Disclaimer: I do not own Fablehaven. It is the creation of Brandon Mull.
A/N: This story is the ninth entry in a ten-story series, and is a follow-up to "Exile of the Royal Disciple". Please make sure to read the previous eight stories before starting this one! Thank you and enjoy!
Chapter 1: A Learning Experience
The morning sun was shining down upon the estate of the Fablehaven preserve. The picturesque blue sky was almost perfectly clear, save for a few scant clouds of white fluff that were scattered across it.
As she opened up the window of the second floor bathroom, Kendra felt a cool, yet mild draft of air flow in from outside. She stood still as the refreshing breeze flowed against her face and arms, and took a moment to stare out the window.
Glancing at the boughs of several trees that stood in the yard, Kendra could see that several of the leaves were starting to change color. No longer bright green, some of the leaves had now taken on a multitude of red, orange and yellow hues. Fall was coming, and there was no going back at this point.
Not that Kendra had much to complain about. Sure, winter was cold. But it was already halfway through September. Her birthday would be coming up next month. And Christmas was only a few months away. She had plenty to look forward to. But today, there was only one thing on her mind.
Backing away from the open window, Kendra could no longer feel cool air flowing into the bathroom. The heat of the house itself would not allow it to get very far. Kendra proceeded to plug her hairdryer into an outlet at one end of the counter.
Having already washed up previously, Kendra plucked out a stray hair from her brush, then proceeded to rake it through her long, light brown hair. After tending to her hair for a few minutes, she was interrupted by someone knocking on the door.
"Kendra," came Ingrid's voice from the other side of the door. "Is that you?"
"Yeah," replied Kendra. "I'm almost done."
Her brushing nearly completed, Kendra hastily ran her comb through her hair a few more times. She then opened up the door and saw Ingrid, standing before her.
"Did you want something?" asked Kendra. "You were in here before me!"
Ingrid shook her head. "I don't need anything. I just wanted to show you something."
Ingrid gestured for Kendra to follow her down the hall, so she complied. After taking only a few steps, Ingrid stopped in front of Seth's door.
"What?" asked Kendra.
"Seth is still sleeping," said Ingrid, displaying a proud smile on her face. She then reached for the doorknob, twisted it and slowly pushed the door to Seth's room open.
Surely enough, Seth was lying in his bed, seemingly still fast asleep.
"What's wrong with him?" asked Ingrid.
"He probably stayed up late playing video games," said Kendra, as she walked up to her snoozing brother. "Again."
"Should we wake him up?" asked Ingrid.
"We better," said Kendra, as she glanced at Seth's digital bedside clock, and saw, displayed in glowing red digits, that the current time was 8:32. "I think someone forgot to set his alarm again."
"Let's use this," said Ingrid, as she picked up a golden feather that had been lying on Seth's dresser.
The feather in question was actually the very first feather that Seth had ever molted after becoming an angel. Although the lone feather did not seem to possess any special qualities on its own, it was still something that Seth and the rest of his family held in high regard.
Ingrid then stood over Seth's bed and dangled the feather over her brother's face. "Just remember, Kendra. By waking up Seth, we're doing him a favor."
"You're doing him a favor," said Kendra. Deep down, part of Kendra wished that Ingrid would just leave Seth alone. The other was more interested in seeing what was about to transpire. After a moment of contemplating, Kendra gave in to her curiosity, just as Ingrid began to rub Seth's nose with the tip of his own feather.
"Hey..." groaned Seth, as he shook his head around with his eyes still closed. "Cut it out!"
"Goochie goochie goo!" said Ingrid, who along with Kendra, couldn't help but giggle in hysterics as Seth finally awoke.
"Ingrid, cut it out!" said Seth, struggling to bat his sister away with his hand. He then turned his head to see Kendra, who was just standing there, laughing at Ingrid's side. "Kendra, why are you going along with her?"
"She's got a point," said Kendra. "Look at the time. You're going to be late for school!"
Seth turned his head over to his bedside clock, which now displayed that the time was 8:33. "Whoa! You're right! "
Seth quickly sat up in bed, whisked his feather out of Ingrid's hand, then glared at his two sisters. "What do you think you're doing? Get out of here!"
"Better hurry," said Kendra. "School starts in less than half an hour."
"I know how to tell time!" moaned Seth, as Kendra and Ingrid made their way out of Seth's bedroom.
Seth got out of bed and made his way out of his bedroom, stepping out into the hallway just as Kendra and Ingrid started walking down the stairs towards the first floor of the house. Paying them no heed, Seth made his way into the bathroom, then shut the door behind himself.
"I love my sisters," sighed Seth. "Both of them. But sometimes... I just wish... I had a brother. Kendra and Ingrid have each other. What do I get?"
Seth then took a quick shower. After which, he got dressed and made his way downstairs, where the rest of the family was sitting at the dining room table.
"There you are," said Mrs. Sorenson, as Seth took his seat at the table. "You know that if you're late for school, you're going to receive detention."
"How can I be late for school?" asked Seth, as he grabbed two pancakes off a tray in the center of the table with his fork, then set them down on his plate. "It's in the other room!"
"Try not setting your alarm," said Ingrid, as she turned her head toward Kendra and nodded. "You'll get plenty of detentions that way."
Seth rolled his eyes, as he proceeded to pour some maple syrup onto his pancakes. The syrup he was having had actually been cultivated right here at Fablehaven by Dale. Seth knew from experience that it was incredible, and while it was undeniably delicious, he didn't know where his grandparents always got off saying that it was the best maple syrup ever. Did they ever actually conduct a comparison between it and all other maple syrups that existed? He doubted it. Still, Seth had little reason to actually complain.
"Mom, you wouldn't really give me detention now, would you?" asked Seth. "I mean, I'm your own kid!"
"As are these two other peers," said Mrs. Sorenson, eyeing Kendra and Ingrid. "And even if they weren't, there will be no special treatment. And Seth, easy on the maple syrup. Your pancakes are practically drowning."
Kendra and Ingrid both laughed at Seth, whose plate was now filled with a puddle of maple syrup. In the center of the plate, Seth's two pancakes were now soaking in syrup. Prodding one of the pancakes with the tines of his fork, Seth felt that the texture of his breakfast had now taken on a more spongy feel.
"You'd better eat all of that maple syrup if you were so intent on pouring it," said Grandma.
"Fine," said Seth. "But I'm gonna need a few more pancakes."
Warren, who currently had a fork raised above the tray of pancakes in the center of the table, slowly backed his hand away. "You know what, I think I've had enough pancakes."
"Thanks, Warren," said Seth, as he in turn grabbed the tray and pulled it towards himself. "Now here's a teacher who doesn't make it his MO to punish people."
"Yeah. It's too bad you're not one of my students. But, you are one of your mother's, so you'd best abide by her rules."
"You'd better hurry," said Grandpa. "You've got less than fifteen minutes until your class starts."
"I get it," said Seth, as he took a bite out of one of his syrup-soaked pancakes.
"You're very fortunate to even be home-schooled," said Grandpa. "You know..."
"Don't tell me. When you were my age, you had to walk twenty miles to get to school!"
"In the snow," added Warren. "Uphill. Both ways."
After finishing their breakfast, the kids all went upstairs and brushed their teeth. They then made their way back downstairs and went into the parlor. Seth glanced at the mantel clock that was situated above the fireplace. It was now only two minutes until nine. Seth took a seat at the long wooden table that took up much of the room, as did Kendra and Ingrid.
A moment later, Mrs. Sorenson entered the room, carrying with her a few books and a small stack of papers. Taking a seat at the head of the table, Mrs. Sorenson set her belongings down in front of her.
"All right, class," said Mrs. Sorenson. "I trust that you all read chapter six of Promenade Issues, as I instructed you to do so yesterday."
Kendra, Seth and Ingrid all nodded.
"Great. Now then. Who can tell me what Jack promised he would do for Laura in return for speaking to his daughter?"
Kendra and Ingrid both raised their hands.
"Seth?" asked Mrs. Sorenson.
"Uh, what?" muttered Seth.
"What did Jack promise Laura?"
"I don't... remember..." said Seth, trying his hardest to think about the chapter he had read that previous night.
"Seth, you read the chapter, didn't you?" asked Mrs. Sorenson.
"Yeah, but I can't remember every little detail! I mean, do you expect me to remember what color tie Jack was wearing that day? Who cares?"
"Seth. This was the driving point of the entire chapter. It's an essential part of the plot. How can you not remember? You did read the chapter, right?"
"Yes, I read the stupid chapter!" said Seth. "But so what? This book is so boring! I can barely follow it, let alone remember anything!"
"Seth, there's a reason I assigned you this novel, and not a comic book. You need to immerse yourself in a realistic setting. Not some fantasy world. I know that sounds hypocritical, seeing as how we live on a preserve for magical creatures. But there's needs to be a sense of balance!"
"So what am I supposed to do? The book is boring!"
"Well, we were going to discuss chapter six today before continuing with seven," said Mrs. Sorenson. "But I'd rather you don't fall behind. So, instead, we'll skip to math for now. Girls, I want you to read chapter seven tonight. And Seth, I want you to reread six and then read seven for next time."
"Man, I wish I was in the afternoon class with Skyfrost and Firesquall," said Seth. "They never have to read stupid books!"
"They can barely read as it is," said Mrs. Sorenson. "But if they continue to learn, then someday they will be able to read stupid books as well. Possibly better than you can."
Seth went on to slog his way through the rest of his mother's class, in which they went over some algebra, followed by a discussion about General Custer.
Eventually, the chiming of a bell could be heard from the kitchen. Seth glanced at the clock, which now displayed the time of twelve o'clock.
"Remember, Seth," said Mrs. Sorenson. "You need to read chapters six and seven for next time."
The family then sat down at the dining room table for lunch, which consisted of a bowl of Grandma Sorenson's homemade tomato soup, followed by an egg salad sandwich. Once lunch was finished, and noon hour was nearly over, Warren, Kendra and Ingrid all grabbed their swords, which they kept in a cabinet in the parlor. They then walked out of the house and onto the back patio with Seth.
"Man, I wish I was in your class, Warren," said Seth, taking a good glance at the swords that his sisters and cousin were holding. "You guys get to have fun!"
"Look, I'd like to have you, too," said Warren. "But I'm inclined to agree that your angelkind situation needs some direction. And I just can't help you in that regard."
"I know. But I didn't ask to become angelkind. It all just... sort of happened."
"Well I'm grateful that it did happen," said Warren. "See you later."
"Yeah, bye Seth." said Kendra.
We'll catch up after class," said Ingrid.
"Bye, guys," said Seth, as he held up the Translocator in his hands.
Seth then twisted the Translocator, until it clicked into position. An image of his destination forming in his mind, Seth closed his eyes. In an instant, Seth suddenly found his entire body being whisked away from the surrounding locale of Fablehaven.
When Seth opened his eyes, he found himself no longer at home. Instead, he was now standing on a brick pathway, in front of a house with a cream-colored, dome-shaped roof. A few more buildings with similar architecture surrounded Seth, as did an assortment of well-tended plants. At the end of the pathway was the open sky. Seth had now arrived in the city of Wingadoon.
Seth walked up to the nearest house, then knocked on the door. A moment later, the door opened up, and Seth was greeted by none other than his angel mentor, Hope.
"Good afternoon, Seth," said Hope, as she flexed her angelic white wings. "How are you today?"
"I'm all right," said Seth.
"I'd prefer it if you were better than just all right. You know that you need to be in good spirits for the best chance of achieving your angel form."
"Well, at least I don't have to read my mom's stupid book right now. There's that if nothing else."
"Stupid book?" asked Hope. "What is this book and why is it stupid?"
"Because it's boring. Please don't ask me to explain it to you. It's a chore just reading it."
"Seth, I can assure you that I won't make you do any more reading. Now, if you'll kindly follow me."
Hope led Seth down several stairways to a lower section of the city. Soon they entered a park, where Clover, Air Flair and a court of small fairies were all loitering around next to a flower bed.
"Hi, Seth!" said Clover, who was radiating a stunning green aura from her body. The smaller fairies all fluttered around her in excitement.
"All right," said Hope. "Becoming an angel is something that Seth needs to accomplish without it being forced upon him. Ready to give it a shot?"
"I'll try," said Seth. "But I can't do it alone."
"We're here for you," said Air Flair, as the pink pegasus bobbed her head up and down in a nodding motion.
Seth stepped away from the others, then closed his eyes. "Okay. Here goes."
Seth envisioned himself becoming an angel. He imagined that a pair of wings would suddenly sprout out of his shoulder blades. But nothing came of it.
"Seth, are you all right?" asked Clover.
"I'm fine," replied Seth. "Just need a bit more time." Clearly he wasn't having any success. He then thought back to when he first became an angel. The situation seemed hopeless, as an enlarged, power-crazed Murdred was squeezing Seth in his hand, threatening to kill Ingrid and Warren, both of whom were trapped and helpless. Not willing to let Murdred's influence overtake his body, Seth mentally fought against the darkness that had been inflicted upon him, which inadvertently caused him to transform into an angel.
Seth focused on that exact moment, trying to see if he could somehow replicate the same instance that caused him to become an angel in the first place. But it wasn't working. Even here, surrounded by a multitude of light creatures, Seth could not manage to assume his angel form.
"I can't do it," said Seth, opening his eyes. "I need help! I need my family! I need Ingrid!"
"Seth, we all love you very much," said Hope. "Certainly there must be a way to accomplish this without depending on something that may not always be available."
"Seth, as your cousin's wife, you and I are technically family," said Clover.
"Look, you intentions are good, but I can't become an angel just because it's demanded of me. We've talked about this over and over ever since I first started coming here for counselling."
"But that's just the thing," said Hope. "How is it that the love of one mortal is powerful enough to awaken the angel within you, when magical light creatures, namely ourselves, need to grant our power unto you?"
"What are you saying about Ingrid?" asked Seth.
"This isn't a criticism. But she is a mortal without any actual powers. Without any magic. Yet you have such a copacetic connection with her. If only you could harness that energy in a way that wasn't so reliant on someone like Ingrid. If you could just become an angel whenever you wanted..."
"Look, we're never gonna get anywhere without Ingrid here to help me," said Seth. "I just can't do it on my own."
"You win," said Hope. "Maybe someday, you'll master your abilities."
Hope and Air Flair both extended their wings outward, and they started to glow. Suddenly, Seth could feel as his own pair of wings grew out of his back, ripping through his shirt. Within seconds, Seth was sporting his own pair of silky, golden wings.
"Sure, we can take the easy way," said Seth, reaching back to feel his ripped shirt.
"Let me help you with that," said Clover. She then waved her hand, causing green sparkles to fly out from her palm and onto Seth's ripped shirt, sealing it up around Seth's wings.
"I don't want us to cheat like this," said Hope. "But you do need to work on your angel abilities, regardless of how you achieve your angel form."
"I suppose," said Seth, as he calmly flailed his wings back and forth.
"Here's your first lesson," said Clover. "Restore this vase."
"This one," said Clover, as she snapped her fingers, causing a blue, porcelain vase to magically appear in midair before her, before immediately falling to the stone path below and shattering into countless pieces.
Seth stared down at the broken vase, and began to focus on it. He felt as his wings began to glow, then watched in awe as the shattered pieces inexplicably all flew back into place, causing the vase to reform back to its original shape. The pieces then fused themselves back together, giving off the impression that the vase had never been broken in the first place.
"Very good!" said Hope. "You're becoming a greater angel every day!"
"I'm good at being an angel," said Seth. "But becoming one? That's the tricky part."