The forest was still, quiet, and calm. The night had just passed, and the sun was beginning to rise. As the first rays of sunlight peeked through the canopy of the trees, the air was filled with a sense of reverence. The forest, usually so full of life and sound, seemed to be holding its collective breath.
As the sun rose higher, the light seemed to pour into the forest, as if it were a liquid seeping through the trees. It created a warm and golden glow that cast everything in its light in an ethereal glow.
As the sun reached its zenith, the forest seemed to glow from within. The trees were no longer shadows but golden pillars of light. The underbrush, usually dark and damp, seemed to sparkle with a life of its own. Every bit of life seemed to be lit up, as if the forest itself were a living being.
The silence was broken by the first sounds of the morning. The birds began their morning calls, and the forest woke up from its peaceful slumber. It felt like the forest itself was a living, breathing entity, rising and stretching as the sun reached higher in the sky. The dawn was like a grand, majestic performance, with the forest as the stage and the sun as the lead performer.
David walked over to the entrance of the camp, his eyes scanning the surroundings for any sign of the next portal. His legs ached from the long weekend trying to put the new things in place for the new Coven members, but he remained focused and determined. The air was cold and crisp, and his breath formed clouds in the morning air. Max approached from behind, breaking the silence of the waiting.
"Waiting for the new members?"
Max asked, his voice soft and low. David turned and nodded, a small smile stretching across his face. He pulled out the papers that he kept handy for the new members, the names and skills carefully jotted down in his neat handwriting.
Max had a tired look in his eyes, his body hunched over, with dark circles under his eyes and a grimace on his face. He was the complete opposite of David, who was always cheerful and optimistic.
"Yep! It says here that they are a gatherer and a Alchemist, Nikki, and Neil! They should be here any minute now.
Suddenly , a green light appears in front of them, As David and Max approaches the portal, they feel a sense of anticipation and wonder. The portal itself seemed to be vibrating with a subtle energy, as if it were alive. It was a deep, emerald green, with an almost metallic sheen to it. The surface of the portal was smooth, but there was a slight shimmering effect that made it appear to be constantly moving. Lighter green and white particles were swarming around it, like fireflies.
As the two individuals walked closer, they could feel the portal's energy drawing them in. It was as if they were being pulled towards an irresistible force. Two kids step out of the portal, landing on their feet, QuarterMaster pops his head in to make sure they made it, the disappears into the portal as it slowly closes.
The first to appear was a young alchemist, the boy was short, dark brown hair and a nervous look on his face, he used his natural curiosity and intelligence to uncover the magical properties of various ingredients in things. In his quest to create the perfect healing concoction, he had fear of failure and took every opportunity to learn from his mistakes. His personality was shy, who sometimes felt overwhelmed by the complexity of their crafts.
"Wow... this place is nice, I haven't seen a coven before... this is my first time, oh uh hi! My name is Neil, I'm an alchemist, and I'm ready for what we have in store, and I have to need to remind you I am NOT scared of anything!"
Neil nervously chuckles, rubbing the top of his hands
The second was Nikki, a girl with her untamed wild curls of green hair, radiated an energetic energy that was contagious to all those around her. Nikki's love for nature and the adventure of gathering random objects in the forest fueled her curiosity and made her a natural explorer. Nikki's enthusiasm could not be contained and she often ran ahead of her previous coven mates, eager to discover new sights and sounds. She was a force of nature herself, bringing joy and excitement wherever she went. Nikki laughs at Neil's awkwardness, she leaps forward, before giving a dramatic bow.
"Heeelloooo my name is Nikki! I'm the gatherer! I tend to have a lot of noise coming from me, so don't mind that! And I might just find random things and- OH MY GOD A STICK!"
Nikki runs over behind David, finding the perfect stick, she picks it up and gently caresses it.
"Oh my stick! I love it! This is mine now! You can't have it! Hisssss"
David nervously chuckles, walking over to Neil, he puts out his hand bending down a little.
"Hello there new Coven member, my name is David, I will be your high Priest"
Neil raised an eyebrow, and his hand
"Excuse me, this is my first time being in a Coven... why are you called a High Priest?"
David smiles and stands back up, pulling out his book from his satchel.
"What an excellent question! A coven leader is called a high priest or high priestess. This title is typically used in Wiccan and pagan traditions where a coven is a group of individuals who practice witchcraft or other earth-based spiritual practices together the high priest or high priestess, is often considered the spiritual leader of the coven, and may lead rituals and ceremonies, offer guidance and advice to other members, and act as a liaison to the larger, pagan community!"
As David talks, they follow him walking into the center of the camp, where all the other coven members were.
"The leader of a witch coven is responsible for guiding the group's activities and ensuring a cohesive approach to their magical and spiritual practices. I typically have more experience and knowledge than the rest of the coven members, and serves as a mentor and a source of wisdom. I lead rituals, ceremonies, and other activities, and may work directly with individual members to help the kids develop their skills and abilities. I also play a key role in setting the direction for the coven, keeping morale high, and upholding the core values and traditions of the group. I kind of serve as a spokesperson for the coven or facilitate communications between members.
Nikki and Neil looks around at the camp. The witch coven, set amidst the lush, green forest, was a sight to behold. The witches, garbed in different colorful outfits, and carrying their magic wands, spirt boxes, potions, another things surrounded a fire pit where they performed their incantations, or talking amongst each other. The flickering flames illuminated their delicate features, and the music of nature in the background added to the sense of serenity and mystery. The air was thick with the scent of burning sage and other herbs, and the forest seemed to come alive as the witches talked around the fire, their laughter ringing out and echoing in the air.
David sauntered over to the other kids around the fire, he gently sits down with the other coven members, Max, Nikki, and Neil does the same. As David talks about the new members and what magic that they will work on, Neil turns to face Max, who is bored out of his mind, reading his book.
"So, Max was it? What is it like being in a Coven? Are their rules? What do we do during the day? What about at night? Will we be fed? Or do we need to scavenge food for ourselves?"
Max's eyes scanned Neil's body, looking for any signs of danger or deception. He carefully observed Neil's demeanor, the way he carried himself, and the way he spoke. Max was not one to blindly trust anyone, and he was not willing to take unnecessary risks. He let out a big sigh, as if he was already regretting letting Neil into his train of thought, However, he was not going to let his initial feelings cloud his judgment. He would give Neil a chance to prove himself, but he would be ready for anything.
"You ask a lot of questions... look this Coven isn't the best Coven I've been too. I wish I can just run off and leave this place behind like my parents did, they just dumped me here... I run more of a solo act. I just want to have my own work space and be free to do whatever I want! But the rules here is that you can't do 'whatever you want' because of past coven members doing some sketchy shit..."
The air was thick with tension, and Neil could feel Max studying him. He tried to remain calm, but his nerves were on edge. Despite being in the presence of these powerful witches, Neil couldn't help but feel a sense of unease. He longed for the freedom and independence of his past life, but the rules of this Coven seemed strict and unyielding. Despite his reservations, he had to admit that he was intrigued by the magic and power that surrounded him. He also couldn't deny the longing for acceptance and belonging that he felt deep down. Maybe this Coven was what he had been searching for all along.
David hoists himself up and walks into the Witch hut, Max's eyes lit up as David emerged from the hut, carrying a sleek and polished staff. It glittered in the dim light, its magic pulsing within. Max's mind went wild at the thought of wielding such a powerful artifact. The staff was capable of opening portals to any place in the world, and Max's mind raced with the possibilities. He imagined himself taking the staff and being teleported to a far-off location, perhaps even another dimension. With the staff in his possession, he would be a force to be reckoned with.
"You see that Neil? That's the only way out of here, if used properly, it can travel to anywhere in the world! If I could just get David away from the staff.. If I could just get my hands on it, and feel the powerful magic that is in it... It would be great to get the fuck out of here"
Max's eyes darted back and forth as he spoke, his voice quiet and measured. Neil could tell that Max was obsessed with the staff, almost to the point of desperation. He was clearly eager to get his hands on it, to feel the powerful magic that it was rumored to contain. It was almost alarming to see how badly Max wanted it, like it was some sort of magic talisman that would grant him unlimited power over the world. But Neil couldn't deny that he was intrigued by the staff as well. He had never seen anything like it, and the thought of being able to travel anywhere in the world with just a few swings of the staff was tempting.
Nikki pokes her head into the conversation, holding a giant mango.
"What are you guys talking about? Is it this Fruit? because it's amazing!"
Energetically, Nikki dug her teeth into the soft red flesh of a mango, juice bursting out from every direction as she eat it with reckless abandon. Nikki's face and fingers were completely staying with the bright orange coloring, her clothes were drenched with her energetic attack on the delicious fruit. Despite the mess she made, she was clearly enjoying herself, and continue to eat with enthusiasm, until the Mango was gone, entirely leaving it's juicy remain smeared around her lips, face, fingers and clothes.
"Damn it Nikki! Say it, dont spray it! You're getting the juices and seeds all over my cloak!"
Max perks up at an idea, he evilly taps his fingers together, He looks at the Staff, David, then at Nikki.
"Hey... Nikki.. why don't you ask David to help with your mess yeah?"
Nikki pounces up, nods her head then runs over to David. Max sneaked around behind David, trying to see if he could reach the Staff without him holding it. It stood at a hight of 5 feet, it looks all twisted and has this glowing orb of green power energy. The second David places it down, Max leaps forward in a big smiling bliss, basking in all its glory. He takes the staff into his hands, and was thrown back by its magic it weld. Max felt the powerful energy was intertwining in his veins. He started to float above the grass. The staff seemed to vibrate with an otherworldly energy, he was overcome by a wave of euphoria. He felt the world had melted away, and he felt like he was floating in a sea of pure power. The magic coursing through his veins was intoxicating, and he laughed maniacally as he floated above the ground. The feeling was so intense that it was almost unbearable, but he couldn't bring himself to let go.
David turns around hearing the noise, he gasps in fear, running up to Max, he was floating 5 feet above the ground with magic particles swirling all around him, he looks down at the panicked face of David and smiles. Laughing at the power it held within, it over took his head, making his eyes have a bright light green coming from his sockets. David was terrified, but Max was beyond caring, lost in the abyss of magic and power.
"Max! You get down here this second! That's a powerful staff! You can get hu-"
David was cut off by Max. His voice boomed when he said
"No! I won't! With this staff... I can finally be free! Taste the sweet taste of freedom! Go anywhere I want, do whatever I want! I can BE whoever I want!"
Max's voice echoed through the forest, full of desperation and delusion. The staff had given him a taste of power, a taste of freedom, and it had consumed him completely. He was no longer the same person he had been before picking it up, and it was terrifying to see the extent of the staff's influence. His voice was wild and manic, and it seemed like he was on the verge of losing control entirely. David could feel the tension in the air, and he knew that something had to be done to stop Max before he got himself or anyone else killed.
With the final scream from Max, he lifted the staff into the air. A big explosion of green magic dust flairs though the air, followed by a big boom. The blast made the very ground shake, the campers almost blown away from the air it pushed. Once the air cleared and was calm, David looks up where Max once stood, now gone. He started to panic, David runs over to Gwen.
"GWEN WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO? Well he isn't that powerful that he might have not gone far... BUT- What if he REALLY wasn't powerful enough? WHAT IF HE-"
Gwen pressed her hand against David's mouth, and makes him turn around, in the distance you can see Max hanging by his cloak. It was caught in a branch, he accidentally let the staff fall to the floor. David and the rest of of the coven members sprinted over to Max. As he was struggling trying to get off, he suddenly felt dizzy, and light headed. The blast energy drained Max's power, David leans down and picks up the staff, then looks back up at Max.
"Max! Oh thank goodness you're safe... but that was very reckless! You could have gotten hurt! Or worst..."
David puts out his hand, green power energy swarmed around David's hand and Max's body. He was gently and slowly taken off the branch, and into David's arms. He saw Max was heavily breathing and looked in distress. David takes Max to the witch hut, placing him down on David's bed, he grabs a towel, drenching it in cold water. He rings out the extra water, then places it on Max's forehead. Max grumbles and swats David's hand away.
"Get away from me fucker! I don't need your help! I've been doing things just fine before you and I can still do it now!"
Max groans and holding his head, he sits up and puts his face in his hands. He slowly pulls his skin as Max's hands slip off his face. He looks over at David, he was worried about Max.
"David... why am I... so... weak... I feel.. like a million pounds landed on my body..."
David sits next to Max on the bed, and pulls out his book again, using his magic he makes a little magic sprite of Max appear. He used his visuals to show Max how powerful magic is.
"Magic is a powerful force that can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. When a person is able to tap into his or her abilities and wield it to their will, it is a marvel to behold!"
David makes little magic sparks surround Max and the air around them, Max's eyes widen in wonder, looking at all the power energy around them.
"However, there is a price to pay for such power... After a long day of spell casting and incantations, a mage can feel the strain on their body. The energy required to tap into the arcane is immense and can leave a person feeling exhausted. The mental concentration and focus needed to wield magic can also take its toll, leaving a mage with a pounding headache and a foggy mind...
The effects of heavy magical use can be extreme, leaving a mage feeling weak and frail. The physical toll on their body can make it difficult to move, let alone continue casting spells. The mental exhaustion can make it impossible to focus on even the simplest of tasks, leaving a mage feeling helpless and at the mercy of their own power."
David let's all the partials go back Into his hand. He close the book and turns to Max, placing his hand on his shoulder.
"In such moments, it is important for a mage to rest and recharge their energy. It is a lesson that all mage must learn eventually, that magic is not a limitless resource, and that overusing it can have dire consequences. It is a hard lesson, but one that all mages must learn if they wish to continue to wield magic without causing damage to themselves and those around them... trust me... I know..."
David's face moves down, they sit in silence as the day's events weighed heavily on David's mind. A burst of bad memories went to his head, the weight of it all hit David harder than expected. Max could see the sadness in David's eyes and knew they needed to say something to comfort him. Max wasn't the best at comforting, so he tries to scoot closer, giving him a hesitation hug.
"Hey, I know today has been tough..."
Max tries to think of things to say, David looked down at Max, grateful to see him trying to comfort him.
"But you know, you're not alone in this... uhm.. You've got so many other people who love you and care about you. We can get through this together... or whatever you say... bleh.."
David wipes his tears away, took a deep breath and nodded slowly, he puts on a big smile, he stands and hoists Max up, giving him a big embrace.
"Thank you Max... I needed to hear that today..."
He places Max down, and puts his hands on his hips.
"You ready to go back outside?"
Max nodded and walked back out, leaving David alone in the hut. David let out a small sigh and lifted a photograph from the desk, examining it carefully before placing it back down. He then slowly made his way up the stairs, gripping the railing tightly as he ascended. It took every inch of his determination to reach the top of the staircase, and when he turned his head, he was greeted with a faint, eerie glow emanating from behind an ajar door. His nerves were on edge as he cautiously approached the door, and it took every ounce of courage for him to open the it and reveal the mysterious, unsettling truth that lay beyond.
After David opens the door, cautiously making his way towards a table in the corner of the room. A blanket draped over what appeared to be something large on the surface. He hesitated for a moment, and removes the blanket. When he did, he was met with a shocking sight: lying before him was the lifeless, unconscious form of his old friend... Jasper.