Daniel lost track of how long they had been on the sword. It could have
been hours before an island came into view. The island was not all that
impressive at first. It was like a rough green patch at the edge of the blue
sea. As they got closer, Daniel was awed by what he saw. There were high
mountains full of trees and long beaches white and bright under the sun. As
they flew over the island, Daniel thought this must be what a real fairyland
was like. There were streams running among hills. Waterfalls and deep ponds
could be found everywhere. At times, he caught glimpses of exotic animals.
At one point, he thought he saw a dragon jumping out of the water but the
sword was moving too fast to be sure. Blue roofs and eaves could be seen
among trees. There was laughter coming from the buildings. A couple of boys
who looked a few years older than Daniel flew by. They were saluting
The sword descended to a garden by a lake surround by hills. The lake was
brilliant under the sun. In the middle of the light and water was a tiny
island. A pavilion took up most of the island. It was surrounded by blooming
flowers Daniel had never seen before. On one flower tree, all the flowers
were of different colors, and some flowers emitted lights like small
lanterns. A long bridge connected the island to the lakeshore. Carp of the
most brilliant colors were swimming under the water lilies. Elegant cranes
strolled on the shallow lakeshore leisurely. Huge trees resided on the bank
of the lake and the hills. There were roots hanging down from the branches
like beards. Where the roots entered the ground, smaller trees grew up. Deer
were chasing each other under the trees. A little further away, smaller
buildings were scattered here and there. Some were behind the trees with
only part of their roofs visible. Looking up, Daniel could see a huge
building standing regally on the top of a hill. It was like a king looking
over his kingdom.
When Alverdine called off the charm, warm air rushed in. Daniel felt a
moment of dizziness, although it was not an uncomfortable feeling. He took a
look around. There were students everywhere. Some were lying on the grass
reading or talking to each other. Some were walking their pets. Daniel had
only seen some of the pets in the TV fairy tales, and he knew quite well
those on TV were special effect creations.
"Welcome to Jade Island and the Evergreen academy," said Alverdine. "This
is where you are going to live and study."
There were hundreds of questions on Daniel's mind, but he didn't know which
one to ask first or whether it was appropriate to ask. He was wondering if
his parents had been here. Were they both immortals? And why did his father
want him to live a mortal life? He had just touched the surface of immortal
life. It seemed far more exciting and convenient. It was hard to imagine
that anyone would give up an immortal life for a mortal one. He was also
worried about how he was going to fit in. Life in his old school hadn't been
easy. He was an easy target just because the way he looked and dressed. He
believed that there was a much bigger gap between him and any student in
this school. There was no way that he could escape being picked at if there
was any similarity between immortal and mortal teenagers. Above all, he
worried about his dad.
"You don't have to worry. Everything is going to be fine." Alverdine seemed
to be able to read his mind. At this point, Daniel wouldn't be surprised if
that was true, which also made him a little uneasy. If everyone here was
able to read his mind, it would be like walking around naked or worse.
"You don't have to worry about that either," said Alverdine. "Not everyone
has this particular power. In fact, it's quite rare. And I'm very sorry. I
certainly didn't try to do it on purpose-I could pick up your thoughts,
because you are new to everything and your mind is so unguarded from the
They were walking down a road that went up the hill. There were trees on
both side of the road. The braches connected on the top, which made the road
feel like a tunnel. Alverdine had to stop many times to respond to the
greetings from the students passing by.
"I think the first thing that you need now is some rest," said Alverdine.
"We'll deal with other things later. Ah, and here is the perfect person to
show you to your dorm."
He was referring to a girl walking towards them. From the way she looked,
she was about two or three years older than Daniel. She wore a long skirt,
which made her waist look small. She had long brown hair flowing down her
back. Her eyes were big and expressive. They had the same color of the
willow leaves in the early spring. Her nose was small and delicate, and so
was her mouth. She reminded Daniel of the popular girls in his old school.
"Daniel, this is Michelle Valandi and Michelle, this is Daniel Ray."
Alverdine introduced them. "Daniel is a new student. Could you take him to
his dorm and help him settle in?"
"No problem, Sir," said Michelle in a singsong voice.
She reached out, took Daniel's hand, and led him toward another path.
Daniel felt his face burning up, but didn't dare to pull his hand out of her
"Handsome, isn't he?" said Michelle about Alverdine. "Most girls here have
a big crush on him. Most of us are a little scared of him too. Do you have
any idea how old he is? He's about six hundred years old. Believe it or not,
he can look much younger than he does now. He just prefers this look-less
confusing, I guess."
It really amazed Daniel that she could talk to a stranger like that.
"Too bad that he doesn't teach classes any more. There're not many chances
to see him any more. You never know if he's here on the island or not."
Daniel felt like and idiot. He didn't know what to say. He was afraid that
Michelle was going to laugh at him if he asked any stupid question. He felt
even worse when something hit the back of his head and he let out a cry that
made him feel quite embarrassed.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Michelle with an apologetic smile. "Forgot to warn
you about the monkey. He likes to throw nuts or pebbles at people. I've no
idea why they don't kick him out of the garden."
They were walking in the garden. In the middle of it was a small creek.
Most of the trees were in full bloom. The flowers were like red clouds
covering most of the leaves. Daniel could hear a few birds singing what he
thought sounded like show tunes. They were, however, not really good even to
Daniel's amateurish ears.
"Bit annoying in the morning," said Michelle about the birds.
"That's the boy's dorm," Michelle pointed to the red brick buildings at the
end of the garden.
There were three buildings connected by open passageways. The corridors in
each building were facing the garden. Some students were sitting on the
banisters talking to each other. Most of the boys in the dorm knew Michelle.
A couple bold ones whistled when they passed by. Michelle seemed to enjoy
the attention but pretended that she didn't care much.
Daniel's dorm room was on the third floor. The room had four beds. There
were four desks in the middle of the room. One huge window opened to the
back garden. Two of his roommates were playing chess. They got up when
Daniel and Michelle walked in. One boy was tall and skinny. His face was
just like his body, long and bony. The other one was a chubby boy with a
Michelle showed Daniel his bed, desk and a few other things. Daniel was
amazed to find that the bed was already nicely made and everything had his
initials on it.
Before Michelle left, she took Daniel off to the side: "If they give you
any trouble, come find me, OK?"
When her footstep faded down the hall, both his roommates turned their
attention to Daniel. They had been really shy in front of Michelle. The
whole time she was there, they hadn't said more than a few words, and that
was during the introduction. After that, they just stood there with an
awkward smile on their faces.
"Where are you from?" asked Tony the chubby boy.
"Blue town." That was the name of Daniel's hometown, but he was too tired
and hungry to give them a detailed description of the town.
"Never heard of it," Nick the tall skinny boy said.
"Me either." Tony and Nick exchanged a look.
"What's your special power?" asked Tony.
"Er-I don't know." Daniel felt kind of stupid again.
"I'm a natural transfigurine," said Tony. "Nick's a flyer. Both powers can
be acquired, but it's extremely hard."
"Check this out," he squatted down and turned into a big fat rabbit and
then turned back into the chubby boy again.
Daniel tried not to laugh. He didn't want Tony to think that he wasn't
impressed. Tony was apparently very proud of his power. In face, Daniel
thought his power was quite extraordinary, but the way Tony had shown it was
kind of comical.
"Nick, show him yours," Tony urged Nick, but Nick seemed to feel that it
was too much an effort to waste on someone new. They soon got bored with
Daniel and left him alone. Thankfully, Daniel climbed into his bed and fell
into a dreamless sleep.
When Daniel woke up, for a moment, he panicked. He realized that he wasn't
in is own bed back at home. The ceiling was much higher, and the room was
much bigger. Then it flooded back to him. He was alone in a strange place
full of strangers. He had this sick feeling like he was going to give a talk
in front of the whole school but was completely unprepared. He knew nothing
about the place. Just yesterday, magic was an abstract concept. He had no
idea what his power was and doubted he had any power at all. Would it be
like the old school, where he had to watch everything he said and every move
he made? He lay in bed trying to calm himself down.
Both Nick and Tony were gone. It was dark outside. The nightlight of one of
his roommates was on. Lying on the bed was a big boy. He was almost twice
Daniel's size. Still his face was childlike. He was playing with a knife. He
threw it up. To Daniel's amazement, it stayed in the air. Then it started
thrashing, piercing and flipping like an invisible hand was moving it. The
knife flew back into the hand of the boy when Daniel sat up in his bed.
"How's your nap?" said the boy. His voice was deep for someone his age.
"Alright," said Daniel.
"I'm Owen Oswald," said the boy with a smile. "You're Daniel Ray, right?"
"Right." Daniel had never seen anyone like Owen before. He was very strong,
but unassuming. For a person that tall, he didn't have an air of
awkwardness, and there was something very pure and refreshing in him.
Daniel got up from his bed, still a little light headed from the flight and
"Professor Alverdine has a message for you." Owen picked up a piece of
paper from his bedside. Daniel was amazed to see the paper fly out of Owen's
hand and land lightly on his hand.
On the paper was a simple message: "Please come see me tonight."
"How am I supposed to find him?" thought Daniel feeling a little
"I'll take you to his office if you want," offered Owen.
"You can read minds too?" Daniel became very self-conscious.
"No way, although that would be cool..." said Owen. "Oh, Professor
Alverdine said that you might need help-you want to go now?"
"Sure," said Daniel. His stomach made a funny sound. He realized that he
had not had any food since early that morning.
"Almost forgot," Owen turned around and picked up a package on the desk.
"Professor Alverdine told me that you might feel hungry after your nap."
Inside the wrap were four big buns. Two were plenty for Daniel. Owen must
have thought that everyone ate as much as he did. He ate the other two
happily when Daniel said he was full.
The night was cool. The water in the creek was illuminating. The birds had
gotten tired of singing and fell asleep. Most of the buildings were lit up.
The shadows of the trees made the lights flicker. They walked passed the
Monkey. He threw a few nuts at them, but Owen caught all of them. Owen
pointed out different buildings as they went along. The dining hall was
mid-way between the boy's dorm and the main building, which Daniel learned
to be the auditorium. The classrooms were in different small buildings. The
animal house was between the dinning hall and the sport field. It was very
big and sprawled out like a flat hill. A couple students were reining in a
horse with huge wings. Some girl was trying to talk sense into a cat. The
cat seemed to be hyperactive and would not settle down.
"The small building by the animal house is the post office," said Owen.
"It's run by the student government. Tony is in the student government-I
don't think it's my cup of tea..."
Daniel felt a rush of homesickness. There was no one he could write to. "I
guess this is home now," he thought. He could have always run home, had he
been in trouble; but now if things went wrong, there was no escape. He had
to be more careful about what he said and what he did, even though most
people he had met seemed nice. Then the image of his father in a dark jail
cell came into his mind. He knew that he had to do something. He couldn't
just sit and wait for other people to save his father. He had to find more
about what had happened to his father. All he knew was that whoever
kidnapped his father were not mortals and they performed a charm that sucked
out the heat in the air. Alverdine didn't specify whether they were
immortals or not. Daniel wondered if there could be other magical beings
that were capable of doing magic?
"Where's the library?" he asked, but realized that he was too abrupt. Owen,
however, didn't seemed to mind.
"You are a good student, aren't you?" he said with a grin. "It's behind
those woods. I'll show you later."
Professor Alverdine's office was on the top level of a seven-story tower on
the edge of a cliff. It was like a huge granite bamboo shoot. There was an
outside corridor residing over the eaves on each level. The doors to the
corridors looked out directly to the sea. Looking out of the tower windows,
Daniel could see the full moon hanging on the east sky. The sky was clear.
The moonlight reflecting on the surface of the sea was like a silver highway
leading to the moon.
Owen knocked on the door.
"Come in," they heard professor Alverdine say in the office.
Daniel was glad to see a familiar face. It was hard to believe that he had
just met Alverdine that morning. It was like he had known him for a long
Alverdine's office was not as he had expected. There were not shelves and
shelves of books. It was very big and empty. The four walls were actually
four huge cabinets with thousands of drawers. Some were dated five hundred
years ago. By the window was a large desk. Alverdine was sitting in a very
comfortable looking chair. In his hand was a glass of wine.
"Forgive me for one of my little indulgence," he said when Daniel and Owen
walked in. "To me, there are few things as satisfying as sharing a glass of
good wine with the full moon."
"You look well rested," he said to Daniel.
"Do you know why you are here?" he asked, putting down the wine glass.
"No, not really," said Daniel, feeling like he had just failed some kind of
test. He doubted Alverdine had found anything new about his father's
disappearance. After all, it had been only a few hours since Daniel last saw
"Oh, Owen you can stay too," professor Alverdine said to Owen when he was
about to excuse himself.
"Tonight, I'm going to release your powers," he turned back to Daniel. "A
night like this is excellent for the task," he said, referring to the clear
sky and the full moon.
"But before I do that, there are a few things I want you to learn. You
too." He nodded at Owen. "I told most of my students, and I couldn't
emphasize this enough." Then his voice changed. It wasn't the old kind and
gentle talk that Daniel had accustomed to.
"With great power comes great responsibility. It applies to everyone under
all circumstances. You can be mortal or immortal, and the power that you
have can be magical or political. You may not fully understand it now, but
just keep this in mind before you make any decision or take any action."
Both Daniel and Owen had the feeling that standing in front of them was
someone that was ancient and ageless as the tower, the moon, and the vast
"Enough about that," said Professor Alverdine, returning back to his old
self again. "The procedure that I'm about to perform is opening your mind.
Each of our brains is like an individual universe. Most of the people have
very little access to the universe and have less control over the powers
within-just a simple example: if you are in a place full of noises, none of
the individual sounds make sense; but you brain actually receives every
piece of information and stores it. If you have control over your brain, you
can decipher and interpret every sound you heard. It's the same with your
body, although it has limits. With you mind open, you'll able to find out
what you body is capable of. Different people are good at different
things-Owen, I believe, is very good at controlling weapons and sparing-it's
simply how each individual body is made...I hope that you both will use your
He asked Daniel if he was ready and then laid a hand on his head. A warm
sensation trickled down from where his hand was. Daniel had the feeling that
something was thawing inside him. It was like the winter was over, and he
wouldn't feel cold again. The breeze from the sea brushed against his face.
He felt himself sliding into a deep sleep as comfortable as a warm bed in a
cold winter night.
The book is available at barnes and noble, amazon online bookstores. Search
by the name. Author's blog: http://360.yahoo.com/gcgustopher