This story is by Megan Converse, who was part of Write Summer camp for young writers. You can find all the stories by Write Summer writers here. If you’re a young write age 7 to 14 and would like to participate in Write Summer camp, you can find out all the details here.
Taralyn Snare laughed as she skipped along the desert pathway with her friends. Suddenly she saw her dad being held down by a mage hunter.
“Run Taralyn!” he shouted desperately.
Taralyn stopped and stared in confusion “What, why?”
“Taralyn run!” She turned, still confused, and began to run, but her foot caught on a rock and she fell. A sound not unlike an explosion filled the air and black mist flecked with silver surrounded her. It brushed against her brown hair turning the tips silver before retreating into her hands, mouth, and feet. She sat up, startled. Her friends were staring at her like they had never seen her before.
“Magic” Kinelle breathed “You have magic!” Stella was backing away slowly like she was afraid Taralyn would pounce on her if she moved too quickly, but Kinelle just watched in fascination until a female mage hunter none too kindly shoved her out of the way. Taralyn looked at the mage hunter and scooted backwards a little.
“What’s happening?” she said with a slight tremor to her voice.
“You are a mage” the hunter replied
“What are you going to do to me?” Taralyn asked
“Take you to Athena Castle”
The mage hunter let out an exasperated sigh. “To be what all magic users are.” At that Taralyn started to tremble and glow. The mage hunter leaped forward and clamped something on her left wrist. Taralyn felt a sharp burst of pain, but was too shocked to react vocally. She looked down at her wrist. There was a large silver band with a single star etched into it.
“Did you just cut off my magic?” she asked with a slight tremor in her voice.
“You ask a lot of questions and yes, yes I did.”
Taralyn frowned. Those are my powers; they shouldn’t be contained without my permission, unless…
“Would I have hurt someone?”
“I don’t know exactly what your powers are but most likely.” Taralyn trembled again and a little black mist escaped to twirl around her, the mage hunter stared
“How are you…?” The mage hunter cut herself off, then shook her head and clipped another bracelet around Taralyn’s wrist, this one gold, and her magic was once again cut off. A cry escaped her as pain coursed sharply through her body again. “Get up” the mage hunter said. “We need to get going.” With that Taralyn was pulled to her feet and they started for the place that would change her forever.
Escape Attempts and Encounters
One day later
Taralyn ran for the entry as soon as the mage hunter left her in the new slave quarters. Oddly no one tried to stop her, not even the guards. Why aren’t they stopping me? She reached the edge of the castle grounds, and still, no one tried to drag her back. She stepped past the edge of the castle grounds and an odd burning sensation started in her left wrist. It grew more painful with every second. Finally she stopped, but it continued growing. Taralyn looked down at her wrist and saw that her new bracelet, silver and gold with spiraling and twisting star designs, was glowing brighter and brighter, as the burning became more painful. She sprinted back to the castle grounds. Taralyn gave a sharp cry of relief when the burning stopped. The bracelet tugged on her, seemingly telling her to get back inside the castle. Taralyn didn’t move for a few seconds, but then the burning started again. Immediately she darted back into the castle toward the room she shared with the other new slaves.
About three years later
Taralyn was making the entryway glitter using the tiny bit of magic the slavers had made accessible through the ornate silver and gold bracelet she had locked onto her left wrist to seal her powers, when footsteps and young voices reached her ears. Out of habit, she backed into a corner, looked down, and folded her hands together in the way that slaves were taught to show subservience.
“Why are we here?” a strangely familiar female voice asked.
“Yeah, why-er we here?” another oddly familiar sounding person, this time a male, said.
“You are here because you are now old enough to understand things to a certain extent.” a male voice said boredly
“Oh” the female said. “Hey Basil, do think as twins we will be trained together for… whatever it is we’re training for?” Taralyn sucked in a startled breath. Were those her siblings? She tilted her head up slightly to catch a glimpse of the two newcomers. Two light-brown haired little kids were walking somewhat calmly into the entryway. The little boy happened to catch sight of Taralyn and ran up to get a closer look. She froze, imitating a statue.
“Hey Kate, do you think this is a real person?”
“I dunno. What happens if you poke her?” the little girl replied, walking closer instead of running. At that moment the people who were escorting the twins came into sight. The mage hunter groaned when he caught sight of Taralyn.
“Of all the slaves who could be at the entry at this hour it has to be you!” he groaned again “It couldn’t have been anyone else?” The woman with the mage hunter froze when she saw Taralyn.
“Tara,” she breathed, looking shocked. Taralyn looked up warily, only my mother called me that…
“Mom?” she asked cautiously.
“Hey, who are you? Why were you pretending to be a statue? Do we know you? You look like you know me!” Basil interrupted excitedly, not once pausing to take a breath.
“Um…” Taralyn hesitated.
“Mom seems to know you, but I don’t think I’ve met you before. You look familiar though.” Kate said at a much slower and much more understandable speaking pace than her brother.
“I… I’m Taralyn,” she told them, not quite certain what she was allowed to say.
“Cool! I used to have a sister named Taralyn. Mom never told me what happened to her. Are you that sister? You might be, except you have silver-tipped hair, our sister didn’t have silver-tipped hair,” Basil said, once again not pausing for breath Taralyn didn’t know what to do, it’s not like they told you, ‘what to do if the family you haven’t seen for more than three years suddenly shows up’. And in the middle of the night at that.
Taralyn ran along a hallway planning to insert herself in the hidden…room? She’d found about three years ago. An explosion could be heard behind her and then shrieking as the unlucky people who were in the room she’d set the confetti cannon in were covered in little pieces of paper. More than a week had passed since her five year-old siblings had arrived here and she hadn’t seen them since the night they’d come through the entryway, so she definitely was not expecting to crash into them on her way to her hiding spot.
“Ow, Basil you landed on top of me.” “
“Kate, who was that?”
“How am I supposed to know? I didn’t see her.”
Taralyn started creeping away hoping to escape before they noticed her. Unfortunately they caught sight of her almost as soon as she started moving.
“Hey, you’re the person who pretended to be a statue when we first came,” they said, bursting into laughter when they realized they said it at the exact same time. Taralyn stopped, wanting to fidget, but it still felt like breaking the rules, even when the only people there were her siblings. It could be because they were so much older than when she last saw them.
“Yes,” Taralyn said uncomfortably, drawing out the word.
“Why didya do that?” Basil chirped.
“Training,” Taralyn replied, twitching her index finger back, like she usually did when she was nervous or mad.
“For what?” Kate chipped in.
“Posture I guess.” She glanced at the hallway behind her, hearing the sound of feet pounding on the floor “Um – I have to go.” With that, she turned and fled noiselessly, not stopping until she reached a slit in the wall and slipped through it, ending up in a little room that had pathways leading off in different directions. They led to different rooms in the castle. She stood there for a bit, gathering her composure, then took the pathway on the edge of the left side of the room. She walked for a minute or two, then went through one of the slits in the wall, ending up in the sleeping area she shared with her fellow night slaves.
Half a year had passed and in that time she got to know her little brother and sister better. Basil was even more of a prankster than she was and Kate was smart for her age. Neither of them were showing any signs of magic, at least not yet anyway.
Taralyn shook herself out of her thoughts when she realized Kate was staring at her, waiting. She hadn’t even known she was standing there. “I’m sorry, what?” she said.
Kate shot her an annoyed look, but she seemed almost scared and Basil was standing behind her crying. Immediately she focused on him, Basil almost never cried. “What happened?” she asked, standing up and walking over to him. “Th-they w-whipped m-m-me” he answered, barely getting the words out between sobs. “Where?”
“Th-th-there” he said pointing to his back, turning around. There was blood soaking through his shirt, and when she lifted it partly, what she saw made her suck in air between her teeth and exhale. His skin was ripped and torn, like the whip had been bladed.
“Basil, that needs to be healed.”
Basil just shuddered and then crumpled onto the floor. He had passed out, having lost large quantities of blood.
“Kate, can you go find a healer? I’m supposed to be asleep right now so I’ll just get in trouble if I try!” Kate nodded and ran off. Taralyn took a deep breath and started moving Basil into a more comfortable position. She noted an odd buzz in her thinking but wrote it off as fury.
Kate sprinted through the hallways turning right at an intersection and almost ramming into someone, a boy who looked about eight or nine.
“I need a healer!” she blurted without apology. “Can you help me find one?”
“Uh? Sure, I guess I am one? So maybe I could help you?” the boy said, sounding confused. “I’m Faro.“ Kate, not really caring, yanked him along and started running at top speed again back to the place her brother was.
“Taralyn this is Faro and I think he can help!”
Taralyn blinked and looked up trying to focus, but the world seemed hazy, so she gave up and dropped her eyes back down to the floor. Everything tuned out again.
Kate looked at Taralyn in concern. She had noticed a yellowish milky fog in Taralyn’s eyes but decided to focus on her twin brother for the time being. Faro was uncomfortably shifting back and forth on his feet.
“Um, so what do you want me for?”
“My brother was whipped,” Kate replied, tears stinging her eyes.
Faro walked over to her brother, who was lying unmoving on the floor. Faro’s face seemed to change when he saw his injuries, he became ‘Adultish’. He closed his eyes and started muttering. His hands began glowing a minty green color that spread to encase Basil. When the green glow receded, Basil’s wounds were healed leaving only a little scarring. Kate gave a cry of relief. She hadn’t thought it would be that easy. Faro looked at Taralyn as Kate embraced her twin, a strange expression passing over his face.
To Be Continued…