda cried out, "You can't leave here, Janette; not for all the magic in the world! You just can't leave us!"
"Janette, you have to stay here," said Silas. "You can't leave us and go chasing after magic! Not that you haven't done it before, but you have to stay here. You can't choose magic over your friends!"
"But I must go," said Janette. "There's nothing for it. Plus, you've seen what it's like to be different, never fitting in, never belonging here. You of all people know what I'm like. I'm sorry, but...I have to go." Her face turned crimson as she left the room.
Headmaster Baynard chuckled as he said, "Never thought I'd see the day when this happens. How do you handle these teenagers?"
"With a firm and steady hand, sir," said Father Wooten. "With a firm and steady hand."
"That's all I need," said Headmaster Baynard.
* * * * *
Janette stood in her room, packing only the essentials into a single suitcase. She had never gone shopping for clothes and had almost no use for material things.
But that didn't stop her from packing as many books as she could.
Brother Methuselah came to her and said, "I know it's not easy for you right now, but every child has to leave home eventually. You weren't really ours to keep; it was only a matter of time before the headmaster came to retrieve you."
"But you couldn't have known about it, right?" Janette cried out. "You didn't know about Gamaris or magic or anything like that, or did you?"
"Janette," said the old monk, "I have lived on this earth longer than you have, and I do know some things. I knew that when I was your age, I had to leave my home and go into the church. I had given up all hope of marriage and children, preferring to spend my days here in service to God. Not once did I regret my decision; to regret is to hang onto the past. You can't change the past, and you can't exactly change the future. You just have to live in the present.
"Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't go to Gamaris, but I do know that if you don't go, you'll never find the answers to the questions that you ask. My advice for you is to learn as much as you can and never mind the rest. The answers you seek will come to you when you least expect it."
Her possessions packed away, Janette nodded as she gave the old man a hug. "I will miss you, Brother Methuselah. You were the only friend that I have had while I was here, and I don't know what I would have done if you weren't in the library."
"It is I who will miss you, Janette Lennox," said Brother Methuselah. "What am I ever going to do without you?"
"I don't know," said Janette.
She took her bag and marched down the halls for the final time, noting every nook and cranny that lined the halls. She would return to this place someday, she vowed, and she would make sure that the gatehouse was made into a proper living place, a place of refuge for any student looking to escape from the pressures of life in Bethsaida Chapel.
When she reached the front hall, she noticed that apart from Tyson Boulden, everyone had turned up at the church to tell her goodbye. There was very little fanfare, as if they all knew that this was happening. Some appeared to be happy to be seeing the back of Janette, but their faces didn't betray their true feelings. Others were upset to see her go, and their faces showed that as well.
Father Wooten said, "Well, this is it, Miss Janette Lennox. We had the pleasure of having you at our church for so many years and you will be sorely missed here. We do hope that you will return to us soon."
"I shall," said Janette, "but I cannot make any promises."
"Never make a promise that you cannot keep," said Mother Jocelind.
"That's the worst of them," said Janette.
She did not see Malinda or Silas in the sea of faces; she assumed that they were standing in the back to the crowd, as they usually did during activities at the church. Surely they were too upset about her leaving to see her off.
"Well, let's be off, shall we?" said Headmaster Baynard.
He turned and left the church with Janette silently following him. She swore that she could hear some people cheering, but were immediately shushed by Mother Jocelind. As far as she knew, Janette Lennox would not be returning to Bethsaida Chapel anytime soon.