'Ainsley' is an original work of fiction by Moira's Fate, graciously posted on FP.net. Please do not disrespect the author by plagiarizing this work and any work of fiction by other authors for your own pride, credibility and safety!

Read the rating, R, for foul language, violence, and other unsavory, sinful things...

Chapter One - Formal Introductions

Aric was a plain girl by all accounts, outwardly. However the few people who actually knew the girl could smile surreptitiously at any ignorantly voiced comment about Aric. It was true that only a few people knew the girl for what she really was, and this included three of her professors and one girl in her dormitory. The rest of the world knew little to nothing about a certain Aric Ainsley, and Aric, being a mind of her own, thought better of it.

Aric attended an academy for young women for ages eleven to eighteen. It was a boarding school of sorts, set inside a castle of uncountable age, with a longer history than any books in one language could record. The name of the school is of no consequence, but it was a school for the education of young women who were born with magic in their veins as well as dark blood. The Academy taught lessons about magic, its application, its history, its dangers, and its importance in the world. Classes ranged from potion making to runes to chiromancy to geomancy to defense to name only a few out of a plethora of class offerings. The goal of the academy was to shape well-educated young women who were capable of living independent lives inside careers of their own. Career options just like the classes were endless, and depending on interests a young woman may take a certain curriculum of classes.

Magic, witchcraft and the occult was what the school was based upon like so many others in the world. The world was still a mysterious place even with magic and for those few in the world who did not possess a magical bone in their bodies the world was even more mysterious. It was almost a disgrace to be born without magical abilities. Not being about to successfully perform incantations with some sort of effect was nearly unheard of. Only in old fairy stories did magical folk e.g. witches or wizards use a wand or fly on brooms. No, in the world that Aric Ainsley lived in one only had to concentrate for magic to be performed. Magic came from the 'will' and the 'mind' not from some useless bit of wood.

Aric Ainsley was a witch, plain and simple, as were all the girls in her academy. Magic was like air, always present, unobtrusive and only an afterthought. But returning to Aric Ainsley, the veritable plain girl, she lived a quiet life in her academy and had done so for six years.

This is where our fairy story begins, Aric Ainsley at seventeen years old.

* * *

It was winter holidays once again and Aric scowled as she looked out her carriage window at the wall moving past at a dizzying rate. Winter holidays meant that Livia Woodhouse would be leaving the Academy to visit her parents, leaving Aric alone again for the sixth year in a row.

Livia Woodhouse was Aric Ainsley's only and best friend. Livia was a short red headed girl with a smattering of freckles and an infectious smile. Livia came from a large middle-class family, having seven brothers a mother and father who loved Livia more than anything in the world. Livia had gotten into the academy on a scholarship unlike many of the girls who had rich families who could easily afford to pay a hefty tuition every year for their prim and proper daughters to be educated.

Aric on the other hand had had all her tuition paid for from her first day to the last. Aric was tall and shapely with long ebon tresses and a scowl that was her frown and smile. Aric sighed, her breath fogging the glass to her left. She was riding back from the train station with two other girls, all of who had seen their friends off for the holiday. For a whole month Aric would stalk the stone halls of the Academy, waiting for her friend to come home.

Every year Livia had invited Aric to accompany her home and every year Aric spent her holidays at the Academy because she had never been given permission from a guardian to leave the Academy grounds except for the festivals at the village that all students from grades three and up could attend. Aric thought it was entirely unfair. Year after year she sent messages to Ainsley Manor to be allowed to go with Livia for the holidays, and year after year no message came in reply. Aric sighed, fogging the glass again.

Across from her were two younger girls, twin sisters, Ariadne and Leta Kross. They talked quietly between themselves about the holidays, about how unfair it was that they had to stay at school for the holidays because their parents had taken a vacation to the southern part of the country where the snow and cold could not bite. Aric ignored them as much as possible, especially when she felt their twin eyes upon her.

Aric wore her sixth year robes with the violet patch upon the left breast, signifying her year. First years were white, second wore yellow, third wore red, fourth were blue (the Kross twins), fifth wore green, sixth was obviously violet and seventh and final years wore black. Why seventh years wore black, Aric never could understand, it was such a maudlin color to wear for your last year at the Academy.

Aric would clear her throat occasionally when she knew the Kross twins were whispering about her. Aric would throw a scowl in their direction to illustrate that she was not entirely deaf and the twins' conversation would change foot. Aric was used to whispers about her, it was something of a habit of many of the younger years as well as a habit for those in her own year. Yes, Aric Ainsley was plain, but for some reason that Aric hated to admit, many people liked to gossip about her.

It had started perhaps in Aric's first year at the opening feast when all of the new students were introduced. Aric was tall even for eleven and her raven hair was cut short like a boy's and her light brown eyes were much too big for her face. It was her name, not because anyone really knew the name of Ainsley, but the fact that she had a boy's name. Many students did think Aric was a boy at first, but as her hair grew out and she opened her mouth to speak up in class, the gossip of her gender died away. But more gossip ensued as people did realize how the name Ainsley came into play.

Ainsley was the name of one of the oldest magical families in the world. There were thousands of tomes in the library that was either based on the history of the family itself or mentioned the family as being one of the noblest and strangest magical families if not one of the oldest in the world. The Ainsley family had fallen into shadow perhaps ten generations before, but many other families whose daughters attended the Academy still remembered the Ainsley's and their wealth and peculiarity.

And so gossip began about the Aric Ainsley as being the only daughter of the 67th Lord of Ainsley, known for its strange behavior, its reclusive habits and its mad ancestors, some of which were dark witches or wizards. Aric was avoided by many, and feared. It suited Aric fine for the most part, she did not want too much attention drawn to her at all.

Yes, her family was mad in general, and yes some of her family dabbled in the darker elements of magic, yes they were rich, but Aric did not want to think about her family not in school and perhaps ever again. She was affectively sent away, never to be thought of again, or so her father hoped.

But as the carriage hit a bump on the snowy road, Aric broke from her thoughts and glanced out the window again. It was a good five miles from the castle to the village. It was a long ride that took all the morning in leaving and almost all the afternoon in returning. Aric almost wished she had just seen Livia off at the castle gates.

The carriage was warm inside and comfortable, everything was enchanted, the seats that radiated warmth, even the small serving tray that levitated in the middle of the large carriage holding treats for the passengers to snack on if they wished. The carriage was not drawn by horses, but by magic so no driver was needed. Even the doors opened and closed when the carriage stopped at its destinations automatically.

For perhaps the hundredth time Aric sighed, watching the snowy stonewall pass on and on endlessly. It was such as boring wall and Aric was half tempted for move to the opposite side of the carriage and look out at the forest and its black and white whirling scenery. Thousands of acres of forestland separated the Academy from the village and only one road divided the forest, along with a wall.

"Gods, are we there yet?" one of the twins mumbled louder than a whisper. Aric only glanced at the girl directly across from her and tried to shrug. Aric closed her eyes and rested her pale forehead against the glass.

Looking at the wall had made her dizzy. All first years upon arriving to the Academy had wondered why there was a wall surrounding half the forest. The Headmistress at the opening feasts gave only one vague answer.

'The walled forest has two entrances, one on our side of the forest, the other near the village. This forest is strictly forbidden to all students. There are creatures inside those walls that are far more dangerous than many in this country like to admit. If you were to enter that forest, we will inform your families you have been killed, because that is what will happen if set foot inside those walls, you will die.'

Needless to say, no one, man or women, student or professor ever entered the walls that surrounded the forest. What was inside was a mystery that even the professors did not know the answer to when asked by the first year students, but one thing was certain, death awaited. How many acres of forestland were unknown, when the wall had been built was questionable, and how many people had entered and died was up to speculation.

"I bet there is nothing in there at all! Probably just some ordinary animals and lots of huge trees. I bet the Potions mistress would have a field day just finding all the fungi she needed in there!" Livia had once said on a summer days many years ago. Aric remembered smiling faintly.

Aric opened her eyes slowly watching as the Kross twins were whispering again, blindly grabbing biscuits off the tray in the middle of the carriage. The biscuits replenished themselves every time one was taken and Aric sniffed as she watched all the crumbs landing in the floor.

Surely they were close to school grounds by now, Aric thought, stretching her neck to look out the window above the twin's heads. All she could see was more of the stretching snowy road and the wall and trees. She cracked her knuckles in frustration.
Suddenly another bump, much more violent than any of the others before made Aric gasp. The Kross twins had dropped their biscuits and laughed nervously. Quickly they grabbed more biscuits and started chattering again. But then another bump, then two more and Aric scowled.

Aric straightened her back and glanced out the window behind her. Something had flashed out of her field of vision and before she could glance to the door of the carriage shattering glass flew past Aric's face. Screaming filled Aric's ears and suddenly the carriage was driving faster like Hades' carriage whisking Persephone off to the bowls of Hell.

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