Chapter 1: The Boy in the Bleachers
I woke up, light hitting my eyes like a bolt. I rubbed my sleepy, myopic eyes and shoved on my glasses. Reaching for my buzzing phone, I shut the alarm off and groaned. 5:30, and class started again tomorrow at 7:40.
My lower-bunk roommate, Riana, was already awake, while her counterpart on the other bed was still snoring. Violet usually slept late on Sundays. Vivian, my counterpart on the other bed, was already climbing down from her upper berth.
I stepped down the ladder and leapt off. “Morning, peeps,” I greeted my roommates, my voice hoarse. “Did I snore? ‘Cos my throat feels like freaking sandpaper.”
Riana laughed. “Nah, you didn’t snore.” Like me, Riana wears glasses, and today she was dressed in a purple baggy shirt and loose pajama pants that pooled around her feet like baby footies.
“Hey, did you guys do that Science homework we’re supposed to pass tomorrow? I need to print my report at the library,” I said, gulping down a glass of water. Our high school has a library equipped with a computer room and a printer. “Should I bring my short bond?” I asked, holding up a folder full of the stuff.
“Hold on, the rest of us are still focused on waking up, okay?” Riana gestured for me to slow down. I laughed.
“Like me,” Vi moaned, stumbling out of her bunk and almost hitting her head on Vivian’s bed. “Freaking Sundays.”
I rolled my eyes. “Want some bread? I brought some from home.”
Violet’s eyes grew bigger, so she looked like a sleep-deprived owl. “Fresh bread? Heck yeah!” She shoved on her round glass frames and jammed her feet into her slippers.
Somehow, by 7:30 that morning, we were dressed and ready to head to the library. We all jogged down and swung out the door to breakfast at the cafeteria. When we were done with breakfast (most of which I waffled through with a salty egg sandwich) we headed for the football field, where the rest of our classmates waited.
There were three boys waiting at our usual meeting-gazebo: Victor (Vic), Pearce (pronounced Perce, like as in Percy), and Francois (pronounced Francis). Vic and Francois are tall boys with glasses, but Vic is a bit fairer and Francois’s glasses are rimless at the bottom. Vic has a hairdo that sweeps his hair upwards, while Francois has bangs. Francois also has a squeak when he gets excited, and sometimes he laughs like one of us girls.
For a bit, we walked for the bleachers to watch the eighth graders play Frisbee. I marched all the way to the top and stumbled over something at the top seat. “The hell?!” I yelled.
Riana came up behind me. “What is it?”
It was a boy.
He was about 16, maybe 17, with a tall, lean frame like Vic or Francois. His golden hair was curly but really dirty, like someone had bashed his head in the mud. His clothes were a rich, soft fabric: a white tunic with puffed sleeves that glittered with gold, a red sash, a blue vest, and brown half-boots.
Riana and I exchanged looks. Then I bent and shook the boy.
He didn’t move. His skin was burning hot, and I recoiled. “We got to get him to the clinic, ASAP,” Riana said, corroborating what I already thought. I hollered for the others, and Vivian and Violet came up as fast as a zip. “Who is that?” Violet asked, quirking an eyebrow.
“Got no idea at all.” I raised my phone and switched off ultra-power saving mode. I tapped on the camera and took a picture of this strange boy. Studying his face through the lens, I saw that his skin was fair, red from sun exposure. His deep-set, closed eyes turned in to a cute snub nose. His lips looked like a little boy’s, and his chin was a rounded point.
“Who can carry him?” I asked, stepping up.
“I think Vic and I can do it,” Francois piped up, raising one hand and flopping it back down.
“Okay, move out!” I said to the others, clearing the way for Francois and Victor.
The rest of the gang helped us bring the boy to the clinic. Along the way a stick clattered to the ground from his pocket. It was smooth and carved, with something like sapphire sticking out of it. I picked it up and turned it around and around. Then I ran back after them.
They were surrounding the boy’s bed, talking loudly. I pushed my way through – “Excuse me”, “Sorry”, “Coming through” – and saw his eyelids just a bit open.
“Hey guys! HEY, ALL O’ YA!” I yelled, getting everyone to quiet down. “Hey,” I said, kneeling next to the boy. His eyelids peeled completely open to reveal the clearest blue eyes I’d ever seen – the color of pure sapphire jewels encased in diamond crystal. “Do you have a phone?”
He just looked confused. I showed him my phone, and he looked fascinated.
“What’s the matter?” Francois asked. “Hasn’t he ever seen a phone before?”
“Maybe not!” Violet argued. “I mean – look at his clothes, Francois!” She gestured at his clothing.
A flash of gold caught my eye. I yanked up his sleeve to reveal a bracer, made of tawny yellow leather and edged with gold. Emblazoned on it was a gold sun. I quickly counted the rays – seven of them in all. “What does this mean?” I asked him, but he had already passed out again.
The clinic released him that afternoon, saying there seemed to be nothing wrong with him, and the boys agreed to take him into their dorm, especially since their remaining roommate, James (or Jamie, as we called him) wasn’t due to return until that evening, so we had plenty of time to find a mattress for the new boy.
I went to the library and printed my science report, but a new book caught my eye. I’d once read it in elementary – third grade, I think – and I liked it. It was called Canarim’s Castaway. I borrowed it, and read it again. It was about a boy who was appointed a mage, with the goal of finding the missing seventh mage, a mage no one knew about, and was essential to the survival of his world. It told of how he searched for years and was unable to find that mage. How he finally decided to go beyond the unknown, and prepare a boat to go the world outside the mist. That part was told in three short chapters.
I turned the page for the next chapter – and it was blank. I flipped through the rest of the book. All blank! “Huh?” I muttered.
What happened to Sebastian? Did he get shipwrecked? Was he okay?
Suddenly it hit me like a bullet train: Sebastian, with his crystal blue eyes, golden blond hair, and snub nose, looked almost exactly the same in the illustrations as the boy we found in the bleachers. He looked younger, but he was only 15 when he sailed for the mists.
Could it be…?
And the wand Sebastian owned – it was a long, straight rod about ten inches long, with a butt of sapphire crystal sticking out. I took the stick out of my pocket. “Man!” It looked exactly the same!
I ran out to tell my friends.
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