// CHARM MANSION //
Spring is emerging across Amerrka. A vivid green hue dares to make its return, spreading like an ocean across the landscape.
In a central region of the country lies the CHARM MANSION. The house is young; just some seventy years ago this plot of land lay fallow as an untamed meadow.
Its future mistress is a young woman who will leave her war-ravaged homeland to seek new opportunities in Amerrka.
Her name is MINERVA CHARM.
The Great War had left her tired. In the years following her service she had refused to keep up with the mages, instead preferring to keep company with – ordinary people. ‘Normies’, some called them. MINERVA made just one exception to this rule: the crone MARSCAPONE.
Despite being from different countries, the two had become fast friends serving as healers in the Great War. As the conflict was nearing its conclusion, the women thought of home and return. But no longer did MINERVA wish to remain in the place of her birth.
MYRTLE had made a case for MINERVA to come to the East Coast with her: “Flowers still grow in New Jersey.”
But MINERVA had been unconvinced.
She wanted solitude; trees that bordered trees.
MINERVA was a talented brewer and preferred to work outside. “If I buy a house in the ‘burbs, someone’s going to call the authorities.”
“My flowers and I need room to grow.”
And that was that; her mind was made up.
She purchased a plot of land in a mid-Amerrkan region known as Uhaigha. She travels into the world just enough to bear two children, both expressing considerable Talent.
Time passed. All seemed in place for the witch to complete her final Research to the end of her days.
Until one fateful day, a strange woman with bright pink hair shows up at their door.
MINERVA tries to turn the woman away, but she insists that her family was in danger of being Discovered. MINERVA’s teenaged daughter, GEMMA, had been caught on her school’s surveillance camera using an incantation to mend trampled weeds.
TO ADD TO THE SITUATION, A NEIGHBORHOOD ONLINE FORUM HAD AN OPEN THREAD OF COMPLAINTS ABOUT FOUL SMELL AND SMOKE RISING FROM YOUR PROPERTY.
THEY SUSPECT YOU’RE NOT SIMPLY INCINERATING LEAVES.
WE’VE ERASED THE THREAD AND CAMERA EVIDENCE BUT YOUR FAMILY IS BEING PLACED UNDER PROTECTIVE SERVICES.
MINERVA was insulted at the insinuation that she was not enough to defend her own family.
BY WHAT AUTHORITY?
TRENTE responds firmly.
BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE MOON COURT, THE GUARDIANS OF THIS PLANET SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL.
MINERVA furls her brow.
THE MOON COURT? ISN’T THAT A CHILDREN’S FAIRY TALE?
TRENTE tries to hold back a smile.
THERE ARE MANY SECRETS IN THIS WORLD, AREN’T THERE?
MINERVA was embarrassed, stunned into silence. It wasn’t often that the magic-users of the world encountered a mystery beyond that to which they were already privy.
THE WORLD IS BECOMING A DANGEROUS PLACE. THE PEACE FOLLOWING THE GREAT WAR THREATENS TO DRAW TO A CLOSE.
WE CANNOT LOSE OUR MOST PRECIOUS RESOURCE: OUR PEOPLE.
… MY DAUGHTER WAS USING MAGIC AT HER SCHOOL?
GEMMA was a student at a local school for girls; a non-magical academy. She had been instructed never to use her Ability outside the homestead.
WE CAPTURED THE FOOTAGE BEFORE IT SPREAD TOO FAR.
THE INSTRUCTORS THOUGHT IT HAD BEEN DOCTORED, ALTHOUGH COULD DISCERN NO MOTIVE.
THE NON-MAGICAL TRUST THEIR SCIENCES AND ARE SLOW TO ADOPT NEW RULES FOR REALITY.
WE REMOVED THE DATA FROM THEIR RECORDS.
THEN THE PROBLEM IS FIXED.
TRENTE purses her lips, frowning.
NO, MRS. CHARM. THE PROBLEM IS NOT ‘FIXED’.
YOUR DAUGHTER NEEDS TO BE IMPRESSED UPON THAT THIS BEHAVIOR IS UNACCEPTABLE AND ENDANGERS THE SAFETY OF ALL OF US.
YES… I’M VERY SORRY ABOUT THIS WHOLE THING.
IT WAS I WHO TAUGHT THE GIRL HOW TO MEND PLANTS.
BUT I HAVE ALWAYS TOLD MY CHILDREN THAT THEY SHOULD NEVER WORK MAGIC OUTSIDE THE HOME.
I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK WITH YOUR DAUGHTER WHEN SHE RETURNS FROM SCHOOL.
PERHAPS HEARING IT FROM ANOTHER WILL STRIKE SOME REVERENCE INTO HER. SHE NEEDS TO RECOGNIZE THE SEVERITY OF THIS INFRACTION.
MINERVA’s face threatens to flush; she immediately laments the attention her daughter has brought upon the family.
GEMMA IS USUALLY HOME AROUND FOUR.
MINERVA takes a small step backward, shamed, and without her usual confidence.
WON’T YOU COME IN AND HAVE A CUP OF TEA?
What STRAUD’s followers would later dub “the Occupation” had begun.
Today, like has become custom, TRENTE GAGARIN prepares breakfast. But no one descended from the CHARM line is there to enjoy it.
The smell of eggs and toast permiate the house. A piece of cheese is laid on top of the warm fried egg.
A young boy with raven hair has followed the scent’s trail and enters the kitchen.
TRENTE is sure to disarm fears with the gentlest eye contact she can muster.
GOOD MORNING, EMMITT.
HOW DID YOU SLEEP?
EMMITT clamours awkwardly into a dining chair.
I SLEPT OKAY.
ARE YOU STILL HAVING TROUBLE WITH WAKING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT?
I’M SORRY FOR PRYING, BUT YOUR AUNTIE WANTED ME TO BE AWARE.
EMMITT doesn’t want to talk about his nightmares.
WHEN IS GEMMA COMING BACK?
GEMMA had left the house for spring break, but had not yet returned.
WELL, SHE’S AT THE LANDGRAAB’S, PROTECTING THEM.
WE WOULDN’T WANT OUR FRIENDS TO BE IN DANGER.
IS MALCOLM HER BOYFRIEND?
EMMITT has no shame about asking bold questions, in the manner customary of children.
I SUPPOSE, IN A MANNER OF SPEAKING.
IS SHE GOING TO SCHOOL TODAY?
TRENTE approaches the table and sits down across from the boy.
I CERTAINLY HOPE SO.
WHEN IS AUNTIE COMING BACK?
TRENTE tries to soothe the worries.
SOON, I’M SURE. SHE HAS A LOT OF WORK TO DO.
DID YOU FINISH YOUR HOMEWORK?
I FINISHED IT AT SCHOOL YESTERDAY.
WELL THEN MAYBE I SHOULD CALL YOUR TEACHERS AND TELL THEM TO GIVE YOU MORE.
But the joke is ill-received.
The conversation lulls for a moment.
CAN I ASK YOU A QUESTION?
EMMITT looks down, trying to conjure the courage to speak.
He looks again toward TRENTE.
HOW COME YOU HAVE POINTY EARS? I THOUGHT ONLY AUNTIE AND MY DAD DID.
TRENTE smiles disarmingly. She loves to speak about herself.
WELL, MOST PEOPLE YOU’LL EVER MEET OUT THERE WILL HAVE ROUND EARS.
THAT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE EARTH-NATIVE HOMO SAPIENS. HUMANS, IF YOU WANT TO CALL THEM THAT.
YOU AND AUNTIE AREN’T HUMAN? …AND MY DAD?
I THINK YOU SHOULD ASK HER YOURSELF. IT’S NOT POLITE TO TALK ABOUT OTHERS WHEN THEY AREN’T AROUND.
She pauses, trying to craft her words carefully.
AS FOR ME, I’M NOT HUMAN, NO.
I’M NOT FROM HERE.
BUT YOU CAN’T TELL ANYONE, NOT A SOUL.
IT’LL BE OUR LITTLE SECRET.
EMMITT tries to believe her claim.
THEN WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
TRENTE is proud of her heritage.
IT MIGHT SOUND IMPOSSIBLE… BUT –
I’M FROM THE MOON.
… THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE.
He tries to talk from authority.
THERE’S NO AIR ON THE MOON.
MY PEOPLE DIDN’T NEED AIR LIKE THE PEOPLE OF EARTH NEED THEIR ATMOSPHERE.
THE CREATURES OF EARTH NEED AIR FOR TRANSMISSION OF OXYGEN, PRIMARILY.
BUT THEY ALSO EXPUNGE WASTE CHEMICALS BY EXHALING. IT’S A FILTHY PROCESS, BUT NECESSARY FOR THEIR LIFECYCLE.
YOU MEAN, YOU DON’T BREATHE?
Children, unlike adults, consider each new piece of information and weigh it against their worldview. They do not trust their senses so blindly – the world is still mysterious.
I’M CAPABLE OF IT SINCE COMING HERE –
YOU’D BE SURPRISED HOW MUCH WATER YOU CAN EXPEL THROUGH THE BREATH.
Why would the woman lie about something like that?
IF THERE ARE PEOPLE FROM THE MOON, ARE THERE PEOPLE FROM MARS?
I CAN’T SAY THAT I KNOW.
He is disappointed.
His gaze wanders toward the prepared breakfast, ambivalent.
WELL, I GOTTA GET READY FOR SCHOOL.
MY BACKPACK IS UPSTAIRS.
He leaves, making only the faintest of noise treading up the stairs.
When the room is empty, TRENTE retreives a cellphone from a pocket of her dress. She needs to check in with her associate.
Have you checked in on Vatore?
Yes I did. Everything seems to be in order.
By what evidence?
Evidence? Well by the time I arrived, everything was taken care of. I spoke to Sierra. Caleb was rather distraught and tried to hide the doing from her. But there was one piece of wood missing.
Fool! Those can be reused!
He probably set it on fire. What a waste!
If you want your pet to know anything, you'll have to teach him.
I am well-aware.
His father near-ruined the trees.
The trees will be good enough for what they are.