The Dark Part of the Forest #13

The Dark Part of the Forest #13

Amelia DesMarais, Author, 8th grade

⇓Chapter 13: Nothing New⇓

The next few weeks were uneventful. September was soon over, and the forest was transforming into a shimmering expanse of reds, yellows, and oranges. Most afternoons found Peter, Erin, Tily, Kathryn, and Marcus in the library or on the lawns, doing research. They found very little useful information and decided that the library didn’t have anything else to offer them.

“We should try asking around to see if anyone knows something we don’t,” said Tily as they spread out on the lawn one sunny afternoon in mid-October. “I volunteer to interrogate some sixth graders.”

“I’ll go with you,” piped up Kathyrn.

“Go right ahead. Try not to be too obvious about it,” said Erin. The two girls got up and hurried off to a circle of sixth-grade girls sitting not too far off.

“So are we just going to sit here and watch them?” asked Peter.

“If you want to ask people for information, go ahead. I am not going to,” replied Erin.

“I’d rather not as well,” said Marcus.

“Well, we could try to do something,” said Peter.

“Like what?” asked Erin.

“We could go to Leanna, give her an update, see if she has any news.”

“We should probably do that after Tily and Kathryn report back.”

“That’s true.”

They watched as the two girls walked away from the clique and entered the school.

“Let’s at least take these back,” said Erin, gesturing at the books they had brought from the library. Each took a few, and they trudged upstairs to the library. Soon they were free of their burdens, and still undecided on how to gather more information.

“We could go to some of our sixth-grade teachers under the pretense of just saying hi and discreetly get some information,” suggested Peter.

Erin shrugged. “Why not?”

“Who first?” asked Marcus. In a moment they were off to visit their former Discovering and Understanding Magical Abilities (the class that preceded the Perfecting Magical Abilities class throughout the rest of school) teacher, Mrs. Richards, who was an upbeat teacher with nerves of steel, as was necessary for such a class. They figured if anyone could confirm their suspicions about Ximen’s power, it was her.

“Well, would you look who it is!” she said upon their arrival. “And how is everything with you three?”

“As good as it is for anyone, what with the strange rumors and happenings of late,” said Marcus.

“Oh, don’t worry about those. I’m sure you’ve heard it already, but we have everything under control.”

“We have reason to believe one Ximen Valor may have something to do with it all,” said Peter, sitting on a desk.

“Get off the desk, Peter. You’re not the first people to think so. And as far as the potato incident, everything’s been dealt with.”

Peter hopped off the desk. “What is his power, anyway? That was some really weird stuff going on.”

Mrs. Richards laughed. “That’s what you came here for, isn’t it? Well, you’re not going to get much out of me. I’m not sure what he does, and while I have been able to pinpoint most students’ abilities, he’s not the only one I haven’t figured out yet. I have my suspicions, of course, but I can’t be sure.”

“Can you tell us any of your suspicions?” asked Erin timidly.

“I’ve said too much already. And, as I said, I can’t be sure. I wouldn’t want to misinform anyone.”

They chatted for another minute or so before saying their goodbyes and promising to visit again. Once outside, they walked aimlessly down the hallway.

“Well, that wasn’t any help at all,” said Peter.

“Well, it’s not like we have absolutely no idea what his power is. We only asked her for a final confirmation,” said Erin.

“Should we talk to anyone else?” asked Marcus.

“We could try to talk to Mrs. Greenlake, though I doubt it would do us much good. The teachers are all set on not telling us a thing,” said Erin, a little annoyed about their chat with Mrs. Richards. Just then Tily and Kathryn came running up to them.

“There you are! We’ve been looking for you for, like, ten minutes!” huffed Kathryn before doubling over to catch her breath.

“What’s the news?” asked Peter.

“Well, people seem able to agree on two or three stories, though none of them seem very likely based on what we’ve found out,” replied Tily. “Everyone is weirded out by the potato incident a couple weeks ago, although things have mostly calmed down on that front. No one knows what Ximen’s power is, though we heard some guesses. He doesn’t seem to hang out with anyone besides Xanithan, and people say that they never see him outside of class. Oh, and did you know they were cousins? Personally I think it explains the weird names. Must run in the family.”

“I have a question,” said Erin. The others turned to her. “Why does Ximen keep Xanithan around if he could just take his power and be done with it?”

“Maybe he likes companionship?” Kathryn had successfully caught her breath.

“Or maybe he feels bad taking it,” added Peter.

“Who knows?” said Tily. “What matters is, well, we don’t know a lot of the stuff we could really use.”

“Anyone want to go visit Leanna?” asked Peter.

“We shouldn’t all go,” said Erin. “Too risky.”

“Who should go?” asked Marcus. “I’m willing to stay.”

“How about just Tily and Peter?” suggested Erin.

“Sounds good to me. Let’s go,” said Tily.

“Are you sure?” asked Peter.

“Just go! We only have an hour and a half before dinner,” said Erin.

The two hurried off towards the secret passage.

“Well, I’m off to my dorm,” said Kathryn, and departed.

“I guess there’s nothing to do but wait, then,” shrugged Erin. “I have to practice my telekinesis yet, and I’d like to photograph some of this foliage for an online photography class I’m taking.” She waved as she walked towards her dorm. “See you later!” Marcus turned the other way, walking off towards his dorm.

Over half an hour later, Tily and Peter returned to the middle school. With them, they brought only the news that Leanna knew as little as they did.