The smell of rain on dry earth always made her think of Marlowe. When the first drops began to fall, scattering the dry dirt in little soft puffs she always smiled. Marlowe was an earth mage and her magic had always smelled like those little puffs that came at the beginning of rainfall.

Sadly she hadn’t seen Marlowe in years – not since she had left home to study magic with the hermit mage, Kaial. Marlowe had been fourteen then, just developing into her power, but obviously becoming stronger as each day passed. The training was necessary and Kaial was the best earth mage in all the land – and there would be no teacher but the best for Marlowe if she had anything to say about it.

Despite Marlowe being her identical twin the physical was the only way they were the same. While Marlowe was demanding and brazen Moira was quiet and unobtrusive. While Marlowe was all powerful and grandiose with her magic Moira was absolutely bereft of any and all magic.  No latent talent, no learned skills, nothing. She was the only person in her entire family for generations to have no magical powers.

Her parents thought that when Marlowe went off to study Moira’s powers would appear in her absence. Now, five years later, still nothing. Daily she was greeted by their disappointment as they tested her each morning. Today was her nineteenth birthday and today was no different from all the rest of the past five years. She awoke before the sun, was tested by both her parents for any sign of magical powers be they earth, air, water or fire. A combination of any of them would even have worked to make them smile and say they loved her. Instead she received the same small frown as usual and was sent to the market to buy bread for the morning meal.

As Moira leisurely walked the familiar dirt path from her parents cottage towards town she smelled that smell. That soft but heavy scent of rain mixing with dirt. She looked up into the sky shocked to find it bright and clear, not a single cloud as the sun was slowly making its way above the horizon. She shook her head in confusion as she looked down at her feet, looking everywhere to find that elusive smell. Suddenly she felt a current crash through her body – her blood felt like it was boiling and would break through her skin at any moment. She fell backwards, not noticing the pain of hitting of the ground, as her entire body was wracked with a fire she couldn’t see. It felt like her skin was peeling off one agonizing inch by the next. Then she heard her sister’s voice in her head  Moira! Oh God! He’s going to kill me!

With that desperate cry still ringing in her ears the pain she was experiencing instantly stopped. It faded as if nothing had happened. But her memory wouldn’t let her forget. And with that cry she knew what it had been. Someone was trying to kill her sister, with fire, and she had to help her.

Help her? She didn’t even know where Marlowe was – how was she going to help her?


art by: Jennifer Lester