It didn't take me long to become used to my new senses. Within a month I could easily read a book from the other side of the room, hear conversations in the common room from my cabin, and smell what was for dinner from the clearing in the forest. While some of these things still required an amount of concentration, I could now use all my senses with with my eyes open. I could also block out the sounds and smells with ease.
Emily recovered quickly and returned to cabin six within two days. Life returned to normal for a while, with the only unusual occurrence being Emily's now even more frequent visits away from camp. About two months after her 'rescue' we all discovered why.
I woke up with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I wasn't entirely sure why, but I felt like I should know. I pondered it for a few seconds and still couldn't figure out the answer. I shrugged and got up. Emily wasn't in bed, which was unusual because she normally didn't have to get up early on Tuesdays. I overlooked this and instead took my towel and a bundle of clothes to the shower block, deciding that I should probably start the day clean as I'd been sparring with Luke the day before.
When I returned I glanced quickly through the small crack in the wall and caught a glimpse of Jake's peaceful face. The hole I'd left in the wall had been patched up by a few small bits of wood, but that was the best we could do. When we'd asked Hiroki to fix it with magic he simply scowled at us and left. Hiroki was the one who'd made the cabins in the first place, so it wasn't surprising that he was angry, but even the idea of Hiroki having any unpleasant expression of any kind was terrifying. Even the other earths were ever too terrified of Hiroki to help or, as he had, seemed to think that we should fix our own problems.
In the end it was Sou who'd fixed our wall. He hadn't done a very good job, but it was better than the huge, ragged hole from before as it prevented Jake from pouring water on my face in my sleep, as he had at almost every opportunity in the days before the wall's repair.
I closed my eyes and listened intently. I could smell them both in there, but their breathing was shallow so I guessed that they were asleep. A quick mental sweep confirmed it (I didn't want a more through investigation because accounts of Jake's previous dreams had left me with no desire to find out what his sleeping mind was showing him this time). I thought about waking then up, or at least Jake who had a glass of water by his bed that I could have easily knocked over with magic right into his face, but decided against it due to the still present uneasy feeling. I still hadn't identified its source and returned to pondering it as I settled down on a sofa in the central room.
In the twenty minutes before Luke appeared, I'd gone through numerous different options and discarded them all. Luke, however, identified it in seconds.
"So, its your birthday, huh?"
My eyes widened. "How did you know that?"
He shrugged. "Oh, I don't know. It can't be because I'm telepathic or anything." He smirked.
I suddenly panicked. "Shut up before Jacob hears you!"
"Why don't you want him to know?"
"Because-" I was interrupted by Jake appearing at the door.
"Why don't you want who to hear what?"
Luke didn't even give me a chance to stop him. "It's Mabel's birthday."
His face lit up. "Really? Happy birthday!"
I glared at Luke. I hate you.
He smirked back. And why's that?
Because now I'm going to have to put up with him being crazy all day.
It was at that moment that Emily appeared.
"Oh, hi everyone. Did I interrupt something?"
"It's Mabel's birthday!" Jake looked as though he'd just announced that he'd bought a puppy. Emily frowned at him.
"Yeah, I know."
Jake now also frowned. "How?"
Emily slowly shut the door behind her. "Because she told me?"
Jake now turned to me looking as though the puppy he'd just bought had died. "Why didn't you tell me?"
I frowned back at him. "Because I didn't, okay? Jeez."
"To be fair, Jake," added Luke, "you didn't tell her when it was your birthday."
Jake looked surprised. "Yeah I did. I said' Hey Mabel, Merry Christmas. Guess what, it's also my birthday.' Just because she wasn't conscious doesn't mean I didn't tell her."
"Wait, your birthday's on Christmas? You didn't mention it."
"Yeah I did. When you were unconscious."
"Because I totally knew what you were saying. You should have at least told me I'd missed your birthday."
"You didn't tell me it was your birthday today. We're even."
"That doesn't make us even!"
"Tell me why you didn't tell me it was your birthday, and then we'll be even."
"That doesn't make any sense!"
"Yes it does. You didn't know it was my birthday because you were unconscious. I didn't know it was your birthday because you just didn't tell me. One of us is being deceitful-"
"And the other's annoying." I interrupted. He scowled at me. Luckily Emily interrupted our argument which meant that I didn't have to explain to Jake that the reason I didn't tell him it was my birthday was because I didn't want him making a fuss; I'd never celebrated my birthday before and I had no particular desire to start now. Emily could be trusted not to overreact if I asked her not to. Jake…not so much.
"Speaking of Christmas," Emily said, disappearing into our room, "I never gave you your present. Hang on." A few seconds later she returned with a poorly wrapped present in her hands.
Luke smirked. "You wrapped that well didn't you?"
She frowned. "I tried. Go on Mabel, open it!"
I gingerly tore off the wrapping and revealed a huge pile of wool inside. I held it up and discovered that it was, in fact, a scarf. It appeared to be hand made. It was dark blue with streaks of silver.
"You can keep the gloves I lent you as well. I know you won't really be able to use them for another year or so since it's spring but…still."
I smiled. "It's awesome. Did you make it?" I sniffed it, which may seem an odd reaction, but I wanted to know if I'd be able to pick up its smell if I wore it and tried to smell something else.
"Yeah. It took me a while to finish and I wasn't sure what colours to use but…"
"Thanks." I smiled up at her and then folded the scarf neatly, got up, walked to my chest of drawers and placed it carefully in the top drawer.
When I returned to the main room, Emily was still standing up and looked uncomfortable.
"There's also…something I need to tell you guys…"
We all stared at her. I've rarely seen her so serious, and I could smell apprehension coming from her.
She took a deep breath and then said. "I'm leaving."
Jake was the first to react and even that was after a few seconds of stunned silence. "What? Why?" He stood up and looked stunned, amazed. Even angry.
"I'm sorry. It's just…well, I've been here a while and I think I just need to go out and enjoy university life properly. A few friends and I have bought a flat somewhere and we're moving in there next week."
I smiled. "A few of your friends? Or one friend?"
She looked away from me. "It might be…only one friend."
Luke was smirking. Jake, however, looked confused. I smiled and then a thought struck me.
"Does he know?"
She looked up at me, and then shook her head. "No. I will tell him just…not right now. I want to be one hundred per cent sure that he'll be okay with it before I do. I…I don't want to risk losing him."
I shook my head. "You need to tell him as soon as possible, Emily. What if he wakes up and you're invisible? What if you accidently mention that you've spent a huge part of your life living at a camp? He needs to know before he finds out on his own."
She sighed. "Fine. I'll tell him. I just…well I think I need some time to plan it first."
Jake still looked utterly confused. "Who the hell are you talking about?"
We ignored him. "Anyway, I'm going to be staying with him until we can actually move in. I was just discussing the final touches with Sou; he says its fine. So, I guess I'll be leaving today."
This, Jake seemed to understand. "What?! You're leaving today? Why didn't you tell us sooner?"
Emily's face was set. "Because I didn't want to give you all a chance to talk me out of it. I know I should have told you, but I didn't want things to be weird between us all before I left. I wanted things to be normal…"
We were all silent. Eventually, Jake seemed to find a voice. He walked over to Emily, and hugged her. "I'm sorry. We'll just miss you, that's all."
She looked startled, but hugged him back. "I'll miss you too." She smiled as he pulled away. Ruffling his hair, she said, "Look after the others, okay? Don't bully Luke. Try not to annoy Mabel too much. And be nice to whoever replaces me. That goes for you too Luke." She pointed a finger at him. "Be nice."
"Yeah, yeah." He turned back into his room and shut the door.
About two hours later, Emily had finished packing everything and was standing by the path leading out of camp, a suitcase by her side. It hadn't actually taken her that long to pack, but she'd also gone around saying goodbye to everybody. Emily went through many hugs and tears as everyone said goodbye to the motherly figure at camp. She'd also gone to look at the Gate for a final time, and returned with a huge tabby cat draped over her shoulders, whom she introduced as Kamui.
She was now waiting for a guy named James Parker to pick her up. She looked extremely nervous.
"What if he doesn't believe me?"
I rolled my eyes. "He'll kind of have to. It's not like there isn't proof in every inch of this place."
She bit her lip. "But what if he hates me? What if he's scared of me? Mabel, I can't do this! I'll just meet him at the top of the path and never tell him anything about it!"
She actually looked like she was about to do just that. I grabbed her arm to stop her. "Even if I decided that that was a good idea, which it isn't, it's too late. He's coming." I could already hear the crunch of gravel as a car descended the road down to the camp. However, Emily didn't look the least bit reassured. After a second of indecision, she turned to Jake, who was standing the other side of her.
"Jake, tell me it'll be fine."
He frowned. "Err….It''ll be fine?"
"No, tell me properly!"
"Oh!" He grabbed her face with both of his hands. "Emily, it's going to be fine. Stop worrying."
She immediately relaxed. Smiling, she turned back to the road. "Thank you."
A few seconds later, a car emerged from the opening in the trees. Emily raised her hand in greeting. The car pulled up next to her and a tall man with blonde hair got out. He stared around at the rest of camp, looking slightly confused but not altogether surprised.
"Hey. Err…mind telling me what this place is?"
Emily smiled. "Sure. But first, I'll introduce you to Jake and Mabel." She indicated us both. "Guys, this is James." I shook his hand, but Jake merely frowned at him. "I'd introduce you to Luke, but he's back in the cabin. Oh, and this is Kamui." She picked up Kamui under his front legs which made him hang, helpless. Even though she was holding him at chest-height, his tail could still brush the floor.
James took one of Kamui's paws in his hand and shook it with a completely straight face.
"It's good to meet you."
Kamui didn't reply. Emily then took James' hand and they then walked together towards the lake. I briefly heard the beginning of their conversation, but then blocked it out. I didn't feel like eavesdropping.
Jake was still frowning and looked like he was trying to figure something out. He was staring after them and I could feel his mind desperately trying to figure something out.
"Jacob? Are you okay?"
He jumped with surprise and then looked at me. "Yeah, sorry. I was thinking."
I raised my eyebrows. "Really? Wow, be careful. You might hurt yourself."
He frowned. "Thanks."
I laughed. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it."
He smiled. "I was being serious. Thank you."
I frowned this time. "For what?"
I hit his arm. He laughed and then looked like he'd suddenly remembered something.
"Oh yeah…" He reached into his pocket and withdrew a small box. "Here. I meant to give it to you as a Christmas present but, well…And then the whole snake thing distracted me and I only remembered this morning. Anyway, I guess now's a good a time as any to give it to you."
I raised my eyebrow at him, but took it.
"Sorry I didn't wrap it. I just find it weird that you put paper over something when someone's just going to tear it off."
I laughed and opened the box. Inside was a silver chain. I lifted it out, carefully. It was cold to the touch.
"For your crystal. People don't usually leave it on the string, so I thought I'd buy you a chain to put it on."
I smiled. "Thanks." I lifted my necklace off from around my neck and then tried to pick apart the knot. It was difficult, since I was still holding the box in one hand. After a few seconds, Jake took it from me.
"Here, let me do it." However, he too appeared to be having issues with untying the knot. Eventually, he instead burnt through it. He slipped the crystal off of it, and then, taking the chain from me, dropped it onto the chain. He handed it back and watched as I fastened it around my neck. He then took back the box and, without asking, set it aflame.
"What did you do that for?"
He blinked at me. "Why, did you want to keep it?"
"I don't know! Maybe."
He shrugged. "Well, since you now longer had a use for it, I decided to dispose of it for you."
I rolled my eyes. "Thanks."
He laughed. "You're welcome."
"Hang on, I didn't get you anything! What is this, are you guilting me into buying you a present?"
He looked alarmed. "No, no, I'm not. Besides, it's not your fault. You kind of passed out in the middle of your Christmas shopping."
"You're still making me feel bad."
Jake's answer was interrupted by Emily's reappearance. She was still holding James' hand, so I assumed he didn't hate her. She did, however, look slightly guilty and he looked slightly sad as though wishing that she hadn't kept it a secret from him. A quick psychic scan confirmed it.
"So?" Jake asked, perhaps insensitively. "Did you tell him?"
Emily nodded. Jake looked at James and asked, "And what do you think about it?"
He took a moment to answer as though fearing Jake might bite him. And, although biting people has never been a habit of Jake's, he looked like the wrong answer might earn James a punch in the face.
"I think…It's strange. And slightly surreal. But other than that…I'm not really bothered by it."
I raised my eyebrows. "Really? You're taking this very well."
He shrugged. "My grandfather was always telling me stories about magic. He always said that his mother could heal people with a single touch and that his uncle could see the future. I guess I just never really stopped believing him."
Jake looked like he was still hadn't passed judgement on James. However, before he could ask any more questions, Sou approached from the training grounds.
"So, you're James I assume?" He nodded. "I'm Sou. I trust that Emily has explained to you what this place it?" He nodded again. "Excellent. Well, now that you know, you should understand that we don't really want you to spread the news around. We won't stop you telling people, but we think it should at least be the camper's choice who knows about their magic. People react differently and we don't want anyone getting hurt."
"I understand. I won't tell a soul."
"Good." Sou turned to Emily. "I hope you do well out in the wide world, and I promise that, if you should ever need our help, you only need to ask and we'll come running."
"I also have this." He handed her a long bundle of cloth. "It's yours to keep. Take care of it, and try not to kill anyone with it or get it confiscated."
She took it the bundle from him and unwound the wrappings. It revealed a long bow and a quiver of arrows, each inlaid with gold. It was the bow I'd seen on the self above cabin six's stand, but I'd never seen Emily actually use it. She stared down at them, and then closed her eyes. "Thank you."
Sou nodded and then turned and left. Emily looked like she was holding back tears. She turned around and placed the bow and quiver on top of the suitcase which James had put in the back of his car. She then turned back to us.
"See you." She smiled. "Thank you for all you've done for me. Look after yourselves." She then reached out her arms and dragged us both into a bone-breaking hug. Well, it wasn't literally bone breaking, but it could have been. "I'll miss you."
Neither Jake nor I said anything in return. She pulled away and then got into the passenger seat of the car. James was already at the wheel, and he raised a hand at us in farewell. As he pulled away and turned up the road between the trees, Emily glanced back at us one last time. Then she disappeared behind the trees.
Jake and I stood next to each other in silence for a few seconds before Jake blurted out.
"Hang on, was he her boyfriend?"
I rolled my eyes at him and headed off to cabin six.
Oh, hang on. I've got to go. Something about an explosion in the kitchen. Jeez, you'd think he could manage to at least cook himself a single bowl of pasta without breaking something. I'll take a break for now, since that seems like a good place to stop. What? Hang on! No, you idiot! You're supposed to put water in it! Argh, fine, I'm coming
End of the first instalment! The next one is 'The Legend of a Traitor' so go read that! If you want...You don't have to...