“It’s the palace garden,” she said. “I imagined a lot in my head, but I never thought it would be this beautiful!”
“The palace garden? This is the garden?”
“Yes, indeed. Those bees we made love the flowers. It’s their nature.” It wasn’t Silvia who answered, but Dr. Sage. I had a feeling that he had created the window and sent the bees away. Suddenly, Dr. Sage looked at me as if he were reading my mind. “You’re a good guesser, Kat. ‘Appear, the window to the palace garden.’ Seven simple words.”
I startled. Had he read my thoughts? While I was wondering, Dr. Sage turned around and shouted, “What are we waiting for? Let’s go rescue the others! Now, everyone, hold my cloak!”
I grabbed his cloak. When everybody had taken hold, Dr. Sage spoke. “To the Hall of Doors!”
Suddenly, everything grew blurry and I felt so dizzy that I thought I would faint. Then it suddenly stopped. We were still all together, but no longer in the same room. Now, we were in a long hallway with red carpet on the floor.
I remembered it at once. It was where I couldn’t find a way to escape, and where I first met Silvia. It was not a good memory for me. I gulped.
But Dr. Sage didn’t seem afraid. He raised his arm and shouted, “All the doors in this hall, open!”
His loud voice echoed down the empty hallway. Suddenly, I heard a screech and a door swung open. Someone appeared, looking scared until he saw Dr. Sage. Then his face was full of delight. He ran to us, shouting “Thank you! Thank you! Dr. Sage, you’ve saved me!”
We heard the screech of more doors opening, and within minutes, the hallway was crowded with people hugging, crying, and smiling. Some people came over and said “thank you” to Jason and me, shaking our hands.
Silvia made a door with the magic crayon. It was much bigger than the one I had used. Some people moved with Dr. Sage. When I finally got out through the door, I found myself on a lawn of short grass. I could see the forest nearby. Many people were sitting on the ground. I’d never seen so many people in one place!
I sat next to a family. A man and woman were hugging their son and daughter. The children looked about seven years old. All four of them were smiling at each other. Even I felt happy watching them, and I smiled, too. But suddenly, a dark truth invaded my mind. I didn’t have a family like that. Now that my role here was over, I would have to go back to my world. I didn’t want to go back to Aunt Madeline. Jason wouldn’t like going back to Uncle Paul, either.
Suddenly, I was no longer on the grass with all the people. I was inside my own world, dark and empty. I was alone, and so lonely. I bit my lip so my tears wouldn’t fall.
Someone tapped on my shoulder. Quickly, I wiped the tears from my eyes and turned around. It was Dr. Sage. “Ah,” he said, “Were you crying? You want to see your family, is that it? Don’t worry, you’ll see them soon.”
Anger rose in me. “I don’t have a family,” I bellowed. “Aunt Madeline is not my family! You think you know all about me, but you don’t!”
Everyone stared at me with surprise. I glared back, but my vision was blurring. I closed my eyes and let the tears run down my face. My mind began to slow, and the last thing I remember was a set of arms holding me gently.
When I opened my eyes, I was laying in a bed with a white quilt softly covering my body. I sat up and found Silvia smiling at me. Her hair was neatly braided, and she was wearing a clean white blouse and a black skirt. I was still in my dirty shirt and jeans. My jacket was on a table beside the bed.
Silvia patted my head lightly. “Good afternoon, my friend. You slept for a whole day! Are you feeling okay now?”
She smiled with relief, then said, “Everybody is waiting for you. Wash up first, then come on out, okay? There are clean clothes in the closet.” She hugged me lightly, then left.
Feeling a little dizzy, I managed to find the bathroom. I filled the tub with warm water, then let my body relax in the water. After a few minutes, I took a shower as if I’d never showered before. It felt so nice and clean. I found a blue shirt, a pair of jeans, and a pair of sneakers in the closet. I let my blond hair flow down my back. I stood in front of a big mirror and stared at my green eyes. I was still afraid of going back, but now, my thoughts were a little different. I mean, I had had the most dangerous adventure of my life, and I’d survived. Aunt Madeline could be cruel to me, but I wouldn’t give up. After all, I’m not hers, right? I am me.
I took a deep breath, tasting the fresh air. I walked toward the door, thinking, “It’s just another adventure,” and grabbed the golden doorknob. I opened the door.
“Sam, come here.” The ginger cat walked gracefully toward me and jumped into my lap. I closed my eyes, and let myself relax in the rocking chair. My cat, Sam, purred as I patted his head. Then I heard a knock on the door. I said, “Come in.”
Dr. Sage was wearing a blue cloak with small, golden stars spread across it. He stroked his beard and smiled. “So. Are you ready to be my apprentice?” His eyes twinkled. I smiled back. It has been a year since I came to this world. After the city was saved from the evil goblins, Jason and I stayed.
I clearly remember tears of joy running down my face when Dr. Sage asked me to be his apprentice. Jason decided to help Silvia with the bookstore, while studying to be a scholar here. Dr. Sage gave me a special carrier pigeon, for me to send a message to Aunt Madeline. She was mean, but as my guardian, she needed to know that I was safe and happy.
On one rainy day, I found a tiny kitten on the window sill, desperately trying to hide from rain. It was easy to get permission from Dr. Sage to keep him. Since then, Sam has been a good company for me.
More memories came into my mind. According to the rule, I had to be a temporary apprentice for a year. After that, I would go to the Blessed Tree and become a real apprentice. Today was the day.
I left Sam in the rocking chair and followed Dr. Sage out of my room. I was living with Dr. Sage and his wife, Mrs. Sage. She was wise, and treated me like her granddaughter. She really was like my own grandmother.
Dr. Sage led me to the palace. It was early in the morning, but many people filled the Flower Square. After all the goblins died, they turned into piles of dust. There were piles of dust everywhere. People had swept them to the square, and made a big, huge pile. Then they had mixed the dust with soil and planted beautiful flowers. The flowers remind the people about the goblins, but not in a terrifying way. Now, it was more like a-long-time-ago story.
Finally, we arrived at the palace. There was a coach with two horses right in front of us. I heard a familiar voice. “Ah, there you are. Are you ready?” The king was waiting for me. A few days after I decided to stay, Dr. Sage and the wolf king went to the Blessed Tree to transform the wolf back into a man. I was already an apprentice, so I was allowed to go with them. The Blessed Tree was beautiful. It was huge and magnificent, the most beautiful tree I had ever seen. Tree bark, leaves, and a strange golden sparkle around the tree…it was marvelous. The sun was almost gone when Dr. Sage transformed the wolf. I remember it clearly. The sky was scarlet, and the sun glowed with the last sunlight of the day. Dr. Sage put both his hands on the wolf’s head. Dr. Sage whispered a magic spell, and the golden sparkles from the tree started to swirl around them. It was like a thick golden mist. Finally, the sun glowed once more, then disappeared. As the sky got darker, the golden sparkles started to fade. The wolf was no longer there, but a man smiled at me.
The thought of going to the Blessed Tree again made my heart beat faster. Dr. Sage, the king and I rode in the coach. There was no horseman, but the horses were trained to go to the tree. While Dr. Sage and the king talked, I enjoyed the beautiful landscape. I always had to be with Dr. Sage, and he was a very busy person, so I’d had little chance to leave the city walls. Whenever I had a chance to go out, I loved watching the beautiful fields and meadows. Sometimes I picked flowers from the meadow and placed them in my room. I never grew tired of gazing at them; it was one of my favorite things.
It took us a whole day to arrive at our destination. When I got out of the coach, the full moon was rising. We all walked to the Blessed Tree. Gold twinkles shone brightly, and I started to get worried. What if I did something wrong? I breathed deeply, trying to calm down. When I started to feel better, Dr. Sage started the ceremony.
“This fine young woman trained under William Sage for one year. She learned how to be a full sorcerer of this kingdom. Now, it’s time for her to learn magic skills. I watched as Dr. Sage held his arm in the air. The golden sparkles started to move toward his hands.
Soon, his hands were filled with sparkling, golden dust. Slowly, he moved his hands, then dropped the sparkles on my head. Suddenly, everything became clear. Before, there had been thousands of knots in my head. But now, every knot was untied. Everything was so right. It felt like I could understand everything in the world. The sparkles started to return to the tree. Dr. Sage and the king were smiling at me and I noticed that my black cloak was now covered with silver dots, like stars in a night sky. A sudden joy covered me like a big tidal wave.
I’m now a true apprentice.
I smiled at Dr. Sage and the king, and looked at the Blessed Tree.
This is where I belong.