One: Life

Luminarist + November 2015 – June 2017: Chapter One — Life

Celestial Institute, a boarding school for adults, is located on the fabled world of Terra. Only those chosen by the Shining One may enter. People of all walks of life come here to hone their gifts and effect positive change. The newest recruit is Meissa, a young woman anticipating the future.

She becomes fast friends with Nadir, a man with little self-confidence whose guardian is the powerful Zenith. Upon the school throne stands Alhena, the Shining One herself. Backing them is the Acolyte of Archangels. Becoming entangled in Celestial Institute’s inner workings, Meissa knows that everyone has purpose, and her light shines the brightest of them all.

Why?

“I think that’s Michael.” An elderly woman, with grey hair long and flowing, beamed at a sculpted white figurine of an angel with a torch in his hand. He was dressed simply with twin straps crisscrossed on his chest, leathery high boots with barely any heels, and what a little girl thought was a skirt made of yet more straps, buckled on his hips.

The girl shook her head, not bothering to peer closer as she poked at smaller figurines, all of angels. “No, that’s Uriel.”

The woman looked downward at the dark haired girl playing, almost ready to chastise her for touching valuables in the metaphysical shop. This child was a regular here, nobody knew her name, she would not volunteer it nor did any of the store staff ask. They assumed she was a bored visitor taking a break from mathematics and language supplementary lessons next door. She was drawn to the angel section, hardly anywhere else. Sometimes the occasional crystal caught her eye.

Iris Phoenix was nestled in a low-key plaza, not exactly a strip mall. It was located near to a main intersection of a Canadian town that thought of itself as a city. Only with the recent New Age boom had the store really begun to pull in customers. They had been here since the late eighties, but it wasn’t until the nineties that business picked up. They were in danger of closing before, swallowed by the budget fitness gym, the large musical instrument supplier, and a Big Budgie to the southern end. Iris Phoenix had no competition, since one metaphysical shop was hard enough to keep running.

The storeowner peeked over the counter and smiled at the girl and woman, flicking her hand at a staff member. The young man headed over, and picked up the figurine that the woman was admiring. “Eh,” he muttered. “I thought this was Michael, too. What makes you say he’s Uriel?” he asked the child.

She smiled up brightly at him, and both adults couldn’t help but return the expression. The girl’s positivity and warmth was infectious. “He’s got fire in his hand, not a sword. Uriel means ‘God is my light.’ That one,” she pointed to an enormous statuette of solid bronze, “is Michael for sure. See the sword and the dragon? The sword is a dead giveaway.”

“See if she’s right,” urged the woman to the staff member. He nodded and gently picked up the unidentified angel, holding him at an appropriate angle to see the name inscribed on the bottom of his platform.

“It’s Uriel all right,” he said with slight disbelief. The girl grinned and went back to her pretend play. “Kid, you know your angels!”

“The main four are the easiest to figure out,” she stated authoritatively. “They’re Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. But Uriel’s the least known of the four because he’s not mentioned by name in mainstream texts.”

The woman blinked at the child. “Well, someone will grow up and probably work here,” she laughed. “How old are you?”

“I’m eight years old!” she chirped.

“And yet you know so much? Do you read a lot?” questioned the elder.

She shook her head. “I like picture books the best. My reading’s not so good. I just knew it was Uriel. My mind told me so.”

“Then how were you aware of those other tidbits you just gave to us?”

“It’s not well known?” she blinked. “Okay, well, they talk to me. I talk to them. We’re good friends, the angels and me. But I don’t really hear them, you know? I don’t see them or feel them either. It’s just like I know what they want me to know.” She sighed and put down the figurines she had been playing with. “I get impressions. But thoughts, not pictures or voices or feelings.”

“She’s a clair,” muttered the man. “Claircognizant, maybe?”

“Clair?” someone else piped up, as the child quickly became an attraction, which she either didn’t notice or minded.

“Clairs refer to your psychic senses. One clair for every sense you use for the physical world. The primary four are clairvoyance -“

“Oh, like seeing dead people?” One person in the background shuddered at that voiced idea.

“Not always,” explained the man. “Clairvoyance has other forms, such as remote viewing, seeing auras and energy, spirits yes, pictures or films in your mind, stuff like that. Then there’s clairsentience, based on feelings; clairaudience, hearing things in the spiritual realm and not the same as psychosis; and finally, claircognizance, which operates by thoughts.”

The lunch bell rang to signal the end of the midday break, and the girl’s head shot up as her small body lifted up from her seated position on the carpet. “Class time!” she grinned. With a kind smile and a wave to everyone, she burst from Iris Phoenix’s front doors and dashed past a couple making their way over.

“Who was that kid?” went the elderly woman.

“She’s a regular,” the storeowner answered. “Nobody knows her name, who she is, or what her parents look like. She’s here every weekday, playing with our angels.”

The lady chuckled. “I guess you can say she’s like your little angel, eh?”

The owner smiled. “Maybe, yeah.”

The little girl in question plopped down into her seat, taking out the dark blue plastic messenger bag she used to store her extracurricular schoolwork. Should she work on her English or math? She stared at her workbooks momentarily, and chose the math book, sneaking a look at the teacher occupied with other students of various ages, from preschool to grade twelve. She pulled out a lavender mechanical pencil decorated with children’s depictions of water birds. She didn’t like traditional wooden pencils, thinking that they were too distracting with their seduction of her teeth. Chewing on pencils just got a kid into trouble. Her pencil flew through the math papers for the day, she was tempted to roll her eyes at how easy it was.

English was another story.

Having completed her math homework far too early, she blearily gazed at the language comprehension and writing exercises. She was supposed to be practising her print letters, lower and uppercase, but every time she put the pencil to paper, her left hand would begin to tremble in nervous anticipation. “Chicken scratch” was what her parents would call her penmanship. As for the written word, she was still relying far too much on pictures and not words, or her amazing memory.

Her mother would often tell stories of how she read a children’s bedtime fairy tale to her daughter, who memorized every word and parroted it in return to her. At first it was thought by the family that they had a brilliant reader on their hands, but after closer examination of her eye movements, they realized she wasn’t reading at all. Here at Teddy’s Learning Centres, she was to receive supplemental instruction on reading and writing. Her mathematics were fine, nothing spectacular like her presumed language abilities. One would think the speed at which she solved mathematical problems marked a gift, but it wasn’t. It was the simplistic questions constantly given to her, and she had memorized the formulae and methods far too long ago from sheer repetition.

She stared some more at the drawing of the teddy bear with a raised right paw. She touched it briefly, and made an “argh” sound, her head sinking to the table. What was she supposed to do about the drawing? What was she supposed to write? She couldn’t understand the words on the page that withheld the instructions from her. She could understand letters, but when they combined into the words of the deceptive and difficult English language, that was another story.

“Help me, angels,” she mumbled. A searing headache came on to her, and she clutched at her head in pain. Another child alerted the teacher, who came over.

“Hey, are you okay, sweetie?” asked the concerned adult.

She had tears running down her olive face, dark hair in disarray. “It hurts,” she jutted out. “My head really hurts bad.”

The teacher went to the back, looking through the medicine cabinet. “Can kids take this stuff? I don’t know, but she’s in real pain.” Picking up a bottle of extra strength painkillers, the teacher also fetched a glass of water and set down the glass and two tablets on a napkin near to the suffering child. “Here you go, sweetie. I’ll call home, okay? You’ve done enough for today.”

She tried to give the teacher a smile of gratitude, and it flickered a little in her visage, then failed. She nabbed the two pills, popped them into her mouth without taking a care as to what they were, and drank them down with a great big gulp of water. She trusted adults; they did nothing wrong to her.

——

“Alhena,” murmured the ethereal voice of a man. White marble gleamed in the light, yet this creature clothed like a cleric in blue remained indoors. Candles provided additional light, in a rainbow myriad of colours with a steady burning glow. They highlighted his metallic azure hair, tied into a high side ponytail to the right of his head. A silver cord lined with tumbled crystal beads adorned his head like a circlet; skin very light in tone, and teal eyes gleamed in the firelight. “Alhena,” he whispered once more.

“Here I am!” chimed in a low feminine voice, light footsteps coming at him like the wind on a breezy day. However the womanly figure moved with liquid grace despite her speed, and he caught a glimpse of silver, white topped wings that appeared too small in size to support a grown woman, hardly a preteen could be lifted to any substantial height with wings like that. Cold blue eyes caught his gaze, and the wings melted into spirit form for no one else to see.

Well, one person was able to perceive them no matter what method she utilized to conceal them, but that man wasn’t present at this moment.

“Acolyte of Archangels,” the black haired, brown skinned woman greeted him with a short bow. “What task do you have for me today?”

“The same task I unfortunately always have for you, Alhena.”

Her braided low pigtails shook with the rest of her, braided ear tails following suit. She reached up and adjusted her silver tiara set with gold, and the lavender ribbons on each side of her head received nervous attention. “No,” she said softly.

“This will be the last time for a long while,” he pushed at her gently, his voice soothing and reaching the part of her heart that was bitter with her lot in life. “Please, Alhena. You are the only one who can perform this task after the disappearance of Mirai.”

She growled, “That’s because he’s my father.” Then she realized to whom she was speaking, and apologized, “I meant no disrespect, Acolyte. To where am I being sent?”

He turned his face, so pale compared to hers. She thought that strange of him; he never showed this much hesitation in issuing these assignments. “I’m sending you to Earth. You may be interested in a soul there.”

“Acolyte,” she pleaded, “please. You know I hate this job.”

He placed a delicate hand on top of her head, squeezing softly in encouragement. “You know you’re the only one who can do this,” he reminded her. Still, he wouldn’t push her too far, but this soul may be needed. He had an inkling of the nature of this particular soul, he always did, but this one particular made his heart ache with something he would rather not dwell on.

Its light was so bright.

“Where is this soul?” she finally relented and gave into his request.

He gave her the same reply; a feeling would come to her when she found the soul she was to consider for possible entry into their fabled world of Terra. Terra, the mythical twin sister of Earth in the spiritual realm. It was so different from the physical Earth with its small single landmass that almost completely confined Celestial Institute. It carried one ocean surrounding one small continent that had best be described as an island. A tiny population lived for this tiny world.

Only the chosen may enter.

“Shining One,” commanded the blue haired man, marked different from the others with his long, pointed ears. “You are summoned to the world of Earth to harvest the crop. Choose whom you may, and choose wisely. Your decision will affect the future.”

She thought it redundant and flowery nonsense to her ears, yet she respected the man who raised her despite appearing no older. Her father could rot in Hell for all she cared, and she knew nothing of her mother, who was likely not alive anymore. It had been a very long time since the legendary Mirai brought her to Terra. She was abandoned by the one who sired her, left to the care of the Acolyte of Archangels.

“I will go,” she stated simply, and with that, her small wings unfurled and she took to the skies.

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