"If memories were all I sang, I'd rather drive a truck." -Rick Nelson
I notice that I am confused.
It is an odd feeling, and not exactly one I expected as I sit in my room, about to leave and start my second year of school at Demongate High. My room is clean, and what is not already in my dorm lies packed inside my talisman pouch, ready to be unloaded. Sunlight filters through the windows, creating upon the walls shadowy reminders of the Night Walker we faced last year. Last year; has it been only a year since I started going to school here? I remember it clearly, saying goodbye to my foster father, the nervous plane trip, meeting Yasui, and of course my roommate Osman with the funny eyes. At that time I thought I finally knew myself. After 13 years of feeling I had never fit in before, finally I had discovered my true nature. I was Dean Chesterfield, an Artificer from my mother's side and a Decedent of Cain from my father's. Now I feel I am right back where I started, and I can't help but wonder what happened.
The biggest source of my confusion is, of course, the return of my real parents. That they loved me wasn't the issue. They loved me enough as a tiny baby to make a deal with a devil to save my life. Of course, they didn't realize that devil was the cause of my condition, and thus became his servants for the last thirteen years unnecessarily. If they'd just killed him instead of making that deal my future would have been very different, but they couldn't have known. I didn't blame them for it, how could I? They did what they felt was the only thing they could do, after everything else they had tried, failed. After learning their story my friends and I rescued them in early March of this year, right before the end of school. It was a flurry of activity after that, as they were whisked off to a hospital before we hardly introduced ourselves. Tests were run, Seers looked them over, psychologists talked to them for hours; I could hardly see them, with doctors always hovering around and finals coming up I needed to study for.
My grades, incidentally, weren't stellar, at least in the more traditional courses like history and math. On the other hand, my teacher didn't have a high enough grade to give me in Ability Focused Studies when I showed him all the talismans I had made over the course of the year. My father, Edmond Chesterfield, chuckled and said I took after my mother, Barbara, who said the same thing when I showed her I could levitate objects, call out my spirit guardian, create spirit clones and all the rest. I had rescued them and was proving to be excellent at using my powers, which is all the school really cared about. Oh, if I had flunked out of everything else there would have been trouble, make no mistake. Reality was, roughly zero percent of the population was born with powers every year, two hundred out of 134 million to be roughly exact, so while the school gave lip service to wanting us to have a "rounded education", in reality our future as protectors of the world was assured. When you were facing down a couple of demons it didn't matter if you knew when World War Two started or why, it mattered if you could survive the encounter.
When they were finally released from the hospital, with reams of paper detailing what they should and should not eat, exercises to do to regain loss muscle mass, psychologists to call if they felt depressed, they had a choice to make. Donald, that's my step-father, had sold their house and most of their stuff years ago, and put the rest into storage. At this point they basically had the world to choose from as to where they should go to settle down. It was at this point The Foundation stepped up with a very generous offer- namely, go to work for them and live on Demongate Island for basically nothing. I guess they still needed a lot more members, as most people who worked there died a couple of years ago in the whole Charna mess, and they had yet to fill all available positions. Apparently they were having a hard time finding people who wanted to work there, even today, so they needed people desperately. My parents accepted, and they moved here to Porta, a couple of miles from the school on the north-west side of the inland. I was given the choice to move in with them or stay with Donald.
It was a very difficult choice in the end, with a lot of factors to think about, as you might imagine. I didn't know these people who were my parents, as Donald had raised me practically my whole life. I wanted to get to know my real parents, of course, but was me saying "Well, I rescued my folks, thanks for everything Donald, see you." really fair to him? He had watched me grow up, and in a very real sense I was his son, not Edmond's. Staying near the school meant I could take some summer classes and continue pushing my skills, which I was very interested in doing. In the end it was Donald himself that made my decision easier, having sold the pocket watch he had taken from the dragon's hoard for several million dollars as he expected, he decided to close his shop for awhile and tour the world.
"I don't want you to feel guilty about 'leaving' me or anything like that," he had said to me. "I'm your past now, and you would be far better served learning the limits of your abilities at Demongate. That's your future. Remember what I said to you when you unboxed your egg? I'm even more convinced of it now; you're going to be one of the greatest people this world has ever known, and I'm proud to have been the one who raised you."
So I decided to live with them, and all my stuff was moved to my new home on the island, and my parents and I started to get to know each other. I have to admit, it was a little funny how clueless they were. After all, they went from being parents to slaves, and now they were back to being parents again, but I was mostly grown up. They had long been away from the world, chained to a table and forced to make things for the devil that "owned" them, so now that they were free they were kind of at loose ends. I often found them just staring out at the ocean or crying out in their sleep. I knew they were trying to be strong for me, but they had a lot of issues to work out between themselves. Of course technology had left them behind a bit as well, they were amazed at what computers could do now! The Foundation set them up with a nice lab, their main duties now to make things for operatives in the field. At least now it was for our side, and they were getting paid for it, rather then beaten.
I too saw some psychologists, but mainly to help me understand what they were going through and to know what to expect from them. I was told it would be a long recovery for them, and helping them get into a routine and back to normal life would be key, which I did my best to help with. In one sense I felt it wasn't fair, as my parents they should be taking care of me, not the other way around. I did understand they had been through a lot so I needed to be patient with them. Our true coming together as a family would be gradual and a long time in coming, if it came at all. I was willing to try my best and my parents seemed to want to get to know the person I had become, so I was hopeful for the future.
It still left me puzzled though, I had never had a mother before, that I remembered, how was I supposed to act around her? The same being true with my father; I was Donald's son, not Edmond's, and I had picked up Donald's habits growing up rather then my real father's, and that bothered me a little. Should I try to act more like them? Would they not love me as much if I didn't do things "their way"? I also wondered if I should stay with them instead of moving into the dorms, but I was told it was probably best to do both, visit them, stay some weekends, but live at the school the majority of the time. It was within walking distance, after all, so it made sense to give them some space now that they were a bit more settled. They had been filling orders for things and seemed a lot more focused these past few weeks, so I wasn't too worried about them. I looked at the clock- it was about time for the plane to be landing, and I couldn't wait to see my friends again, so I jumped off the bed and started downstairs. I couldn't help but smile as I said my goodbyes and ran down to the airfield, eager to hear how my friend's summer had gone.
There were many other students and a couple of teachers crowded around the so called airport waiting for the plane to land when I arrived. I knew most of the kids, as they either lived on the island or were taking summer classes like I was, so I said hello and made small talk while we waited. Right on time, the plane appeared in the sky and got bigger and bigger, finally landing and taxying down the runway. I watched as students poured out of the door and greet people they knew, and I didn't have to wait long to see my three friends leave the plane and waved them over to me.
Yasui ran over and hugged me, and Osman shook my hand, both were obviously glad to see me. Christina was nearby and said hello, but looked like she thought all of this was a waste of time. I'm sure I was grinning widely as I asked about their vacation and they told me what they had been doing.
"You actually took more classes? You're allowed to have fun, you know, that's why they call it a 'summer vacation'" Yasui teased.
"The classes I took were fun!" I protested. "I learned how to use Spirit Sense and improved my talisman making. I haven't made anything new, but of course I have lots of ideas for stuff."
They all rolled their eyes. "Still obsessed with talismans, then?" asked Osman.
"They're what I do best," I replied.
"I hope so," he continued, "I have something to ask you later, once we get settled in."
"Sure. And how's Katrina, my favorite spirit girl, doing these days?" I asked, looking at Osman.
A tiny figure shimmered into existence beside him, complete with little wings and trailing sparkly dust, a fairy. "Oh, his belief in me has saved my life," the fairy said, zooming around my head. "Thank you, kind boy!"
I laughed. "So you're a fairy now, Kat?"
"Why not?" she answered, hovering in front of me and spinning slowly in place. "My illusions can be anything, why not something fun?"
"Hey, I don't mind." I quickly said. "I think it's a good look for you."
She blushed, looking down and pointing one toe, drawing a line in the sand that appeared beneath her. "Thanks. Glad you had a good summer," then she shimmered and was gone again.
"She was always talking about you and wondering what you were up to," said Osman. "She's been wanting to show you her fairy form for weeks now."
"Nice to see her having some fun with her powers. Say, is your English better, Osman?"
"Kat's been drilling me over the summer, and she'll only talk to me in English now, so I've gotten better."
"It sounds it. Let's get you guys unpacked. I'll be happy to help you all with your luggage if you want. Spirit Clone!" I shouted, not putting in any extra effort. I still get two, and they both went over to get luggage and help carry it to the bus that arrived to take us all to school. Not to be outdone, Yasui did the same and also got two, and between the eight of us we got everything carried onto the bus in one trip. We got some strange looks and double takes, as three of the same people twice walk onto the bus and sit down, but this being Demongate High, no one really makes a fuss. Those destined for the role of Prefect or Head of the dorms glared a little longer, the use of powers outside the classroom being technically forbidden. We weren't showing off or endangering ourselves or others, and most everyone knew me because of my taking varied Ability Focused Studies classes, so they let it slide.
Like last year there are several days before classes start, giving students time to learn the school again and get used to being away from home. I planned to put some time in on some talisman projects I had in mind, just in case I needed them later, but the next day, Osman came to me with a request that put those plans aside.