The Book Addict(6)

By: Annette Mori

“That’s what you said last time, and I’m the one that had to go to that mental health facility and rescue the poor woman.”

“I didn’t put her in danger, but I guess I didn’t realize she had a propensity for mental illness. I still think we should be able to tell them about the magic. We used to be more transparent when magic was readily accepted in the world.” Elle had vociferously and unsuccessfully argued this point with her mother and others.

“The world is a different place than it was thousands of years ago. Fear is a powerful emotion that tends to distort what is good. In the eyes of many, magic became something to fear—something evil.” Elle had always wondered why her mother was so careful when talking about the early legends. Gordon flatly refused to acknowledge the existence of the early female magicians.

Before the magical factions separated, an illusionist had induced a woman to jump out of a painting, thus bringing art to life. Adelaide Herrmann was one of the famous female magicians they were no longer allowed to speak of, but Elle was convinced Adelaide had learned her craft from another female. She was certain a woman had passed down the skill of bringing art to life, whether from paintings or books.

Once, when she was supposed to be asleep, Elle had heard her mother and aunt talking about the Oracle of Delphi’s magic. Long before Merlin came on the scene, the priestess, or Pythia, guided ancient civilization. The Goddess Themis, rumored to be the first oracle, was very particular about who was worthy of her prophecies. Only those of pure heart and motive became the chosen, and contemporary book magicians still sought a genuine and selfless nature in those who might receive their gifts.

The current political climate, which Gordon had single-handedly crafted for his own personal benefit, was a massive departure from the good order, morality, and divine fairness associated with Themis. Yet, the fact that Elle’s mother and aunt had never told her about the Oracle of Delphi was evidence enough that the erasure of female magicians from their prominence in history was occurring well before Gordon came into power. He’d just furthered the cause.

“I don’t think the chosen one will be afraid of the truth. This one is sweet and just a little sad. I think she needs this in her life. A person who does not recognize her own worth will always benefit from magic.”

Her mother sighed on the other end of the phone. “Elle, we’ve been through this before. You cannot possibly reach every lonely person in the world. Sometimes I think it is you who needs the magic more than anyone, and your crusade to touch others is merely a projection of what you desire most.”

“Oh, Mother, that is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. I’m perfectly happy bringing adventure to others and showing them the way to their destiny. I don’t need someone to complete me, like they do. Besides, I pop into a great many of the books and have my own adventures.”

“Honey, we all need someone. Your father may have had his faults, but he was my ‘someone’ and his presence in my life made all the difference in the world. How about I pop in and we can have a nice meal together?”

“No, don’t do that. Who knows what kind of trouble Aunt Clara will get into.” Elle sighed. “I miss Daddy too. I’m sorry he was taken from you. They had no right—magicians and nonmagicians make fine pairs. Bunch of overstuffed, pretentious, bigots.”

“Shhh, the walls have ears, literally. You know that.”

“I don’t care.” Elle turned and two ears wiggled from the wall in front of her. “You wouldn’t know true love if it bit you on the ass, you blowhards. Go ahead, do your thing. Send me all the ‘acceptable’ mates, and I’ll turn every damn one of them away. Just watch me. Maybe I’ll choose a nonmagician, just to spite you. I’d rather have the old regime in charge. At least they weren’t narrow-minded idiots, and Mom would still have Dad in her life.”

Elle had told her mother she preferred females, because she didn’t want any secrets between them. It wasn’t something they talked about, because Elle got in enough trouble without continually bringing this fact to the surface. She thought the knowledge would keep her mother from worrying about why there wasn’t anyone special in her life, but it didn’t. There was no way Elle would get involved with a woman just to have the council decide the relationship was wrong and take love away from her, like they took her father away from her mother.