Title: Aspect of Winter
She nodded once, and I looked down at the page. The words I was supposed to chant looked like gibberish, but I had practiced sounding them out the night before, so I knew how they were supposed to sound. I opened my mouth, ready to begin.
When I tried to speak, however, the words just tumbled around inside my mouth. I honestly had no idea how to speak them aloud anymore, not with the circle in front of me. My tongue wouldn’t cooperate, and the words seemed to swim across the page. I’d spent about a minute just staring down at the journal when Sam lost patience with me.
“Well, are you going to cast this or not? The night only lasts so long, Fay.”
“I… I can’t! None of it makes sense to me anymore. I don’t think I can cast this.” I was honestly perplexed. Why would the spell not work for me, if I was the inherently magical one in the first place?
Sam took the book and flashlight from me impatiently, beckoning me out of the circle so she could take my place. It was getting difficult to see at this point, so I almost tripped just stepping out.
“Just be careful, all right?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be safe, and if not, you’ve got my back, right?”
I nodded. While Sam had been preparing the circle, I’d been pretty busy myself. I had brought out some water of my own and had frozen it to nearby tree trunks and the boulder. If whatever was summoned ended up being of the murderous variety, I would have plenty to draw upon to deal with it.
Sam looked down at the page and began to speak. I could immediately tell that whatever had gone wrong with my attempt at the casting had clearly gone right with hers. There were a few false starts, and she cleared her throat. I smiled at her and gave a thumbs-up. She smirked and tried again.
This time, it was immediately clear that it worked. In her voice was the whispering of wind through the trees and the harsh cry of a heron taking flight.
The circle she stood in began to pulse softly, letting out a pale green light. Sam continued, and the swish of feathered wings beat the air. The circle began to pulse more brightly, and then—I could feel it— something happened. The air felt charged with power, and Sam’s eyes began to glow, her normally brown irises now a soft purple. I heard the cry of a heron again, superimposed over what sounded like the fluttering of thousands of tiny wings. Staring in awe, I watched as thousands of fireflies, each glowing with the same pale green-yellow light as the circle, poured out of the lines burned into the ground. They swirled in the air for a few moments as their numbers continued to increase, and then, at some unseen signal, they began to coalesce.
A few seconds later, the fireflies had moved until they were pressed into each other, forming the glimmering outline of a bird. Slowly, feathers began to cover the fireflies, feathers of yellow and black that shone softly with a light of their own. A long beak emerged from the soft glow, and two clever black eyes stared unblinkingly at the two of us. Five tails of long, swirling feathers traced patterns lazily in the air, leaving glowing trails of light.
The ercinee had appeared.
Tom Early is currently a student at Tufts University who probably spends more time than is wise reading and writing instead of studying. More often than not, he can be found wrapped in a blanket on the couch forgetting most of the things he was supposed to do that day.
When not writing, Tom can be found either reading, gaming, drawing, scratching his dog, or bothering his friends. He also frequently forgets that it’s healthy to get more than six hours of sleep a night, and firmly believes that treating coffee as the most important food group makes up for this. If you show him a picture of your dog, he will probably make embarrassingly happy noises and then brag about his own dog. He’s always happy to talk about any of his previous or current writing projects, because people asking him about them reminds him that he should really be writing right now.