”Hey, wait up!”
Leera threw her rucksack over her shoulder and sprinted after her brother. Dust swirled behind her as her feet thudded against the country road. She longed for the ability to control the air like her brother.
Panting, she stopped at the edge of a lake. Daffodils were blooming around it like a crown of gold. Aelar was hovering over the mirrored surface, his face twisted into a grin.
“Come on, Little Sister,” he mocked. “Come on, fly to me. You’re old enough.”
Leera took a deep breath and clenched her fists. Her young face was turning red as she, by sheer force of will, tried to levitate. She jumped up and down on the spot. Every muscle in her body strained to get her off the ground, but no matter how much she flailed her arms and how high she bounced, gravity pulled her right back down.
Her brother was still mocking her when a ripple rolled across the water. She canceled her flight attempts and looked at the water. Another ripple. Leera felt like she’d eaten a big rock. Sweat rolled down her brow. She wanted to call out to her brother. She wanted to tell him to fly higher. But she couldn’t, her body had ceased functioning.
A third ripple curled the surface, and then the water started boiling. Wide-eyed, Aelar looked down at his distorted reflection in the lake. Leera screamed as the lake opened itself like a giant maw. A look of panic washed over her brother’s face as he tried to get away.
Leera was still screaming as she woke up. Fifteen years had passed since her brother was swallowed by the lake, and she still had nightmares about it. She sat up on her futon and rubbed the tears from her eyes. It was almost time to get up anyway.
She was serving herself a cup of steaming hot tea when someone rang the doorbell. She sighed and shuffled over to the door. Customers were rare this early. She usually had until noon to prepare her merchandise.
As soon as she unlocked and pushed the handle down, the door flew open, almost hitting her in the face. A large bearded man clomped into her home. His cane tapped against the wooden floor and he was muttering unintelligibly. It wasn’t until he sat down in the armchair and propped his booted feet up on her desk that he looked at her.
“Well, aren’t you going to serve me some tea?” he inquired and adjusted his monocle.
Leera just stared, mouth gaping, trying to make sense of what had just transpired.
“Who… I mean, who are you?”
“The name’s Quick, just like the fashion in which you should pour me a cup!”
Leera put her hands on her hips. “Are you here to buy a necklace?”
“A necklace?” Quick said and narrowed his eyes. “Now, what would I do with a necklace?”
“I.. uh, I…”
“Come now, girl, tea!”
Not sure how to react, Leera filled up a cup. The man smelled like a tannery, Leera thought, as she placed his cup on the desk. She then stood back and watched the man take a big gulp. A smile spread across his face. Leera shook her head.
“Can I ask you what you’re doing in my home?”
“Oh, right. I meant to give you this,” he said and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper.
Leera unfolded the note and looked at the multi-colored drawing. Small boxes with different letters were arranged in neat columns.
“What is it?”
“Why, it’s the periodic table, of course! It's a summoning.”
Quick laughed heartily and pointed his index finger at her.
“You’re funny. I’m glad to see you still have your humor.”
“What?” Leera said not understanding what was so funny. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Most Isokinetics I’ve come across have been… how should I say… less comedically inclined.”
“Isokinetics?” Leera said.
“Yes! Don’t tell me you haven’t learned the terminology.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about...”
Quick examined her for a long while before opening his mouth again. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“Of course I’m serious!”
“You’re Leera Eirey, correct?”
“And you can twist everything on that paper to your will? Hydrogen, mercury, lithium, and so on, right?”
“I’m no Iso-whatever; I can’t even control air. I’m a mundane.”
Quick laughed again. “You’re as far from mundane as they come! Iron, uranium, gold!”
“Sorry, you’ve got the wrong person.”
“I think not. Aelar was very specific.”
Leera flinched at the mentioning of her brother’s name. “I want you to leave.”
“No can do,” Quick said and got up from the armchair. “His orders were quite clear. I’m to take you to Oceanpeak.”
“My brother is dead. And I can’t afford to travel. Can you please leave?”
“Dead?” Quick said. “He was very much alive when I spoke to him this morning. Now, come with me, Leera Eirey, we have a long journey ahead of us!”
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