So Much Change!

There is just so much change and movement in my life!

I am newly single, getting into a job training program, freshly moved, getting gender confirmation surgery, and so much else! I have a hard time fathoms how much has changed, and how well I am coping with it all.

Now, I have started a new medication, risparidone, which has been doing wonders. I feel like I have a calculating head again. Or at least I had. In the past two days my anxiety has been kidnapping my brain again and now im worried that I’ll backslide all the way down to brain fog again.

But I dont think I will. I think I am doing well, that I am coping well, and that things are moving properly in the right direction.

I have so many plans. So much hope. I am hoping and praying it’ll all go well. There’s so much I want for my books, for myself. I am so grateful for my health getting better.

Anyways, this was a little update, friends. I hope yall are doing well, and that you and yours stay well 💗

Depression and Cute Mushrooms

Depression sometimes feels like it gets the best of me.

It leaves me crying in the shower. It leaves me feeling like no one loves me, like I dont matter.

I’m not sharing this because I want attention. I just want you to know that sometimes a kind word can go so far. I want you to know that, despite it all, sometimes our spirituality, a belief, can give us something to hold on to.

For me, what helped today was my birdies. It’s a small thing, and may seem so pointless to so many. Very few seem to care about my birds. Im far from a ground breaking pagan author. Yet they matter to me. They help me see, in some way, happiness again.

Thats all that matters with art, really. The joy and happiness it brings us.

Im sharing this picture, hoping it can bring you some happiness too. May you always have a cute mushroom to sit under, dry and happy, from the rain.

Another New Project…

I want to apologize for my silence here, though I know I really shouldn’t. It’s been so quiet because I’ve started a new project, and have been trying to be gentler on myself.

What is this new project? A non fiction book!

Essentially, this new book is about mental illness and spirituality, and so much of the energy I would normally put into this blog and my youtube channel has instead gone into the book.

Luckily, however, I have a good friend who has agreed to coach me on the book, so this book should actually get done! So far, I have the beginnings of a contents page, approximately 5,000 words, and several prayers written out.

Why yes, it’s a book that involves prayers. It’s going to be a spiritual book, my friends, and I can’t wait to share more about it soon. But for now, I am going to rest.

Take care, everyone ❤

Blue Crow Rising ~ Chapter 1 Part 4

The wind whipped at me and I suddenly seemed to realize just how far I’d climbed. High, in short. Nauseatingly high. And this balcony? Not quite a balcony. More like a thin walkway that you could see through. Very thin.

I mean, it certainly was, what, five crows wide, but to me right then it was like a tightrope. I squished myself up against the wall and felt my heart pound in my throat.

Then I heard laughter. “Very well!” a man cheered.

I nearly jumped out of my skin. Whoa? Someone was here? Where? I looked all around before I realized that the voices were coming from within the building.

Help! I thought. Someone help me!

Feeling like every step was a gargantuan task, I began creeping forward, digging my fingers/claws in through the holes of the grid. Looking up, I crept my way around the corner. There, I poked my head around and up – and saw in through a large window.

Inside, from my bizarrely low angle, I saw Mister Macmillan and several other men I didn’t recognize. They looked like parents. Filthy rich too. They were pale like glass, wearing crisp white clothes like you saw in the magazines, and were lounging on a sofa. They were all in a sloppy ring, and at the center was someone, who was bowing to each person in turn.

“Thank you for summoning me,” the person said in a feminine voice. As they straightened, shudders slid down my spine and all my feathers poked up.

The woman had slick black hair that fell into her face. Her eyes were a brilliant orange. Her features were strange. I couldn’t place her lineage by sight, which was strange. For though she had pale skin paler than I had ever seen, her features weren’t wealthy. There was something familiar to her, like she could have come from my own family. Her suit was an impeccable black and tailored to flatter her in every aspect, but it shimmered and sparkled with sequins like an evening dress. Oh, and she was wearing a little black bowtie.

“We expect you to do exactly as we say,” one blonde man was saying.

The woman laughed, a strange and high-pitched cackle. She flipped a hand up and rolled her eyes to the sky. “Of cou-urse!” she laughed. “I just can’t tell you all how excited I am to be here! It’s an opportunity I’ve been waiting for-“

The men interrupted her. Typical. “We have arranged everything. You will be set to work straightaways. And,” this man, whom I could not see, added emphasis to his words. “We expect results.”

Again, that twittering laugh. She planted a hand on her hip and swung a hip out, looking down to her left at where the man must have been seated. “Don’t worry about that! I am the ah, result-maker?” She laughed at her own bad pun.

The men were not amused. Sure, they were smiling, but it was as if they weren’t seeing her. They were seeing beyond, imagining the results they so spoke of.

“So!” the lady clapped her hands together twice and up high with a flourish. “Let’s do this!”

There was scuffles of chairs being scraped back. The woman began, in quiet tones that were still so nasally high-pitched, speaking to one member. I saw her place her hand on his shoulder as they walked away.

A door creaked open, and footsteps led away. I held my breath and counted to four. The business meeting was over – and now I just had to go through the window and follow them. Well! With a flap and a hop I propelled myself up to the window.

I smashed unceremoniously into the glass. Green shimmers marked it as being marked with a barrier. No souls could pass through.

With a flop I landed on the grid-like landing. My mind careened, not just in pain. This room was magically locked? How was anyone supposed to get out in case of an emergency? I thought all buildings, per protocol, had to be magically transparent to allow safe evacuations. Maybe that’s why no one came up to this tower. It wasn’t safe!

Curious and just wanting to get a look at what was surely a forbidden area, I hopped up onto the ledge. Inside, there was a dusty room, a dusty coffee table, and a few leather chairs from a few decades ago. I blinked, not even seeing a file folder or trace of the meeting.

Then, fleetingly, it struck me that this was a strange place to hold a parent-teacher meeting, or whatever kind of meeting it was. In an unsafe room, at the top of an unused tower, and in uncomfortable chairs.

Weird, but I had a bigger predicament facing me.

Turning around on the ledge, I looked into the void.

Behold, a poet would have said, the void looked back.

Well if the void looking back was a thing, it went ‘Boo!’ at me. Because right then, as I was turning around, the wind buffeted me and I saw, far far beneath me, my Aaliyah whacking away at three sprites that were surrounding her. Worse! There was a ring of spirit creatures, our classmates, around her and watching.

My blood boiled. How dare they make fun of Aaliyah! How dare they leave her helpless against three sprites!

I lunged from my perch, my thoughts full of rage and no such thing as common sense. Careening, I sped on recklessly as fast as I could.

It was about halfway there that I realized they were cheering her on. Aaliyah whacked out one sprite, then another, and the third cowered in fear. More cheers. Aaliyah was flush with victory, and our classmates were pounding the earth in support of her.

It was her glorious moment and I, shooting through the sky like a fluffball of idiocy, realized I was about to make a joke out of it by ‘rushing to her rescue’.

Cursing loudly in my head I tried to slow down. It was the worst pilates class ever. Clench those buttcheeks! Flap the wings – oh not that way!

I found myself cartwheeling, flapping, and, I’ll admit it, shrieking my lungs out as the world spun and the earth came closer.

For a horrid blink all I saw was Aaliyah zooming up to me, spinning with the earth – and then something green flashed over me.

Snap! Giant teeth caught me and I was squished by a soft tongue – then unceremoniously spat on the ground. A giant set of claws pinned me to the earth and a snarling jade snout shoved into my face, complete with golden mane and horns.

I froze. My heart pounded in my chest. Jade. Jade dragon, my classmate. Oh, how embarrassing.

Looking left, I saw a horde of creatures staring me down in dismay. Looking right I saw more classmates – and Aaliyah’s shoes.

Blue Crow Rising; Chapter 1 part 3

In a catastrophic rush we ran through the building. She didn’t need to pull me anymore but she had a firm grip on me. But I wasn’t going to run away. I was by her side and was going to protect her from the sprites! Somehow, in the chaotic rush of the moment, I thought that I was going to prove that I could take care of her by… whacking sprites over the head? Yeah. Brilliant.

We crashed out the double front doors into the yard. It was full chaos. There was students in all shapes, everywhere, grabbing at sprites and battling them in the most (to my unmagical lens) epic of ways. Sparks were flying! Magic simmered through the air like ribbons!

Aaliyah let go of me, running towards the debris around the trees. “Grab a stick!” she called to me, doing so herself. Then, seeing as I wasn’t getting there fast enough she threw a stick at me, snapped one off a branch for herself, and whirled around to face…everything.

Because the grounds were huge. The grounds sprawled in all directions with preened green slopes, a little stream gurgling down among them, and trimmed trees here and there dotting the landscape. But the battle was all concentrated here, where the sprites were trying to destroy our sacred trees. We were smack in the thick of it.

“Get as many as you can!” ordered Aaliyah before sprinting into the chaos. I wanted to yell at her to wait for me- but that would have sounded wimpy. I was brave! Rawwwr!

So I stood there and tried not to quiver with my stupid stick in hand. Damnit! Why?!

As they say, spirits and the bloomed ones that are so inclined can smell fear. Within seconds a sprite was flashing towards me, elements in hand and teeth gnashing.

If you’ve never seen a sprite up close, their sparkling cloud doesn’t hide their shape very well. Beneath it, they sort of look like floating ghosts with evil hands and onion-shaped heads. This one had green lights sparkling around its hands and the nastiest pointy teeth I’d ever seen.

“Snack- snack,” it seemed to say, clacking its teeth together as it floated before me.

I gripped my stick with both hands. Think of Aaliyah, I told myself. Think of school. You’re never going anywhere unless you bash this thing’s brains in-

Aaaand, just as I was thinking that, it zoomed in on me. I swung the stick with a yell, a sound that was mercifully drowned away by all the sounds of a battlefield around us. My stick whizzed above the sprite’s head and I lost my balance. The sprite leaped forward. Its fangs buried into my right forearm, its elemental spell sending electric shocks into me.

Okay, now I yelled.

And then something happened.

I felt a change come over me. Something rushed through my system like hot soda bubbling in my veins. I thrashed, the electric sparks suddenly seeming faint.

I’m fucking dying, I remember thinking. Good lords, this was stupid!

As the rush continued I found myself moving – and suddenly came to with my hand closed over the sprite. Both hands.

Beneath my skin I felt the sprite pulsing. I felt the three parts of its soul throbbing with life. I heard it hissing and scrawling in a language I suddenly understood.

“Let me go!” it shrieked in that tiny, hissing, voice. “You’re not one of them! Let me go! What are you? Let me go!”

Shocked, I moved my hands. Tentatively, I pulled on what I felt and the three soul parts began coming apart. The sprite shrieked – and burst one of its own parts. It killed itself.

I gaped as the body went limp in my hands. The two other parts throbbed with life still – and it smelt. It smelt delicious, a strange aroma of death and untimely consumption and decay that called to me like a corrupt song. Suddenly I knew what an addiction must feel like. What it must be like to crave the casinos, the drugs, the things you knew you shouldn’t do.

Because I knew I shouldn’t eat the sprite.

I mean, yes, everyone eats sprites. But I wanted the soul.

Hesitant, I looked around. Maybe I was searching for a reality check. But the world felt woozy. It didn’t seem real. And somehow I just knew that no one was paying me a shred of attention, too busy searching out their own glory strikes.

So I gave in. I was lifting the sprite’s remaining two souls to my lips. Somewhere within me my rational self was wondering what was happening. I mean, can stomachs even digest souls?

But it never reached my lips. Instead, the two sprite souls sort of infused up my arms, dissolving into me, merging up through my skin.

I gasped, dropping the now thoroughly dead body. I wanted to scream as I realized that the souls were now in me. Did I digest them through my hands? Was the sprite now part of me? Did I now have five soul-parts? What was going on?

Completely freaking I fell backwards onto my ass. With a scramble I tried to get away from the inanimate body. Impulsively I wanted to flee.

That must have been the trick because suddenly I was scrambling, launching myself up, up, and flapping into the sky. It was when I was about five to six feet up, pumping my wing/arms like mad that I realized – wait a minute.

I looked down at the chaotic battlefield. I looked downer and saw my legs- now two stubby black bird legs. With a hoarse shriek I realized that I wasn’t me any longer.

With a jolt I realized I’d bloomed. Somehow. With another jolt I realized I was about to fall straight down if I didn’t do something about it.

I cawed for help. I shrieked. I flapped and flapped and wiggled my butt in the hopes of getting those feathers to do their job. Ingloriously, it made me think of pilates. Clench the buttcheeks! Wave the arms! Automatically, my legs paddled the air as well, and I must have looked like an idiot trying to run through the air.

Careening through the air, climbing up with no hopes of getting down, I found myself looping towards a tower.

Now, I want to take a minute to say that this tower wasn’t painted in brilliant orange with ‘forbidden fucking tower’ scrawled over it. It just – no one went there is all.

It also just so happened to have a gridded balcony, sort of like a safety ramp, all around the top. I aimed for that, figuring I could sit up here until I got help.

With a zoom I careened towards the tower. A side draft of wind nearly bashed me into the tower, and I didn’t so much land as I flew to the floor and stuck my legs out and began to walk and folded my arms. Skittering to a stop, I slammed sideways against the tower’s wall.

Okay, I told myself. Okay. Fuck.

Mental health, Mental Illness, Spirituality

So, in this blog post (and the video that will go along with it, at the bottom of this post), I’d like to talk about the difference between mental health and mental illness, and why that matters in a spiritual context.

Mental health and mental illness often get confused together, called the same thing, and mish-mashed together by the general populace. But! They are not the same thing at all.

Mental health relates to your mental well-being. This is: “our emotions, our thoughts and feelings, our ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, our social connections, and our understanding of the world around us.” SOURCE

Meanwhile, “A mental illness is an illness the affects that way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others.” SOURCE

So, when someone is talking about their mental health, they’re talking about their moods, how they’re feeling, and how they can cope and interact with things. But when it comes to mental illness, one is talking about symptoms that are debilitating, crippling, and are diagnosed as things like depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. SOURCE

Now, mental health and mental illness are NOT the same thing, but they are related. There’s this really useful image right here, that explains a whole lot, at least to me. SOURCE

The Mental Health/Illness Continuum

Basically, mental health and mental illness are linked upon an axis. Mental health is the ‘up and down’, while mental illness is the sideways ‘left and right’. Or the y and x axis, if you feel like calling them that.

This means that one can have poor mental health without it being a mental illness, and vice versa.

Personally, I think I have pretty good mental health, at least in some aspects. I’m grateful, I like to see the positive aspects of things, and I try and be mindful (try being the key word, haha). But this good mental health does not imply no mental illness, as the diagram shows, as one can have good mental health while having a serious mental illness.

Now, what does this have to do with spirituality?

Well, because of the confusion of mental health and mental illness, people tend to assume that spirituality can heal it all. But, at least in my perspective and from what I’ve understood of the mental health and mental illness divide, spirituality can only affect mental health (outside of it being a miracle).

Now, there are plenty of great articles out there about how spirituality affects mental health. If this interests you, I encourage you to read up on them!

In my opinion, spiritual practices can help foster things like gratitude, positive thoughts, and a sense of connection with the world and promote happier and more fulfilling social connections. But these are things that fall under the mental health category, not mental illness.

I think you’d be hard pressed to find a reputable scholarly article about spirituality healing a mental illness. This is because mental illness is not dependent upon mental health or happiness or gratitude. Your outlook, gratitude, prayer, and positivity can all be on point and great, but you can still have a mental illness. This is because mental illness is, well, an illness, and not dependent upon our mental health.

Now, why is this distinction important?

Here’s the thing: because people confuse mental health and mental illness, they think that mental illness can be prayed away, meditated away, etc, etc, etc,.

But mental illness is an illness based in neurology! Unless one believes that their spirituality will heal a broken leg, I don’t see why it would heal mental illness. In my opinion, it’s a similar experience, a similar required amount of ‘spiritual woo woo’ and energy healing.

Another important point in this distinction of mental health and mental illness is that people confuse which one they had, and then go on to believe and assert that prayer or other spiritual practices did, in fact, heal an illness. In fact, they believe that’s what happened to them!

However, a person suffering from a mental illness will often not be able to function and perform the mental health practices, nor will they see any positive results, as their problems are neurological in nature, not mental health related.

This mix-up between mental health and mental illness ends up placing a huge amount of pressure upon a person with mental illness. Because spiritual practices are so beneficial to those with mental health issues and because there is no distinction between mental health and mental illness, there becomes an expectation that spirituality will be able to heal a mental illness. Furthermore, as these practices ‘worked’ for those without mental illness, the blame for the lack of success becomes placed not upon the process (because it has been ‘proven’ to work), but upon the person with the mental illness.

In cases like this, the person with a mental illness who isn’t achieving results is often seen as not being ‘spiritual’ enough, or not trying ‘hard’ enough. This is very damaging.

Here’s a link to the video I made where I discuss this, for those who prefer videos to written material!

10 Juicy Details About ‘Blue Crow Rising’!

While filming (and editing!) my next YouTube video, I thought, hey, I could make this into a blog post for all those folks who don’t like watching YouTube! So here it is… 10 Juicy Details about my novel!

  1. It all started with a dream… of someone shouting a name as a woke up. And something about a school. And maybe someone transforming into a crow. And maybe a weird principal. That was it though! Not a whole lot to base a novel off of, but I was possessed! I wanted to know who the name belonged to, and why they were being called! And so I began writing…
  2. How did I name my Main Character? Well, they were the one whose name was being called, so this should have been simple but it wasn’t? I thought their name might have been ‘Kuryo’, but as that was the place name for Korea (probably not a bright idea to leave it at that) I changed it to Kyrie, from the Christian prayer ‘Kyrie Eleison’.
  3. Was Kyrie based off anyone in particular. Yes! Me! I based Kyrie off of my own goofiness, but that was about it. I wanted to have a nice, sweet, and kind main character for once. I wanted a happy ending for a nice person.
  4. Worldbuilding? I didn’t do any ahead of time! I just slammed myself into the keyboard and let it develop from there! It was quite an interesting process, seeing how the world developed around the events.
  5. I had no idea what was the solution to the mystery for most of the novel. I knew I was building up to something, but what? I was quite confused most of the story about how it was going to end!
  6. The first book (Blue Crow Rising) was written after the second book, which (3/4 of it anyways) was written a year before. Then poof! The two magically worked out together! I was quite impressed.
  7. Kyrie was not always my favorite character while writing this series. There’s another character whom I shall refer to as ‘an older/different version of Kyrie’ who was way more compelling when they stepped into the story. I thought they were way niftier then, but now I’m back to liking Kyrie more.
  8. Almost all plot twists or events in the book came to me from dreams. I’d write until I had no idea what was happening next, then go to sleep wondering what I’d do. The next morning, I’d have had a dream about what to do. Really useful!
  9. People’s reaction to this story have been precious. One person was just like ‘What were you ON?!’ as in, the concept of the book was so… weird for them that they thought I was on drugs. I wasn’t, but hey! I guess that means it’s an interesting concept?
  10. My reaction to the story… I kept wondering where the fuck this story was going while writing it! I was like ‘this is going nowhere!’ or ‘it’s never going to end!’. To be honest, it was quite frustrating, not knowing at all where the story’s going, but I managed. It was fun, despite it all.

I hope this was entertaining, and that it makes you a tad bit curious about Kyrie’s story! Read along on my blog HERE, or buy it HERE.

Wishing you all a great day ❤

Why write about Spirituality and Mental Illness?

Well, before I get back into my groove of writing about mental illness, it occurred to me that I should maybe explain the ‘why’ behind the decision to talk about mental illness and spirituality.

There’s a saying that goes (and I really don’t remember where it’s from) something along the lines of how the most earnest prayers come from people in hospitals. I think this is particularly true about people in psych wards, or who are dealing with mental illness.

People turn to spirituality when they are hurt, confused, or generally lost. And mental illness makes you feel that, in an strange way sometimes. Because mental illness isn’t seen as a physical problem, its invisible and most don’t realize it’s got physical roots, people don’t turn immediately to doctors. Sadly, people actually refuse to see doctors for mental illness because of perceptions and biases that have their roots in spiritual beliefs.

Some of these are ones like: mental illness is the result of a curse, or God’s punishment for a lack of faith, or the result of being estranged from God. It can also be believed to be an imbalance of chakras that only requires meditation to be cured, spirit possession, or (my personal pet peeve, and one that truly held me back) the belief that mental illness is some sort of psychic ‘breakthrough’.

A bunch of these are due to the conflation/mix of mental health and mental illness. Due to the lack of understanding on the difference of these two, people will often try and use spirituality and spiritual practices (which can be beneficial to mental health) to treat mental illness.

Personally, when I went out with my service dog for mental illness, people would often ask me what the dog was for. Once they found out it was for mental illness, these strangers would often end up giving me some sort of advice or opinion on mental illness. Most of these were spiritual perspectives that were against medication and ‘western medicine’, as well as conventional therapy.

Similarly, when I really struggled with my mental illness and was unmedicated, people often threw spiritual advice at me. It was all anti medication and anti conventional doctors. Now that I am medicated and happily so, I find it really disturbing that there is so much anti-medication sentiment out there! I sometimes wonder what my path to healing would have been like if I had been surrounded by more realistic approaches.

Anyways, now that I am in a better space mentally, I think it’ll be nice to get back into talking about mental illness and spirituality. I think it’ll do me good, as it’s something that I really care about, and love discussing with others. I find it nourishing and cleansing.

I also want to really show others that getting conventional help is not anti spirituality. I once met a doctor in training at a mental health clinic, and he was really surprised to hear that not all spirituality is against medication, and that I had arguments against those points. It made for a very interesting discussion, but also showed me that there wasn’t much perspectives out there that are spiritual and embracing of actual treatment for mental illness.

Anyways, that’s all I have to say for today! I will be posting a video to MY CHANNEL soon about these points, and it will basically be a copy of this post. I’m doing this because some formats are easier for some people and not everyone likes reading, and I’m hoping to make this as available as possible.

I wish you all a lovely day ❤

Unhinged… The Vlog?

Hi everyone! I’m happy to announce that I’m hopefully going to be doing mental health videos.

It’s been a little bit that I’m wondering if I’ll get back into my mental health blogging, and I think I will. But I really want it to be a positive thing in my life, and to come from a positive space, not to be a grumpy rant. So, as YouTube videos have been a fun thing for me, I’m thinking of doing those, as well as some written blog posts.

I’m thinking of discussing technical aspects around mental illness and spirituality. I’m really hoping that these videos and posts can be educational and resourceful for people, especially those suffering from mental illness.

Hopefully I’ll have some guests who can come onto my blog and discuss some stuff with me, so if you have a mental illness/mental health issue and you want to talk about it within a spiritual context, let me know!

If you have topics you’d like to suggest, or things you’d like to see me talking about (not researching, I don’t feel like researching, just talking from a personal perspective), let me know!

Wishing you all a very lovely day, and hoping you’ll like these videos! ❤

Chapter 1 Part 2

I had this theory, I read about it online and in a magazine once, that not being able to bloom was due to a nutritional deficiency. I’d believe it, because all five of us were dirt poor except Magdalene. And Magdalene was, well, really special. She had a hard time talking. Her eyes were lined with black, her clothes were black, and spikes jutted from her at every possible corner. But she just couldn’t really talk. Or do math. Or really, sit still for that long. She liked shouting too.

But she was an unbloomed, so she was my friend. We, the useless ones, we stuck together.

Also, we waited our turn. As the teacher, Mister Macmillan, passed by to unlock the door the five of us drew back to get out of everyone else’s way. We knew our place in society. I gritted my teeth at it, but that was what it was. It just wasn’t safe to get in anyone else’s way. People who had bloomed just had so much power!

“Studying still? It’s a bit late for that?” Professor joked as he held the door open. I realized he was talking to me. Sheepishly, I grinned and shrugged. Someone walked past me and slammed their backpack into my shoulder.

“Sorry!” they said, obviously not at all. I returned to the page. The ink had bled a little from the rain. I tried to focus, to memorize all the formulas-

“Come on,” Aaliyah patted me on the shoulder, steering me into the classroom. I protested but let her, enjoying the attention. In a last minute ditch attempt I flipped the page – and saw more formulas! CRAP!

Sniggers rose from the back of the class as Aaliyah steered me to my seat. We sat, all five of us, smack in the front. It was the safest spot to be and even the teachers encouraged it. They didn’t want us to get picked on.

“Notebooks away,” Macmillan said, mainly to me. I pressed my lips together and handed Aaliyah back her notebook. More sniggers, about what I couldn’t guess but I wanted to punch someone for it. Rich kids.

Then, the test began. Mister Macmillan handed out the leaflets to each row and they were passed down. The instant I got mine I flipped it open and began skimming the questions. Yes, yes, yes, I knew most of these! Okay!

Thanking Aaliyah with all my might, I flipped to the back section – the ‘superior’ section. It was really only for the ‘superior’ students who showed promise and who had exceptional marks – a category Aaliyah and me had exceptionally managed to nose our way into. It was quite remarkable for us unbloomed ones to have managed to enter the category, a feat that amazed our principal and even earned us both an embarrassing article in the school’s newspaper once.

And YES! I knew how to do those too!

Furiously, I began scribbling away. Time seemed to slow as I focused upon one question then another, scribbling and calculating and jotting numbers here and there.

Halfway through, I lifted my head up. Professor Macmillan was pacing the rows, scolding students and reminding everyone to keep their eyes on their papers.

I, however, was suddenly unsure of what I was doing. Something was wrong. Something tingled at the back of my neck. Something that had happened when – I looked out the window and caught my breath. Beyond the preened soccer fields, the sacred trees were on fire. Strange figures ran about, shadowy and furtive.

I lifted my hand. “Professor.”

“Don’t speak out of turn,” Macmillan said as he walked over.

“But,” I protested.

“What?” he asked as he walked to my side. I pointed to the window.

“We’re being attacked,” I said, stating the obvious.

“Oh,” he said.

There was the universal rustle of everyone looking. Of necks craning as everyone tried to see what I was pointing at. Which, for your information, was a sprite attack. It had happened once in my mother’s time at this school. It had already happened once in my time, and now I was unlucky enough to witness it again.

The alarm, a little late in my opinion, wailed out over the microphone. “Attention, students and staff,” our principal said primly. “We are enduring a sprite attack! Senior students are encouraged to use this as an opportunity to hone their fighting skills and gain hunting points – which I remind you are required for graduation!”

There was a cheer. Because, yeah, sprite attacks weren’t a catastrophe. In suburbs, where people were caught unawares watching their TV’s and where the populace wasn’t crawling with students yearning to ‘get out and FIIIIGHT!’, as some teachers were now shouting in the hallways, it could be dangerous. It was just especially dangerous if you were magically crippled, like, you know, us unbloomed were.

I was hunkering down in my chair, heart already hammering in my throat. Professor Macmillan was already at the front of the class, huge grin plastered on his face. “Alright students!” he called out like this was the best ball game of the world. “Get out there! Get some points!”

I slunk farther down in my chair, exchanging a horrified look with Aaliyah – who somehow didn’t look as terrified as I felt.

There was a roaring cheer of students jumping up, throwing pencils down and rushing for the windows. “Go, go, go!” Macmillan cheered, clapping his hands.

Students, the fastest first, began blooming right as they threw themselves at the windows. It was normally a sight I both loved to watch and hated. I was jealous, I hated them for being able to do something so magnificent. To shed their human skin and bloom into fully spiritual form.

There was Zalf, the gryffon who passed through the glass just in the nick of time. Gertrude, the graceful swan. But I was waiting with bated breath for the one. The one.

She was filthy rich. She was long-legged, blonde, pale of skin and always impeccably dressed. Her hair was short and choppily pulled back, with two long tendrils hanging down beside her face. Confident as could be, she and her small cluster of elite friends waited until everyone else was on their way to being moving. Because they never needed to rush. They were dragons.

Ever seen a dragon? Me neither until last year when our classes merged. Since then, I waited with bated breath for the crystal ice white dragon to materialize – but most of all for the jade green one. Her.

She, leaping for the window, was graceful and lithe. Stunning and magnificent as her green scales shimmered to reality around her and her shocking blonde mane rippled out.

Then, justlike that, she was gone. With an exhale I relaxed and looked back to the front of the class where Macmillan was. He was looking at me expectantly.

I pointed to the test. “Can I finish?”

Proffessor cringed. “You do know that you need hunting points to get into any high-ranked school, right?”

My jaw fell. But we were un-bloomed! We couldn’t hunt! It was too dangerous for us to even join organized hunting parties! Nevermind throwing ourselves into a melee!

“I mean,” Macmillan continued. “For the other schools, you can get in without it. But I know you two were hoping to get into McVaster so-“

Aaliyah scraped back her chair and jumped to her feet. Determination was scrawled all over her face. Holy shit- she really was going to do this!

I clutched at my chair. “Aaliyah! There’s sprites! We’re unbloomed-“

“Get up!” she ordered. “We’re going!”

“You can hit them over the head with sticks!” professor was cheering. Aaliyah grabbed me by the arm and yanked me to my feet.

I protested, but my wife-to-be was having none of it. With a yank and more determination than she needed, she rushed us out the door.

And that, really, was how it all began.