“You don’t know what it’s like for me. So until you do, don’t ever tell me what to do.”
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This was not how Connor’s life was supposed to unfold.
He had seen so clearly, months ago, his future: walking into his dormitory at the Tower. They provided sparse, shared living for students who wished to study magic. He imagined bunks stacked ten beds high. He sketched out the faces he’d meet, their personalities and backstories. Together they fought bullies and learned spells and stayed up late reading forbidden texts—except they weren’t really forbidden anymore, as it was the Tower, and they were esteemed students.
He saw the years go by, and the friendships deepen, and the heartache and sorrow that come with first love. Then, he and his friends stood together, on the fateful day they were proclaimed official wielders by the Chief Magistrate, and Connor closed his eyes, feeling fulfilled and warm.
This fantasy shielded him, a kind of numbing escape from the increasingly dark forest, the roar of the river he found himself sitting by, and the rough, rocky grass beneath him. The trees stood sentry immediately behind and across the narrow river, another comfort he wasn’t ready to abandon. The events of the past day were catching up with him. All he wanted was to lie by the rushing comfort of the water and let sleep take him. If he deserved it, the magic of the Spirit Mother, also in slumber, would protect him.
If not, well, he deserved whatever he got….