Excerpt Elemental Mazes
“Beneath The Pressure of Torments Such As These,
The Feeble Remnant of The Good Within Me Succumbed. Evil Thoughts Became My Sole Intimates—
The Darkest And Most Evil Of Thoughts.”
~Edgar Allan Poe
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Chapter One: Obsessive Preparation
Death comes with the Elemental Mazes. That is what the sentence was on the editorial Katy was reading about the tournament that the magical world has never gotten rid of, no matter the body count. Katy wondered about the mazes. How could she not? They were deadly and she knew Senka was up to something with them. Somehow she knew she would end up in this tournament. She frowned as she pulled another book of plants and creatures toward her. Basically, there were seven mazes. Each maze the contestants had two months to get through and survive. For the next seven terms, their lives would be the mazes. Each school created a maze based on their country and stocked it with plants and animals and creatures native to their lands. The goal is to get to the center of the maze where they would find the key to unlocking the next maze. If at the end of the two months they hadn’t found the key they would be out of the contest. There were five teams of two per school. One for each element. Katy sighed. She did not know the order but she had a feeling that Bridgette’s would be last. She tried to figure out if she could get the order right. She figured Europe followed by Africa, then Asia and Australia, and then they would go down to Antarctica. Now Antarctica would be hard for most people. She had to figure out more about that location. After all, they could only bring what could fit in one bag with them into each maze. After Antarctica, she figured South America and then finishing in North America. She figured Bridgett’s would be last because they were the main host for the event. Meaning that everyone from the other schools who wanted, and had permission, to enter would come for a kickoff celebration, something Katy was not looking forward too.
Antonio Sr. came into the room where Katy was going through her books. “Katy?”
“Just preparing for the mazes,” Katy responded.
“I wish you would not enter.”
“I must. Senka already has stated that she is going to try something. I would rather not have an innocent death on my mind. Look… Dad… It is just that I cannot for the life of me see how that being… that Senka was my mother. I lived with her on the streets. Moving from place to place. Everything I know about living on the streets I learned from her and from those she introduced me to. She kept me alive. All we had was each other and then she left me. I hated her for it. I hated her for dying. But then to find out she is alive…” Katy turned her head to hide the tears.
Antonio Sr. sighed and moved over to Katy’s side. “I am so sorry you have to feel this pain little one. I am so sorry that she did this to you.”
“It is not your fault dad. I just… I hate her. More than when I thought she died on me. I hate her and I am afraid what that could mean.” Katy finally told him what she felt.
Antonio Sr. moved and picked up his twelve-year-old daughter. “I know Katy Lily. I know what you fear. But you cannot become that dark. That evil.”
“How do you know?”
“Because you fear it. If you did not fear it then we could be worried. But you know what you want out of life. You know what you want to do. Even if you do not think so. Your magic and your heart will lead you to do what you feel is right.”
“And it is right to hate her?”
“It is right to feel resentment. After all, she was all you had on those streets and she abandoned you.”
“But it is so deep in my heart this hate. The fact I feel anything for this being is proof I still care…” Katy sighed. “She was all I had. All that I knew until she faked her death. I had to find my way through this world alone for too long. No matter how much I want to, I cannot leave those fears behind. I had to fight through that pain of being alone, I had to find a strength to exist, to live; one I should not have had to find.”
Antonio Sr. sighed, “look, Katy Lily, I will be here for you, your mom will be here for you. Katy, you are now a MacCathmhaoil.”
Katy sighed. “Please do not ever leave me,” Katy whispered. “I know one day I will push at you. It is my way, I will claim I do not need you, but whatever you do, please dad… Do not ever leave me.”
Antonio Sr. hugged his daughter close. “Nothing you do will ever make me abandon you, Katy. One day I might die, I might even be killed in the coming war, but until the end of time I still will be with you.” He hugged her and kissed her. “But I will never willingly leave you in this world alone.”
Katy took his comfort. She did not say anything more. She did not need to say anything. The man she saw as her dad just promised never to leave her. As long as it was in his power. She closed her eyes as she knew so much could happen in this coming war and she might not be able to stop the people from leaving her. But would she continue to push them away or could she, for once, allow the pain that was to come. But for this moment she did not want to think about it, for this moment she was just going to focus on the fact that her dad told her he would not leave her.
Antonio Sr. tucked her in after she had fallen asleep. He picked up the book she was reading and sighed. Past tournaments. She had Edgar’s bookmarked. He hoped it was not as bad as that one. That had been brutal. In the end, only seven made it out alive and three to the end. He shuddered at the thought of this tournament. He did not want his daughter in the blasted thing. But she had her own mind. And even if he did refuse to sign the permission slip, Lua and Oeric both retained rights to sign on it. It was part of the guardianship agreement.
Sandra saw her husband’s distress as he came into the living room. “Antonio?”
“I do not want Katy in that blasted tournament Sandra.” He stated as he sat down next to his wife and pulled her close.
Sandra sighed. “I do not either. But it is her choice, Antonio. And she is right about Senka, she will not give up. Until Katy is by her side or dead.”
Antonio Sr. glared at her. “My daughter will not join that being! And it will be over my dead body before I allow that thing to kill Katy.” He hissed.
Sandra rolled her eyes. “I will not let that woman take our daughter. I will die first. And of course,Katy would not join her. Katy is a MacCathmhaoil. She would rather die than join Senka. And just like the rest of this family she will stand and fight.”
Antonio sat back. “I just wish we did not have to fight…”
Sandra did not answer because there was no answer. What could she say that has not already been said? She knew her family was right in the center of this war that was brewing and there was nothing they could do short of selling their souls to get out of the death that was coming their way.
Katy was up the next day and sitting at the kitchen table with her books again. She sighed. She did not want to be part of this tournament but she had to try. If she was not picked, she was not picked, but if she was… well all things happened for a reason. She closed her eyes. “Powers that Be, I need you to tell what to do here. You sent me back from death for a reason, what is that reason? Is it to fight this war? To die in this war? Goodness died last time to destroy Darkness and look, Darkness has returned. Why go through all this when Darkness just comes back?” She sighed. She did not expect an answer. “I do not want to have to think about this!” She suddenly yelled out loud. “Help me! Help me please! This world is chaos! Darkness hounds my every move! She is even in my blood!”
Sandra and Antonio Sr. ran into the kitchen and both were at her side. They were holding her and cooing in her ear hoping to calm her down. Her magic was threatening to overpower her. “Calm down baby.” Sandra cooed.
“Why do we not get out of a world gone mad? Help me please. I need you tell me even if it is a lie that this will all work out. Tell me we will make it through this, please you have to tell me.” Katy cried.
Sandra held Katy close. “Oh Baby, let us worry for now. Why don’t you go get some rest? Listen to your music, read your favorite books. Just let go of the chaos for a little bit and it will be all okay. Child, I promise you that even if we get our hearts broken, in the end everything will work out. I promise.”
“How could it get so bad?” Katy whispered.
“I don’t know but everything will work out.” Antonio Sr. stated. “Now go get some rest little one.” He kissed her head.
Sandra smiled and kissed her cheek. “Go on.”
Katy sighed and nodded. “Okay mom and dad.” Katy did not want to think anymore. She had been thinking of her mother, her father, her new parents and the mess her life was and how magic at first was amazing but it was causing her more issues than it was worth at times. She snorted. Both a blessing and a curse. But sometimes she had problems remembering the good outweighed the bad. And it did. It so much outweighed the bad. She found a family. A true one. She had a brother. A new mom, a dad. She had a best friend. She had his family. She had a family. A real one. One that she used to see on the television as she stood outside those electronic stores and stared in envy at the people playing out being a family. Traditional family or not. But now she had her own family. And she was for once starting to feel happy. And opening up and letting people in; it was always something she had problems with, but it was easier now. Getting easier to be a bit more social. She went to her stereo and slammed it on and put on her favorite playlist. She turned up her music and started to bounce around the room. She did not want to think. And music helped her block out her thoughts. After all people do not change in time. No matter what they say. Everybody is prying into her life. Her choices and here she was twelve years old and she had figured out that people do not change. People live, they learn, they fight, they die. And she was determined to live. Her family was all she had and she would fight and die for them. She could not keep stressing out about what might happen! She bounced around her room with her music blaring. She smiled. Right now in this moment she did not have to worry. In this moment she could just be. She turned it up more and took her hair brush and started using it as a mic singing along. She smiled. She would not let her mother be the cause of any more nights wasted crying for her. No more lonely nights. She had a family now. She smiled.
Sandra and Antonio Sr. smiled as they watched her, for as mature as she was, due to having to grow up quickly, they were happy to know she still could act like a child.
Katy suddenly stopped dancing and looked at herself. She was wearing black pants and a blouse. She suddenly wanted a change. She felt she had no control of her life. But she could control her style. “Mom! Can we go shopping?” She yelled as she turned around not seeing Sandra and Antonio Sr. standing at her door.
Sandra smiled. “Of course. Why?”
“I need a new style.” She stated as she grabbed the little purse that Sandra had given her. “And I want to dye my hair the color of the elements.” She stated.
Antonio Sr. looked torn. “You are twelve.”
Sandra rolled her eyes. “Yes and all twelve year olds find themselves. Let’s go sweetie.” Sandra smiled as she kissed her husband’s cheek and left with her daughter in hand.
Katy was biting her lip. She had always been proper. Dress pants, cute girly dresses, blouses, but she was looking at the styles in the store that Sandra had taken her too and she did not want to be proper. She wanted to be more of rebel. She smirked. She grabbed some ripped jeans and rock shirts and a leather jacket. She went to the dressing room. She tried on the black ripped jeans and the tee shirt putting on the black rocker boots and the black leather silver studded jacket. She smiled. This was it. This reinvented self-image. This she could control. She walked out and smiled at Sandra. “What do you think mom?”
Sandra smiled. “It is a very nice style. I went through a similar phase when Antonio was a child. Come on; let’s go pick up a few more pairs of jeans and a bunch of tee shirts!” Sandra took her hand and helped Katy fill the shopping cart with everything she needed for clothes.
Katy was staring at the make-up. She had heard the older girls talk about it in the dorms. She tilted her head. It would help with her new look. But she did not want people to think she was using it to look different for them. She shook her head. She did not need that she was twelve. The dying of her hair and the new clothes were enough for now. Maybe when she was older. She smiled and bounced over to Sandra and handed her the last of her band shirts.
Sandra watched Katy look at the make-up. She knew girls were wearing it younger nowadays but she wanted Katy to wait a bit longer. At least into her teen years. Fifteen preferably before she wore make-up, besides maybe a bit of lip gloss. She was letting her dye her hair because she understood that she felt she had no control over her life and needed to control something. This was simple. New clothes, new hair style. It was simple and controllable. And temporary. Sandra smiled as they went into the hair salon.
Katy looked up at Linda’s Hair Salon. The woman inside was eccentric to say the least. She had long blonde hair that went to the floor and wore a gypsy skirt and peasant blouse. She was barefoot and had her arms full of bangles and bells. Katy blinked.
Linda smiled as she saw Sandra and her little girl walk in. “Sandra! Lovely to see you again my dear! And this must be Katy!”
Sandra smiled. “Yes Linda this is Katy. I think a trim and layer and then she wants to dye her hair in layers, the colors of the elements. Red as the primary as she is a Fire elemental, followed by…” Sandra looked at Katy.
“Spirit, because Sandra is Spirit, then Air because Riley is Air, then Earth because Lua and Aaliyah, finally Water for Haley.” Katy stated.
Linda smiled. “Wonderful! I love layered jobs! Let’s get you into the seat!” Linda escorted Katy to a seat and soon had her spun around and trimming and layering her hair like a mad woman while talking a million miles a minute.
Katy could not keep up, but she did not think she was expected to, as Linda just kept going without waiting for responses. Katy was impressed though with her ability to not have to breathe while talking.
It was hours later but finally Katy was staring into the mirror. Her hair was in waves and layers, and she could see all the colors, even if they were all layered. She stood there looking like a little rocking rebel but still had this innocence that only a child could have. She smiled. This was something she could control. No matter what. Because since the coloring was magical her hair would grow that color for a year before having to be redone. She smiled as she finally felt in control of something. After all right now it was Senka who had the upper hand in this war that was brewing. At least until Katy could figure a way to match her biological mother’s knowledge.
Antonio Sr. watched as his wife and daughter walked back into the house and had to raise an eyebrow at Katy, but smiled. He saw Sandra mouth to compliment her. “Katy, that look suits you. It has a lot of personality and passion. Just like you do.” Antonio Sr. hugged Katy. “How about we go put away your new clothes?”
Katy smiled. “Sure dad!” She smiled and took the bags and bounced out of the room towards her bedroom and started putting away her clothes as her dad and mom came in to help. She smiled at them. This was her family. And for them she would do anything, even fight a war she does not want to fight. And to do that she had to come up with a way to have an advantage in the mazes.