I always looked forward to turning eighteen ever since I learned how special an event turning eighteen was. It is on that day that a momentous ceremony is held and one finds out if he or she is someone who will remain ordinary or someone destined for greatness…
…It was the age when one would find out if he or she was a Child of Light, a Lux.
Everyone wants to be a Child of Light, the beautiful, graceful and ethereal beings that guided the world towards peace and protected it from the terrifying Children of Darkness, the Khavari, who spread darkness across the world through the use of the Mer, the creatures of nightmares. Everyone included me, someone average who dreamt about being more.
My eighteenth birthday was the one day I looked forward to the most…
On my eighteenth birthday, everything will change…
On my eighteenth birthday, I will discover if all my hopes would be realized…
On my eighteenth birthday, the worst thing that could happen was that I would stay just as I always have been.
At least, I thought that was the worst possible outcome.
But on my eighteenth birthday…
Yes, everything changed but…
I wished with all my heart that everything had just remained the way it was.
"You definitely have to come to my ceremony," Morgan urged the two girls she considered her closest friends. Jumping in front of them with a playfully strict look, she added, "You have no excuse since the school year is finished and we've all graduated!"
The two girls in front of her exchanged looks. Cecile, the shorter one with shoulder-length golden brown hair and hazel eyes, answered first.
"Morgan, why didn't you invite me earlier?" Cecile said, looking guilty. She nervously tucked a strand of her brown hair behind her ear; it was a habit she displayed whenever she was feeling uncomfortable. Morgan's stomach started sinking in disappointment as she guessed what her friend's next words would be. "Rena invited me to her celebration party a couple of weeks back. She had her ceremony yesterday and her party is tomorrow."
Ah, of course. Rena.
"She's the talk of the town at the moment," the taller girl with blonde hair, Gemma, gushed. "Can you believe it? She's a Lux! When was the last time we had someone like that come from our own school?"
"Three generations back or something," Cecile answered excitedly. "Have you seen her new look? She is absolutely stunning!"
Rena Vale was a girl in their year who just turned eighteen just the day before – a couple of days before Morgan's own birthday. On their eighteenth birthday, young men and women were taken to the closest Sanctuary of Phantasion to have a birthday ceremony. This was because the Lux, the Children of Light, are awakened on their eighteenth birthday. The ceremony was performed to ensure that the awakening was done in a safe environment where none of the Khavari, the Children of Darkness, or the Mer, the Khavari's servants, can interfere – or worse, kill the newly awakened Lux. The ceremony was also performed so that the new Lux may be welcomed among the Children of Light and started on the training required to use of their powers. To be a Lux was a great honor that comes with great responsibility. However, the other benefits include the respect and adoration of all.
Now Rena Vale was a Lux. It wasn't a very great surprise since the Vales were known to have a few Lux in their family tree. But the ceremony definitely destroyed any doubts as to whether Rena would be one of the honored ones.
"I'm so envious!" Cecile exclaimed with a pout. "I was so hopeful I would be a Lux but no, I'm still just plain old me."
"I feel sorry for you, Morgan," Gemma said sympathetically, patting her on the shoulder. "Your ceremony will be overshadowed by Rena's."
"I won't lie," Morgan replied carefully. "I really wish it was me instead. I don't want to jinx anything but who knows? Maybe people born in December are lucky."
"Well, let's try to take your mind off it," Cecile said cheerfully. "We're with you so we can celebrate your birthday now. I'm sorry I can't go to your ceremony."
"No, it's fine," Morgan said quickly, not wanting Cecile to feel bad although she was feeling a bit disappointed and even slightly bitter. Rena was Cecile's friend too and Rena actually knew Cecile even before she had. It was unfair of Morgan to make her choose between the two of them. Besides, Morgan thought, it was my fault for not inviting her sooner and leaving this to the last minute. "How about you, Gemma?"
"I was invited to Rena's as well," Gemma said apologetically, looking sheepish.
This day really wasn't going well. "Was I the only one not invited?"
"Don't feel bad, Morgan," Cecile said quickly. "Rena knows tomorrow is your ceremony; I told her. She didn't invite you since you obviously wouldn't be able to come."
That made sense. Besides, although Morgan and Rena talked from time to time, she wasn't as close to Rena as Cecile and Gemma were because Rena had her own close group of friends. She, Cecile and Gemma had gone to the same school since they were ten years old and the three of them used to be really close. They drifted apart but they definitely still hung out from time to time.
"We'll throw you a party the day after tomorrow, okay?" Cecile promised. "We'll make it-"
Cecile's voice was cut off by her own phone ringing. She quickly mouthed "Sorry" then walked a few paces away before answering her cellphone.
"Cecile's so popular, huh?" Morgan said, smiling. Cecile had always been the outgoing type and she made friends really easily.
"It's because she has so many extracurricular activities outside of school," Gemma replied with a grin. "She has dancing, her volleyball, her volunteer work and her violin classes."
Cecile walked back towards them and offered her phone to Morgan, who gave her a questioning look as she took it.
"Who is it?" she asked curiously as she brought the phone to her ear.
"Hey, Morgana," a lovely voice greeted. "It's Rena."
Morgan's grasp on the phone tightened as her eyes widened in surprise.
"Oh, Rena, hi! Um, how are you?"
Rena laughed lightly and Morgan wondered if her laugh had always been so musical.
"I'm fine, thanks for asking. It's your birthday tomorrow, right? Advanced happy birthday! What time is your ceremony?"
"It's in the evening since my birthday coincides with the Cleansing Day anniversary and they have a whole day celebration for that in the Sanctuary," Morgan answered nervously. After all, it was a Lux she was speaking to now. "Thank you for greeting me. I really appreciate it. Congratulations on becoming a Lux."
"Thank you, Morgana," Rena replied, her voice gentle. "Since your ceremony is still in the evening, would you like to come to my celebration party? It'll start at noon and finish at midnight but you can leave early for your ceremony. I'd appreciate it if you're there even if it's just a couple of hours since I know you need to prepare for your ceremony."
Was Rena inviting her just out of pity? After all, Cecile and Gemma were invited two weeks earlier but she was only being invited now.
"I'm sorry I didn't call sooner," Rena said as though reading her mind. "I knew it was your birthday tomorrow so I didn't invite you. But one of the Lux in the Sanctuary told me that there was a whole day celebration of the Cleansing Day tomorrow. I thought maybe your ceremony was cancelled or that it would be held early in the morning or later at night. So I took a chance and called. I don't want you to feel left out, especially on your birthday."
Ah, so that's how it was.
"I understand, Rena," Morgan replied. "Thanks for calling me. I'd love to come tomorrow. I'd have to leave at three o'clock though if that's okay."
"That's fine," Rena chirped. "I'll see you tomorrow, Morgana. Bye!"
Morgan handed the phone back to Cecile and Gemma, who both looked expectantly at her.
"Rena just invited me to her celebration party," Morgan said in delighted disbelief. Cecile and Gemma grinned happily at her.
"Ah, you know what the best part of that party would be?" Cecile asked as she leaned closer, a conspiratorial look on her face. "There will be other Lux there, if you know what I mean."
"Guys," Gemma said with a smirk. "Can you imagine how hot they would be?"
"But we can only look and not touch," Cecile sulked. "Everyone knows that the Lux never fool around… Or if they do, it's only with their kind. Still," she added, perking up. "We get to stare as much as we want."
Morgan and Gemma laughed at their friend's antics. Out of the three of them, only Cecile has experienced having a boyfriend. They broke it off just last month and Cecile was trying to find someone to replace him.
"That reminds me," Morgan said slowly. "Doesn't Rena have a boyfriend?"
Cecile and Gemma sobered up. Gemma nodded then shook her head.
"Yeah, Matt Rees. He turned eighteen three months ago but he didn't turn out to be a Lux. I heard that their relationship became strained since then. Now that Rena's a Lux, she's probably going to break up with him."
"It's going to be difficult though," Cecile said. "The Vales and Reeses are close family friends and they celebrate everything together. It's going to be tough avoiding one another."
Morgan felt sorry for Matt. He was as popular as Rena and he was a nice guy. He was always approachable and never let anyone feel uncomfortable around him. If Morgan saw him on the street, she could easily wave at him while she would not be able to do that with some of Rena's other friends.
Everyone hoped that Matt would be a Lux so there was a lot of disappointment when he came out of the ceremony looking just like he always has. Although Morgan had high hopes for herself, there wasn't really anyone with expectations that she would become one of the Children of Light. But Matt had to deal with the pitying looks of so many people, including from his family and maybe even the girl he was in love with.
It was a very sad position to be in.
Well, tomorrow will come and go. For now, just enjoy your last day as a seventeen-year old.
Morgan opened her eyes and immediately sat up on her bed, her whole body filled with excitement.
This is it! I'm eighteen! I'll know tonight if I'm a Lux or not!
But before that, she had a party to go to.
Her bedroom door slammed open. Morgan squealed as something crashed against her, throwing her back on the bed.
"Happy birthday, Morgan!" her little brother, Jack, greeted her happily as he squeezed the air out of her.
"Jack," Morgan panted heavily in exaggeration. "I can't breathe!"
Jack laughed adorably. "Of course you can! Now where's your present for me?"
Morgan arched a brow. "It's my birthday, you little brat, and you're asking for a present from me?"
Jack just grinned. "I get half of your cake."
Six year-old boys and their love for sweets.
"Let me think about it," Morgan said slowly. Jack stared intently at her, obviously trying to will her to agree. Morgan mussed his hair and chuckled. "Okay, okay. You can have half of my cake."
"Yay!" Jack cheered, hugging her again. "You're the best sister ever!"
"I'm your only sister," Morgan replied dryly. "Not to mention I'm your only sibling."
"You're still the best!" Jack said cheerfully and Morgan cooed inwardly at her adorable little brother. "Now let's go get some chocolate cake!"
"Not for breakfast you don't!" Morgan called after him as he ran out of her room with a big whoop. Her mother's head popped in through her doorway.
"Happy birthday, Morgan," she greeted. "Go get your breakfast downstairs and steer Jack away from the cake."
"Yeah, yeah," Morgan replied then she grinned cheekily at her mom. "Where's my present?"
"You'll get it after the ceremony," her mother answered with a teasing smile. "Now off you go." She then walked off, humming.
Morgan didn't bother getting out of her pajamas and went straight downstairs. Her father sat in front of the dining table, reading a newspaper.
"Happy birthday, princess," her father greeted her. "How does it feel being eighteen?"
"I can't stand still," Morgan answered and she began pacing around the kitchen as proof. Her father laughed.
"Well, have breakfast first."
"I'm going to a party at noon," Morgan said.
"Who's having it?" Her father asked. "I thought teens these days usually have parties at night?"
"Well, it's from noon to midnight," Morgan replied. "One of the girls in my year, Rena, just became a Lux two days ago. She's having her celebration today."
"Oh yes, I heard about that girl," her father said thoughtfully. "The Vales must be happy to have another Lux among them. Her party should be fun."
"Yeah," Morgan said. "Can you take me to her house at noon then pick me up at four?"
"Sure, no problem," her dad replied.
After breakfast, Morgan took a thorough shower and meticulously brushed her teeth. She might meet a Lux or two today so she had to look her best. Although she knew that she wouldn't be able to catch any of their eye, she still wanted to look presentable at the very least.
It always took her three hours to prepare. Firstly, straightening her curly dark brown hair was always a pain. Unfortunately for her, the "curls" in her hair were the type that stuck out at every direction. If she wanted to tame her hair, she usually had no choice but to straighten it. She wasn't a natural with make-up either and would often make many mistakes before she could be satisfied with the finished product – and even then, she would still wish she could do some things better (such as those darn eyelashes). She didn't know anyone else who would take at least an hour doing make-up and come out with only a satisfactory result despite all the effort. She should really take make-up lessons.
She finished getting ready at about a quarter past eleven o'clock. It gave her just enough time to wrap up her present for Rena.
It was lucky that Rena had invited her before she, Cecile and Gemma left the mall. Morgan had no idea what to give a Lux so she just got Rena a sun-shaped pendant since the sun was the favorite symbol of the Lux. Morgan had the feeling that Rena would get a number of gifts similar to hers but she truly couldn't think of a more appropriate gift.
Her father finally took her to Rena's house, which looked more like a small two-storied mansion. Morgan guessed that it would have a basement and an attic, as well as a pool at the backyard. She was later proven correct as she was welcomed inside the house by the birthday girl herself.
"I'm glad you could come," Rena said happily as she gave Morgan a hug. "You look very pretty, Morgana."
Rena, on the other hand, was a sight to behold. Golden hair that seemed to glow with an inner light flowed down in waves to her waist. Her creamy skin was absolutely flawless and unmarred. Her eyes were now a bright gold framed with dark brown lashes. Her high cheekbones, straight delicate nose and soft pink lips completed a face that was absolutely outside of human norms.
"Th-Thanks," Morgan stuttered self-consciously. "You look heavenly, Rena."
Rena's smile softened. "I wish you the very best of luck for tonight, Morgana. Cecile and Gemma aren't here yet but you may want to wait for them in the garden back there. Please enjoy yourself. I'll come around and talk to you later." She pointed towards the furthest exit from the house. Morgan thanked her and slowly made her way towards the garden.
Just as she was about to open the door, she saw someone step in front of it from the other side through the frosted glass on the door. She just managed to jump out of the way as the door swiveled inside.
"That was close," Morgan muttered.
"I'm sorry, did I hit you?"
Morgan startled at the voice and looked up to see one of the most beautiful faces she had ever seen.
It was a Lux.
"N-N-No, I'm f-fine," Morgan stuttered as quickly as she could. How could she forget about the other Lux who could possibly be here?
The Lux smiled at her and held his hand out. Morgan's breath caught and she stared at the hand.
"I'm Oliver Tarran," the Lux introduced himself. When Morgan continued to stare at his hand, he added, "I would appreciate it if you took my hand and shook it while telling me your name."
Morgan gasped and quickly grabbed his hand and started shaking it rapidly. "I'm sorry! My name is Morgana Ruse but my friends just call me Morgan… Not that you have to be my friend! Er, um, but it would be nice if you can be… Not that I'm saying you should! Uh, uh…" Realizing she was making a fool of herself, Morgan's whole body heated up and she could swear that ever patch of skin on her was red with mortification. "Sorry…"
But Oliver just laughed and the sound was music to Morgan's ears. "You shouldn't be so nervous around us Lux, Morgan," he said though not unkindly. "We are here to protect you after all."
He was kind, just as all the Lux are reputed to be. They truly were like angels and Morgan couldn't believe she was holding one by the hand…
She was still holding his hand!
Morgan quickly dropped his hand as though it burned her. Oliver chuckled once more as Morgan wished she would just disappear from the house altogether.
"It's nice meeting you, Morgan," Oliver said with a soft smile. "Until next time." He nodded to her and then walked off towards the entrance of the house.
Morgan followed him with her gaze and she saw that Oliver had gone to Rena. She noticed how closely they stood next to one another. Rena's cheeks had a beautiful blush to them and Morgan instantly realized that Rena was in love with Oliver.
"I don't know if I should be relieved or not at the fact that the person who replaced me is someone so undeniably good-looking."
Morgan almost jumped at the sudden voice behind her. She turned around and found herself face to face with Matt Rees.
Matt's eyes, however, were not on her but at the couple behind her.
"I didn't think you'd be here," Morgan said quietly. Matt looked down at her and smiled.
"Hey, Morgan, come with me for a while," Matt said with a playful smile. "Won't you comfort a heart-broken man?"
"Only until Cecile and Gemma get here," Morgan replied with a straight face. Matt laughed and led her outside.
"It's more quiet here," he told her as he went further into the garden away from the rest of the guests. Morgan saw that he led her to a marble bench behind a thick row of bushes. The bench faced two marble statues – one of a man and one of a woman.
"Why don't you stay with your friends and let them comfort you instead?" Morgan asked. She had talked to Matt more than a few times already but he had plenty of other closer friends.
"Rick's not here yet and the rest of the guys are having fun talking with the Lux," Matt answered as he sat on the grass in front of the bench and leaned back against it. Rick was Matt's best friend and probably his usual confidante. It would be good if he arrived sooner rather than later. "It's really petty of me but I don't want to be around the Lux for today."
"Then why are you here?"
Matt smiled although it wasn't happy. "The Vales are family friends so we should always celebrate with them. Also, I want to show them that I can move on. I'm failing though."
"Then maybe you should leave."
Matt glared at her. "Morgana, you're meant to tell me, 'Yeah, show them that you're perfectly fine without her!'"
"But you're not," Morgan replied in a matter-of-fact tone. "You're sulking here, aren't you? I'm really sorry but I've never been in a relationship so I don't know what to say to you. I don't want to say anything that would make what you're feeling worse."
Matt stared at her for a moment before settling back down. "I took you here because I just felt like talking to someone. I never thought you would be like this though."
Morgan sighed. "You'll be fine, Matt. You're popular and you're a nice guy. Any girl would want to be with you, you know. I know Rena's a hard girl to replace but I'm sure you'll find someone."
"As long as that someone's not a Lux, right?"
Morgan looked thoughtfully at him.
"I could like you, Matt," Morgan said slowly. "And if I ever fall in love with you, even if I turned into a Lux, I would still love you."
Matt gave her a long, hard stare but there was amusement in his eyes. "Are you telling me you're in love with me?"
Morgan barely resisted the urge to hit him. "No. I'm saying that there's a possibility that I might like you in the future. I did say you're a nice guy and I feel comfortable around you."
"And you're saying that if you fell in love with a normal guy like me, you'd still like me even if you turned into a Lux?" Matt shook his head as though in disbelief but he had a smile on his face. "Then whoever you end up loving is a lucky guy."
"Not that the chances of me turning into a Lux are big," Morgan said softly.
"Oh yeah, your ceremony is tonight, yeah?"
Morgan looked at him in surprise. "How did you know?"
"I heard it from Cecile," Matt answered. "Speaking of which…" He pointed behind Morgan.
"There you are!" Cecile exclaimed as she walked towards them. "Hey Matt, are you wooing our lovely Morgan here?"
"What would you do if I said I was?" Matt shot back with a cheeky grin. He winked at Morgan, who just chuckled.
"Rick's looking for you by the way," Cecile told Matt.
"Ah! He's finally here," Matt exclaimed as he jumped up on his feet. "Took him long enough!" He grinned at Morgan. "It was nice talking to you, Morgan – very enlightening. Maybe we should go on a date some time, huh?"
He then walked off, whistling. Morgan and Cecile stared at his back in surprise then Cecile began nudging Morgan.
"Moving in for the kill so quickly, eh?" Cecile teased. "Right after they just broke up? I didn't know you were so bold! Hell, I didn't know you liked Matt."
"He was just teasing," Morgan answered back as they started heading back towards the rest of the guests. "Besides, I wouldn't mind going out with him. He's a nice guy but he's still head over heels for Rena."
"Just don't be the rebound, Morgan," Cecile told her seriously. Morgan chuckled.
"I'm not stupid, Cecile. I know that."
They were silent for a while until Cecile spoke up again.
"Have you seen the Lux?" she asked breathlessly. "Oh, now I really envy Rena!"
Morgan noticed that Oliver was by Rena's side as they talked to two older Lux. The four golden-haired Lux formed such a perfect picture; they truly were like angels among humans.
After the ceremony tonight, would Morgan get golden hair and eyes as well? Would her looks be enhanced so that she deserved to be among the presence of the rest of the Lux? Or would she stay just as she is now?
I wouldn't mind being just me for the rest of my life but is it so wrong to want to be extraordinary?
"Good luck on your ceremony, Morgana," Rena said with a smile.
"Thanks for inviting me," Morgan replied honestly. She really enjoyed herself and it was nice seeing the Lux. It made her even more excited for her ceremony. "Congratulations again."
Morgan lightly skipped on the steps of the porch before walking quickly to her father's car.
"Bye Morgan!" Cecile and Gemma yelled. Morgan looked over her shoulder at them and waved before hopping in the car.
"Oh, why did Mom and Jack come?" Morgan asked as she found her mother on the front passenger seat and her brother on the opposite side from her. "Are we headed straight for the Sanctuary?"
"Yes," her father replied. Then with a wide smile, he declared, "Your ceremony was bumped forward."
Morgan's excitement grew. "Really? Let's go then!"
The Sanctuaries of Phantasion are protected buildings and sites warded against the Khavari and the Mer. It was also where the Lux came together for numerous kinds of occasions and events.
Morgan was always in awe of their local Sanctuary of Phantasion. It was a beautiful white building of marble and gold. It was a testament to the glory and majesty of the Lux and this was where she would discover if she would soon be one of them.
"Did you bring the white robe, Mom?" Morgan asked.
"Of course," her mother replied confidently. "How could I forget?"
Her dad chuckled. "Morgan's just making sure. She doesn't want to miss her ceremony now, does she?"
"Of course not!" Morgan answered in mock horror. "I've only been waiting for this my whole life!"
Her parents laughed.
"You mean ever since you were nine when you met a Lux for the very first time."
"I've never met a Lux," Jack pouted.
"Well you'll meet one soon, kiddo," Morgan replied, rumpling his hair.
"It's too bad we don't have family who are close enough to come so that you'd have more guests," her mother said regretfully.
"This is fine," Morgan replied, smiling fondly at her mom. "As long as our family's complete, it's enough." Her mother smiled back at her and squeezed her hand.
"We're here," her dad announced after parking and Morgan immediately jumped out of the car.
"Where's my robe?" she asked eagerly. Her mother just gave her a look filled with amusement before handing her the white robes.
Morgan's excitement grew some more the closer they got to the entrance but she was also starting to become extremely nervous. With all of her expectations, what would she do if she didn't become a Lux?
Although most of her wanted to become a Lux, a huge part of her also expected that she wouldn't become a Lux. It was a nice thought that she could become one yet the more coldly practical side of her knew that she was probably more likely to win the lottery.
"Welcome," an extremely beautiful female Lux greeted them at the doorway. "Is this Morgana Ruse?"
"Yes," Morgan replied quickly. Realizing she sounded too hasty, she forced herself to calm down and answer more carefully. "Yes, I'm Morgana."
The Lux smiled. "It is good to see you, Morgana. My name is Amiel and I will help you with your preparations for the ceremony today. Now please follow me."
Morgan swallowed thickly, gave her parents and Jack a small nervous smile then followed Amiel. She was taken to a back room where a number of white robes hung.
"It's good that you brought your own robes," Amiel said approvingly. "I'll help you get into those and then we'll go to the Reflection Room and begin your ceremony."
"D-Do I need to do or say anything?" Morgan shyly asked.
Amiel shook her head. "We will take care of everything. You just have to stand in front of the mirror and look deep within yourself."
Morgan wondered how she would look deep within herself but she just nodded as she took her clothes off until she was just in her underwear. She slipped the robe around herself then Amiel helped her with the ties and ribbons. Once Amiel was done, Morgan looked as though she was wearing a floor-length, slong-sleeved dress rather than robes.
"There is no need for shoes," Amiel told her when she tried to slip her feet back in her ballet flats. The Lux then led her outside the room and into a vast corridor that could probably fit two elephants across. As Morgan followed Amiel, she wondered what the Reflection Room would look like.
Her question was answered when Amiel opened a set of golden double doors. Inside was a circular room with a tall, elegant mirror in the center of the room. White Grecian pillars placed about seven metres away from the mirror encircled it with the mirror at its centre; beyond those pillars were seats for guests.
Morgan saw her family in the front row on one side. Jack waved cheerfully at her and she smiled at him and gave him a thumbs-up.
"Please step in front of our seniors and bow," Amiel told her quietly.
Morgan walked in front of the three Lux who stood in front of the mirror. She bowed to them, obeying Amiel's instructions. She tried to ignore the other Lux who stood in front of the pillars surrounding the mirror.
"Morgana Ruse has turned eighteen today and has the great potential of becoming one of us, the Children of Light who defend this world under the guidance of Phantasion.
"The Mirror of Triogan reveals the true self of a human being. By gazing into her reflection in the Mirror of Triogan, Morgana shall discover if she has the grace and purity of heart to be a Child of Light who banishes the evil in darkness.
"Now our candidate shall face the Mirror!"
Morgan took a deep breath, turned around and slowly walked towards the Mirror of Triogan. She stopped once she was within two feet of the mirror and stared at her reflection.
"…Look deep within yourself."
Morgan closed her eyes.
Please, please, please just show me if I'm destined for greatness of if I'm destined to be just me. If greatness, then I will try my best. If I'll remain as myself then…
Morgan exhaled and she clenched her fists in determination.
Then I will still try my best.
She slowly opened her eyes…
…And found a pair of red-violet eyes staring back at her.
A chill shook her entire core as Morgan's eyes widened in absolute horror…
Morgan's red-violet eyes.
She was not a Lux.
But she did not remain herself either.
She was a Khavari.