Emerald Feather

Four

Keena stretched again after her night’s sleep, a fair distance from her family, but froze when she could not feel Blue Serpent’s cool blue steel against her leg. She was beginning to grow more than frustrated with the constant stealing of her sword, but the growling in the back of her throat ceased when she saw the black-cloaked figure standing motionless below her. At the base of the tree lay her sword, glinting in the milky morning sunlight.

She dropped lightly to the ground and grabbed Blue Serpent. She knew the shimmering blade held nothing against the frozen figure, but it made her feel better all the same.

The two stood silent for some time, Keena’s tail swishing with anxiety.

“Your family is right to fear you.” The silky voice almost made Keena jump, but she kept herself together.

“What magic do I possess?” Keena didn’t lower her sword.

The figure stood silent for a while longer before finally speaking, though Keena’s question was not answered right away.

“There are three different groups of magic in the world,” the figure began, “The most common of which is the elemental group. This group is made of those holding the magic of fire, wind, earth and water. The fire element is characterised by a pair of garnets, and is so called Red Magic. Those with the magic of the wind hold the white quartz on their faces, and call this White Magic. Earth magic can be identified by the brown topaz and call their magic Brown Magic. Those holding the element of water wear sapphires. This Blue Magic is the kind your family holds.”

The cloaked figure fell silent again, the smooth voice winding itself into the gentle morning breeze. Keena said nothing, but let the rich words sink in and make sense. This explained to some extent how her father had managed to stay underwater for so long without taking a breath, how the fish ended up on his sword after such a short time and of course how her mother had produced water from her hand. It didn’t explain why her jewels were green though, or why she was so feared by her family. She waited for the figure to continue, knowing instinctively the answers to all her questions would come in time.

“The second group of magic are those holding the magic of the animals. Every species of animal has just two people holding their magic, one male and one female. All those with the rainbow-dappled opal hold the magic of the animals, though there is no way of knowing which animal their magic is tied to.”

Again the silence while Keena digested the words, with no sound but for the breeze in the trees and the ever-present noises of the forest. The calls of the birds and animals brought new light to Keena’s mind.

“The final group is the rarest of all. Most often, the magic is passed down through parents to their children, but in the case of the outliers, they are born with magic independent of that which their parents hold. The magic held by these people is unique, but very powerful. The different kinds of magic in this group are almost endless. Rose quartz holds the power to heal. Those with the Healing Magic can heal fatal wounds and cure life threatening illnesses, but cannot restore a life that has been taken.

“Pearls contain the magic known as telekinesis, the power to move objects using nothing but the mind. The black onyx holds the power of darkness, while the glittering diamond takes that of the light. Every stone has its own special magic, and it will take you some time to know and understand them all.”

Keena could tell that the figure was drawing closer to the answer to her question, and dared not interrupt.

“The magic of the emerald is one of the most powerful of them all, but only because of its effect. Once performed, Green Magic cannot be reversed, not by the emerald or by any other stone. Green Magic is final. If used carelessly, the result of this magic can cause more grief than you would have thought possible. That is why it is so feared. That is why your family never let you know you had magic. That is why they drove you away.”

Keena let Blue Serpent’s tip drop to the ground, and she used it to support her weight as the full realisation of her magic dawned on her.

“I have the magic of death,” she whispered. It was a statement, not a question. She didn’t need confirmation.

“You hold the lives of every living creature on the planet in the palm of your hand,” the figure continued, still not stirring. “Your family does not know it, but concealing your magic from you has the potential to do more harm than good. Uncontrolled magic, any magic, can become unruly and take control over the very person that holds it, until they are consumed by it.”

Keena was feeling sick. It was too much for her. She clutched her stomach with her left hand and began breathing rapidly. Sweat began streaming down her face and her body. She collapsed to her knees, still using Blue Serpent to support her to some extent. Her head suddenly began to swim, and the browns, greens and blues of the forest and the sky merged together, black consuming the edges of her vision before she fell, unconscious, to the ground.

When she awoke, the figure stood in the same place, still unmoving, a painful reminder of Keena’s new ability to kill.

“You cannot ignore the Green Magic living inside you, you must learn to control it.” The figure’s velvety voice spoke as though nothing had happened. “I do not hold Green Magic, so I cannot teach you to master it, but I know of someone who can.”

Keena stayed seated on the ground, her palm to her head, which was developing a dull throbbing; the beginnings of a headache. She struggled to make out the meaning of the words that wound around her on the air.

“He goes by the name of Ninyo, and his sword bears the mark of the shell. Follow the river downstream until you reach the ocean. He lives in the direction of the sunset from the river mouth.”

A simple nod to show she had understood sent Keena’s head in a spin, but she struggled to keep herself upright. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply until her headache had subsided, only then did she open them and sheath her fallen sword. It did not surprise her that the figure had disappeared with no footprints and no noise.

She stood up and made for the river, splashed her face with the water and began following it downstream towards the ocean. It would take her several days of solid travel through the river’s valley before she would even reach the ocean, let alone Ninyo. She didn’t even know what he looked like. Still, she was determined to find him and master her magic.

She didn’t dare test her magic before she had at least some grasp of it for fear of killing everything in her vicinity, including perhaps herself.

The five days it took Keena to reach the sea passed without hassle. She grew to understand Aaka’s own Green Magic, noting how he killed the fish she threw onto the bank with no effort whatsoever.

At sunset on her fifth day of travel, Keena broke through the rich green trees of her rainforest home and opened out onto the white sands of the beach. Off to her left the sun hovered above the horizon, casting its deep golden light over the trees and the sand, twinkling gently off the deep blue of the ocean.

Keena took time to appreciate the simple things in life, sitting down by the mouth of the river and watching as the sun dipped beyond the horizon, its peach and golden glow lighting the scattered white clouds left in the sky.

The next morning Keena rose to continue her journey up the beach towards where the sun had set so dramatically the previous evening. As she strode along the beach, the waves wrapping themselves around her ankles and beckoning her into the water, she felt a cool, sharp sword tip on the back of her neck.

“Turn around slowly.” The voice belonged to a young man, and when Keena turned, she saw she was looking down the blade of an impressive sword, topped with a fan shell and a green jewel. The man holding the sword had hair and fur as black as a panther, but his brilliant green eyes shone vividly from his tanned face.

“You Ninyo?” Keena asked, crossing her arms and showing no fear towards the gleaming blade.

“Who wants to know?”

“I’m Keena. Heard you know Green Magic pretty well. Willing to teach me?”

“What’s in it for me?”

Keena grinned. “I can teach you sword skills.”

The man raised his eyebrows mockingly. “What makes you think I need to learn how to use my own sword?”

He had barely finished his sentence before he found two cool sword blades crossed at his throat and his hands empty.

Keena uncrossed the blades and carefully examined the one she had just gained possession of, sheathing her own. The blade started wide at the hilt, narrowing in the middle and broadening again at the end before tapering to a sharp point. The hilt was much the same as Blue Serpent, bound in brown leather and ending in a tassel, but rather than adorn his sword with feathers, Ninyo chose to use a group of three spiral shells.

“Got a deal?” Keena asked, tossing the new blade back to its owner.

Ninyo caught it deftly and sheathed it on his right hip. “I’d say so,” he answered.

Five