Mom ran around the house like a chicken with its head cut off. “Toiletries? Books? Clothes?” She continued to scramble as I stood at the front door with two large bags. “Shoes? A warm jacket? I heard it gets pretty cold over there. Books?”
“You already said books.”
She dropped her head and sighed, “Sorry, dear.” Though, she continued to glance around the house as if she might see something I’d forgotten, which I hadn’t. I had been meticulously preparing for this moment for the past month.
“Take a deep breath.” This was the first time I would be away from my parents, so her reaction wasn’t totally unexpected. They were more nervous and anxious than me, at least Mom was.
“I think we should head out if we want to make it in time,” Dad advised.
I picked up my duffels. “Please.”
The closest mirror portal was in Jemela—the capital of Langia. The only way to access Vanderwald was through a mirror portal since it was located in a different dimension than the rest of Celestria.
Dad led us out to the carriage waiting in front of our home. He placed my luggage in as we took a seat inside. I glanced back to take one last look at the only home I had ever known.
“Do you think you’re ready for your interview?” Mom asked, still looking back at the house as if we’d forgotten something.
I nodded. “I think I’ve got everything settled.”
“You’re presenting the chrome, right?” Dad confirmed as he turned to look at me.
“Yes, but I still don’t know if I’ll be able to maintain it.”
“The administrators will be impressed just to see it,” he stated confidently. I hope so, I thought.
“Did you sleep much last night?” Mom worried, taking a closer look at my face. “You have bags under your eyes, sweetie.”
“Perfect, now I really have to win them over with my skills.” I shrugged.
She scowled at me in response. “Take a short nap. We’ll wake you up when we get close.”
I rested my head against the seat and closed my eyes.
It felt like only a few seconds had passed before she was shaking me back awake. “Selena, we’re just about here.”
I stretched my arms out. Glancing out the window, I saw a treeless world that felt foreign to me. Lined alongside the roads were small houses and the carriage now bounced along the cobblestone road instead of dirt.
This was Jemela. A humble town, but the closest I had ever come to experiencing a “city.” Compared to the main capital, Little Lithuana, I was sure it wasn’t much. There were a couple of specialty shops, but, again, nothing too grand: average clothing, average people, and average buildings.
Little Lithuana was located at the heart of Celestria among the four surrounding districts—Langia the green, Andasia the cold, Borlah the industrial, Solara the warm.
A small crowd gathered in the distance near an oversized gold-framed mirror. We stepped out of the carriage and I couldn’t help but stare at it—the opulent design made it look out of place.
A well-dressed man in formal blue garb stood beside the mirror. He was not a typical Valkryn of the transportation lineage. His pupils were swimming gold—the sign of a Resfaber. Dad once told me that their gold eyes allowed them to see the entrances to other dimensions.
“Looks like there are a few other students who have applied this year,” Mom pointed out.
There were five others—more than I had expected. I was the only one from my local Foundational school, so I didn’t recognize any of them. One was a tall boy; his shaggy auburn hair covered half his face.
The lanky boy glanced over toward me and our eyes met. He held my gaze for a few seconds before turning to his mother, who was tugging at his arm. I understood his struggle, looking at the tight grasp Mom had around my arm at this same moment.
“You don’t have much time before they open the portal,” Mom said, pulling me forward.
I picked up my bag with my free hand.
She hugged me tightly and whispered in my ear, “I love you so much. I know you’re going to do great things at Vanderwald.”
I smiled, feeling the tears edging closer. “Thanks, Mom. Love you, too.”
Dad placed his hand on my shoulder. “Remember that, everything within you is much more powerful than anything you’ll ever face.”
He always said the most profound things in moments like this that I never knew how to respond. So, I just smiled.
“Attention, applicants and families. I will now be opening the portal to Vanderwald Academy. Please make sure that your daughters and sons have everything with them, because once they enter the portal, they will be unable to return,” the Resfaber announced.
He faced the mirror and whispered as he stretched his arm out. His palm pressed against the surface, and a soft ripple waved out from it, followed by a strong pulse, and the image of what looked like a corridor appeared.
Students lined up and I stepped behind the last one.
“Wait!” Mom shouted as she dragged Dad behind her. Oh, no…please, don’t try to convince me to not go, again. The last month had been mostly me getting ready to go and her trying to make me stay. I thought we had gotten passed this, but one of my worst fears was that she would refuse to let me go at the last minute.
“We forgot to give this to you.” She placed a small faded leather box with gold trimming in my hand. A red bow was tied around it.
I was a bit taken aback. “What is it?”
“It’s your birthday present, sweetie. We didn’t want to distract you from your practice last night, so we decided to wait until today to give it to you,” Mom answered.
“It has a very important story behind it and one day you’ll come to ask us about it,” added Dad.
Before I could ask, the Resfaber beckoned for the students. “Please grab your luggage and walk through, one at a time.” So sly of them, now I wanted to stay to find out what the story behind my present was.
The students stepped up and disappeared through the portal. Grabbing my bags, I took one last look back. Dad held Mom as they waved goodbye.
“Miss, you may now pass through. Please keep a firm hold of all your belongings and try to keep still.”
I secured the gift inside my bag. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes and stepped through a mirror portal for the first time in my life.
It felt like silk enveloped my whole body. I had the urge to spread my arms out but, recalling the Resfaber’s advice, I refrained myself. A strong pull dragged me forward and I staggered onto solid ground.
Comments (4)See all