The Dark Part of the Forest #12

The Dark Part of the Forest #12

Amelia DesMarais, Author, 8th grade

Chapter 12: Rumors and Research

The next morning, the students were woken up as usual by the bell at 6:45. Except for Tily, who was woken up by Erin splashing water on her face.

“Wake up, lazybones, or you’ll be late to first period.”

Tily sat up, wiping water out of her eyes. “Why did you have to do that? You could have just shaken me or something.”

“I did. You’re a very heavy sleeper.” Walking down to breakfast, they noticed more hall monitors patrolling the school than usual. Soon they were down in the dining hall, eating a breakfast of blueberry waffles. The room was oddly subdued.

“This place is giving me weird vibes,” muttered Kathryn as she passed Erin. A moment later, Peter sat down next to them.

“I get being tired in the morning, but this is not normal.” Students chatted with each other, but it was not even close to the waves of sound that usually rolled over the hall.

“If you think that’s the weirdest part, look at the teachers,” replied Erin. Peter and Tily looked up. Very few teachers sat in the hall that morning, but those who did looked absolutely exhausted. They looked like they’d seen something they would rather like to erase from their memories forever. But they were trying to look confident, to look like everything was going to be alright.

“There is definitely something weird going on here,” muttered Peter.

“That’s obvious,” Tily replied. “What isn’t obvious is what’s going on. I mean, yeah it’s kind of a really weird situation, but what the heck is going on in here?”

Erin shrugged. “I’d like to just get out of here and go about my business.” Tily shoved her waffle in her mouth, washing it down with orange juice.

“Done. Let’s go.”

“Give us a second to finish,” said Peter. Tily sighed and rolled her eyes.

“You people are such slowpokes.” A minute later they dropped off their plates and hurried upstairs. They got to first period ten minutes before the bell, and stood outside, waiting for Mrs. Eastland. A hall monitor eyed them suspiciously.

“The situation must be pretty bad to have gotten the teachers all nervous,” muttered Peter.

“Stop worrying about it for now. We’ll have time to figure it out after school.”

More students arrived, and the usual before-class chatter began. Mrs. Eastland arrived with the bell and let them all in. Once they had taken their seats she started talking to them.

“Now, I know many of you are worried about some rumors making their way around the school. I assure you there is nothing to worry about, and we have everything under control.” Some whispers began. In the back, Caroline Ward raised her hand.

“Yes, Caroline?”

“Is it true that the Loch Ness monster is wreaking havoc over the countryside? Or is a band of manticores living in the forest plotting our demise?”

“Or is an ancient guild of evil magicians planning to convert us to the dark side?” called out Paul Lee from the other side of the room.

Mrs. Eastland shook her head. “Fortunately it is none of those things. I will not tell you what it is, but I can tell you that the rumors circulating the school are unlikely to be true. Now let us move on to the lesson.”

And so the day went on. No teachers told them anything new, and by the time the school day was over, most rumors that had been passed along were absolutely ridiculous.

“Hear any good rumors?” asked Tily as the trio walked towards the library.

“I heard that a coven of witches raised a demon to eat all the trees in the forest,” said Peter.


“No, I made it up. But it sounds about as believable as anything else.”

They now stood in front of the library. Pushing open the tall wooden doors, they walked in. Marcus was already waiting for them at one of the many round tables scattered through the room.

“Anyone see Kathryn?” he asked.

“No, but she’s bound to be here soon,” replied Erin. They sat down. The library was a large room with high, vaulted ceilings. Shelves rose up the walls and were built into the room. Rolling ladders slid along the shelves for easy access to the higher shelves. In a moment, Kathryn walked in.

“I have arrived,” she announced, sitting down.

“That’s everyone, then,” said Marcus.

“So, what should we research?” asked Erin.

“I think we should look for people with more than one power,” said Peter.

“And raising dead animals,” added Tily.

“And generally dark magic,” finished Marcus. They split up to look for various things and came back to the table loaded down with books. They pored over books, looking for anything that would give them a clue as to what Ximen was planning.

“This guy was able to read minds and run really fast,” piped up Tily.  “No wait, that was just a talent.”

“Supposedly if you raise some animals from the dead they’re really hard to control without someone who has the power of suggestion, which would explain why Samantha needed Leanna’s help,” said Kathryn.

“But how does that help us?” asked Peter.

“Good question.”

“What about this? ‘Dark magic can be concentrated in one place so strongly that it will dispel all or nearly all light from it, leaving a halo of sourceless light around it’. That sounds exactly like what Leanna was describing,” said Marcus.

“Does it say anything else about it?” asked Kathryn.

“Let me look… it says, ‘This phenomenon is very difficult for even the most experienced magic-users to achieve, and requires dark magic to be used over and over again in the same place until the area is completely filled.’ Then it goes on to talk about some people who did it, some failures and successes, and then it moves on.”

“Not extremely helpful, but certainly interesting,” said Erin. “I wonder if Samantha read that book when she was in sixth grade.”

“This person raised some animals from the dead and could control them with, I quote, ‘strange, howling, whistling, and screeching cries’,” said Peter. “Sounds a little like what Samantha did to summon those animals according to Leanna’s story.”

“What happened to the person?” asked Tily.

Peter looked back at the book. “Eventually the animals turned on him, which didn’t end well.”

“That’s too bad.”

Reading her book, Erin’s eyes widened. “Guys, I think I figured out how Ximen has more than one power.” Everyone turned to her. “It says here, ‘the only example of a person having multiple powers over the course of history is the few people granted the ability to take the powers of others. To do so, the power-thief must touch their victim and make eye contact, thus extracting their power from within’.” She looked up at them. “Ximen must have stolen all of those powers. We don’t know Samantha’s last name, do we?”

“No,” replied Peter, “but I can go ask Leanna right now.”

“Don’t do that. We’ll ask her once we’ve got more to tell her, and maybe once security has eased up.”

“That’ll never happen!” said Tily. “At least, not until they fix the thing that’s happening.”

“Why do you want to know?” asked Peter.

“Just a hunch,” replied Erin.

Marcus checked his watch. “I think it’s about time we call it a day. Dinner started fifteen minutes ago.”

“Come to think of it, I have some math homework I should do,” said Tily.

“Should we meet here again tomorrow?” asked Kathryn.

“Sure,” said Peter. They checked out a couple of books for reference, and headed down to dinner, minds full of the mostly useless information and the knowledge of what Ximen could do at any time.